How to Get Backlinks – The Ultimate Guide
A backlink is simply a link to your website.
Have you ever had the rankings for a site you manage go down and you weren’t sure why?
It happens all the time: you run a link building campaign, gets some good results, but then wake up the next morning and rankings are down…and continue to go down…
Panic begins to set in, as you realize you’ll need to inform your client. And then more panic piles on, as you realize you don’t fully understand what caused the penalty or how to prevent the same bad results.
Our experience and research has shown that often anchor text over-optimization is a culprit. Understandably so because when SEOs run link building campaigns, they are typically guessing at what anchor text to use next.
And sometimes that leads to an angry (and soon-to-be-former) client who just lost half their traffic.
Linkio can change that.
In general, the more links you have to your site, or, more specifically, the pages on your site, the more likely it is that those pages will show up at the top of the search results.
Backlinks have two main purposes:
1. They give you an SEO benefit which will hopefully move your page up in the search engine results – called (SERPs) for search engine results page.
2.They can drive traffic directly to your site from people who click on the links.
If the Wall Street Journal publishes an article and that article links to your website, that’s a backlink. That link should help you in the SERPs – and you should get traffic directly from the people that read the article and click on the link to your site.
An internal link is a link from one webpage on your site to another page on your site. So, it’s an internal link. For example, if I do this – best web hosting– that’s an internal link to another page on my website.
Internal linking is a great way to boost links to important pages on your site and it helps visitors navigate your site too.
An external link is just the opposite of an internal link. It’s a link to a page outside of your own website.
So, if I link to Google, that’s an external link. If someone clicks on that link, they leave my website.
You can’t control who links to your site, but you can control who you link to. If you link to spammy, scammy websites, it could have an effect on your own rankings. It’s a factor that Google takes into consideration.
Link juice basically refers to the amount of influence or “juice” that any given backlink carries.
For example, let’s say that someone creates a backlink to your website. Let’s also assume that there is one link on the page and the link is to your home page. If we say that the link from his page to your page carries 10 link juice units, and there is only one link on the linking page, then you’ll get all 10 link juice units.
Now, let’s change it up.
Let’s assume there are 5 different links on the linking page, only one of which is linking to your website. The link juice is divided and you’ll only get 2 link juice units.
Same thing applies to internal linking. If you have a webpage and you link to 10 different pages from one of your pages, the link juice will be divided. If you want to give all available link juice to one page, then only create 1 backlink.
The more backlinks you have on any given page, the less link juice those backlinks will pass on. Keep this in mind when you create backlinks.
You should give the most important pages as much link juice as you can and prevent the “weak” pages from taking link juice (e.g., about, terms of service, contact, non-ranking pages, etc).
The amount of link juice that any given link carries is determined by different factors, like the website where the link is located, the PageRank, how many links are on the page, the relevance of the website and the link, etc.
I don’t know if anyone can determine an exact number when it comes to link juice, although I’ve seen some creative attempts. Google doesn’t reveal the specifics of their algorithm to that extent.
Think of link juice as more of a theoretical concept to help you understand the importance of links and how you can use them to maximize their effects.
Some people even go deeper with something called link sculpting or PageRank Sculpting. You can design, or manipulate, your website to MAXIMIZE where the link juice is distributed.
You can sculpt links through SEO, proper internal linking structure and using “no follow” tags on specific links. Unless you plan on becoming a hardcore SEO expert, I wouldn’t stress too much about link juice, but definitely understand it and use the principles to your advantage.
No Follow and Do Follow Links
“No Follow” and “Do Follow” are for search engine robots. The default is do follow, so really a “do follow” link is just one without any “no follow” tag.
To create a no follow link, you just have to add the tag to the html code. When you create a no follow link, that means that no PageRank is transferred to the target link and NO anchor text is transferred. That’s what Google claims.
While no follow links are helpful for ranking purposes, it’s definitely better to get a “follow” link if you have a choice.
A no follow link is also an indication of trust. When a link has a no follow tag attached to it, it’s kind of like saying – we’re not so sure about this site. Some people even use no follow links to “sculpt” the PageRank on their site.
