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In the offline world, we often look up to people who have a lot of connections. You get more respect if you have contacts with well-known people. In the online world, such relationships are called links. Links are slightly different from personal connections. Let’s understand how. When a website links back to your site, you get one link.
It means your website got one new connection. Search engines like Google see your website as a trustworthy and authoritative resource if you have more such links.
Links are a signal to Google that your website is a reputable online asset—thus, it’s a critical search ranking factor. With Google’s PageRank Algorithm, the search engine started giving importance to sites linked to a page.
Here are some interesting facts about the importance of link-building:
Links remain one of the top three search ranking factors.
SEO experts say the third most important factor for search optimization is external linking. (Databox)
More links help get you more search rankings, more referral traffic, and more leads for your business. The search engines use links to learn more about web pages:
Are all backlinks equal? No. The search engines qualify links on the following parameters:
The Penguin update ensured that businesses could no longer ignore link-quality. If you generate a backlink from an authority site in your niche, it gives a positive signal about your site. Let’s learn more about the nature of a high-quality backlink.
What is the difference between inbound and outbound links in SEO?
An inbound link or also referred to as a back link is a hyperlink on a third-party web page that points to a web page on your site. Whereas, outbound links are links that are meant to take you elsewhere. These are links that are going to direct you to another specific webpage or different website altogether.
Is it possible to increase my search traffic without building links?
You can increase your website traffic without doing any link building and without violating any Google webmaster guidelines by concentrating on less risky and easier ways that will also lay the foundation for long term success. However, it may not be easy to improve your Google ranking without link building, especially when you’ve been trained to believe that links are the only currency of the web.
What is an editorial link?
An editorial link is a link that results from a site having good content and marketing techniques. Editorial links are not paid for or directly requested, as with acquired links. Editorial links are important for a strong link profile.
If a niche website with high domain authority links to your site, it’s considered a high-quality backlink. Such links come from sites that are trusted by online searchers and search engines—they are leaders in the online world. In essence, if these figureheads are linking to your site, then your site must be worthy of attention and trust.
Did you know?
65% of marketers measure their link quality by looking at their domain authority. Meanwhile, marketers also use domain ratings (48%) and page authority (36%) to determine link quality. (Aira)
According to Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines, a site’s content must be expert, authoritative, and trustworthy (E-A-T) to be qualified as high quality. If you’re getting a link from such a quality site, it would carry a lot more significance and will be more valuable.
If you earn high-quality backlinks:
Page Authority is a metric that measures the power of individual website pages. When you get links to a specific website page, it’s Page Authority goes up. Working on the Page Authority of different website pages helps you improve the Domain Authority of your site.
Now that you have a basic idea of quality backlinks and why they are so critical to SEO success let’s get deeper insights into the concept. Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of the types of links that are worthy of your time and effort.
Follow vs. No-Follow Backlinks—What you Need to Know
All relationships in the real world aren’t counted equally; it’s the same in the online world. Search engines keep track of all of your site’s inbound links. Each site with many links gets more points or ‘link juice’ which then adds to its authority. But some inbound links won’t bring ‘link juice’; why? Because the site’s webmaster chose to give you a no-follow attribute. Here’s how it looks:
<a href=”http://www.website.com/” rel=”nofollow”>Link Text</a>
Such an attribute signals the search engines that they need not follow a link. Does that mean that you should be aiming to get only ‘Follow’ links?
Well, ‘Follow’ links should be a priority for an SEO professional. But getting No-Follow links from quality sites could do a world of good to your business.
48% of marketers report on “no-follow” links as part of their process. (Aira)
They fetch relevant referral traffic and improve a business’s visibility and improve direct site traffic.
Is the Link Natural and Editorial?
Whether it’s connections with people or links from websites, you’ll get caught if you fake it. Many SEO professionals make the mistake of acquiring links through manipulative and spammy tactics. You should remember that:
According to Google:
“Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.”
Displaying a healthy link profile is about being authentic. It’s about creating value-driven content that has the potential to attract links from notable sites.
