Backlinks (also known as “inbound links,” “incoming links,” or “one-way links”) are links from one website to another. Backlinks are regarded as “votes” for a specific page by Google and other major search engines. Pages with a high number of backlinks typically rank high in organic search engine results.
Here’s a link from Forbes to my website, for example.
It’s a “backlink” because it goes directly to a page on my website.
What Is the Importance of Backlinks?
Backlinks are essentially votes cast by other websites. Each of these votes conveys to search engines the message, “This content is valuable, credible, and useful.”
As a result, the more “votes” you have, the higher your site will rank in Google and other search engines.
Including links in a search engine’s algorithm is not a new concept. Backlinks were, in fact, the foundation of Google’s original algorithm (known as “PageRank”).
Despite the fact that Google has made thousands of changes to its algorithm since then, backlinks continue to be a key ranking signal.
For example, according to an industry study we conducted, links continue to be Google’s primary ranking signal.
Backlinks are still one of Google’s three most important search engine ranking factors, according to the company.
What Kinds of Backlinks Are Beneficial?
Backlinks are not all created equal.
To put it another way, if you want to rank higher in the SERPs, prioritize quality backlinks.
To put it another way:
A single high-quality backlink can outperform 1,000 low-quality backlinks.
As it turns out, high-quality backlinks share many of the same characteristics.
They come from reputable, authoritative websites, which is trait number one.
Would you rather have a backlink from Harvard… or from some random guy’s website?
Google, it turns out, feels the same way.
This is known as “Domain Authority.” Essentially, the greater the authority of a site, the greater the authority it can pass on to your site.
For instance, here’s a link from TechCrunch.
TechCrunch is a highly authoritative domain, according to Ahrefs.
Google gives that link a lot of weight because it comes from an authority site. In fact, after TechCrunch linked to me, I noticed an increase in organic search engine traffic.
Are these links difficult to obtain? Definitely.
Are they really worth it? Absolutely.
They use your target keyword in the anchor text of the link.
To refresh your memory, anchor text is the visible text portion of a link.
In general, you want your anchor text to include your target keyword.
In fact, a recent industry study discovered a link between keyword-rich anchor text and higher keyword rankings.
Now for a word of caution:
You don’t want to overuse keyword-rich anchor text. In fact, Google’s algorithm includes a filter known as “Google Penguin.”
Google Penguin penalises websites that employ black hat link building tactics. It focuses specifically on sites that build backlinks with exact match anchor text.
The site (and page) linking to you is topically related to your site.
When one website links to another, Google wants to know if the two sites are related.
When you think about it, this makes sense:
Assume you recently published an article about marathon running.
In that case, Google will place MUCH more emphasis on links from sites about marathons, running, and fitness than on links from sites about fishing, unicycles, and digital marketing.
Trait #4: The Link Is a “Dofollow” Link
Google and other search engines ignore links with the “no follow” tag attached to it.
(In other words, Nofollow links are not considered by search engine ranking algorithms.)
Fortunately, the vast majority of web links are “do-follow.”
And the majority of links with the no-follow tag aren’t particularly valuable, to begin with. Links from these sources, for example, typically no follow:
Comments on a blog
Publications in the press
Advertisements for a fee
These links aren’t particularly useful for SEO, so the fact that they’re nofollow isn’t a big deal.
Trait #5: The link comes from a domain that hasn’t previously been linked to you.
Assume you receive a link from Website A.
Let’s say Website A links to you once more. Again and again. Again and again.
Are the second, third, and fourth links as effective as the first?
Links from the same website, it turns out, have diminishing returns.
To put it another way:
It is usually preferable to obtain 100 links from 100 different websites rather than 1,000 links from the same website.
In fact, our search engine ranking correlation study discovered that the number of sites linking to you (rather than the total number of backlinks) correlated with Google rankings the most.
Now that you’ve seen which types of backlinks are most beneficial to your Google rankings, let me show you how to begin building them.
The Best Practices
Make a Linkable Assets list.
If you want people to link to your website, it must have something worth linking to.
(Also referred to as “Linkable Assets”).
A Linkable Asset can be anything that people want to link to, such as a blog post, a video, a piece of software, a quiz, or a survey.
Most of the time, your linkable asset will be a fantastic piece of content (which is why search engine optimization and content marketing are so closely tied together).
For example, when I first launched my blog, I shared this list of 200+ Google ranking factors.
I read somewhere that Google employs 200 ranking signals. Which piqued my interest: “What are these 200 signals?”
Of course, Google wasn’t about to reveal them to the rest of the world. As a result, I began compiling statements from Google and patents that I discovered online.
