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Link building is one of those search engine optimization (SEO) tactics that simply takes time to show results. Being such a tedious and often unrewarding job often times makes link building seem useless to webmasters looking to improve their ranking in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

On the contrary, backlinks contribute more than any other SEO practice to SERPs ranking, page rank, and many other factors.

What is a Backlink?
A backlink refers to an indexable link that points from one web page to another. Backlinks that are pertinent to your page’s content are preferable. For example, if you site focuses on women’s health then your ideal backlinks would be from sites that focus on the same.

The Process of Indexing Links
All internet travel is done through links. Links take you everywhere you want to go, and without them internet browsing would not be possible. This fact means that search engines such as Google and Yahoo! take backlinks very seriously as they use their unique algorithms to determine site importance and rank.

When search engine spiders visit a site they aren’t only indexing its content; they’re also indexing its links out. Indexing can be a slow process and finding out exactly who is linking to you and how well it will work for you takes time.

How Many Backlinks Do I Have?
Each search engine indexes and presents backlinks differently. While you’ll generally see all of your backlinks in Yahoo! shortly after they appear, Google limits the backlinks that reside in its database and typically takes longer to index them.

All major search engines allow for a syntax search to find your backlinks in their database. A backlink search should be in this format:

"link:www.yourdomainname.com" or "link:http://www.yourdomainname.com"

While Yahoo! updates their database on the fly with new indexed results for both pages and backlinks, Google updates it’s backlinks database approximately every three months (typically coinciding with its Page Rank update). If you don’t see results yet don’t panic!

Waiting For Results
Link building, while only one aspect of SEO, is arguably the most important. Pay close attention to your ranking and be aggressive in forming affiliate relationships with related sites. Keep your outgoing backlinks to a minimum and work on having related sites link to the pages in your site that they most closely match in topic and keyword content. And don’t forget that the easiest backlink is one that you didn’t have to work for! Give your visitors a reason to link back to you from their forums, sites, and profiles by giving them content and updates that excite them. A happy visitor will almost certainly tell a friend, and there is a good chance that, in this day and age, they’ll tell that friend via the internet.

Using backlinks is conjunction with other recommended SEO practices is a sure way to give your site a boost in the SERPs and in Page Rank. Be patient, be constant, and reap the rewards.
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