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If you’ve spent some time in Photoshop, then you probably know there are a lot of hidden features in the program. With so many different tools and options, there are a ton of valuable things you should know about in the program. One of the most important things being smart objects. So what is a smart object in Photoshop, and how can you start using them?

In this tutorial, you’ll learn what a smart object is and why they’re useful to you. They offer far more versatility than first meets the eye, and here you’ll discover all the best ways to use them. Let’s get started.

What Is A Smart Object In Photoshop?

A smart object is a type of layer that acts as a container, protecting all the original attributes of the source content. Unlike a regular layer, a smart object offers a way to edit layers non-destructively since you’re editing the ‘container’ instead of the source.

Resized smart object

In a nutshell, smart objects are used to edit layers with more control and without the worry of making permanent changes.

How To Create Smart Objects In Photoshop

There’s no point in learning what a smart object is in Photoshop if you don’t know how to make one! Luckily there are a ton of different ways you can create smart objects. For the sake of ease and to prevent overwhelm, let’s focus on the main three.

Option #2: Layer Panel Method

Option #3: Layer Menu Method 3 Reasons Why Smart Objects Are Useful In Photoshop

To fully understand the question of ‘what is a smart object in Photoshop,’ these three reasons will offer more clarity.

#1. You Can Scale Images Without Quality Loss

Let me show you exactly how this works.

Here I’ve created two circles. The red circle is a regular layer, while the blue circle is a smart object.

I’ll grab my move tool and rescale both circles to a tiny size.

At this point, both circles still look the same, just smaller. Now let’s scale them back up again.

Now the difference between the regular layer and the smart object is glaring. The red circle has become pixelated while the blue circle still looks sharp. This is the power of a smart object at work.

Since the smart object puts the blue circle in a ‘container,’ you never resize the actual shape. You’re just scaling the container. This means that no matter how many times you adjust this container, the contents will look the same.

With a regular layer, you’re directly editing the source content. In this case, the source content is the red circle. When you scale the circle down, it has to fit itself into a smaller number of pixels. Once you scale up this small circle, there isn’t enough information left to maintain a sharp edge like before. That’s why you end up with fuzzy edges.

#2. You Can Edit Filter Adjustments

With a regular layer, filter adjustments such as blurs are directly applied to the image. This means that once you commit to the filter, you’re out of luck if you need to make adjustments.

That’s why a smart object is useful once again.

Smart objects give you the ability to edit filters after you’ve applied them. This way, you can further refine your filters as long as you need.

Let’s go through an example to highlight this point.

– Applying Filters To A Regular Layer

Let’s say you want to add a gaussian blur to a layer. In this first example, I’ll apply a gaussian blur to a regular layer.

I’ll set a random blur radius and press ok to commit to my changes.

Now my layer has become blurred, but there’s no way to re-edit my blur adjustments.

If you were unhappy with the results, you’d need to undo with Command + Z (Mac) or Control + Z (PC) and start again.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty annoying and time-wasting.

– Applying Filters To A Smart Object

This time, I’ll convert my layer to a smart object before adding the gaussian blur.

From here, let’s repeat the same process.

At this point, the results look the same on the canvas. The image is still blurred, just like before. The real changes have been made in the layers panel.

Smart objects in Photoshop offer the highest level of customization possible to a layer. This is especially true with filters!

#3. You Can Merge Layers Non-Destructively

When you are using smart objects in Photoshop, you can combine multiple layers into a single smart object.

Unlike merging layers in Photoshop, which is a permanent way of combining layers, smart objects do it non-destructively.

This option is not available in earlier versions of the program.

When To Use Smart Objects In Your Editing

There is no definitive answer to when you should use smart objects in Photoshop, but there are some suggestions. In any type of scenario where you might want extra control or the option to make adjustments, smart objects are a must.

Here are just a few times you should use smart objects:

Working with shape layers

When you’ve cut out something from an image

If you need to rescale something often to find the right position

When you need to apply a single filter to multiple layers

If you want to merge layers non-destructively

If you want the option to make changes to filter adjustments

How To Access Your Layers In A Smart Object

As I discussed earlier, smart objects act as a container for your layers. It doesn’t matter whether you have one layer or ten layers in this container because it still operates the same.

