Are Backlinks Still Important In 2020? [+Useful Infographic]

Two chains interconnected in grey background

Have you seen SEO experts talking about the relevance of ‘backlinks’ today?

And thought to yourself, what does that even mean?

Or you may have some vague idea about it, but not sure what it exactly means.

Well, look no more!

Today, I will talk about everything a beginner needs to know about backlinks.
And discuss the relevance of backlinks in 2020.

Let’s go wild!

What Do Backlinks Mean?

Backlinks are links from one website to another. When a website A adds a link to website B, this is called a backlink.

Website A is the linking domain here, and website B is the linked domain.

People care about backlinks because Google treats it as a ranking factor in its algorithm.

Example Of A Backlink From Ahrefs To YouTube

Example Of A Backlink From Website A (Ahrefs) to Website B (YouTube)

Backlinks Vs Inbound Links

Are they same? Or are they different? 

People are often get confused between backlinks and inbound links.

Well, inbound links and backlinks mean the exact same thing. People use them interchangeably. Sometimes, these are also called incoming links or one-way links.

Are Backlinks Important In SEO?

Search engines like Google treat inbound links as votes of confidence from one website to another.

Think of it this way. If a website is linking to you, it means that they found your content credible and valuable.

If your website has several websites linking to it, search engines believe that your content is useful.

So they show it on SERPs, thinking it will be helpful for others as well.

So yes, backlinks are extremely important in SEO.

3 Mains Reasons Why Backlinks Are Important

Are backlinks still important in 2020?

Infographics- Actionable Metrics To Inspire Your SEO & Backlinks Strategy

New Trends In Search To Look Out For

Absolutely, yes!

Strategies in inbound links in specific and SEO in general have changed with time. But it is totally relevant today.

In fact, with the introduction of voice based and visual searches, SEO has taken a massive makeover.

And the backlinks strategy has followed suit.

But it is no where near dead. Its booming and thriving.

See when Google first started, inbound links were the primary focus of their search algorithm.

This is because back in those days, there were only two ways of reaching a website. By typing in its online address or by clicking on its link from another site.

So Google based its entire algorithm around links (hypertext). 

And it remains the most critical signal of relevancy for it.

So if you want to rank on the first page of Google’s SERP, you got to get good quality incoming links.

Google's First Paper - The Anatomy of a Large Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine

Google’s First Paper – Describing Page Rank and Google’s initial prototype

Types Of Backlinks That SEO Experts love

Keeping in tune with the idea of creating hypertexual based search engine, Google started ranking the sites or pages with the most number of inbound links higher.

But this changed with Google its Penguin update in 2012. Now it focuses on the relevancy of links rather than the number.

Quality over quantity, they said.

Today, the authority of the linking website and page where you get a link from carries tremendous weight.

Think about it for a minute.  You’re a chartered accountant. If given a choice, which one would you pick?

A backlink from Forbes or your friend’s new website?

Remember, if it’s too easy to get a backlink, then it’s probably not valuable enough.

So let’s talk about the type of inbound links that SEO experts recommend.

01. Backlinks that come from relevant websites

Close up bulls eye on a dart board

It’s critical to get backlinks from related websites. There has to be a reason a website might want to link to you.


Because Google believes that people are more likely to click on links that are related to the linking domain.

If you think about it, it makes sense. Let’s go back to the CA example.

You’ve just posted an article on Financial Repoting.

A backlink from finance-related websites such as finance education, investment research, etc. will hold a much higher value.

As compared to ones from a bakery or electronics store.

02. Backlinks that come from high traffic websites

Several people across the shibuya crossing at a time they look like army of ants from this point

Google thinks highly of backlinks from pages with high footfall. And it’s easy to understand why.

Pages that receive a lot of traffic will send referral traffic to the linked site as well.

And if their users find value in the linked site, they’ll keep coming back to the linking site.

It’s a win-win.

03. Backlinks that contain the keyword in its anchor text

Backlinks That Contain The Keyword In Anchor

Anchor text is the visual part of a backlink – the text that humans see.

So, if I add a link to my previous article on Technical SEO.

This becomes the anchor text. And when you click on it, you’re taken to the actual post.

Typically, you should aim to have your keyword in in the anchor text.

But don’t go crazy with this one, though. Google may penalize your website if it gets too many exact match backlinks.

04. Backlinks that have dofollow attribute

Small Dog footprints on sandy beach

A dofollow attribute instructs google crawlers to follow the link to the linked website.

This means that the linking domain is telling Google that I trust this website.

So Google like a good student, follows the instruction. The linked website then benefits from the linking website’s domain authority.

Therefore, you want your links to be dofollow rather than nofollow.

Nofollow Vs Dofollow Backlinks

We discussed what dofollow links are. On the other side of the coin are Nofollow links.

These are backlinks that do not pass on the link juice to the linked website and are not valued by Google.

These include press releases, blog comments, social media mentions, paid ads, etc.

