One of the most commonly asked questions that I see time and time again when it comes to blogging is based around “How do I get backlinks to my blog?” as well as a wide range of other backlink related questions. These questions are understandable as the decision to backlink your site can be a big one. Not only does outsourcing the backlinking process have a high price tag attached to it in this day and age but there is also a worry about potentially getting your blog penalized due to building backlinks as well as there being so much historical information out there regarding backlink importance.
I have tried to include all of the frequently asked questions that I see from new bloggers in this article to try and help as many people as possible all in one place. Please keep in mind that I have also tried to lay this article out in a way that will be most helpful to people who are new to blogging or backlinking. Depending on your current experience level, some of the topics that I cover below may already be known to you.
As I am covering such a large number of questions, I have added the table of contents below so you can quickly and easily navigate the article to get to specific sections that you may be looking for. This should reduce the time required to find answers to specific questions and help to save you time. That said though, if you are a new blogger or are new to building backlinks then I would recommend that you read the full article.
What Is A Backlink
Before you backlink your site, you first need to understand what a backlink actually is. A backlink is simply a hyperlink from one piece of content to another that allows users to click it and be taken to the linked piece of content. There are various different types of backlinks as I will cover later in the article but the main takeaway is that not all backlinks are created equally when it comes to SEO for blogging.
With major search engines use backlinks as a ranking factor for their search algorithms, it is not surprising that backlinking in digital marketing has become more and more popular over the years. On the flipside of this though, the various search engine companies have released update after update to try and counter the more common backlinking strategies while still trying to include them in their algorithms.
That has lead to a huge shift in how black hat SEOs build their backlinks over the last five years or so. Gone are the days when any old backlink could potentially help push your blog article higher in the search engine results page and bloggers, SEOs, and digital marketers have become much more selective in the types of backlinks that they want pointing to their blogs.
How Does A Backlink Help With SEO
Although a hyperlinks primary job is to allow a reader of an article to easily click to another piece of content that the blogger links to, a backlink in SEO works a little differently. When it comes to SEO algorithms, a backlink can be used as a vote from one webmaster to another to vouch for their content and potentially score it points over competing content to push it higher in the search engine results page to help it get more traffic.
One of the main mistakes that I see people make time and time again is that bloggers will choose to backlink articles and think that they will rank in first position for their target keywords no matter what. This is NOT how it works, you have to try and workout if building backlinks will even help push your content higher in the search engine results page or not.
This is why keyword research is so important as building backlinks to an article targeting a high competition keyword can often do little to nothing, especially if your blog is new and does not have much authority. This commonly results in a large amount of time, effort, and potentially money being wasted with no hope of ever realistically ranking for the keyword the blogger is hoping to improve their rankings for.
This is why I don’t usually recommend people who are brand new to blogging build backlinks. Learning the fundamentals such as how to find low competition keywords that you should be able to rank for without having to build backlinks is important. Once you have some experience ranking for those lower competition keywords, you are then able to start to increase the level of keyword difficulty you target with your blog and start to integrate backlinks into your blogging strategy.
Are Backlinks Mandatory
With so many people new to blogging being worried about building backlinks to their blogs a large number of people often reach out to ask if building backlinks in mandatory. As I touched on above, this is going to depend on your goals as well as your keyword research. Although I personally focus on pulling traffic from search engines where backlinks can definitely help, many bloggers focus on getting their traffic from other sources such as Pinterest where backlinks are not essential.
Additionally, if you are exclusively targeting low competition keywords for your blog article then you should be able to rank many of those articles for their target keywords without building backlinks too. This is why I always recommend that new bloggers focus on content scaling based around mass article production targeting low competition keywords when first starting out.
The image above is the first six months of my traffic analytics for a blog that I started back in October 2018. I grew this blog to around the $800 per month mark before I started to build backlinks to it as I was focusing on content scaling with my articles being targeted towards low competition, easy to rank keywords.
The image above shows the traffic growth from creation to the time of writing this article for my niche site case study blog that I have been tracking the progress of on my YouTube channel. At the time of writing, this particular blog also has no backlinks built to it and as you can see, its traffic growth curve is starting to take off with consistent month-on-month growth targeting low competition keywords for its articles.
Although backlinks can potentially help speed up the process of your articles ranking in Google for their target keywords, provided you target low competition keywords, they are not mandatory for getting traffic to your blog. This means that you can save the time, effort, and money that you would have put into acquiring backlinks and invest it into creating more content for your initial blog growth.
That said though, if you are planning on targeting medium or high competition keywords with your blog articles then it is highly likely that you will need to build backlinks to your articles. This will help you keep up with the competing blogs that are also targeting their content around the same or similar keywords to you and give you a chance of beating them in the search engine results for your target queries.
The Myth Of A Natural Backlink Profile
I often see people recommending that bloggers build a “natural backlink profile” for their blogs and offer little to no insight into what they actually mean by that. In my opinion, the myth of a natural backlink profile was invented years ago by people trying to sell links and convince their potential customers that there was no risk to their blogs from buying their backlinks.
You can take the top ten articles ranking for any given keyword and then check their backlink profile with a tool like AHRefs and it is highly likely that each blog will have a totally different backlink profile to the next. Even if you discount the domain level backlink profile and focus on the backlink profile for the specific article ranking for the keyword, it is unlikely that there will be many similarities as each backlink profile is different.
Depending on the domain authority of the blogs competing for the target keyword, blogs with a higher domain authority may not need a single backlink at article level as their overall backlink profile at domain level is strong enough for the article to rank. Blogs targeting the same keyword with a lower domain authority may need a large number of contextual backlinks such as guest posts and/or niche edits pointing to their article to rank due to having a weaker domain level backlink profile.
What About Backlink Velocity
The term backlink velocity can have a number of different meanings depending on the context it is used in and it is usually only used in the black hat SEO community due to back hat SEO’s artificially creating their links for their blogs. In my opinion, it is a legacy black hat SEO tactic and there is no need to worry about it anymore due to the evolution of backlink building techniques.
Backlink velocity was most commonly used to refer to the velocity that a black hat SEO would build backlinks to their blog. These backlinks could be created manually or via automation but the main goal was to have a steadily increasing number of backlinks pointing directly to their blog each week.
