How to build Backlinks in 2018 comprehensive guide
Posted on May 23rd, 2018
A Backlink is a incredibly easy concept which every online marketer worth their salt knows.
You, as a website owner, convince another website owner to include a link on their website that points back to your website.Sounds simple right? Well … yes and no. While Backlinks are a simple concept, understanding to build backlinks the right way is not.
You can face massive search engine penalties with the tactics that once worked, due to Googles constant algorithm and best practices updates. Building Backlinks can quickly become a minefield, luckily we’ve put together this comprehensive guide on how to build backlinks in 2018 for you.
Before we can dive into, you need to understand a few key terms:
Indexed vs. Non-Indexed Pages
Google uses crawlers to scan the internet finding web pages and relevant content to serve up in their search queries. Normally this is done through a sitemap.xml file, Google can also use internal links and backlinks to crawl through a website. Keep in mind, just because you have a webpage does not mean Google will index it.
That is actually a good thing think about duplicate content and blog category pages that don’t need to be indexed. However if the webmaster made a mistake with the sitemap.xml file those pages could be indexed on accident.
This is very important, as Google does not count backlinks on non-indexed pages.
If your website or a website where from which you are trying to earn backlinks have crawl errors on pages, none of the backlinks that you build will have an effect on page’s rank.
Anchor Text and Anchor Text Ratios
The industry standard term when building a backlink is known as anchor. There are different types of anchors.
Wait Sebastian what excactly is an anchor?
Anchor Text is the visible, clickable text in a hyperlink. It is often blue and underlined.
Many experts will tell you that anchor text optimization is unnecessary and ineffective. However it is crucial for small blogs and business and does have an huge impact. Optimizing your anchor text ratios is one of the cornerstones of every effective links building campaign. How often you use different types of anchors truly matters.
6 different types of anchor text
A URL that is used as an anchor ‘www.skyrocket.blog‘ is a naked link anchor.
A generic word or phrase that is used as the anchor. “Click here” is a common generic anchor.
Anchor text that includes a keyword that mirrors the page that is being linked to.
Anchor text that includes a variation of the keyword on the linked-to page.
Google will use the text contained in the image’s alt attribute as the anchor text.
A brand name used as anchor text.
Dofollow vs. Nofollow Links
Before you can understand dofollow and nofollow links, we need to take a broader look at how Google ranks websites.
Google looks at inbound links as “points” on a website’s scoreboard. The more backlinks that a website has, the more points they have on the scoreboard. Google pays attention to the quality, quantity and relevance a inbound link has. This means that one backlink from a website like Forbes or the New York Times is far more valuable than even 20 backlinks from a low authority niche site.
What are dofollow links ?
Dofollow links are any links that put points on the scoreboard and boost your pages ranking. By default, all links are dofollow links unless they are modified to be nofollow links manually or are automatically changed by a website setting. Dofollow links are what the SEO community commonly calls “link juice.” Links are a vote for quality.
What are nofollow links ?
Nofollow links have a bit of code that ask search engines to not count them as votes of quality nor even crawl them.
<a rel=”nofollow” href=”http://skyrocket.blog”>nofollow example</a>
Now let’s discuss the types of backlinks that are commonly associated with each anchor.
Natural Backlink types of anchor text
Organic Contextual Links (Dofollow)
Organic contextual links are naturally earned backlinks that are the result of a fantastic content creation and marketing strategy. Basically, a visitor reads a piece of content, loves the content, and then gives a free backlink on his site that links to your site. Though those links are rare in 2018, they do happen sometimes. You do not have control over these backlinks nor on the anchor text which applies for them.
Directory links ( Dofollow )
Directory links provide webmasters with a great opportunity to build basic anchor text and generate a healthy number of natural backlinks.
Blog Comments (Nofollow)
I would rather not recommend to use blog comments for building backlinks, most website owners disabled the ability to place an anchor tag in the comment section anyways. However there are still a couple authoritative websites out there that offer dofollow backlinks for commenters. So whenever you are building these type of links you need to use the naked url in the comments.
