Backlinks are an essential part of a well put together SEO strategy and learning how to get backlinks can help boost your website’s traffic in a variety of ways. As an essential part of SEO strategy, building backlinks is a mandatory task for every website owner who’s looking to build and maintain organic traffic to their website over time. The most difficult and time-consuming part of getting backlinks is figuring out how to get backlinks and doing so in a way that’s acceptable by search engine standards (AKA: Whitehat techniques). As backlinks need to come from sources outside of your own website, convincing other website owners to link back to your site in a way that’s honest and mutually beneficial can be tricky. In this post, we’ll discuss how to link building techniques and strategies for more linkbait content.
What is a Backlink?
A backlink is an incoming hyperlink from one website to another website.
For example: In one of our previous articles, a Shopify Review, our opening sentence reads:
“It’s been long overdue that we post a Shopify review on A Better Lemonade Stand.”
In that sentence, we included a link to Shopify, the business that we’re making reference to, and that’s a backlink for Shopify.
Any link from another website to yours is considered a backlink to your site. Any link on your website to another page on your website is called an internal link. As a website, your goal is to get quality (more on that soon) backlinks from other websites because it increases your website value, so you increase your ranking position in search results.
Why Backlinks are Important
Backlinks are important because search engines read them as a way of websites vouching for one another which helps to improve the rank and domain authority (think of this as credibility) of the linked site. However, these days, site owners practice link building with sites in relevant industries because relevancy is an important factor. So, it’s not as simple as getting links from any site.
In the example mentioned above, when we’re linking out to Shopify from A Better Lemonade Stand, Google reads that and come to the conclusion that:
- Shopify is likely a reputable website because A Better Lemonade Stand is linking out to them, and;
- A Better Lemonade Stand is likely in the same industry as Shopify.
Backlinks are recognized by search engines as a vote of confidence and the more reputable websites that link back to your own website, the more reputable it makes your website seem to search engines by association. To simplify this, a link from CNN is seen is much more credible and valuable than a link from Joe’s random thought blog that he started 2 weeks ago.
When you have other websites with high domain authority vouching for your website it helps to improve your organic search engine ranking, you get indexed faster and you also get direct referral traffic from websites that are relevant to yours which means targeted traffic gets passed on to you and you’ll experience a lower bounce rate.
How Backlinks are Measured
That being said, different websites are ranked differently in a variety of ways when it comes to reputation, and that, amongst other variables, affects how backlinks are measured.
No backlinks are created equally. They depend on a variety of ranking factors that are, for the most part, speculated.
DOMAIN & PAGE STRENGTH
Website authority can be measured in two different ways:
- The overall strength of the domain
- The strength of the URL
This means that, for example, abetterlemonadestand.com has its own rank of website authority as one entire domain, whilst abetterlemonadestand.com/blog (or this particular blog post) will have an independent authority that’s connected to the domain but separate still because it is its own page.
Bonus: To better understand domain and page authority, check out this free website and page authority checker. To use it, just enter some of your favorite websites to see what their domain and page scores are.
NOFOLLOW & DOFOLLOW LINKS
Backlinks can also be measured by being either nofollow and dofollow links.
- Nofollow links are when a website links to another but it doesn’t boost the external website’s page rank or change it’s placement in search results. Nofollow links are often used by websites if they’re linking to an unverified source for any reason, don’t want to be associated to the page they’re linking out to, or in the case of paid sponsorships, as per Google’s advertising guidelines, they require those links to be nofollow.
- Dofollow links exist when one website links to another one and they want search engines to consider that link as a vote of confidence for the website they’re linking out to. Dofollow links are common when websites or blogs are linking out to other websites or blogs and see no detriment in being associated with that website in the eyes of the search engine.
Note: Generally most links are DoFollow links unless the author of a website, post, or page specifically decides to make a link or set of links NoFollow. NoFollow links are identified by adding the nofollow attribute to the link code.
- A DoFollow link will look like this: <a href=”https://www.shopify.com”>Shopify</a>
- A NoFollow link will look like this: <a href=”https://www.shopify.com” rel=”nofollow”>Shopify</a>
One important exception to note is easily self-attainable backlinks from self-posting sites/forums and social networks (like Facebook, Twitter, Quora, or comment sections of blogs) are almost always NoFollow.
