How to Get Free High Quality Backlinks
Well close enough to a preface I guess. If you're reading this then you want to get high quality and relevant backlinks for your website, article, hub, video, or blog for free. You made the right choice not to buy those backlinks but I will give you a friendly warning. Getting these backlinks for free will take patience and hard work. If you could get high quality backlinks without any effort then you wouldn't need this article now would you?
What Are Backlinks?
Backlinks are what occur when one website links to another. For example, Website A has a link on its main page. If you click on that link it will take you to Website B. Therefore Website B has a backlink from Website A. If you need a visual:
Website A ---link---> Website B
So what does this backlink mean? It means that when Google crawls Website A and starts sifting through its content to determine its quality, relevance, and where it will show up in the search results it will spot the link to Website B. Once its done ranking Website A the search spider will quickly take a look at Website B to ensure the link is relevant and, assuming it is, make a note to increase Website B's rank the next time it crawls around that corner of the web.
So more backlinks means more traffic from the search engines. More traffic means more money, assuming that is the purpose of your website. So more backlinks means more money! Or maybe just more people looking at what you made.
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Why Can't I Just Buy Backlinks?
Yeah I'm going to stop you right there before you do something you'll regret. These so-called "high quality", "high pr", and "high value" backlinks that you can buy are generally worthless. Why? Because even if the backlinks are from website with a high page rank it means nothing if they aren't relevant to your site. Even then, the value of page rank in today's SEO is questionable at best thanks to people focusing so much on these for blackhat purposes.
I'm sure some of the sites these services will get you links from are very high quality. They can probably make as many of these links to your site as you can afford to pay for! But do you think Google, a multi-billion dollar company, is dumb? Do you think they won't notice that all these high page rank links to your site are from a completely different niche? Or even if they are from the same niche, do you think Google won't be suspicious how a new site got all this juice? Paid backlinks are not the best way to get traffic from the search engines.
Now if you have the money you can obviously pay someone to do your SEO for you. These are known as SEO consultants and that's how they make their living, by getting you traffic. Hiring an SEO consultant or contractor is very different from simply paying for backlinks as these professionals will generally focus on relevant, high quality, and natural looking backlinks above all else.
So What Do I Do?
You build your own backlinks using tools and tactics that Google and other search engines like! Or if you're really busy you can hire a full time SEO staff to build backlinks the right way. It's going to cost you a lot more than these bargain bin backlinks you'll see in other sites but they'll keep your site on the front page for much longer.
Now I'm not saying there aren't ways to ease your pain. There are great programs that can help you in your quest! Take ScrapeBox for example. It has some features that most would consider, and use it as, "black hat" but that isn't its only use. ScrapeBox can "scrape" a big list of websites that you can get backlinks from. It even has sorting features to help you filter out the low page rank sites. Even if page rank isn't as useful a metric as before it can help filter out spam or garbage sites.
Using lists made by ScrapeBox is a good way to get started in this field. You may be tempted to automate this process further and have ScrapeBox also post backlinks while it's scraping sites but I'd recommend against it. A manually placed backlink surrounded by human written content will almost always trump the quality that bots and automation are capable of. At the very least the human race has that going for them!
Oh, and no. I'm not sponsored by ScrapeBox. Though if they want to send me money I'm more than open to that! I would love to be able to sell out.
Misconceptions About Backlinks
Backlinks are probably the most misunderstood part of SEO. At the very least this is the part with the most myths flying around it. I always thought that meta data, tags, and titles were the most painful part of SEO but let's talk about the big three myths.
- The number of backlinks is the most important factor
- Just posting a link is fine
- You can buy backlinks for an easy head start
We've already gone over number three so number one for starters. Having a small number of high quality and relevant backlinks can do your site far more good than a million low quality spam backlinks. Google and other search engines do value quality over quantity in the long run. You may trick them for a short time but they will wake up quickly and dock your site some points.
For number two you should have guessed this already. If you just post your link everywhere and anywhere without a care in the world it will end up hurting your site. Google isn't dumb. If they see strange behavior like this on your site they will assume you're trying to trick them and stop sending you search traffic.
