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What are Backlinks and How to Use Them

Intuit QuickBooks   |   January 31, 2022   |   Share this:  

Backlinks are an essential part of building the authority of your brand and improving traffic to your business website. After all, heightened brand authority and increased ranking on Google will allow for a steady stream of new customers to your small business website.

Backlinks are an essential part of doing business in the 21st century. Learn how link building can work for your business and why it matters so much.

What is a Backlink?

Backlinks are hyperlinks that connect a third-party website, or external website, to yours. These links tell search engines, like Google, that your website is informative enough to have external sites reference it.

These backlinks are important because they will improve your business site’s SEO. Search engines view links to your website as votes. The more you have the more likely you will show up in search results. In order for these “votes” to count they should be from websites that are in the same or similar industry as your small business.

How to add hyperlinks to your website

Just like inbound links, links from external websites linking to your website, matter, so do outbound links – links from your website to a third-party website. To add links to websites simply highlight the words that you want to be linked to and copy and paste the link into your Content Management System (CMS). It is important that the words you link are target keywords. This is how search engines will recognize the outbound link is related to your content.

Be sure that you keep your links up-to-date, so you are not linking to a page that is no longer live, or linking to content that is out-of-date.

Types of Links Search Engines Crawl

There are many different types of links that can help you build your small business website’s SEO. Some are simple to implement within your SEO strategy, and others require a little bit more effort.

Follow links vs. nofollow links

Any links you put on your website are, by default, “follow links.” This means that these links can be followed by search engines. These links count as votes and ultimately impact your place in the SERPs. 

Nofollow links on the other hand do not go towards your SEO votes and do not help a page’s placement in the SERPs. This type of marker was created because of comments in the link section of websites that were generating spam links. These types of links have to be created using the nofollow link HTML tag.

<a href=”” rel=”nofollow”><Link text</a>

 You would use nofollow links when you don’t want search engines to count your link as a vote towards your SERP rankings. In March 2020, Google announced new nofollow linking recommendations:

  • rel=”sponsored”: This is good for marking links that are advertisements or paid links.
  • rel=”ugc”: This marker is for user-generated content (ugc) links, like in comments or forums.
  • rel=”nofollow”: Use nofollow when the other attributes don’t apply.

Internal vs. external linking

Internal linking refers to links on your website that link to your own pages, while external links link to other domains. 

Internal links are important because they can help search engines understand and crawl your website better, and allow for an easier user experience. Using descriptive anchor text helps search engines understand which pages are important, and what they are about.

There is no exact amount of how many internal links you can have per page, but Google recommends limiting the number of links on a page to a reasonable number – a few thousand at most. 

When it comes to external website links, they are one of the most important sources of ranking power. There are many factors that determine the value of external links, including: 

  • Trustworthiness of the external link’s domain
  • Popularity of the external link’s page
  • Anchor text used
  • Relevancy of the content between the page and the external domain
  • Number of variations that are use as anchor text

Any external website that links to your site is considered a backlink. To check these links you can use tools like AhrefsGoogle Search Console, or Moz Link Explorer.

Why Are Backlinks Important to SEO?

As stated before, backlinks are a sort of vote of confidence from one site to another. They let search engines identify that your website is a source of information and is worth linking to.  Having quality backlinks is beneficial for your SEO strategy, learn more about benefits below:


The more trustworthy backlinks you have, the higher your chances of ranking on SERPs. In fact, the total number of backlinks directly correlates with higher first-page rankings, according to a study conducted by Backlino and Ahrefs.

This doesn’t mean you should start spamming comment sections with links to your site. Search engines look for high-quality backlinks over quantity. One great backlink is better than a high number of backlinks from spammy sites. If you can partner with another website that has a high domain authority, that would create authoritative backlinks that would garner positive search engine results to your SEO strategy.

As a result, the types of backlinks to your website is one of the most important ranking factors that dictate your site’s authority level. As such, it is essential to use only trustworthy and quality websites to help you with your organic traffic visibility. 


Discoverability is the measure of how easy it is for search engine crawlers to find your business website. Once other sites start linking to your website, it will help search engine crawlers discover your website, which then allows for quicker indexing. This is really important for new websites, as you want search engines to be able to discover your website.

Increasing your backlinks will also have an indirect impact on how discoverable your website is to potential customers. By getting your small business website to the first page in search results, it means your website is quicker for potential customers to find.