Due to automated backlinking tools being so popular at the time, many of the backlinks would be deleted by the webmaster who owns the blog the backlink was created on. This meant that the more backlinks you created to your blog, the higher your deletion rate would be, and the faster you would have to increase your backlink velocity to mask it and stay in positive growth.
Another way the term backlink velocity used to be used was to describe to velocity of backlinks built when using a tiered link building strategy. A standard link pyramid would usually have three or four tiers with the bottom tier usually being created for indexing. Some black hat SEO’s would use the term link velocity as a way to describe the amount, and the frequency of the backlinks they would create on the bottom tier to push crawlers through their link pyramid.
Although the term backlink velocity is still sometimes used in black hat SEO communities, it is usually due to someone reading an old guide on how to use automated tools for tiered link building. These techniques are largely inefficient now and people tend to use a quality over quantity approach for their backlinks meaning backlink velocity is no longer a factor.
White Hat Vs Black Hat Vs Grey Hat Backlinks
Each blogger and SEO usually has their own definitions and rules for each of the different hats that you are able to wear when you build backlinks so opinions can vary by a surprising amount from blogger to blogger and SEO to SEO. I will offer a brief overview of the three below but as there is no official definitions or governing bodies in this industry, there is no point wasting time arguing about their meanings when there are much more important tasks at hand.
White Hat Backlink Building
Personally, I class white hat backlink building as any type of backlink building to your blog that sticks to the official Google webmaster guidelines. Due to the recommendation to avoid participating in link schemes, and Google defining a link scheme as anything that is “intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results” I personally class any actual backlink building by the webmaster to be black hat.
By my definition, a white hat blogger or SEO would only put high quality articles on their blogs and hope that other people find them and choose to link to them gaining backlinks naturally over time without the blogger actually building or requesting a link. Although this can take years to start happening naturally, this can be a valid strategy, especially if you put plenty of high quality content targeting low competition keywords out there that will be able to rank in Google without needing backlinks.
As more and more people find these articles targeting these lower competition and link to them, the domain authority of your blog slowly increases over time allowing your articles targeting medium and high competition articles to rank too. Due to this method taking so long, many people choose to artificially speed up this process using black hat SEO techniques.
Black Hat Backlink Building
By my definition, black hat backlink building is anything that breaks the official Google webmaster guidelines and directly goes against the advice that they recommend. Due to almost all active backlink building bloggers and SEOs do having the goal of manipulating a sites rankings in Google, I personally class all active backlink building as black hat.
This includes everything from outsourcing your backlink building to a backlink building agency that state that they only build white hat backlinks for their clients to full-blown automated backlink building with spam content and everything in between. As you can probably guess, there is a huge range of backlink creation strategies included within this with an equally huge range of potential benefits to your blog.
I like to think of backlink building as more of a spectrum and although I personally do class guest posts and niche edits as a black hat tactic, they are relatively safe and closer to the white hat site of things. You then have automated techniques that can be very easy for Google to detect in this day and age that probably offer little to no benefit to your blog. You then have hacked link techniques that may offer your blog a benefit but can potentially land you in hot waster with law enforcement depending on your country and how the links were acquired.
Grey Hat Backlink Building
By my definitions of both white hat and black hat link building, grey hat link building is not really a thing. There is no way to stick to Googles webmaster guidelines while also breaking them at the same time. Personally, I feel that the term grey hat link building is just a term that link building services use to make their clients feel safer about purchasing black hat backlinks for their blogs or business websites.
I have seen some people use the term grey hat backlinking to describe link acquisition techniques that are un-ethical but legal. As my definitions are based around Google’s webmaster guidelines rather than the law, these un-ethical links are created to manipulate a blog’s position in the search engines so I class them as black hat. Again though, as I said back at the start of this section, these are my definitions and each blogger usually has their own with slightly different cut-off points.
Contextual Vs None Contextual Links
When building backlinks for blogs, you may see the terms contextual backlinks or none contextual backlinks (sometimes referred to as non-contextual backlinks) used by the community. Although different people do have their own specific definitions of what they mean when using these terms, there are some generally agrees principles for each that I will cover below.
What Are Contextual Backlinks?
A contextual backlink is a link that is within a body of text such as a blog article that provides value to the readers and is usually considered to be better than a none contextual backlink. A traditional contextual backlink would usually be added by the webmaster or blogger meaning they have some standard of editorial approval rather than being user-generated, they also have a large amount of text around them to help the search engine crawlers understand the context of they the target page is being linked to.
Ideally, if you are trying to build guest posts or niche edits as part of your backlink strategy, I would recommend that you ensure that the link is within the body tags of the article. Although it is rare these days, I have seen people try to pass off a link in the comments section or sidebar of a page as contextual rather than it being within the body tags and part of the actual article. Googles crawler will be able to see that the link is outside of the body tags and potentially not give you as much benefit but this is just a personal theory of mine.
What Are None Contextual Backlinks?
None contextual backlinks are much easier to create than a contextual backlink and can have little to no content on the page depending on the content management system. Think of links in the blog comments section, a short thread reply on a forum, an image comment, a guestbook submission, a directory link or a link on your forum profile.
As most types of none contextual backlinks have little to no context on them then they can be a nightmare to actually index in Google. This is also just a personal theory of mine but I doubt Google will award much of a benefit to your blog for a backlink that they don’t even see as valuable enough to hold in their index. Although I sometimes use none contextual links to supplement my contextual primary backlinks, they are just supplementary links and are not essential with the majority of the benefit coming from my contextual links.
Cross Over Between The Two
The May 2020 Google core algorithm update does seem to have started to give additional weight to long-form content on user-generated content sites. In one of the niches that I work in, in-depth articles on platforms such as Quora, Reddit, and niche forums have started to rank very well suggesting that they may offer value for SEO when blogging. Just to be clear, these are not low quality 200-word answers to questions, they are 1500 words and up and offer a ton of value to a reader while also solving the search query too.
As these are user-generated platforms, I personally still prefer to build traditional contextual backlinks to my blog articles such as guest posts or niche edits over these. That said though, as these answers are long-form, valuable content with plenty of value, you could argue that they are a contextual backlink. As this type of article is usually not approved by the admin team for the platform, I would not recommend that you pay for this type of contextual backlink to be created for you on a forum as they can easily be deleted.
