It’s well known that link building is by far the most important skill set in SEO. In fact, it’s a culmination of many different skills: you need to be a master of content, sales and marketing if you’re going to get other people to backlink to your site. In this guide, we’re going to run through the different types of backlinks you should be getting to your website and how we go about getting them here at Gorilla Marketing. Enjoy!
The Fundamentals of Backlinks:
- What Are Backlinks?
- ‘Good’ vs ‘Bad’ Backlinks
- Domain Authority & Trust Flow
- Anchor Text Ratios
How to Get Backlinks:
- Reverse Engineer Competitors
- Scholarship / Sponsorships
- Earn Backlinks
- Black Hat Links
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What Are Backlinks?
Backlinks are created when one webpage links to another. Backlinks are valuable in search engine optimisation as they display a “vote of confidence” in the eyes of search engines – essentially, a signal that others on the web vouch for your website. If many authoritative sites link to example.com for instance, search engines can deduce that example.com itself is an authority, and therefore also worth showing in the search engine results pages.
It is thus the job of an SEO to attract and/or build backlinks to a website in order to increase its exposure in the SERP’s (search engine results pages). Image Credit – Moz.com
Good vs Bad Backlinks
Unfortunately, not all backlinks are good for your website (and some are downright harmful!). As such, the most important thing to consider when evaluating a link opportunity is the quality of the website it is coming from. This is often a judgement call, but is backed up by data from SEO tools such as Ahrefs & Majestic.
An ideal backlink would come from a highly trafficked website related to your niche – with your link placed in the content of an authoritative article. While these types of links seem to have the greatest effect on search rankings, other good links can come from universities, charities, government websites and/or local business guilds. On the other side of the spectrum, backlinks from gambling, adult or spammy websites could cause your website to lose trust with the search engines.
Understanding Backlink Metrics
Firstly, it’s important to understand that these tools are completely independent of Google and none of these metrics are taken into consideration by the algorithm. These tools rather look to provide their best guess as to what Google is seeing based off of how we know Google works. There are 4 primary websites that we will use at Gorilla Marketing to analyse a website & determine if we want a link from it. These are:
- Majestic.com. Majestic is the worlds largest link database outside of the major search engines. They use this data to estimate how valuable a link is from a website with their ‘Trust Flow’ metric. The higher the trust flow of a website, the more likely a backlink from it is going to pass value on to your site (especially if it has a similar topical relevancy to your website).
- Ahrefs.com. Similar to Majestic, Ahrefs run a comprehensive link database that they utilise it to estimate the authority of a website (Domain Rating). They also have loads of other impressive SEO tools such as a keyword difficulty estimator, organic traffic history and paid traffic research.
- Moz.com. The Opensite Explorer tool from Moz works similar to Majestic and Ahrefs (although nowhere near as comprehensive). What it does offer though is a widely known metric called ‘domain authority’ – which is an industry standard when checking if a website is worth getting links from (although internally at Gorilla we use ‘Trust Flow’ and ‘Domain Rating’ first).
- SEMRush.com. SEMRush is our favourite tool for checking the historic rankings of a website and looking for new keyword opportunities. Saying that though, its backlinking index isn’t as good as the top two – instead, we look to see if a site has increased its rankings over the years as the last step before deciding if we want a link from it.
Anchor Text Ratios
Now that we have finally wrapped our head around what a backlink is and the ones we want – we now need to understand anchor text and anchor text ratios. Firstly, anchor text is the clickable part of a link that tells the user or search engines what the destination page is about. Search engines weigh anchor text quite heavily – with keywords in anchor text often showing ranking improvements for those keywords. However, you need to be careful not to over optimise – a good mix of branded, nofollow, naked URL’s and generic phrases are needed to balance out your ratio as to not look spammy in the eyes of search engines. Use Majestic to see the anchor text ratios of the top ranking sites in your niche to get an idea of what percentages you should be aiming for.
Now that we understand more about backlinks and how essential they are to SEO, the question still remains – how do you get them? Before any backlinking begins though, you need to ask yourself a few questions:
- Have I done thorough keyword research and know that these rankings will generate a ROI?
- Does my website have a friendly user experience and is it engaging enough that people won’t bounce straight away?
- Is my content as good (if not better) than the websites ranking number 1-5?
- Have I followed all on-page SEO best practices and is my content well linked to internally?
If you have answered yes to all of those questions, we would still encourage you to go back and read as many guides and articles on the topic as you can before sitting down and planning your backlinking strategy. Below we will detail some of the most effective backlinking techniques being used today:
Reverse Engineer Your Competitors
The first place you should start to look for backlinks is by checking out the backlinks of the websites already ranking high in your niche (by using the tools listed above). Google is obviously rewarding these sites for having those backlinks – so you should try and get the same ones. It can be a pretty laborious task compiling the lists and going through the websites to see if you’re able to get a link – but it is definitely worth it 100% of the time.
Outreach to Other Websites
This is probably the most common and effective method on the list. Outreach involves finding websites in your niche and contacting the webmaster / an author and asking them if you could have a link on their site. Now there are obviously more nuanced ways to do this, which we’ll explain further:
- Find broken links on their website. Using tools such as Screaming Frog or Website Auditor Pro, you may be able to find broken links on their website. Politely get in touch letting them know – and ask if the link could point to your content instead!
- Offer them content. From infographics through to widgets – if you’re able to offer them content which will be useful to their readers then you should receive a backlink in return.
- Steal your competitors’ links. If you have followed the rules above and created content that is objectively better than the pages ranking at the top of the search results – let the sites linking to your ‘outdated’ competitors know!
- Ask to become a guest author. Keeping on top of a blog can be a lot of effort for a lot of people (trust me I know this too well). Let sites you want a link from know that you are interested in being a featured author and will help them by supplying content free of charge (with links back to your website as the reward!)
Scholarships, Sponsorships & Giveaways
Creating a scholarship can be a great way to get backlinks from universities and other websites in your industry – plus it is really rewarding!
The first step is to create the scholarship page on your website. You need to put in details such as what the scholarship is for, how much it is and how to apply. An example is the marketing scholarship that we offer – https://gorilla.marketing/about-us/marketing-scholarship/.
Next, you will need to find .edu websites that list available scholarships. Fortunately, this is quite easy to do with a quick Google search! Image Credit – Backlinko
Earn Backlinks Organically
Probably the hardest method on this list – earning backlinks based solely on the quality of your content is very rare and very few sites achieve massive organic growth without at least initially building links themselves. In order to earn high-quality, organic backlinks, your content has to be of an exceptionally high standard and your site has to be known as an authority in its industry. This can take years to achieve, but when implemented correctly it has near unlimited rewards.
Black Hat SEO Tactics
Probably the easiest way to get backlinks – however, guaranteeing that they will work or if your site is safe from a Google penalty is a whole different question. Below are some of the most common blackhat techniques being used today:
- Paying for Links
- One way to get a link from a website is to pay the webmaster money in exchange for a backlink. This goes against Google’s terms and conditions and they may remove your website from their index if they suspect you of buying links.
- Hacked Links
- Some services offer links on websites that have been hacked. These are websites where the webmaster is unaware of the hack, with the hackers selling links within old blog posts and pages.
- Personal Blog Networks
- One of the most common black hat methods, a PBN is a network of sites that you build out to link to your own website. Be careful though, if Google finds out it is a network they will likely deindex every single site on it.