How to Build Backlinks in 2017

How to Build Backlinks in 2017

Backlinks are the nitrous of every successful SEO campaign.

This new guide will teach how to build backlinks in 2017. Every strategy you will read is battle tested.

Through hundreds of successful SEO campaigns, we now know what does and does NOT work. Ready to get started? Let’s jump in.

What are Backlinks?

A “backlink” is created when an external website links to yours. This why some people refer to them as “external backlinks”.

These links are a large piece of the ranking puzzle.

But before we get into the heavy link building strategy…

You need to make sure that your site is ready for backlinks.

How to Build Less Backlinks (And Get Better Results)

Here is the ugly truth about link acquisition:

It is costly and time-consuming.

To combat these two issues you must learn how to get the most out of every backlink.

Here’s how you can accomplish that goal:

  • You must have a technically optimized site
  • You must have a strong site architecture
  • You must have valuable content

Here are the basics you need to cover before you jump into link acquisition:

1. Fix All Technical Errors

Technical errors hurt user experience.

When you hurt user experience, Google limits your organic traffic growth.

The first thing you need to do is avoid speeding through this process.

Otherwise, you may end up wondering:

“Why aren’t my backlinks working!?”

Think of SEO as a puzzle.

You can’t complete a puzzle without having all the pieces.

Making sure your site is technically optimized is an important piece of the SEO puzzle.

Here are the technical issues you need to look for:

You can use Screaming Frog SEO Spider to find most of these issues such 302 redirects, redirect chains, 404 errors, canonical errors, duplicate META data and incorrect uses of directives.

2. Develop a Strong Site Architecture

Your site architecture is how link equity gets distributed through your site.

The better your site architecture, the less backlinks you will need.

If you are using a content-driven SEO approach, then I recommend the reverse silo.

3. Produce VALUABLE Content

Content is the last and most important piece of the puzzle.

If you don’t think content is important, then you might as well stop reading now.

Your content strategy will make or break your SEO campaign.

It doesn’t matter how many backlinks you get.

It doesn’t matter how well you optimize your site.

Your SEO campaign will eventually fail if you don’t take content seriously.

I’m going to be writing a lot on content marketing on this blog in 2017, but for now…

I want you to do one thing:

CARE about your content.

You don’t need to be perfect, but do not publish garbage content.

Like real garbage, garbage content gets sent to the landfill where no one will ever see it again.

I’ll end my content rant there.

Just know your content will determine the success of your SEO campaign.

What Is Your Risk Tolerance?

Before we get into the intense stuff, you need to gauge your risk tolerance.

The question is:

Are you willing to use risky tactics?

Or:

Are you risk averse and would like to take a “cleaner” approach that decreases your chances of a penalty?

I recommend you take the latter.

Two years ago, you could nail a brand new website with any PBN backlinks, and the site would rank within a month.

It was like taking candy from a baby, but Google caught onto this.

They introduced a “sandbox” that holds new websites back.

I’m not going to debate the existence of it because we’ve tested it.

Here’s the conclusion:

Before: you could rank a site in 1 month with PBN backlinks.

Now: it takes two, sometimes three months to see the effects of PBN backlinks.

Knowing this, we have gone away from PBN backlinks.

But it’s not just because they take longer to work.

It’s because the time and financial investment isn’t worth it anymore.

The time and financial ROI was huge two years ago when Google wasn’t as savvy.

Now the amount of time it takes to run a successful PBN and the amount of risk involved, isn’t worth it.

In 2017, a better approach is to focus on relevant backlinks from real websites.

This will help you avoid penalties and get you the long-term results you desire.

5 Rules for Quality Backlinks

If you follow these 5 rules you will watch your site’s organic traffic climb every month.

1. Keep It Relevant

Relevancy is the most important criteria for effective link acquisition.

I have never, repeat never, had a site penalized that had a 100% relevant tier one of backlinks.

Google bases “relevancy” on these three things:

  1. The general content “theme” of the linking domain
  2. The content on the linking page
  3. The relevancy of the backlinks hitting the domain

Keep in mind:

Link opportunities that don’t have Topical Trust Flow Topic relevancy can still be valuable.

