Where To Get Backlinks That Matter
Update 2017 – This article is now several years old and and in need of updating, so it’s on the short list. Stay tuned.
In this new era of online marketing SEO has a new face. Considering that the internet (and thus web-based business) is merely a few decades old, it makes sense that its taken some time for loopholes to be closed by search engines, keeping spammers from exploiting search rankings with thousands of insignificant links pointing to their thin and mostly useless sites. Sure, you can buy backlinks. But if you want to know where to get backlinks that matter, that will build lasting authority, then this list will be helpful.
I’ve been involved in internet marketing for quite a few years and like many of you I’ve been guilty of using some gray-hat tactics in the past. But by testing on my own sites and pages I’ve found that search engines have gotten really good at weeding out meaningless backlinks and recognizing ones which indicate influence.
That’s not to say that some don’t slip through the cracks. Every time there’s a new product launch at JVZoo you’ll see that page one and two of the SERPs (for that product’s name) are inundated by pages which on their own don’t look like they belong there (poor / low quality) and so its clear that they’re using a backlinking strategy that focuses on the short-term because that’s what those types of pages are after anyway.
If you document those “quick hit” sites which are ranking on page one at the time, then search for them again in a few weeks or months, you’ll find that many of them are nowhere near page one. A backlinks checker will help you identify those sites that are using very low-quality links.
Get Backlinks That Build Trust & Authority
Google uses trust to gauge whether a link influences a page’s ranking. Part of the reason those spammy backlinks no longer matter is that the algorithms look at the domain/page authority (not necessarily Page Rank) of a page to determine how much influence its outbound links have. A new blog, or one that isn’t active or which isn’t narrowly defined, may have little impact on your site’s ranking.
There’s also the relevancy issue; a page about cooking will likely have very little SERP influence on an automotive site, regardless of its page rank. Search engine algorithms are extremely advanced and it’s clear they’re now looking for “trustworthy” sites which have shown some authoritative traits (time spent on site by visitors, mentions, social shares, bookmarks, etc…) and broad appeal (how diverse your footprint is).
Those of us who are building sites (even mini-niche sites) that we want to rank long-term, the type and quality of backlink does matter. Search engines want to know that your content matters, and which do you think is better, that Joe Schmo says you’re great, or SlideShare? Clearly content on SlideShare and other top sites which have a link pointing to your site matter more than a non-relevant link from a no-name (and often low-quality) site somewhere. Also, editorial or contextual backlinks “seem” to have more influence on ranking. So here are some legitimate ways to get backlinks free, and good ones.
My Top 10 List Of Backlink Sources
You’ve probably heard of this site, and maybe even use it, but if not then start. This is a high PR site that get’s a load of traffic (Alexa rank is 118 to give you an idea of how powerful it is), and that traffic, not the backlink itself, is why you should covet this site.Simply create a 4 – 5 page minimum PowerPoint presentation on your topic, save it as a pdf and upload it. You can include your links and call to action on any page after page 3…. that is, they don’t allow links on the first three pages.
KissMetrics did an amazing write-up of using SlideShare and I think it’s recommended reading. Remember to create at least 4 – 5 pages, but the more you create and the better it is, the more traffic you’re going to see.
SlideShare only provides nofollow backlinks, but the site is very authoritative and so helps builds a very solid link profile, on top of the added benefit you get from increased site traffic. These days I tend to look at building a site like a footprint, and the larger I can make that footprint the better. Which means I don’t go for links that are only dofollow, just like I don’t use the same keywords as anchor text on every link. I also don’t worry about how to get more back links, but how to get links which offer value in building a great site profile.
Remember, when you create a video using MS Publisher or PowerPoint you can also export or save as a pdf and use the same information on sites like SlideShare. I’ll be adding a tutorial on this soon to help you maximize your work. Here’s a SlideShare document I uploaded after creating the video you’ll see below (I’ll also upload it to Scribd).
2) Squidoo And Hubpages
I’m listing these two together because they are so similar. Yes, you have to create content and put some work in to it, but trust me on this… the days of spamming backlinks are almost over and I guarantee you that you’ll see more and more sites getting nerfed in the rankings by Google and others as their newer, smarter algorithms and army of manual verifiers finish the smack down. Besides, the value of the “dofollow” links you get from these authoritative sites, coupled with the contextual placement inside your “relevant” article, makes them very, very powerful. Get back links to your site that matter.
