Updated: May 30, 2019
Simply put, backlinks are a bridge from one website to another website.
In the early days of the Internet, search engines were very simple, and just used keyword matching. It didn’t matter how good the content was or how popular it was.
Website owners started to “keyword stuff,” which made the job of search engines pretty useless and weakened the value of searching for things on the Internet as a whole.
In 1998, two Stanford students named Larry Page and Sergey Brin investigated how they could make a better search engine that didn’t get fooled by keyword stuffing. They published a paper on page rankings, as a popularity indicator, and that's basically how backlinks got started.
WHAT IS A BACKLINK?
Backlinks are referrals from other websites that vouch for you and give you credibility.
They are great to have as they get picked up by search engines on Google and can help your ratings enormously.
Better ratings mean that your website pops up in the first few pages of results when people are online, searching for a product or service like yours.
Backlinks act as a signal to search engines that others are vouching for your content, therefore giving you validation.
Even just being mentioned on a good quality website can be helpful to you. Just as a poor-quality backlink can be bad and damage your brand.
Backlinks need to be organic. A few quality backlinks that help the reader are much better than quantity.
However, it is quite labour-intensive earning lots of backlinks.
HOW DO I GET A BACKLINK?
A good way to do this is to have a look at your competitors that are ranking well in searches and see what backlinks they are using. Approach these websites with content that may be of interest to them. There is also a free tool called Link Explorer which can help.
If you add a link to someone’s content from your web page, they may notice and return the favour back to you.
Considering the above, backlinks can highly increase your website traffic and conversion rate.