Referral traffic

With backlinks comes referral traffic. Referral traffic is the traffic you get on your website that comes from other sites. These inbound links will help you develop a rapport with customers that may have not stumbled upon your website. The more traffic you get from backlinks will help increase your SEO standings on search engines. 

If you notice a website has mentioned you, it’s always a good idea to reach out and request them to link to your website.

What Makes a Good Link Building Strategy?

When looking to build backlinks it is important to keep certain strategies in mind. These strategies can help in gathering quality backlinks, especially quality inbound links to improve your ranking on search engines. Using these link-building techniques will bring you closer to your SEO goals.


When it comes to which sites you’re choosing to link to and where inbound links are coming from, these websites must be relevant to your small business. For instance, if you sell custom-made jewellery and get an inbound link from a company that sells car parts, search engines won’t count that as a vote towards your backlinks and it will have little to no impact on your SEO rankings.


Another factor that will build a strong link strategy are links coming from pages that have a high page authority score. Page authority is related to domain authority,  but it’s based on that specific page, instead of the whole domain. It is better to have one high authority link than have multiple low authority spam links. The better the domain and page authority, the higher the vote search engines will give your backlinks.


Like domain and page authority, the amount of traffic your inbound links receive is better for your overall SEO strategy. If websites with high traffic, like Forbes or a major retailer, link to your site, the more positive the impact will be on your SERP rankings.


The placement of where your website is linked on the external page is also a good way to build your linking strategy. The higher your link is on the page, the better it impacts your SERP standings. It will show that your link is the most relevant to the information on the external site.

Anchor Text

Anchor text is another important factor when it comes to your link-building strategy. This text is the visible characters or words that the hyperlinks display when linking to your webpage. Search engines will use the text that is linked to your small business website to give it a clue when determining the relevance of the backlink.

Link profile

It is in your best interest to keep a record of all of your inbound and outbound links, including important backlinks, that are used by your business site. This document, or backlink profile, can help you track sites that link back to your website to ensure they are live and of quality. 

A link profile is especially useful should any of the sites you link to go down or can no longer be found by Google. A routine check of these quality links will ensure you will catch any that show an error and replace them with another authoritative piece. 

How to Check Backlinks?

There are various tools you can use to check your backlinks. These applications will help you gain insight into your website’s backlinks to find out who is linking to you and see where they’re building links from. Plus, most of these tools will allow you to see your links on your website, so you can find out if you have any broken links on your pages.

Popular backlink checking tools include:

  • Google Search Console
  • Moz
  • Ahrefs
  • SEMRush

How to Get Backlinks?

Understanding and building your link strategy is just the beginning of the process of great SEO rankings. It is important to put yourself in a good position to attract authoritative backlinks from third-party websites. There are a few ways to do this, including:

Create linkable content: Linkable content refers to content that is informative, well researched, and topics that are highly searchable. It is important to study your audience, research your competitors, and determine what topics will have the most value. 

Include internal and external links: As previously mentioned, including internal and external links will help search engines crawl your content easier. Internal linking can help your audience navigate through your website, and easily access relevant information. This means external sites will be able to find your content easier when they search for relevant content that they can link to.

Write for guest blogs: A good way to build your backlinks is to reach out to related publications and offer to write a guest blog post on their site. Hone in on your expertise and offer to provide your services to a popular blog and include links to your website. 

Work with influencers: Instead of doing the writing yourself, you can reach out to influencers and offer them a discount on your product in return for a social media post or a post on their blog.

Skyscraper technique: This technique is sort of like a cold-call sales tactic, but updated for the 21st Century. When using the skyscraper technique you first find popular content that has been linked to other websites, then create a better version of the content for your website. Once this is done, promote your content to relevant people to let them know it exists. This will lead to those contacts sharing it on their social media or even linking to content published on your site.

Search your brand: A quick search of your brand will give you insight into who is linking to your website. If there are sites that have broken links, you can reach out and suggest your brand to them instead. Or if you find that there are websites that mention your company and don’t link to you, you can politely ask them to link to your website.


Building backlinks can help you improve your business’s brand authority and improve traffic to your business site. Just like you need the right tools to help you with this SEO strategy, so too does your business need the tools to manage your finances. Consider using QuickBooks Online to build and manage your business finances. Try it for free today.


This article was originally published on the Intuit QuickBooks blog here.

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