There’s a secret formula for making a successful website and for the average person, that formula can be difficult to crack. There are so many things that go into the search rankings on Google, that it’s tough to determine what’s important and what’s not.

One of the things that we hear a lot about, however, is backlinks.

What are backlinks?

The short answer is, backlinks are links to your site and its content from other sites. They’re links from websites that are outside of your control. For example, I like crediting the blogger and marketer Neil Patel a lot. I usually use a link to his content when I create a post. That link is what you call a backlink.

Google uses backlinks to help create a score for your website. The higher your score, the better chance you have of appearing on the first page of search results.

Backlinks play a large part in determining that score.


Are there good backlinks and bad backlinks?

But Google does not weigh all backlinks the same. Google rates sites based on credibility. The more credible the site, the more valuable the backlink. Google added this into its ranking algorithm to prevent spam websites from influencing its system.

Think about it this way, are you more excited if an article on the Wall Street Journal links to your website or if the website Bob’s Favorite Things links to your site? The Wall Street Journal of course! It’s more credible than Bob and more people are going to follow the Wall Street Journal than Bob. (Sorry Bob.)

The good, the bad and the okay backlinks

In this instance, a good backlink would be one from the Wall Street Journal. It’s credible, it gets tons of traffic and people think it’s a reputable source.

The site Bob’s Favorite Things is what I would call an okay backlink. It’s a website that has average credibility and it’s trying to offer its readers value.

A link from a spam website would be what I would call a bad backlink. Spam websites create links just to rank higher on Google without worrying about the content connected to those links.


What qualifies as a good backlink?

Good backlinks come from those quality, trustworthy sites. They are sites that tens of thousands of people visit and trust. They are considered to have credible information. Many times, these sites are already highly ranked within Google’s algorithm.


How can I increase my chances of a good backlink?

For a majority of websites, good backlinks are going to be few and far between. However, there are things you can do to increase your chances of getting a good backlink.

  • Pictures and infographics — People love a visual representation to go along with the text and it makes it easier to read, especially if there are a lot of words to go along with the content.
  • A good word count — 1,800 to 2,000 word range is the school of thought at the moment. That’s because you’re doing an in-depth dive into a topic that’s going to give readers value. 1,800 to 2,000 words is long enough to get you the most value without losing a reader’s interest.


Are the okay backlinks useful?

Most websites will have a hard time finding those good backlinks, but okay backlinks are great ones to strive for as well. That’s because if you receive enough okay backlinks on your site, Google will start to take notice.

Think of it like a snowball. When you have a few snowflakes, it’s not a very good snowball. You can’t throw it or anything. However, those snowflakes start attracting more snowflakes and they start to stick together. Now your snowball is getting larger and larger. Suddenly, it’s something that you start to take notice of.

Okay, backlinks work like that. A few okay backlinks are nice. Then they start to attract more sites that backlink to you. Soon, you’re getting a large group of awesome okay backlinks and sites like Google take notice.


Avoid the SPAM trap

Now and then, a good website will get accidentally tagged as a SPAM website. As Patel says on his website, when you go for the quantity of backlinks instead of aiming for quality ones, you run a higher risk of getting caught by a spam website.

Spam websites will cause your search rankings to plummet. Patel has created a chart here of what to do if you do get caught by a spam website.

If you notice that your search rankings suddenly have a sharp fall-off then you need to look into whether you’ve been labeled a spam website by Google immediately. Then take action to fix the problem. Once you labeled a spam website, all your content moving forward is useless until you get that label removed.



Google’s search algorithm is incredibly difficult to navigate. That’s why companies specialize in things like SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and sales funnels.

However, if you’re going it alone, then looking at things like backlinks to your website and building content that other sites can backlink to is a good place to start.

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Written by Erika Towne