Backlinks (also known as “inbound links”, “incoming links” or “one way links”) are links from one website to a page on another website. Google and other major search engines consider backlinks “votes” for a specific page. Pages with a high number of backlinks tend to have high organic search engine rankings.
For example, here is a link from Forbes to my website.
Because that link points directly to a page on my website, it’s a “backlink”.
Why Are Backlinks Important?
Backlinks are basically votes from other websites. Each of these votes tells search engines: “This content is valuable, credible and useful”.
So the more of these “votes” you have, the higher your site will rank in Google and other search engines.
Using links in a search engine algorithm is nothing new. In fact, backlinks formed the foundation of Google’s original algorithm (known as “PageRank”).
Even though Google has made thousands of changes to its algorithm since then, backlinks remain a key ranking signal.
For example, an industry study that we conducted found that links remain Google’s key ranking signal.
And Google has confirmed that backlinks remain one of their three most important search engine ranking factors.