Types of Backlinks in SEO: 30 Link Types Explained

A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding and Utilizing Various Backlink Types for SEO Success
Published on 
May 27, 2024
Updated on 
May 27, 2024

What is a Backlink in SEO?

A backlink refers to a link from one website to another. The recipient site (the site to which the link leads) can be said to have received the backlink. The site doing the linking would be “hosting” the link or including it in their content as an “outbound link” (i.e., a link going somewhere else). 

Backlinks are and have always been one of the most important ranking factors for SEO.

Backlink Importance in SEO

If you want a much more comprehensive breakdown of why backlinks are important, we’ve written a very thorough guide you can consult, if you’d like a much more in-depth breakdown. 

In a nutshell, however, backlinks are important for search engine optimization because they tell search engines like Google that a page and/or an entire website is high quality and, therefore, deserving of visibility in the search engine. 

More visibility means more clicks, more people on your site, and more conversions (in theory). 

Here’s an image from a case study we did on one of the clients we built link for. Through link building, we took them from around 1000 organic traffic a month to more than 50,000. 

Backlink benefit: increased organic traffic

There are many benefits from link building, but by far the biggest, and the one most people are looking to enjoy, is the increased visibility and organic traffic from search engines. 

Backlinks are seen as trust and authority signals by search engines; the idea being that if another website has seen fit to link to yours (and send their traffic and users your way), they must think you are a worthy source of information/worthy brand. 

We will delve into the more nuanced concepts of link relevance and quality with respect to backlink types shortly, but in the simplest terms, backlinks are a way for search engines to understand how other websites on the internet feel about you and, therefore, your quality. 

Backlink benefit: increased referral traffic

Backlinks serve as pathways that lead users from one website to another, and the more backlinks your site has, the more opportunities there are for people to click on those links while consuming content elsewhere. 

As users navigate through different web pages, they may encounter links pointing to your site, piquing their curiosity and prompting them to visit. This influx of referral traffic from backlinks can significantly impact your website's visibility and engagement metrics. With a robust backlink profile from diverse and reputable sources, you can attract a steady stream of targeted traffic to your site, increasing the likelihood of converting visitors into customers or clients. 

By leveraging backlinks effectively, you can expand your online reach and establish your website as a valuable resource within your niche.

Backlink benefit: increased brand awareness

One significant advantage of backlinks, particularly those featuring branded anchor text, is their ability to bolster brand awareness across the web. When other websites link back to your site using your brand name or branded keywords, it reinforces your brand identity and makes it more recognizable to users. 

This association with reputable and authoritative sources not only enhances your brand's credibility but also solidifies its position within your industry. Moreover, as your brand receives more mentions and backlinks from diverse online platforms, it improves your visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs), making your brand more prominent and memorable to your target audience. 

Through strategic backlink building efforts, you can elevate your brand's online presence and establish a strong foothold in the digital landscape.

Can Backlinks be Different Quality?

Yes, absolutely, they can and, compared side by side, two backlinks very often are of much different quality. 

Quality, on its own, however, is quite a subjective term. Link types in SEO vary in quality across a few key metrics, which we are going to spend some time exploring below so that you know how to do good backlink analysis.

Quality Metric: relevance

Relevance plays a pivotal role in evaluating backlinks, determining their quality and impact on search engine rankings. 

Relevance refers to the correlation between the content of the linking page and the content of the linked-to page. When a backlink comes from a webpage that shares similar or related topics with the destination page, it is deemed more relevant.

Search engines value relevant backlinks more highly because they indicate to algorithms and users that the linked content provides additional valuable information on the same subject matter. 

Quality Metric: page-level authority

A lot of new SEOs fixate on Domain Authority as the be-all and end-all when it comes to link worthiness, but page-level authority is probably an even more important evaluation metric used to assess the quality and influence of a backlink. 

Page-level authority refers to the perceived trustworthiness, credibility, and overall quality of the webpage from which the backlink originates. Search engines assign authority scores to web pages based on various factors, including domain authority, page rank, quality of content, and backlink profile. 

Backlinks from pages with high page-level authority are considered more valuable because they signal to search engines that the linked content is reliable and trustworthy. 

We’ve put together a pretty thorough article on DA and PA, which includes instructions on how to check both when evaluating backlink opportunities. 

