SEO Backlinks Strategy: Your Ultimate Link Building Guide
In this article, we will enter one of the internet's most underused yet, very delicate mechanisms that has caused little known sites to blow up into all out authorities in their niche gaining hundreds upon thousands of visits per day...
And this strategy is called: Backlinking.
If done correctly, backlinking can single handedly turn your business into a 6-figure a month earner. But doing it incorrectly can get you in Google’s doghouse and no one will be able to find you online.
We will talk about some fundamentals, how we can find safe and high-quality backlinks, discuss the importance of email outreach, a few techniques, and what we need to avoid in our backlinking strategies.
Since this will be a very comprehensive article, I hope the Quick Navigation Menu below can help you find the information you need ASAP:
What are Backlinks?
Imagine you are walking through New York City and a random stranger walks up to you and says, “Hi, I have a $1 million dollars that I would like to give you, just follow me to my office and let me take care of the rest.”
Of course it does… so as you quickly dismiss the individual and begin to walk away, another person walks up behind him… it is Warren Buffet.
He say to you, “trust this guy, I have been working with him for years, he is just a really nice person that wants to help out.”
Change your tune about listening to the “random” guy? Of course you would. It’s freakin’ Warren Buffet.
If you can grasp that concept, then you already understand backlinks in Google.
It is nearly impossible for Google to vet every piece of writing that appears on the internet.
For little to no money at all, anyone can just create a website and start making insane claims about whatever they want. It’s the greatest and worst thing about the internet.
From a business perspective, how can Google differentiate between “random guys” on the internet and the Warren Buffet’s of the internet?
Easy, by having a system in place that measures a websites trustworthiness based on what other websites link to the “random guy”.
Like it or not, one of Google’s top ranking factors is (and likely will always be) backlinking.
Backlinking helps show that the little guy knows what he is talking about because someone else of authority is vouching for you.
There is a whole bunch of extra stuff to learn about backlinks like “dofollow”, “nofollow”, “link juice”, “disavow”, etc… but we will leave that for another post.
I Created My Own 4-Figure Monthly Passive Income at just 21 Years Old!
Why Backlinks are Important?
Now that we have established what backlinks are and how it helps to establish you as an authority in your space, we need to solidify the vast importance of it.
Since backlinking gives authority, the more authority you have on the internet, the faster your posts and your site will rank for highly competitive keywords.
It is a fact of life that Google needs to trust you a lot before they start to push your site to the masses.
Should You Do Backlinking?
There is an internal struggle that is going on with many SEO experts as a whole. That struggle is if a site owner should go after backlinking at all?
There are two schools of thought on this matter, No backlinking at all… and Backlink your brains out.
Those on the side of no backlinking at all, technically still believe in backlinks, just not chasing after backlinks. If you write great, engaging, authoritative content, over time, you will gain backlinks naturally which will then get you high rankings in Google.
I typically side on the “backlink your brains out” side of the argument, but that doesn’t necessarily make me right or wrong.
The danger with backlinking is that if it is done incorrectly and/or unscrupulously (which we will talk about later), we can effectively get the heavy hand of God...err… Google laid on our site. Google can and will effectively bury your site so far down a dark hole, you’d emerge on the other side and be able to shake hands with Jerry in Singapore from the USA.
So with the danger that is associated with backlinking, how can it be done correctly and safely?
Finding Safe High Quality Backlinks
To find safe backlink opportunities, you need to make me one promise, you will never ever buy backlinks. This is a direct ticket to Google’s doghouse.
But with that said, did you know that 55.24% of ranking pages on the internet have zero backlinks pointing to them? (Source: Ahrefs)
So what does that mean?
Let’s put it together… if backlinking is a top 3 ranking factor and half of the internet does not even do it.... That means there are TONS of opportunity to get good rankings on the internet.
But how do we know what pages have backlinks and what are those backlinks?
Method 1: Paid Backlink Tools
There are a plethora of backlink tools that we can use to determine the backlink profiles of pages that rank for our targeted keyword on the internet. Some of these tools include Moz, ahrefs, and SEMRush.
From experience, ahrefs seems to be the most accurate when it comes to backlinking data.
I have seen instances where they picked up backlinks that were posted just a day or two previous which is extremely quick as most of these tools may take a month before seeing new backlink data.
One thing that all of those tools have in common is that they are fairly expensive, and rightfully so. The amount of information that is available can make you a ton of money if used correctly.
However, information overload is also a drawback of the tools… too much information and people tend to get nothing done.
Also, if you do happen to know how to read the data, do you know how to implement it?
To combat this, the teams over at SEMRush and ahrefs have extensive YouTube tutorials that show you how to use their elaborate systems step by step. That is totally a valuable resource which is free.
Method 2: Free Backlink Tools
Free tools include sites like OpenLinkProfiler.org and SEMRush (SEMRush offers free limited daily searches).
These tools work but for true SEO looking to complete full analysis of websites and find those critical backlinks that you can use to rank in no time, you will have to pony up the dough and buy a tool.
If you are a beginner, I would recommend against spending at least $99/month for most of these tools.
