You will surely have come across the term backlinks one time or the other in search engine optimization. Specifically, it is often about building backlinks, also known as link building. This is probably one of the most popular techniques to increase the Google rankings for your own website.
Since the first Penguin update in April 2012, however, many webmasters have become very cautious about actively building backlinks. Nobody wants to risk a (further) penality.
In this post I am not only answering the question "How do I get backlinks?" In order to avoid penalties as mentioned above, I will also briefly introduce you to the most important basics.
What you should know about backlinks
Before I show you the strategies for building backlinks, make sure you are familiar with the basics. This is important so that you don't make any mistakes and thereby not advance your website or, in the worst case, even damage it.
If you are already familiar with the basics, you can of course skip thispart.
What is a backlink? The definition:
The term backlink describes an incoming link, i.e. a reference back from website A to website B. These references can be viewed as recommendations, because webmasters usually only link to pages that offer helpful content for their readers.
The HTML code for a backlink looks like this:
<a href="http://google.com"> to Google </a>
What does link building mean?
Link building describes the process by which backlinks are actively built for a website.
This measure belongs to the Off-Page optimization in SEO and has the intention to improve the positions (ranking) within the search engines through high quality backlinks.
What are anchor texts?
You may have heard of the fact that when building backlinks, natural anchor texts are particularly important in order to avoid penalties.
But what is an anchor text anyway?
Anchor text is the word that was chosen to refer to a website. It is the words behind which the backlink is hidden and can therefore be clicked.
Let's look at the example of the HTML code again. I have marked the anchor text here in color:
<a href="http://google.com"> to Google </a>
In most cases, anchor texts are chosen so that they briefly describe the content of the linked page. In terms of usability, this of course also makes sense, and it is also an important factor for search engines.
Search engines assume that the anchor texts describe the page content. If you can ensure that your website is frequently linked with topic-relevant anchor texts, this is the first step towards ensuring that your post is classified on the right topic.
Theoretically, you could think that if the keyword is the anchor text as often as possible, you will reach first place in the rankings super quickly.
But of course this is not the case. Google & Co. are now far too smart for that.
You may have heard of the Penguin update before. In this case, websites with an unnatural link profile are penalized. This also includes websites with unnatural anchor texts.
Incidentally, Google not only sees pages that are constantly linked with the same keyword as unnatural, but also backlink profiles that constantly switch to the domain or, for example, words such as "here", "click here", "to the website" etc.
But what do natural anchor texts look like?
With natural anchor texts, the most important thing is the mix! Your website can of course also be linked via the keyword or a term like "here", but everything in moderation and varied.
If website operators try not to prescribe an anchor text, then a natural profile will develop automatically when backlinks are built up.
How do I check my backlinks?
You can quickly and easily check your backlinks with a backlink checker. I use ahrefs here, for example . This tool is currently only available for a fee.
As a free alternative, I can recommend the backlink checker from seobility . Here you simply enter your domain and you will already see some metrics for your backlinks and the linked pages.
Up to three queries per day are possible with this tool free of charge. A maximum of 400 referring domains are displayed per query.
The importance of backlinks in the past vs. today
A few years ago, you didn't have to worry too much about building backlinks. You just got started, not paying attention to good or bad backlinks, just creating as many backlinks as possible, ideally with the keyword as the anchor text.
That went well until the first Penguin update was rolled out in 2012 and the very pages that build backlinks lost their visibility.
Since this update, building backlinks has become much more complicated. Hardly anyone builds backlinks just like that, but also sees the links from Google's point of view in order to avoid corresponding penalties.
As you have already read, varying anchor texts are important today. But what has changed above all: A ranking is no longer dependent on the number of backlinks, but rather on the quality of the backlinks. That is, a page with 5 backlinks can be placed in front of a page with 50 backlinks. It also applies that you should rather build a high quality backlink than 10 inferior backlinks.