Bonus: To get a better idea of which links around the web are DoFollow vs. NoFollow, download the NoFollow for Chrome extension. It will highlight all links and show you which ones are DoFollow and which ones aren’t.
Link placement is also thought to play a role in how search engines rank backlink authority. If a link is included in the context of written content on the page of a website it’s thought that search engines place more emphasis on it because it’s more likely to be relevant to the content of the website overall and is likely to be clicked more than links that are placed elsewhere on a webpage such as in the footers or sidebars.
What words the link is linked to on a page is also thought to be an indicator to search engines of how relevant it is, this is known as Anchor Text. For example, anchor text is the words where the link is tethered to. For search engines, these words are indicative that they’re relevant to the content and likely to be clicked.
As another example, in the yellow bonus section above we purposely linked to a free website and page authority checker and specifically chose the words that were linked. Google and other search engines read and register the words that are linked (anchor text) and these words help search engines better understand what the page or website you’re linking to is about and what it should rank for in search engine results. By specifically linking the descriptive words like “free website and page authority checker,” we have provided that website with a quality backlink that helps search engines better understand what they are and what they do, and we help that website rank higher for some keywords that are important to them and to other people finding them.
Finally, link relevancy also plays a role in determining the strength of a backlink. Depending on several factors that search engines are well equipped to measure such as anchor text, other outbound links, keywords, H-Tags, the context surrounding the links and more, each of those helps determine whether a link is relevant to the overall content of the page and therefore whether the backlink is relevant or not.
Search engines place an emphasis on rewarding websites with authority via backlinks carefully and measure the relevancy of links in a variety of different ways to ensure that the backlinks are authentic and not spammy to encourage well-constructed content by websites that are relevant and helpful to searchers so they find what they’re looking for. Search engines reward websites that meet their demand with higher domain and URL authority as well as relevant organic traffic.
Low-Quality Links & Spam
Acquiring links from websites or web pages that have been deemed by search engines to have low domain strength because they’re any combination of being low-quality sources, inappropriate, or spam can result in penalizing your own website. It’s important to not fall into the trap of thinking that more backlinks from more sourcing all pointing back to your website will increase your website’s rank authority in the eyes of search engines. It’s the quality of backlinks that counts more than the quantity. Aim to get links from authoritative sites that are relevant to your own in terms of subject matter and search engines will reward you with increased search traffic over time.
How to Get Backlinks
Now that you have a background on what backlinks are, why they’re important, and how they’re measured by search engines, let’s dive into the ways you can build backlinks for your own website.
1. Reddit Social Proof Method
For those who haven’t already started using the forum Reddit for your business, now is the perfect time to start getting acquainted with it. It’s a very particular kind of forum with savvy users, so if you’re unfamiliar with their content policy, what “subreddits” are and proper “Reddiquette”, get familiar with it before you start using these next two methods to build backlinks
The purpose of this method is to give value, get upvotes, and then replace the content of the socially-proofed post with a link to your site.
Here’s how to perform it:
- Create a remarkable piece of content (more on that in our Content Strategy article).
- Find the subreddit within Reddit that best suits the niche you’re trying to target (make sure to thoroughly search through all the different subs to find the right one (or ones) that is relevant to your content. Relevancy is key as Redditors don’t appreciate spam and this method won’t work if the right niche of people aren’t engaged with the post).
- Create a post to that subreddit following that sub’s community guidelines (this step of the process is crucial. You have to approach your post on the subreddit very carefully. You cannot just post a link to your content and expect the subscribers of that sub to see the value in it, you have to give value first).
- Whilst creating the post, include all the valuable information you discuss in the remarkable piece of content you created. Your goal is to tell people the details you discuss in your piece content, why it’s interesting and why it’s relevant to them, and then, after you provide a thorough few paragraphs of information and if the community guidelines permit it, include a link to your piece of content and let users know they can click on that link for the full article.
- Once you’ve created that post, publish it to the subreddit.