Finally in third place, we've already discussed this. While you can hire an SEO consultant to manage your website and build links naturally and manually you can do most of what they do by yourself for free (well with a time investment). Just buying backlinks without any control of quality, content, or relevance is a death flag to your rankings and possibly to your website!
What is Really Important In Backlinks?
So now that the dirty myths are gone let's talk real backlinks. These are the factors that can change whether a backlink helps or hurts your site.
- The quality of the content around the backlink
- Whether the site you link from is of the same niche
- Where in the site the link is from
So first, if you post a link in a website that is full of spam back to your own site what do you think Google will assume? Yeah, the search spider will assume that your site is also spam. This is why it's better to build links with human eyes rather than a bot. You can tell far better than a bot if a site is full of spam. Make sure the content in the sites you link from is well written. Also make sure that when you post your link you provide equally high quality content.
Second, if you were judging a site and you saw that a bunch of its links were from other sites that weren't even on the same topic what would you think? Right, you'd think these links were fake or even worse that these links were bought. Always try and build backlinks on sites that are relevant to your own. Even if they're in different areas of the same topic like if your site is about pc games and another's is about xbox.
Third is a little hard to explain. Have you ever noticed that some sites have a simple url at the top but as you click on links the url will get more complex? This does have an effect on link building. If your link is on the front page of the website, usually the simplest url, it will be a big help to your own site! On the other hand there is something known as a deep link. As an example, the main page of a blog would be the front page whereas a post of a blog would be a deep link. If you get a backlink from a deep link it won't mean as much. Don't get me wrong, those links are still valuable! Just not as much.
Schedule Your Backlinks
This won't be very long but this topic needs its own section and its own image! Before you start link building make a plan. Don't go all out and build a bunch of links the first day and then take a two day break! Keep your link building consistent.
If you can only build 5 links a day with the time you have then only build 5 links a day. If you see the chance to build more but won't be able to keep it up after that, don't. Only build as many links as you can build on a regular basis.
Now if at some point you find you have more time and can build 10 links a day, build up to it. Build 6 links one day, 7 links the next, and keep it up until you're building 10 links per day. This type of link building will seem more natural to search engines. I mean how would you feel if a site you were judging kept getting random bursts of big link counts all over the place?
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The Three Groups of Backlinks
There are three general groups of backlinks that you have to worry about. You have permanent, temporary, and NoFollow links.
Permanent links are the simple ones and also the ones you want to get the most of. These are links that will stay active permanently. As you can guess, search engines and Google love these links. On the other hand they won't be happy if they crawl your site and see that all of your backlinks have changed or are no longer there. If a link stays from one site to your site for a few months, Google and other search engines will regard it more highly.
Temporary links are a bit harder to understand. Well, not so hard to know what they are but more to know how to use them. These links vanish after a while and no longer give your site and link juice. A lot of link exchanges use this tactic to build backlinks fast and then get rid of them. Search engines may not dock you points for this type of link but it won't rank them very well. Like I said, Google prefers permanent links.
Finally, NoFollow links. These are the most hated links in SEO circles because they don't pass any link juice. These links are from sites that have special codes in them that tells Google to not check out any links on the site. So you should ignore them, right? Wrong! Google may not check these links but Google isn't the only search engine in the world. It wouldn't do for a new player in the SEO game to ignore all those other engines now would it? Besides, even if Google doesn't give you any points for NoFollow links it will still keep them in your list. It can make your link building list look more natural and organic which means more ranking points!
How Do You Get Permanent Backlinks Then?
Permanent backlinks aren't all that hard to get. In fact it's fairly simple to get this type of link. Just make sure you check the quality of the places you share your link and add quality when you post your link.
- Q&A Sites
- Web 2.0
For blogs, I'm sure you've noticed that a lot of blogs have this strange little format for posting comments. It has a name, e-mail, and url field. This makes life extremely simple when you're using blog comments to get backlinks!
