Backlinks, these friends who do your SEO good!

Julien Nishimata

“Backlink” is the magic word in SEO. The little key that opens the big door of a search engine’s SERP. In short, it is a hyperlink that points to a given site by transferring some of its “SEO juice” to it, and that tells Google and others that the site in question is popular in the eyes of Internet users and webmasters. The more external links a website (or page) has, the more authoritative it is for search engines. Want to know more? Understand how it works and how you can get backlinks? Thanks to Paper Club, you will soon have all the answers to these questions!

What’s a backlink?

A backlink is a link – more precisely, a certain type of hyperlink. This term is used in SEO to designate an external link, published on a site A, which points to a site B.

The “inbound link” is opposed to the “internal link”, which consists of linking content on the same website. The latter is used mainly for user experience purposes – to improve the user’s navigation – and to facilitate indexing of pages by search engine robots.

The backlink, on the other hand, has two very different objectives. It can have…

  • a commercial purpose, and seek to direct a user to a particular site where they can learn more about a product/service or even make a purchase;
  • a purely SEO purpose, in which case it is a question of transferring “juice” from one site to another to take advantage of its authority and improve a page’s positioning.

It is mainly used in this second case. Because the backlink is a link used above all in the field of off-site referencing – a job that is very important to us at Paper Club.

The inbound link as a major SEO lever

For a website, having a large number of backlinks represents a big boost in natural referencing. SEO experts consider netlinking (the strategy of increasing the number of links) as one of the most important levers for the positioning of web pages, because of the weight given to it by the ranking algorithms of each search engine.

Why is this important? Because search engines aim to provide Internet users with relevant answers to their enquiries. Take Google: its purpose is to display results that match users’ search intentions, so that they are satisfied with the service provided. If 1,000 pieces of content do the trick, then they must be ranked so as to offer the best. To do this, Google makes a selective sorting to keep the most qualitative AND the most popular, those that are popular with Internet users, so as to place them in the highest positions in its SERP.

This is where the backlink plays a crucial role: as an index of popularity. It is one of the criteria for measuring how popular a page is (The said “PageRank”).

Because a backlink is a link from site A to site B, in a way, it is as if the former recommended the latter to its readers (and indirectly to the search engine). It is therefore a sign of trust. The greater the number of inbound links, the more popular the site to which these links refer is considered to be. This is similar to the way the number of references a scientific article receives indicates the impact of a researcher on their community.

The search engine algorithm will look at the link between the two sites (A and B) and transfer some of the popularity of one to the other. This is called “SEO juice”, which is diluted as it is shared. Let’s imagine: a piece of content on site A has a popularity of 100 (a completely fictitious figure). If it includes a link to a site B, it will also receive 100. If it publishes two links to two different sites, each will receive 50. If he puts in three external links, each will receive 33, etc.

In reality, things are a bit more complex. Because it remains to distinguish the “good” backlink, the one that will increase the popularity of the site to which it points, from the “bad” backlink, the one that risks ruining all your SEO efforts.

What is a “good” backlink?

The number of backlinks alone is not a sufficient indicator for a search engine. The latter will also look at the quality of external links. But what exactly is a “good” backlink? Several parameters are taken into account to determine the value of an incoming link:

  • Source site authority. By definition, a backlink is a link published on a site A that points to a site B. To judge the link’s quality, a search engine takes into account the authority of site A. If you publish content about coal shovels, a backlink on the Leroy Merlin site will be more valuable than one on an obscure DIY blog.  It is therefore a question of multiplying the links from sites with a large audience and which have been established for a long time in the digital landscape.
  • Link and anchor relevance. A thematic link must exist between the two sites linked by a backlink, which implies seeking external links from sites close to the subjects addressed in the content to which they point. The same applies to the anchor: the expression on which the link is placed. It must be relevant to the content targeted by the backlink, from a thematic and semantic point of view.
  • SEO juice transfer. The circulation of “juice” between two sites can be blocked, in the same way as turning off a tap, with the “nofollow” attribute inserted in the link tag. This attribute tells the search engine that it must not transfer popularity; it is used for links that are not assumed, those placed in the comments of an article for example (this attribute can be applied by default to all comments posted on the site). Obviously, displaying many backlinks in “nofollow” has no interest in a purely SEO approach.
  • The position of the incoming link in the source page. The context in which a backlink is published contributes to its relevance. We are talking about a semantic environment here: the link must be placed in the text body, and not in a menu or in a “footer”. In the eyes of a search engine, a backlink is intended to be clicked by the visitor, which he will not be able to do if the link is not clearly visible.