- Once the post has been up for several hours and it’s generated a significant amount of upvotes and comments, edit the original message of your post to just include the link to your piece of content so that users will then have to click through to your web page to view the content. This only works if you’ve generated a significant amount of upvotes and comments.
Links on Reddit start off as nofollow links and as we discussed earlier in this article, that means that there is no link juice transferring over from Reddit to any outgoing links, unless, and this is the important part, a certain amount of upvotes are achieved and then those links become dofollow. The actual number of upvotes isn’t public knowledge, but through educational speculation and testing, it’s widely believed that this theory is true. Getting a dofollow backlink from Reddit is hugely beneficial as their rank and domain authority is very high.
Test out this backlink building method for yourself but remember not to be spammy on Reddit, follow the community guidelines, give value and get social proof first then leave a link to your piece of content and hopefully get some high-value link juice and referral traffic.
Example: Below is an example screenshot of the /r/entrepreneur subreddit. You can see from the highlighted link colors which ones are DoFollow (Purple) and which ones are NoFollow (Red).
2. Create Remarkable Content
If you post remarkable content consistently that’s interesting, engaging, valuable, and helpful, you’ll get high-value websites linking out to you organically without having to ask for a backlink.
This is a difficult method because it takes a lot of time to produce helpful and valuable content consistently and to sustain it over a long period of time. Even if you publish high-value content on your website from day one it’s going to take a while for others to take notice of your effort and in the meantime, it’s easy to get discouraged due to lack of an engaged audience. The difficult part is providing value on a consistent basis over a long enough time period to generate an engaged audience that supports your efforts. Once you reach that point you’ll start to see backlinks from other high-value sources start to come in and that’s when you reap the rewards of the work you put in creating remarkable content from day one.
Until then, you just have to create content that’s interesting, engaging, and helpful, promote it via every possible method, and work on every other link building method.
Bonus: For more on how to create remarkable content, check out our content strategy blog post where we share all our secrets with you.
3. Create Linkbait Content
Link building works best when you don’t need to do a lot of upfront work to get it. A simple hack to get quality backlinks to your site is to create linkbait content. For example, statistics and studies are some of the most linked to pieces of content. By creating content around industry stats for your niche, you can have more people linking out to your content. Depending on your industry, you can also collaborate with a local university or college to do a study in your industry so people link out to your content.
Alternatively, you can also create custom linkable images like infographics with stats compiled. That way, if the research isn’t your own you can include it with a source section on the bottom of the page but still benefit from quality backlinks while ensuring the source gets credit.
4. Get a Link from Your Manufacturer/Wholesaler/Supplier
Depending on your manufacturer, this may be an easy method to build a backlink. Basically, you want to reach out to the manufacturer who you source your products from and ask that they link you as a retailer of their products on their website, or link you as a business that they work with. Manufacturers are likely to have aged domains which are thought to be a high ranking factor by search engines. The older the domain the more authority it keeps.
The difficulty of this method is middle of the range because your manufacturer may not have a place for this kind of link on their website or they simply may not want to link out to you. If your manufacturer is open to the idea it’s an easy link to get but if not, you’re out of luck.
Beyond the difficulty of this method, the value of this backlink also lays in the middle of the range. It won’t be a low-value or spammy backlink by any means, but it also might not give you super high-quality link juice like you would be getting from a high-authority domain. That being said, if you can get your manufacturer to link out to you then it’s relatively easy to acquire and it’s one more backlink than you had before.
Before you reach out to your manufacturer make sure you have a reputable-looking website with some valuable content on it (like we discussed in the previous method) so the manufacturer is more likely to link out to you. They want to make sure they’re linking out to a reputable website as well so make sure you look like one.
Example: Below is an example of Beardbrand’s list of online resellers. When you sell other branded products, it’s usually in the best interest of the supplier or manufacturer to link to you, providing your store with a valuable backlink.
5. Interview Authorities in Your Niche
Seek out “authorities” in your niche, whether they be bloggers, influencers, speakers, entrepreneurs, creators, etc. and interview them. Post the content to your website and reach out to whomever you interviewed and let them know about the content you created.