Quality Metric: anchor text

Anchor text, the visible and clickable text of a hyperlink, is an important aspect of backlink evaluation. Search engines use anchor text to understand the context and relevance of the linked content. We just used anchor text in the previous section to link to another of our blog articles: 

When assessing backlinks, search algorithms analyze the anchor text to determine the topic or subject matter of the linked-to page. Ideally, anchor text should be descriptive and accurately reflect the content of the destination page, but there are many different anchor text types and they serve a range of purposes. 

Types of Backlinks

There are a lot of different backlink types. Some are links you build, some are links that come organically over time. Some are links you want, some are links you need to be more careful of. 

Dofollow Backlinks vs nofollow backlinks

We’re going to start the list out with broader link types and get more granular as we go, and nothing is more fundamental than the concept of dofollow vs nofollow links. 

Dofollow backlinks

Dofollow backlinks are links that allow search engine crawlers to follow them and pass authority from the linking page to the linked page. These backlinks are valuable for improving the search engine ranking of the linked website, as they contribute to its overall authority and credibility. 

Dofollow backlinks can be identified and differentiated from other link types in the source code of page. Here’s a site we at dofollow secured a backlink on a while back: 

Here’s what that dofollow link looks like from the search engine’s perspective: 

Generally speaking, these backlinks are typically preferred over nofollow backlinks for SEO purposes, as they have a direct impact on search engine rankings.

Nofollow Backlinks

Nofollow backlinks are links that include the rel="nofollow" attribute, instructing search engines not to follow them or pass authority from the linking page to the linked page

While nofollow backlinks do not directly contribute to search engine rankings, they can still drive traffic to the linked website and provide other benefits, such as increased visibility and brand exposure. You usually find these in user-generated content, sponsored posts, or paid advertisements.

Here’s another link we go a while ago, this one nofollow: 

Here’s what that nofollow link looks like in the HTML code: 

Notice the “rel=”nofollow””?

Contextual vs non contextual backlinks

Contextual links are those that are seamlessly integrated within the body of a webpage, providing relevant information within the natural flow of content. They offer additional context to the topic being discussed and are perceived as more trustworthy and authoritative by users and search engines. 

They are typically found within articles, blog posts, or other forms of content where they enhance the reader's understanding and provide value.

Here’s a link in a Shopify article to a survey that helps better illustrate the supply chain issue point they’re trying to make in the content. 

Non-contextual links, on the other hand, are not integrated into the main content of a webpage and are often found in areas separate from the primary text, such as sidebars, footers, or navigation menus. 

Internal links can be contextual or non-contextual too. Here is the footer of our site, for example. All of these links would be considered non-contextual in most instances

These links may lack relevance to the surrounding content and could appear spammy if overused or unrelated to the page's topic. Non-contextual links include sidebar widgets, directory listings, footer links, and site-wide links. 

Editorial Backlinks

Editorial backlinks are highly coveted links that are obtained from authoritative sources such as news publications, industry journals, or reputable websites. 

These links are typically earned through the publication of high-quality content that adds value to the target website's audience. Unlike other types of backlinks, editorial backlinks are difficult to acquire as they require genuine recognition and approval from the linking site's editorial team.

They’re the gold standard when it comes to backlinks. Take a look at the below article from Hubspot called “The Ultimate List of Marketing Statistics for 2024”: 

It has generated some 58K links, and a huge number of those would be editorial: 

Backlinks From Guest Blogging

Backlinks from guest blogging (or guest posting) are a popular strategy for acquiring links from relevant websites within a particular niche. This method involves writing articles or blog posts for other websites in exchange for a backlink to the author's website. 

Guest blogging allows website owners to showcase their expertise, build relationships with other bloggers, and gain exposure to new audiences. These backlinks are often contextual, meaning they are embedded within the body of the guest post, which enhances their SEO value.

Backlinks in Business Profiles

Backlinks in business profiles are links that are included in online directories, business listings, or social media profiles. These links help to establish the credibility and authority of a business website by providing additional avenues for users to discover and access the site. 

Here’s Salesforce’s on G2: 

Business profile backlinks are particularly valuable for local SEO efforts, as they contribute to the overall visibility and prominence of a business within its target market.

Backlinks from Webinars

Backlinks from webinars are links obtained from online seminars or workshops hosted by a website or organization. These backlinks are often included in the webinar's description or promotional materials and can drive traffic and credibility to the linked website. 

Here’s an example from Clearscope’s Webinar page for The Gray Dot Company: 


Webinar backlinks are valuable because they are typically associated with high-quality, educational content that appeals to a targeted audience.

Guest Post Bio Links

Guest post bio links are backlinks included in the author's bio section of a guest post or contributed article. These links are typically accompanied by a brief description of the author and their website, along with a hyperlink to the author's website. 