Earned Links (Dofollow)
Earned links or Manually Acquired Contextual Links are the type of backlinks you earn when you write a great piece of content and doing everything to convince established bloggers in your niche to promote your content. It is really important that you understand how to effectively earn anchor links, since contextual links will make up the majority of your backlink success. Even though you have a variety to choose from anchor tags for earned links, always keep in mind the anchor tag should appear “natural”.
I recommend you to stick to natural and keyword related anchors most of the time.
well, because the most important thing to remember when building manually earned backlinks is that you should anchor a backlink to your website in a guest post within the article in a natural way. No one likes his website being used only for promotional stuff, if he prides it with quality content.
Profile Links (Nofollow)
Profile links won’t rank your website on the first page of Googles search results anytime soon, however they are easy to build and increase the number of referring domains pointing to your site and give Google healthy signals.
What pages should the backlinks be linked with ?
You should make sure that earned links are as applicable to the context as possible. Let me explain what I mean by this.
Imagine you run a blog about men fashion trends and after weeks of email outreach you earned a guest post for a big player in your niche. Your first goal should be to provide real value to the readers and not to place your backlinks all over the place to your new payed style guide. Building trust and value pays off in the long run over fast backlinks and trashy content.
Whereas you will always want to point profile and directory links to your homepage, there are very few instances in which you would do this with a earned link.
You should keep the blog comments on a low profile, as if you are constantly trying to push your products and services on someone else’s website, you will be banned and have your comments removed. However the steps I recommend placing backlinks in the comments section:
- enter your homepage only into the website field
- if you leave a link in the actual comment, link to your blog article content
- if your comment is engaging and not spammy it will be approved most likely
Directory and Profile Links
When building directory and profile links you should always point to your homepage.
Established sites create homepage links repeatedly – a pattern that Google has recognized.
Now I have learned the basics, what is the next step Sebastian?
The next step you need to take is start a link building campaign.
How? let’s get straight to it.
Start a Link building Campaign
Creating high quality content is the key to every link building campaign. Make sure to add value to your readers life and create content worthy of a backlink.
There are 4 types of content that can earn high quality backlinks.
Probably the most effective of all 4 types and most difficult at the same time, as you need to do a lot of leg work in order to provide good statistics. However correctly used it will boost your backlink game.
Primary research requires access to huge amounts of data or visitors who are willing to answer case study relevant questions. The rewards are huge if you provide enough relevant data on a topic as it provides massive amounts of value to other marketers whom are willing to give you quality backlinks.
Thus most people won’t have the patience to read 5000+ posts, however by creating the go to resource for a specific problemin your niche, other companies and bloggers will refer to your content whenever they cannot answer a question or their readers need a full documentary about a specific issue.
If you are using infographics, you can create a embed code that will allow other bloggers to share your content on their website. This will automatically create a backlink. Visual content like charts and info graphics are very useful for building backlinks as they tend to distill complicated articles and make same easy to follow.
Most people do not have the time or the attention span to read a comprehensive guide, that’s where List Post come into play. List Post can explain and boil down a specific topic for a user to read within a matter of minutes. When BuzzSumo analyzed more than 1 million blog posts, they found that list posts generated more backlinks, social shares, and had more viral potential than any other type of content.
Structuring your link building campaign
There are various components of a link building campaign; some will be crucial to success and others will be helpful.
As in every business, knowing your goals right from the start leds to major success in the long run. Link building is a form of online marketing and does require to have clear goals set.
Thus you’ve build a couple backlinks here and there does not gurantee you over night success and a dramatic increase in traffic. Sometimes it can be even hard to spot if a link building campaign actually pays off or not.
It can sometimes take time for the links you’ve built to start having an overall positive effect on rankings. So make sure you set realistic goals. Build x links in 10 month is no realistic goal nor will it have any positive impact on your business bottom line.