Compiling these 200 factors took a long time (it took me over 2 weeks). Finally, I compiled a list of 200 ranking factors that Google may use in their algorithm.
This single piece of content has resulted in over 25,800 backlinks from 5,870 domains to date.
How about another one?
My ultimate guide to YouTube SEO is one of my most successful posts to date (in terms of backlinks and organic traffic).
I was having some success with YouTube marketing when I started writing this post. As a result, I decided to compile and share what I had learned in the form of an ultimate guide.
In addition, I decided to include a large number of examples in my guide:
(This is something that the majority of the other content on this topic lacked.)
Even though this post hasn’t received nearly as many links as my Google Ranking Factors post, it has received a significant number of backlinks.
Link Roundups can help you build backlinks.
Imagine if people wrote blog posts solely for the purpose of linking to high-quality content.
(The type of high-quality content you already publish on your website)
It’d be fantastic, wouldn’t it?
That, thankfully, is a real thing. And they’re known as link roundups.
Here’s an illustration:
Link roundups are blog posts that are published on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis and contain links to noteworthy content.
Here’s an example of a backlink from a roundup that I recently built:
Here’s the step-by-step process.
- Find Link Roundups In Your Niche: Use search strings in Google search, like ““Keyword” + “link roundup”.
- Pitch Your Resource: (Gently) suggest that they include your linkable asset to the roundup.
And if your post is a good fit for that person’s roundup, you’ll get a high-quality link.
(They may share your content on social media as well.)
Apply the Moving Man Method.
The three-step procedure is as follows:
First, you look for web pages, resources, or businesses that have been rebranded or have recently changed names.
Then, look for sites that are still linking to these out-of-date resources.
Finally, you send an email informing people that they are linking to an out-of-date resource.
Let me demonstrate how this works with a real-world example…
I recently read that a website for a large SEO agency was abruptly shut down.
This meant that they had a lot of broken pages on their website…
…pages to which many people were still linking.
I noticed, in particular, that an infographic about SEO on their website was no longer functional. This was ideal because I had just released my own SEO-focused infographic.
That was the initial step.
Then I had to see who had linked to that infographic.
So I opened Ahrefs and downloaded all of their links:
Finally, I emailed everyone who had linked to the infographic to inform them that the image was no longer working. I also informed them that my infographic would be an excellent replacement for the BlueGlass one.
The script I used is as follows:
I was searching for some content to read about [Topic] this morning. And I came across your excellent post: [Post Title].
Anyway, I couldn’t help but notice that you mentioned [Outdated Resource] in your article.
As you may have heard, [Problem With Outdated Resource].
Here’s a screenshot of where that link is located: [Screenshot]
Also, I recently published a piece of content about [Topic]. It might make a good replacement for the [Outdated Resource].
Either way, I hope this helps you
As you can see, people were eager to link to me: and have a great day!
Broken Link Building
This strategy is similar to the one you just learned about, the Moving Man Method.
The difference is that broken link building only looks for pages with 404 errors.
Focus on resource pages in your niche to find these 404 links. So, if you’re interested in fitness, you’d type the following search terms into Google:
“resource page” + “fitness”
“resources” + “fitness”
“fitness” + “recommended sites”
“fitness” + “links”
“fitness” + “links”
“fitness” + “links”
And you’d come across pages like this.
You could now email the site’s owner and request a link. But I’ve discovered that begging doesn’t always work.
Instead, notify the site’s owner of any broken links you discover.
Broken links can be found on any page. Simply install the Check My Links Chrome Extension.
This program quickly detects any broken links on the page. It also highlights them in red to help you find them:
The last thing you need to do is email the site owner about their dead link.
Hi [Site Owner Name],
I was just browsing around your resources page today, and among the lists of great resources, were some broken links.
Here’s a few of them:
Oh, and I have a website, [Your Website], that also regularly posts quality content related to whatever. If you think so too, feel free to post a link to it on your resources page.
Either way, I hope this helps, and keep up the good work!
Is guest posting dead?
In fact, when you’re first starting out, guest blogging is one of the BEST ways to get links to your site.
In fact, when I first started Backlinko, I wrote over 50 guest posts and interviews in 12 months!
And the links I obtained from guest posting significantly increased my organic traffic.
Having said that, I was very strategic in my approach. I made a point of only writing guest posts for high-quality sites in my niche.
So, if you run a site about the Paleo Diet and write a guest post on a site about iPhones, Google will think you’re spamming them.
However, when you write amazing guest posts for high-quality websites in your industry, those links DO help.
The problem is that finding places to guest post can be a huge hassle.
But there is a simpler way…
This is how it works:
First, find someone in your industry who regularly writes guest posts.
