One of the biggest components of search engine optimization is backlinking your website with others. These can also be thought of as "inbound links" because they are external links indicating your site.
There are many different link-types that are created in the process of web design and development. Internal links are the ones within pages that when clicked take users where they want to go. There can also be citing links or recommendations. Even links to other sites that are backlinks for them. End of the day, backlinks are external ones bounded to your website.
Backlinks are representative of your website's "value" or online popularity.
Backlinks are vital for increasing your page rank. Both quality and quantity matter when getting backlinks. Larger websites that are well-known ("big brands") have more authority than lesser-known sites. If they mention/link to your site, thats more credence to the search engine. Similarly, the number of links is important too. The number of links, as long as they are relevant to your page, the one with more links will be ranked higher.
How to Gain Backlinks
Understanding backlinks is one thing. Getting them is another.
The hardest part is convincing others that linking to your website is advantageous to the both of you. Luckily, there are a few ways to accomplish this.
One is "link building". This is an active strategy completed through doing activities that can generate links back to you. These can include promotions, blogs, community engagement, social media outreach, engagement with other companies, etc. There will be trial and error to figure out the correct approach for your website, but don't be dissuaded.
Another is "link generation". You generate these links through your content. The people/websites that do this are normally create these types of links are bloggers, press, those in a partnership with you, etc. Instead of being as actively sought after as link building is, link generation is a by-product of your work. This is another representation as to why the quality of your content is crucial.
Word of Caution
Backlinks are paramount to improving your page ranking. But this doesn't mean you should try and take short cuts. There are anecdotes of people creating hollow sites just to link to theirs to improve ranking. This will work short-term, but search engine algorithms are highly intelligent and once they realize this is a sham, they will tank the website and you will never recover. It isn't worth it. Search engine optimization is a long-term return on investment.
Taking your time and doing it properly will improve your ranking and relationship with those who are linking to you.
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