If you simply cannot find the time to write good content then outsource it. There are very few gigs on Fiverr that give written articles that I’d use for my own site, but there are some. A much better option is oDesk where you can select only writers of your native language. For under $10 you can get a great article that will easily pass approval at either Squidoo or Hubpages. If you’ve never outsourced article writing here’s a great introduction.
As mentioned, both sites give dofollow links and both get massive traffic. Squidoo has a global Alexa rank of 890 and Hubpages sits at 589 (as of writing). Regarding Page Rank, both Squidoo and Hubpages are PR 6 at last check. Here’s a list of the top 20 article directories based on Alexa rank, courtesy of VREtoolbar.com.
Like Slideshare, Scribd is a great source for uploading your documents and you can also insert links so people who are reading your content also have a way to connect with you. Be sure to include your websites URL in the profile section for another backlink. With a global Alexa rank of 310, you know it gets a lot of traffic.
What I didn’t mention when talking about SlideShare, but which applies to both of these, is the potential to also use them as your “ranking page” for ultra-niche projects. Let’s say you want to promote an acne cream from your favorite PPC site, but you don’t want to create a new website or blog just for that. The solution might be to leverage the incredible authority of these sites (like we used to at Squidoo before they cracked down) and create a very nice and well-optimized pdf (or slideshow) which you upload and then work to rank… both of these sites have documents ranking on the first page of search for lots of keywords.
You run a much smaller risk (if you’re doing any black hat stuff, which I hope you aren’t) sending backlinks to your SlideShare or Scribd page than your own sites, and they are ranking really, really well and quickly. I usually send people from these types of pages to a Squeeze Page where I get them to opt-in to my list before sending them on to the offer page on my PPC site. Either way, these two sites are worth your time for backlinks. Another quick tip, especially for Scribd, is to take the “free” brandable pdf that a lot of sellers (especially at ClickBank) give you, and simply re-write it a little to make it somewhat unique (just don’t change the intent or promises of the seller), optimize for SEO, add a new and compelling cover photo and use that as your Scribd document. It works great for these ultra-niche offers and search engines will rank these documents.
4) Press Releases
Now before you start twitching your fingers and blast me with the whole “Google doesn’t value Press Releases” thing, trust me, they still have value. Start doing some random keyword searches on Google and I promise you that you’ll find releases from SBWire and PRlog ranking on page one. I’ve even read that some people use them as the “ranking page” like I mentioned earlier for Scribed and SlideShare, and use the links in the release to send people to their Squeeze Page.
For me, though, they provide some really great value in building that very important “large footprint” that I mentioned earlier. 1,000 backlinks coming from the same domain isn’t worth near as much as 100 backlinks from 100 different domains, in my opinion and experience. You can find a very good gig on Fiverr (like this one I’ve used) to send out your release to several of the top sites. For a little bit of your time and $5 you can get some pretty significant link value and likely some new traffic.
Be very sure to put some time into the Press release you send out. One of the main reasons they’ve gotten a bad rap is because spammers were sending them out like crazy with little to no real value… they were just a keyword optimized page and a link to some squeeze page. Sure, you must optimize them for your keyword, how else would anyone ever find it; but make it worthwhile reading for people.
5) Yahoo Answers
I really like Yahoo Answers as a source for traffic, and backlinks. You’re also able to embed your YouTube videos which helps in ranking them as well. You might be surprised at the volume of traffic that you can get from thoughtful and helpful answers. Yahoo Answers is huge, really huge. And you can find a lot of ways to interject your sites in meaningful ways. Just be sure to answer some questions where you don’t include a link to your own site so that you aren’t flagged or banned.
Like the others, these links are nofollow but mostly contextual as they’re on a page where other people are also talking about the subject, and you have the opportunity to craft your answers so that you’re optimizing your keyword relevance. It doesn’t take long at all to reach level 2 so that you can include hyperlinks in your answers, as well as embed videos. If you just have to take a short cut, you can buy a Yahoo account on Fiverr that is already ranked to level 2… just change the password and profile page and you’re all set.
