Backlinks remain one of the most important ranking factors for SEO in 2024.
But do backlinks actually help drive more organic traffic to your site?
The short answer is yes – when done right, earning backlinks from authority sites in your niche can significantly boost website traffic over time.
In this post, we’ll dig into the data on how backlinks increase traffic, best practices to leverage backlinks for growth, and tips to track your progress.
Backlinks Help Search Engines Understand and Rank Your Site
Google and other search engines use backlinks as a key signal to understand what a page is about and how authoritative it is on a given topic.
More backlinks from relevant, trusted sites act as “votes” to boost your page’s ranking in search results. This leads to higher visibility and more organic traffic.
One study by Moz found pages ranking #1 in Google’s results had over 2,200% more backlinks on average than pages ranking #10.
The data shows a clear correlation between more backlinks and higher rankings.
Gaining enough high quality backlinks signals to Google that your content is useful, trustworthy, and deserves to rank highly in search results.
Backlinks Drive Targeted Referral Traffic to Your Site
In addition to boosting SEO, backlinks also generate direct referral traffic to your site.
When another site links to your content, they send their readers your way. The higher authority the referring site, the more referral traffic you can expect.
For example, if you can land a backlink from a site like Forbes or Entrepreneur, it can drive thousands of visitors. But even a link from a niche blog or site can contribute additional organic traffic over time.
The key is to get backlinks from sites relevant to your target audience and topics. This nets you visitors actually interested in what you offer.
Focus on Getting Backlinks from Authority Sites Closely Related to Your Niche
Now we know backlinks can increase website traffic – but it’s important to emphasize that link quality matters more than pure quantity.
100 backlinks from spammy, irrelevant sites won’t impact organic growth nearly as much as 10 backlinks from recognized authority sites in your specific niche.
Look at your competitors ranking highly in search results and identify the top authority sites they have backlinks from. Reach out to request backlinks from similar domains.
If you run an ecommerce store selling home goods, aim to get links from sites like Architectural Digest, Good Housekeeping, Houzz, and other interior design authorities.
Choose link building targets strategically, so the backlinks are both influential for SEO and drive highly interested visitors.
Create Link-Worthy Content That Sites Will Actually Want to Reference
The best way to earn high-quality backlinks is to create content worth linking to. That means crafting content that’s:
- Informative – Teach readers something useful and add to their knowledge. Aim to be the definitive guide on a topic.
- Engaging – Combine research, data, stories, images, or videos for compelling content people want to consume and share.
- Original – Provide a fresh perspective or new research on an evergreen topic to pique interest.
- Visually Appealing – Use eye-catching designs, graphics, and formatting to make content more shareable.
Also optimize content for SEO with keyword research and on-page best practices. This makes your content more findable in search engines, leading to more organic discovery.
Craft content that aligns with your brand and provides real value, and backlinks will come more naturally over time.
Reach Out to Secure Backlinks from Relevant Sites
Don’t rely solely on link bait content. Once you publish great content, put in the outreach work to secure backlinks.
- Identify web properties linking to your competitors but not you, and contact them to suggest relevant content of yours to link to.
- Pitch roundups and content collections in your industry, providing them useful data, quotes, or resources to include and get a backlink.
- Contact niche bloggers and offer to write a guest post, including a link back to your site.
- Participate in relevant online forums and community sites, providing value and expertise and adding a link to your profile.
Relationship-building plays a key role. Provide value to partners first before requesting links. Offer to reciprocate with a link exchange or guest post on your site in return.
Promote Your Content Widely to Boost Link Building Potential
Don’t silo your content solely on your site. Distribute and promote it widely to expand link opportunities:
- Share blog posts and resources on social media channels, engaging followers.
- Repurpose content into a visual format for Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube.
- Publish on third-party industry publications like Medium to extend reach.
- Syndicate content on aggregators like MSN, Yahoo Finance, etc.
Getting content in front of more potential referrers increases the chances of earning relevant backlinks. Leverage every channel possible.
Measure Your Backlink Strategy’s Impact on Traffic
It’s important to track backlink growth and referral traffic over time to see the tangible impact on your site’s organic growth.
Within Google Analytics:
- View your top referral sites by traffic volume over months/years. Are backlinks driving an increasing percentage of visits?
- Check Google Search Console to view links to your site and add these as referral exclusions in Analytics. This isolates true referral traffic.
- Analyze whether visitors from a referring site bounce less or convert more. This indicates quality traffic.
- Set up UTMs to track visits, leads, sales from specific backlinks.
Continuously monitor results to guide your outreach and link building efforts toward the best ROI.
Don’t Rely on Backlinks Alone – Execute a Balanced SEO Strategy
While critical for boosting search visibility, backlinks are just one piece of a comprehensive SEO strategy.
You still need to master on-page optimization, produce quality content, engage on social media, earn press mentions, optimize site speed, and leverage search analytics.
A diversified approach focused on the end user experience leads to long-term sustainable growth, versus short-term link building wins.
But done right, backlinks can elevate your entire SEO strategy and become a powerful driver behind your website’s organic success.
Backlinks Remain One of the Strongest Factors in SEO
Google’s algorithm updates over the years have aimed to decrease reliance on backlinks. But multiple studies confirm backlinks maintain significant influence over rankings.
Moz’s 2022 ranking factors survey of over 100 SEO experts lists backlinks as the second most important factor.
Relevance, authority, and trust still signaled through credible backlinks are hard to replicate.
For businesses looking to grow organically, investing time in an effective backlink strategy is a must. When combined with quality content geared to ranking well in search engines and fulfilling user intent, backlinks provide the trust and authority signals to stand out.
The data doesn’t lie – approach backlink building strategically and ethically, and you can expect to see positive returns in website traffic and conversions over time.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many backlinks do I need to increase traffic?
There is no defined number of backlinks required to boost traffic.
Even one strong backlink from an authority site in your niche can impact rankings and visitors.
Focus on quality over quantity, and slowly build a diverse link profile from reputable sites.
How long does it take for backlinks to increase traffic?
It may take a few months for new quality backlinks to positively affect traffic, as search engines take time to crawl, index, and adjust ranking signals.
But if you continually build and earn new backlinks from authority domains, you’ll see compounding growth in organic search traffic over time.
What types of backlinks work best for SEO?
The best links come from authoritative sites closely related to your niche, especially editorial links within a site’s main content.
Look to build backlinks via relevant guest posts, resource page lists, and natural brand mentions. Avoid poor quality links from irrelevant or spammy sites.