Backlinks, which are sometimes called inbound links, are incoming links to a web page or the entire website. These inbound links are important to search engine rankings because many different search engines have algorithms that measure the number of backlinks a website or web page has, and ranks those web pages with more backlinks in a higher position. The more backlinks a website has, the more popular it is, and the more pertinent the information is considered by search engine algorithms. Many pages concerned with search engine optimization have mechanisms to discover how many backlinks the web page or website has, so that particular company can not only know the exact number of times that it has been backlinked, but where these backlinks are coming from, and if they are from related sources or not.
Discovering how many backlinks a website has can be narrowed down by using different search engines, such as Google, or Yahoo! SiteExplorer, or even MSN LiveSearch. This simplistic manner in discovering the number of backlinks can be an easy way for websites to find out whether any other websites find the information on the page to be pertinent to the chosen keywords or not. It can also be used as a way to re-evaluate the text on the page, and any information that could be changed to bring in more positive results. Using a search engine to determine how many backlinks a web page has though is not as accurate as building in a modification that can assist in counting the number of backlinks to the particular webpage or website.
Many search engine algorithms use backlinks to determine page rank too. A web page that has more backlinks than another with similar content will rank higher than the other page, simply because it seems to be more popular with visitors and other websites. Unfortunately, this means that many websites have engaged in paid linking, which boosts their backlink numbers. This has caused search engines to add in specifications to the algorithms used to determine backlinks that now research whether the backlinks have been paid for, or are genuine. Only genuine backlinks help web pages rank well on most search engines. This action has caused many websites to lose their page rankings, but has also allowed other pages with genuine backlinks to rise in the search engine results with major search engines such as Google.
There are different types of backlinks as well. Web pages use different types of backlinks to make the linking a mutually beneficial objective, as well as to build the number of backlinks to the website. In basic reciprocal linking, two web pages agree to link to each other. In three way linking, three or more web pages link to each other in what is commonly known as a webring. There are automatic linking services available to companies, as well as link exchange forums, where web pages can get linked to other websites in exchange for linking to other sites, and paying a fee, usually. This form of backlinking is no longer very profitable because of the restrictions placed on the web pages. Using backlinks is a great search engine optimization technique though, as long as the backlinks are genuine and are not an attempt to fool the search engine algorithms.