How to generate backlinks and improve your ranking – 13 tips
In the early days of the internet, backlinks, along with keywords, were a foolproof strategy to rank high on Google. Decades later, many other factors have come into play. However, backlinks remain SEO-relevant. What are backlinks? How important are they for Google ranking today? And how can backlinks be generated? We’ve compiled the best methods.
Backlinks (inbound links) are links from an external website to your own website. They are considered a positive vote for a website and are rated by Google as relevant signals for ranking. Therefore, generating backlinks is seen as one of the most important methods in search engine optimization outside of your own website (Off-page SEO).
Example: You are a watchmaker and have published an article on your company website about repairing a specific watch movement. A blogger, writing a text about watch repair, uses your article and places a link to your website in his blog – you have received a backlink.
Are Backlinks Still Important for Google Ranking?
When Google launched in 1999, backlinks were the most important factor it relied on. The logic behind it was simple:
The more links pointing to a website, the more important it is.
However, webmasters quickly exploited this method. SEO was very simple: generate a few suitable keywords and backlinks. Search engine optimizers created and bought backlinks for their sites to fool Google’s algorithms. Google responded, notably in 2012 with the Penguin Update. Suspicious backlink structures were assessed as spam. The corresponding pages disappeared from the index.
Does this mean backlinks are no longer important post-Penguin? Wrong. Backlinks are still an important SEO factor. It’s worthwhile to gain backlinks for your website. However, webmasters must follow certain rules. The significance of backlinks has declined, but they continue to be one of many criteria for Google to assess the relevance and reliability of content.
Example: Wikipedia. The online encyclopedia ranks at the top of most Google searches, not least because of its many backlinks.
Besides, backlinks not only boost ranking. They also bring more traffic directly. If your page is mentioned on another, there’s a high chance that its visitors will click on this link and land on your webpage.
How does Backlink Building Work?
How does one get backlinks? There are many methods. Some are laborious, others are simple and work very quickly.
It’s clear that Google continues to try to identify and respond to Black-Hat SEO methods. Hence, the search engine especially targets quick-acting backlink tricks.
Therefore, focus on legitimate methods for backlink building that have long-term effects.
13 Tips for Building Backlinks
In the following, we provide a total of 13 tips for building backlinks. These include six Don’ts (warnings against dangerous methods) and seven Dos (recommendations for effective methods).
Don’t do this: 6 Dangerous Methods for Building Backlinks
Note: The methods listed under the Don’ts can lead to penalties by Google. We mention them so you are aware of them and don’t fall for misinformation from dubious SEO gurus.
1. Link Building Tools
Automatic link building tools create texts with backlinks. These tools distribute these texts, for example, in the comment fields of blogs. Although most comments must be approved by the blog owner, some bloggers automatically approve every comment. And just like that, your backlink is on a foreign website.
However, such messages are easily recognized by Google as spam. Especially two features stand out:
The content of the automatically created text is irrelevant to the blog’s topic.
Or the text exhibits typical AI characteristics. ChatGPT texts are easy to identify.
This is an extremely dangerous method of generating backlinks. If Google recognizes several such backlinks, it can impact the entire domain.
2. Buying Expired Domains
Another way to generate backlinks is to buy successful domains that are no longer in operation. As the new owner of such a domain, you can set up the page anew and refer to your website with its contents.
However, this method is also risky. Initially, it’s quite laborious. For example, the new site requires:
a new legal notice,
a new web host,
a new WordPress theme, etc.
Moreover, Google places “reheated” sites with a once successful domain in a kind of sandbox. Only when the site has rebuilt its reputation will its links influence the ranking. This process is to prevent old domains from being bought just to generate backlinks.
With this method, your site is unlikely to be penalized. But you spend a lot of money on an old domain without benefiting from the backlinks. The only promising but extremely laborious method is to rebuild the old domain with a lot of work and time, and then set backlinks.
A Linkwheel is a collection of websites built only to refer to a single page. You create many blogs, put blog articles in them, and link these to your actual website.
You must ensure that there is no other connection from these sites to your site. Otherwise, Google will suspect spam.
The probability of a Linkwheel being discovered is high.
Additionally, it’s extremely laborious to fill and operate these other sites with high-quality content.
4. Buying or Renting Backlinks
Google can’t know whether you bought or rented a backlink from another site. Therefore, this method usually brings the desired success quickly.
However, you can’t be sure what the site where you bought the link is doing. If it gets caught for some reason (for example, if many other sites buy links there), Google may penalize it. And this reflects on your web presence.
In addition, many websites only offer the option to rent a backlink.
If you no longer pay the rent, the link to your site will also be removed.