Of course, this is also due to the fact that Google now understands the content of the pages better and therefore not only off-page signals, such as backlinks , are an important ranking factor, but also on- page signals For modern link building you can remember.
Building backlinks: Assess the quality of backlinks
So quality is a big factor when building backlinks. But how can you assess whether a backlink is of good quality or not so good?
A rule of thumb for building a backlink is: The more difficult it is to get the link, the more valuable this backlink is.
But there are more factors by which you can assess whether a backlink is high quality or not. What exactly you should pay attention to, I'll show you now.
So there is always a lot of work behind high-quality backlinks. But the whole thing can also be expressed a little more specifically. I would now like to explain exactly what you have to pay attention to. For this purpose I have prepared a table that shows both indicators of good backlinks and bad backlinks.
You cannot evaluate every backlink with 100% accuracy using this table. One or two bad backlinks won't hurt your site immediately either. It just depends on the fact that the ratio of good backlinks outweighs bad backlinks.
The first point in the table is the topic relevance. This point is particularly important, because if the majority of your backlinks come from a non-topic-relevant environment, this is an indication of an unnatural backlink profile.
In the next line there are links from the content and links from the footer, sidebar, etc. Why is one an indication of good backlinks and the other an indication of bad backlinks?
Links from the content are usually created when writing a post. The author discovers your page and thinks that your post could help the readers of his page. With this, this author recommends your contribution. Links in the sidebar or the footer are well known as partner links or frequently bought links. That's exactly what Google doesn't want. Therefore these are not high quality backlinks.
Everyone appreciates good content.
Google also recognizes how relevant the content is for a specific topic. If the website is well-maintained and offers good content, Google sees that someone is actively working on the page and thus also considers the linked website to be of high quality.
Think of it as if Sanjeev Kapoor recommends one of your recipes. Of course, this is also significantly more valuable than if a cook from a snack bar recommended one of your recipes.
If you link to a page that does not seem to be so actively involved in your subject area and whose content is average to poor, this backlink is not so special for Google.
I already discussed the next point in my On-Page optimization, but the bounce rate is extremely important when building backlinks:
If a user clicks on a link on a website and immediately disappears, this is an indication for Google that the content was not relevant or not good. However, if a user stays on the clicked page for a relatively long time, Google again shows that the content must really interest the user. This way the search engine recognizes that this is a helpful article.
On the other side you will see the point "Links from dubious directories or other websites". If you have been dealing with SEO and building backlinks for a while, you probably know such sites well enough.
Before you submit your website anywhere, always pay attention to the appearance of a page. Another good guide is the visibility of a page in search engines. If you can't find a directory here, it has apparently been punished and you shouldn't use it to build backlinks.
The last point by which you can judge the quality of backlinks is whether the link is a DoFollow or a NoFollow link. A NoFollow link is not inherently inferior, but such a backlink is not as important to search engines as a DoFollow link. A natural backlink profile, however, includes both DoFollow and NoFollow links.
But how do you know whether a backlink is DoFollow or NoFollow?
All you have to do is look at the code. A normal link as HTML code looks like this:
<a href=“https://google.com/”> Google </a>
If a link looks like this, it is automatically a DoFollow link. If a link is NoFollow, an additional relation with the name “NoFollow” is specified in this normal link. It will look like that:
<a rel=”nofollow href=”https://google.com/”>Google</a>
But why is a NoFollow link worth less than a DoFollow link? To do this we have to look at the statements on these links.
A DoFollow link tells the crawler:
Make sure to check this out! This is a really good site.
A NoFollow link rather expresses:
Stop! The link is not relevant. Better not look in here.
So you can already see from the statements that a DoFollow link, in contrast to a NoFollow link, is a clear recommendation. This is exactly what Google thought when introducing the NoFollow link.
High quality backlinks through high quality content
You can only achieve natural link building if you also offer high-quality content on your site. As you've learned, backlinks are recommendations and you wouldn't recommend bad sites to your readers, would you?
So before we can really start building backlinks, you should make sure that the content you offer on the relevant page is really high quality.
