Backlinks are the links that point to a page on one website from another.
They are also known as inbound links, or incoming links, or one way links.
If someone links to your site, then you have a backlink from them. You can also call it an inbound link for your site.
And if you link to another site, then they have a backlink from you. But for your site – it’s an outbound link, not a backlink.
These backlinks can be from the same domain or multiple domains.
Let me show you an example of a backlink:
These words link to YouTube, so they have a backlink from us.
How about one more example:
This is the link from Tattoo Elysium to my website.
And because that’s a link points directly to a page on my website, it’s a “backlink”.
Why Are Backlinks Important?
Google has publicly said that links are one of the top three major ranking signals.
The more the number of backlinks, the higher your ranking would be.
That said, it is not the only factor that decides your rank. As you know, there are over 200 ranking signals that Google considers.
Search engines keep revisiting popular pages as they constantly update their content, add more information, add more links, etc.
Thus, getting a link from a popular website can be highly beneficial.
Referral traffic is the indirect traffic that your website gets from some external source, in this case, another website.
This is a study conducted by Ahrefs:
As shown in the graph, a page’s position decreases as the domain rating goes down.
For any search query, most traffic goes to the top five pages ranking on Google.
So, when you get a backlink from sites with high domain authority, you generate more referral traffic.
Things to keep in mind while creating backlinks
While backlinking, Google wants two sites to be related to each other. Your backlinks need not to be solely from your niche.
For example: if you are a yoga mat seller, you can target websites related to fitness, lifestyle, health, etc.
The relevance is more important than websites that exactly match yours.
While crawling, if Google finds you have a lot of backlinks from irrelevant sites, it will get confused and hinder your ranking.
Every site has an authority score. While creating backlinks, you should target sites having higher authority scores than yours.
Google gives more importance to links coming from trustworthy and highly authoritative websites.
For example: for an SEO website, getting an editorial link from sites like BuzzFeed is more valuable than a link from some random site.
Links from different websites
It would always be best to get links from different websites rather than from one particular website.
As you can see from the graph above, the ranking strength falls drastically as the number of links from a single domain increases.
A thousand links from the same website are equivalent to a hundred good links from different websites.
This way, you can collect votes from different sites.
Target keyword in the anchor text
Anchor text is the visible text that readers see before actually following the link and visiting the linked page.
Google has an algorithm called PageRank that focuses on anchor texts to understand what a page is about.
As per John Mueller:
“With regards to external links, if you’re linking out to other people’s websites, the same things. Like, supply some context why people should go and click on this link, what kind of extra information it gives.”
From here, you can understand how important it is to have the relevant anchor text.
Ideally, the anchor text should have your target keyword. If not the exact keyword, it should highlight the topic discussed on the target page.
For example: if this page is linked to by some website with an anchor text “backlink”, then Google will understand that the linked page is about backlinks.
If everyone follows this practice, then it will reassure Google that the page is about backlinks.
Dofollow vs Nofollow
“Dofollow” link is a link that allows search engines to crawl through it, reach the linked page and pass the link equity.
On the contrary, a “nofollow” link tells search engines not to crawl through it and not to pass any link equity to the linked page.
A link is “dofollow” link by default unless you specify the “nofollow” attribute:
<a href=”http://example.com” rel=”nofollow”>Example</a>
Undoubtedly, “dofollow” links carry more weight in comparison to “nofollow” links.
Hence, your focus should be more on creating dofollow links for your webpage. Saying that it doesn’t mean “nofollow” links are of no value, they can still be valuable for driving referral traffic to your website.
Content gets the most backlinks:
“How-to” posts are one of the most powerful forms used to produce content. They take the readers through a step-by-step process.
They get a high number of backlinks as they break down a big topic in smaller parts explained as steps. This makes it easier for other sites to find relevant information to link to.
“How-to” posts are compelling in their titles and include actionable steps.
Be careful about the length of the post.
Hubspot found that its posts between 2,250 and 2,500 words rank higher than short posts.
“How-to” posts work best for food-related websites with 37% of social shares.
I came across a how-to post on “How to Optimize Your Anchor Text Strategy For SEO” and see the number of backlinks:
I did a search “get more traffic” on Google and these are the results that came up:
Most of the results were list posts and one is a how-to post.
This is a list of pages on Wordstream and majorly all the list posts got the most number of backlinks. For example:
What’s the reason behind people liking list-posts?