There is usually an agreement with the webmaster for a niche edit or guest post that once the link goes live, it will be held on the domain forever meaning that you don’t have to worry about it randomly getting deleted and your money going to waste. If you are active in niche forums, relevant sub-reddits, or answer questions for your niche on Quora then you can include backlinks where possible but keep in mind, they will usually be nofollow.
Dofollow Vs Nofollow Vs Sponsored Vs UGC
There is often debates amongst bloggers and SEOs regarding dofollow, nofollow, and the newer sponsored link types and although there is technically no dofollow tag for links, the community usually refers to a standard link as a dofollow link. If you are building your backlinks to try and build your domain authority and hoard link juice to rank in Google then you should be primarily trying to build dofollow backlinks in my opinion.
The main advantage of a dofollow link is that it will pass link juice from the linking blog to the target blog and essentially act as an upvote for the target blog when it comes to the trustworthiness of the blog and its content. The stronger the domain authority and page authority of the blog that is linking to the target blog, the more power the link can have and the more link juice it is able to pass.
If you are outsourcing your link building efforts, especially for guest posts and niche edits then I would highly recommend that you ensure that your link builder is providing you with dofollow links. This will increase the chances of the money you are spending on these links actually providing value and helping your articles rank in Google for their target keywords.
Although a nofollow link has historically been thought to not pass any link juice, Google released this post in September 2019 where they confirm that they now use nofollow links as well as sponsored links and UGC links as “hints” to serve results for search queries. In my opinion, though, this will be for authority sides such as Wikipedia that no follow their external links but are highly moderated and have a high trust score.
If you are outsourcing your link building then I would recommend that you try to ensure that your contextual links are dofollow to ensure that link juice is being passed to your target page to get the best bang for your buck. Although some secondary link types will often have a high number of nofollow links included they are usually much cheaper than primary link types and can sometimes be unavoidable.
Using Nofollow Links For Internal Page Rank Sculpting
If you are new to blogging, there are more important things to worry about than page rank sculpting so you can skip this section. Although page rank sculpting is still an active SEO strategy for bloggers, it has evolved time and time again over the years and the old method of using the nofollow tag to prioritise the pages that get link juice no longer works. Back when Matt Cutts was the head of search quality at Google he confirmed that Google had changed the way they deal with nofollow links and passing link juice at SMX Advanced 2009.
Unfortunately, the YouTube video of the panel where Matt confirmed this is no longer available but due to his comments receiving a large number of questions he published this post on his blog to try and clear it up. Once published, the post had the opposite effect raising more questions than it answered as you can see in the comments section for the post but this article from SearchEngineLand sums it up well with the revised summary of Matts post below from Danny Sullivan after getting confirmation on a few points from Matt in the comments section.
Although I am sure there used to be a video from Matt confirming that the link juice that was allocated to the nofollow links is discounted from the linking blog and essentially evaporates, I have been unable to find it. John Mueller, the current Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google confirmed in a Q&A in 2019 that there is no benefit to marking all of the outbound links as no follow on your blog and that he suspects it could actually be the contrary but that’s not to say that you can nofollow links on your own blog as an where you see fit.
Should You Nofollow Your Affiliate Links
I often see people asking if they should nofollow the affiliate links in their content and although you can do this if you wish, Google automatically do this themselves for the majority of affiliate programs if you don’t add the nofollow tag. The video below from SMX Advanced 2012 has Matt Cutts, the then head of search quality at Google confirming that the Google system will automatically do this for you for the majority of affiliate links.
Note – The video below is still available at the time of publishing this article. It does not have a custom thumbnail so YouTube displays the same default thumbnail as an unavailable video.
The sponsored link attribute was created to allow bloggers to mark a link as part of an advertisement or sponsorship to inform search engines that the blogger received compensation for the link. As we touched on earlier, Google has confirmed that they only use the sponsored link attribute as a hint to help them serve their results for search queries. Although a large number of guest posts and niche edits will still require “an admin fee” even if you do the outreach yourself so should technically use the sponsored tag, it is rarely used.
Web masters who sell guest post and niche edit links can make a sizeable income from selling these links, potentially more than their affiliate and display ad income and they are fully aware that anyone paying for a link wants a dofollow link. I doubt that many people will actually make the switch to using the sponsored link attribute and risk this additional revenue stream drying up. In addition to this, even “white hat” SEO agencies will often pay for links making it very hard for Google to enforce the use of the sponsored link attribute.
The UGC (User Generated Content) link attribute is another new link attribute added so that webmasters are able to blanket add the UGC link attribute to the outbound links on their platforms. This link attribute is intended for sites similar to Reddit, Quora, and forums where the majority of the content is user generated and published without editorial checking. It is intended to allow the owners of the platform to signal to Google that a user on their platform created that content and that the admin team may not have actually checked it to see if the link is trustworthy.
Due to the two primary link types that I currently use being contextual and published or edited by the webmaster, they are not user-generated and should never have the UGC link attribute added to them. I do sometimes use manual forum posts as a secondary link type to supplement my primary links but to date, I have not noticed any of the major forums I use switching over to the UGC link attribute but I would imagine it would be treat similar to how a nofollow link currently is.
What Should You Use As Your Backlink Anchor Text
The anchor text of your backlink is the section of text that you actually use for your hyperlink. As an anchor text example, saying that I have a blogging tool kit post on my blog can help get the point across. The term “blogging tool kit” is the anchor text for that particular link as it is the text used for the hyperlink. Saying that my blog is shaunmarrs.com is also another example of backlink anchor text although the anchor text for the link is a URL. Using a URL as your anchor text is sometimes called a raw or naked anchor text.
An old SEO technique was to try and sculpt your anchor text ratio to get a benefit for your SEO efforts. The idea was that you would use exact match anchor text that was your target keyword that you would like to rank for in Google to pass relevance. Although this may still be a ranking signal for Google, it is very easy to manipulate so I personally feel that the quality of the backlink, the quality of your content, and your keyword difficulty are more important.
