Link building used to be a simple process. All you had to do was write a bunch of content, send them to an article submission website, and then apply an external link that pointed to your site.
Since the Penguin algorithm update, this quantity over quality strategy no longer works. The right links make a big difference for your Google ranking, and the wrong ones can lead to a penalty.
These days, you really need to focus on quality when you create backlinks.
This how do you create backlinks step-by-step guide will cover everything you need to know about developing a solid backlink foundation.
What are Backlinks in SEO and Why Do They Matter?
You might see SEO experts tell you to stop figuring out how to create backlinks for websites.
If you’re trying to build an online business, this might be the worst advice you could get. Just because Google changed the game doesn’t mean backlinks aren’t relevant anymore.
Google will always consider backlinks in their algorithms. Effectively influencing that factor is about developing trust amid popularity. Google weighs domain authority and trust heavily.
Clearly, it’s essential to learn the correct way to build high-quality backlinks.
FACT: Moz conducted a survey in 2014 revealing that 37 percent of business owners spend up to $50,000 a month on external link building. You don’t need that kind of budget, but the statistic should highlight how important backlinks still are.
How Do You Create Backlinks: Step-By-Step Guide
This in-depth guide will not only teach you techniques to create backlinks free, but also how to build up backlinks with quality in mind. It’s a scalable strategy you can apply to your business to improve its rankings. This guide will discuss:
- Understanding Google’s mindset
- Scaling your efforts
- Keyword research and targeting
- Building editorial links
1. Understanding Google’s Mindset
When it comes to tailoring your website for the online market, Google sets the pace — full stop. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with Google’s core philosophy and mission because it shapes its strategy.
From Google’s own mouth, this is what they believe:
(Image credit: Google)
If you want to build high-quality links without running the risk of penalization, you should work within this idea.
Before you implement a link-building strategy for your website, ask yourself if your content aligns with the Google mission:
- Did I organize my content well?
- Did I include useful information for websites that will link to me?
Let’s quickly talk about that first point: Effective link-building demands good site organization.
When a potential customer visits your site, do they know what to do? What about if they’ve never been to your site before? Intuitive navigation is key to an organized foundation. Otherwise, neither people nor search engines will find relevant and useful information. For example, you may consider starting with a site map to organize your ideas, like the following:
If your navigation is reliable, the next step is to deliver the right content.
2. Scaling Your Efforts
Learning how to create backlinks can feel stressful when you’re starting at the ground level. One reason people struggle is that they don’t produce the kind of content people want to share.
Cyrus Shepard of Moz recommends putting 10 percent of your efforts into link building and the rest into creating high-quality content.
Link building has one primary purpose: To position content in a visible way that encourages others to link to your site. Even one good post can generate a wealth of quality backlinks.
Relevance and trust are the two key advantages of a high-quality external link.
Imagine that you have a dog grooming business and get a link from a directory. Google doesn’t see this origin site as relevant to your business.
If the link comes from a website that sells dog food, it can improve your rankings. Not only that, but your website is more relevant to the people who see it. These visitors are more likely to stick around and find your site useful, and that all leads to better page rank. For example:
How to Create Backlinks for Website
Using your brand name with variations of other keywords is a good rule of thumb for external links.
Say, for example, your dog grooming website is greenwooddoggrooming.com, any of the following anchor text variations would work:
- greenwood dog grooming
- greenwood groomers
- greenwood grooming for dogs
The following is a good visual for understanding anchor text:
The right approach to domain relevancy, quality content, and anchor text will increase external links and real traffic from new visitors. Beyond that, understanding what backlinks are in SEO involves knowing that high-quality link building is key for increasing your potential for inbound links.
“Anchor text: Anchor text is the clickable text in a hyperlink. The blue, underlined anchor text is the most common as it is the web standard, although it is possible to change the color and underlining through html code.”
3. Keyword Research and Targeting
When you create backlinks that scale, it’s all about making your content relevant. The goal is for people to keep sharing and linking to it. For that, keyword targeting matters.
WordStream had good results focusing on targeted keywords as part of their strategies. Compared to popular seed keywords, long-tail keywords accounted for 70 percent of organic traffic.
Part of knowing how to build up backlinks means understanding the importance of keyword relevancy. You can’t afford to ignore this step if you want a great website with extensive high-quality backlinks.
For example, think about what happens when you search for something like “best dog groomer in greenwood.”
Obviously, whoever searches for that long-tail keyword wants a professional who knows how to professionally groom dogs. They don’t want someone sitting around bored with a hobby; they want someone who has a track record and can prove it.
Secondly, this user only wants groomers who serve people in Greenwood, so they probably live there and don’t want to travel far.