5. Link Pyramids
A Link Pyramid (Tiered Link Building) is an SEO technique that uses backlink structures of websites with different quality levels.
At the lowest level are typical spam sites where anyone can place a backlink.
These backlinks point to sites that are somewhat more legitimate.
From these, it goes on to more legitimate sites and finally to the actual target site.
This approach is very complicated – but Google’s algorithms can very accurately detect whether such a system is in use. Therefore, avoid link pyramids.
6. Link Exchange
Link exchange is a relatively simple system. The operator of a website contacts another webmaster and offers a backlink in exchange for receiving a link in return. This method can work if the linked pages have a content relationship. Otherwise, Google will quickly recognize and react accordingly.
Pirmin from Customer Insiders, for example, asked us for a link exchange – which we are happy to comply with here. Customer Insiders is an emerging agency for UX Research. Pirmin has used clickworker for one of his clients.
Do this: 7 Recommended Methods for Building Backlinks
You can trust the following methods for generating backlinks. They not only lead to more external links but generally also enhance the content of your site.
1. High-Quality Content
High-quality content naturally leads to backlinks. A truism. But what is high-quality content? Certainly more than just content for the sake of content. Just regularly publish something is not a viable strategy.
Only content that is thoroughly researched and clearly structured offers real added value to users. This will also be noticed by other authors. They will mention your site as a source of information. And you can thereby gain a real, organic backlink. Good for SEO.
Use your personal knowledge, your special experiences, and the knowledge from your company for high-quality content. Genuine expertise is in demand on the internet.
If you have problems making your content easy to read, you can use specialized content providers like clickworker. Learn more about our services.
Another method is to refer to an article that is particularly well placed on Google for a certain keyword.
Ask yourself what is missing in this article.
Write your own text on the topic and fill in the gaps you noticed in the other article.
Caution: Never just copy and supplement the article! Google doesn’t like that at all.
2. Infographics, Photos, and Videos
Infographics, photos, and videos also produce high-quality content that is often linked to.
Especially infographics that explain a complex issue simply are often used by other websites. Explicitly allow the use of your graphics on the condition that your site is credited as the source. You have generated a backlink. The same applies to photos and videos.
Tip: With infogram or piktochart, even novices can quickly and easily create appealing infographics to generate backlinks.
3. Broken Links
Broken Links are dead links. They lead to pages that no longer exist. Usually, the target of the link is then an Error-404 page. This is not only unpleasant for the user but is also negatively evaluated by Google.
As a webmaster, you can make use of broken links from other sites:
Look for broken links on websites that are thematically related to your website.
If you find a dead link, check your homepage to see if a post fits this broken link.
Offer this post as a link or source.
An example: You find a website with the text: With this icing recipe, you can easily make a pink topping. The linked term icing recipe is no longer active. Now, as a confectioner, you run a site where you present just such a recipe. Write to the webmaster and let them know that the current link is dead, but you are happy to offer your recipe for linking.
Since authors and webmasters usually have little time to search for new sources, they often gladly accept such offers.
Tip: The Chrome addon Check My Links finds dead links on any webpage with one click.
Interviews with experts or other persons of interest not only enhance your website in terms of content but also generate backlinks. The person you have interviewed will most likely refer to the interview on your website on their own homepage. Interviews create high-quality content and backlinks at the same time.
5. Guest Articles
A guest article is also a safe method for high-quality content and a good strategy for creating SEO-effective backlinks.
Offer (as an expert in your field) to write an article on a relevant topic for a thematically related website.
Of course, you can refer to your site in it. Once the article is published by the other website, a backlink is guaranteed. But here too, moderation is key and should not be overdone. The guest article should provide real added value and not be blatant self-promotion.
6. Regional Web and Business Directories
This tip applies only to companies that are active regionally. Here it is worthwhile to use appropriate web and business directories and to publish your website’s URL there.
However, you should avoid paid directories. Why? With Google Business Profiles you can list your business for free. And your business is searched on Google. So why spend money on something the biggest provider offers for free?
7. Advertising and Social Media
Advertising on Google, Facebook, or other networks is never wrong. It draws attention to your site and increases the chance that it will be seen and mentioned by others.
Also, be active on social media such as Instagram, Xing, LinkedIn, or Twitter to promote your website. If your website appears in a post or comment, this is also a valuable backlink.
There are Many Ways to a Backlink
Backlinks still inform Google whether your site is relevant to a particular topic. However, avoid backlink building with purchased links, link-building tools, and other obscure methods. If applied incorrectly (and the risk is high), they always lead to a crash in Google ranking.
Guest articles, interviews, infographics, and high-quality content, on the other hand, are ways to generate genuine and permanently useful backlinks. Here you usually have to invest more time, but in the long run, it’s worth it.
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