Google hearts backlinks.
They’re as important to Google as having stupidly cool, hipster offices.
While figuring out the key ranking factors for SEO has been and will continue to be an epic quest, the significance of links has been proven by so many studies.
For instance, one study showed that URLs in the first position on Google have 2.2x as many backlinks as those in the second position.
Thus, links are unquestionably one of the most important ranking factors.
It’s a pain, sure… But securing backlinks will catapult you ahead of your competitors in the SERPs.
So, let’s take a look at how you can build quality backlinks nowadays.
What Makes a Quality Backlink?
There’s no conning Google, my friend.
Before you even think about building links, you need to know what kind of links Google is looking for.
Here are a some key factors you must keep in mind if you want to build high quality backlinks:
- Domain Authority
When applying for a job, who’s a better reference: your Aunt Joan or your former employer?
The bottom line is that your former employer’s authority reflects more positively on you. The same goes for backlinks. The higher the domain authority, the greater the value of a backlink.
Let’s say you have an e-commerce store that sells bicycle parts. A link from a blog about styling wigs is going to have significantly less value in Google’s eyes, than one from a cycling blog.
- Anchor Text
When SEOs found out that anchor text affects your ranking, they started to keyword stuff. And that’s spammier than a spam sandwich.
But it doesn’t mean you have to avoid keywords in anchor text altogether. Brian Dean at Backlinko says,
“In short, I don’t recommend building links with keyword-rich anchor text. But if you do get a link with your keyword in the anchor text, it’s time to celebrate.”
- Contextual Links
- Dofollow vs. Nofollow Links
Google doesn’t count nofollow links. So, if it’s link juice you’re after, you want dofollow links.
Nevertheless, nofollow links are still worthwhile. They prevent your link building campaigns from looking too spammy and they provide solid referral traffic.
You can track and compare your dofollow and nofollow links using Monitor Backlinks. From the overview on your dashboard, you can see the links in purple are dofollow, while those in grey are nofollow:
A healthy balance of dofollow and nofollow links is the goal here.
How to Get Quality Backlinks: The 2 Most Powerful Methods
Now you know what kind of links Google is looking for, let’s look at how to build them.
1. Content Marketing
Content should be central to any link building campaign.
If you want backlinks, you need stuff that’s worth linking to. In other words, you need a portfolio of linkable assets.
In one case study, a pet blogger was able to boost his organic traffic by 975% by creating an infographic and prospecting for links.
Backlinks aren’t always going to appear as if by magic. Outreach is what makes people aware of your epic content and what gets you quality links.
Take the following steps and you’ll be dripping in link juice before you know it:
Step 1: Compile a List of Relevant Influencers/Bloggers
You’ll want a number of high authority, relevant sites on your list. Then you can make content geared towards them and reach out to them later.
Start by searching on Google for a list of top blogs in your industry. Or use search strings such as “keyword + blog” and “keyword + articles.”
Add MozBar to Chrome to check domain authority along the way:
As you can see here, the first result has a strong domain authority of 52.
Step 2: Create Valuable Content That Will Appeal to Your List
Figure out trending or key topics that your list of influencers are interested in. AllTop is also a useful site to see what’s trending in your industry.
Moreover, you need to think about the type of content that would make a good linkable asset on that topic. For instance, it could be a case study, original research, a long-form guide or a visual. For more ideas, take a look at this guide on the types of content that attract links.
Step 3: Perform Outreach
Reach out to the influencers you found in step 1.
Personalized emails work best—emails with a personalized message have an open rate of 18.8% and CTR of 2.1%, while those with no personalization have an open rate of 13.1% and CTR of 1.9%.
Use a template that you can tweak for each blogger or influencer, like this:
I was looking for some information on [Topic] and came across your excellent post, [Link].
I really liked it, especially the part about [XYZ].
I created something similar recently on [Topic]. Would you like to take a look?
If not, no worries. Keep up the great work.
Combining epic content with a personalized outreach campaign is a killer tactic. It’ll increase your chances of earning backlinks tenfold.
2. Competitor Link Analysis
Competitor link analysis will help you crush your competitors.
It means analyzing your competitors’ link profiles to find new backlink opportunities. In other words, you go all “Ocean’s 8” on them and heist their links.
Neil Patel believes that monitoring your competition “can be the single greatest strategy you ever use.”
Here’s how you can use this powerful strategy:
Step 1: Identify Your Competition
You may already know who your competitors are. If not, collect the top 10 sites that rank organically for your keyword on Google.
Step 2: Run Your Competitors Through a Backlink Checker
Head to the “Competitors” section of Monitor Backlinks. Click “Add New Competitor” and copy and paste the URLs you’ve collected.
Click “View Links” underneath the competitor you wish to analyze and you’ll be taken to a page which looks like this:
Decide on the best link opportunities by looking at the quality metrics of each site, which are displayed in the columns to the left of the URL. Trust Flow and Citation Flow give you an indication of how trustworthy and influential the linking site is—the higher these scores are, the better the backlink.
Step 3: Emulate Your Competitor
Let’s take the top link from the example above as it has a strong Citation Flow of 34.
In the “URL From” column, you can see the page where the link appears. In the “URL To” section, you can see the page on your competitor’s site that the link is directed to.
In this instance we have a “Top Industry Blogs” post, which features the competitor. You could then reach out to the site and offer up your blog as an addition to this list.
Go through each link opportunity in this manner and see how your competitor got a link on each page. For instance, it may be an industry directory, guest post or forum post etc. Then, try to replicate those backlinks.
As you can see, this is an extremely powerful method of acquiring quality links and getting the edge over a bunch of your competitors.
Get your 30-day free trial of Monitor Backlinks to begin your competitor analysis.
Backlinks are one of the most important ranking factors, if not the most important. But don’t forget that they need to be quality backlinks in order to make an impact.
Once you start using these two powerful link building methods, you’ll find that it’s not so difficult to earn quality backlinks after all.
Now it’s your turn! Start by finding your strongest competition, so that you can get to stealing their best links.