Backlinks are the A and B of SEO – so much you most likely already know. You’re probably also aware that it’s no longer quantity alone that matters. Building quality backlinks is what makes the difference between high and low rankings. So how do you do it?
The Backlinks You Don’t Want
Before focusing on the ways to generate quality backlinks, it’s important to highlight that getting rid of low-quality ones is the first thing you should do if you’re hoping to make an impact on your site’s rankings.
Such backlinks are for example some that you created yourself by adding your site to directories or by engaging in different backlink-building practices. Some of them are though links that you might be completely unaware of – as for example if a blog or website pings your site or if you’re hit by a spammer or competitor SEO attack.
No matter what’s the case, you must regularly monitor your site for backlinks and inspect them to make sure that they aren’t sabotaging you. You can do that both with free and pro tools, depending on your budget.
If you’re going for a free backlink analyzing tool, you can use the built-in capabilities of Google Search Console showing you who links to your site, what pages get the most links, and if you click on More in the bottom of the page, you can see the anchor text in connection to the backlinks and download the report. You have to create an account and verify your site with Google Search Console in order to use this tool.
If you still want a free but powerful backlink analyzing tool, you might want to give SEO Profiler a try. You need an account to use it but creating it is easy and fast – and free. You get a quite sophisticated tool for complete website analysis, including backlink analysis. You can use it to discover and evaluate the quality of backlinks pointing to your site. The only downside is that there’s a paid version of the tool and to make you pay the price, you’re in some cases shown demo data instead of your own. However, when it comes to backlink analysis, the free version is all you need.
Of course, the variety of paid tools doesn’t disappoint either and if you have the budget for it, you can take a look at tools like Ahrefs for example.
After you’ve analyzed the backlinks, you have to take action and remove bad ones in order to recover from eventual penalties or to boost your site’s ranking. You can do that by contacting the owner of the blog/website which linked to you and ask them to remove the link. If that doesn’t work, you can contact Google and ask them to remove the links for you. It’s a good practice to keep track of your attempts to get the links removed to prove to Google that the situation really is as it is and they have to step in.
How to Build Quality Backlinks
After you’ve cleaned your site – and reputation – from all bad links, it’s time to start building quality backlinks. The best advice of all leading SEO experts is simple: stop using energy on this task in particular. Instead, start working on a strategy that will naturally generate quality backlinks. Here’s what you have to do:
- Create high-quality and shareable content. When creating content for your site, focus on three things: depth, expertize, and approach. The first two are important for obvious reasons: no one’ll be interested in your content, if all you offer is superficial or simply meaningless. Going deep into your subjects and demonstrating your expertize are the only ways to capture visitors’ attention. However, it’s not only about capturing their attention. Making people share your content is the best way to get quality backlinks and this makes the way you approach them so important. People share something when they think it’ll be useful to others, when it made them feel good, as a way to give thanks for solving their problem, etc. So make sure you target one or more of these triggers when creating content.
- Know your target group. In relation to the point above, it’s quite important that you know whom you’re writing for. This is the only way to ensure that you’re being relevant and useful. Knowing your target group is crucial in relation not only to choice of topic or focus but also in relation to content type, tone of voice, and approach. If you want to build quality backlinks by making your target group share your content, you must know – and implement – what moves them enough to share on social media.
- Guest blog – but don’t overdo. Guest blogging is a popular link building strategy but it might backfire pretty badly if you practice it too much or without caution. It’s a good practice to include links to your content only in case they’ll be helpful to readers. Getting your name known (and displaying your blog’s name and link in your bio) are reasons enough to get out there and contribute on topics you master. Furthermore, make sure to only guest blog on blogs that are relevant to your field.
- Choose the right license. You can get a lot of backlinks by licensing your content under Creative Commons licenses. The reason is that you basically give others permission to use your content under certain conditions. What conditions should apply is up to you but even the most basic one, contribution, already guarantees you a backlink to your pages. This is indeed a great way to build quality backlinks – and it usually works great if your content is of high quality. On top of people linking to your individual pages, you get listed in CC directories making your site easy to discover. The only downside is that such a strategy can result in tons of duplicated content, which can be a bad thing as long as search engines misread the situation and punish you as an alleged scraper.
- Use social media maximally. Most people don’t realize that social media can be a very good source of backlinks. While sharing a link to your pages on social media doesn’t generate a backlink, connecting your profile to your site does. The fact that social media sites usually rank incredibly high makes them an important source of quality backlinks. So make sure that you go into your profile settings and add your site’s link in the appropriate field. On top of that, sharing links to your posts as updates helps build even more quality backlinks by making your content more visible and “inviting” more site visitors. Whether they’ll share your content depends on other factors, of course, but getting your pages discovered is the first and obligatory step in the process. According to marketing experts, the “healthy” sites get around 30 % of their traffic via social media interactions.
- Build relationships. There’s no rule against building quality backlinks by developing relationships with businesses or sites which are relevant to your field. Quite on the contrary. It’s a great way to ensure better visibility for your content and make it easier for people to find exactly what they need. Just don’t forget the basics: no spam links, only link to content that will be valuable to online users, only link to sites from fields directly related to yours (domain relevancy is a must), and always check the domain authority of such sites to avoid getting low quality backlinks. To check domain authority – and other related metrics – you can use free tools (browser extensions) as the Moz bar or SEO Quake. SEO Quake gives you more of a standard SEO report, while Moz bar provides you with deep insight into domain authority, based, among other things, on domains linking to the site in question and the quality of these links.
- Backlinks from blogs. Building quality backlinks by contacting influential bloggers – and often offering them an incentive in order to mention your business or site – is a risky task. The problem is that such blogs might indeed be influential without necessarily having any domain authority. You can though try to be smart and use the tools mentioned above to choose whom you do business with. There’s though another thing to be on the lookout for: as such bloggers rarely have any understanding of SEO, marketing, etc., they’re unaware about the way link building works. Therefore it’s necessary that you explain to them exactly how they should do it to avoid a disaster: the link should not be placed anywhere else but in the text of the relevant post and the anchor text should reflect the core of your content. If you manage to tackle these two issues though, you can end up with a great collection of quality backlinks that not only boost your SEO score but also the traffic to your site.
So there you are. Building quality backlinks isn’t as easy as registering to a local directory anymore but it’s worth it even more than before. Whether you apply all of the advice above or only certain points should depend on the specifics of your case and your knowledge about what has worked for you so far and what hasn’t.
The important thing to remember is that link building shouldn’t be a goal in itself. The only way it works is as a part of a complete strategy based on content quality and marketing principles where building quality backlinks is simply an outcome.