When you have multiple layers combined into one smart object, you can still edit each one individually.

In this new tab, you can edit the layers in any way you’d like. You can even create new layers if need be! Everything operates the same as normal, the only difference being that it’s all inside your smart object.

How To Save Changes Made To A Smart Object

As you’ll quickly come to realize, the changes you make in a smart object won’t reflect in your actual project. You need to save the changes made in your smart object to see them in your original project.

Luckily this is extremely easy with a simple keyboard shortcut.

Once you’ve adjusted the contents of your smart object as needed, press Command + S (Mac) or Control + S (PC) to save your changes.

Since it’s a smart object, it won’t save into a project file. Instead, it will save to the smart object container within your original project!

Can You Combine Smart Objects With Other Smart Objects?

Yes, it is possible to have a smart object within another smart object.

While you’re editing the contents of a smart object, you can do the same. By selecting the layers inside and creating a new smart object, you’ll now have a smart object within your smart object.

It’s easy to start getting confused as you create this smart object matrix for yourself. When you’re merging these, be vigilant with renaming your layers, so things don’t get confusing!

When NOT To Use Smart Objects In Photoshop

It’s true; smart objects are downright awesome. In most cases, they’re the perfect solution to your Photoshop needs, but this comes with exceptions.

There is only one instance where you can’t use smart objects, and that’s when you want to edit a layer directly. 

For example, if you tried to use your brush tool directly on a smart object, you’d get an error. This happens because you’d be painting on the ‘container’ and not the actual layer(s) inside.

A similar thing would happen if you wanted to make a clone stamp adjustment directly on your layer. Since you can’t adjust the smart object, you’d need to edit its contents and make your adjustments to the actual layers inside.

This is a small thing to remember as you begin to learn what a smart object is for. To avoid frustration and error messages, don’t use smart objects if you want to edit a layer directly.


– Brendan 🙂

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What Is Artboard In Photoshop And How To Create It?

Photoshop, though used by millions of users around the world and the most well-entrenched industry standard in graphic design, digital art, and photo editing, remains something of an enigma to many users still scratching at the surface of the software’s full potential. While the basic toolset and layout are easy to grasp, it is the more off-the-beaten-path features that make Photoshop the incredibly powerful image creation tool it is. Sadly, however, it is exactly these key features that are too often left untapped by most users.

Down below, we’ll take a quick look at one such tool, Artboards, and give you a simple and easy-to-use explanation of how artboards work and why you should consider integrating them into your workflow — be it UX design, concept art, or photo editing.

Related: How to Make Photoshop Brushes for Beginners (So You Can Stop Asking!)

What is an Artboard in Photoshop?

Artboards in Photoshop are essentially just special container groups that act like individual canvases within the same document. Because each one serves the function of a singular canvas, it is an excellent tool for interface and UX design for things like apps and websites that require several screens, often reusing images and other assets throughout.

By using Artboards, you can illustrate a user’s path through multiple screens without necessitating multiple documents and reuse a singular pool of assets — helping designers iterate, preserve theme, and see the proverbial forest along with the trees. By using artboards, users can not only speed up their workflow but can make exporting and sharing their ideas even easier.

Why Artboards are Useful

The artboard itself will automatically clip layers/images whenever any part of their pixel-area enters their canvas. This makes it great for quickly finding the crop you want and iterating compositions of individual layouts. One of the best features of artboards is the ability to use and reuse image assets across artboards. For instance, using the photograph of the canyon above, we are able to use the same photo on different screens of the same app, and, more importantly, store the photo outside of any particular canvas. 

This allows you to quickly iterate ideas and move assets around in an intuitive, time-efficient way. Each asset, when clipped inside of an artboard is included under that artboard’s layer group in the layer menu. When stored outside the canvas, that particular layer is separated from any layer group and will no longer be registered as part of any artboard.

Another excellent use-case for artboards is to create easily accessible references for artists. While there are great programs like PureRef that are designed specifically for creating large-scale reference boards, using the artboard feature can speed up artists who use a lot of photobashing in their work by storing them as layers outside the canvas. 

Related: How to Flip Canvas in Photoshop: Shortcuts and Menu Location

How to Create Artboards in Photoshop

Down below we’ll run you through the basic steps to set up and control your artboards as well as export them for external use.