Therefore, take enough time to check your content before building a link. Also look at your direct competition, i.e. which pages are in the top positions for your keyword. Here you will surely find some good suggestions or things that you could improve on your content.
Do not only value great content but also think about the OnPage optimization of your site in order to present the site in the best possible way to both your readers and the search engines.
Build backlinks strategies
Enough theory, now it's time to practice.
How do I get backlinks? Not only do I get this question frequently, I keep asking myself it. In the rarest of cases, backlinks are easy to get. You have to do something for it. In the strategies below you will find instructions that show you what you can do for backlinks.
So that you can keep track of things, I have divided the strategies into nine categories, which you can easily access using the navigation..
Content link building
Content link building is about building high-quality backlinks with the help of your own content. For example, you can do this with the following strategies:
1. The skyscraper technique
Make good content even better. That is the goal of skyscraper technology. Here you are looking for content that has often been linked and also create a text on the topic, which is even better.
As a first step, you should look for such content. I just enter my main keyword here on Google and look at the first few posts. In doing so, I write down good things as well as content that I miss.
Then I check the backlinks with the Ahref Site Explorer. It is particularly important that these pages have high-quality backlinks, because with this strategy we try to access these backlinks.
In the next step I create the content. It is important that this is better, more up-to-date or more detailed than the content of your competition.
Once that's done, I contact all linked sites and point them out about my improved content.
2. The infographic technology
Infographics can be used to explain complex relationships quickly and easily. This is why these are particularly popular on websites. The problem with infographics:
These are quite complex to manufacture.
This is exactly what you can take advantage of. Simply develop an infographic for your keyword and offer these different, topic-relevant websites. If someone is interested in your infographic, you can also offer them to write an individual introduction and place the source link of the infographic here.
In this way, you don't just generate a link that is placed at the end of the infographic, but a link from the direct content.
3. Infographic directories
When it comes to your infographic, you shouldn't just stick to manually distributing it to websites. You can also use directories for infographics.
The advantage of these directories is that you can not only build backlinks through the directories, but that other webmasters can also become aware of your infographic here and thus incorporate your infographic including a link to you on your website.
Backlinks from infographics can be both DoFollow and NoFollow links. If the directory is of high quality, you shouldn't shy away from NoFollow links here.
4. Video platforms
Videos not only please your readers, you can also use them to build backlinks. For the most part, these will be nofollow links, but these links are not unimportant to your website.
Video portals are extremely popular. The visitor frequency on Youtube and Co. is correspondingly high. So you can not only build backlinks, but also generate visitors directly via these platforms.
5. Podcast directories
If you are already one of the progressive website operators who also offer their content as a podcast, you can also use podcast directories to generate backlinks. Again, you will come across directories with DoFollow and NoFollow links.
6. Write testimonials
Have you ever noticed the testimonials about my strategies on the homepage? You may also have noticed that there are websites linked there as well.
Why am I doing this?
Testimonials are very valuable to me. They are not only an appreciation, they also help convince other visitors of the quality of the site.
That's why I reward the effort people put in writing such a testimonials with a DoFollow backlink.
I am not the only website owner who does this. Many other bloggers, tool manufacturers or textbook authors do the same. It can therefore be worthwhile to write a small review of such content and offer it to the appropriate operator.
7. Offer pictures and graphics
Do you like taking pictures or are you a talented designer? Then this strategy could be just right for you!
Have you ever bought pictures for a blog article, you know how much that can cost you. But publishing a blog post without pictures is also not possible.
That is why many bloggers and website operators are always looking for images or graphics that they can use on their website for free. So why don't you offer exactly that for your images and graphics and ask for a backlink to the page as a small expense allowance? Don't just leave your pictures and graphics lying around, benefit from them!
Are you a real expert in your field? Then don't be afraid to give interviews.