A realistic goal is to increase organic search traffic in order to drive more sales. Like any good marketing, the focus should be on long-term gains, not overnight quick-wins.
Know your assets
At the heart of any link building campaign is the asset that you are going to use in order to earn backlinks. Other Term is “the hook” that brings people to care about what you have to offer and build links to your page.
Examples of assets
Another asset that black-hat SEOs still use is money. I highly recommend against buying backlinks and treat them as pure transaction. This behaviour is strictly against Google’s guidelines, and if a website is caught engaging in this practice, it can mean a heavy penalty and loss of traffic. You also need to make sure that the content you create ( assets ) attract the right audience relevant to your business ( blog ).
What type of backlinks do you require?
There are various types of links to consider when defining your link campaign strategy.
- containing the keywords you’re targeting
- to your homepage
There are combinations of those 4 types such as “branded to your homepage” link. In order to define what kind of backlinks you need start analyzing your website and how you rank for the keywords you are targeting. The Analyzis will show you opportunities of improvement, like that you not ranking for one of your main keywords or a landing page does not rank at all for the target keywords.
Contact potential link targets
Make sure to contact the right people in your niche who are likely to be interested in your content. You might get a bad reputation if you contact people randomly. Ideally, before you actually start a link building campaign, you should think about who will care enough about the piece of content that you create, so the people will actually link to it.
This is crucial, while you may find people to read your content, it is a whole new level of engagement for them to actually link to it. Quality backlinks is the keyword. The barrier for getting your content shared on social networks is much lower.
How do you make people care enough to link to your blog ?
People need a trigger called hook to take immediately action and share your content or link to it, don’t get it twisted with a call to action. You need to work a hook into your content right from the start. Some examples for a good hook might be:
- detailed content
There are a lot of possibilities for good hooks, but the list above should give you a good start to work with, what kind of hooks could catch your audience in order for them creating backlinks to you. A very simple but powerful tactic I personally use is to go to the Facebook feed or Twitter feed and analyze which type of content gets shared at most and why ? trying to figure out patterns that work. You will find that Twitter most likely shares longer detailed content and Facebook short informative or just funny content.
Target audience for Backlinks
Once you have your idea mapped out, you need to target your audience. Imagine you are putting together a piece of content entitled, The Definitive Guide to Pizza.
Ask yourself, who would be interested in this guide ?
Food Bloggers obviously, maybe restaurants ? or recipes websites because your site contains a lot of pizza recipes. Now we can start researching these in more detail , whether or not we getting a link from them. I will outline a few simple techniques that you can use to get a full list of websites that you can contact.
First you should start on Google, as most likely some other bloggers already build a list of useful website in your niche to contact, so they’ve done the work there is no point in reevnt the wheel. Once you find a useful list with potential websites to contact for backlinks you can scrap them with a tool called Scrapper which is a Google Chrome plugin. You can then go through them all, find out if they’re relevant to your content, and if so, contact them.
You should also check for other bloggers in your niche on social media, as this is very easy and yet powerful.
Have you ever heard of Googles advanced search queries ?
99 % of Google users are accustomed to searching for strings of keywords, but we can search a lot more focused and specific. For link building this means we can filter out websites that are not useful for us and focus on a smaller search result. One of those sets to use the advanced google search is “pizza blogs inurl:resources” for example. This tells Google to only show results that have the word “resources” within the URL. For a comprehensive guide on advanced Google searches I can recommend Google Advanced Search Guide by byond.com
Find out more about your target Audience
Spend a bit time to make sure that the websites you have found are relevant to your business and blog. Visit their websites, read their content and observe their social media accounts, which links they shared recently. Pay close attention to whether or not they share other people’s content. Make some notes about each website you anaylze in your niche as this is crucial once you start to contact them for backlinks request. Otherwise you will just send them a templated that is not personalised.
You can use a tool like TagCrowd that show you which words are mentioned the most.