More often than not the person will share your content, whether it’s on social media or, if you’re lucky, on their own website, and you’ll generate a backlink from it. People love it when they get noticed, even if it’s by a smaller player in their niche, so you will likely be recognized.
The trick with this method is to be persistent in every way. Persistently pursue influencers when you’re reaching out to interview them and persistently pursue influencers when you’re reaching out to share your content with them. It’s likely that they have a lot of emails coming in at any given time, so persistently follow up with them. The more eager you seem the more likely they will be to engage with you. Always be polite, don’t get upset or offended if they aren’t getting back to you, but do be persistent.
If they have a press page also ask to be featured on there as you’ll get a prominent backlink that is likely to have high authority. Build a relationship with the person you interview, generate some good content, and then work on getting the backlink.
6. Republish Old Content
Don’t let great content that you’ve created in the past go to waste. There are some websites where you can syndicate content which means that articles that you’ve published on your own website can be re-published on other websites relevant to your niche that have a much larger and diverse following than your own website. This enables you to get your content out in front of a larger audience and the original source of the content (your website) will get a link back to acknowledge where it was originally published.
Well known websites where you can syndicate your content include:
While it’s commonly thought that content syndication can lead to penalization from search engines for publishing duplicate content, that isn’t the case because there will be a link back to the original piece of content acknowledging its origin. Oftentimes the original creator of the content will also add a new introduction or title to the content as a means to differentiate it from the original post, but that’s optional.
Look for high-quality sites you can syndicate your content to (like the ones we mentioned above) so that you get valuable link juice from an authoritative domain. This method is also likely to generate social shares and put your content in front of an audience that’s interested in your niche so you’ll be gaining valuable referral traffic as well.
7. Reach out to media sources
You can get a lot of high quality backlinks by reaching out to the media. Keep in mind that while media sites have high domain authority, most of the time they aren’t relevant. So don’t focus on this strategy exclusively to ensure that you have a well-rounded backlink profile.
You can build links using sites like Help A Reporter Out (HARO). This tool will send you emails three times a day (morning, noon, evening) with various reporters reaching out for sources for their articles. Not all pitches are accepted, so aim to put a unique spin to your response.
Alternatively, you can also reach out to niche magazines to promote your blog, business, or app for a potential feature. Not only will this help you get a backlink but it might also help you generate more sales too.
8. Guest Posting
One of the most authentic ways to build a backlink is to guest post on someone else’s blog and earn a link back to your website in the byline or add some relevant contextual links to your website throughout the piece of content. When you guest post on someone else’s website you’re able to showcase your expertise in front of a new audience and control which pieces of your own context you link out to. It’s also a mutually beneficial relationship for you and the website host as you provide them with valuable content and they provide you with a quality backlink.
Securing guest post assignments isn’t always easy and you’ll likely have to start small and build a portfolio before you earn guest posts on larger blogs. Your best strategy is to be persistent, polite, eager, and let the website hosts know what value you have to offer. Always lead with what value you have to offer them, not with what you’re hoping to get out of it as they’ll be much more receptive to your guest posting pitch if they see that you genuinely have value to give and want to share it with their audience.
If you plan to reach out to other websites to guest post for them make sure your own site has valuable content already published on it so they have some way to gauge whether you’d be a good fit for their audience or not. Make sure your website looks professional and like you would fit into their niche market. Don’t forget to peruse their website and see if they have any guest post requirements or any particulars your guest post would need to meet such as a specific word count or formatting.
9. Promote on social media
Those wondering how to get backlinks should consider promoting their website on social media despite some of the no-follow links pointing back at your site. Link building on social media means that you’re guaranteed a link and might also get some decent website traffic back.
If you’re promoting blog content, the two easiest social platforms to promote links on are Pinterest and Quora. The cool thing about Pinterest is that it’s a search-based image site for links. You can use a keyword research tool to find the site content with the most search volume and start posting those links on Pinterest first. While you won’t get high quality backlinks from it due to no-follow, you can generate a lot of traffic back to your site. Plus, when something goes viral on Pinterest, it typically ranks higher in search results too. So double win.
Quora is also pretty laid back about including external links to your site on their platform, as long as your response is at least a few of paragraphs long. Link building strategies centered around social media tend to be beneficial for traffic too, so it’s an additional bonus to link building.