Simply post a thought provoking comment about the blog topic and include your website in the url or website field for a free high quality link! Just remember to change the name field a bit. Don't just post "Your name" in the name field though. Post something like "Your Name at Your Brand Name" in the name field. It's called Anchor Text and it can help Google decide whether your backlink is relevant or not.
For forums it's a little more difficult. Some forums will give you the ability to include a website in your forum profile. But you can't just make an account, include a website, and leave it forever! As far as Google is concerned that profile is a new page of the forum just recently created. You need to make some forum posts!
By making posts in the forum, of a similar quality to what I said about blog comments, you can generate an internal backlink from the forum itself to your profile. This is getting a little advanced though for an article of this level, just know that posting in the forums can help your link.
Articles are a bit difficult right now as a lot of article sites have started to use NoFollow. But if you can find an article site that will accept your high quality articles with a backlink to your own website then I shouldn't have to explain what you do or how this works! Just make sure you don't submit the same article to a bunch of sites or Google may penalize you for duplicate content.
Also, be wary when it comes to certain article directories. "Made for SEO" article directories are never a good way to go. As an analogy think about all of those products that are advertised as "collectible". If a coin or toy is designed, produced, and then sold to be collectible then collectors will generally laugh at you if you try and sell it to them. Same with article directories! If a directory's main pitch is that it's good for SEO, you should probably find another place to post your link.
When it comes to Q&A sites the first thing that pops into your head is probably Yahoo Answers, right? Well in this case wrong. That site has gone NoFollow. But it isn't the only Q&A site out there. When you consider how many of them I post in you may have come from one yourself. In which case you know exactly how this works. Use your article, website, or article on your website to answer questions in a Q&A site. These can give you a backlink and also some targeted traffic!
This works best if you do reviews on your website or article. If your review is positive, send the company which produces the item a testimonial. Remember to include a link to your review as carefully as possible, try not to come off as a spam. Companies love testimonials. It builds authority for their product and noticeably boosts sales. If you wrote a positive review companies love you as well. You're helping to build up hype and credibility for the product you review and the company as a whole.
The reason this is so lucrative is because companies also tend to have SEO teams working on their websites, especially the bigger ones. So if you get a backlink to your review as thanks for your testimonial you indirectly benefit from the SEO team that are constantly building links, social signals, and content aimed at the company's website and pages.
Have you perhaps seen a commercial for an online website development suite called Weebly? What about Wix or Webs.com? Did you know that you can get free accounts with all these services, create a simple but optimized web page, place an article relevant to your site on it, and include a backlink to your website? Well you can and that's Web 2.0 in a nutshell!
One of the major pitfalls of web 2.0 properties is that people will build these links and then leave them alone, adding nothing. As you can probably guess, this is a terrible idea. Once you've built a web 2.0 that links back to your main site remember to use the tactics I've talked about so far in this article to build links from other sites to the web 2.0.
What About Temporary Backlinks?
Before I begin I'd like to talk about how you can effectively use temporary backlinks. If you build up your website around only this type of link you will have to keep building more and more. Since these backlinks vanish over time you will have to replace the ones that vanish as well as create new ones. If you aren't up to this challenge then I suggest focusing on permanent backlinks.
But if you're up to the challenge the number one way to generate temporary backlinks (outside of link exchanges at least) is with forum posts. Most forums, in an attempt to keep their site from crashing due to too much saved data, will periodically clean out old archived posts. This means that old backlinks you post will scatter to the four winds as time passes. This isn't always a bad thing though. Sometimes those old posts get filled up with spam which can hurt your site instead of help it. This is the main draw of creating temporary backlinks, it gives you more control over the quality of the content around your link.
Have you ever seen a link embedded into text within an article, answer, or blog post? That is what's known as Anchor Text. This is also known as a Contextual Link and will generally be favored by Google for the fact that it not only provides a backlink to your site but also provides a brief summary of what the site is about and how it's related. You might be thinking that this is where you should start carefully crafting anchor text to every single one of your backlinks, but do you really think Google is that stupid?
