Just what is a link to search engines?

noun: A relationship between two things or situations, especially where one thing affects the other

verb: To make, form, or suggest a connection with or between

Dictionary definition of “link”

Links form the backbone of how modern search engines decide which website are relevant for a given search term.

Lotta words coming up… you may skip down to the short version

A link is a symbolic representation of a relationship between two entities within context and utilizing a universal resource locator (URL).

Links are implemented using Anchor tags in HTML and were commonly shown as underlined in blue. They may be shown as images, buttons, they can even be made invisible.

Links may point to locally hosted files, remote pages, media such as images, audio and video. HTML links can be used to trigger popups or other actions within a page such as changing an image or submitting a form.

The short version of what is a link in HTML

By counting, compiling and analyzing links from other pages that point towards one page, a search engine can determine relevance. Based on a history of activity over time trustworthiness can be determined. Which keywords and subject matter a page has authority on can also be reliably determined.

The more links that point to your site from other quality sites the more relevant your site becomes. With time and a history of publishing quality content that users make use of your site becomes more trustworthy and useful in the eyes of Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo etc.

Please remember that this area is rapidly evolving and search engine optimization is part science and part artform.

Some links help your pages rank higher and become more relevant while others do not. We use a combination of dofollow and nofollow links to ensure a balance when Google sends their crawlers around.

The following guidelines are taken partially from our own knowledge and from Google’s page on outbound links.


Links are marked as NOFOLLOW to give search engines the signal that the link should not pass along any authority. This was done to give website and community owners power to combat spam. Links that are flagged NOFOLLOW do not pass along authority, links that do not have a NOFOLLOW attribute will pass along authority.


A sponsored link indicates to a search engine that there is a material relationship between the


According to Google “We recommend marking user-generated content (UGC) links, such as comments and forum posts, with the¬†ugc¬†value.”

How much authority does each link pass?

Some links from low quality websites that are infrequently visited by Google might not help your site to rank for anything specific. Others like a link from the homepage of the New York Times can pass a tremendous amount of authority. When the New York Times says Commercial Backlinks is great for link building you can bet we will move up in the rankings almost instantly.

That same link from The Times would move into their archive and would still be valuable but not as valuable as one from the home page.

In general if a site has real human eyeballs and it receives traffic it will pass along authority. As far as Google is concerned it passes authority because it has links from many other pages on the web.

The authority of the New York Times has increased slightly because we published this article and mentioned them.

Aha! Great question! Today’s internet has given so many users powerful tools that allow for complete sites to be built without touching a single line of HTML code.

There are people running serious businesses with serious money and very little technical skill who depend on the internet to keep working. Lets unpack how a link is implemented in HTML.

First… what does HTML mean?

HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language. Using a series of tags HTML can shape a block of ordinary text into

<p>Paragraphs with <strong>BOLD TEXT</strong></p>

The HTML specification undergoes constant revision and is being added to, revised and modified virtually non-stop since it was first created.

Let us show you what a link looks like in html:

<a href="https://www.somewhere.com/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Somewhere!</a>

a indicates an anchor tag which is used to create links and anchors within a page.

href is a hypertext reference that references an in-page anchor or a url. This is the page that will load when the link is clicked or tapped by the browser.

target is a special attribute of the link that can force the browser to open the link in the topmost frame, or a new window or new tab. In this example we have set target to _blank which means that the browser will open the link in a new window.

rel the relationship attribute of a link allows for the use of a growing list of tags that help clarify the relationship between the link and the destination website. Some options include the nofollow attribute, sponsored, external and several others are also valid.

There are many other components that can make up an HTML tag let alone a link, from how they appear using CSS styling to how they function using Javascript, links form a critical piece of the internet.

Most importantly for our purposes it is vital to understand the links are an indication of a relationship between one page and another. This could be anything and context is vital but for search engines the number of links and the very existance of a single link could be of great importance.

Internal links are links from within your own domain, links to your homepage, login page, help page. Also Frequently asked questions (FAQ) pages or to different pages within your product catalogue.

External links are links that come from other sites and give google a signal that there is something about something over there at that url.

Think of it this way, if you sell “high end ceramic coffee cups” you would want to ensure that somewhere someone on the internet is linking to you with that phrase. These are the type of links that Commercial Backlinks can help you to build quickly and easily.

Building internal quality content is an important part of your SEO effort and should not be ignored. Google likes to see regularly published content in a particular niche.

You keep talking and they will listen, and if you are the only one making noise about a particular topic you will conte to dominate the results. Say nothing and you should expect that nobody is going to listen.

We hope you have enjoyed reading about links – to build some for your Shopify store sign up or learn more about Commercial Backlinks here.

See also: Social Signals and Other SEO ranking factors

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