Many webmasters thank you for your knowledge and your effort with a link to your website. For example, you can use a separate page on your website to make your readers aware that they are welcome to contact you for interview requests. Feel free to invite me:)
9. Blog parades
Maybe you've seen it before or have been asked by someone to take part in it: blog parades.
Here, different bloggers comment on a topic or the same question.
Often you should nominate other bloggers after your participation. As a result, they usually link to the nominated blogger in a short foreword. You already have a relevant and high-quality backlink.
You also have the opportunity to set backlinks via or in social media platforms. Here are some strategies for building backlinks on social media platforms:
10. Profile links
You will certainly already be active on the most important social media platforms like Linkedin, Facebook or Twitter.
But have you already placed a link to your website everywhere?
If not, you should definitely do it!
This is not necessarily about the backlink, but rather that people who find your post on the social media platforms can also find your website.
11. Present content
You don't directly build backlinks with this strategy. Of course, this can still result in backlinks. Don't forget to post your content regularly on the social media portals and thus present it to the masses. If someone likes your content, they may also link it.
12. Build relationships
With this strategy you are not doing any direct link building either. Good relationships with influencers from your industry will, however, help you build high quality backlinks in the future.
If a webmaster already knows you, he will of course also be more aware of your content or maybe drop by regularly. If your content is then linked, you will usually benefit from very high quality and topic-relevant links.
The best way to build relationships is in social media groups or if you get involved directly on the person's side. For example, you can answer questions or take part in discussions.
If you leave the SEO of "directories" to build up backlinks, all the hairs on the back of your neck appear, because directories are actually considered out of date and a source of inferior backlinks. Nevertheless there is the possibility to build high quality backlinks with directories. I will introduce you to some strategies here.
13. Theme / template directories
Do you love web design and do you like to program your own design ideas? Then this strategy could be for you.
How you can proceed:
Just create a design for a website, blog, or even an online store. Make sure to create a less themed design. This increases the chances that it will be used very often.
You can of course create a simple HTML design, but you can also program for content management systems such as WordPress. You should then include a link to your source in your design or indicate that your website must be linked for free use.
You can of course offer the theme for download on your own website, but you can also submit it to relevant directories, such as the WordPress theme directory.
14. Press portals to build backlinks
You can use press portals to distribute high-quality announcements. The focus here should be on the word "high quality".
In the case of press releases, initially only the message is read. Nobody just goes to your website straight away. It is therefore important that you convince with your press release.
Of course, the link to your website should not be missing from your report. Not only do you build backlinks, you also forward interested readers of your press release to your website.
15. Business directories
Business directories are one of the classics for building backlinks. As a rule, you don't submit a link to a specific post, but the link to your homepage.
To ensure that the topic is relevant, you should not only enter a descriptive text, but also select the appropriate category.
As already mentioned at the beginning, you should also pay attention to the quality of the yellow pages, so that they help your website to get ahead. Most business directories will give no follow links. For a good and natural profile, backlinks from business directories are also important.
16. Backlinks in web directories
Web directories are also one of the classic techniques for building backlinks. The same rules apply here as for the yellow pages.
There are particularly many "black sheep" in web directories. Therefore, you should take the time to check them carefully. You should stay away from directories that ask for a backlink or even money from you.
Even if everyone belongs to your competition in search engine optimization, you can benefit from partnerships. Here are some strategies to do this:
17. Link exchange
Link swapping is actually a technique that Google no longer likes to see. Here page A links to page B and page B to page A.
So you shouldn't use this technique either, because it can lead to penalties.
The link exchange still works across several corners. You need at least two partners for this. This graphic shows how to swap:
You can of course do this with as many other pages as you like. It is only important that the linked page and the linked page never come to or from one page.
18. Ask friends and acquaintances for links
Especially for lesser-known websites, the way to get backlinks is of course via a friendly website. However, you should also note the information on link exchange. Also make sure that the linked page is relevant to the topic so that a high quality backlink is created.