Step 1: Create a New Document

The first thing you’ll have to do is, well, create an artboard of course. To do this, all you have to do is make sure you check the artboards option besides the orientation in the new document panel. This option will automatically be selected when choosing a format from the Web or Mobile option. 

When you create a new document using Artboards, the first Artboard’s layer group will automatically be generated in the layer menu. 

Step 2: Adding New Artboards

Adding new artboards in Photoshop is as simple as tapping on the artboard name and pressing any of the plus signs on the side of the artboard. Photoshop will automatically shift your cursor to the next plus sign, allowing you to quickly add any number of boards.

Step 3: Renaming Artboards

Step 4: Exporting Artboards

And that’s the gist of using artboards; within their outward simplicity comes numerous great workflow-enhancing capabilities, so make sure to experiment and find out how they can best be integrated into your own process. 


How To Read & Use A Histogram In Photoshop

The histogram is not only a valuable tool on your camera but should also be your go-to tool when correcting exposure in Photoshop. The histogram never lies, making it easy to identify areas that have become too bright or dark as you edit a photo. The only trouble is that knowing how to use and read them can be a bit daunting.

So in this tutorial, let’s break down how to use a histogram in Photoshop along with the different places you can find them in the program.

Where To Locate A Histogram In Photoshop – The Histogram Panel

The Histogram opens in the top-right corner of your workspace or as a floating panel.

– The Camera Raw Workspace 

The histogram is also part of the Camera Raw workspace, so it’s pretty easy to locate. To view it, open your raw file in Photoshop and wait for the Camera Raw workspace to pop up.

The histogram will be on the top right side of the workspace.

After that, you will see the Camera Raw histogram for your photo.

How To Read A Histogram In Photoshop

Once you know what a histogram represents, it becomes easy to read any histogram you see. 

In a nutshell, a Photoshop histogram is a graph representing the luminance of pixels in a given image. A histogram has an x-axis (horizontal side) and a y-axis (vertical side).

On the horizontal side, you find luminance values of pixels running from 0 to 255 (from left to right). 

There is no luminance at point 0 (left edge of the graph), so pixels at that point are entirely black. At point 255 (right edge of the graph), there is a luminance of 100%, so pixels at that point are completely white. You can find intermediate luminance values (mid-tones) in the middle of the graph.

The vertical side of the graph represents the number of pixels corresponding to each luminance value found on the horizontal side. 

You don’t need to worry about the number of pixels per luminance value. You just need to figure out where the pixels are concentrated and correct problems if any.

I will read the image below with the help of the histogram, so you can better understand the concepts I just introduced to you. You can follow along with any photo you have because the concepts apply to any image. 

Now, let’s analyze the histogram with the image above.

The first thing you can infer from this histogram is that there are no blown-out areas in the photo because the histogram shows no clipping. 

Clipping means areas with totally white or black pixels. If you see pixels touching either the right or the left edge of a histogram, it means the image has clipping.  

For example, in the histogram below, you can see a spike touching the left edge of the histogram. That means the corresponding image has an area filled with black pixels. This is an indicator to brighten the shadows or blacks in the image to prevent any loss of detail.

You might wonder, is it that bad if my image has entirely black or white areas? It turns out these white or black areas contain no data; therefore, they show no details, which lowers the quality of your image. With that said, I recommend you avoid clipping where possible. In small amounts, clipping is not a problem and is almost unavoidable (such as having the sun in your photo), so you just want to aim to have as little clipping as possible. A little bit isn’t the end of the world in my books.

Back to my initial graph, we can interpret more things the graph shows. 

Many histograms have high pixel density on a specific side of the graph, and some even have peaks on both sides. You can see a concentration of pixels in two spots of the graph, forming two peaks.

There are pixels concentrated on the left side of the histogram. That part of the graph contains low luminance values, which means those are dark pixels.

There are also many bright pixels on the right side of the histogram. You can tell this because that area contains high luminance values.

And only a few pixels occupy the middle of the graph.

By reading a histogram, you can reach some conclusions about your photo. If the pixels are concentrated on the right side of the histogram, your image might be overexposed (too much light in an area). 

If the data is concentrated on the left side, your photo might be underexposed (too many shadows). Finally, the image might have a high contrast if both sides have high pixel density and only a few pixels are in the middle.