10. Broken link outreach
Using SEO tools, you can find websites with broken links based on keywords. For example, say you own a fitness app, you might search for articles that link to the “best fitness apps” and scrape a tool to find broken links in the article. Then, you reach out to those sites and tell them that you found a broken link on their website and your site could replace it. This is a link building strategy that’s really effective for cold, outreach emails.
You can also use a target keyword for other pages that your article has. For example, if someone links to a study that has a broken link, you might promote one of your statistics webpages with a newer updated link they can replace it with. You don’t need to do a Google search to find this information, but you can also do it manually if you can’t find free tools that do this.
11. Product Reviews
If you have a certain product you’d like to promote to an audience, getting a blogger, influencer or another website to publish a review of your product is a valuable way to not only have your product featured in front of an audience that’s relevant to your niche, but a great way to get a contextual backlink as well.
As per search engine ranking systems, product reviews garner high ranking backlink authority because they fulfill many of the high-value ranking requirements such as optimal link placement (within the post itself, not in a sidebar or footer) and link relevancy (within a relevant niche). If it is a sponsored product review, which depending on the website you work with they may only accept sponsored product reviews, as per Google guidelines, the link will have to be a nofollow link as opposed to a dofollow link, which isn’t ideal for a backlink but is still thought to provide some ranking power.
Make sure you reach out to reputable websites for product reviews, and as we recommended with guest posting you may have to start with being featured on smaller websites before you’re able to get onto more popular ones. Approach potential product reviewers with some fact-based data of your product such as how many units you’ve sold, what your customer/market demographics are or how much revenue you’ve earned so you can give reviewers a way to gauge the demand of your product or what target market would be interested in it. Always lead with what value you have to offer the reviewer, be persistent, polite, eager, have a valuable product with some reputable reviews or data backing it up, find reviewers that serve a relevant niche to yours, and have your own professional looking website.
Product Review Sites:
12. Try influencer marketing
Every company has potential influencers in it. It could be your content creator, social media team, founder, or even product person. By using the spokespeople in your company, you can get backlinks from making statements and being included in expert round-ups.
Those active on social platforms like LinkedIn or on your website’s blog, could easily be quoted by another website, with a backlink included to their personal website or workplace. You can get more links by being active online and creating quotable content. If someone links to your social media instead, you can look up your brand mentions and ask for a link to your website instead.
13. Reach out to “Resource” pages
Many popular websites have resource pages. In the ecommerce community, many people refer to them as “partner” pages. By looking up listicles of popular blogs, websites, or even Shopify Apps, you’ll find countless resource pages.
You can then reach out to those companies who have set them up and ask to be included. This is an easy way to get a backlink to your website from a company who is willing to give them out. Often, resource pages show that a company is backlink-friendly.
You can find resource pages manually by going through lists of websites in your niche, browsing app stores, or through a Google search. You can also try the broken link tactic for these pages too if you notice that another site featured in the section is no longer active.
14. Request a Link
Search for blogs or websites that have conducted roundup lists or compilations of products, businesses or websites in your niche and ask to be added to the list.
For example, we occasionally get requests from businesses operating a graphic design service to add their website to our blog post, 200+ Free and Premium Graphic Design Resources. From our perspective, this is a mutually beneficial request: It enables us to keep our list up-to-date with the best resources out there and the business is able to get a dofollow backlink without having to guest post, comment on our blog posts, pay for a product review or republish their own content, and the link placement and relevancy is perfect. It’s also a simple request, you’re asking to be added to the already existing post, so it’s a fairly simple request for businesses to fulfill.
Look for posts where your website would just be a simple addition to the post, you’re not looking to re-write it. Find posts that are roundups or ones that have numbers in the title. See what your niche has to offer and just reach out! Make sure your website or product is relevant though, there’s no point if it’s not.
15. Unlinked Mentions Method
One of the ways on how to get backlinks is by doing the unlinked mentions method. As your website grows in popularity, you’ll notice that people start mentioning your website, app, or brand. Sometimes, they link to another article about your website whereas other times there aren’t any links at all.