- They are clear in their title: for example: a list post with title “25 ways of making pizza” gives a clear idea to the readers of what they should expect from the blog.
- Easy to scan: List posts are easy to be overviewed. You can just scroll through each point and get an overall idea about the content.
- List-posts generate curiosity: think about coming across a blog with the title “30 ways to make tortillas” when you have only thought of hardly 5. Exciting, right?
Original Data Research
Readers always like authentic content. People like statements backed with lots of data.
Coming up with your research can do wonders for your website. But it’s not that easy!
Once you choose a topic, you must do exhaustive research from various tools, studies, and statistics. You have to carefully analyze the data, notice the patterns, and develop a story around the same.
It will ease the task of people as now they have ready content from lots of data and won’t have to dwell a lot.
Biteable published an original research on “55 video marketing statistics for 2019” and just see the number of backlinks!
That’s the impact of original research.
Complete guides give the A – Z knowledge on a topic.
As soon as you see a title that includes “complete guide,” it gives an impression of an in-depth study that it has covered everything on the topic.
They are usually lengthy and talk about everything to the last detail.
Complete guides are highly beneficial for readers as they are one stop to know everything.
SEO link building best practices
Broken link building
Broken link building is the practice of replacing links to broken pages, aka 404 pages with a working link.
A broken link is also known as a “dead link.” To replace the broken link, you have to come up with better content on the same topic.
It is a page I came across through an internal link that Searchmetrics gave to one of its pages.
Now, I went to Semrush to check the pages that link to the above page.
I entered the URL and looked for the backlinks. The tool generated a complete list of URLs where the page is linked to.
Now, my next step should be to produce content on “ranking factors” and reach out to the content writers of these web pages.
It’s a win-win situation. Site owners will get to replace a broken link from their page and improve the user experience.
Also, I will get a mention of their site and the advantages! You already know!
But how do you know what content was there on a page that doesn’t work anymore?
Well, there’s a tool for it called the Wayback Machine.
I entered the page URL, and a graph showed when the tool crawled the page. I clicked on 2019 and saw the result:
I have access to the entire content to get ideas about writing to replace this link.
Easy enough, right?
So, once you are ready with your content, it’s time to reach out to people!
But how do you do that?
This is where email outreach comes into the picture.
Email outreach helps you to reach out to people via an email for getting a backlink.
After you have a list of URLs of web pages, you need to find out their email addresses. There are many tools for doing so.
One popular choice is Huter.io
Type in the company’s name in the search bar and it will come up with a list of email addresses.
For example, I visited a page on “broken link” and the name of the author came right at the top. It became easier as now I know the target person’s name.
So, I went to hunter.io and searched for the domain.
This is the list of email dresses that came up.
In the search bar at the right side, I typed in the author name ‘Ted Lindblom’ and his email address came!
The green dot shows that it is a verified email address and has more than 80% chances of going through.
You can just click on the green dot and the email id will get copied.
What are you waiting for?
Just paste it in the mail box and write that mail!
You have to write down to them highlighting why they should mention you.
Let’s take an example of writing a mail for replacing a broken link of black hat/white hat SEO :
Hey, “Receiver’s name”!
I hope this mail finds you in excellent health!
I am an SEO analyst who is always on the lookout for content, and hence, I came across your site and read this: “their webpage URL.”
I saw that you have linked out to
“URL of the broken link” for Black hat/white hat SEO.
I discovered that the link is broken and does not work anymore. The topic intrigued me, and I tried coming up with better content on the same issue. I have made lengthy content with exhaustive research and included real-life examples.
Here’s the link to it: “URL of your page on black hat/white hat SEO.”
I am sure it will be worth your while, and you will enjoy it. I would be overjoyed if my content could be mentioned on your site and help me spread the work faster.
Above is just one format for broken link building. You can come up with your creative layouts and see what works!
It is also known as Guest Posting.
As the name suggests, it is a blogging type that you do for other similar websites. The blog written by you will be available to the users on that site.
You will also get your mention as the editor, guest author, or contributor.
If your guest blogs bring good results for that site, you can get paid or get a backlink from them.
It also helps in building interpersonal relationships with people from your industry.
If people like your blogs, you will be able to show good hold on your market.
It will be even better if you look for websites that share its content on multiple platforms. This way you can reach out to a wider audience and get higher chances of getting noticed.
HARO stands for “Helping A Reporter”.
It is a service used for passive link building.
Unlike all the methods discussed, you will not reach out to others here. Instead, it would be the other way around.