Basically, to have a good “link profile”, you need to focus on:

  • External links from popular sites;
  • Links published on pages whose themes are close to those of the targeted content;
  • Relevant anchors;
  • “Dofollow” links, assumed by the source site;
  • Links that are well positioned on the source page.

A good way to “test” your netlinking, especially when you have a large number of backlinks to check, is to measure your Trust Flow – a performance indicator created by Majestic SEO. The value of a backlink is represented by a score between 0 and 100, so the Trust Flow allows you to quickly get an idea of the quality of your external links.

How to get external links?

Take it from us: getting backlinks, especially quality backlinks, is no easy task!

Given that it is impossible to rely on luck alone and wait patiently for a webmaster or blogger to integrate a backlink to a given site, SEO experts strive to create the conditions in which these backlinks are brought to life. Basically, they practice “linkbuilding”, the construction of a coherent “link profile”, in order to generate a large number of backlinks from authoritative sites.

What levers do they use to achieve this?

Links in directories, forums and comments

This is a great way to get a large number of external links quickly. But beware: the quality of these links is mostly (very) low. You can publish them in link directories, on forums by participating in discussions, or in the comments following blog posts.

The problem is that they usually come out of the blue. This is not a method we recommend at Paper Club.

Guest blogging

This practice consists of offering content to specialised media or influential bloggers. You write the content and the site publishes it.

The problem is that it only works if you are an authority on the subject, the content adds value to the host site, and it generates traffic. You need good reasons for a “big” media to publish your content and share its “SEO juice”.

Otherwise, you can always publish the article without a link and place a backlink in the author’s biography – it’s less powerful, but better than nothing.

Sponsored articles

If you are looking for THE most efficient way to generate quality backlinks, on influential sites, with concrete results regarding referencing, sponsored articles are made for you. This is precisely the specialty of our netlinking platform !

This practice is highly appreciated by SEO experts because it allows them to get “high-end” backlinks, which meet all the necessary requirements in the eyes of a search engine.

A sponsored article is a content published on a site rigorously selected beforehand, containing a backlink, but whose writing is taken care of by the site in question, in exchange for the payment of a sum of money. It is a form of native advertising, in the sense that you “buy” content with an inbound link, written on demand, based on a topic and instructions that you submit upstream. This content is flagged as a “sponsored article” within the site for transparency (and to avoid penalties for the host sites).

Benefits of this practice:

  • Guaranteed, relevant and qualitative backlinks from influential sites.
  • Better SEO positioning to generate more traffic.
  • A boost in brand awareness.
  • The content is written by the editor or by an agency.
  • An article in line with the editorial line of the chosen site.
  • The assurance of keeping complete control over your publication: you provide specifications beforehand and can make any changes you wish once the content has been writte.

Another important point is that a sponsored article benefits both the advertiser (the one who buys the content) and the publisher (the one who writes and hosts the content) who can monetise their site and build on its traffic volume.

Naturally, to get “top quality” backlinks and take advantage of these benefits, it is important to choose relevant sites and ensure that the content published is high quality.

At Paper Club, we take care of this process from A to Z, from writing the content to publishing it – with the backlink! To do this, we offer you the most complete media catalogue on the market: more than 10,000 publishers ready to publish your customised content. This means better digital visibility (and therefore more traffic), increased brand awareness and a fully controlled e-reputation.

Whatever approach you choose to obtain backlinks, keep in mind that netlinking is a long-term job. Search engines are not fooled: a large number of inbound links generated a little too quickly, over-optimised anchors, too many external links from low-quality or poorly positioned sites on the source pages – and they will quickly conclude that there is an attempt to manipulate their algorithm.

To sum up, when it comes to backlinks, it is essential to prefer quality to quantity. That’s good news: that’s our philosophy at Paper Club too!