Make you evaluate your opportunities beyond third party metrics.

If you need help prioritizing link opportunities, then I recommend Relevancy Pyramids.

2. Let Authority Sites Be Your Friend

The stronger the site, the better the results.

Since Google doesn’t update PageRank anymore, you have to rely on third party metrics.

None of these third party tools are perfect, but they will do the job.

I recommend you analyze opportunities using all available options.

The best link analysis tools are:

3. Focus On Real Websites (With Real Traffic)

Getting backlinks from sites with real traffic is another way to solidify your tier one.

These are the hardest backlinks to get but are also the most rewarding.

Since you will never know the exact traffic data of a site without getting in their analytics, you will need to use SEM Rush.

4. Distribute Your Anchor Text Intelligently

Distributing your backlink anchor text recklessly can hurt you twofold.

First, wrong anchor text distribution will inhibit your site from ranking. Last and most important, aggressive anchor text can land you a penalty.

As a general rule of thumb aim to keep your exact match anchor text below 1%.

The majority of your anchor text should be branded or naked link anchors.

5. Let Your Backlinks Live in Clean Neighborhoods

Focus your efforts on getting backlinks from sites that have high standards.

If they are linking out to “scammy” industries, then you do not want your link to live there.

Examine every prospective website and ask:

  • What are they linking out to?
  • Are the outbound links relevant?
  • Are the outbound links going to respected, trusted sites?

If you see “viagra” or “gambling” or anything of that nature, then avoid that website.

You now know what a squeaky clean link profile looks like.

Now let me explain what backlinks you should NEVER use on tier one.

Avoid These Backlinks on Tier One

There are certain backlinks that should never touch your site.

If you decide to use these backlinks, just know that your risk for a penalty is much greater.

I have seen websites get penalties for using these backlinks.

I’m telling you that because I don’t want you to think I’m guessing.

It is a FACT that these backlinks can land you a manual or algorithmic penalty.

(Almost) Everything That’s Irrelevant

Your tier one should be a wall of relevancy surrounding your site. I said “almost” every link should be relevant because there are some situations when pure relevancy isn’t a must.

Public Networks

You can go on almost any SEO forum and buy backlinks on public networks. These networks will often advertise their service as “private blog networks”. But that’s a lie.

Once you are advertising a network, it is no longer private.

Throughout Google’s short history, it has gone out of its way to smash public networks. After that, they go out and destroy every website that is using these networks.

It’s easy for Google to spot these networks because:

  1. A) there are an excessive amount of outbound links (typically 25-50+) on the homepage: homepages on REAL websites don’t have a ridiculous amount of outbound links on the homepage.
  2. B) the outbound links are completely irrelevant to each other: there will be links going to gambling sites, SEO sites, fitness sites, etc. It doesn’t make any sense.
  3. C) the content for each post is thin (only 250-300 words): Google’s Panda algorithm hates thin content.
  4. D) you can run, but you can’t hide: some networks will attempt to block Ahrefs and Majestic crawlers, but its actually a footprint. On the other hand, networks that don’t block crawlers will likely get reported to Google because of an angry competitor. It’s a lose-lose situation.

DoFollow Blog Comments

These are some of the cheapest backlinks you can buy. They are also the perfect recipe for landing a penalty.

Large amounts of outbound links + irrelevant links + outbound links going to “bad neighborhoods” (gambling, pharma, porn, etc.) = a toxic backlink

Remember link building rule #5?

You don’t want your link to live in this environment.

Sidebar, Footer Backlinks

I’ll admit that sidebar and footer backlinks can work, but they are also risky.

Standalone links look like paid backlinks and you know how Google feels about those.

Vendors that sell these high authority backlinks are also selling them to other websites. Most of these website will be irrelevant to yours. That’s because these vendors rarely turn down money.

As a reminder:

You don’t want your link to live with irrelevant or “bad neighborhood” links.

One more important note about sidebar/footer backlinks:

These links are almost always site-wide links.

This can destroy your site if you are using a keyword-rich anchor text.

It will wreck your anchor text profile.

I know web designers, marketing companies, and web hosting companies love footer backlinks.

