What is a Backlink and Why Should I Care? Part 1

When you are just starting out in SEO, terms like SERP, rankings and anchor text (and the list goes on) may sound like a new language. So today, we’re going to talk about one foundations of link building – backlinks. Quality backlinks are essential to the success of any SEO campaign. So let’s answer the question: What is a backlink and why should I care?

In simplest terms, a backlink is any link that points back to your Website (link back = backlink). These links appear as clickable text that you can follow to another Webpage. The text is clickable because someone embedded the URL (Website address) into the text that appears on one of their Website pages so that their readers can go to your site with just a click. These embedded links are distinguishable from regular text, typically underlined, highlighted and/or in bold type.

You may have found this page by following a link from somewhere – perhaps a forum, a link on another Webpage or from a Google search for “what is a backlink?” Ultimately, if your Website receives a link from another Website, then it is a backlink.

Often, a backlink is further defined by whether it is an internal backlink or an external backlink. An internal backlink (or internal link) is a backlink from a page on a website (a specific domain) that links to another part or page on the same Website. For example, this blog post by our own Josh McCoy on Google Webmaster Tools is an example of an internal backlink.

An external backlink, on the other hand, is a link that points back to your Website from a completely different Website. An example would be this link directing you dear reader to our Facebook site. This is because this blog site and Facebook are two different domains (Websites). This is what most people are talking about when discussing backlinks.

So there you have it. Now that you understand just what a backlink is – both internal backlinks and external backlinks – next time we’ll look at which type is better (hint: you need both), how many do you need and answer the question “why should I care?”