They make everything no follow EXCEPT the most important pages. Obviously, Google frowns upon that type of thing so use the no follow link in moderation – if you use it at all.
Pagerank is a number from 0 to 10. It was created by Google and basically indicates the strength or authority of a webpage.
Every webpage has a Pagerank and it’s determined by a bunch of different factors like the content on the webpage, the strength of the domain, the number of backlinks to the page, the strength of those backlinks and so on and so forth.
The more links you get from relevant, high pagerank sites, the more likely it is that the pagerank on your site will increase. That’s why it’s better to get links from sites with high pagerank as opposed to sites with low pagerank.
Ultimately, pagerank doesn’t mean that much – You STILL need to focus on the most important factor which is – are you making money? PageRank is more of an indicator of how well you’re doing on the other stuff.
Types of Backlinks
There are essentially 5 different types of backlinks.
Exact Match Anchor Text
If you’re trying to rank for the keyword [web design company] – this would be an exact match anchor text backlink – web design company.
Partial Match Anchor Text
If you’re trying to rank for the keyword [internet marketing basics] – this would be a partial match anchor text backlink – internet marketing.
Unrelated Phrase Anchor Text
This is an example of an unrelated phrase anchor text. Click here.
This one’s obvious, right? – http://badfactor.com
When using an image as a link, use keywords in the alt text field, if it makes sense to do so. It’s like using anchor text for your image.
Not everyone agrees on which SEO tactics work best but here are some of the methods that most people in the SEO world can agree on.
- It’s better to get a backlink using anchor text rather than one without anchor text.
- It’s not good to be top-heavy with anchor text backlinks.
- Anchor text links are great, but it’s important to get backlinks using your website url, related keywords, and random text so it looks natural to search engines.
- Don’t build backlinks too fast or it will appear “unnatural” to Google.
- Backlinks from websites with high PageRank are better than backlinks from websites with low PageRank.
- Backlinks from relevant websites are better than backlinks from totally unrelated or off-topic websites.
- Do Follow links to your site are better than No Follow links.
- No Follow links can help you rank better (this is based on the ranking signals report from SEOmoz, check out my summary here).
- Backlinks from many high-quality, unique domains are better than multiple links from the same domain.
- Backlinks located within the main content, as opposed to a sidebar, or footer, carry more weight.
- Backlinks located at the beginning, or top, of an article are better than backlinks near the bottom or at the end of an article.
- In addition to search engine benefits, backlinks are also good for driving traffic from people that visit your website directly through the link.
White Hat vs. Black Hat
The easiest way to explain the difference between White Hat SEO and Black Hat SEO is to say that White Hat is ethical marketing that complies with various guidelines (specifically Google) and Black Hat is unethical marketing that frequently violates SEO guidelines.
I won’t go into details about what kind of tactics Black Hatters employ, but I do want to provide you with a few guidelines for trying to stay White Hat. These are straight from Google Webmaster Quality Guidelines.
Consider these GUIDELINES before you make your SEO decisions.
1. Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.
2. Does this help my users?
3. Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?
Pretty strict, right? Especially number 3.
No one would “build” backlinks if search engines didn’t exist. They would still strategically post links on websites that could drive direct traffic, but I think that’s the point Google is trying to make. Focus on getting traffic to your website and the SEO benefits will follow.
For example, article marketing is a common method for getting backlinks. Google does NOT recommend article marketing as an SEO strategy.
However, if you write a high-quality article and post it on a popular article directory site with the intent to get traffic through your link, that’s acceptable. It’s not acceptable to post an article on a site just to get a backlink, or manipulate the search engine rankings, as Google puts it.
It really comes down to intent, which Google really can’t measure.
That leads us to Gray Hat Marketing. The “gray” area in between the two. It’s hard to say sometimes what’s acceptable and what isn’t acceptable. If you’re doing something to manipulate the search results, like building backlinks just for the backlink, it’s technically against Google’s guidelines.
Of course, Google doesn’t enforce their guidelines consistently. They make an algorithm change and it hits like a tsunami across the internet.
Websites that use Black Hat methods are removed from their top positions and fall off into oblivion. No notice. No warning. No sympathy. Unless, of course, you consider the fact that Google tells you not to do it a warning.
