Caution! Website owners, once you learn about backlinks, and how easy it is to check them, you may become obsessed. Just like you do with checking your traffic and Adsense revenue.
What Are Backlinks?
In a nutshell, when a website creates a hyperlink on their site that leads to your site, that's a backlink. Just like I am doing with this link to the good ol' InfoBarrel home page. The more backlinks you have, the better for you. Here's why; backlinking is a key component of effective SEO (search engine optimization).
The point is not to simply get tons of backlinks from a few sites, but tons of backlinks from tons of sites. The more sites you have backlinking to you, the more credibility you have with Google and other search engines.
The Starting Point: Backlink Checking
If you've read this far, you're sure to have a website of your own. If you don't have an idea of the number of backlinks you have leading to your site, or from where they've originated, you can find out in about 10 seconds. Simply go to BacklinkWatch.com, type in your url, and you'll be shown the number of backlinks, linking sites, their Page Rank (higher Page Rank sites are more valuable to you), the number of outbound links from that site, and anchor text. There are multiple free sites like BacklinkWatch, but it offers more than most.
The most important things to look for are, well, all of them. But to put a rank on them, anchor text and Page Rank.
A good example of anchor text is the InfoBarrel link I used earlier. The anchor text is the text that is linked. You want the anchor text to be a keyword or phrase that is relevant to your site, which also looks good to search engines. Likewise, links from higher Page Ranked sites (Page Rank is Google's ranking system, from 1 to 10. Three or above is good) helps search engines decide whether your site is important. If they think you're important, up you'll go in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Keep in mind, backlinks are only one facet of optimizing your website. No amount of backlinks alone, however strong, will put you on the top of page one.
How to Build Backlinks
Commenting on blogs and forums related to your site content, guest posting on related blogs, publishing articles on sites like this one and article directories are all good ways to build links. As long as you're providing meaningful content, just like on your site, your backlinking strategies will pay off.
If you use paid backlinks, or spammish comments on other blogs and forums, your backlinking will potentially fail, or get you labeled as a spammer. So, use good judgement when implementing your backlink plan. Lastly, plan to build a couple of links per day, max. Any more and you run the risk of causing the search engines to think your site is less than honorable.