Backlinking can feel like the wild west of the SEO world. Some aspects of the craft are simple and streamlined, like writing meta descriptions or setting up business profiles. Unfortunately, there is no one road map to backlinking success. The good news is that we’ve been testing methods for years now, and some techniques have proven to work better than others.
Before we get into the methods, let’s explore the first steps. You should always lay a solid foundation before building walls. Likewise, the road to successful backlinking means starting off on the right foot. You can begin by assessing where you are right now.
What is a domain authority score?
The first step in finding a backlink is to find a website you’d like to link back to yours. However, there’s no point in requesting a backlink from a site that won’t improve your SEO quality. While you can sometimes make an educated guess about a site’s quality, you’re far better off using real data.
Authority score is a metric used to measure a domain’s quality and SEO performance. You can find it using whatever platform you use for keyword research and ranking data. We use SEMrush and highly recommend it, but there are plenty of other free and paid options.
This score has various uses, but for backlinking purposes, it offers guidance on which sites are worth pursuing backlinks from. SEMrush uses a 1-100 scale, so the closer to 100 a score is, the better a backlink will support your site. This tool also helps you analyze the current state of your site’s SEO health.
How to get rid of bad backlinks
Not all backlinks are created equal, and a link from a site with a poor authority score can do more harm than good. You can use your platform’s toxicity score rating to determine whether or not your site is suffering from bad backlinks.
When you find a bad backlink, it’s worth trying to remove the link the simple way before resorting to Google’s practices. Email the webmaster of the page and ask to have your link removed. If they agree, the problem is solved. However, it usually isn’t so easy. If they refuse or you get no response, you can take matters into your own hands.
The process of getting rid of bad backlinks is called disavowing, and you can do it using the Google Disavow Tool. You’ll need to prepare a .txt file that contains all the backlinks you want to get rid of. SEMrush and similar tools offer help with formatting the file.
Because you don’t have control over someone else’s website, you can’t fully remove the link. Rather, disavowing instructs Google to no longer factor it into your SEO evaluation when it decides whether or not to display your page to users.
Your website can only have one disavow file, so if you decide later on that you’d like to get rid of more links, you’ll have to update the file with the new links as well as the previous ones.
How to get backlinks from high authority sites
Once you’re done cleaning things up, it’s time to get building. There are a million ways to get backlinks, but every backlinking journey has to start somewhere. These methods are tried-and-true, so they are a reliable place to begin. The best part about these methods is that they are win-win for you and whoever you are relying on, so all you need to do is get a foot in the door.
The best way to make your voice heard is to speak where people are already listening. If a high-authority site allows you to write an article for them, they get a free piece of content and you get a free backlink.
This may be easier said than done. To start, you should make sure your own blog is top quality. You should be doing this anyway, but in this case, it’s your best tool for demonstrating your expertise. Next, seek out blogs either in your niche or a compatible one. Not all blogs host guest bloggers, so try and do your research before you contact someone. Many blogs feature pages instructing would-be guests. Depending on your niche, you may also be able to find a Facebook group for link swapping or guest blogging.
You can search for opportunities on Google by using a relevant keyword + guest posts, become a contributor, write for us, and other similar terms. Many big blogs thrive on guest posters, so if you keep looking, you’ll find something. It might take a while to get a ‘yes,’ but when you do, it will massively improve your SEO score.
Help a reporter out (HARO)
Backlinking is typically an active process that requires time spent seeking out sources. However, a free service called HARO delivers opportunities directly into your inbox every day.
Think of HARO like a dating app. Bloggers, reporters, and journalists need authoritative sources for their articles and stories, and you need exposure from their platforms. Each email you receive has a list of requests for you to peruse, all divided into categories like healthcare, finance, and entertainment. You can look through them while you have your morning coffee and see if you’d make a good match. When you find the right one, you can submit a request and hope for the best.
HARO isn’t perfect, and you might find that most emails don’t have the right opportunities for you, especially if you work in a niche industry. However, it’s free, easy, and passive, making it a worthy part of your backlinking strategy.
Find broken links on other websites
The internet landscape is ever-changing, and sites disappear or move all the time. When sites go away, links to them often remain. If you can find those links, you can politely inform whoever owns the domain that the link is broken and, guess what, you know just what to replace it with.
First, you’ll need to make a list of sites competing with yours or sites that host or link to content like yours. Next, analyze those domains for broken links. There are a number of tools to help you with this process on platforms like Ahref and SEMrush. Once you’ve found what you’re looking for, you can create similar content to replace it, then contact the webmaster. By simultaneously identifying the problem and offering a free solution, they are very likely to say yes.
Provide backlinks to other websites
Now we’ve reached the simplest technique of all. Once you’ve got a decent authority score, other sites will benefit from you linking to their content. You’ll also need a consistent stream of new content to stay relevant. Other people may come to you asking to do this, but you also can seek it out.
Find someone else in your niche with a high quality website and a good domain score, then email them an offer to swap backlinks. It’s as simple as that. In the world of SEO, you’ll find that momentum takes a while to build, but once it does, it only gets easier.
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