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SEO Basics: What Is Link Building?

Search engine optimization (SEO) isn’t just about learning how to get your content to show in search results, it’s also about building strong organic relationships with other high-quality content publishers within your industry.

These connections can help to boost your overall SEO strategy, affecting things like rank, traffic, and even conversions.

But how do you build healthy, fruitful relationships that will please search engines and readers? Through link building initiatives and careful strategic planning.

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What is link building?

Link building is when other websites link to your content from their own pages. When a site links to yours, it’s called a backlink or external link. Google uses links to your website as one of its biggest ranking factors, meaning the more quality links that you have to your site, the better you’ll rank.

But not all backlinks are created equal. In fact, some can do much more harm than good.

What is a good backlink?

Good backlinks are the bee’s knees. High-quality backlinks come from websites that:

  • Have existing organic traffic
  • Post original content
  • Follow best SEO practices
  • Set your link to “follow
  • Are trusted content providers
  • Share an industry (or related content) with you

What is a bad backlink?

Bad (also called toxic) or useless backlinks can be very harmful to SEO. Bad backlinks come from websites that:

  • Are link farms or web directories (barring a few exceptions)
  • Require payment in return for links
  • Don’t come from trusted websites
  • Look spammy (think weight loss pills or celebrity clickbait articles)
  • Aren’t related to yours by topic, industry, or anything else
  • Have low domain authority
  • Publish low-quality, unauthorized duplicate content

Other less toxic but pointless-for-SEO links are:

  • “nofollow” links
  • Affiliate links
  • Links to obscure or messy URLs
  • PPC links

Is link building important for SEO?

Yes, link building is essential for SEO. It’s one of Google’s biggest ranking factors, meaning that if you don’t have high-quality backlinks from other websites to your own, you likely won’t rank as well as you could.

Good links are an indication that your content is useful to others and that you are an authority on a given subject, which is exactly what Google likes to see.

If you’re not sure how to get started, here are eight creative ways to get high-quality backlinks.