Updated: May 3
In this guide we will teach you the what, prep, how to and what backlinks to avoid in 2018
Lets not waste anytime and get started.
Table of Contents - The Importance of Backlinks - Quality vs. Quantity - Preparing Your Site for Backlinks + Technical Check List - The Vital Importance of Strong Content + 7 rules of thump tips to creating great content - The Most Important Backlinks - Other Important Backlinks + 4 simple sources - The Importance of Anchor Text - Backlinks to Avoid
The Importance of Backlinks
When an external website links to your site, that's a backlink. Backlinks are vital in the SEO world because they're a key element in increasing the visibility of your website during searches. Backlinks from quality websites raise the perceived quality of your own site in the algorithms of Google and other search engines.
You control the content of your own site, of course, but creating backlinks involves affecting the content on other sites.
Essentially, you have to earn backlinks.
How can you do that, and what are the parameters that control your choices?
Quality vs. Quantity
Backlinks are the most important element in Google's ranking algorithm, but the quality of backlinks matters rather than the quantity.
Understanding: when you start helping your users/customers answer their questions and not worry so much about algorithms your site traffic will begin to increase.
Submitting your link to thousands of web and article directories to amp up the number of links simply doesn't work anymore; Google has gotten wise to those tricks and treats them as spam.
Some marketing companies will use this tactic to save them time while spending your money.
Take a look at the outbound links on the sites you're considering using for backlinks. If you see links to spam or to questionable keywords ("Viagra," for instance), you're probably not looking at the kind of quality site you need to generate quality backlinks.
Look for backlinks from sites that already generate significant traffic.
You can use third-party tools like SEMRush, Majestic and Open Site Explorer to analyze links and get a sense of their page ranking analytics.
In general, look for high-traffic sites whose theme and content is similar to yours.
We'll study how to do that as you keep reading.
But first, you need to prepare your site.
These sites provide some free information and Open Site Explorer will tell you the sites spam score:
Preparing Your Site for Backlinks
You want your website to have authority, something that Google and other search engines respect.
The more authoritative your site is, the better keyword ranking you'll receive.
To build authority, you may have a little tidying up to do.
Start by looking for any broken links.
Broken links leak authority.
Don't forget to look in your comments section, if you have one, to weed out broken links.
Boot up Screaming Frog or Google Search Console again to reclaim 404 links.
You can Ahrefs and similar software to bulk check these links. Once you've found them, do a 301 redirect to your home page or to another relevant page on your site.
Screaming Frog can also help you fix your redirect chains so individual pages retain or reclaim their authority.
Use Screaming Frog one more time to look for 302 redirects. These redirects can also allow authority to leak from your site, so change them all to 301 redirects.
Once you've done this housekeeping, you're ready to start building backlinks.
Technical Check List
Speed Test - Try and keep your site speed below 3 seconds. Note: Google's Site Speed Tester is now part of their Mobile Friendly Test.
Google Mobile Friendly Test - If you are questioning whether your website is mobile or not this site will give you the answer. Oh, a mobile home page does not count as a mobile website.
Check Duplicate Content - we use Copyscape. They offer monthly monitoring or free use. If you have found two URLs or text blocks that appear similar, Copyscape has a free comparison tool that will highlight duplicate content in the text.
Duplicate meta data - Not only is it lazy to not put the details of every page in the meta data, but it also hurts your chances for individual pages to rank higher in the SERPs.
301, 302 Redirects and Redirect Chains - If you are updating the page and layout on your "About Us" page and it ranks really well and you are using the same content make sure you are using proper redirects so you are not showing duplicate content and you don’t loss your SEO juice.
Misuse of directives - noindex or nofollow are commands for the search engines.
The Vital Importance of Strong Content
Creating quality backlinks is easier when you create great content and promote it.
Tip: How do you know you have great content? After publishing through your own channels for the world to see great content will start to promote itself.
Just keep in mind that some sites have great authority but high rankings...take a look at the content and you will see it was written like your High School essay.
These articles are an opportunity to provide better value to the reader.
Great content is ultimately the way to stay relevant in an online search, no matter what Google does to tweak its algorithms.
When you create unique, fascinating content, you have an asset that's easy to promote.
Other sites with authority are likely to want to link to you, allowing you to begin to build backlinks naturally.
Create and post content that doesn't exist within your brand or niche. Maybe you can create an online poll or a data-driven post that adds to society's knowledge.
Whatever it is, having unique content to share opens the doors to valuable backlinks.
If you don't have a backlog of content, use keyword analytics to help you pinpoint areas of content that can drive web searches.
Once you have strong content, you can start promoting it to strong websites, which can in turn start backlinking to you.
So how do you create great content? A few rules of thumb:
Think about what your readers want to learn or know more about. Think about what fascinates them or makes them laugh. Think about how you can help them, how you can solve their problems. Think about your user first.
Create something that doesn't already exist. Don't just rewrite content you've seen on sites that you aspire to be like. When you rehash content, sites with authority can just link to the site you're rehashing, rather than to you.
Stay timely. Archive your outdated content, and create new content that speaks to this exact moment of time. When readers see old content, they click to someone else.
Dig deep. Anyone can create superficial content. What you can add to your users' lives that no one else is generating?
Write with personality and style. Remember when you had to write essays using your school encyclopedias? No one wants to go back to those days.
Add sharp visuals and graphics. Make sure your site looks good. Give us images, give us headings that are not only easy to read but easy to scan down the middle of the page. Make your site beautiful.
