Google processed more than two trillion searches in 2021 alone! And a significant percentage of those searches are people looking for businesses that can help solve their problems.
Since more than 80% of shoppers research online before buying, ranking on the first page of Google is crucial not just for traffic. It’s just as important for credibility.
But getting Google’s algorithm to notice your site isn’t a piece of cake. You need to write fantastic content, implement strong on-site SEO practices, and figure out how to get quality backlinks from the right websites.
But why do backlinks matter? Here’s what the data says:
- The number one result in Google has an average of 3.8x more backlinks than positions 2-10.
- With more than 66% of pages not having a single backlink, it remains the primary reason behind poor rankings.
- When ranking for target keywords, content and backlinks are the two key deciding factors.
High-quality backlinks are hard to get. And for a long time, many companies were able to achieve results with shady SEO practices like keyword stuffing, content scraping, cloaking, using hidden text and links, and more.
But the recent link spam update rolled out by Google makes it much harder to fool the system. Only those who use legitimate practices and follow the white hat SEO guidelines can rank high in the search results.
And while that’s bad news for some, it’s awesome news for those who want to add value and gain backlinks the right way. Today, even one-person businesses can earn quality backlinks by building relationships and providing real value.
But before we get into the strategies, let’s define what a high-quality backlink is and why it matters.
What is a high-quality backlink, and why does it matter?
A backlink is essentially a link with an anchor text pointing to another site. But there are a variety of factors that influence whether it will enhance or diminish your SEO efforts.
Google has gotten really good at recognizing backlink quality, using a three-tier system to categorize each link as low-quality, medium-quality, or high-quality. And the category can make a huge difference in your ranking potential.
Here are a few key elements Google evaluates to determine whether a backlink is genuine:
- First, Google looks at whether the backlink is natural, that is, if it enhances the reader’s experience and doesn’t try to trick the algorithm. If Google determines the link to be out of place, it will either ignore or even penalize it.
- Another critical factor is whether the backlink is credible. Google looks at the PageRank of a website to determine its quality and importance. And it places much more value on backlinks from websites with a higher page rank. In fact, a link from an authoritative website can be worth hundreds of backlinks from a low-impact site.
- Finally, you need the backlink to be relevant. Google looks at the domain reputation and whether the website’s theme is relevant to the link. For instance, if a site about baking recipes links to a page about stock options, that’s unlikely to be deemed relevant by the search engines.
As you can see, the amount of information Google analyzes when evaluating backlinks is quite impressive, which means that the quality of the backlinks is much more important than the quantity. Getting a few relevant, credible, and natural backlinks from the right websites is much more likely to result in first-page rankings (at least compared to spamming the internet with your links, even if you’ve got thousands of them).
With that in mind, let’s look at some of the best legitimate ways to get high-quality backlinks below.
How to earn backlinks?
Getting links to your site from big websites can seem impossible when you’re a small business. But you don’t need a large marketing budget to earn quality backlinks if you use the right strategies.
Build a newsworthy product
The easiest way to get quality backlinks is to build a product that gets people’s attention. If you can develop something newsworthy, you won’t have to work hard to get your story shared. And those shares mean not just high-quality backlinks but also tons of free publicity that can drive sales on its own. But how does this look in reality?
Well, a good example is a Ukrainian startup called Reface. It created an innovative viral product — an app that allows swapping faces in videos, GIFs, and memes. Then the company used digital PR and the power of word of mouth to generate excitement around their app and quickly became a hot topic among the major sites in the industry.
And it’s still making headlines!
And sure, leveraging the viral potential of a funny face swap app might seem easier, but it can be done in almost any scenario (granted, you know the types of publications that would be interested in your product or brand).
No matter what niche you operate in, there are news sites, blogs, and social media influencers that talk about it. They all have audiences eager to discover new products and innovative ideas.
So, if you can create an appealing hook around
- your product,
- news about its progress, updates, and new features,
- or its use cases,
this will give you a much better chance of generating newsworthy content that websites and influencers will line up to share.
Leverage well-known names to look more important
Having a well-known brand makes getting publicity and backlinks much smoother. But unfortunately, that’s not something most startups have at their disposal.
Even the most successful businesses start out by being virtually unknown to their audience or the general public. So, before you become a star in your industry, you need to get creative in getting attention.
You can use storytelling to link your brand with the latest news, celebrities, and other brands relevant to your industry. That way, you can leverage their appeal to tell your story in a way that generates excitement and builds interest.
Look at Mailtrack — an app that adds double-checks to Gmail, letting users know whether the message was opened or not.
While Mailtrack themselves weren’t known yet, everyone knew WhatsApp and Gmail. So in their press release, Mailtrack leveraged these brand names to introduce a core feature of their product and gain familiarity with a broad audience. And that’s exactly how they managed to get attention.