As a dog groomer in Greenwood, it’s wise to tailor your keywords for dog owners living in Greenwood. It sounds obvious when you say it aloud, but too often, people gloss over this critical step and create excessive content.
Finding the Right Keywords
A tool like Google AdWords Keyword Planner is a great starting point to create backlinks free.
Log into your account and start a new search for ad group ideas.
Running with our example, we would type in “dog groomer” and press Enter.
This search returns keywords to consider in your content to attract your target demographic:
- dog groomer near me
- dog groomer for hire
- dog groomer at home
Less relevant keywords will also come up, so keep an eye out for those to skip over:
- dog groomer jobs
- dog groomer in redwood
The first user probably doesn’t want to hire a groomer but does want to get hired as one. The second user doesn’t even live in Greenwood. Neither one is your target audience, so you can ignore those keywords.
When you make a link, avoid anchor text that will turn off visitors. Scalable link building depends on the relevancy of the domain you’re linking to. Diib® has a keyword research tool that can be extremely useful in searching keywords, visualizing the efficacy of current keywords and researching keywords of your top competitors. That page looks like this:
If you don’t already know your audience’s demographic — age, education level, gender, need to fulfill — you don’t know how to get inside their heads and can’t solve their problems.
Once you do, only then can you develop meaningful content they’ll want to read and share with others.
The Columbus Metropolitan Library offers resources to help you narrow down your audience. Cross-reference this with Lock Haven University Library to identify how many people in the United States fit that demographic according to the census.
4. Building Editorial Links
A good backlink-building strategy heavily relies on earning authoritative editorial links. Of course, that’s easier said than done.
Providing immense value is the only way to earn quality editorial links. There’s no viable strategy behind flooding the Internet with text and hoping for the best. In March 2019, over 4.4 million blog posts were published every day. Over 409 million people read more than 20 billion pages on WordPress each month in 2021.
So let’s say you already have some authority in your field. The Greenwood community knows you’re the top groomer in town. How do you get other websites to link to you?
The concept seems simple enough: You just send the email and ask, right?
But the average person gets 88 emails every day. It should come as no surprise that requests that don’t stand out get lost in the masses.
The trick is to make a request that they can’t ignore.
“What is an Editorial Link? An editorial link is a link that results from a site having good content and marketing techniques. An editorial link is not paid for or directly requested, as is the case with acquired links. Editorial links are part of a strong link profile.”
How to Create Backlinks with Authoritative Sites
The truth is that your ability to pitch yourself can outweigh the quality of your content.
By no means does that mean poor content ranks highly. There’s no excuse to write inadequate content. But the fact remains that creating a good pitch for your content is its key for high visibility.
The main takeaway point here is that companies won’t give a backlink to any random person with a website.
Blogs accept backlinks because it helps them out too. Most sites want the same thing, and knowing this increases your chance of success. They want content that is:
- Relevant to their website
- Detailed and in-depth
- Well-written and produced
It’s crucial to understand the content of a website you want backlinks from. You obviously know a little bit about them if you’ve done your keyword homework, but now you need to know the company more intimately:
- What reading level is their audience? Do they read at a certain grade level or feel comfortable with technical jargon?
- What kind of audience do they have? If you’re writing for a B2B business, you want to write with business and not consumers in mind.
- What kind of content do they produce? Do they write in-depth tutorials? Do they like lists? Adapt your content to match their style.
FACT: 58% of marketers said “original written content” is the most important type of content, outdoing visuals and videos. (Source: Social Media Examiner)
Evaluate Other Guests Posts
A blog may have guests posts, but do those posts perform well? Do guest posts get the same amount of shares and comments as posts by the blog owner? Just because a site accepts guest posts doesn’t mean it’s worth your time to put in the effort.
The Best Times to Make a Pitch
It’s difficult to organically create these situations, so take advantage of them whenever they come up. They include:
- Whenever the blog publishes another guest post
- When the blog advertises that they want a guest post
- When the blog mentions you or your product in their post
- When the blog mentions you on social media
In-Depth, Well-Written Content
It’s common to question whether or not you should use your best content on a guest blog.
The truth is that it depends on the target blog’s quality.
After all, the goal is to match the blog’s content style. If the blog only posts 500 words without a picture, then that’s all you should offer them. If the blog writes posts with over 2,000 words and lots of images, follow suit.
Here are a few more tips to consider when crafting the perfect guest post for backlinks.
It’s Not About You
First and foremost, your guest content should serve the blog it’s posted on, not you.
It’s not about your products and services. A guest post should contain a wealth of valuable information and not advertisements. It’s fine to occasionally mention personal stories to serve as examples, but the point of the post should focus on the target blog’s audience. Keep the info about your business for the author’s bio.