There are a number of tools out there that you are able to use for backlink anchor text analysis to see the anchor text ratios of your competition. At the time of writing, AHRefs has the best crawler in my opinion meaning that they are aware of more backlinks so will offer a more complete picture of backlinks pointing to the competing sites.
Although far from essential, you are able to use these tools to see the anchor text ratios of your competition and see that they are often random with many not having any exact match anchor text at all. This is why I usually just use the raw URL for the page or niche relevant anchor text for my own backlinks for my personal projects.
How To Measure Backlink Quality
Unfortunately, the days of Google publicly releasing their page rank metric are long gone and even then, page rank could be manipulated to artificially inflate the perceived strength of a backlink to your blog. After Google stopped releasing their metric, bloggers and SEOs had to come up with other ways to try and gauge the quality of a backlink.
Although different bloggers and SEOs will usually have their own way to measure the quality of a backlink, they are often based around similar metrics. I will go over the five main metrics that I usually use to try and workout the quality of my own backlinks as well as what I look for with each metric for my backlink optimization.
Although this does not directly check the potential power of a backlink from a domain, taking advantage of the free Wayback Machine tool can be a quick and easy way to work out if the domain has been repurposed or not. You simply add the blog URL into the tool, tell it to search, and it will check its historic database over the years.
If Wayback Machine does detect historical entries in its database for the blog then it will display a calendar with entries showing its previous scans for the blog. You can then click on those to view how the blog used to look and check the niche that the blog previously focused on. If the domain has totally changed then there is a high chance that it is now a part of a private blog network and personally, I would avoid actively seeking backlinks from it.
If you are not sure if the blog has changed hands, an easy way to try check is to go to the very first entry for the blog on Wayback Machine, copy the URL for an article, and paste it into your browser. You will have to remove the Wayback Machine snippet to the start of the URL but once you have it, see if the web page is still available. Although this is not a guarantee as bloggers can delete old posts, you can take it as an indication that the target blog is a potential private blog network.
Although there are a number of tools that you are able to use to get a traffic prediction for any blog you are considering prospecting for a backlink, a free SEMRush account is probably one of the better, free ways to get some actionable data. Once signed up, you simply search the domain’s URL and check the predicted traffic indication on the SEMRush dashboard for the target domain as shown below.
Although the organic search traffic estimate from SEMRush is usually incorrect by a huge amount, if the domain you are thinking of trying to get a backlink from has high domain authority and is getting a very low organic traffic prediction, I would personally avoid getting a backlink from them.
It can indicate that the blog may be part of a private blog network although using Wayback Machine is usually better at working this out. A high domain authority with low traffic can also suggest the blogs domain authority has been artificially inflated with black hat SEO techniques or that it may have been penalized by Google. Either way, it is unlikely to be a healthy blog and not something that I would consider putting my time, money, and effort into when prospecting for a backlink.
Third Party Metrics
Since Google stopped publicly releasing their page rank scores a number of third-party companies have invented their own metrics that you are able to try and workout the potential power of a backlink to your blog. In my opinion, the AHRefs tool is probably going to be the best option as they tend to have a better crawler meaning they have more data but their tool can be expensive.
A quick, easy, and free way to get a third-party metric for the potential strength of a domain is to download and install the free Mozbar plugin and sign up for a free Moz account so it will populate with data. This tool will inject the Mozbar into the search engine results page or across the top of your browser to show you their metrics for a blog.
Unfortunately, the Moz crawler is not the best so they are often unaware of many backlinks pointing to a domain but considering it is a free option, it can be useful. Please keep in mind that these are third-party metrics and are not used by Google in anyway and are just to be used as a reference point for potential strength of a domain.
If you do choose to go with Mozbar then the higher the domain authority of the target blog to provide you with a backlink the better. Personally, I usually only focus on getting backlinks from domains with a domain authority of over 30 and even then, that is only if they are free or cheap. If I am outsourcing the backlink building then I usually only pay for backlinks with a domain authority of over 40.
If you are looking to build niche edits then you are able to take advantage of the page authority metric that Moz offers too. As a niche edit is a backlink on an existing page on a blog, you can use their page authority metric to try and find existing pages with the highest possible page authority to try and get as much benefit out of the backlink as possible.
Checking the currently ranking keywords for a domain can be another way to get an indication on how Google currently sees a blog you are thinking of getting a backlink to your blog from. Just like above, AHRefs will probably be the better option due to their superior crawler ensuring that they have more data but you can get some decent information from a free Moz account too.
Once logged into Moz, click the “Moz Pro” option on their menu, don’t worry, the tool we will be using is free, select their link explorer and then enter the domain you want a backlink from and then click search. Moz will then return the information shown in the image below to you and give you an indication of some of the keywords the blog ranks for.
Similar to using SEMRush for checking the predicted traffic of a blog, the Moz prediction for the number of ranking keywords for a bog is almost always under by a huge amount. This can be a quick and easy way to check is a blog has any ranking keywords in Google though helping you gauge the quality of a potential backlink for your blog.
For example, if you are thinking of approaching a webmaster whose blog has a domain authority of 50 for example but they have 0 keywords ranking in Google then there is a very good chance that the blog is either a private blog network or penalized by Google. Personally, I would avoid actively seeking backlinks from domains with stats like that example and move on to checking the stats for the next domain.
Although the majority of people get hung up on either the domain authority or page authority of a blog they are thinking about getting a backlink for, checking the number of keywords they are ranking for can be a relatively easy way to get cheap backlinks for your own blog. Many bloggers target low competition, low search volume keywords so they never have to build backlinks to their own blog.
Although blogs built in this way may not have a high domain authority due to a lack of backlinks, if they are ranking for a large number of keywords relative to the number of articles on the blog it can indicate that Google trusts them and a backlink from the blog may provide value. Due to the low domain authority metric of the blog, webmasters may sell a guest post or niche edit for cheap due to so many people focusing on those metrics.
I usually focus on the predicted traffic and ranking keywords of a blog as well as their third-party metrics when trying to gauge the quality of a backlink but I know some people who also take relevancy into account too. If you are looking to prospect a backlink from a niche related blog that does not cover any content for other niches then this may offer you value once Google detects the backlink.