Blogs, Websites & Forums
As you have learned, backlinks that come directly from the content are particularly valuable. With the following strategies for building backlinks on blogs, websites or in forums you can achieve exactly such backlinks:
19. Link Pages / Resource Pages
With link pages or resource pages are meant pages that present different websites or articles on a topic. There are pages that do this on a monthly basis, for example, but you will also find pages that have fixed link pages that point their readers to interesting pages on the topic, for example.
In order for you to be included on such a site, the webmaster must of course first know that you exist at all. So search on Google for example with the following search term "Your topic" + link tips for suitable pages and contact the webmasters with a nice email.
20. Write helpful comments
Comments are also one of the classic link building methods. In the past these were used to build massive backlinks. The comments here were mostly inferior and spammy. That is why it is very important today that you handle comments very carefully, also so as not to make them unpopular with the website operators.
So here are the two most important rules:
1. Never use your keyword or company name as a name.
2. Respond to the text in your comment. Say what you especially liked or what information is missing. This shows the author that you have really read the article and appreciate his work.
Many blogs automatically mark the comments with the NoFollow relation. But there are also some blogs that allow DoFollow comments. To prevent spam, we don't want to link these blogs.
21. Content update
Up-to-date content on the web is important. Especially when a website has a lot of posts, a webmaster cannot always make sure that all information is still up to date. Therefore, they are usually grateful if they are made aware of the outdated content.
How do you go about this strategy?
First, look for pages that are thematically related to your website. It always becomes particularly easy if you have just published a post on the same topic and are therefore still fully involved in the topic.
Then read through the post and write down if something is no longer up to date.
Then it is time to write an email to the webmaster again. Briefly explain his mistakes to him and correct them directly if you want.
I recommend that you do not give him your link directly in this email. We have had better experiences with building backlinks by only drawing attention to our contribution to the topic when the webmaster thanked him for the tips.
22. Guest Posts
You are probably already familiar with guest posts. Here you write a post for another website, which then publishes it.
As a rule, reference is made to your website at least in the author box, sometimes you can also include 1 - 2 links directly in the text, depending on the content length.
When it comes to guest contributions, the quality is always very important. After all, you are indirectly advertising your website with it. If a poorly researched article is published here, of course, it also throws a bad image on your website. High-quality guest posts are really good backlinks, as in most cases they are also highly relevant to the topic.
But how do you find suitable websites to publish guest posts? Of course, you can simply ask those "desired websites". Alternatively, you can also finda list of over 200 websites from various areas that publish guest posts.
23. Make bloggers aware of mistakes
This strategy works basically the same as the "content update" strategy. The only difference: Here you are not looking for update options but for errors. These can be errors in content as well as in language.
24. Posts in forums to build backlinks
Posting in forums to build backlinks is also a relatively old technique. Just like with comments, a lot of spam was produced here, which is why many no longer like to see such posts.
In order not to attract negative attention in forums, you should consider these tips:
- Be active in the forum. Don't limit yourself to just posting your links
- Help the readers. Only if your link really fits the topic should you include it in an informative answer to a topic
- Make sure not to include a link in your signature
25. Buy backlinks
As already mentioned at the beginning there is also the possibility to buy backlinks. I would like to advise you clearly against this:
- Buying backlinks is not tolerated by Google and in the worst case leads to a complete loss of visibility of a page in the search engines
- Good backlinks are extremely expensive
- too many purchased backlinks lead to an unnatural link profile
Large websites in particular that earn a lot of money with their pages still buy backlinks from time to time. As a rule, however, attention is paid to really high-quality and natural backlinks.
The naturalness of backlinks also includes buying backlinks. In the case of internationally insignificant sites, such as a Indian online shop, a backlink from a Russian website naturally looks extremely suspicious.
Since we absolutely distance ourselves from the topic of buying backlinks, we don't want to give you any "tips" at this point on where you can buy backlinks.