If you’re doing anything other than focusing on targeted traffic, you’re probably violating Google’s guidelines.
They don’t want people manipulating the search results by going out and building a ton of crappy backlinks. I’m not trying to scare you, I just want to emphasize how strict Google’s guidelines actually are. The extent to which they enforce those guidelines is a totally different story.
If you build backlinks to your website, you need to make sure that Google finds them. If you post a backlink on some obscure website that Google never crawls, they might not pick up the backlink.
If they don’t know about the link, you get no benefit from it. So, you want to make sure that the sources you use for your backlinks are actually getting crawled by Google.
When you create backlinks, you want to make sure the search engines recognize that source. To check your backlinks, you can use any of the tools below.
http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools – This is only for your own site after you register and your site is verified.
http://www.google.com – Just type in links:domain.com and it will return the results (although not very accurate).
There are a lot of people that have a good working knowledge of SEO, but I wouldn’t call them experts.
Be careful where you get your SEO information. Everyone is willing to offer their opinion but not everyone should.
The only way to really find out what works and what doesn’t work, is to run carefully controlled tests. Isolate one factor, make a change and measure the impact of that change. It takes time, knowledge and discipline.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be an SEO expert to succeed at internet marketing. SEO is just one aspect of internet marketing. The information that I’m sharing with you is more than enough to succeed at SEO.
But, if you want to become an expert at SEO, then learn from the trusted SEO experts.
Here are a few reliable, trustworthy sources online to read more about SEO:
SEO Expert Tips
SEO experts that do SEO for a living don’t just crank out crappy articles all day. They work with major corporations, small and medium-sized business owners and they’re creative about how they obtain backlinks.
Most companies want to avoid any risk of getting in trouble with Google, so they have to make sure their methods are very White Hat.
Here are some of the creative methods that SEO experts use to get backlinks.
1. Broken links – Use the tools above to find competitor’s backlinks. Look for broken links, then contact the webmaster and notify them of the broken link and let them know that you have relevant content on your website that they can link to in order to fix the broken link.
2. Complementary Business – Find businesses that complement yours and suggest linking to your website to help their visitors. For example, if you provide accounting services, you can contact a law firm website that specializes in estate planning and discuss the possibility of linking to your website.
3. Offer a testimonial – If you use a product or service, write an awesome testimonial that they can’t refuse, and of course, include a link.
4. Write a Comprehensive Review – If you write an article about a business, contact them and notify them that you are posting it on your website and suggest they link to it.
5. Provide Missing Content – Write a guest post specifically tailored to content that should be on their site but isn’t. For example, if an estate planning law firm website is missing an article about tax implications, an accountant could provide that article.
6. HARO – Help a Reporter Out is a website that looks for experts or specific types of people to quote or interview for news articles. Signup for the list and reply to appropriate inquiries.
7. Develop a WordPress Theme/Plugin – Develop a WordPress theme and distribute it for free with a link back to your website in the footer.
8. Distribute Free Software – Give away a software program that includes your link or create free software that people will link to naturally.
9. Run a Contest – Run a contest that encourages people to link to or connect with your website.
10. Free Gift – Similar to a contest but give away a gift for taking a certain action.
11. Viral Content– Create (or try) to create a video, infographic, article, or anything that will spread quickly and create links to your content.
Common Link Building Methods
When it comes to backlinks you’re really only limited by your imagination.
Of course, there are also the old standard link-building techniques, which are listed below with links to resources so you can start building backlinks with a click of your mouse.
Keep in mind that the easier it is to get a backlink, the less influence it will likely have. In other words, anyone can get a link from an article directory. The value of that link is very low.
Not everyone can get a link from the New York Times. The value of that link would be much greater than a link from an article directory.
If you want to get better results than everyone else, set your sights high. Get high value links for maximum benefit.
1. Your own websites – If you have multiple websites, you can obviously create links using those websites. And, don’t forget about internal linking.
2. Awesome Content – Whether you call it awesome, epic, amazing, viral or remarkable, great content can get you backlinks effortlessly. If you do create something remarkable, people will talk about it, link to it, write about it and share it. That means you get backlinks and they do the work for you. This should be your ultimate goal.