Anchor Text of the Link
Each link comes with a clickable text called anchor text. Some links may come with an exact keyword anchor, while others may have a similar phrase.
The anchor text can be an exact match, a branded term, a partial match or a random phrase. Why does anchor text matter? Google uses anchor text to understand the context of the link.
Google employs several techniques to improve search quality, including page rank, anchor text, and proximity information. – Source
An anchor text is something that displays a page’s topical relevance. You can target exact match anchor texts for your links, but that’s not mandatory. A partial match or a similar phrase anchor text is also a worthy way to fetch a backlink.
After Google’s Penguin and Hummingbird bird updates, you want to showcase context and try to rank multiple similar search-terms. The goal should be to use a relevant anchor text that conveys the content of the resource. Using exact keyword anchors that aren’t relevant to your content is a spammy practice, and that’s why you should refrain from it.
Things to Avoid
When trying to build a healthy link profile, here are some things that you should steer clear of:
The overall idea of high-quality link-building is to develop strong relationships with niche websites—offer them utility through great content, so they’re happy to link to your site. Let’s learn more about it in the next section.
Today, content is a powerful way to build links for your business. Here are some creative content marketing techniques that earn coveted links from high-authority websites.
There’s no doubt that an infographic is a fantastic educational content format.
According to HubSpot, infographics are liked and shared on social media 3x more than any other content type.
According to Search Engine Journal, an infographic is 30 times more likely to be read than a text article.
You can use trending statistics and studies to put together an insightful infographic. Here is an example of a Map-o-graphic that got more than 200 backlinks:
Next, you need to spread a word about the content pieces, and it will soon get picked up by niche websites. Make sure to generate an embed code for your infographic.
You can use a tool like Siege Media’s Embed Code Generator to generate the embed code—makes it easy for prospects to embed the infographic into their website.
Create Roundup Articles
Many businesses use this creative way to earn links to their website. Producing an expert round-up is a terrific way to build connections with niche experts. When you curate a round-up, you’re adding tremendous value to your audience.
The best part is that the experts contributing to your round-up may want to talk about the feature on their press page and give you a link. They might even link to the piece in one of their upcoming blog posts.
Write Guest Posts
One of the most common ways to earn editorial links for your business is to write guest posts. Many good publications and niche blogs are hungry for expert content. If you can offer them content that meets their guidelines, you have a chance to get your site a link.
Make sure you understand each website’s content style before you go out there to send your pitch. Within your guest post, you can include a natural link back to one of your resource pages or blog posts. Plus, you’ll get a website homepage link in the Author Bio section below the article content.
Guest posts work well to help establish niche authority and get quality links. Guest posts also offer a way to develop a long-term relationship with site editors—you can become a regular contributor to some prominent publications in your industry and bag more links pointing at your site.
Publish Original Research
One of the things that can get you to become an authority in your niche is original research. It’s a content format that digs deep into an industry’s problems and comes back with useful insights. Take a look at this State of Webinars report by ClickMeeting.
Be it yearly ‘state of the industry’ reports or market surveys, primary research is a content format devoured by journalists and influencers. The report from ClickMeeting managed to get 2k backlinks.
That’s precisely why this content format is a treasure trove of links and brand mentions.
Long-Form Blog Content
As a marketing professional, you must be aware of terms like pillar content and sky-scraper blog posts. Such blog posts aim to clear the air on every possible question that an audience has on a given topic. Besides increasing website dwell time, such posts attract links! That’s because publications and bloggers want to add more value to their audience.
Did you know?
Long-form content gets an average of 77.2% more links than short articles. Therefore, long-form content appears to be ideal for backlink acquisition. (Backlinko)
Information-rich, long-form content pieces come across as resources that deserve to be linked. You can create giant five thousand word guides or ebooks, or knowledge-packed listicles; all of these are excellent content formats for attracting quality links.