Add new content on a regular basis. Every day may be best for you, but if you can't meet that goal, or don't care to, just be consistent. Don't overthink, and don't be a perfectionist.
The Most Important Backlinks
Google considers editorial backlinks the most valuable of all in its ranking algorithms.
Editorial backlinks have high authority and generate lots of traffic. Building the relationships needed to have access to these backlinks can take some time, but you'll see the SEO results.
One way to start building these valuable backlinks is to establish and maintain relationships with influential bloggers within your industry niche.
To do this, you need to take that excellent content you've been creating, reach out to those bloggers, and ask if they'll cover it.
Get started by using a search engine marketing tool such as Bloggeries to find those bloggers and other content creators that are working within your industry.
As you build your outreach, you may find sites like Forbes or Dezzain reaching back to you for content.
Another useful way to acquire editorial backlinks is by inviting key people to write guest posts for your site.
Ask influential people with a strong following to add content for your site.
If they're too busy to write something for you, ask if you can interview them and post the interview on your site.
In virtually all cases, these influencers will post links to their interview or content, providing you with natural backlinks.
Even better yet:
Other sites may pick up the content and interview, providing you with contextual links, which Google values even more highly than links back to a blogger's home page.
Not sure where to find specific vertical blogger sites: Bloggeries Blog Directory
Other Important Backlinks
While editorial backlinks do the most to drive up your SEO rankings, you shouldn't neglect the bread and butter of backlinks: Social media, directories, business listings, and relevant comments and forum postings.
1. Social Media While different brands and businesses rely on a varied mix of social media, in general, you should be active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google +.
Depending on your industry, Pinterest and LinkedIn may also be valuable.
If you're not already on these social media platforms, go stake your claim.
You probably already know which platforms are likely to give you the biggest response, but share content regularly on all of them to build a base of followers that can start to provide backlinks via the platforms.
2. Directories Yes, we already said that linking to random web directories is a waste of time (and can actually harm your SEO rankings).
However, niche directories within your industry can be helpful in your backlink quest, offering both a relevant and DoFollow link.
Search for these directories easily by Googling the name of your industry niche followed by either "director," "directories," or "submit site."
For instance, if you specialize in kiteboarding, type "kiteboarding directory" and see what you find.
If you're a local business, add geo-specific directories to your links as well.
Search for these by Googling a search string that contains your city name and "directory," "submit my site," and "directories." Then try it again adding your industry niche to the search string.
Here are a few examples for you to try;
Find niche directories in Google with these search strings:
Niche directories Niche + Directory (Example: “kiteboarding + directory”) Niche + "submit site"
And these search strings you can use to find geo-targeted directories:
Niche + city + directory Submit my site + city City + directory Directory + city City + directories
3. Business Listings Google incorporates business listings right into its search algorithms, making them a great way and generate backlinks.
Business citations also help you build authority.
As a bonus, about half of them give you an unoptimized DoFollow link.
Look for appropriate business listings and get your site included.
4. Comments and Forum Posts Within your industry niche, you can use relevant blogs for more than just reciprocal articles and interviews.
Comments on blog posts that are relevant to your niche can help build your site's relevancy while also providing you with referral traffic.
Commenting is also a great way to start a relationship with an influential blogger whom you might not know otherwise.
Take a moment to compose a unique, relevant, thought-provoking comment that grabs attention from the blogger and their followers.
Posting on forums that are relevant to your industry niche also helps you build your brand and your backlinks. To take the most advantage of this path, you should build a profile on relevant forums. Start by Googling forums that are appropriate to your niche, and then fill out any profile templates completely.
Perfect example search strings to find forums and/or writers:
Niche + forum forum + Niche
Niche + "write for us" Niche + "contributors" Niche + "contribute to"
Niche + "guest post" Niche + "guest writer" Niche + "guest post guidelines"
When visiting unfamiliar forums, don't dive right in making comments to drive readers to your site, because you might inadvertently violate that particular forum's etiquette by doing so.
Instead, build slowly by making relevant comments, linking to your own site when appropriate.
Here's the kicker:
Consider starting discussion threads to start to build your own following and to create content that drives readers directly to your site.
The Importance of Anchor Text
Avoid being too aggressive or reckless with your anchor texts.
Opt for branded anchors or naked link anchors instead.
In general, you should keep exact match anchor texts under 1 percent of your content.
If you distribute anchor text too randomly, you can actually hinder your site's ranking.
Backlinks to Avoid
We've told you what kinds of backlinks to look for. But that's not all there is to creating valuable backlinks. You also need to avoid the kinds of links that can actually harm you. Here's a good list of links to avoid:
Links that you can purchase on an SEO forum. Often these are advertised as PBN links "private blog networks," but really, they're public networks, and Google despises them.
Links to sites with home pages that contain an overwheming number of outbound links (25, 50 or more).
Links to sites whose outbound links are to irrelevant sites. Among these may be the "Viagra" links that let you know you may be dealing with spam. Whether you see spammy links or not, the fact that you're seeing irrelevant links should be a warning.
Links to sites that contain more ads than content, or where the content is remarkably thin.
In addition, avoid using automated link building tools, as they're not likely to take you to the quality sites you need to build your brand. Many of them will instead link you to spammed sites, harming your SEO ranking.
What's the bottom line?
Create great content, and make it known to quality sites that also create and promote great content.
When you create great content, you please your users, you earn backlinks, and you grow your brand and your site.
Thank you and please share if you enjoyed reading our article... now over to you!
If you have another way to earn backlinks please share and we can continue talking in the comment section.