After you have established a blog and have consistent money coming then I would look into it, OR if you just have the budget to blow, go for it.
A good rule of thumb in any industry is that “you get what you pay for”.
So some of the free services are a bit cumbersome at times, so expect a few headaches if you decide to go the free route.
SEO Backlinks Strategy #1: Email Outreach
So now that we have the tools we need to see our competitors backlinks… what are we supposed to do with that information?
Outreach is a tried and proven way to gain more backlinks for your posts. But there is an inherent problem with email outreach…
Why no one likes it?
Email outreach takes time, effort, and is discouraging when you get shot down.
So let’s quickly outline what happens in a typical outreach campaign.
Find pages that are linking to your competitors
Find an email address on the article, website, or on their social media following
Send them an email asking to include your new blog post onto theirs
Simple, right? Not quite.
The process I just outlined is a very manual process that takes time and patience. But when you do it right, it pays BIG TIME getting the links that you need for your key “money” pages.
If you are able to prospect (prospect means finding backlink opportunities) and send 100 emails using the method I outlined… you may get 5 or 6 links. That is a terrible percentage. But it is the way the process works.
Most emails you send will never be opened, never be read, may catch the spam folder, or worse the recipient sees it and totally ignores it.
There are a number of reasons why that conversion is so low. But you cannot look at it that way… 5 links in 100 emails is 5 more links than you had before.
See my point? The process is manual and can be discouraging but the opportunity is there if you want it.
Opportunity is there...
There is an old quote from Thomas Edison that said, “Opportunity is missed because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work!”
What I mean by that quote is that if you do the work that no one else is willing to do, you will get a leg up in your niche.
An advantage that most people will overlook because you are willing to put on the elbow grease and get to work.
So do not miss out on the opportunity of beating out the 44.26% of websites that are ranking highly on Google with no backlinks.
SEO Backlinks Strategy #2: Guest Posting
Another backlink opportunity that is heavily used is the art of Guest Posting.
In a nutshell, Guest Posting is the idea of posting onto other related sites in your niche and gaining a backlink to whatever page you want on your site.
This strategy is probably the most white-hat tactic of all because it allows blogs to police themselves.
For example, if you owned a blog and had a loyal following of people, you would not dare let just anyone post an article on your site unless you were 100% comfortable with it.
Their post could scare off subscribers, tick your readers off, or even cause a negative backlash that an send your site spinning.
How to Approach Guest Posting?
Imagine a stranger walking up to you an asking if they could use your home to sell something.
Would you feel inclined to do such?
Likely not… it’s a stranger for goodness sake!
However, let’s take a different approach. You meet this person at a coffee shop and start up a conversation. You exchange contact information and now you keep in contact through email or text or whatever.
You learn that they are a good business person and has tons of experience in their niche.
Then one day they walk up to you and drop an idea of using your house to help some people understand a particular topic. At the end, they offer assistance and hope to help as many people as possible achieve their goals.
Now how do you feel letting them in your house since they are no longer a stranger?
I tell that story to illustrate and point out that most times it is better to establish a relationship with bloggers BEFORE you start cold calling to get guest posts.
Join their mailing lists, connect on social media, comment on their blogs, etc... these are all great ways to establish a digital relationship and be in a better position to reach out for a guest post.
"Write For Us" Pages
Another key that you can use to get yourself in the door with Guest Posts is to search on Google for “Write For Us” pages in your niche.
This is a huge tactic that you can use because building a relationship is not as stressed as these blogs are already willing to accept guest posters.
Go to Google and type your niche, then use the advanced Google search operator called ‘intitle:’
Here is an example: fitness intitle:“write for us”
This will pull up tons of websites in your space that are accepting guest posters regularly. You can also use words like “become a contributor”, “contribute to”, and “write for me”.
As you can see, you can play with the words and titles and see what is out there in terms of guest post opportunities, get those backlinks and increase your rankings over time.
SEO Backlinks Strategy #3: Broken Link Building
Broken link building is one of the most effective ways to get backlinks to your site because you are helping the blogger out of a pinch.
Let me explain…
You can use a free Chrome plugin called “Broken Link Checker”. This tool will allow you to visit web pages and it will check every link on the page to see if any of them is broken.
A broken link is a link on a page that goes nowhere or returns a 404 error. I am sure you have seen those things before.
This happens a lot when a blog references something and then the site that they linked to changes their site or simply shuts down.
Now what you can do is...
- Find these opportunities, visit Archive.org and see what kind of post was there in the past before it went down
- See if you have a post that is similar (or create a new similar post) that fits the context of why the blogger linked in the first place
- Finally reach out to the blogger and say something like:
“Hi (blogger name)!
I was reading this great post on your site about broken link building. Really good stuff! I particularly liked the point about (insert something you liked about the article).
Anway, I couldn’t help but notice that this link (insert dead link URL) was dead.
I have a similar post here (insert new or related post) that talks about the same thing. Feel free to add it to your post as I think it would really fit that article.
Either way, keep up the good work!
You see the power there? Do not just contact them begging. Offer help and value and make the pitch.
