What are backlinks, which are valuables?

Triple w written in red ink with pen lying at the right

What exactly are backlinks? Get to know their types and their value.

Article outline:

  • What are backlinks?
  • Backlinks Types
  • Backlinks Values

What are backlinks?

Back in the early days of the world wide web, search engines needed a way to both rank and find websites. Backlinks were a convenient answer because they would allow doing both. Backlinks are simply links to websites. When a search engine maps the web, they follow backlinks on each website, the number of links they follow grows almost exponential. Logically, the more backlinks to your website, the more popular you are. It’s just like in a library, the most referred book within one subject is often the most reliable.

The problem is, the backlink system is flawed. One could manipulate other websites and create backlinks to his own website. Another one could buy tons of websites and just put backlinks on them. Someone could even purchase backlinks from a backlink farm. Be careful if you cheat, search engines will ban you very quickly.


Backlinks Types

Today, backlinks work in a very intelligent manner; there are several types and they are valued in different ways to avoid cheating. One simply cannot buy backlinks and hope it will impact positively it’s website. It will actually worsen its popularity.

DoFollow and NoFollow  are backlinks with a rel attribute that instruct search engines to follow or not the link. Google will not consider NoFollow links in the calculation and will simply consider them as text. Yahoo, Bing, and several other search engines will consider NoFollow links, but at a lesser extend than the DoFollow links.

Natural and unnatural backlinks are also very different. Natural backlinks are obtained organically, from people who like your content or refer to it genuinely. Unnatural backlinks are paid, exchanged or seeded. It is sometimes possible to obtain unnatural backlinks and have them look natural, but they will most likely weight a less.


Backlinks Values

Search engines weight backlinks value because they can tell the difference between natural and unnatural. Here is a brief list of elements search engines will look at to value your backlinks:

Backlinks from a website with unrelated content are worthless. If you sell 3D printers, but are receiving backlinks from a marketing website it won’t weight in. However, if you sell marketing plan, and many marketing reference point to you, it will help. Besides, if your visitors visit your website and leave quickly because it is not related to the content they are seeking, your bounce rate will go up. A high bounce rate can get you listed as spam and will affect negatively your ranking.
If all your backlinks are coming from one website or one category, it does not make your website very important. It can be considered as spam in some cases.
Paid backlinks are a curse. Search engines can detect them, you will be crowded with other backlinks, and they are often unrelated. Only pay for backlinks if it is relevant, popular and dealt by you.
Duplicated content
Copied content will penalize you. If your website or the backlink contains copied material, it will have a terrible ranking. Genuine and original content is extremely rewarding.
Low quality
Backlinks from poorly ranked websites (PR rank or Alexa Rank) have little or no impact. Getting listed by .edu, .gov, highly controlled domains or any by famous website, is obviously preferable.
Foreign language or region
If you operate in New-York and you have backlinks for China or India, it’s not going to work. The same goes for language, if you are operating in English and your backlinks come from Chinese websites, it will appear as spam.
Hacked / Ruse
Spamming or hiding backlinks in widgets, CSS or websites can have you permanently banned (IP & domain name).
Link Exchange
Not a bad idea, but must be highly valued links. The more outbound links your website has, the more spammy and link exchange it will look like. Try to have the most backlinks and the least outbound links to others. Make good use of the rel=”nofollow” tag.
Directories like Dmoz and Yahoo are a great way to build backlinks. But smaller and unrelated directories won’t weight in; only list yourself where you feel potential customers could find you.


Bottom line is, you should always aim for quality over quantity, in any field of marketing (backlinks, content, analysis, forum posts, contests, discounts). A high number of low-quality backlinks will make your website weak, potentially blacklisted for spam and even banned. It takes the same amount of time to go for high-value backlinks exchange rather than several low-value backlinks. The best part is, if your backlinks are related you can potentially take contact with new partners through a link exchange.

Week 7 is dedicated to backlinks, you will learn more about quality, ways to get them and how to anchor keywords.