The Ultimate Guide to SEO Backlinking
Whether you’re a blogger, webmaster, or digital marketer, if you’re incorporating SEO strategies into your tactics, you’ve probably at least heard the term “backlinking”, “link building”, or “backlinks.”
If that’s the extent of your knowledge, then don’t worry because we’ve got you covered in today’s post.
A whopping 55.24% of web pages don’t have backlinks, and this can hurt your content’s ability to rank well in Google SERPs and Pagerank.
Backlinks within your content are a great way to add authority to your content and back up your positions. However, it is equally important for other sites to link to your content to help build the domain authority of your website and bring new traffic to your pages.
So today, we will dive deeper into the concept of backlink building, why your website needs to incorporate strategic link building, and offer step-by-step guidance to help you improve your backlinking strategy.
What is Backlinking or Linkbuilding?
Backlinking or link building is the practice of linking to an external piece of content within your own as a way to add authority or credibility. Additionally, it adds to the authority of the source content as well.
Backlinks are the #1 ranking factor for SEO on Google year in and year out.
They can increase the number of clicks and therefore, increase the content’s Google ranking, credibility, and visibility as more organic traffic finds your site.
Now that we have a sense of what backlinking is and why businesses do it, let’s talk about the different types of backlinks you can make.
What are the Different Types of Backlinks?
Not all backlinks are the same. There are several types of backlinks and it’s important to know the difference.
Natural link building is when the site owner uses backlinks within the content on their own accord, without any prompting from the content’s owner.
Internal linking involves creating multiple links to your existing content to purposely increase traffic to those pages. These differ from natural links in the sense they’re more strategically placed for optimization and self-promotion.
These are the types of links that will be pitched from one company to another.
For example, the owner of an SEO software may reach out to a high-ranking site owned by a digital marketing agency and request that a link to their content is included in a current post, or within a guest post if you’re guest blogging.
This is a win-win for both parties as the recipient gains valuable content that will add to their site’s credibility and the inquiring party gains added domain authority for their site through the backlink.
What Kind of Content Can I Use For Backlinking?
Just about any content can be used when backlinking so long as it’s high-quality and relevant to the topic. Here are several types of content marketing assets that can be used for link building:
- What They Are: This is a blog post! Essentially, it is an informational piece of web-based content, typically around 800-1500 words long.
- Example: 5 Ways to Take Advantage of Website Data to Fix Missed Sales Opportunities
- What They Are: A product review can be posted as a blog post like the example below but is specifically an opinion piece around a particular product. In the case, below, we reviewed a popular marketing automation tool and provided in-depth details about pricing, features, and pros and cons based on our experience.
- Example: SharpSpring Marketing Automation Tool Review
- What They Are: A white paper is a report or guide that informs readers concisely about a complex issue and presents the issuing body’s philosophy on the matter. It is meant to help readers understand an issue, solve a problem, or make a decision.
- Here are some examples of Whitepapers.
- What They Are: An eBook or electronic book, is incredibly useful as a means to educate your target audience on topics related to your product or service. They are typically more researched and in-depth than a blog post and are presented as a downloadable PDF which makes them an excellent vehicle for capturing lead information.
- Here are some examples of eBooks.
- What They Are: Infographics are colorful and visually eye-catching while also displaying information that educates the reader about your lead capture content or the product/service itself.
- Here is an example of an infographic.
- What They Are: Webinars are a live (or pre-recorded) video presentation that typically incorporates a video feed of a live person in conjunction with information slides. After hosting the webinar live, you can continue to get traffic out of the webinar by offering it “on-demand” through a page on your website.
- Example: 12 Ways to Reallocate Your Event Marketing Budget and Save Money
- What They Are: An FAQ is similar to a blog post except that it specifically seeks to answer the “Frequently Asked Questions” around a topic.
- Example: What is RegTech and Why Does it Matter?
- What They Are: Checklists again are similar to blog posts but are typically less text-heavy and more geared towards providing steps via checklist items to help the reader learn how to do something.
- Example: The 2021 WordPress Website Security Checklist
- What They Are: Datasheets are often used in B2B or tech industries to organize large amounts of information and data in a concise manner that’s easy for prospective customers to read.