Below are a few examples to easily see how the histogram changes as the exposure is adjusted:

Balanced Exposure Dark Exposure Bright exposure, very noticeable clipping in highlights

How To Read A Histogram In Camera Raw

You can read the Camera Raw histogram just like the basic Photoshop histogram above. The difference is that the luminance values in the Camera Raw histogram are divided by channel. 

In the graph above, for example, the histogram displays the luminance values of Red, Green, and Blue channels. As you can see, the luminances of the channels are similar.

If you read the histogram and found issues with your image luminosity, you will be glad to know that I have some solutions for that in the next section. 

Using A Histogram In Photoshop To Edit Photos & Prevent Clipping

Now that you learned how to read a histogram, it’s time to learn how to use it to enhance your images and correct any exposure problems.

The best histogram to guide your photo editing is the Camera Raw histogram. You can use the default histogram found in the Photoshop workspace, but you won’t have as many options as those available in Camera Raw. When you open a RAW file in Photoshop, it converts the image to TIFF format, which means that you can push the exposure further in Camera Raw without losing details, as compared to editing the image in the Photoshop workspace.

The histogram will guide you when editing your image by pointing out its luminance flaws. Then you can fix those problems accordingly.

First, open your image in Camera Raw, as you learned in the first section of this tutorial. Then, locate the histogram. 

Now scan your histogram for luminance flaws. The histogram below shows a concentration of pixels touching its right side. That shows the image has highlight clipping. 

Many pixels are also concentrated on the left side of the graph. This means data is heavily pushed into the shadows. Additionally, there are only a few mid-tone pixels, indicating the image might lack details. 

You can solve the problems pointed out by the histogram by adjusting the sliders on the right side of the Camera Raw workspace. 

But before using those sliders, there is something you can do to optimize your editing workflow. Notice that there are two arrows on the top of the histogram. Those arrows are clipping warnings.

The left arrow warns you about clipped shadows, while the right arrow warns you about clipped highlights. When I darkened the shadows of my image, the shadow clipping warning highlighted the affected area in blue.

And when I turned up the highlights, the blown-out pixels were highlighted in red.

These warnings are extremely useful for editing your photos because it prevents you from under- or over-exposing parts of your photo.

Now, let’s go back to editing the image. To adjust the exposure of your image, drag the Exposure slider to the left or the right.

In my case, I turned the exposure down a little (-90), which made a significant difference in my image. Especially in the sky, because my original photo had clipped highlights in the sky, so the clouds weren’t initially visible.

Before After

The change was also noticeable in the histogram. When reducing the exposure, the clipping disappeared.

Although clipping disappears when you adjust the exposure of your image, the highlights or shadows might be affected once you fix the exposure. If that happens to your picture, adjust its shadows or highlights using the Highlights and Shadows sliders.

In my case, I increased the brightness of the shadows to balance the image’s luminance.

That also balanced the histogram.

Before After

You can then refine the white, highlights, blacks, and shadows sliders as needed to refine your exposure and build more contrast into the photo.

As you can see, histograms are valuable tools that help you make the most out of your photos and speed up your editing process. They are probably not vital to your work, but they can make it easier.

What Is Adobe Premiere And How To Use It?

Our Review Pros Professional-looking interface Easy to learn Supports a wide variety of formats and devices Intuitive machine-learning component Adobe Sensei Cons Can’t purchase a perpetual license Download/installation can take a while Download Adobe Premiere free trial

If you’re even a little familiar with Adobe products, you probably expect you’ll have to pay for Adobe Premiere. And you’re right, this product doesn’t come for free. In fact, you can’t even buy a license any longer, since Adobe has adopted a subscription-based licensing type.

However, you can still choose between buying a subscription for Adobe Premiere alone or purchasing one for the entire Creative Cloud suite. Hint: the latter is more profitable, but only if you plan on using any other tool from the CC suite.

How to install Adobe Premiere

For the sole purpose of simplicity, Adobe Premiere’s Creative Cloud-based installation does wonders. It allows you to download any product from the CC suite and deploy them on your PC from the same place. You only need to provide the CC tool with a valid Adobe account.

