You’ve probably heard people talk about the importance of backlinks, and now, you’re asking yourself how to get them, and why they actually matter to your growth.
In a nutshell, backlinking is the process of getting external links to your website.
The more backlinks you have, the higher you rank in search engine results, which increases your website’s credibility.
If you want to know how to build quality backlinks, let’s dive deeper into backlinking types and best practices to improve your SEO ranking.
What are backlinks, and why do they help SEO?
When you think of search engine optimization (SEO), as a set of strategies and practices to get seen in search engine results, consider link building to be the main off-page source for building authority and credibility for your website.
For context, take a look at the stats by Semrush: 51% of the companies that never made it to the top-ranking pages had zero backlinks.
Backlink statistics. Source: Semrush
Backlinks are an off-page SEO strategy that makes sure you look credible and trustworthy in the eyes of a search engine. Every time an external source provides a link to one of your pages, you receive a “vote of confidence,” a form of your website’s approval by the linking source.
But why are backlinks important for SEO? The number of authoritative backlinks you have directly affects your Google PageRank.
Introduced in the early 2000s, PageRank is the calculation of your website’s online credibility based on the number of backlinks you have.
But do all the backlinks have the same weight for your SEO? The answer is no. Take a look at different backlink types and link-building strategies, and decide for yourself which practices are worth the effort.
Types of backlinks
- Editorial backlinks
Also known as “organic,” editorial backlinks are earned naturally by other websites when they link to your pages and include the information in their editorial content. These links often refer to research or evergreen content you publish on your website.
- Relationship-based backlinks
As you can guess, these backlinks are formed with the help of connections and partnerships. Whether it’s your network or sources found with the help of a link-building agency, they can help with your SEO rankings by including links to your pages.
- Comment backlinks
Sometimes, you can be asked to comment on a certain article. In most cases, it will allow you to link your website to a quote, creating an opportunity for high-quality backlinks. Stick around to learn about the method to offer your expertise without waiting for an invitation.
- Free tool backlinks
If you offer a free tool customers could use to try out your product or service (for example, a broken link checker by Ahrefs), other websites are likely to give a backlink on their pages to share the tool with the audience.
- Resource-page link building
One of the easiest types of SEO backlinks, resource-page link building means including your website in a list of valuable resources in your niche. For example, if you’re a software company, getting on a resource page, like “A Comprehensive List of Best Uninstaller Apps,” is your chance to boost SEO and get seen.
- Dofollow/Nofollow links
When your link receives a “nofollow” attribute, it means that this link won’t affect your authority, as the linking website didn’t pass it on to you. A “dofollow,” on the other hand, should be your goal, as it directly affects your SEO rankings.
- Sponsored backlinks
Similar to “nofollow,” sponsored backlinks don’t give the website the “link juice.” They show Google that your link is not untrustworthy but rather relates to a paid partnership.
Although this is not a comprehensive list of types of backlinks, and there are various ways to acquire them, these should be good enough for starters.
What makes a good backlink?
Aware of the possibility of getting numerous backlinks from untrustworthy sources, search engines differentiate between levels of website authority and credibility for your rankings. That’s why your main priority should be making sure the backlinks you get are:
- Authoritative. Essentially, the websites you get backlinks from share a “vote of confidence” with your website. If the linking source is not credible or trustworthy, any connection with it will do you more harm than good. Aim for credible websites with a 40+ DR (Domain Rating) to make sure you stay in search engines’ good books.
How does page authority affect organic search traffic? Source: Ahrefs
- Relevant. Getting as many backlinks as possible from any sources ready to share a platform with you is no way to rank higher and get rewarded by Google. Including spammy links that have nothing in common with the source will eventually affect your traffic performance, SEO rankings, and natural anchor text distribution. Aim for getting links from relevant sources that are topic-related and valuable for the reader.
- Diverse. Backlinks that come from one source, no matter how many you get, won’t add to your website’s authority and SEO. Try to get a variety of high-quality unique linking domains to keep your backlink profile as natural as possible.
Google has never preferred quantity over quality, so why should you?
How do I get backlinks for SEO?
Essentially, there are four main ways you can get backlinks for SEO:
Ways to get backlinks. Source: Ahrefs
Let’s discuss each of them.
The easiest way to get backlinks is to manually add links to your pages when creating business profiles on platforms like CrunchBase or Clutch. Filling out the profile information usually requires a link to your website.
When you want specific sources to link your pages, cold outreach comes into play. Just like looking for clients, asking for backlinks requires a relevant offer and a friendly messaging approach.
While this is a black hat SEO practice and frowned upon by Google, people who engage in this tactic risk getting penalized, but some companies agree to include niche edits with your links on their website. A recent study from Ahrefs has found that, on average, niche edits could cost you $361.
However, if you have a startup, the potential impact on your SEO and search ranking could be significant, especially if the edits are placed on high-authority websites relevant to your niche. For small businesses with limited budgets, investing in niche edits should be carefully assessed within the context of their startup financial model. The potential SEO gains need to be weighed against the costs and compared to other marketing channels that might offer a better return on investment.
This strategy implies you’ve put enough effort into creating quality and relevant content that is actually helpful and valuable to readers. This way, the page gets attention from others, and you receive organic backlinks.
So, what’s the best way to get backlinks for SEO? Your strategy should aim to earn backlinks through the content you produce.