Personally though, I tend to just make sure that the content on the specific page you are getting the backlink from is niche relevant rather than the content across the whole domain. If you can get these relevancy backlinks to your blog for free or cheap without putting too much effort in, it may be worth getting but I don’t have much personal experience with them.
Backlink Quality Vs Quantity
Although a case for favouring quantity over quality in your backlink profile could have been made a few years back for some very specific black hat SEO strategies, the Penguin 4 algorithm update definitely hard countered many of those mass automated link building techniques. These days, I focus my link building efforts around a smaller number of links that offer as much quality as possible and I would recommend anyone else who is looking to build links to their blog does the same.
In this day and age, depending on the power of the blog you managed to secure a backlink from, a single link can potentially offer a better benefit than millions of low-quality automated links. I used to know many black hat SEOs who would use a quantity over quality approach for their link building but over the years, they have all flipped to focusing on quality over quantity now.
Depending on your goals, being able to simply outsource your quality backlink building can often be cheaper and easier than using mass automated link building anyway. Although mass link building with automated tools may look easy on the surface, it takes a surprising amount of time, money, and effort to keep everything running optimally to be able to build millions of links per day per server and it is much easier for Google to counter.
What About Backlink Penalties
Although Google have slightly changed the way their algorithm updates work as blogs tend to be effected by an update at page level rather than outright penalized, tweaks to the Google algorithm can be a major issue for bloggers. Although more and more bloggers are looking to diversify their traffic generation as much as possible, many, including myself still heavily rely on Googles search traffic to keep our online businesses afloat.
Although the Penguin 4 algorithm is now live and runs in real time, my personal opinion is that is simply discounts links from your blogs link graph rather than actually issues penalties. It would be far too easy for a black hat SEO to just build millions of backlinks within days to their competitors blogs and penalize them if the algorithm worked in that way.
Speaking from experience as I lost all of the blogs I built using automation when Penguin 4 rolled out, I feel that it simply devalued low-quality links causing blogs to fall in the SERP. Although my legacy black hat blogs were affected by this and lost almost all of their traffic, I don’t think that they were actually penalized and I feel if I had built high-quality backlinks to them then they would have climbed back up the search engine results page.
Think of it as building a house with walls made from low-quality bricks and a government agency comes along and stays that you have to remove those bricks as they pose a health and safety risk. You lower the roof of the house as you remove the low-quality bricks but the roof is still intact, it is just on the ground rather than resting on the bricks.
If you use high quality bricks then you can then rest your still intact roof on those bricks and have it elevated once again. That said though, if you had just use the higher quality bricks from the very start, there would have been no need for you to replace the the bricks and the roof of your house would have been elevated none stop.
In addition to all of this, there are large numbers of white hat, zero backlink blogs getting hit with each of the recent Google core algorithm updates anyway. I have personally had multiple blogs drop traffic due to Google core algorithm updates that had zero backlinks built to them. If the forums, blogs, Reddit, and social media are anything to go by, it definitely seems that this is not uncommon either so don’t make the mistake of thinking that you are immune to losing traffic due to not building backlinks.
How To Create Quality Backlinks
There are a large number of different techniques that you are able to utilize to actually create backlinks to your site. Although each blogger will have their own specific methods for each as well as pick and choose the different ways that they wish to build backlinks to their blogs, I have tried to offer some insight into the more popular backlink building methods below.
As covered above with my personal definition of white hat and black hat link building, I personally feel that natural link acquisition is the only truly white hat way to gain a backlink profile. It is also one of the slowest backlink generation strategies available for the majority of people unless they end up getting very lucky.
As I touched on earlier in the article, natural backlink acquisition is usually based around putting out the highest quality content targeting low competition keywords that don’t require backlinks to rank. As more and more people get to read your content, people start to link to it over time and your domain authority increases.
There are a large number of different ways that you are able to automatically create backlinks. When I initially started blogging to earn money online I used to build millions of backlinks per day to my blogs with tools such as Ranker X and GSA Search Engine Ranker but Google have taken steps to counter these methods over the years and I have not successfully ranked a site using those techniques since late 2016.
One of the main issues with creating backlinks in such high quantities is generating the content to actually post on the link submissions. Google is easily able to detect and discount duplicate content these days and in my opinion, their system is also able to easily detect spun content too.
In addition to this, the Penguin 4 update to their system now runs in real time rather than having to be manually push live every year or so. This means that they are gaining a large amount of data in real time so if a domain is being used by automated tools to create millions of outbound links per day then they can easily detect it and discount any potential link juice from those domains.
As Penguin 4 now runs in real-time, it can also quickly detect when a backlink goes offline. Many of the domains that are targeted for the creation of backlinks using automated tools are on web hosting plans with limited bandwidth. This so many pages being created on those domains every day they quickly run out of bandwidth meaning that they go offline and Google detects all of those links essentially evaporating overnight.
I often see people reaching out after purchasing backlinks for their blog from Fiverr and fearing that the gig vendor has used automated tools to create the links. This often leads people to fear a potential penalty from Google but in reality, anyone is able to buy the required tools for a few hundred dollars and then build millions of backlinks a day to the competing blogs in their niche.
I would highly recommend that you avoid purchasing backlinks from Fiverr for a long term project, especially if you don’t know what you are doing when it comes to links. Although there are some useful Fiverr blogger gigs on the platform, most of the ones related to backlinks are a waste of money.
Google is fully aware of this and as they have no way of knowing if you are building the backlinks to your blog to try game their system or if it is your competition building backlinks to try and get your blog penalized, I personally feel they just discount the links from your blogs link graph meaning that as far as Google are concerned, they don’t exist.
In my opinion, manually creating your backlinks is the best way to move forward due to advancements in Googles technology over the years making many of the automated link building systems obsolete. If you are new to blogging, this can actually work to your advantage as you don’t have to unlearn the bad habits that many people who created automated links have picked up over the years.
As you can probably guess from the name, a manual backlink means that all steps of the creation of the backlink are done manually by a human. For example, say you are wanting to create a web 2.0 backlink to your blog article, the initial sign up to the platform, the creation of the article, the layout customization, and actual posting of the article will all be done by a human.