I’ve seen yahoo answer pages ranking well in search engines as well, and the footprint, it’s all about the footprint. If Google sees that you’re being mentioned in a lot of different places then they assume you have authority and you’ll rank better, it’s as simple as that. I’ve tested this out and gotten pages ranked with zero “fake” backlinks and based solely on using these authoritative sites listed here.
This one is another that you’re probably already using, but are you using it wisely? Now this is dependent upon the type of site you have (the Owner’s Manual Writers Association likely doesn’t have a lot to pin about), but most people can use it to ramp a lot of traffic to their site.
Start by creating a branded board. In the case of this site I have a board called Epic Fizz Affiliate Resources, and on that board I make sure to spend some time pinning the great resources I’ve bookmarked over the years and which might be helpful to others, and any great pages that I come across. At the bottom of each pin I place my hashtag brand #EpicFizz. Now every time someone shares or repins one of mine, their readers see a link to my board and a mention of the brand name. It doesn’t take long at all to start getting a lot of traffic. Be sure you have a “Follow Me On Pinterest” widget on your site (get it here).
By the way, follow our board please: Follow Epic Fizz
A super-stealthy way to get some added links and traffic is to have a resources page on your website where you list those sites that you like and recommend from across the web. Then pin those articles/pages from your site on to Pinterest, so people visit your site to see your resource page and summary of the pin, before clicking through to the original articles. Use this sparingly, of course, but if you have 100 pins on your board, make sure that the last 5 or 6 pins that you make are from your resource page since they’ll be at the top of your board.
I love creating videos for product reviews or to supplement an article. The video here was created in less than two hours and will likely rank pretty well on YouTube and bring me some added traffic. Adding a video or two to your articles has been conclusively shown to help improve search rankings as well, even if they aren’t your own videos… simply find something relevant and helpful on YouTube and embed it in your article. But we’re talking about backlinks right now, so that means creating your own Channel and videos.
Sure, the links are nofollow, but by now I hope you’ve seen a theme… dofollow backlinks are no longer as important. It’s all about perceived authority (by Google) and broad appeal. And since Google now owns YouTube, it makes even more sense that they give some weight to links in the video description and certainly the ones on your YouTube Channel.
I use Microsoft PowerPoint (OpenOffice has a free alternative) to create a slideshow presentation, and export it as a video. PowerPoint has some cool, built-in transitions and effects which turn out well in video format. Then open that file in Windows Movie Maker (should be included in your Windows setup) and you can add music, transitions, splice in additional video, etc… I will make a separate post and video on how I make mine to show you how simple and fast it really is. Grab some free stock music here, and even some additional free video footage or effects here… it’s pretty simple. If you’re doing more advanced video product reviews then you can use some of the free screen capture products to do an on-screen walk-through, and even get a Fiverr gig to do the voice over if you aren’t comfortable doing it.
8) Every Social Bookmarking or Networking Site
When you’re talking about influence, it is as clear as can be that social media matters as much or more than any of these other backlink opportunities I’ve listed. I’ll take a bookmark on one of the top sites over a random backlink any day. In the “More Sources” section below I reference an article/infographic from SearchMetrics… check it out, you’ll see why social media is the clear path to future rankings.
Here is a master list of 97 Dofollow Social Bookmarking sites. I haven’t verified this list to make sure that all of the sites listed are in fact dofollow, but Caroline says that she updates it regularly so I have no reason to doubt here. Besides, I really don’t care for my own sites if they’re dofollow or not; I care about a broad and influential footprint.
There are so many social networks and bookmarking sites, and you can’t manage them all. But at the very least create accounts at the top sites and include your website in the profile. Many of them have bookmarklets (like Delicious, Pinterest and new favorite, WeHeartIt.com) which you can put on your shortcut bar and simply go through and add new posts or pages to these sites pretty easily.
This site is amazing for many, if not most, of us. This site is a hub for reporters/writers looking for sources which they can cite in pieces they’re working on. The subjects are broad and you can often find something that you can call yourself an expert in. If you’ve been blogging for any length of time then you certainly know a lot about WordPress, online marketing, search engine ranking, article optimization, and a whole lot more. You needn’t be a degreed expert; most of the time the best experience comes from doing, and not reading.