Next, go to one of their published guest posts. And grab the headshot they use in their author bio:
Finally, enter the screenshot’s URL into Google reverse image search.
You’ll also receive a list of websites where you can find guest posts.
Other Visual Assets and Infographics
Do infographics still work as well as they once did? Most likely not.
However, they remain an effective link-building strategy.
In fact, when we looked at which types of content generate the most links, infographics were near the top of the list.
For example, one of the first infographics I created took only a few hours to complete (I also hired a professional designer to make it look professional).
Despite the fact that this infographic did not go viral, it did result in some solid backlinks:
To clarify, I did not simply publish my infographic and hope for the best.
You must strategically promote your infographic, just as you would any other piece of content you publish. And to do so, I recommend employing a strategy known as “Guestographics.”
In this post, I explain how Guestographics work in detail.
Testimonials should be submitted.
Customers’ testimonials are prized by businesses of all sizes.
And if you use a product or service that you love (or at least like), think about sending them a testimonial.
To demonstrate that you’re a real person, they’ll frequently include a link to your website… without your even asking.
Here’s an illustration:
If you sell a piece of software, a physical product, a consulting service, or ANYTHING of value, you can easily generate dozens of high-quality backlinks.
By providing your product for free to bloggers.
Here’s how it works:
Locate bloggers in your niche who may be interested in what you have to offer. If you sell an information product that teaches people how to make their own soap, you would Google terms like “soap making,” “make soap at home,” and so on.
Your results will be a mishmash of blogs, news websites, and “how-to” websites such as below. Remove any how-to or news sites. You’ll have a solid list of bloggers who might be interested in your offer, such as this one:
Use the following email script to contact them:
Hello, [Site Owner’s Name],
I came across [Website] while looking for [Some Homemade Soap Recipes].
In fact, I recently published a guide that [Teaches People How To Make Luxury Soaps At Home]. I usually charge [$X], but I’d be happy to send it over to you for free.
Please let me know how you think that sounds.
One word of caution: Be VERY careful with the language you use for this strategy.
It’s worth noting that you don’t offer your product in exchange for a link or a review, which would be a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
Instead, send them the product and let them decide whether or not it’s worthy of a mention on their blog.
It’s simple to reclaim a link:
First, look for mentions of your company that do not include a link to your website.
Here’s an illustration:
Take a look at how the author of the article above mentioned my website… but did not include a link to it?
This is where link reclamation comes in.
Instead of saying, “I wish they linked to me,” you reach out and ask them to link to you.
A friendly reminder, in my experience, is usually enough to get most people to log into WordPress and add your link.
The procedure is as follows:
To find online mentions of your brand, use a tool like BuzzSumo or Mention.com.
When you do, you will be notified whenever someone writes about you:
Check to see if the person who mentioned you also linked back to your site (either your homepage or internal page). You’re good to go if they linked to your site.
If not, proceed to step 3…
Send them this cordial email.
Hey [Name], I just wanted to say “thank you” for mentioning [Your Brand] in your fantastic article yesterday.
We are extremely grateful.
I’m writing to ask if you could include a link to our website. People will be able to easily find us while reading your article this way.
In any case, thanks for the mention, and keep up the good work!
Make use of HARO.
HARO (short for Help a Reporter Out) is one of the most effective methods for obtaining high authority backlinks from news sites.
This is how HARO works:
Sign up as a source for HARO here.
Every day, you’ll receive three emails from reporters looking for sources, such as this one:
Respond with your credentials as well as some helpful advice.
Isn’t it simple? You provide a quote to a reporter, and they will provide you with a backlink.
That’s the only thing there is to it.
For example, by responding to a HARO request, I recently received the following link from Entrepreneur.com:
Backlinks from your competitors should be reverse engineered.
Every industry has its own set of opportunities for link building.
As a result, I recommend allocating some time to reverse engineer your competition. This allows you to find link opportunities that are unique to your niche.
What about this as an example?
Assume you have a health and fitness blog.
Nerd Fitness is one of your competitors.
When I look at that site’s link profile in a backlink checker, I notice that a LARGE portion of their links come from podcasts:
People from that company, in particular (especially the founder, Steve Kamb), appear as guests on other people’s podcasts.
So now you have a nice list of places where you can get links.
(Of course, you’ll need to contact the hosts of those podcasts and pitch yourself as a guest.) This requires effort. But at the very least, you know where to begin).
Stick to Link-Generating Content Formats.
As I previously stated, infographics are one type of content that is ideal for building backlinks.
However, it is only one of many.
We also discovered that, despite receiving few social media shares, “Why posts” and “What posts” were frequently linked to.