Here’s an example from an author bio on Linkedin: 


Guest post bio links are valuable for driving traffic and building authority, as they provide readers with additional information about the author and their expertise.

Badge Backlinks


Badge backlinks are links obtained by displaying a badge or seal on a website, typically indicating membership in a particular organization, participation in an event, or recognition for achievement. 

These backlinks are often provided as HTML code that can be embedded on the linked website, along with a hyperlink back to the source of the badge. Badge backlinks are valuable for building credibility and authority, as they demonstrate affiliation with reputable organizations or entities.

Comment and forum Backlinks

Comment and forum backlinks are links acquired by leaving comments on blog posts, articles, or other types of online content like forums. 

These backlinks are typically embedded within the comment itself and may be accompanied by the commenter's name or username. 

They may also be considered spam backlinks depending on how and where you create/acquire these links. 

Niche Edits Backlinks

Niche edits backlinks, also known as curated links, are contextual links inserted into existing articles or blog posts within a specific niche. 

These backlinks are valuable for building authority and relevance for the linked website, as they are placed within content that is already resonating with the target audience. Niche edits backlinks are typically acquired through outreach to website owners or content editors and can help to improve search engine rankings for targeted keywords or topics.

Let’s say you were a customer service software company trying to get a link from (a tall order, to be sure). You might, after coming across their article “The Best Customer Service Software for 2024,” decide to reach out and see if you could include a blurb/section on your product, structuring it like the rest of the products in the article:

Their list of 17 would then turn into 18. 

Press Release Backlinks

Press release backlinks are links obtained through the distribution of press releases to news outlets, journalists, and online publications. 

Here’s an example from Jellysmack from a press release posted to PR Newswire: 

At the bottom of the article you find this link to their site: 

These backlinks are typically included in the body of the press release or in the accompanying media coverage and can help to drive traffic and visibility to the linked website. Press release backlinks are valuable for building brand awareness, generating publicity, and improving search engine rankings for targeted keywords or topics.

Social Media Backlinks

Social media backlinks are links obtained from social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram. These backlinks are typically included in posts, comments, or profiles and can help to drive traffic and engagement to the linked website. 

Linkedin is a popular forum for this. Here’s an example from First Impressions Marketing: 

Here’s the link they’ve included to their website at the end of their article:


Social media backlinks are valuable for building brand awareness, increasing visibility, and improving search engine rankings for targeted keywords or topics.

Image Backlinks

Image backlinks are links obtained from images hosted on other websites. These backlinks are typically included in the image's alt text or caption and can help to improve the visibility and relevance of the linked website. 

See the text “national park” above? That hyperlinked text would send you to the Thai National Parks website, which would benefit from the image link. 

Image backlinks are valuable for driving traffic and engagement, as well as improving search engine rankings for targeted keywords or topics. However, it is important to optimize images with relevant keywords and descriptions to maximize the SEO value of image backlinks.

Video Backlinks

Video backlinks are links obtained from video-sharing platforms such as YouTube, Vimeo, or Dailymotion. These backlinks are typically included in the video description or comments section and can help to drive traffic and engagement to the linked website. 

Here’s an example from a YouTube video posted by the Dodo: 

You can see a large list of links to various socials, as well as the “read more on our site” link at the very bottom. 

Video backlinks are valuable for improving brand visibility, attracting new audiences, and enhancing search engine rankings, especially since videos are increasingly popular content formats online.

Paid Backlinks

Paid backlinks are links obtained through monetary transactions, such as purchasing link placements on other websites or participating in paid link-building services. 

If you run a website of any prominence whatsoever, you’ve probably received emails like these: 

These backlinks are typically included in sponsored posts, advertisements, or paid partnerships and can help to improve the visibility and authority of the linked website. 

Bear in mind that paid backlinks are subject to search engine guidelines, and excessive or manipulative link-buying practices can result in penalties or devaluation of search engine rankings.

Edu and Gov Backlinks

Edu and gov backlinks are links obtained from educational institutions (.edu) and government websites (.gov). These backlinks are highly regarded by search engines due to the authority and credibility associated with these domains. 

Edu and gov backlinks are typically included in academic publications, research papers, or official government documents, but can also come from university directory pages listing things like scholarships or student discounts. Here’s a discounts page from Boston College. 


All of the sites linked to in this list would be receiving a high authority backlink from a very reputable website. 

Unlinked Brand Mentions

Unlinked brand mentions are instances where a website or publication mentions a brand name but does not include a hyperlink to the brand's website. 