Embrace Video Content
When speaking of engaging content formats, video is number one on any list. It is estimated that the average person will spend 100 minutes every day watching online videos in 2021. That’s not all; studies show that it’s one of the most effective content formats for building backlinks.
Video content works well for link-building because they’re user-friendly and highly shareable. For building links, businesses can look at creating a variety of video content types:
Besides putting them up on YouTube, don’t forget to embed videos to landing pages and blog posts. You can even publish an educational video as a blog post by adding a transcription below the actual video. Videos make your web-pages a lot more enticing, and that’s how they help attract quality links. A video engages the audience to create a page worthy of their attention, making the page a highly valuable and linkable resource.
Online Calculators and Tools
Are you getting sleepless nights trying to build links for your business? Try this method if you want to sit back and see your link tally soar.
No kidding. If you’re creating a free online assessment, calculator, tool or template, you could build thousands of links from a single linkable asset.
Co-Schedule’s free headline analyzer has got a whopping 355k backlinks so far!
Such pieces of free interactive content pieces are highly linkable. You need to figure out the challenges faced by your audience and offer a free solution.
If you’re an industry expert, you can coin terms like ‘skyscraper technique’ (Brian Dean) or ‘inbound marketing’ (HubSpot). The term usually conveys a methodology that you may have developed through years of industry experience.
It may not be the easiest way to create a linkable asset, but a useful one.
What to do when you have coined a term and talked about it in a blog post?
You’ll also find that many bloggers are already linking to your content piece while referring to the said phrase. The single blog post from HubSpot got over 23k backlinks.
Many businesses are producing valuable content assets. All of them don’t end up with an equal number of links. Why? That’s because you need to go out there and spread the word about your link-worthy content. Plus, build some relationships with bloggers and publication editors.
If you don’t know how it all works, read further to learn about how you can look for the right prospects and build relationships with the help of an effective outreach campaign.
Find The Right Link Prospects
Scrap SERP Results
One of the primary ways is to find relevant content opportunities in Google’s SERPs.
Next, you can use the Google SERPs Bookmarklet tool to download the search results into a list.
This way, you can get a list of 100 or more link opportunities with a single download. You now want to decide which ones you want to use for your link-building campaign. A nice way is to use a tool like Upper Ranks Prospector. The tool shows you a quick preview of each of the URLs you paste in it.
It also gives you an option to ‘Accept’ or ‘Reject’ each URL. You can then export the list of final prospects to a CSV or an Excel file. You can add up to 60 URLs in this easy-to-use free tool.
Use the Skyscraper Technique to Find Link Opportunities
The Skyscraper Technique is a super-effective way to find quality link-prospects.
All of these sites are your link prospects. Let’s learn this method with the help of an example. For instance, let’s say you’re selling an email marketing tool, and some of your target keywords include the following:
A. email marketing best practices
B. email marketing best practices 2020
When you type these queries in Google’s search bar, you’ll find some of the top content pieces for these terms.
These are your top competition content pieces. Pop these in the SEMrush backlink analytics tool to find their backlinks and referring domains.
CoSchedule’s blog post on email marketing best practices has 75 backlinks and 37 referring domains. Similarly, you can check the link-profile of other competing content pieces. Put them together in an excel sheet and see which ones would be your best link prospects. Your goal should be to create an excellent content asset—something that’s better than your competitors. Once you have published a more substantial content piece, you can go there and reach out to all the selected prospects.
Prospecting for Guest Posts
Writing guest posts lets you have your personal space on authority sites. It’s a terrific way to build links and an online brand. But you need to be careful while scaling up your guest posting campaign. Don’t be lured into publishing posts on low-quality, spammy guest posting websites. Look for niche websites that accept guest posts. It is pretty simple.
a. Let’s suppose you’re looking for sites in the marketing automation niche. You can type the following search queries in the Google search bar, and you’ll get a bunch of options:
marketing automation + “guest post”marketing automation + “write for us” marketing automation + “guest article”marketing automation + “guest posting opportunities”marketing automation + “guest contributor”marketing automation + “submit blog post” marketing automation + “become a contributor”
b. Another innovative way to find guest posting opportunities is to make a list of influencers in your niche—especially those who regularly write guest posts. Pop their name in the Google search bar to browse through their author profile on different niche websites.