So, if you do decide to use them, I recommend you use branded anchor text.

There is one exception to this rule:

If you can manipulate the code so that your link only shows on the homepage (where most of a site authority resides).

If you are using WordPress, you can use this Restrict Widgets plugin.

Automated Backlinks

As a general rule of thumb, you should avoid automated link building tools on tier one.

Some of these softwares include GSA, Ultimate Demon, and SENuke.

These softwares leverage spammed platforms and will likely land your site a penalty.

You now know what links you need to avoid like the plague.

Now let me show you how to preserve your site’s authority.

4 Quick Ways to Grow Your Site’s Authority

Before I jump into “Foundational” backlinks, I want to show you how to boost your site’s authority. Remember, the purpose of link acquisition to build the authority of your site.

The more authoritative your site is, the easier it is to rank for keywords.

1. Fix Broken External Links

Remember, every external link you place on your site leaks authority.

That’s why it’s important to audit your site (here’s an SEO audit checklist) to find broken external links.

This applies to both external links in your content and in the comment section.

To find broken links use one or all the following:

  • Screaming Frog SEO Spider
  • Siteliner
  • Google Search Console
  • Ahrefs

2. Reclaim Lost Link Juice (404 Link Reclamation)

404 link reclamation is at the top of the list because it is the easiest.

To find all 404 errors on your site use Google Search Console or Screaming Frog.

If you find 404 errors, run the pages through a bulk check on Ahrefs or Majestic.

I recommend doing both just in case you miss some links.

When you find pages with link equity, you must 301 redirect them to a relevant page on the site or to your homepage.

3. Find and Fix Redirect Chains

Sometimes the most obvious solutions are right in front of your face. Redirect chains are another simple problem that can boost your site’s authority once fixed.

By fixing a redirect chain you will send authority/link equity directly to the page.

That is more effective than making the link equity pass through a buffer.

Use Screaming Frog SEO Spider to find redirect chains.

4. Change 302s to 301s

302s redirects block authority flow and could be stealing authority from your site. Identify all 302 redirects on and off your site, and change them to 301s. Once again, use Screaming Frog to find 302s.

You now know how to improve your site’s authority without building new backlinks.

Now it’s time to learn how to build foundational backlinks.

How to Build “Foundational” Backlinks

“Foundational” backlinks improve your site’s TrustRank.

The more “trustworthy” your site is, the better you will perform in the search engines.

The Foundational backlinks will create a layer of trust around your site. That’s because you will be using nothing but unoptimized, branded backlinks on authority sites.

We use this exact approach with every client we take on and it works extremely well.

Important note:

You should only use naked link or branded anchors for foundational backlinks.

Social Media

The first thing you need to do is secure all your social media properties.

At the very minimum, your business should have:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google + (Personal & Business)
  • LinkedIn (Personal & Business)
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram

You don’t have to actively market on these platforms, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt.

For example, for Gotch SEO, my social media manager decided that Facebook was our best social media platform based on referral traffic and engagement.

That’s why we are “all-in” on Facebook and not as active on the other platforms.

Choose what platforms work best for your business.

At the minimum, populate these accounts and share some content, so that you at least have a base.

Business Listings/Citations

Google values business listings so much that it is apart of the local search algorithm.

This should be more than enough for you to use them for ANY SEO campaign.

The cool part about listings is that about 50% of them give you a DoFollow, unoptimized link.

Business citations are a perfect way to build a foundation of trust around your site.

Remember earlier when I said that not all backlinks hitting your site need to be 100% relevant?

I was referring to business listings and social media profiles.

Google trusts these platforms and is well aware that all types of businesses will be using them.

In a sense, they get a pass for not being relevant.

Make sure you check out our citation building service if you don’t want to waste your time building citations.

Niche-Targeted Directories

While most directories are pretty much worthless, there are some diamonds in the rough.

Niche-targeted directories offer both a relevant and DoFollow link.

As you know, backlinks with both of these characteristics are hard to come by.

Use these search strings in Google to find niche directories:

  • NICHE + Directory (Example: “fitness + directory”)
  • NICHE directories
  • NICHE + “submit site”

Geo-Targeted Directories

Geo-targeted directories are a must-have link source for local businesses.