This does not mean that you have to be the one manually doing all of this though. The creation of high-quality backlinks such as guest posts, niche edits, or even manual forum posts can be outsourced easily. Although you often just have to trust that the process of backlink creation is being done manually when outsourcing, there are some reputable companies out there that I have used for years for my backlink creation.
There are a number of different names used for assisted links and to my knowledge, there is no commonly agreed term for them as they can be created in a number of different ways. Assisted link building tries to blend the time efficiency of automation with the safety of manual link building.
One example of assisted link building is to use the popular free iMacros plugin for Chrome. iMacros allows you to automate repetitive tasks online with relative ease meaning that you are able to use it to automatically paste information into a login page or an account creation page for a web 2.0 platform to save you time. Although the retentive tasks are automated and the plugin is even able to paste your actual article into the article field, the actual article creation and publishing is manual.
Depending on how much link building you are planning to do for your blog, this can potentially save you a surprising amount of time across your blogging journey. Keep in mind that some web 2.0 platforms can detect a lack of mouse movement as well as all of the data fields being filled at the same time potentially putting the account at risk of being flagged as a bot and deleted.
Private Blog Networks
Private blog networks used to be a very effective backlink strategy and one that I used to utilize for some of my older blogs. The strategy is based on purchasing expired or auctioned domains that have a high domain authority and a clean profile and then repurposing them as new sites to point backlinks to your blog.
In my experience, the Fred update from Google was a hard counter to using none niche related expired or auctioned domains as a part of your private blog network. The image below shows the analytics for one of my old blogs that used to be propped up using private blog network links during the Fred update and as you can see, the traffic drops off overnight.
Although I personally no longer use private blog networks as a part of my link building strategy for my blogs, I do know one person who still uses them. He usually pays thousands of dollars per domain and only purchases them at auction before they actually expire and they have to be niche relevant too and still poses a high amount of risk in my opinion.
I want to quickly mention that there are plenty of places out there where you can purchase “private blog network” backlinks for your blog but these are in-fact public blog network backlinks. A true private blog network will only serve the webmaster who owns the network and as soon as a network starts to sell links, it is becomes compromised. I would not recommend that you purchase any backlinks on these networks as they will probably offer little to no value to you.
I would highly recommend that you totally avoid intentionally using hacked links in your backlink profile. Not only can it potentially land you in hot water with law enforcement but the owner of the hacked blog will often just roll back their domain removing your link.
There are a number of link networks out there that sell backlinks on hacked blogs, some openly, some without disclosing it. In this day and age though, they overcharge and a guest post or niche edit is probably going to be a much better option for multiple reasons.
My Primary Backlink Strategy
The YouTube video above covers the same information for this section of the article as well as the next section. As some people prefer to consume their content in video format, I thought it would be easier to share the video to give you the option. The information in both the video and this section of the article is essentially the same though so there is no reason to read/watch both.
As I have touched on multiple times throughout the article now, there are a number of different link types that you are able to use in your backlink strategy to try and push link juice to your blog content. I will go over the two link types that I predominantly use as my primary link types below and in all honesty, I feel that the vast majority of people will be fine building their backlink strategy around them without even needing secondary link types that I will cover later in the article.
Although I said it earlier, I just want to repeat, backlink building is not essential to be a successful blogger and you are able to grow a successful blog without ever having to build a single backlink if you target low competition keywords. If you are brand new to blogging and are growing your first project then I would actually recommend that you stick to low competition keywords and not focus on backlinks until you have more experience and are able to better gauge the potential return for your money or time.
- Offered by many bloggers and webmasters but often have an “admin fee” attached.
- Almost always do follow.
- Can allow you to quickly grow your domain authority if you have the time or money for many guest posts.
- Contextual backlink type.
- Uses a brand new post with a fresh article on the blog to make it harder for Google to know the purpose of the article.
- Can often have a higher fee attatched to it than a niche edit.
- Requires you to also take the time or spend the money to generate the new article.
- As its a new post on the blog, it takes time to index and for link juice to pass to your blog.
What Is A Guest Post Backlink
A traditional guest post backlink is an article wrote on a blog where the author does not normally publish their content and thus, they are a guest poster. In the introduction section of the post, the author usually gets a backlink to their own blog so readers of the blog that they are guest posting on can find out more about them.
Over the years, this has evolved and the majority of guest posts published these days are purely to pass link juice to the target blog. Sometimes the actual owner of the blog that the guest post will be published on will actually type up the article for an additional fee so the “guest poster” can use their time on other tasks too.
With “admin fees” for guest posts ranging wildly depending on domain authority, traffic, niche, and editorial standards, it is not surprising that so many webmasters allow guest posts as it can become a primary income stream for the blogger. Although Google have taken steps to try minimise the benefit of a guest post backlink when it comes to manipulating the search engines, it is extremely hard to do as there is no requirement for the webmaster to declare the article as a guest post.
Are Guest Posts Bad For SEO
In my opinion, guest posts are one of the better backlink acquisition techniques available and I feel that they will be viable for years to come. As the article is a new post on the blog, it can be hard for Google to work out that it is an actual guest post compared to a regular post with an editorial backlink making it hard to enforce any guidelines they suggest.
Does Guest Posting Still Work
From my own experience of using guest posts for blogging, they can offer a quick jump in the search engine results page for your article and help you rank much quicker than you otherwise would have. That said though, it is hard to predict how long it will take for you to see a jump in rankings after pointing guest post backlinks to your blog.
Although Google recently confirmed that they take the effect of backlinks into consideration instantly now, factors such as the backlinking domain authority, your domain authority, and keyword difficulty all come into play. Additionally, I often see people using a single, low domain authority backlink for a keyword that realistically requires multiple, high domain authority backlinks to even stand a chance of ranking.
How Do I Find Guest Posting Opportunities
You are able to do manual outreach to bloggers and webmasters in your niche asking if they offer guest posts but this can take a huge amount of time an effort. I have done this manually myself and although I was able to secure three links completely for free, the vast majority of bloggers charged a fee for the links.
Due to this, I outsource my guest post backlink acquisition to a reputable guest post backlinking agency so I am able to use my time for other tasks to run my online business. Depending on your budget these backlink building services may be expensive but as I touched on above, you are able to do the outreach yourself if you have the time available.