These links are almost useless in SEO. But that doesn’t mean these useless as a whole.

Its always better to have nofollow links that have no links at all. Plus, these links can always bring you more traffic.

But don’t have a large number of these. 

05. Backlinks that are prominently placed

A White Samsung tablet and Black VR watch rest on a wood table in sunlight

This is a minor factor, compared to the previous ones. But there is a definite correlation between the placement and value of links.

If your backlink is sitting nicely on the body of a page, the chances of it getting referral traffic are high.

Now compare it to a dull link tucked somewhere in the footer where people hardly look.

06. Backlinks that come from domains that have not linked to you before

Fresh written in lights on a glass wall in a US restaurant

Suppose you’re hungry, and you get a slice of pizza. You’ll be thrilled.

You get another slice, you’ll be less excited. On and on.

Till you no longer want one.

This is the diminishing law of marginal utility. It’s a cool concept.

Google has adopted something similar with backlinks. It devalues backlinks that you repeatedly get from the same website. These backlinks generate diminishing benefits over time.

Are There backlinks That Are bad for SEO?

People think that getting as many incoming links from as many websites is the key to SEO success.

But that’s not really true.

In fact, some links can actually spoil your SEO efforts. Let’s talk about the bad backlinks that you should stay away from.

Paid links

When you’re starting, you may be tempted to buy links to your website.

It’s a big no-no!

It violates Google’s standard, and if you’re caught, Google will penalize your website.

Holding 100 EURO note between fingers
Foreign links

Foreign links (Too many )

This depends on the business you’re into.

But if you’re a local mom and pop store in Mumbai, it wouldn’t make sense to Google if you get several inbound links from Israel.

Mutual Links

When people started understanding the value of incoming links, they linked to each other’s websites.

You scratch my back and I scratch yours.

But now it has become very easy for Google to notice and devalue these links.

It’s ok if you have a few of these, but don’t go overboard.

Two men one in white shirt and one in blue shirt shaking hands
Links From Dubious Sites​

Links From Dubious Sites​

Avoid getting links from businesses that are perceived to be shady.

Think adult content, get rich fast, gambling, etc.

Generally, Google considers them bad links. Unless these are somehow related to your business.

Or you operate in these industries.

Spam Links

People spam the comments section of other blogs or forums with links to their website all the time.

Do not do this.

Google does not consider these valuable.

Wordpress Interface with the arrow pointing at comments

How To Go About Building Backlinks?

Alright, we’ve covered the basics. It’s time to talk about building backlinks for your website.

There’s a notion that if you create good content, people (and backlinks) will come.

I disagree.

See, if you don’t tell people about the great content you’ve created, how will they know?

◙ Create good content

Creating good content or linkable assets is the backbones of building links.

Think of it this way. If you come across a sub-par piece of content online, would you feel like sharing it?

So, build a brilliant piece of content. Something that people will feel like linking to. Then start your outreach campaigns.

Watch Neil Patel Build 41,142 Backlinks With One Simple Hack 

◙ Reach out to people you’ve mentioned in your post

If you’ve written about the top 10 bloggers in Mumbai. Reach out to each of them.

Let them know how much you appreciate their work.

Chances are they’ll want to showcase it and link to your article.

◙ Approach Websites That Have broken links

Websites and pages online move frequently. If your post satisfies any of these broken links, ask the post writer to include your link instead.

Trust me, nobody likes a broken link in their content.

◙ Reclaim your brand mentions

If you’re an established brand, in all probability websites have already mentioned you.

You just have to find those mentions and ask them to add a link to your website.

◙ Write for other websites

Guest posting is a great way to earn legit links. Look for websites in your industry that accept guest posting.

Write something that would be mutually beneficial. And ensure you get to include at least one backlink to your website.

This will give you some great inbound links.

◙ Look at your neighbors

If you need a plumber, wouldn’t you want to know which service is your neighbor using?

Similarly, check out your competitors’ websites. Find where they’re getting their links from.

Reach out to these people and see they’d want to link to your website. You should not miss out on existing link building chances in your industry.

My favorite SEO Man Brian Dean at Backlinko has written the perfect post on building incoming links. Have a look here

This brings us to the next topic of checking for backlinks.

How To Check backlinks?

There are two instances where you’d want to check backlinks. When you want to audit your website and when you want to check your competitors’ website.

To check links to your website, you can use Google Search Console. It provides three reports:

  • Top linked pages
  • Top linking sites
  • Top linking text

Next up, if you want to check your competitors’ backlinks you can use Neil Patel’s Backlinks checker.

Another great tool that I love is Ahref’s Backlinks Checker.

The best part? They’re free!

Julian Goldie gives a walkthrough of Ahrefs and Neil Patel’s Backlinks Checker

Over To You

Alrighty! We’ve covered a lot today.

Now that you know a fair bit about links. You can start creating a backlink building strategy. Or implement the one you already have a little better.

And if you’re experienced in building inbound links, let me know which backlink strategy works for you and which doesn’t.

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