Billions of people use Gmail and WhatsApp, so pitching a press release about getting more from these apps was much easier than talking about the product alone.
And even if your product or service isn’t related to well-known brands, you can gain relevancy by utilizing other things people are aware of. For example, perhaps your product can help solve a problem that’s on many people’s minds? Or maybe it’s related to a recent event or a public figure that the general public is interested in?
By using storytelling elements that leverage something well-known, you can tie your product to that prior knowledge and increase your brand’s prominence in the process. And at the same time, it will make generating high-quality backlinks that much more effortless.
Publish research and statistics
Data is one of the most sought-after assets that businesses seek out. That’s especially true if the information is unique and provides new insights into a problem or situation.
That’s why one of the best ways to gain high-quality backlinks is to utilize your expertise and provide valuable data to others. Then, every time someone uses your data in their articles, you will get a backlink. And those can add up fast!
You don’t need years of research to present useful information that others will be happy to use and share. If you don’t have any data of your own, you can compile a list of relevant statistics about a subject and share new findings in one place.
Publishers looove to back their claims up by data. So, if you have a relevant article with a lot of useful information, they will happily link back to it to add credibility to their own work.
Alternatively, you can conduct surveys, run tests, or even publish annual reports. All that information can be valuable in the right context and is very shareable by nature. Publishing an article or infographic is a one-time job, but you can get high-quality backlinks for years to come.
Have a look at this report about email signature marketing created by the Newoldstamp marketing team last year. It resulted in more than 50 quality backlinks, which helped the page appear as one of the top results in Google.
At first, the company used personalized outreach to generate backlinks. But over time, as the page became more visible in Google, backlinks became even more natural since people started discovering and sharing insights relevant to their work.
These results are impressive, but they are by no means extraordinary. And creating value-driven reports can become the single most powerful method for generating backlinks for a long time.
Write guest posts to showcase your expertise
For a long time, guest posts were the golden standard of link-building outreach. If you could get an article published on a high-authority website, that provided a significant boost to your SEO.
But, as expected, the effectiveness of this approach resulted in it being abused by those trying to cheat the system. Blogs started selling guest post opportunities without concern for quality or relevance. And it became more difficult to distinguish between relevant and artificially-created backlinks.
Because of that, Google has devalued links gained through guest posting. It can now detect excessive guest posting of the same content for backlinks, especially low-quality articles.
So, if you’re thinking of gaining page one rankings by getting a bunch of sites to publish your articles, that might not work out the way you’d hope. But that doesn’t mean it’s not an effective method for showcasing expertise, sharing your ideas, and growing your audience.
Treat guest posting as an additional strategy. Sure, it might not be enough for attaining page one rankings, but it can be a powerful element that gives you more exposure and an extra nudge to your SEO efforts as well.
If you don’t want to guest post yourself, you can try earning high-authority links via HARO (Help A Reporter Out), a service that connects journalists with experts. If you’re knowledgeable on a subject, you can get a reporter to share your thoughts and add a link to your site to the article.
If done correctly, cold outreach can be an effective method for gaining backlinks. But at the same time, relying on messaging people you don’t know as the primary way to get links is an uphill battle that might not be worth the effort.
Nonetheless, you may achieve your goal faster when effective email automation tools are used. For example, Snov.io Email Finder can help you reach the right people with a proposal to exchange backlinks, and you can do it in bulk with highly personalized email sequences. Hopefully, at least part of the emails you send will get a response. Well, why not? Many people might be interested in getting backlinks the way you do.
You can also use another strategy. Instead of emailing strangers and begging them to exchange links, why not build friendships with like-minded people? You can then partner up and gain backlinks without needing to intrude into random people’s inboxes.
Sure, developing relationships takes time and effort. You can’t create a network that will be happy to share your links overnight. But if you make it a priority, you can build a network of bloggers, industry thought-leaders, and indirect competitors even if you’re a small business.
Then, you can rely on your network to share your links with their audience and use them in their own content. Not just because of the relationship itself but because they like and trust the information you publish.
Over time, as your network grows, it might lead to opportunities you couldn’t even consider before. And while the SEO perks are nice, those partnership opportunities could end up bringing even more value for your business.
8 August 2022
19 October 2022
To sum it up
Backlinks are still an integral signal search engines use to determine where to rank your site. If your site has links from a variety of reputable and relevant sources, that means your content is valuable, which Google cares about.
However, Google is also getting better at recognizing which links matter. Because of that, shady practices (such as buying links, excessive sponsored or guest posts, etc.) might hurt your efforts.
So, if you’d like to take your site’s authority to the next level without being penalized by Google, the tactics mentioned in this post are definitely worth a shot.