Backlinks (hyperlinks found on other websites and linking to your website) are one of the most important aspects of SEO. Their role is to build your website’s authority around the subject of your products or services.
The more authority your website has in the eyes of the search engine, the more probable it is to rank for your target keywords since your site is not just any site from the thousands out there but is a site that other sites link to and can be considered more valuable and reliable.
No one will argue whether backlinks are necessary for SEO. The challenge, however, is that backlinks are the one aspect of SEO that is generally the most expensive in terms of time and money.
This is because building backlinks requires other websites and people, whereas everything else is done on your website, requiring nobody else’s permission.
For this reason, backlinks are often one of the biggest reasons for failure in SEO projects, even for experienced SEOs, if this part of the project is not well-planned since it is easy to either run out of money before reaching the top or become so time-consuming that the efforts start out-weighing the results.
There are two essential things to do when it comes to overcoming this challenge:
This means being able to properly gauge the approximate levels of authority that will be needed to reach a significant level of success in your SEO campaigns. Using the right tools and with enough expertise, an SEO professional can carry out market research and determine an approximate number of backlinks that will be needed to reach the top 3 positions.
With a good understanding of the costs involved in building those links, an estimation of costs can be derived. Comparing this estimated cost to the estimated value of the results can provide excellent insights into the profitability of the campaign overall.
It is essential to remember that getting enough backlinks will not guarantee the results since there are other factors, such as the content and technical aspects. What this does is bring your site to the same level as the top performers in terms of authority.
Here is a made-up example of how this would look.
This is a big one and one of the main reasons to always hire someone who knows this area. There are many ways to build links, various types of backlinks and multiple levels of quality. The goal is to get the best value out of your money spent.
By leveraging effective ways of link-building, you can get a high value for a relatively low cost, thus ensuring the success of your investment.
There are several different types of backlinks, each with unique characteristics, costs and benefits for SEO. Here is a simple overview of the most widely used.
These are links gained organically, without any direct effort to acquire them. They are often the result of creating high-quality, valuable content that other websites want to link to. They are also the ones Google suggests obtaining and the textbook example of what a backlink should be.
Naturally obtained backlinks are great when you can get them, but actively chasing them is a time-extensive task with no guarantee of results. If you are in a domain where you can quickly write truly interesting and new content that is not easy to find online and are willing to dedicate time to it, it can be easier to have some success.
Overall, this type of link-building is out of your control for the most part and should be simply left to happen as a side result or by-product of your other content creation efforts. If you combine this with some efforts from the following link-building approach, outreach, you can have much faster success, more measurably and predictably.
2. Manual Outreach Backlinks
This is where you manually reach out to other website owners and negotiate a link placement on their site, usually in return for content or monetary price. This approach could be practical if done well, providing a relatively cheap and efficient link-building method.
This type of backlink can be used by anyone and is an excellent option if you wish to save money and prefer dedicating time and effort instead. If you have the time or can dedicate the resources to reach out to other site owners with an attractive offer, you can get much value.
Prospect potential websites that are in your niche and market, put together a proposal that your target website owners will find interesting (such as content for their site, monetary payment or some form of reciprocation using your site or services – do not link back in return, though) and contact them via email or social.
This topic can be opened up in a lot more detail, with a variety of approaches and tactics that can be applied, but this would need a separate article.
These are backlinks placed within content written specifically for the goal of placing your backlink. Numerous websites in every niche and market are readily willing, sometimes even explicitly designed, to sell this type of content as a service.
The process is simple; you create a blog article or have one written for you around a topic that you want (relevant to what you are trying to rank for), you insert a backlink to your web page, you send this article to the webmaster of the website that will feature this article, and they add it to their website; for which you will make a payment.
If you need many backlinks and it will be challenging to get such volumes naturally or through manual outreach, you might need to consider purchasing them directly. You will need to dedicate some money to this effort, but the good thing is that you will always be able to find opportunities.
SEO companies can help you locate these types of websites and can also get in touch on your behalf or even take care of the whole operation. This is also important since you need to know the specific details of how to build backlinks safely and effectively.
Like guest posts, link insertions (or niche edits as they are sometimes called) are backlinks placed inside content articles on other websites. The difference is that, in this case, the content is already on the website and is not written for you on the fly. This means that overall, the price will be lower and the service faster, but the quality will be a little lower.
In most cases, you will not be in direct contact with the site owners. Most of this work is generally done by intermediaries that serve as conduits between the end customer and these website networks, simply filling orders on demand.
These are a great option if you want to volumes cheaply and fast. They are also great if you want to gain traction quickly without dedicating too much budget. In any situation, they can be used to build some volume in your backlink profile, which can then be complimented and varied further using more high-quality backlinks.
For high-competition niches where backlinks are needed in large numbers, these types of backlinks are many times a must.
These are the most sophisticated and high-maintenance backlinks but also the most long-term, controllable and, in many cases, the highest quality. Care must be taken since these are not cheap and must be handled by professionals to be used safely.
These are personal networks of websites (hence the name Personal Blog Networks or PBNs) which have been designed to be seen by search engines like separate websites owned by different owners. These websites would then host big numbers of backlinks to other websites that want to rank commercially on search engines (money sites).
These networks must be created and maintained with content and backlinks themselves (for authority) and remain safe regarding footprints (patterns allowing search engines to release that they are backlinks farms). Dedicated SEO companies usually do this work on the client’s behalf.
These types of backlinks are used in high-competition niches, where competing websites need an edge over each other and when they know that SEO needs to be properly invested in for the long term.
PBNs are also used to create high-quality backlinks with features that are generally difficult to get, even when you pay for them, such as backlinks on a home page. Furthermore, PBNs can be designed to address a very specific topic of keywords (since they are built on purpose), which creates a very powerful relevance signal for your website, giving it an unnaturally strong push in the right direction.
In lower-difficulty campaigns, these links would not warrant the investment and would be simply too expensive to justify. On the other hand, if used at the right time and in the right way, they can be an absolute game-changer.
These are links you create yourself, such as through directory submissions, forum and blog comments, and social media profiles. While these links can be easy to acquire, they may carry less weight with search engines than other links.
No-Follow links include a "no-follow" attribute, which tells search engines not to follow the link or pass any link juice to the linked website. These links do not directly improve the linked website's link popularity or page rank but still signal to search engines that your site is essential and relevant.
Do-Follow links are links that do not include a "no-follow" attribute and allow search engines to follow the link and pass link juice to the linked website, improving the linked website's link popularity and page rank.
Unless there is a specific indication otherwise, based on a professional backlink audit, you should always use Do-Follow links when creating backlinks to your site.
It's important to note that not all backlinks are created equal. Backlinks from authoritative, high-domain-authority websites carry more weight than those from low-authority websites. The relevance of the linking website also plays a role in the link’s value. A link from a website relevant to your niche or industry will be more valuable than a link from a website that is not.
In practice, you can use any of the mentioned links or even a combination. The important thing is that you find the most cost and time-effective style to get the best returns based on your type of website, niche, and market.
It is also crucial that you focus on building the right backlinks, in the right manner, to the right pages, and focusing on the right keywords. Ideally, an SEO professional runs an audit for you and provides you with an analysis and plan of precisely what you need to get the results that can change your business.
This will save you time and money in the longer term and ensure that you are getting the best results in the quickest time, as well as staying safe with search engines by respecting the boundaries of this exercise.