Backlinks are pretty straightforward: they refer to links to your website from outside websites. These links can be tremendously beneficial, but they can also hurt you.
Google includes backlinks, also known as inbound links, when calculating the ranks of pages for searches. These are generally viewed as positive, showing that others value the content on the page being linked to, but there are bad ones as well.
You aren’t likely to end up with negative backlinks unless you pay for a suspiciously cheap link-building service. These services place links to your website on hundreds of pages that exist for the sole purpose of posting backlinks on. These are known as link farms, and as soon as Google discovers that a page is a link farm they will penalize every website linked to from it. Undoing this damage is possible, but takes a lot of time and effort.
The best backlinks are those on websites that also rank well and contain lots of genuinely valuable content. When Google sees that respectable websites link to your website, your website’s rank is likely to receive a nice boost. In addition to gaining more credibility in Google’s eyes, links from these websites are also likely to drive a lot of referral (clicks on the backlinks) traffic to your website.
High quality link building is a time-consuming component of SEO that is well-worth all the effort involved. Get the most out of your SEO campaign by making sure that link building is included!