This way, you can make a list of quality sites to pitch your stories. Make sure you choose sites whose Domain Authority is higher than your site.
Prospecting Resource Pages
Resource pages offer their audience some of the top niche content pieces and guides related to a specific topic. Resource page link-building is about finding a place in top-ranking resource pages in your industry.
In 2016, Moz surveyed 435 SEO professionals. 56% said they used resource page link building, making it the second most popular link building tactic amongst respondents.
Most resource pages are looking to include quality resources. That’s why some of them even have a submission form that allows content creators to submit their resources for your review and inclusion. Finding resource pages to reach out and pitch your content is no rocket science. To start building your resource page prospects, you can make use of Google search modifiers such as these:
travel intitle:resources inurl:links.html
travel intitle:links inurl: resources.html
travel inurl:resources intitle:resources
You can replace the main keyword and find many similar pages:
vacation intitle:resources inurl:links.html
vacation intitle:links inurl: resources.html
vacation inurl:resources intitle:resources
Download the search results and see which ones are best suited for your link-building campaign.
Competitive Backlink Analysis
The most evergreen way to find backlink opportunities is to do a quick competitive analysis. Make a list of some of your top competitors and check their backlinks in SEMrush or Ahrefs. In SEMrush, you can add up to five competing sites and find their backlinks and referring domains.
You can export the list of referring sites and refine your list based on the link-quality checklist. To know about the latest links of competing websites, you can set up link alerts in Ahrefs.
The unique feature helps you get regular updates on new and lost backlinks about the said URL. The tool also offers you web mentions alert—you can use that feature to track the latest competitor brand mentions. If you’re looking to know about your competitors’ shared links, you can use the Ahrefs link intersect tool.
Finding Broken Links
Looking for broken links on content pieces may sound like a tedious manual tactic, but can be very useful to find genuine link-building prospects. There are many valuable content pieces with dead links, and you could replace them with valuable content pieces!
The web page from litmus does not exist.
Now, here’s how you can use this broken link to find new link prospects.
Looking for Unlinked Brand Mentions
A great and legitimate practice to build links for your site is to find brand mentions that don’t have any links. It’s a simple tactic as you can reach out to a site owner and request her to add a link to your brand mention. You can use a tool like Ahrefs’ content explorer to find all of such unlinked brand mentions. Pop your brand name in this tool and choose the following features of the tool:
You can export the highlighted web pages to get a list of all of your unlinked brand mentions.
Directories and Citations
First and foremost, you should build citations on Google and popular social media platforms. Linking to these top platforms is a bare necessity. Moving on to directories, you can look for the top and the most reputed ones in your niche.
Here’s a quick checklist on creating a list of niche directories for submitting your website:
Directory submissions are not a big part of your link-building process. Placing your site on a handful of notable directories can be beneficial to your link-building efforts.
Are your link prospects good enough?
You don’t want to come across as a cheap spammy link-builder shooting link requests left, right, and centre. As a well-mannered SEO manager, you need to start by figuring which sites are the most relevant for your link-building campaign.
Before you send out your outreach email, you must understand whether you’re adding value to your email recipient. The goal is to create a relationship that’s beneficial to both parties. Let’s take a look at some parameters to understand if a site is worth your outreach efforts:
With this checklist, you’ll be in a better position to understand whether a content piece is a good link prospect or not.
Personalizing the Email Outreach
One of the critical pillars of your link-building campaign is email outreach. When you have many prospects and relevant content pieces to pitch, you need to go out there and break the ice. While you can find quite a few email templates to automate your outreach campaign, it may not get you the desired results. Why? Here are some drawbacks of relying on email templates to reach out to webmasters and blog editors:
If you really want your link prospects to answer your email, you must create tailor-made outreach emails. Here’s how you to get it right:
So whether you’re pitching to a guest posting site or a resource page, you can use the tips mentioned above to convey the value you can offer to your link prospects.
