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A backlink or inbound link is an incoming external link from one website to another.

General information on the topic

Before the advent of search engines, links were a primary means of web navigation. Today, backlinks are important for search engine optimization. The number of backlinks is often to be interpreted as an indication of the popularity or importance of a website and whether a site enjoys a high reputation ( link popularity ) on the web.


There are several factors that determine the value of a backlink. Backlinks from authoritative sites, which come from so-called trusted domains and are linked to relevant topics, are very valuable. If both pages link to each other on a topic-related basis, the backlink is considered relevant and rated positively by the search engine. If a backlink is trustworthy and relevant to the topic, it can have a strong influence on the search engine rankings of the linked website.

A backlink is not just a recommendation of the content, it is an “editorial vote” for the website. The Fresh Web Explorer software, for example, can be used to identify all backlinks on a website.


anchor text

Another important factor is the anchor text of a backlink. The anchor text is the descriptive label of a hyperlink. Depending on how the anchor text is declared, it also appears in the text. Google examines anchor texts closely to determine relevance. Here, too, “unnatural” anchor texts were often generated in the past.

Checking links regularly

The content of a link does not necessarily have to remain as it is. They often change, or links even lead to nowhere at a later point in time.

It is therefore essential to check links regularly, also to clarify whether the content has changed or whether what was originally high-quality content could have become problematic.

Google itself is not idle here either, but it should definitely be checked regularly.

Consequences of Google’s 2021 core update

In a hangout, John Mueller from Google addressed the issue of spam backlinks. A questioner was affected by numerous spam backlinks for which he was not responsible. After the core update in July 2021, one of his pages crashed, which the questioner linked to the update and the spam links.

Mueller then emphasized that the spam links were not the reason for the poorer ranking. Mueller also denied the question of whether technical problems could lead to a lower ranking. The questioner had used a disavow file to check and fix the site for technical issues.

According to Mueller, the reason for a lower ranking is the overall impression of a page. This includes not only the actual content but also the layout and other factors.

So it doesn’t necessarily have to be spam backlinks that lead to a lower ranking, even if that seems to be the obvious explanation at first. After the core update:

Technical problems are not the reason for a crash after the core update. Rather, the overall quality of the website should be examined closely. Anyone who is affected and is confronted with a poorer ranking after the update must probably expect to only achieve a better ranking with the next core update provided that they have taken appropriate measures in the meantime.

Importance for SEO

Search engines often use the number of backlinks a page has to determine the site’s popularity and importance on the Internet. Google’s algorithm and PageRank system are based on the logic that a page that links to another page considers it a recommendation. The assumption is that the more backlinks a website has, the better it will rank in search results. This assumption led to the accumulation of spamming methods by some search engine optimizers, such as placing as many inbound links as possible on their website. Article directories were sometimes used for this purpose. This is how link farms came about and link sellers who tried massively to manipulate the search engines with it.

Today, the quality of a backlink matters more than the number of external inbound links. Due to some Google algorithm updates such as the Penguin update, poor-quality links can now be easily identified and invalidated by Google. In some cases, it is even dangerous to use illegal methods for link building, since you risk having the entire domain banned from the Google search engine index and/or receiving another penalty. On the other hand, cross-linking with other trustworthy domains that are used sensibly can benefit the ranking.

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