If you want your website to rank well in searches, you need backlinks. If you don’t know what a backlink is, it’s pretty simple. Any time another website links to a page on your site, that’s backlink.
Google treats backlinks like a popularity contest. The more people link to a page, the more important it is in Google’s eyes and the higher it will show up in search engines.
Pages with lots of backlinks are like the kids on the football team in high school, while pages without them are the awkward kids who stood at the edge during school dances. You don’t want your website to be awkward.
Of course, this raises the question: how do you get backlinks to your site?
If you do a Google search, you’ll come across all sorts of tips and tricks for building backlinks. Honestly, it can be a bit overwhelming at times. It’s hard to know what’s a legit method and which methods can get you in trouble with Google?
Did we mention that? Some methods of getting backlinks are seriously frowned upon by Google. If Google catches you using these methods, they will leap off the corner post and body slam you (professional wrestling reference – sorry). Seriously, they may de-list your site, meaning it won’t show up at all in their searches. No searches equals no traffic…which can kill your business.
If you want to quickly get a lot of backlinks to your site, you need to know both how to do it and what is acceptable in Google’s eyes. If you don’t know how to do it, you may end up wasting time that could be spent watching Nicholas Cage movies on Netflix. If you do it in a shady way, you’ll feel the wrath of Google.
So let us break it down for you. Here are the simplest, most effective ways you can build backlinks, as well as the pros and cons of both.
We’re going to start off with the worst, shadiest methods – the ones that will probably cause Google to kick down your digital door.
If you want a lot of backlinks fast, you can buy them from people. There are several ways people sell backlinks. Some operate a Private Blog Network, which is essentially a bunch of websites owned by the same person. If you purchase links from them, they’ll link back to you on all the websites they own.
For example, if you go on Fiverr and search “backlinks”, you’ll get results like this:
All these sellers are offering you a ton of backlinks for a low price, which should always be a red flag.
You can typically get a lot of backlinks in a short time using this method, but you’re playing with fire.
Google hasn’t become a multi-billion dollar company by being stupid. They know how the game is played and are constantly updating their algorithm to look for shady backlinks. If they catch you purchasing these types of links…nice knowing you, enjoy living in a van down by the river.
Anand Subramanian talks about his experience purchasing backlinks:
I bought the backlinks for a site that received an average of about 1250 page views a day. Also, most posts appeared within the first page of Google SERP for the keywords they were written for…[I]n about a week from the date of purchase, traffic dropped 70%.
If you’re website is an integral part of your business, a 70% drop will kill you.
Plus, there’s no guarantee that the backlinks you buy will move you any higher in the Google rankings. Many backlinks come from low quality sites, which don’t do much in terms of rankings. Other times, backlink sellers will actually remove the links after some time, which then actually harms your ranking.
Bottom line: don’t buy backlinks. It’s stupid. And dangerous.
Create Your Own Private Blog Network
You can also create your own Private Blog Network, which is a relatively easy way to send backlinks to your own site.
This simply involves setting up a series of websites and then creating links on those sites that point to the content you want to rank.
It sounds like a simple and cheap way to get a ton of backlinks to your site and boost your rankings. And some people still swear by it, saying that as long as they diversify the backlinks and types of sites, they won’t be content.
But, like purchasing backlinks, you’re playing a loser’s game. The stakes are simply too high. If you get caught, you’ll be penalized, and at that point it’s game over.
Plus, you have to constantly work to outwit Google. They’re always getting smarter, which means you have to figure out new ways to beat them at their own game. If you want to play that game, be my guest, but don’t come whining to me when your site no longer shows up on Google.
Commenting, Posting In Forums, Etc.
Another common tactic for getting backlink is to make comments on blog posts and in forums which include a link back to your site.
This can make a small difference in your search rankings but doesn’t typically give much reward for all the time it requires. Two reasons why.
First, 99% of these types of links are nofollow, which is a type of link that’s not as valuable to Google. They can help some, but they won’t move the needle as much as a large amount of dofollow links. Basically, a nofollow link is like joining the Dungeons and Dragons club in high school: it doesn’t do a lot for your popularity.