Once your done, start contacting the website owners ( bloggers ). This should be straight forward, as most pages have an about section with contact details or write the contact details write into the header or footer of the page. However if you cannot find any contact information usually an email, the Google Chrome plugin TootApp will actively find an email address on a page for you.
Prioritising target websites in your niche
In order to customize your message to the website owners with greatest efficiency, you need to prioritise them so that you can customize your message. As they are real people who get tons of emails like yours every day if it is a popular blog. So you need to make sure when you reach out to them that your message is highly customized and doesn’t seem like a generic message as same will be most likely ignored.
There are 2 ways to prioritize target websites in your niche:
- Domain Metrics – Page Rank and Domain Authority
- Social Media Influence – number of followers on Facebook and Twitter
Domain metrics can measure the value of target websites with 2 options ( Page Rank and Domain Authority ). You could gather all the information about a website one by one, but that would be very time consuming and is not nessacary as there are tools to get the data in bulk. You can get the PageRank for your targets using Excel and the SEO Tools for Excel plugin.
Once you have those metrics you can remove link targets that do not have high enough domain metrics, after sorted them from highest to lowest. I would recommend to sort by PageRank and get rid of anything that is below a score of 1. If you have a big list you should than sort it by Domain Autohrity and get rid of anything below DA30 or DA35.
Once your done and narrowed it down to a good quality set of target websites for backlinks we can get to the final step.
Now it is time to actually outreach and tell the target website owners about your great content. Keep in mind, you are talking to real people not robots which choose whether to answer you or not. As mentioned before make sure to highly customize your message ( email ) and use the website data you have gathered before, for that purpose. You should start with your high-level targets websites.
Those will probably give you the most traffic and backlinks. In return this will even help you with smaller websites in the long run. If a small website see that an influencer in your niche has shared your content, it will be shared even by the smaller website. Social Proof takes place. The target website owner probably gets a lot of emails from bloggers reaching out for backlinks and mentioning.
So I can’t stress this enough make sure your email is highly customized and tailored to the specific website your writing to. You should not assume that a blogger owes you anything. It is your job to tell them why you deserve their time, attention, and help.
What should your message contain ?
The bloggers you are contacting are very busy, especially if they run big well known blogs. So your message should contain 3 things:
- Why they should care about you
- What action you want them to take
- Ensure that you are not only a spammer
Why they should care about you
At this point you should remember the hook we have talked earlier about, so ensure your message contains the following:
- detailed content
this will give you a high chance of a backlink. Read the target website owners content again and check if your content relate to it and fit in. Or is your content unique so it will be shared as you have maybe gathered very detailed information about a topic and their is no competition so far.
What action you want them to take
Some bloggers may not dare to mention the words “link” or “backlink” in fear their email could be treated as spam. However you do need the blogger to take the action you’d like. For exmaple:
- Social Shares
- Guest Post from you and linking back to it
- The blogger writing an opinion article on your content and linking to it
Some of these actions may require more time for the target website owner and some less, writing an opinion article about your content obvisouly takes more time for example. There are many other options to choose from so don’t mind brainstorming and come up with tailored solutions to your niche and blog business.
Ensure that you are not only a spammer
The blogger doesn’t immediately reach for the spam or delete button when you customize your message as mentioned many times before. Here are some points you can take into:
- good subject line
- use their name
- say something about their work
- proper email signature
Good Subject line should be catchy and interests the target website owner, take your time to think about a good line.
Use their name might sound simple, but indeed it is not. Check the header or footer or about page to get the real name of the blogger you reach out to. Most likely he will use his real name as the blog poster.
Say something about their work, so the target website owner regonize that you really care about his site and read his content. This is crucial to build trust and sympathy.
Proper email signature is self-explanatory, containing your full name, a phone number and additonal address.
now your ready to hit the send button and hope for a response 🙂
I hope this guide assist you by any means in your future link campaign and gave you an understanding what backlinks really are and how to approach to get them.