However, things are not exactly great for everyone. Several users (us included) have noticed that the download takes way longer than it should. The same goes for the installation process, which sometimes freezes, and upon restarting it, it starts all the way back from the top.

How to use Adobe Premiere

If you’ve been using other Adobe products, the fact that Adobe Premiere rocks a sleek, stylish interface should be no surprise. Everything is well-organized so that you don’t have to spend a lot of time looking around for tools, and the dark theme binds it all together nicely.

Adobe Premiere might be delightful to look at, but the multitude of features might intimidate you, more so if you’re a novice. However, if you take your time to explore each of the sections, and give the features a test drive, you can familiarize yourself with the interface in no time.

Produce stunning video projects with Adobe Premiere

If you didn’t figure it out by now, Adobe Premiere is a powerful video editor that you can use in a broad range of fields, such as filmography, TV, and even web content. Granted you have the footage, you can turn even regular clips into works of art.

This program includes a powerful machine learning component, called Adobe Sensei. This tool can take a huge burden off your shoulders by helping you with time-consuming tasks such as reframing videos or understanding audio types.

If that’s not enough, you can take your projects on the go with Adobe Premiere Rush. This feature acts as a cross-platform video editing tool, which will enable you to work on your video projects even from your iOS or Android devices.

What is Adobe Premiere?

To wrap it up, if you’re serious about getting into video creation, Adobe Premiere can be a trustworthy ally. You can use it to turn your regular video footage into artwork, thanks to its wide variety of complex video editing tools, machine learning component, and seamless integration with other Adobe products.

Obviously, such a powerful tool doesn’t come for free, so you’ll have to purchase a subscription in order to use it. However, you can also download and use a 7-day trial if you’re not quite ready to commit to buying a subscription just yet.

FAQ: Learn more about Adobe Premiere

Is Adobe Premiere free?

Not at all, you will need to purchase a subscription if you want to use Adobe Premiere at your leisure. However, there’s a 7-day trial you can download and use if you’re having a hard time deciding whether or not you want to buy a subscription.

Can you buy Adobe Premiere?

Unfortunately, you can’t buy a perpetual (lifetime) license for the latest version of Adobe Premiere. You can, however, buy a perpetual license for the CS 6 release.

What is Adobe Sensei?

Adobe Sensei is an AI-driven machine-learning component that’s included in various Adobe products. It helps you create complex projects and reduce your workload significantly by handling some of the more time-consuming operations by itself.

How To Use Smart Albums In Photos On Mac

Looking for specific photos can be difficult when your Photos app is cluttered and disorganized. If you’re not a fan of organizing and sorting photos manually and find it time-consuming, I have some good news. You can create Smart Albums that automatically sort photos for you based on your pre-defined criteria.

No, I’m not kidding! Moreover, it’ll take you a few minutes to set up initially. Let’s check out.

What is a Smart Album on Mac?

Smart Album is a feature that automatically organizes and displays photos in your photo library on Mac. They’re basically saved conditions, allowing the app to group your photos based on specific criteria.

If you back up and sync your photos through iCloud, your Smart Albums will also sync to other Macs connected to your account. Sadly, Smart Albums is exclusive to Mac and won’t appear in Photos on your iPhone or iPad.

Aside from Smart Albums, you can also create instant slideshows and slideshow projects on Mac. However, they are best viewed using Apple devices. If you want a hard copy of your photo collection, you can always create a photo book using Photos.

Difference between Photo album vs. Smart Album

Maybe you’re asking why you need a Smart Album when you can always create photo albums in Photos. While they both group photos together, how they do it is different.

For albums, you’re responsible for selecting, dragging, and placing specific photos on the album. On the other hand, Smart Albums automatically add any image that meets the set criteria. This means that it updates itself every time you import new photos or transfer photos from iPhone to Mac.

However, while adding albums is a basic function available to all Macs, Smart Albums only work on Macs running macOS High Sierra and later.

How to create a Smart Album to organize photos on Mac

To begin creating a Smart Album on your Mac:

Specify the name for your Smart Album.

The first drop-down menu allows you to choose a category for the condition you want to set. There are 15+ categories.

The second drop-down menu allows you to select a defining relationship or operator for the condition. Each category has its modifier.

The third drop-down menu allows you to further specify the condition by selecting specific criteria to use.