Match the Format of the Site’s Posts
We mentioned this briefly but it’s worth restating: Study the posts on your target blog to understand the style.
Are there lots of images, bolded text, headers, short paragraphs?
Your post should match these elements in perfect style.
Add Internal Links and References
There’s no better way to prove you understand the blog’s content by throwing some relevant internal links throughout your post.
Believe it or not, Google can help you here too. Let’s say you want to write a guest blog for a dog food website, dogfoodgreenwood.com.
Head to Google and search “site:dogfoodgreenwood.com intitle:grooming” to find other posts the site already has about dog grooming. Now you have a variety of site-specific articles to link to in your guest post.
Internal Link: Internal links are links that go from one page on a domain to a different page on the same domain. They are commonly used in main navigation.
End on a Call to Action for Comments
Once you’ve written an incredible post, don’t forget to call for the readers to comment. The more discussion you can generate, the better!
Sell Your Pitch
To craft the perfect pitch, consider the following “musts”:
Read the Blog’s Guidelines
Before reaching out to your target blog, you need to find and read the guidelines for guest posts.
Does the owner want you to submit an entire post or just the idea? Do they want you to send it to WordPress or by email? These are questions you should have the answers to before opening an email to the site owner.
Personalize the Email
Nobody wants to open their email and see a generic “Dear Sir” or just “Hi.”
At some point in your research, you should have discovered who owns the blog you want to post on. It might take some digging, but taking the time to find this information goes a long way.
Explain Who You Are
Your research into other guest posters comes in handy here. Some blog owners only want specific types of credentials for their guest posters.
For example, if you see that all the guest bloggers on the site are also bloggers, it’s a good idea to start off introducing yourself as a blog owner.
Why Are You a Good Candidate?
Finally, include the reasons that make you a great candidate as a guest blogger. Include links to posts you’ve written before, especially from your own blog. Opt for posts with social engagement so your target blog’s owner will see your reach potential.
A great example of a successful pitch would look like this:
Don’t forget that building quality links and guest blogging can be a two-way street. It’s tough to keep your own content supplied with new content when you’re busy posting on other blogs. It doesn’t hurt to have an open invitation for your own guest bloggers to help you out. You might even get a few new readers along the way — win-win!
A lot of experts may be skeptical about developing links because they’re worried about the next update from Google. But there’s no good reason to hinder your business out of fear of what may come next.
Google has always favored high-quality links for page rank, even long before Panda arrived. Evidence shows that hasn’t changed in the last few years, so there’s no reason to think that will change any time soon.
Diib®: Let Your Backlinks Work for YOU!
If you want to see exactly how your backlinks are working or discuss your strategy with a growth expert, Diib has helped thousands of business owners ensure their backlinks are effective. Diib helps you with your link building in the following ways:
- Objectives to help you isolate and remove bad backlinks and fix older backlinks that point to pages that have been deleted from your website.
- Alerts that tell you about your Domain Authority and number of follow/no-follow links pointing to your website.
- Competitor backlink research for up to 6 of your most intense competitors.
- A monthly call with a Growth Expert to see how you can grow your domain authority.
If you are looking at building quality backlinks, let a diib® Growth Expert speak to you about the best way to build and acquire natural backlinks to your website. Call 800-303-3510 or click here for a complimentary 60 second site scan.
While having lots of backlinks is important, Google will ensure each of those backlinks aren’t spammy. The point being: If you bought 1000 spammy backlinks in one day, you’d probably get penalized by Google. If you generated 1000 quality backlinks naturally in one day, you wouldn’t get penalized.
Backlinks still play a key role in SEO 2021. Backlinks will make your site position standard in the SERPs. Moreover, you can link your site with the most popular sites through guest posting which increases website traffic. Your website will also get familiar with other related sites by doing the backlinking process.
Buying backlinks is a practice which you may have heard of, but you might not know whether you should do it. The idea that you can buy quality backlinks is also a popular one, but a backlink which is paid for directly has little to no quality in eyes of most search engines.
Pages that link to spam websites will devalue all other links that they host. It’s important that you evaluate the websites you get backlinks from to ensure they are a legitimate website.
The best and most legitimate way to sell backlinks is through guest posting. Build relationships with bloggers and influencers, then send your proposal through to high authority sites.
The most likely reason your links have disappeared is simply that they were low quality links to start with, and they naturally dropped off. They may still exist if you search, but according to Google they are effectively gone.
First off, it takes a few days for a new link to be indexed by Google. Once that occurs, according to Moz studies, it takes about 10 weeks for a single backlink to affect a website.