If you do this for 100 websites, you should look at getting back 5-10 links. That percentage sounds like it sucks, but that is 5-10 links you did not have before. So take it from a glass half full perspective.
How to Scale Broken Link Building?
Anytime you have a way to gain rankings in Google, the best way to really see results is to scale it or throw more time and money into it and get bigger and faster results.
You can scale broken link building by using one of the tools mentioned earlier SEMRush and ahrefs. These tools can analyze an entire website and give you every broken link on the site.
Armed with that information, you can find types of links that are no longer working and either create or find existing content that fits the context of why the blog linked out in the first place.
Now using the SEO tools, study the backlink profile of the dead page and see what other sites are still linking to them. That will give you a ton of outreach opportunities to get your new or existing post on a ton of websites.
These techniques take time but pay back huge dividends.
Brian Dean's Skyscraper Technique
Brian Dean is by far one of the best SEO specialist in the world and he knows exactly what he is talking about when it comes to backlinking.
In fact, the technique that he developed called the Skyscraper Technique has helped him increase his search traffic by over 110% in two weeks.
In the SEO world, that is blisteringly fast.
Without rehashing the entire technique that you can read over on Brian’s Backlinko blog, I will sum it up in a few words...
Your end game is to rank for competitive keywords by outdoing the current competition!
Here is how you can do it with any keyword or topic...
Step 1: Finding Opportunities
Look for the keyword that you are trying to rank for and check out what is currently ranking numbers 1-5 for that keyword. Check out the results individually and see why it is ranking.
It if is a bunch of helpful blogs, take note of a few things like length, are any videos included, descriptive pictures, step by step guides, infographics, etc…
After you have surmised those things, think about what you can do to make a bigger, better, and most importantly, more HELPFUL post.
Step 2: Creating the Content
Now it is time to create the content. Create something that is bigger and better than what is already there.
Take your time and make sure that it is perfect and make sure it is something that you are proud of pitching.
As a rule of thumb, I like to make sure that my post is far better than what is already ranking. I would even go as far as to make the post so good that no one would want to skyscrape my new post.
For example, if there is a post out there called “15 Best Coffee Mugs On the Planet”, then I would create “101 Best Coffee Mugs on the Planet”. Put it so far out of reach, that no one in their right mind would attempt to best your post.
Step 3: Reaching Out
Now using ahrefs, check out the backlink profiles of the ranking content for your keyword.
Visit those posts and find the bloggers contact information. Sometimes finding that information can prove difficult, so be creative and look in social media for contact information as well.
Now it is time to reach out to each one of those referring domains from the backlink profile and pitch your new shiny content.
I would not approach it from a “my post is better” perspective. Merely suggest that you noticed a similar post on their page and thought your’s would be a great addition to help the bloggers readers.
PRO TIP: Be gracious in reaching out. No one really has to do anything for you. But if you provide the value that they want to deliver to their readers, then you can take advantage of that and get those precious white-hat links.
Finally, reserve the skyscraper technique for huge topics because it is a lot of work. Why put in so much work for a keyword that won’t convert to new subscribers or sales?
Do not do that, make sure that the keywords you are targeting make sense to exert this effort.
Avoid Black Hat Links
Throughout this article we have discussed the term white-hat links quite often, but did not go into detail as to what the heck it is.
White-Hat links are links that are legitimately built with the sole purpose to help and market to customers.
Black-Hat links are the complete opposite. They are links that are created with the sole purpose of trying to ‘game the system’ that Google has created.
As a result, Google is constantly cracking down on people that are using spammy Private Blog Networks (PBNs), unnatural link growth, comment spamming, etc…
Be careful with backlinks because even good intentioned backlinks can be considered spammy by Google.
Google will keep in good contact with you in the Google Search Console if they ever penalize any pages or your entire site because of what they find in your sites backlink profile.
In some rare cases, nefarious SEOs can target your site and send to it what is called ‘Negative SEO’. The intent here is to get Google to penalize your site because of spammy backlinks that someone else creates for your site.
To combat this, use Google Search Console regularly and see if your site ever gets negative SEO.
Find the potentially toxic links that are pointing to your site and disavow them.
You can find out more about that right here!
To backlink or not to backlink… that is the question.
Ultimately, it is up to you.
It is widely understood that backlinking works and is necessary to rank for super competitive keywords.
But the time and effort that it takes can be used to create more engaging content on less competitive keywords on your site.
Also backlinking is not the sole determining factor for ranking. Literally 100s of other factors are involved.
No matter what side of the argument that you fall on, always remember the point of why are blogging in the first place… to help.
The minute you go from ‘helping’ to ‘selling’ you will lose focus on why you started in the first place and will find yourself with a dead site with no visitor and no sales.
With your business, accomplish what you think will give you the best chance at helping as many people in your space as possible and the money will come.
Give value first… take money second.
That is how a blogger survives.
About The Author:
This is a guest post by Chris Myles from Benjisdad.com.
Chris Myles shows aspiring entrepreneurs, practical steps for improving their income through blogging. Check out his free training guide and tutorials by clicking here. The free tips and video tutorials he provides are sure to take your online earnings to the next level.