- Offered by many bloggers and webmasters but often have an “admin fee” attached but usually cheaper than a guest post.
- Almost always do follow.
- Can allow you to quickly grow your domain authority if you have the time or money for many guest posts.
- Contextual backlink type.
- The article that the niche edit is being interested to should already be indexed meaning you could see a benefit on your blog fast.
- You are able to go over all relevant pages on a domain and choose the one with the highest page authority for your niche edit.
- As a new backlink is being added to an article that is potentially years old, it can be easy for Google to workout what is happening and discount any link juice to your blog.
What Is A Niche Edit Backlink
Unlike a guest post, a niche edit is usually just a fresh link added to an existing article on a blog. As there is no need to generate a new article and the time requirement from the blogger who owns the linking blog is minimal, a niche edit should almost always be cheaper than a guest post for a blog with similar stats.
How Is A Niche Edit Different From Broken Link Building
I have seen some people confuse niche edits with broken link building and although they are similar, they are different link types. Broken link building is based around you crawling blogs for links that are pointing to a blog or webpage that is now offline and thus a broken link. You then approach the blogger who owns the blog and ask them to flip that link to point you your article.
With broken link building, a link has usually been present in that article since it was published and Googles crawler will have logged this over the years. Flipping a broken link to a blog that is online and can help the readers of the blog is relatively normal and I doubt Google will take any action.
The majority of the time, a niche edit is simply added to an existing article where no prior link was located. Depending on how you acquire the link, no new content may be added to the article either making it easier for Google to detect. Some backlink building agencies will have the web master add 200-300 new words of content to a niche edit article to try and mask the link and make it harder for Google to detect.
Are Niche Edits Bad For SEO
At the time of writing, niche edits are beneficial for helping your blog articles rank in Google for competitive keywords and are part of my link building strategy. They are a very popular link type too due to offering similar levels of link juice to a guest post while often being cheaper.
That said though, as I touched on above, as many niche edits are randomly added to a blog article, it can be easy for Google to workout what is happening. Once a blogger is on a backlink agencies books, they may be receiving many backlink orders per month and adding unnatural niche edits many times creating a foot print.
Although this is just a theory of mine and I do still plan to use niche edits for the foreseeable future, Google could in theory add something to their algorithm to discount any link juice from links added to articles in this way. This could cause a articles propped up using niche edits to fall in a future Google update where as it is much harder for Google to detect a guest post.
Do Niche Edits Still Work
At the time of writing, I have a number of blogs using niche edits with multiple pages on those blogs ranking for their target keywords using niche edits as a part of their backlink profile. I do plan to keep on building niche edits in the future due to their cheaper price tag but eventually, I do want to move over to only using guest posts as my only primary backlink type for safety.
How Do I Find Niche Edit Opportunities
Similar to guest posts, you are able to do the manual outreach to try and source niche edit backlinks for your blog yourself if you have the time available. Again, most of the bloggers will expect an “admin fee” for adding the link to their content but you can get lucky and get niche edits for free.
Just like with guest posts, I personally prefer to outsource my niche edit building to a reputable niche edit backlink building service. As niche edits tend to be cheaper than guest posts, they are often within the budget of more bloggers too while the time required for manual outreach will stay the same as guest posts making outsourcing their creation more attractive to most people rather than doing the outreach themselves.
My Secondary Backlink Strategy
I just want to mention this again before going any further, I do not feel that secondary backlink types are an essential part of a backlink strategy. It is highly likely that you will be able to rank pages without using any secondary link types as their main purpose is not to pass link juice to help you rank.
There are a large number of people who will only use primary link types for their blogs and still rank without issue. I personally do use secondary link types as a way to increase the number of referring domains to my blog as well as dilute the anchor text profile for my articles too.
Although it is just personal theory, I like the idea of having a number of different website types and content management systems linking to my content too. If you only use primary link types then there is a good chance that it will just be WordPress blogs linking to your articles. If you choose to integrate the secondary link types then you can have other types of website linking to you as well as a huge number of different content management systems too.
- Quick and easy for you to build yourself if you are already a part of the forums in your niche.
- Usually much cheaper to outsource than other link types.
- Allows you to rapidly increase the number of referring domains linking to your blog.
- Many forum posts are usually already indexed in Google.
- Quick and easy anchor text diversification.
- A 50/50 split of do follow and no follow links is common when outsourcing forum posts.
- Most reputable forums that are worth having a backlink from use no follow links.
- The moderation team for the forum will often delete posts with links in them.
- None contextual backlink type.
What Is A Forum Post Backlink
Forum posts are currently my secondary link type of choice when backlinking my own blog portfolio as they are cheap and effective. As you may guess from the name, a forum post is literally just a post on a forum in a niche related thread with a backlink to your blog article. I would like to stress that I only use manual forum posts where someone physically logs into the account to type the reply to the thread rather than an automated forum post.
Are Forum Posts Bad For SEO
When it comes to forum posts backlinks, it’s not necessarily that they could be bad for SEO as you have no control over people in your niche naturally posting on niche related forums and linking to your blog. Its more the benefit of building this type of backlink for your SEO efforts. As I touched on above, I do think that the actual link juice and potential improvement to rankings for your target keyword are minimal when using forum posts but I use them to dilute my other link types.
Do Forum Posts Still Work
Forum posts are a quick, easy, and cheap (if you want to outsource them) way to dilute your backlinking profile so if that is what you are looking for, they definitely still work and they work well. Although a large number of forums are no-follow, there are still a surprising number of high domain authority, do-follow forums out there that you can use to get some quick and easy link juice too.
How Do I Find Forum Post Opportunities
If you are blogging about your hobbies or interests then there is a high chance that you may already be involved in various niche-related online forums making it much easier to create forum backlinks for your blog yourself. When you are replying to other threads, simply add a backlink to a relevant article on your blog and be done with it.
If you are wanting to rapidly build a number of forum post backlinks for your blog then it will almost always be better to outsource the backlink acquisition to a reputable forum post creation service. These services usually keep a large number of healthy, active forum accounts spread across the majority of multi-niche forums so they can deliver bulk orders for cheap.