No, Digital PR is not the buzzword; it’s the reality of how you should do SEO in today’s times. With new Google Algorithm updates and the search engine’s determination to offer a quality experience to online searchers, there is practically no room for spammy link-building practices.
52% of marketers believe brand mentions impact organic search rankings. (Aira)
The ideal way to build links and press mentions is to display niche authority and build relationships with trustworthy niche sites.
Let’s learn about some essential Digital PR techniques that can help fetch quality backlinks for your business.
Tip Journalists on Platforms Like HARO
HARO is a free platform that helps connect PR professionals and journalists. Most journalists use this platform to look for experts who can share tips and advice for their upcoming stories. You can sign up on this platform as a source and start browsing niche queries. Once you create a HARO profile and select your business category, HARO sends you topical queries to your email inbox.
Here’s an example of what a HARO query looks like:
You can choose the most relevant queries and start replying to them. Be persistent, and you might land up with links on large publications like
Forbes and Inc. Here are some tips to win more features, links, and press mentions by offering to become an expert source on HARO:
Journalists often post their queries on Twitter using the hashtag #journorequest—follow the hashtag to find relevant PR opportunities for your business.
Be relentless about understanding what journalists are looking for and creating value—that’s an excellent strategy to win a ton of quality backlinks to your site.
Tell Your Brand Story
If you didn’t already know it, then here’s a simple truth—the media is always looking for stories. They’re looking for authentic anecdotes that will find readers. Inspire news outlets and journalists with your brand story, and it’ll get you real backlinks and press mentions. Here are things you can do:
Talk About Your Brand’s Purpose
As a business, are you doing something that changes lives? Does your business help save the environment, or are you offering employment to a socially backward section of the society? Are you sponsoring a charity or giving away a service for free?
Creating a social impact helps you bring about positive change in society, and it naturally attracts media attention. Plus, you get to build a positive reputation for your business.
Every business has its unique journey towards achieving certain milestones, such as client wins or awards.
Take a look at this example from Clif Bar and Company:
News outlets want to cover business owners who have used creative ways to grow their business.
Create a Viral Campaign
Going viral with a video or a stunt may seem fancy, but it’s not as simple as it sounds. You need to brainstorm and execute many viral campaigns and ideas before hitting that one home run. A viral campaign gets you mass visibility and coverage plus backlinks. How to ideate a viral campaign:
For example, e.l.f. cosmetics created a viral TikTok campaign that received over 4 billion video videos, which led to unprecedented media attention.
Connect with Influencers on Social Media
When it comes to building links, niche influencer relationships can make a big difference. Try connecting with influencers through social media channels like Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You can start building a relationship by quoting an influencer in your blog post or a social media update. You can find the best of industry influencers using platforms like Traackr.
Once you know an influencer, there are many ways to start a collaboration:
Niche influencers have a big audience, and that’s why getting links through influencer-partnerships is a terrific option.
Become a Guest On Podcasts
Podcasting is the content format of today. People love listening to podcasts because of their personal and engaging nature.
One of the things you can do as a business owner is to become a guest on niche podcasts. The strategy works well to help you:
How to get booked as a guest on some of the top podcasts in your industry? The fastest way is to hire a podcast booking agency.
Alternatively, you can hire an in-house team to do all the legwork. Since podcasting is fast gaining ground as a popular content format, you must use this channel to build quality links for your business.
Promote Content Assets
The more you spread a word about linkable content assets, the higher their probability of earning links and mentions. Here are some common and effective ways to promote your content:
Content promotion helps you build content popularity and visibility—a necessity to attract quality sites to link to it.
Share Expertise Through Omni Channel Publishing
In today’s times, you have the option to display your expertise through various content platforms. The best way to come across as a thought-leader is to be persistent about publishing content. Here are some ways to expand your audience through and become a leader in your niche:
Digital PR is about expanding your online footprint and offering quality content to your target audience. It’s an automatic route for getting more content shares, links, and mentions.