HARO connects journalists with publishers that provide them with content.
Easy steps to start:
- Sign up
- Register as a source.
- Keep a sound check on your inbox where you will receive emails thrice a day at 5:35 am, 12:35 pm, and 5:35 pm ET.
You can go through the list and see if anything matches your content.
For example, if you are an e-commerce website and you get a request like “Impact of Covid on E-Commerce,” you can help them with your experience and data from your site, and in return, they can give you a backlink in their report.
Reverse engineering is analyzing and understanding what tactics work for your competitors.
Go through your competitor’s link profile and approach people using similar strategies.
For example: if one of your competitors is collaborating with some YouTubers and getting links from there, you can also approach those YouTubers and let them know your expertise and show your content.
Links using outdated content
Find out outdated content from your industry or the websites that have shut down and don’t operate anymore. Find their backlinks and reach out to them. It is a modified form of broken link building.
This technique was invented by Brian Dean from Backlinko. He could double his website’s traffic through this tactic.
Let’s know what it is all about!
This technique includes four main steps:
Choosing the right keywords
Look for metrics like, search volume, organic CTR, keyword difficulty and if it is trending.
If you don’t want to find new topics yourself and search for keywords, you can choose topics from your competitor’s websites.
For example, if you are a travel blogger, you can go through the pages of popular sites like Make My Trip. Copy and paste the URL in Semrush and click on ‘pages’ under Backlink Analytics.
It will show all the pages on that site and know the number of backlinks to a page. Pages with more backlinks are popular and people like linking to that content.
You can select them and do your own keyword research on them.
Hit Google and look for the pages already ranking on that keyword. Go through them and understand their content. You can also make a list of topics they have covered and study their approach.
Come up with better content
Write better content that your competitors. This can include many things like:
- Better metatags
- More updated and latest data study.
- Using better infographics, charts, graphs, images, etc.
- Coming up with a stronger introduction.
- Short paragraphs.
- Bullet points and step-by-step guide.
- Quoting expert’s opinions.
- Focusing more on every detail.
- Adding some extra subtopic that your competitors missed.
- Keeping it updated on a regular basis and adding information.
Reach out to the right people
After you have produced better content, it’s time to reach out to people. You can use SemRush to find the sites that link to your competitors. Go to Google and copy any URL from the top ranking pages on your keyword to check its backlinks.
Hit Semrush and paste the URL. Go to the Backlink Analytics option under Link Building. Choose the ‘Backlinks’ option and it will give a list of URLs linking out to the page.
TIP: Make sure you select the ‘follow’ option to filter out the list of backlinks showing only the do-follow URLs.
This way you can filter out the list that is giving backlink to your competitor.
Do you know the next step ? Reaching out via email!
Here’s one format for you:
Hey, “Receiver’s name”!
I hope this mail finds you safe and in good health!
I want to begin by saying that I recently came across a blog on your site, “URL where you want your link,” and was utterly impressed after reading it.
What grabbed my attention most was when you talked about zero-click searches.
Google wants to deliver the best to its audience, and why not? After all, it is there to solve their real-time problems! But, in that attempt, the websites and their visibility have to suffer sometimes.
I, too, have come up with a blog on the same topic, and here’s the link to it:
“URL of the page to be backlinked.”
It ranks on the first page of Google, and I know you have already linked out to the “site they link out to for the same topic/keyword,” and rightfully so! But, won’t you try better content? Yes! If you don’t believe me, you can check that we have a higher ranking than them.
We might not be as big a brand as they are, but Google wants to show the best!
I have done exhaustive research on the topic and included real-life examples. Also, I have mentioned my experiential learning from all the ups and downs and have shown it with screenshot proofs. I have tried to keep the language simple and understandable.
It would be my delight to get some mention for it, and you help me spread the word faster!
Anyway, keep up your fantastic work with “their website’s name.”
People often use link reclamation and unlinked mentions interchangeably but they are not the same thing.
Unlinked mentions are when some other site forgot to link to your website for an image, citation or any other kind of mention.
You can use tools like mention.com and alert to get a list of sites that have mentioned your name but not given a backlink.
While, link reclamation is finding and fixing any online content where you have not been properly linked. It can include many practices like finding broken links (internal or external).
Know the pages on your site that do not work anymore. These are broken links on your site. Go to each one of them and change the URL.
To find the external links that are broken, you can use tools like Free Backlink checker. It will give you a list of broken links to your site. You can reach out to these sites and give them the correct link.