Simply grab your free account and then sign up with the areas in which you’d like to share your expertise. You’ll get an e-mail everyday (sometimes a few day depending on the areas of expertise you’re citing) and then all you have to do is look through them to find something you can help with. Just send the reporter/writer an e-mail with your thoughts on the piece they’re writing, and some of your experiences in the subject field, and ask them if you could be of help. If they agree they’ll send you an email with a list of questions which you simply answer. More times than not, especially if your blog or website is relevant to the topic, the writer will include your name, a brief bio and a link to your site. Be sure to include the name of and a link to your site in the answers you send back to them.
You won’t always get a backlink but when you do it’ll be among the most prized backlinks you can get. These are authoritative sites (newspapers, television and radio stations, magazines… and some big names like FOX, Dow Jones, ABC…) and you’re being cited in the context of your niche and as an expert, which Google loves. If you can nab one of these a week or every few weeks, over time you’ll find that you’re gaining very solid and long-term ranking.
You’ve likely heard others touting the power of infographics, but have you jumped on board yet? The benefits that come from a well-crafted infographic cannot be over-stated.
People love to share infographics and with your site’s name and URL at the bottom of the graphic you’re getting a lot of brand exposure even if no one ever posts a backlink citing you as the source… though most will in fact cite you as the source, which gives you an amazing number of backlinks from sites which are relevant to yours (or they wouldn’t likely be sharing the infographic). If you create amazing (not just good) stuff, you might even be shared by some major sources which will provide quality backlinks that you could never buy.
There are a lot of free resources on the web which allow you to create a good infographic, but there are also some Fiverr gigs which offer to help. Also look at oDesk if you have a little money to spend on it… you can get an awesome infographic that people are sure to share. Neil Patel over at QuickSprout has a great read for anyone hoping to create a viral inforgraphic. Share them on sites like Visual.ly and loveinfographics.com.
Where To Get Backlinks – More Sources
There are so many ways to get relevant backlinks that really no one should have a problem creating an authoritative profile for search engines to love. Just think diversity. These include;
- While I mentioned Social Networks already, Google Plus should be listed on its own because it’s that powerful. Create a page for your website and also a Hangout. Start sharing things on your site, new articles you’ve found, products you like, and of course a post whenever you have new content up. Like the others I’ve listed here, this gets you potential traffic and a backlink. Google + votes and shares has been shown to be among the single most valuable metrics for ranking… check out this article by Searchmetrics.
- Create a secondary free blog at blogger or WordPress.com and update it once in a while with small articles which are relevant to your site and which link to your pages.
- Blog commenting is still a nice way to add to your profile and draw in traffic. What gave this a bad name, and caused search engines to diminish their value (or ranking weight), was the massive abuse at the hands of automated spam commenters. These days most reputable blogs have filters in place to weed them out, and the rest of us can participate in meaningful dialogue on these sites and let others know about our own content and get a backlink at the same time (nofollow or dofollow doesn’t matter). I don’t like people spamming my comments here just for the sake of a backlink, and I don’t do it elsewhere. If you’re going to comment then take the time to read the article and actually weigh in and contribute something meaningful, not just a “nice job” type of comment.
- Document Sharing – Like infographcis, create some short but useful information on relevant topics and submit them to some of the top sites (http://www.authorstream.com/, http://www.slideboom.com/, and http://www.docstoc.com/ are a few). In 30 minutes you can throw together a decent pdf (created in MS Word or Open Office) that discusses some topic, like optimizing images for SEO and discussing the various plugins to use, etc…
- Website Directories – Not a favorite of mine, but being listed in a few of the top sites can only help… just don’t spam it to 1,000 meaningless directories. DMOZ is no longer the value that it once was in terms of SEO weight, but getting listed is still something to strive for and takes just a few minutes to apply for. Others like Yahoo and BOTW (Best Of The Web – botw.org) are also good candidates, though I’m not willing to pay for a listing in these as I don’t see the price/value of it.
Note: I know its inevitable that someone is going to post a comment and ask “Whats the best software to get back links?” Don’t, please believe me when I tell you that if you’re trying to build a long-lasting business, don’t fall for the get ranked quick trap.
If you enjoyed this article on where to get backlinks, found it helpful, have suggestions, or have an issue with any of the sites I’ve listed, please take a moment and share your thoughts… that way we all benefit from the massive power of our combined experiences.