For example, if you selected Photos in the first option, you can add qualifiers like a particular format (RAW, ProRes, etc.) or specific media type (Live Photo, portrait, long exposure, screenshot, etc.). Some categories do not have a third option.

If you have more than one condition, choose all on the popup menu above the conditions if you only want photos that match all the specified conditions. If you’re fine with including photos that match any of the conditions you have set, select any instead.

Where to find Smart Albums on Mac?

How to modify the criteria for Smart Albums

If you want to create a similar Smart Album but want to modify some conditions, you can opt to duplicate your existing Smart Album and tweak the copy.

To do this:

Go to Photos.

How to delete Smart Albums in Photos on Mac

Open Photos.


Q. Does deleting a smart album delete the photos?

Deleting a Smart Album does not delete the photos. It is mainly used for grouping photos according to a specified condition/s. You can still access the images in your photo library.

Q. Does iOS have Smart Albums?

No. Smart Albums in Photos is only available on Mac.

Q. Do Smart Albums sync to iPhone?

Since Smart Albums are not available on iPhones, your Smart Albums on Mac will not sync to your iPhone. It will, however, sync to another Mac if it’s connected to your iCloud.

Wrapping up…

Setting up Smart Albums can take some time initially, but it’s worth it. Once set up, it can independently sort and organize all your photos. Have you tried using Smart Albums? What combination of conditions do you prefer? Share them below!

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Rachel loves anything Apple —from iPhones, to Apple Watches, to MacBooks. She is also a medical writer and a ghostwriter for various publications.

Backlinks: What They Are And How To Get Them

Your website needs traffic – the more, the better. And to do that, you need to be ranked highly in search engine results.

How do you do that?

With search engine optimization, of course.

So what happens after you’ve gone through your content, added keywords, and beefed up your technical SEO, and you’re still not ranking how you want?

What do you do then?

There’s one key area you need to focus on: building backlinks.

But how do you do that? And what are backlinks, anyway? Are all backlinks good backlinks?

To find out the answers to these questions and more, read on.

What Are Backlinks?

Backlinks are simply links from one website to another.

Sometimes called “incoming links” or “inbound links,” backlinks are one of the most important parts of search engine optimization.

Useful tools for webpage creators, backlinks make it easy to cite statistics, source claims, add context, or make recommendations, among other things.

There’s also another type of link called internal links, which are links between pages within the same website. These also play a role in SEO, but we won’t go into that here.

If it’s something you’re interested in learning more about, follow this internal link to an excellent Search Engine Journal piece on the best practices for using internal links in SEO. (See what we did there?)

Why Are Backlinks Important?

Now that we’ve covered what exactly a backlink is, it’s time for the $10,000 question: Why do they matter?

The most basic answer to that question is that your site’s backlinks pass PageRank, and search engines then use this in their algorithm (along with many other factors) to help determine the quality of your website and where it should rank in results pages.

They indicate your site’s popularity with users and are a vital part of any SEO strategy.

Backlinks also play an important role in your discoverability, as both users and search engine crawlers will follow links from external sites to your page.

“Great,” you may be saying right now. “Let’s get out there and start generating as many incoming links as possible, so we start rocketing up in search results.”

Slow down. You didn’t really expect that to be all it takes, did you?

If search engine optimization were as easy as all that, there would be a lot of SEO professionals looking for a new line of work.

First, let’s talk about good versus bad links.

What Makes a Good Backlink?

Back in 1998, when Google was just getting started, it implemented an algorithm named PageRank. One of the things this took into account when deciding on how well a webpage matched a user query was backlinks.

But even in those early days, not all backlinks were created equal. And while the quantity of your incoming links is factored into your search ranking, the quality also plays an important role.

Let’s break it down: Quantity-wise, the more sites that link to your webpage, the stronger the signal to Google that your content is valuable and, therefore, worth linking to.

And generally speaking, if your page has more backlinks than a similar page, it will appear higher in organic search results.

This is because each time a site links to your content, it is essentially vouching for its accuracy and veracity.

But don’t for a second think that just any site pointing to your webpage is a good thing. Not only can some links do nothing for you, but some can actually hurt your search ranking. This means you need to be concerned with the quality of your inbound links.

It’s the internet version of judging someone by the company they keep – which makes sense if you think about it.