Here are some search strings you can use to find geo-targeted directories:
city + directory
directory + city
submit my site + city
niche + city + directory
city + directories

Niche Relevant Blog Comments

I’m always amazed why so many SEOs skip out on niche relevant blog comments. Too many SEOs neglect them because of the dreaded “NoFollow” tag.

I highly recommend you don’t neglect them.

My agency uses niche relevant blog comments to:

  1. A) create a layer of relevancy around our client’s site
  2. B) improve to the ratio of DoFollow and NoFollow backlinks
  3. C) diversify our anchors in a meaningful way
  4. D) sometimes get small amounts of referral traffic

Niche Relevant Forum Backlinks

Participating on industry forums is an excellent way to build brand recognition.

And if you do it right, you will drive some relevant referral traffic to your website

Forum members have linked to my content, but it wouldn’t be hard to orchestrate it if you are creative.

There aren’t many forums that allow signature backlinks, but many still allow profile backlinks. These profile backlinks are valuable because they are relevant and DoFollow in most cases.

To get the most out of your forum profile backlinks, I’m going to show you some quick techniques.

  1. Prospect for relevant forums

Use the following search strings in Google to find forums:

  • forum + NICHE
  • NICHE + forum
  1. Take time to fill out your profile

Since your link will likely be a naked link, you need to leverage co-occurrence.

Co-occurrence is when your website’s target keyword phrase is near to your link.

Just write a legitimate profile description and make sure to toss in your main keyword.

  1. Understand the forum “personality” / etiquette

Every forum is different and you need to learn how each operates.

Some tolerate a little self-promotion while others will ban you for it.

Scan through the forum and see if members are sharing links in threads.

  1. Increase your post count & start adding friends

The more posts/friends you have, the more trust you build on the forum. Also, more connections send more internal links back to your profile page.

This will slowly build the authority of your profile page.

  1. Start a thread

Starting well-thought-out threads is a great way to build credibility on the forum.

Okay, now you might be asking what’s the point of doing all this?

The goal is to increase the amount of internal links hitting your profile page.

This leverages the forums authority. As a result it will increase the authority of your profile page hosting your link.

The second goal of all this work is so you can become a part of the forum community and so that members trust you more.

If you have a good reputation on the forum, you can share your content without getting flamed or banned.

You now know what it takes to build a solid foundation of backlinks. Now it’s time to get into what I like to call “Power” backlinks.

Power Backlinks

“Power” backlinks will accelerate your results because:

  1. A) they are the most relevant and
  2. B) they are the most authoritative

Content-Driven Approach

As hard as it is to produce quality content, there is no better way to drive high authority backlinks to a website.

There are only three things you have to do with a content-driven approach:

  1. Find the right keywords to target
  2. Create a great piece of content around that keyword
  3. Promote the content (social and backlinks)

When you create quality content, you are creating ASSETS for your business.

No matter what Google does, it can never take away your content.

You need to approach link building with a long-term mindset in 2017 and beyond.

I use the investing analogy pretty often, but it’s true for SEO.

There is a compound effect of producing and promoting content on a consistent basis.

Keep in mind:

The following tactics are effective without content.

But you will get even better results if you build links to strong content assets.

Editorial Backlinks

For a link to be “editorial” you can’t have access to the site and your link must pass editorial review. Google values editorial backlinks more than any other type of link.

Sadly, getting these high authority backlinks can be challenging.

First, you have to build relationships with bloggers in your industry. Second, you likely need to produce quality content to get natural backlinks.

My agency has acquired thousands of high-quality editorial backlinks at this point. We can get these high authority backlinks because we have built relationships and have the connections.

If you don’t have the time to find opportunities, reach out, and write the content, then I recommend using our popular Blogger Outreach Service.

Niche Relevant Guest Posts

Guest posts are effective in two ways. First, if you contribute lots of value, it will build your authority in the space. Second, your guest post can send relevant referral traffic to your website.