- Example: Here are some examples of datasheets.
- What They Are: A buyers guide can take the form of a blog post or an eBook and is written from the perspective of educating the reader on what to look for when making a purchase of a particular type of product or service.
- Example: The Enterprise Buyer’s Guide for Business Process Automation Software
Now that we know what backlinks are and what types of content you can use to build links or obtain links from third-party sites, let’s discuss how you can find valuable resources to target with your link-building strategy.
How Can I Find Valuable Sites to Get Backlinks From?
Before we get into best practices to build backlinks (either to or from your site) let’s look into finding how you can find sites to link within your content, or during backlinking outreach to other sites.
The first thing to remember is that not all links are valuable.
Not all inbound links are credible or offer value. It’s necessary to verify links aren’t spammy or carrying malicious links within them. This means you need to do some research when looking for high-quality links.
They need to come from authoritative sites that offer quality content. The domain authority of the site should be considered as well.
The domain authority (DA) of a website is a measure of how relevant it is for the subject matter it promotes or the industry it is in. Scores range from 0-100.
This metric was developed by the company Moz and is directly related to its impact on ranking within the Google search engine. The higher the score, the better.
Now that we know how to identify quality content to link to, let’s review some quick best practices for building your internal backlinks. After that, we’ll review some outreach strategies for obtaining links to your site from another.
Linkbuilding Best Practices
Here are some key takeaways for link building that can help improve your current strategy or allow you to begin a new one.
Utilize Keywords in the Link’s Anchor Text
To boost your chance of adding authority via links within your content, you should aim to link target keywords you’ve discovered through your keyword research. And of course, these keywords should be highly relevant to the content you’re linking to.
So for example, if we wanted to link to a site that provides a valuable article on technical SEO best practices, we would likely use ‘technical SEO best practices’ or whatever keyword is most relevant for that content.
Do Not Recycle Old Links
Another best practice is to avoid using the same backlinks over and over. This is one of Google’s ranking factors and they will identify it as a low-quality link due to its excessive use.
That’s not to say you can’t link to the same content, but try to change up the anchor text so that it is still relevant but not an exact copy from previous use.
Use “Dofollow” Links
Ensure all strategic backlinks are “do follow” links. If they’re “no follow” links, Google and other search engines will ignore them. For example, in Google’s latest version of their algorithm, Google Penguin, no-follow links can provide some value, but it’s minimal. Thus, it’s best to prioritize do-follow links in your optimization strategy.
Most content is “do follow” as a default, but some that you may have issues with are press releases, podcast scripts, blog comments, and paid advertisements.
Avoid Any Blackhat Techniques
Black hat SEO techniques are those practices that go against guidelines provided by search engines. They’re considered to be “shady” or misleading tactics that fraudulently increase search rankings. Once spotted, these tactics can get you flagged and penalized on search engines.
Common blackhat SEO tactics include:
- Keyword stuffing: misusing SEO keywords out of context or in blatantly irrelevant ways simply to bolster searchability.
- Cloaking: a technique in which content submitted to the search engine is not the same as what is seen by the user when they click on a link to view the same piece of content.
- Misleading re-directs: intentionally misleading a reader to believe they will be opening a link to a certain type of page or content and instead, re-directing them to something totally unrelated. Typically this is to insert malicious content or part of a paid link opportunity.
- Paid links: links to content that you were paid to include in your content. While they may be relevant to the context, they are against Google’s TOS.
- Poor quality content: content that contains tons of errors, poor formatting, no use of headers, or doesn’t read well can signal an issue to Google and it will de-prioritize the content.
Instead, white hat SEO techniques, which generally consist of creating high-value, authoritative content and a good user experience for readers, are recommended.
Tips for Obtaining Backlinks From Authority Sites
Now that we’ve covered some best practices for the links you use on your site, let’s discuss some outreach best practices to use when attempting to obtain links from external sources.
To obtain the link, you will need to contact the publication (typically through email) and ask them to link to your content. You can find a relevant email address through a company directory or “About Us” page.
Look for titles that would indicate the person is in charge of the page (i.e. Editorial Director).