If you want to buy backlinks (despite all the warnings), you should definitely pay attention to the following tips:
- Better to spend a little more money and buy high quality backlinks
- Make sure that the backlinks are relevant to the topic
- Buy relevant backlinks
- Make sure the backlinks look natural
Nobody likes having links on their own page that no longer work. This not only makes a website look outdated, it also annoys readers. So why not use broken links to build your own backlinks?
26. Broken link building
Broken link building is about writing pages that link to a page that no longer exists, i.e. that returns the status code 404.
So you first have to find such sites and then write to the webmasters. I will show you exactly how this works in my article on error 404 soon!
27. Moving Link Strategy
The moving link strategy is similar to the broken link strategy. Here you are not looking for a page that no longer exists, but for entire websites that no longer exist or have moved.
Build backlinks with the help of your competition
If a website is in front of you in the rankings, the site seems to be doing something right. It is therefore worthwhile to check whether the competition still has a few backlink sources that are also interesting for your site. Here I will show you the appropriate strategies:
28. Check competitor backlink sources
Another excellent opportunity to develop new backlink sources is to take a look at the backlinks of the direct competition.
We proceed here in such a way that we first look at the backlinks of the top 10 pages and then go through all the pages here step by step. We use the ahrefs Site Explorer for this. In my article upcoming post on the most popular SEO tool, I will introduce you to other (free) alternatives. So you not only find high-quality directories for building backlinks, but also topic-relevant blog posts.
On-Page link building techniques
So far we've only looked at external backlink sources. But what about internal links? You should keep this in mind when building your internal links:
29. Internal linking
In fact, it's not really a backlink building technique. Nevertheless, the internal linking is no less important. Through the internal linking you can not only guide your visitors, but also the search engine. This makes indexing easier for the robot.
As with the off-page backlink structure, you should also pay attention to the anchor texts here. Do not always use the same terms but introduce variations.
You now know a whole lot of new techniques for generating backlinks. So that you can monitor your successes and thus conclude which technology has brought success for you, you should of course also monitor the course of your rankings and your backlinks.
In theory, you can manually check your backlinks yourself. The problem with this is that it is very complex and not really reliable. The same also applies to the rankings. I think you won't feel like checking your keywords on Google all the time. Therefore, I recommend that you use a tool for this at this point.
I can recommend seobility to observe the development of your backlink structure. Here you can see in a clear graphic how your backlinks have developed in the last few weeks and months:
You also have the option to monitor your rankings and even have your website checked for correct OnPage optimization.
By the way: You can use seobility in the basic version for one domain and a maximum of 1000 pages completely free of charge.
Frequently asked questions about backlink building
I often get questions about backlinks. I have compiled the most frequently asked questions including my answers here.
Do you have further questions? Then write me an email or leave your question directly in the comments.
How can I check my backlinks?
There are now very many backlink checkers on the market. You can of course find paid programs, but also a lot of good free programs.
As already mentioned, we use the ahrefs tool to monitor our backlinks. The nice thing about this tool is that you can not only display all backlinks, you can also only display the new backlinks.
A clear calendar precisely visualizes the new and lost backlinks of the last three months:
Can you buy a backlink?
Yes you can buy backlinks. But I clearly advise against it!
Buying backlinks clearly violates the rules of Google and Co. and can therefore lead to a significant loss of visibility. It is better to invest your time and money in the natural building of backlinks, for example with the strategies that we have presented to you here.
Where can you get backlinks for free?
All of the strategies we've shown you in this post enable you to get backlinks for free. So you never have to pay directly for a backlink. The only exception is of course the working time that you have to invest to build backlinks.
Is there a way to automatically generate backlinks?
No, we are not aware of such a backlink generator. Most likely, such a generator for backlinks would also lack the naturalness of a backlink profile, which is why you should rather take the building of the backlink into your own hands.
Which strategies are currently working?
All of the strategies that I have presented to you here worked without any problems in 2021. But that will probably not change in 2021 either, because we are not exploiting any gaps in the algorithm that could soon close, but are working with methods that allow us to build a natural backlink.