Another quick way to get quality backlinks is to buy links for your business. In this section, let’s explore paid backlinking as a way to get quality links for a website. Plus, you can check out our link-price calculator as well.
Paid backlinking is a way to get a quick backlink from a domain by paying a fee for it. Paid backlinks are different from organic backlinks. The former is earned through quality branded content. You simply buy the latter by getting a site to agree on linking to your website or content piece.
All said and done; all organic backlinks don’t come for free. You need to either hire an agency or an in-house team to earn those precious organic links.
Studies show that paid link-building does work for many businesses:
78 percent of companies who buy legitimate paid links consider them to be efficient backlink building opportunities.
69 percent of businesses using paid link buying considered their campaigns to be efficient
Although paid links have their benefits, they come with a fair share of perils.
If you follow the industry’s best practices and stick with purchasing quality backlinks, the link-buying process can be fruitful. Ensure you do not buy links from spam sites or freelancers who offer bulk links for a low price. Here are some channels to buy backlinks for your site:
When it comes to quality link-buying, then guest posts are your number one bet. There are two ways to buy guest posts:
Private Blogging Networks
Private blogging networks are created for the sole purpose of passing on link juice to a specific web property. Many such PBNs offer paid links to other websites in the niche.
If you decide to buy a link from a PBN, make sure to analyze the site’s quality and domain authority.
When it’s about legitimate link-buying, getting a paid product review is one of the best options.
Links in Existing Content
When you go out there to buy backlinks, you’ll find many sites happy to link to your content or site pages for a fee.
How do links in existing content work?
Let’s now look at some of the critical factors that determine the price of a link.
We’re all looking to buy links from high-authority websites. That’s why the higher the Domain Authority of a site, the more the demand, and the pricier the link. Besides the site DA, you need to look at its traffic and content quality.
Backlinks in every industry are different. The cost varies as you move from one niche to another. For instance, the SaaS niche cost will differ from the price of links in the real estate niche.
How much a link costs you is also determined by the Domain Authority and popularity of your site. If you have a high-authority, you’ll find it easy to get more links at a lower price. But if your site is still new, you should be ready to shell out more money for each backlink.
Do-Follow vs. No-Follow Backlinks
One factor determining the cost of backlinks is whether it’s a Do-Follow link or a No-Follow one. Do-Follow links work better and cost more.
If you go for exact anchor text in a backlink, it’s price may go. Flexible anchor texts come at a lower price. The idea should be to match the context of the link you’re placing on a site.
To get detailed know-how on paid link-building, you can check out our in-depth guide on buying backlinks. And, if you wish to get an instant estimate on the cost of buying links, do check out our fantastic link price calculator tool.
Links are and will continue to remain a decisive ranking factor. Search engines like Google have a mission to improve searcher-experience. That’s why they continue to keep a check on spammy and manipulative link-building practices. Therefore, high-quality link building remains an essential part of a winning SEO strategy.
Links are and will continue to remain a decisive ranking factor. Search engines like Google have a mission to improve searcher-experience. That’s why they continue to keep a check on spammy and manipulative link-building practices. Therefore, high-quality link building remains an essential part of a winning SEO strategy. Infuse awesomeness in branded content and make use of personalized outreach campaigns to get to the desired outcomes. Combine your link-building efforts with robust Digital PR strategies, and you’ll stay ahead of your game. Last but not least, you don’t need to build links for the sake of links, but for the sake of creating value and for making authentic connections with authority sites.
Yes. Keyword research is still important, but in a different way than has been practiced in the past. The skillful use of words continues to be important because it will still improve your users’ experience and your overall online marketing strategy.
Starting link-building process includes researching a topic relevant to the subject matter, creating high-quality content on your website, curating the best up-to-date SEO advice, citing and linking to your sources, and optimizing your post for featured snippets for primary keyword phrases
Some backlinks that have little to no value include paid links, article directory links, forum links, and non-newsworthy press releases