Second, if Google sees that you have a disproportionate number of nofollow backlinks, they’re going to know what you’re up to and may not give you any boost in the rankings.
In the long run, spending hours hopping onto various blogs and forums won’t give you the kind organic search traffic you really want.
A third popular option is guest posting. Basically, you offer to write a blog post for another site and include a link back to your own within the post. For example, if you sell vegan products, you could write a blog post for the site “Eat Clean or Die Trying” and include a link back to your organic enema kits.
This can work and can generate solid backlinks, but it suffers from one serious drawback: it’s hugely time consuming.
First, you have to generate the content. This means either you write it or you hire someone to write it. If you suck at writing, it will take you forever and read like some sort of Russian propaganda. If you hire someone, you’ll have to go back and forth with them over edits. Plus, it’s really hard to hire good writers. You have to sort through a lot of bad ones in order to find the good ones.
Second, you have to find a site that wants a guest post. This usually takes a lot of emailing and convincing editors that you have something to offer.
All this can take hours for only a single backlink. Trying to do this on a large scale becomes requires a huge amount of time.
Additionally, Google has said that they’re going to start coming down on guest blogging as a means of improving rankings. On his personal blog, Google’s Matt Cutts said:
So stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done; it’s just gotten too spammy. In general I wouldn’t recommend accepting a guest blog post unless you are willing to vouch for someone personally or know them well. Likewise, I wouldn’t recommend relying on guest posting, guest blogging sites, or guest blogging SEO as a linkbuilding strategy.
Cutts did clear this up, saying that he was referring primarily to low quality, spammy guest posts that are solely designed for a backlink. But his point is clear: trying to build backlinks through guest posting simply isn’t a viable strategy long term.
Create Great Content Plus Outreach
The most effective method for getting a high number of backlinks is to create outstanding content and then reach out to other websites for links. On the surface, this can seem like self-promotion, but think through this for a moment.
Websites are always looking for great content to link to. Unfortunately, there’s an abundance of absolutely terrible, trashy, clickbait content out there. You know what I’m talking about. Articles like, “We Can Guess Your Deepest Secret Based On Which Spice Girl You Like Most”.
No one wants to link to this kind of content. It’s trash.
If you can create amazing, outstanding, over the top awesome content, people will want to link to it. Not just good content. Really, really good content. Unique, linkable content.
People like Brian Dean have perfected this technique. Using what he calls the “Skyscraper Technique”, Brian writes the absolute best version of any article out there and then posts it on his site.
He then reaches out via email to people he thinks might want to link to it. Using this technique, he generates a massive number of high powered backlinks for his site.
Even if you can’t write well or don’t have the time to perform the outreach, you can still make this happen.
You can hire a really good writer (not one you have to babysit) to write your content and then hire a virtual assistant to do the outreach for you. If you have access to the right tools, you can even automatically find the email addresses of people you think might be interested in your article.
If you’re technically savvy, you can use tools like Ahrefs or SEMRush to find the types of content that get the most backlinks.
Or, you can outsource all this work to an agency that can handle every aspect of this process, ensuring you get high quality, totally legit backlinks relatively quickly.
Great content plus large amounts of outreach almost always generates a ton of backlinks and raises your search rankings. This is the safest, most effective way to generate a lot of organic search traffic in a relatively short amount of time.
Don’t Play Fast and Loose
When it comes to link building, it’s tempting to take shortcuts. To buy backlinks and then pray to the SEO gods that Google doesn’t catch you. But this is almost a losing strategy. If you get seriously penalized, it can take you months to recover, if you can recover at all. You’ll lose almost all your organic traffic and have to rely solely on things like advertising to get anyone to your site. That can tank your business fast.
There are proven, straightforward methods for getting high quality backlinks. If you’re willing to do the work, guest posting can be very effective. Yes, it’s time consuming, but it really does work.
If you can build a system for creating great content and then performing outreach around that content, you can really up your game. You can take your organic search traffic through the roof.