Here’s one we got a while ago (back when we were 

See that there’s no link, just a mention?

These mentions can still provide value in terms of brand visibility and recognition, but they lack the direct SEO benefits of a clickable backlink. 

Monitoring and tracking unlinked brand mentions can help website owners identify opportunities to reach out to publishers and request the addition of backlinks, thereby maximizing the SEO potential of brand mentions.

Podcast Backlinks

Podcast backlinks are links obtained from podcasts or podcast show notes. These backlinks are typically included in episode descriptions, guest introductions, or podcast websites and can help to drive traffic and engagement to the linked website. 

Here’s an example from the  The Smart Passive Income Online Business and Blogging Podcast when they hosted Keenya Kelly, CEO of Brand It: 

Podcast backlinks are valuable for reaching new audiences, building authority in specific niches, and enhancing search engine rankings, especially since podcasts have become increasingly popular as a content medium.

Testimonial Backlinks

Testimonial backlinks are links obtained by providing testimonials or reviews for products, services, or businesses. Notice the “” text is hyperlinked in the below testimonial.

Testimonial backlinks can help to establish credibility, build relationships with other businesses, and improve search engine rankings by associating the linked website with reputable brands or providers. 

Influencer-Generated Backlinks

Influencer-generated backlinks are those acquired through collaborations or partnerships with social media influencers, bloggers, or content creators. These backlinks are typically included in sponsored content, affiliate promotions, or product reviews and can help to increase brand visibility and credibility. 

Here’s a screenshot from the Authority Hacker website (an affiliate marketing course provider) promoting several plugins. 


Influencer-generated backlinks are valuable for reaching new audiences, generating buzz around products or services, and improving search engine rankings through endorsements from trusted influencers within specific niches or industries.

PBNs (Private Blog Networks)

Private Blog Networks (PBNs) are networks of websites created for the sole purpose of manipulating search engine rankings. 


These websites are often owned or controlled by a single entity and are used to build links to a target website, thereby artificially boosting its search engine visibility. 

PBN links are considered manipulative and unnatural by search engines and can result in penalties or devaluation of search engine rankings if detected. However, when used carefully, PBNs can provide significant ranking power and authority to a website.

Social Bookmarks

Social bookmarking sites are platforms that allow users to share and bookmark web pages or content. Here’s an online e-scooter store that is using Pinterest (one of the most popular social bookmarking sites) to try and add to their backlink profile. 

Social bookmarking links are created by sharing website URLs on these platforms, typically accompanied by a brief description or tags. While social bookmarking links may not carry as much weight as other types of backlinks, they can help to increase the visibility and accessibility of a website's content. 

They are considered pillow links and can be valuable for diversifying a website's link profile, in addition to a great source of referral traffic.

Article Directories

Article directories are websites that allow users to submit articles for publication. These directories typically contain a wide range of articles on various topics, making them valuable resources for readers seeking information or resources.

Article directory links are obtained by submitting articles with embedded backlinks to a target website. While article directory links were once considered valuable for link building, they have declined in importance due to changes in search engine algorithms and the proliferation of low-quality or spammy content. However, high-quality article directory links from reputable directories may still provide some SEO value.

Reciprocal Links (Link Exchanges)

Reciprocal links, also known as link exchanges, involve two websites mutually agreeing to link to each other's content. These links are typically placed on relevant pages or within content that is related to the linked websites' respective topics or industries. 

Reciprocal links are intended to demonstrate a relationship or affiliation between the two websites and can help to improve search engine rankings by increasing the number of inbound links to a website. However, excessive or manipulative link exchanges are viewed as spammy by search engines and may result in penalties or devaluation of search engine rankings.

Widget and Sidebar Links

Widget and sidebar links are hyperlinks placed within widgets or sidebars on a website. These links are typically displayed alongside other content or navigation elements and are intended to provide additional resources or information to visitors. 


Widget and sidebar links can vary in format and placement but are commonly found on blog pages, news websites, or content-rich websites. While these links may not carry as much weight as contextual or editorial links, they can still contribute to a website's overall link profile and help to improve search engine rankings when placed on relevant and authoritative websites.

Just be very wary that Google has become very skeptical of these kinds of links over the years (especially widget links). 

Infographic links

Infographic backlinks are either clickable image links or contained in the caption or image text of an infographic. 

Infographic link building has become one of the main ways companies engage in natural link building because of how effective visualization of data and concepts are. Done right, they act as stellar link magnets (pieces of content that attract backlinks by their sheer quality, originality and usefulness).