3. Guest Posting– Guest posting is simply writing a great article and posting it on someone else’s website. Why would you want to do that? Three reasons.
1. To connect with other bloggers.
2. To get direct traffic from the host site.
3. To get an SEO benefit from the backlinks.
Guest posting is a great method for getting traffic and building a successful website. It helps you drive traffic, build a network of trusted bloggers, and it can increase your search engine ranking.
It’s really the same thing as article marketing but much more targeted and effective. With guest posting, you want to target the blogs that will give you the most benefit for your efforts.
If you want to write guest posts on another website, you can simply contact the owner of the website and go from there. I won’t go into details on the process of getting others to agree to let you guest post right now, but I will say that in most cases, they will only let you guest post if your content helps their readers.
Most bloggers or website owners care about their visitors and so it’s not about you, it’s about how you can help them. They don’t care how a guest post will help you – they already know that.
Provide awesome content that will benefit their audience and you’re much more likely to succeed with guest posts.
When you’re looking for blogs to guest post on, make sure it’s a website that can help you reach your target market. It doesn’t have to be the exact same market, as long as it’s complementary and the audience would be interested in the subject matter of your site.
Ultimately you want to find specific blogs related to your niche that will drive targeted traffic to your site, but here are a few sites to get you started with guest posting.
http://postrunner.com/ – Post Runner has a network of independent blogs where you can publish your own guest posts or get a guest post for your blog. It’s a resource for building links.
http://myblogguest.com – A network of blogs for posting articles and finding articles.
4. Article Marketing – A popular method for getting backlinks, although NOT recommended by Google. The recent crackdown on low-quality content farms has made this a more risky option, but still somewhat effective as long as you go to article directories that are still ranking well.
There are literally thousands of article directories online. There are also mass article spinning/submission tools that will submit your article to hundreds or thousands of article directories for you. Most of the article directories are worthless.
A backlink is only good if Google knows about it or people click on it to visit your site. To verify that your articles are being picked up by Google robots, sign up for Google Webmaster Tools and see if the website is listed in the “Links to Your Site” section.
If it’s not on your list of links, Google either doesn’t know about it, or doesn’t give the site much weight.
It’s always best to go for quality over quantity. That goes for the quality of the articles you publish and the websites where you publish your articles.
5. Free Blogs – Create a blog using free software. Post your own content on those blogs with links back to your pages.
Be careful because the Terms and Conditions on many sites prohibit using their services just for link building. I’ve had sites shut down with no notice whatsoever on Tumblr, Blog.com and Blogger. Do NOT use any keywords related to internet marketing or make money online in the domain name.
Check their terms and conditions, otherwise you could waste a lot of time and effort. I’ve also seen several free blogging sites go out of business with no warning whatsoever. Posterous is the latest casualty.
Also, search engines don’t always pick up these sites unless you build backlinks to them, so be prepared to do a little work to get your links noticed.
6. Social Media – I tend to categorize a lot of websites as “social media” sites. If it has any social aspect, I put it in the social media category. The social media sites listed below vary.
Some of the websites might be good for creating content and posting backlinks. Some of the sites might be good for bookmarking only. Some of them might be good for getting a backlink in the user profile and that’s about it. You also have the social media sites that are good for connecting with other people, such as Facebook, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Social media is becoming more important for building a community, for driving traffic and brand awareness, and for SEO. So, don’t ignore it. Figure out what will work best for your business model, take a look at the resources below and use the sites that will serve you the best.
http://www.tubemogul.com – Distributes videos to multiple sites for free
https://onlywire.com – Distributes links to multiple social media sites for free.
7. Forums – Another method for getting backlinks is using forums. Typically, in forums you can get a link in the profile section and in your signature line.
Of course, you can get links within the content too but unless you have a legitimate reason for posting links in your posts, the moderators will probably delete it or ban you from the forum completely.
In addition, search engines are familiar with this method and your site could end up in the sandbox (far, far away from the first page of search results). If you use this method, I would make sure you have a solid foundation of backlinks built up first.
The forum must be open to the public, of course, for the link to provide any benefit. Here are a few forums related to internet marketing, but obviously you want to find forums related to your market.