If you’re looking for a good link building technique, you can use tools for online mentions and reach out to websites asking for a link. You can get high quality backlinks to your website using this method. If you notice that a link was missed, these sites can be added to your list of referring domains.
16. Contact competitor’s backlinks
Using SEO tools, you can easily see all the backlinks your competitor’s get. You can find countless referring domains for any popular website on the internet. By looking up all your competitors, you can sort through their referring domains to determine which sites link out to competitors the most. Then, you can contact those websites and ask for links to your site.
By looking at the website before reaching out, you can create a more personalized message. You can also look up the best ranking content on their site to see if there’s any alignment with your articles and business. Find out if there are any link building opportunities by doing cold outreach or by contacting the SEO employee at that company.
17. Subreddit Moderator Method
This is a very little known method of generating backlinks on Reddit and is lower in difficulty than the last method because you don’t have to generate social proof as a means of turning the backlink into a dofollow link. Even if you have no previous experience using Reddit this is an accessible way to get backlinks without having to engage with subreddit communities.
Here’s how to generate dofollow links to your website from Reddit:
- Create your own subreddit (please note that your Reddit account will have to be at least 30 days old and you’ll need to have a small amount of positive karma).
- Once you’ve created your own sub, you don’t have to post anything to it ever (if you don’t want to) but the value comes from linking your content in the sidebar. As a subreddit owner/moderator, you have the ability to add relevant links and information to your subreddit’s sidebar.
- Every time you have a new piece of content or a webpage you can to link out to, add it to the sidebar of your own subreddit and that will generate dofollow links to your website from Reddit.
As we’ve said above, Reddit is a high-value domain to receive link juice from, so a dofollow backlink from Reddit is beneficial and this is one of the easiest ways to get them. Please note, however, that your subreddit’s webpage will have a much lower authority than Reddit’s domain authority, but you will still acquire link juice and a backlink associated with Reddit.
18. Create more webpages
This might be a given, but the more webpages your site has the easier it is to get backlinks. Having a static one-page website will be much harder to get backlinks to than a website with landing pages, a blog, or multiple product pages. Content marketing is an important part of link building. Without tons of content, it’ll be a harder ask for backlinks. So, if you want to know the secret on how to get backlinks: build a blog.
A quick Google search shows that there are tons of topics you can write about that are relevant to your niche. You can use a free tool for keyword research to come up with ideas. But by writing relevant content in your space, search engines will understand what your website is about and you’ll rank higher in results in that industry. Relevant sites will be more likely to start link building with you. So write some long form content on a regular schedule and stick with it for years to come, so people can rely on your expertise in your industry.
19. Add your own internal links
While building links can be quite a challenge, there’s an easy way to get links to your site: practice internal link building. While you won’t get the same elevation in ranking from an internal link, there are many benefits to adding links to other pages of your websites, such as lowering bounce rate and keeping people on your site.
You can add internal links easily. The more content you have, the more likely that keywords you’ve written about show up in an article. Relevant websites will typically have multiple topics in the same area which makes internal linking easier.
20. Rank higher in search
You can attract links by ranking higher in search. Most people don’t do thorough searches when linking out to another website. If creating link building campaigns and doing cold outreach scares you, you’ll want to rank high in search results to get a few links organically. Referring domains typically pick the top articles to link out to or the article with the exact search intent they’re looking for.
Keep in mind that without backlinks, it’s hard to rank high in search. So if you’re playing the organic game, it’ll be a slow climb up. How many backlinks you get organically will depend on how many articles are ranking in the top three positions in search. But it is possible to earn backlinks organically without doing outreach.
Now you know the top 10 ways you can build backlinks to your website. We encourage you to try out each method for yourself and see what response you get. Don’t forget to be persistent, polite, and eager whilst still providing value when reaching out to other websites. Building backlinks is a marathon, not a sprint so be diligent about building a link here and there over time and they’ll begin to accumulate. First things first though, start working on remarkable content, a valuable product, and a beautiful website if you haven’t already so that you have something to direct potential collaborators to. Remember, it’s the quality of backlinks that count, not the quantity, so aim for quality.