The above infographic on supply chain disruption from Asia Central built 6 very high quality backlinks for itself, as you can see in Ahrefs: 

Resource Pages

Resource pages are web pages that curate and organize helpful resources, links, or information related to a specific topic or industry. These pages are intended to provide valuable resources and references for visitors seeking information or assistance. 

Here’s an example of a sample resource page for responsive design:


Getting links from resource pages can help to improve a website's visibility, authority, and relevance within a specific niche or industry. 

Web 2.0s

Web 2.0 platforms are interactive websites that allow users to create and share content, collaborate with others, and engage in online communities. 

Quora is a prime example of Web 2.0.

These platforms platforms can be leveraged for link building purposes by creating and optimizing user-generated content with embedded backlinks to target websites. These links can be valuable for increasing the visibility, authority, and relevance of linked websites and can help to improve search engine rankings when used strategically.

What’s more, Additionally, Web 2.0 platforms provide opportunities for content syndication and distribution, social sharing, and engagement, further enhancing the impact of backlinks on website performance.

Tips for Backlink Building

A lot goes into link building, so an exhaustive list of tips would take thousands and thousands of words to cover. 

When building backlinks, one of the most important things you can do is equip yourself with information on what not to do

As for tips, we’re all about future proof link building here at dofollow. We’ve put together a great resource on how to future-proof your link building strategy, but we will provide an overview of some of the main takeaways below. 

Tip 1: Be Smart About Utilizing AI and ML Technology

Embrace the use of AI and machine learning technologies to streamline the link building process, such as automating content creation, backlink analysis, outreach, and competitor analysis. 

Leveraging these technologies can make link building more efficient, cost-effective, and scalable, but you need to understand that there is a stark line between spam and human-first content. 

Tip 2: Stay Up-to-Date on Google's Perspective

Stay informed about Google's evolving algorithm and its perspective on backlinks. Despite advancements in evaluating content without backlinks, links remain crucial for conveying authority and credibility. 

Therefore, maintaining a thoughtful and informed link building strategy is essential for ranking well and driving organic traffic.

Tip 3: Cultivate Relationships

Focus on building genuine relationships within relevant industries or communities rather than pursuing strictly transactional link building. 

By understanding the needs and quality standards of potential partners, vetting sites carefully, and fostering connections, you can establish a network for sustainable link building efforts. You also never know where a relationship may lead. 

These days, websites are often owned by investors and large groups with sizeable portfolios of sites. A relationship with the content manager of one site could end up meaning access to dozens of sites. 

Tip 4: Build Links to Primary Sources

Minimize link decay or loss (i.e., the natural loss of backlinks over time as websites change, remove content, etc.) by prioritizing links from primary sources and reputable sites with longevity. 

Avoid over-reliance on smaller or less established websites that may be prone to disappearing, thereby safeguarding link equity over time.

Natural Link Acquisition

Strive to attract editorial or natural links by creating high-quality, linkable content that resonates with audiences and satisfies search intent. If you take a content-first approach to backlinks, you will almost certainly be able to build a more impressive backlink profile. 

Natural links are viewed favourably by search engines and contribute to a trustworthy and authoritative online presence.

Wrapping up

From the foundational principles of dofollow and nofollow links to the nuanced approaches of contextual and editorial links, each type of backlink carries its own significance and impact on search engine rankings. 

We hope the above article has helped you better understand the intricacies of backlink type so that you can employ a strategic blend of link building techniques and do what works best for you.

Whether it's cultivating relationships for natural link acquisition, harnessing the power of infographics for visual storytelling, or leveraging advanced AI technologies for streamlined outreach, the key lies in adopting a holistic and future-proof approach to backlink building. 

Ultimately, by staying informed, adapting to industry trends, and prioritizing quality over quantity, businesses can pave the way for sustained growth, increased organic traffic, and lasting search engine success.

Why Trust Us On SEO

Eric Carrell & Sebastian Schaffer have been working in SEO for over a decade, building their own projects - understanding and testing SEO strategy, along with building hundreds of white hat links per month for our projects. They take their learnings and experience and apply them to the strategy that drives our link building strategy for our clients.

Eric & Seb have always believed in quality over quantity, doing things the right way so we future proof our client’s websites against future Google updates and the evolving industry of search.

While Seb handles the company strategy around culture, processes and structure, Eric is constantly working to improve our service offering, customer experience, and following the industry in parallel with Google’s Quality Guidelines so that we are always one step ahead of our competition and aligned with what Google wants to see for your site to rank higher.

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