Backlinks – what are they and why are they so important for your SEO and Digital Marketing?

You get a backlink when another site links to you. That means that they like you enough to do you a favour – to take the time to write some copy about you, then wrote the html code that would create a backlink to your website, and put it live on the web to share with their valuable audiences. Persuading bloggers, news sites, influencers and experts to give you backlinks is one of the most powerful marketing strategies you can follow – and apart from the effort you invest in persuading them, it’s free!

In addition, link building brings other substantial marketing benefits that help your website or online business to prosper. Whether you intend to work with an external SEO agency, recruit a search marketing specialist to join your team, or intend to develop your own search optimisation skills, you need to understand what link buildings are all about.

Majestic is an essential suite of SEO software tools to research, plan and monitor link building campaigns. In this article, I’ll explain how to build backlinks, the benefits they bring to your website and how Majestic provides Link Intelligence that will help you understand your market and outperform your competitors.

We’ll cover:

  • A simple link building process
  • How quality backlinks benefit your site
  • Why backlinks are so important to Google’s algorithm
  • How Majestic maps the web
  • How to size up a backlinks prospect
  • The most popular tools in the Majestic suite of tools
  • How to get quality backlinks

A simple link building process

Backlinks can arrive by chance – someone just comes across your site and thinks ‘wow, my readers will love this’ and share it with them. It’s great when that happens, but it really is a rare event. If you just wait for those kinds of backlinks to appear, you’ll only get a trickle – not enough to have any effect on your search engine rankings.

The truth is, you’ve got to actively seek out those people and persuade them to give you backlinks and that breaks down into 5 simple steps:

  • Find relevant markets that could give you backlinks
  • Understand what your competitors link building strategies
  • Find quality backlink prospects that you can approach
  • Create compelling reasons for other sites to give you backlinks
  • Ask for backlinks, monitor results and learn how you can ask better in the future.

This is the process of link building and Majestic can help you at every stage of the process but when you start to build links, you’ll face a lot of competition.

Many of your competitors already know the value of backlinks and they’re likely to be way ahead of you. And with their experience, they’ll be out there pushing their wares, chasing the same prospects as you and using every trick in the book to make sure they get a backlink – and you don’t.

That means you can’t afford to wait, you’ve got to quickly understand why backlinks are given, you’ve got to put the work in to actively identify backlinks prospects, and you’ve got to produce creative content that they will love. Then pitch your content to them in a compelling way.

That all adds up tough job! Which is why we created this post – we want to teach you everything you need to know to attract quality backlinks to your website.

How quality backlinks benefit your website

link building is hard work but the resulting backlinks bring multiple benefits to your site. These include:

  • Backlinks boost your Google rankings – everyone wants to get higher rankings on Google, so this is by far the most popular benefit – but it’s not the only one (as you can see below).
  • Backlinks bring direct traffic to your website – and that traffic can turn into a conversion on your site and this is probably the second most popular benefit – it’s great to see a backlink on an external site generating sales for you!
  • Backlinks give you bragging rights – being able to add ‘as featured on…’ and being able to mention some well-known blogs, influencers or news sites will impress visitors and increase trust in your products.
  • Backlinks attract more backlinks naturally – another benefit that many people don’t realise. If you’ve already got some quality backlinks on busy sites, a percentage of people on those sites will also write about and link to you – without you even asking.
  • Backlinks allow you to do favours – yes, giving backlinks to others often brings you to their attention – and that means if you ask them to review some content of yours in the future, they’ll be well-disposed to help you.
  • Backlinks establish your brand in your online marketplace – get backlinks from top blogs and sites in your industry and people will remember and respect your brand. This is a long-term benefit that should not be ignored, especially when justifying your work to your boss or client.

Such multiple benefits make link building worthwhile for your business or your website.

Why backlinks are so important to the Google Search algorithm

Twenty years ago, Google was just a start-up with a mission to provide the best possible search results to people looking for information. Within a couple of years, they had blown the competition away with the excellent quality of their search results.

The reason? Google was the first to harness the power of backlinks – to realise that the keywords you included on your pages was only an indication of how good you might be.

They realised that what other people said about you on external sites where you had no control, was likely to be more reliable than anything you said about yourself.

And Google could ‘see’ what other people thought about you by ‘looking’ at the backlinks that pointed to your pages. And Google’s algorithm did that at a massive scale – they’ve crawled trillions of web pages.

The Google search algorithm has become increasingly sophisticated in its efforts to identify spam and provide quality results. As well as backlinks, the Google search engine has added over 200 factors to their algorithm to refine and improve results. Factors such as social media signals, website download speed, domain name age, website architecture, content quality and many others.

But quality backlinks are the strongest signal, and so will always be a fundamental part of how the algorithm works. Attracting quality backlinks is essential, and always will be essential to ranking well in Google search results.

How Majestic maps the web

Just like Google, Majestic crawls the web, but rather than return content, Majestic returns Link Intelligence.

Let’s take an analogy. Everyone is familiar with maps and how to use them. Maps show cities, towns, villages, rural communities and the ‘transport links’ between them. Maps let you see where you are, where you want to go to and how to get there. Majestic does the same for SEOs and digital marketers.

Imagine a map of the web – instead of cities, towns and villages, imagine all sorts of websites. And instead of transport links, what connects these websites are the backlinks people click to travel from one site to another.

Majestic creates a map of these backlinks – in effect, a map of the web that shows you:

  • Where you are at the moment – the number and quality of the backlinks you already have
  • Where you want to get to – showing where your competitors get their backlinks and what links you’ve got to earn to beat them
  • How to get there – by targeting backlink prospects and monitoring how well your link building campaigns are doing in attracting new backlinks.