Do not attempt to reach out to someone who is clearly not responsible for the content (i.e. Head of Sales)- this not only looks spammy but creates a poor first impression with a potential partner.
In most cases, they won’t just do this for you unless there is value for them. Here are a few ways to add value for them.
Also, it’s worth mentioning that some sites will not be willing to include your backlink for free. They may request that you purchase your spot on their site but this is against Google’s TOS and is not recommended.
The Skyscraper Technique
The Skyscraper Technique is a system for turning content into high-quality backlinks and was created by Backlinko’s Brian Dean. The strategy is pretty simple.
First, you find the publication you want to obtain a link from and find a relevant topic that they’re currently linking to. Then you write a better, more valuable piece of competitive content and offer it as an alternative to the site owner and any other site currently linking to that content.
The Broken Link Building
Using an SEO tool, like those we’ll cover later in the post, you can search for relevant sites to your strategy that currently have broken links and dead-end pages within their content.
The strategy is to reach out to let them know about the broken link and offer your content in place of the broken link.
The Link Roundup Strategy
Since blog content has grown enormously in the past few years, some blog posts’ sole purpose is to be re-linked to other quality content, often by influencers, in a roundup post. Often these are promoted as “Best of” or “The Top X” resource type posts.
All you need to do is research similar keywords to your niche and find those roundup posts. Then, you can reach out and ask to have your page or site included in the round-up.
Another pretty straightforward link-building technique is to simply reach out to relevant publications that offer guest posting opportunities and include strategic, relevant links to high-quality content. Keep in mind that many sites that offer guest posting will have restrictions on the types of links, or how many, can be included in your post.
In the next section, we’re going to discuss some tools that you can use to aid in your link-building campaigns. However, it’s important to note that you don’t need an expensive tool to start obtaining backlinks when you’re just starting.
Outbound Backlinking Tools
The following are a few of our favorite tools for identifying good targets to reach out to with our backlinking strategies.
Tools such as BuzzSumo can help find quality content and relative topics to backlink to your website. We like to think of BuzzSumo as the Google for content marketers. We use it to look up content on a topic and see what’s been written about and how it’s performing. This provides a clear indicator of good backlinking opportunities.
SEMrush is a helpful platform for navigating content and keywords needed to help improve your search ranking, including backlinks. We really love SEMrush for performing competitor analysis. Their competitor data has been the most accurate of all the tools we’ve tried when looking at figures like competitor traffic, keywords, % of traffic to pages, etc.
Ahrefs allows you to analyze the data behind your website. It looks at traffic, SEO, ranking, etc so that you can find the best areas to improve your website and your content.
Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, it provides you with insight into your competitor’s sites and their link profiles so you can apply techniques like the skyscraper method, to better compete with their content.
BuzzStream is a web-based outreach software that helps digital marketers promote their products, services, and content by helping your content get found via inbound marketing channels.
We use Pitchbox heavily for the actual outreach/emailing process involved in trying to obtain backlinks from other sites. It provides the ability to track and send auto-followup emails which saves a lot of time during the outreach process.
Clearscope is an SEO tool we use to help better optimize our content and increase its competitiveness. Essentially, Clearscope pulls the top-ranking content for posts on the same topic and gives us keywords we can use to optimize our post. Clearscope also has a new feature that provides guidance on outlining the post so that we can create a more competitive, comprehensive post than our competitors.
How Interrupt Media Can Help With Your SEO Strategies
Understanding the techniques and best practices of backlinking is an essential marketing strategy you cannot overlook.
Having a strategy to enhance the authority and SEO of your site should be a priority if your goal is to increase brand awareness, encourage more traffic, and add to your revenue and SEO ROI.
However, if you aren’t sure where to start, we can help!
Interrupt Media is a full-stack B2B marketing agency. Our job is to assist B2B companies in incorporating marketing strategies to improve ROI, improve demand generation, and increase the flow of high-quality marketing qualified leads (MQLs).
If you need help building a successful backlinking or overall marketing strategy, let’s schedule a time to chat about how Interrupt Media can support your unique marketing initiatives.
Eager to learn more about backlinking? See our post on backlinking for B2B and backlinking best practices for local SEO.
Topics: B2B Marketing, Content Marketing, Digital Marketing, SEO