To do that simply go to Google and enter this:
your topic +forum
8. Feeds – RSS feeds are essentially websites that host your content and can send that content automatically to people that subscribe through an RSS reader. In other words, it’s a method for people to automatically get new content from you and it’s a link to every article published through your feed.
It doesn’t provide much SEO benefit but some people even go so far as to submit their feeds to feed directories trying to get backlinks to their feeds.
I’m sure some people have some sort of success with that method, but I haven’t found much value in it. Nevertheless, you can set up multiple feeds and get backlinks from those feeds, but don’t spend a lot of time on this.
Make sure Feedburner, Technorati and Zimbio are set up properly. The others won’t make much difference. Here are a few of the more popular feed aggregators.
9. Press Releases – If you have something that’s newsworthy, you can prepare a press release, distribute it to various press release directories and others could pick it up too. Essentially, it’s just like article marketing, except the format and content is different.
10. Directories – There are thousands of directories online. Most of them are worthless.
If you have a website that’s in a very narrow market, it can be helpful to get listed in a directory relevant to your market, but otherwise directories don’t provide much value, with the exception of a few of the directories listed below.
But you never know – you might have a different experience with better results.
Note: Some of these directories charge a fee.
11. Blog Commenting – Commenting on popular blogs is another way to get backlinks. It’s also a way to connect with other people and get direct traffic from the people that click on your link in comments.
Yes, most comment links are “no follow.” But, a recent study by SEOmoz indicates that having a balance of no follow links can actually help you rank better.
I wouldn’t recommend using this as your primary method of link-building but commenting on blog posts can provide traffic and social benefits. Obviously, you want to find blogs related to your market with good traffic. You can do that by searching Google and clicking on the “Blog” category in the left column.
Or, you can run a search like this – your subject +blog.
Or you can just go to http://blogsearch.google.com.
There is also a WordPress plugin called Comment Luv. If it’s installed on a site, any person that leaves a comment also gets a link to their last blog post, if you enter your website address, of course.
You can find blogs online that use this plugin just by running a search. Here is THE Comment Luv site with Comment Luv installed – http://comluv.com/blog.
I just want to emphasize again that commenting on blogs for traffic or backlinks is not a good long-term strategy. Use this in moderation and I would actually use it more for connecting with other bloggers.
If you’re looking for blogs with active comment sections, here are a few “internet marketing related” blogs that consistently publish high-quality, helpful content.
Here are a few tools to help with research, rank tracking, link prospecting and overall SEO strategy.
Check out more tools for a variety of internet marketing tasks here – internet marketing tools.
I don’t really recommend using the tools below if you want to stay white hat and keep your risk level down, but not everyone shares my opinion. So, I’ll mention a few tools that I have experience with that can help you build links.
Use at your own risk. These are NOT affiliate links.
Below are two tools I mentioned previously and they are FREE up to a certain limit.
HTML Code for Backlinks
If you’re not familiar with html code or how to create certain links, here is a quick explanation.
First of all, if you’re using WordPress, you can simply highlight the words you want to create links for and click the link button. Then, you can paste or type in the url.
To create your own link, maybe in the sidebar Text/HTML widget, here are a few basic ways to do it.
Substitute your own link and anchor text, of course.
<a href=”http://yourdomainname.com”>anchor text</a>
<a href=”http://yourdomainname.com” rel=”nofollow”>Anchor Text</a>
<a href=”http://yourdomainname.com”> <img src=”http://yourdomainname.com/images/yourpicture.jpg“ alt=”picture anchor text”> </a>
Backlinks are good for sharing information, driving traffic and boosting search engine rankings.
The more backlinks you get from high-quality sources, the better results you will see in the SERPs.
If you want to stay “white hat” remember the guidance from Google:
1. Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.
2. Does this help my users?
3. Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?
The best source of information regarding SEO is your own experience.
If in doubt, run your own controlled test and measure the effects. That’s how you become an expert in SEO.
Use the links and tips in this article to start building backlinks today. The easy part is finding where to post. The hard part is creating quality content to post.
Focus on getting traffic with your backlinking strategy and you will see great results.