Now, it’s going to be a huge map and couldn’t possibly be written on paper – but it can be stored digitally – and that’s what Majestic does. Just like Google, we crawl the web – but we return only link data on a huge scale in our historic and fresh indexes.

How to size up a backlinks prospect

Generally speaking, the more backlinks you have, the better. But it’s not as simple as that – it’s the number of quality backlinks you have that is important.

We’ve created three metrics to give you maximum flexibility in measuring the quality of backlinks – here’s the easiest way to remember them:

  • Trust Flow measures the quality of a backlink…
  • Citation Flow measures the quantity of backlinks…
  • Topical Trust Flow measures the context of a backlink.

Together, these powerful metrics allow you to immediately assess both domains and individual web pages with a simple logarithmic score of 0-100. Let’s look at each of them in more detail:

Trust Flow measures quality…

Whether you’re analysing your competitor’s backlinks and link building strategy or prioritising backlink prospects, Trust Flow will give you immediate insights. Trust Flow works like “6 degrees of separation” – we measure how close or how far away any page or domain is from a seed set of many millions of trusted sites. The closer a domain name or page is to this set of trusted sites, the higher its Trust Flow will be.

Citation Flow measures quantity…

Sometimes you want to focus just on the quantity of backlinks that point to a website, particularly useful when assessing competitors. For quality sites, Citation Flow and Trust Flow will be in the same range – just analyse a couple of trusted sites in your industry to see this in action. However, if Citation Flow is significantly higher than Trust Flow, it may be a sign of unfair or artificial competitor practices.

Having two metrics, Citation Flow and Trust Flow gives you rich detail that a single domain metric can never give you.

Topical Trust Flow measures context…

Topical Trust Flow refines the analysis you can do by showing you the ‘Topics’ from which a web property gets its backlinks. Any substantial website will get backlinks from multiple niches – so a ‘mountain bike site’ will get links from cycling sites, but also from business sites, events sites, safety sites, urban sites and many more.

To create this metric, we took our set of millions of trusted sites and classified them into over 800 topics. Again, we drew inspiration from ‘6 degrees of separation’ to show how close or far away any page or domain is from any topic – the closer a web property is, the higher its score for that topic.

The most popular tools in the Majestic suite of tools

People use the same map in different ways. If you’re in an unfamiliar city and want to grab a quick coffee, you’ll do a search on Google Maps to get an instant answer.

But you probably used Google Maps in very different ways when you were planning your trip to that city. You’d want to take your time finding places to stay and attractions to visit, and discuss it all with your friends and family who were going with you.

And it’s the same with Majestic – you’ll want to use the Link Intelligence in different ways.

When you get a call from a new client you know nothing about, you’ll want to have an instant look at their site through Majestic’s eyes – to see whether they’d be a great client to have or one that might give me a lot of trouble.

But when you start a new project, you’ll want to do lots of research, competitor analysis, share insights and discuss with your client. You’re using Link Intelligence in very different ways.

Here are some of our most popular tools:

Site Explorer – gives you an instant Link Intelligence on any site, whether they be competitor or prospect for link building. You’ll instantly see their Trust Flow and Citation Flow, and through Topical Trust Flow see the topics (or niches) where they have a strong presence. You’ll see where they get their backlinks from and the pages on their site that attract the most links. You’ll be able to use powerful filters to dig deep into their backlinks and gather custom information – and much, much more.

Bulk Backlink Checker – enter multiple domains to get immediate comparisions, ideal for benchmarking yourself against competition or assessing lists of backlink prospects so you can prioritise the most important. You’ll also be able to see the main topics within your industry and your strength within that topic.

Clique Hunter – finds blogs, news sites, influencers, experts and others that link to multiple competitors – and if they link to your competitors, they’ll be top prospects for your own link building campaigns. Clique Hunter is It’s a great place to start with a new client or refresh your link building activities. You’ll get a high-level picture of thousands of prospects – and can easily see the specific pages on which your competitors have backlinks.

Advanced Reports – for serious SEOs, Advanced Reports give a huge amount of technical detail on links. Users can manipulate data in ways that suit their own workflows – apply advanced filters and download data to process either in Excel or in-house tools that they might create.

Browser extensionsMajestic’s Chrome and Firefox extensions gives you access to Majestic data as you’re surfing the web. It’s ideal if you’re browsing backlink prospects and want to judge the potential value of any prospect. It also allows you to collect external backlinks that sit on any webpage.

Campaigns – the Campaigns dashboard helps you organise your work for multiple clients and lets you share with clients or team members. You’ll get great visuals for monitoring your progress and reporting to clients. You can set automatic email alerts of new backlinks to your clients and competitors.

Majestic is continually improving and developing our experimental tools so that you can keep ahead of your competition. PRO users get exclusive access to new tools before they launch – and you can contribute ideas and features as they develop.

How to get quality backlinks

There is no secret sauce that will bring you quality backlinks with no effort.

To get the sort of links that will really grow your business, you must be prepared to commit time and hard work. You’ve got to create something worth linking to – something that bloggers, journalists, experts will find irresistible and want to share.

If you’re prepared to put the work in, then even modest sites can compete in the search results pages.

Here are some resources that will help you:

How to brainstorm link building ideas with Majestic

Link Building: 3 strong pillars of value

How to gain great rankings for your e-commerce website

How to find local backlinks and citation opportunities using Majestic

How to build the ultimate backlink prospect list