While you should mainly use anchor text to build backlinks to your site remember to keep a percentage of all backlinks using raw html (with either http:// or www at the head). Variance in how the backlink is typed and shared can lead Google to consider it to be from a different source. The more natural it all looks the better for you!
Gray Hat SEO
As you wander around the link building world you'll run into Black Hat SEO. These are tactics that trick search engines into thinking your website is better than it is. They can help in the short run but if you get caught it will end in your site being penalized. There is a margin though called Gray Hat SEO. Tricks that are just barely good enough to slip through.
This is actually a very easy concept to understand. You link to website A, website A links to you, and you both have a single recipricol backlinks. Unlike linking chains or circles which consist of a network of "one way" links (designed to confuse the search engine), recipricol links are actually allowed by Google's search crawler. However, don't go around thinking that you can just link to thousands of websites and get thousands of relevant backlinks. Remember these important notes:
- Links from a website you are NOT linking back to are valued much more than recipricol links
- Linking back to websites can clutter your page with unneeded html, and if the link stops working your page may be indexed with a broken link (bad)
- Recipricol Link Exchanges are fine as long as they are permanent and neither site closes down or loses page rank (if one site loses PR, you're in trouble or they are).
If you're smart you'll "cloak" the recipricol link by coloring it. For example you'll notice the background of Hubpages is white, correct? If I were to color my text white you readers would not be able to see it unless you highlighted it, but the search engine would easily be able to see it. Easy way to keep all traffic in your website on your website even if recipricol links are present.
This can backfire on you though as the webmasters you received a recipricol link from might manually verify backlinks rather than automating the process via bots. In a way this is a good thing as it ensures that the link has value if the webmaster is going to all that trouble. In another way it means that cloaking the link is a big problem as they might get a little upset at you for it.
Social Bookmarking and Networking Circles
This is a fun little method where you get a group of people with similar websites together and you all like, favorite, save, retweet, digg, share, etc. each other's websites.
Sounds simple, right? It isn't. This method works "okay" for your average person, but it only starts giving you real benefits if one or more of the members in the group have a serious presence in one of the social network or bookmark sites you're using. So if one of your group members have thousands of twitter followers, this will probably help you quite a bit. If everyone has 10 followers in each network or bookmark site...well you'll get "something" out of it, but more than likely not much.
This is one of those concepts that "sounds simpler than it is and so is far less common" but if you manage to get some popular people to join your circle it could work out for you. And the best part is that this is considered driving traffic to your site by Google, not building a link chain. It's not frowned upon in the least.
So there have been constant fads regarding proper backlinking including the Link Wheel, the Link Square, and the Link Tetrahedron... actually I made up the last two. Anyway the current thing is the Link Pyramid.
The way link pyramids work is you build backlinks to your money website or main website, then you build backlinks to those backlinks, and then backlinks to those backlinks. It all goes in three "tiers" so let's draw it out for you.
- Main Website or Article: No outbound links (that aren't necessary)
- Tier 1 Backlinks: Link to main website or article
- Tier 2 Backlinks: Link to Tier 1 backlinks
- Tier 3 Backlinks: Link to Tier 2 backlinks
Tier 1 backlinks are your most valuable, Tier 2 backlinks feed your Tier 1 backlinks, Tier 3 backlinks finish off the set. Your main website should not link to ANY of these. So if you write a blog comment that links to your main website, it may pay off for you to write a few more blog comments that links to the original comment!
However, if you choose your tier 1 backlinks wisely the link pyramid isn't something you need to worry about. Why? Because if you chose wisely then people will be sharing, linking to, and adding free content to these tier 1 backlinks all on their own. In other words people will do your work for you free of charge or effort!
Remember to stick with it, while backlinking can seem difficult once you get into a rhythm it becomes less tedious and can even start feeling fun! Remember to keep your thoughts positive and your mind centered around what you've learned from this hub and your page will be ranked #1 in no time! Unless you're competing with me, then I win... I hope...
© 2012 Michael Ward
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