Keep in mind that Google frowns upon spammy guest posting. That means you need to focus your efforts on producing a valuable guest post. If you give value, then there is nothing wrong with injecting backlinks to your website.

To get the most out of your guest posts, you need to get contextual links. Contextual links are far more powerful than author byline links.

That’s the cool thing about our blogger outreach service. Since we write the content in a ghost writing format, we place your links within the meat of the article. That way, it looks like a genuine recommendation for your website.

If you want to DIY it up, then use these search queries to find opportunities:

NICHE + “guest post”
NICHE + “contribute to”
NICHE + “write for us”
NICHE + “contributors”
NICHE + “guest writer”
NICHE + “guest post guidelines”

The Merger Technique

The Merger Technique is the process of finding a relevant expired domain and 301 redirecting it to your site.

The concept is simple:

You just acquired a relevant business and want to redirect to your mother company.

The key is for the expired domain to be 100% relevant.

These domains are harder to come by, but it is well worth it when you find one.

Resource Pages

This is an oldie, but a goodie.

Although SEO’s have abused this strategy, there are still some diamonds in the rough.

Once you find the pages, it’s best to see if there are any broken links on the page.

Use the Check My Link plugin.

You can use this as leverage when reaching out.

If there are no broken links, then you will need a strong content asset. Otherwise, you will likely get denied.

The White Alternative to PBNs

You already know about the White Hat Alternative to PBNs, but I explain it here as well.

Instead of buying an expired domain and rebuilding it, you are going to:

  1. find an expired domain
  2. scrape its backlinks
  3. then reach out and let the linkers know they are linking to a dead resource

If the expired domain is relevant, you can ask the linker to replace the dead link with your site.

To improve your success rate, suggest 2-3 quality resources (including yours).

You can also recreate the original content if it’s relevant. This is obvious, but the content must better than the original.

Reach out and let the linker know about the new, revised piece of content.

This strategy requires more time and effort, but you get more link placements.

Grey Hat Backlinks

I stay away from grey hat techniques at this point, but I did live in this world for a long time.

NOTE: if you take the grey hat route, you are increasing the likelihood of getting a penalty.

None of these tactics are safe and I have seen websites get manual penalties using each of them.

If there is so much risk, then why am I showing you?

The reason is because many of these techniques work well.

These techniques are best for people:

  • Who have a high risk tolerance
  • Who want to rank without creating great content
  • Who don’t care if their site gets penalized

If you have a low risk tolerance then you have two options:

  1. A) avoid these backlinks altogether or B) use them on tier two to boost your tier one backlinks.

Leverage Relevant Expired Domains

If you are going to create a PBN, then you might as well do it right.

Don’t just buy any expired domain.

Try to find domains that have relevant Topical Trust Flow Topics to your niche.

This won’t always be possible, but it’s worth the patience.

Getting a link from one relevant domain is more powerful than several irrelevant domains.

Get Free Backlinks

Looking for some easy ways to get free backlinks to your website?

I got you covered.

When you enter your email below, you will receive a list of hundreds of free link opportunities.

Plus, you will also get hundreds of search strings you can use to find new link opportunities.

BONUS: How to EARN Backlinks

Many people doing SEO confuse earning backlinks with building backlinks.

These are two different concepts.

To EARN, means that you DESERVE backlinks.

Have you ever taken a second to think about why your website even deserves backlinks?

I’ve realized that there is only one way to EARN backlinks…

You must become obsessed with pleasing your users.

As of late, I have become consumed with the overwhelming ambition to please my users.

After hours of thought, I’ve realized that effective SEO starts with the user in mind.

You have to be user-centric.

If you please the user, you will please Google.

I used to spend so much of my time trying to figure out how to “trick” or manipulate Google.

I can’t get that time back, but I have learned an important lesson:

To build a real business, you must focus on pleasing the user.

All the time. On a consistent basis.

Understand that:

  • Happy users ARE your marketing.
  • Happy users will EARN you backlinks.
  • Happy users will SHARE your content on social media.
  • Happy users will RETURN to your website.

Your SEO campaign will transform when you put your users first.

Let me show you how to earn backlinks by being user-centric:

11 Ways to Earn Backlinks

1. You Have to Become User-Centric

Let’s face it:

if users don’t like your website, then Google won’t either.

