Links, Backlinks & Authority

Before we go too deep into this topic let’s first establish what links are. Links are specific URL’s that take you to a certain page of a website. These can be links to other pages of your website or links to completely different websites. Or they can be links from other websites to a page in your website. 

Here is an example of a link that takes you back to our home page: 21CM Guide to SEO. This is an internal website link.

What are backlinks?

Backlinks, also known as inbound or incoming links, are links from other websites to a page on your site. Backlinks are an important factor in SEO and should be a primary focus of your SEO efforts.

Backlinks, especially ones that come from sites that have high authority, act as votes of confidence for your website. But not all backlinks are equal! More on that below.

Inbound links graphic

The final two links that also are a big portion of your SEO are internal links and outbound links.

Internal links

Internal links are links from one page of your website to the other, such as a link from the “About Us” page back to the “Home” page. These links help distribute PageRank across your website to help improve the other page’s rankings. Furthermore, internal links are not solely for search engines, they enhance the user experience by making it easier to move around your site to get to important information.

a diagram of website page structure

Outbound Links

A diagram of inbound and outbound links

Outbound links are when your website links to another website. These should mainly be used when you want to link to a relevant and high-quality site.

Why do we care?

Just like an election, votes matter. As mentioned earlier, each backlink your site receives acts as a vote of confidence for your site. With more votes for your site and its content, the higher you will rank on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). This will then give you better organic traffic to your site and improve your overall SEO. 

Backlinks also improve user experience. As mentioned above, internal links are meant to distribute PageRank between your pages and increase navigability for the users. This will improve your site structure and will make your users happy to have a logically laid out website to browse.

Who do I want linking to my site?

It may seem that you would want everybody linking to your site because that equals more votes of confidence. However, not all backlinks are good for your SEO. Depending on what website they come from, they may have no effect or even have a negative effect (what is referred to as a “toxic” backlink).

Here is a list of some links you would want to avoid:

You don’t want a site that hates dogs linking to your site that sells CBD dog treats to help dogs sleep. Search engine crawlers will notice this, and this could hurt your ranking. Similarly, don’t ask your friends to have their websites link to yours unless it is a relevant site

These sites full of different backlinks are easy to gain inbound links to your site but the search engine will notice. The search engine will penalize your site if it finds you using public networks to build your website’s link profile.

If a poorly designed site with low authority is linking to you then this could negatively affect your websites ranking.

So What kind of sites should link to you?

The best kind of sites to receive inbound links from would be relevant sites with high authority. These natural links will have the biggest positive affect on your sites link profile.

Two link building tactics

Natural Links

Natural links are considered to be the “holy grail” of links. These are links that come to your site naturally from other site solely because they want to link to you. These sites link to you because they like your content and find your site valuable for their users.


These types of links are earned by you reaching out to other site owners or bloggers and pay them to link to your site. This is the most common link-building strategy.




Authority refers to the ranking, or power, of one website compared to another. For example, you’re a small local newspaper and you just created a website in the recent year. Who would you rather have link to your site? Another small newspaper website or You would want CNN to link to your site because they have a bigger link profile and higher authority than another small news source.

When a site with high authority links to your site, the crawlers notice that this highly rated site is linking to you, that must mean you have notable content that users may find helpful. Thus, the crawlers will rate your website higher on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Another example of authority would be the personal references on your application. The person interviewing you can call either your parents or your previous employer. They will probably call your previous employer because they have a higher authority when speaking about your work ethic.

High authority is gained through improving your SEO. This is done through link-building strategies, keyword planning, and a well thought out site structure. All of this will increase your ranking on the SERP and in addition, will increase your overall authority.

graphic of a man in a hurry


In Progress….


In Progress….

A note about paid traffic

Paid traffic does not boost the overall PageRank of your website.
This will help to boost traffic in a separate category than the actual “SEO” styled rank that a well-structured website is attempting to attain. Overall, paid traffic can not replace a well-crafted website in the long run.