The first step to earning backlinks is optimizing your existing website in terms of content and user experience. Whether by yourself or with the help of a conversion rate agency, your own content increases the chances of getting organic backlinks.
How much do backlinks cost?
Although it’s hard to name a specific price for an SEO backlink because it depends on authority and industry, the benchmark for backlink pricing is somewhere between $100 to $200 for any backlink and anywhere between $200 and $20,000 for authoritative websites.
Why are backlinks so difficult?
Getting quality backlinks is challenging because the search engine algorithms and authority constantly evolve and because there’s just too much competition out there.
Imagine running an e-commerce store and earning your way up the search engine result pages (SERPs) when there are literally thousands of direct competitors who compete against the same target keyword. If you’re looking for Shopify SEO apps, put in the work while constantly looking for new ways to get seen by search engines like Google.
Another important challenge is producing enough high-quality content that deserves a backlink. Building a content machine powered by AI won’t help you stay on top of search rankings, because Google is already able to recognize spammy SEO-focused content.
Instead, you need to shoot for a marketing strategy that knows how to deliver value in an SEO-friendly manner. To secure content and link-building alignment, you need to produce and refine content that contributes to the expertise and is also easy to digest and reference by others.
The more resources and knowledge you have in the arsenal, the easier it is to break through the noise. So, let’s take a look at strategies to boost your authority.
3 ways to boost your authority with backlinks
Quality content production
The first way is simultaneously obvious and essential for your link-building strategy. If you want to get backlinks from credible sources (either organically or through outreach), invest in long-form informative articles.
What are the best content types for your link-building strategy?
- Research articles
- Statistics and reports
You can experiment with all sorts of content in your marketing strategy, but keeping these in the mix is crucial for your SEO.
Your offer is only good for the audience who actually sees it. That’s why taking the lead and reaching out to quality websites is a solid strategy for boosting your credibility.
Treat this like any other cold outreach campaign: you have a list of prospects and a chance to get their attention. Think of an email outreach that gets straight to the point, showcases your link’s value to the website, and gets creative enough to grab the prospect’s attention.
Research the recipient’s interests and recent content to personalize the email further. Mention a specific article they wrote, a common industry challenge, or a shared passion to build a stronger connection.
Don’t send the same email to everyone. Group your prospects by niche, website size, or content focus to tailor your message and offer relevant links.
Here’s a great example of cold email personalization. Coming up with a simple yet catchy tweak (“May the link guide you” instead of “May the light guide you”) can skyrocket the responses along the lines of:
It may not be easy to come up with something to attract the attention of the recipient, but the effort will definitely pay off.
Regular authority checks
Last but not least, never underrate the technical aspects of your backlinks. When you’re producing content for your website, it’s hard to keep track of every mention of your web pages.
But the thing is, not all backlinks help you appear trustworthy.
How do you keep up with your backlinks? Although you can’t directly monitor the authority of linking websites, looking at metrics such as domain rating will help you see what backlinks diminish credibility.
If you want to get rid of unwanted website links, use Google’s Disavow Tool: simply upload the .txt list to the tool and remove the backlink. To make sure you do it regularly, try setting up an issue template for backlink technical audits. Another option is to use Google Search Console to monitor incoming links.
Here are some other tips to build quality backlinks.
6 best practices to build backlinks for SEO
- Guest blogging
Write a guest post for other websites for a backlink in return. Frequently, the link will be placed at the top of the blog post, increasing the authority of your website.
One of the favorite tools used by most marketers, HARO (Help a Reporter Out) is a platform where authors and journalists publish requests for expert comments or interviews in a specific niche. Journalists receive a source, and you get another backlink.
Why is HARO important for your SEO strategy? In short, it’s your chance to get mentioned on really cool sources like Hubspot, Forbes, Entrepreneurs, and so on.
- Broken link replacement
Some links from your competitors are inactive and broken, yet they stay on other websites. Reach out to the website owners of the article with broken links, point it out, and offer your alternative as a quick fix.
This tip doesn’t require expert knowledge or “secret sauce.” The premise is simple: network and find opportunities for partnerships to build quality backlinks in the future. Foster good communication and keep your relationships active to start growing your network.
- Freebie introduction
Think of a maximum value source that your audience needs and can use to test the waters of your product or service. Create a web page with a tool, checklist, or guide, and reach out to authoritative websites with an offer to help out their readers. For example, if you’re an e-commerce store, add a free test or calculator to your Shopify landing page and attract more customers.
- “Skyscraper” content
Think of the content you’re looking for when researching a topic. Probably, these include resource lists, statistics, overviews, and first-hand research. Look for similar articles in your niche, update them, and let the network know you have a credible source to refer to.
No matter how challenging it can be, link building has become an integral part of any SEO strategy due to its impact on the authority and trustworthiness of your brand online. If you don’t know where to start building backlinks, always go to the foundations and work on the content worth mentioning in other sources.
Later, brick by brick, with the help of an experienced SEO strategy partner, you’ll see how website authority contributes to your business growth.
Alona Bontush is an SEO outreach specialist at GrowthMate, a young and fast-developing link-building agency. She is passionate about helping businesses improve their organic search rankings and increase website traffic through strategic link-building campaigns. When it comes to outreach, she has both strong communication and persuasive conversational skills. Connect with Alona on Linkedin.