What Are Back Links and Why You Need Them

Once your site is live and your pages are optimized, how can you work towards increasing your search results page ranking going forward?

Most people think that once their site is up, they don’t have to do anything in order to compete for their desired keywords. It is actually the opposite — increasing your ranking is like a marathon race to the finish line, or in your case, to the first page.

Your site needs to always appear fresh and active to both search engines and visitors. This means regular content updates to your blog or other pages, integrating social media, and a range of other SEO tactics. But once things are in place and you are blogging every week, what else needs to be done in order to compete for those tougher keywords?

Off-page SEO, as it is called, refers to the factors that affect your search engine results page ranking that happen off your site. The main off page SEO factor are back links to your site. We get a lot of questions from people asking what a back link does to help SEO value. One good comparison is looking at a back link the same way as word-of-mouth marketing.

You get recommendations all the time when talking to people and someone tells you, “Hey check out [this company], they make a really great [product]”. You are going to take that information and based on a couple of factors, decide whether or not that company is for you.

If the person who told you about this company is an expert on a particular product or service, you are more likely to trust that referral based on the relevancy of the referral and the trustworthiness of the source. A back link works the same way. If a search engine is out and about, crawling pages on the web and it finds a link saying “great service company” pointing to your site, that search engine will evaluate your page and adjust your ranking for that keyword based on similar factors.

  • Was the site that linked to you an authority or expert on the subject?
  • Was the site trustworthy and did it contain quality content?
  • What were the keywords in the link?
  • Did the content on your site reflect the keyword subject area?

As search engines “hear” more about your site by finding these back links, your ranking will improve as you are viewed more of an authority in your field. Combine that with effective on-page SEO and content updates and you are well on your way to the finish line — first page search results.


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