What Are Backlinks, and Why Do I Want Them?

On January 24, 2022

If you’ve spent any time near folks in the PR, marketing, or website building world, you’ve probably heard the word “backlink.” Heck, if you collided with a PR professional on the sidewalk who was talking on his phone, there’s a good chance he’d say into his Bluetooth headset “Sorry, we’ll have to talk about backlinks later, some idiot just walked right into me.” Or something like that.

But what are they, and why are they so important to your company?

We all know what a link is on the internet—it’s how you get from one site to another, or one page to another. It’s first-day-of-class internet stuff, and it’s an essential part of what makes our world wide web work. When a link on site A takes the user to a different site entirely—site B—then a backlink was just created to site B. If site B is your site, congratulations!

Beyond the obvious benefits—that people on site A will click on that link and discover your company, which is how publicity works, and is the same kind of discovery that you’d find if you were mentioned in a print magazine—that backlink is extra useful because it tells search engines like Google that your site is important.

And when Google thinks your site is important—because it has many backlinks, or backlinks leading from well-trafficked, well-trusted origin sites—Google considers it a trusted source and wants to show it to other people. That means that page will receive a better ranking compared to sites that might pop up under a search for the same words. When before, your upscale haberdashery wouldn’t appear until the third page for a Google search for “artisanal tie clips,” after a backlink in a roundup article in a men’s fashion outlet online, you might see those searches start recommending your site earlier over time, maybe even the second or first page.

While it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what a site’s ranking is at any given point (since a “ranking” is not a single number but rather a complex algorithm that Google keeps guarded under lock, key, and probably a not insignificant amount of witchcraft), a search engine optimization (SEO) expert like ours on staff can review backlinks and tell you which ones are performing well, which ones are driving up your results, and by how much.

There are many ways to acquire backlinks to your site—and all of them not easy to come by, since it’s something you must convince others to do (put your link on their site), not something you can simply do yourself. For our public relations clients, the most common way we help them acquire backlinks is by securing them coverage or placing a contributed article in a media outlet online. Often, that coverage will link back to the company’s site, and a contributed article that we or the client wrote will come packed with backlinks—which may or may not remain intact in the final published piece, at the editor’s discretion.

There’s a lot more to know about the intricacies of backlinks; what determines backlink quality, strength, and relevancy. Want to learn more about backlinks—and other ways to get them? Reach out to the BridgeView Marketing team today and let us start making the search engines of the world work for you.