Your focus shouldn’t be on manipulating algorithms.

Your focus should be “what can I do right now to help my prospective customers or readers?”

There isn’t a single website online that can’t improve user experience.

There is always room to help more and give more.

A website that puts 100% effort into pleasing the user, will earn backlinks.

You need to remember how Google interprets a backlink.

It is a vote. Some of these “votes” are better than others.

Think of it this way:

The U.S. just went through an election cycle.

Candidates from the Republicans and Democrats are battling to earn their party’s nomination.

2. Your Content Must Please the User

You know how competitive content marketing is in the entrepreneur, SEO, and marketing industries.

Bloggers are pumping out incredible pieces of content.

Sometimes these content pieces are 10,000 words.

Others times, hundreds of hours are investing doing research and finding data.

This is the standard in these industries.

Yet, this isn’t the standard in every industry.

Should it be?

Maybe.

But it’s not.

There isn’t a single formula for creating content that pleases a user.

That’s why it can be dangerous immersing yourself in the industries above.

It narrows your view.

You start to think that “good” content has to be 1,800 words or more.

The truth is:

“Good” content comes in all shapes and sizes.

There are no laws for creating great content.

I do not believe that every piece of content you create needs to rank on the first page of Google.

Yes, most of your content should focus on a single keyword.

But, don’t let the search engine determine what types of content you want to produce.

There are times when you need to solve a micro problem in your content.

This micro problem may only get 10 searches a month in Google.

3. Your Content Stand Outs

Creating rehashed garbage won’t get you anywhere.

It won’t help you in Google and it won’t help your business grow.

The successful businesses we see in the world are innovative.

They don’t think about how to copy their competitors.

They think about what they can do that’s different and unique.

Take a look at the pages ranking in Google for your target keyword.

Think: “What can I do that’s different than these 10 pages?”

Here are the common characteristics/quality holes you want to look for:

Outdated Content

Creating updated content is the single biggest way to be different.

Time is the enemy of many blogs.

Not all content will become outdated if it’s evergreen.

But, it depends on the industry.

For example, the SEO industry changes at a rapid pace.

Marketing in general is always changing and there are always new mediums emerging.

Content gets outdated.

When you find outdated content, there is opportunity.

The most obvious plan of attack is to create an updated piece of content, but that’s not all…

You must create an updated piece of content that blows the other one out of the water.

Don’t play nice when it comes to helping the user.

It is a competition to see who can help the user more.

You need to win.

Lack of Depth

Sometimes it’s mind boggling why some pages even rank on the first page of Google.

Many times, these pages are ranking because their site has so much authority.

If a page is ranking because of its site authority, it is an opportunity for you.

Pages that rank in this fashion will likely have “thin” content.

You can dominate them by creating content with more depth.

Not just a little more depth. Create massive depth in your content.

Like I said above, don’t let it be a competition.

Your content should be so good that your competitors don’t even attempt to beat it.

Lack of Data or Research

Some content ranking on the first page of Google is great, but lacks data and research.

If you identify pages like this, you can overwhelm them with data and research.

Leverage trusted data sources in your industry.

If there isn’t lots of data available on hand, then create your own case studies.

These case studies will give you unique data that will make your content stand out.

Lack of Personality

Some content on the first page of Google will put you to sleep.

The content has a “corporate”, impersonal tone.

Content becomes “corporate” when the company loses sight of the user.

They become out of touch.

Great content and copywriting is suppose to be simple and personal.

Beating corporate speak is my goal with Gotch SEO.

When I see content that’s ranking well (without personality), I know I will smash them.

I do my best to speak to YOU.

I want YOU to know that I’m helping YOU.

YOU are what matters.

YOU are the reason why I even produce content.

Use “YOU” in your content.

Speak to your reader.

You aren’t writing for an audience.

You are writing for a single individual.

Do me a favor:

I want you to “LOL” next time you see a page ranking with “corporate”, impersonal content.

Why?

Because it’s your job to push them off the first page of Google by being personal and caring more about your users.

Source : GotchSEO

Share this post