Although you will almost always see better backlink ranking improvements when putting your money into guest posts, I have seen some people say that they managed to get their blog to climb the search engine results back using just this backlink technique and nothing else. I would not recommend using forum links as your only backlink strategy though due to so many of them being nofollow with some of the posts also having a high chance of deletion too.
I also have the video below on my YouTube channel where I go over a forum backlink order that I purchased from Fiverr (Note – I usually use this forum backlink creation service than Fiverr). If you are brand new to building backlinks then it may be worth watching as it offers an insight into what you can expect from gigs on Fiverr as well as what forum backlinks actually are.
- Very easy to make yourself if you have the time to create accounts and create articles while being cheap to outsource too.
- Contextual backlink type.
- Often do follow.
- Can be a quick way to build up contextual pages linking to your content.
- Quick and easy anchor text diversification.
- Can be very hard to actually index in Google.
- The Moderation team for the better web 2.0 platforms often ban accounts that are just backlink farms.
- Many web 2.0 blogs are just sub-domains and may not pass much link juice to your blog.
What Is A Web 2.0 Backlink
Web 2.0 backlinks are backlinks created by posting articles to free online blogging platforms such as WordPress or Blogger. You sign-up, type up your article, add your backlink to it, and then publish it. Historically, using web 2.0 platforms for backlinking was a quick and easy way to add contextual backlinks without having to spend too much time or money on sourcing them.
These days though, actually getting a web 2.0 backlink indexed in Google can be a pain and in my opinion, if Google don’t even feel that an article is worth having in their index, I doubt they will pass much, if any link juice from it at all. Web 2.0’s used to also be very popular in tiered link building as they would act as a stable tier one that you would power up with automated link building on tier two and tier three to pass huge amounts of link juice to your money site but this technique has since been countered by Google.
Are Web 2.0 Backlinks Bad For SEO
In the sense of a potential penalty, I doubt Google will care these days. As I mentioned above, web 2.0s seem to be a low priority for Google as they get a massive number of pages added to them each day so it seems Google rarely even bothers to index them these days.
In the sense of wasted time, effort, and money, I definitely do feel there are better backlinking techniques that you are able to use that offer better backlink ranking improvements. I recently saw a post on Reddit where a blogger had created around twenty Web 2.0 profiles and taken the time to create unique articles for each of them. I doubt that they will see any benefit at all as Web 2.0s are a secondary link type so from a time investment point of view, they are bad for SEO in my opinion.
Do Web 2.0s Still Work
I personally prefer to use Forum Posts over Web 2.0s these days as many of the forum threads are already indexed in Google making it much easier to make Google aware of the links. If you are planning to play around with tiered link building then Web 2.0s can act as a stable tier-one base to power up with your tier two and three backlinks but I would not recommend a tiered backlinking approach anymore.
How Do I Find Web 2.0 Backlink Opportunities
Web 2.0s are very easy to build yourself as you simply sign up to the platform and create the article. There are lists of Web 2.0s platforms available on Google too so you are able to work your way down the list and create backlinks as you go. Personally though, I would not recommend you put the time into doing this yourself as I doubt you will see much of a return for your time investment.
Due to the dwindling popularity of using Web 2.0s as a part of your backlinking profile, it is becoming harder and harder to find a service to outsource their creation to as the service provider can usually make more money building other types of links for their clients. That said, I used this gig off Fiverr as a test recently with a review of the service in the video below.
- The blog article you are commenting on should already be indexed in Google.
- Can be easy to create yourself.
- Often cheap to outsource.
- Can be a quick way to build up contextual pages linking to your content.
- None contextual backlink type.
- Outsourced blog comment links are often automated with spam comments.
- Most bloggers turn comments off.
- You have no control over the other blog comments and links people post.
- You may have to use your name as the anchor text.
- Usually a no follow link type.
What Is A Blog Comment Backlink
As you can probably guess from the name of the backlink type, a blog comment is essentially a post in the comments section of a blog article with a backlink either in the name of the comment or the actual text of the comment back to your blog. Although blog comment backlinks used to be effective and offer some solid backlink ranking improvements, they have definitely fallen off in popularity recently due to Google taking steps to counter them.
Are Blog Comments Bad For SEO
In my opinion, blog comment backlinks are the most risky type of backlink featured in this article as you are unable to control the other types of backlinks that people create on the page after you drop your comment. Due to this, I would recommend that you avoid this link type all together but I do regularly see other people saying that they still use them so wanted to cover them.
As most comments sections on blogs are either turned off, highly moderated or nofollow these days, a blog that has auto accept, dofollow comment backlinks is quickly exploited by the black hat SEO community. I would imagine that Google would just discount these links from your blogs link graph, I prefer to just not put the time and effort into creating them.
Do Blog Comments Still Work
I have not personally used blog comments as a core part of my backlinking strategy for years now. I feel the days of getting link juice from them to rank your blog are long gone, you may be able to gain some topical relevancy from them as well as push crawlers to your articles from them too.
Dofollow blog comments, image comments, and guestbook posts are a quick and easy way to push crawlers to your content to get Google to index them. This is only really needed for large scale automated tiered link building though so the only benefit I see to most people would be the potential topical relevancy that the other link types above can also pass.
How Do I Find Blog Commenting Opportunities
Blog comment backlinks are one of the easiest link types to create yourself, especially if you use the free dropmylink tool. Dropmylink makes it quick and easy to fine target blogs to try and gain a backlink from but blog comment backlinks have the drawbacks covered above so I personally rather just put that time and effort into other backlink types.
I recently tried this Fiverr gig out as well as a few others for the video below to go into using blog comment backlinks for SEO. Please note that I only purchased the gig for informational purposes for the video and not as a part of an active backlink strategy. If you are set on outsourcing some blog comment backlinks for your blog’s backlink profile then you can check that gig out but I would recommend you go with any of the link types covered above instead.
That brings my ultimate guide to building backlinks for bloggers to a close. I hope that the article has managed to help as many people as possible as I have tried to include as many of the questions I get asked about building backlinks as a blogger as possible in one place. I know that I have said it multiple times in the article now but if you are brand new to blogging, I feel you should be putting your time, money, and effort into content rather than backlinks until you have some experience and then look to improve your backlink profile.