For example, which site would you trust more: one linked to by a governmental agency, a reputable university, or a well-respected foundation – or the one that’s only linked to by your Uncle Joe’s conspiracy blog?

Obviously, the former is going to carry a lot more weight, not just for visitors but for search engines as well. Thus, it should be no surprise that a page with fewer links from high-quality sites will outrank a competitor with more links from disreputable sources.

And speaking of disreputable sources, if your site gets backlinks from link farms or other unnatural links, you actually risk being penalized by Google. If you have spammy sites linking to your pages, the best thing you can do is disavow them to avoid being seen as guilty by association. We’ll talk more about that in a bit.

But it’s not just domain reputation that tells Google that inbound link A is more valuable than inbound link B. It also looks at the referring site’s relevance to the topic.

Why Are Backlinks Important?

If your Fantasy Football blog has an inbound link from ESPN and one from chúng tôi Google will make a (logical) judgment call that the first link is more valuable.

We can follow several wormholes about link placement, anchor text, and the impact of nofollow links on your search rankings, but let’s leave that discussion for another day.

For a detailed explanation of determining the value of a backlink, be sure to read this piece.

How Many Backlinks Do I Have?

Now that you know the importance of inbound links and their value, it’s time to start thinking about the ones you already have. How do you know which sites are directing traffic your way?

There are two ways to do this: one that only tells you who’s linking to your site, and one you can use to snoop on the competition’s inbound links.

Checking Your Links With Google Search Console

Google Search Console should be your best friend if you’re a webmaster. It’s packed with all sorts of useful tools and reports to help you track performance and fix issues – and it’s free.

Once you have created an account and verified your site, you can use it to track your backlinks. In the sidebar, there’s an option called “Links.”

Under external links, you can run three reports: top linking pages, top linking sites, and top linking texts. Using these, you can determine who is linking to you and from where.

Checking Links With A Third-Party Tool

The only downside of using Google Search Console’s link tracking is that it only allows you to see details about your site.

But by using third-party backlink checkers like Majestic SEO, Semrush, and Ahrefs, you can see what your competition is doing, as well – and maybe steal some of those links.

Now that we’ve discussed what backlinks are, why they matter, and how to track them, let’s jump into what you’re really here for: building backlinks.

How Do I Get Backlinks?

There are several ways to get other sites linking to yours, but most of them require a bit of effort on your part.

The first and easiest way to get links is to pay for them. But before you pull out your credit card, pay attention to this one important caveat: if Google catches you participating in a paid link-building scheme, you will be penalized.

Buying links has been a matter of some debate for SEO experts for a long time, and some will swear by it, while others insist it’s not worth the risk.

A better way to generate inbound links is by earning them. But, of course, this is a little trickier.

To earn backlinks, you must have useful content that provides value to others.

For example, you may have a webpage that lists your five favorite immersion blenders. This page can provide value not just for blender manufacturers, who will appreciate the shout-out, but also for people shopping for a new blender or kitchen appliance websites.

Statistics content is always a good way to attract quality backlinks. Statistics are a great way to prove a point and overcome objections.

By providing relevant statistics about your niche, you’ll establish your site as one of authority, and generate a lot of inbound links. Or, you can run surveys and publish the results on your blog as news.

Then you can promote your news via social media, where others may find your survey data useful and link to it from their articles.

If your content is good and it speaks to a niche, it will slowly begin to generate backlinks all on its own.

But what if you can’t wait that long? What if you want backlinks right now?

Promote your content via social or paid campaigns to the target audience. Someone may find your article useful and link to it.

Or use one of the third-party tools mentioned in the previous section to find a relevant page with many incoming links. Then create better content than the competition’s, and ask the linking domains to direct their links to you instead.

You can also look for broken links or those that redirect to a 404 page. Once you’ve found one of these on a relevant site, send the webmaster an email notifying them. And don’t forget to suggest they replace the broken link with your page on the same topic.

For more in-depth information on these strategies, plus others you can use, be sure to read this article.

Start Building Those Links

So, there you have it: a crash course on link building. By this point, you should have a good idea about what backlinks are, why they’re important, and how to build them.

Just don’t forget that, like all things SEO, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. You’re extremely unlikely to see results overnight.

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