Link building is the process of acquiring hyperlinks from other websites to one’s own. A hyperlink (usually just called a link) is a way for users to navigate between pages on the Internet. Search engines also use links to “crawl” the web. A search engine then navigates the web at lightning speed using the links between individual pages on websites and analyses them.
Link building is an important part of search engine optimisation (SEO) because the generation of links from external websites (backlinks) to a specific website ensures a higher rating by a search engine such as Google.
The principle of links as a ranking factor is what enabled Google to dominate the search engine market at the end of the 1990s. One of Google’s founders, Larry Page, invented PageRank to measure the quality of a page based partly on the number of links pointing to it. This parameter was then used as part of the general ranking algorithm and became a strong signal because it was a very good way to determine the quality of a page.
It was enormously efficient because it was based on the idea that a link could be seen as a vote of confidence about a page. In other words, it wouldn’t get links if it didn’t deserve them. The theory is that when someone links to another website, they are effectively saying that it is a good source. Otherwise, they wouldn’t link to it, any more than you would send a friend to a bad restaurant.
Shrewd SEOs soon discovered how to manipulate PageRank and search results for chosen keywords with spammy backlinks and “black hat SEO”. Google therefore started to actively look for ways to expose manipulations of search results. To this end, they regularly roll out updates, such as the Penguin update, which are specifically aimed at discovering and penalising websites that have manipulated their position in the search results. There are many link building techniques and they vary in difficulty. Depending on the techniques you use to create backlinks, your backlink profile can be healthy or toxic. The best forms of link building are obtaining organic backlinks by creating great unique content that gets picked up automatically or by spreading your content through manual outreach where you ask other websites to link back to your website. SEOs agree that link building is one of the hardest parts of their job.