How to Get Backlinks Like an SEO Pro (NEW Guide for 2021)

How do you get more backlinks in 2021?

Well, this website you’re on right now has 38,000 backlinks from 3,070 unique domains.

And in this guide, I’ll show you 7 ways to get more backlinks like a link building pro.

In fact, you’re going to learn:

Let’s dive in.


Backlinks are created when one website links to another website. Google (and other search engines) consider backlinks to be “votes” for a page. In fact, Google’s original PageRank algorithm used backlinks as a signal of content quality. Many studies have found a correlation between backlinks and organic search engine rankings.

Here’s an example of a backlink:


High-quality backlinks have 7 characteristics: relevance, traffic, authority, link profile quality, editorial standards, outbound link quality, and indexation.

Let’s start with:


1. Relevance

John Mueller recently said that relevance is more important than how many backlinks a website has.

In fact, here’s exactly what he said:

In short, most of your link building efforts should focus on relevant opportunities. That’s why I created The Relevancy Pyramid. It’s the single best way to prioritize your link opportunities.

The model is simple:

There are fewer link building opportunities that are 100% relevant to your website. You should focus on these first.

Then, once you’ve tapped those out, move down the pyramid where there will be more prospects with less relevance.

Now there are two exceptions to this link prioritization strategy:

  1. It’s ALWAYS okay to get links from super authority sites like the New York Times, Washington Post, or .edu/.gov sites.
  2. The Relevancy Pyramid changes if you’re working in local SERPs.

I recommend focusing on geo-targeted opportunities first. Then move onto topically relevant prospects on the national level.

This will create the most natural and relevant link profile.

Now, of course, it’s not all about relevance. If that were the case, you could create hundreds of relevant websites yourself and link to your site.

That doesn’t work because it would be missing all the other factors that make a backlink powerful.

Bringing me to standard #2:


2. Traffic

You need to get links to your site from websites that are relevant and have organic traffic.

Think about it:

If Google is sending organic search traffic to a site, what does that say?

It means that it’s likely a trustworthy website. In general, sites that are popular in organic search are valuable link building opportunities.

You can use SEMRush to see if a website is getting organic search traffic (and to see the “value” of that traffic):

Now a website can be relevant and have traffic, but it still needs:


3. Authority

If a website is getting organic traffic, it likely has authority. You can use Ahrefs‘ DR to prioritize link building prospects based on their site authority.

The stronger a website is, the harder it will be to get the link.

That makes those links even more valuable, so it’s worth the effort.


4. Link Quality

It is possible to manipulate third-party metrics like Ahrefs’ DR or Moz’s DA.

So that’s why you need to analyze the backlink profile of all your opportunities manually.

I like to run the website through Ahrefs and filter their links by “DoFollow.”

I then sort them so that the strongest links with the highest DR are at the top.

In short, you want to see that the site is getting links from high-quality sources.

Use the same criteria from above.


5. Editorial Standards

Why are diamonds valuable? Because they’re difficult to get!

That’s why you should focus on getting links on websites that have high editorial standards.

The harder it is to land a backlink, the more valuable it is.

The opposite is true, as well:

The easier a backlink is to get, the less valuable it is.


6. Outbound Link Quality

Websites with strong editorial guidelines will likely only link out to quality resources. You want your link to “live” around other trustworthy outbound links.

Enter your domain into Ahrefs Site Explorer and go to “Linked domains” under “Outgoing links”:

Examine every prospective website and ask:

  • How are they linking out?
  • Are the outbound links relevant?
  • Are the outbound links going to respected, trusted sites?
  • Do the outbound links look natural, or do they look like paid links?

7. Indexation

Nothing is more important than making sure you get links on indexed websites. If the site isn’t indexed in Google, then your links will be worthless.

Go to Google and search “site:example.com”.

If they don’t show up, avoid the website.

Now that you know what a quality backlink looks like let’s talk about what links you should AVOID.


3 Types of Backlinks to Avoid in 2021

If you review the 7 characteristics of quality backlinks above, you’ll see that the following types of backlinks don’t qualify.

Most websites aren’t relevant, don’t have traffic, have no editorial guidelines, and have horrific outbound links.

Here’s the first example:


1. Public Blog Networks

You’ve probably heard of Private Blog Networks (PBNs), but public blog networks are different.

Both are risky because it’s artificial link building. However, private blog networks are slightly less risky because they can be disguised better.

On the other hand, public blog networks are nothing more than link farms that are easily detectable.

Look at this website that’s using public blog network links:

Most public networks don’t even bother to block third-party crawlers like Ahrefs.

The truth is if it takes me two seconds to see that you’re using public network links, then what do you think Google can do?

Here’s what an actual public blog network looks like:

Stay away from these links if you want to avoid getting penalized.


2. DoFollow Blog Comments

Here’s what they look like:

These links hit the “authority” quality criteria for links.

However, they greatly miss the mark with everything else. Plus, you don’t want your website in the same neighborhood as some of the outbound links you’ll see.


3. Web 2.0s

The thought process for using web 2.0s is similar to DoFollow blog comments. You’re trying to leverage the existing site’s authority like Wix:

However, web 2.0s adds another level because they attempt to add artificial relevance.

So what’s the problem? Well, they aren’t editorial links, the content is low-quality, and you don’t benefit much from the authority because it’s on a subdomain.

Plus, the only way web 2.0 backlinks can have any benefit is if they’re indexed. And guess what?

They’re notoriously difficult to get indexed on Google unless you build tier two links.

Now you know what backlinks to avoid like the plague.

But now an important question arises:


What’s a Good Number of Backlinks?

The key to knowing how many backlinks you need is to examine your competitors.

And this process is called a backlink gap analysis.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Identify a qualified keyword target

If you don’t know if your keyword is “qualified”, then watch this video:

Related: Best Keyword Research Services (According to 11 Tests)

2. Create SEO content that’s better than the competitors

SEO content” applies to both informational and transactional pages. If you’re not sure how to create SEO content, watch this:

3. Identify how many backlinks you need through a link gap analysis

A link gap analysis is broken down into two parts.

First, you need to analyze how many backlinks your competitors have to their domain as a whole.

Run your target keyword through Ahrefs Keyword Explorer and then scroll down to see the competitors.

Go to “More” and open “Domain Comparison” in another tab.

Enter the top 4 competitors for your target keyword and enter your domain as well.

Now you’ll see the gap between you and the competitors. If there isn’t much of a gap (or you’re ahead), then awesome! You likely won’t need many backlinks to the page to rank.

This leads to the next part of the link gap analysis.

You now need to analyze how backlinks you’ll need to your target keyword-driven page to rank.

You can use Ahrefs KD metric to get a rough estimate.

However, this is flawed for one big reason. You don’t know what authority of links you’ll need to rank.

So what we do is categorize each competitor’s backlinks into authority ranges like this:

Then you’ll know exactly how many backlinks you’ll need at each authority level.

This is super useful because you can estimate the budget you’ll need for backlinks.


Here are 7 link building techniques you can use to land more high-quality backlinks.

1. Authority Transfer Technique

The Authority Transfer Technique isn’t technically a “link building” tactic, but it’s a powerful way to distribute link authority (PageRank) to your most important SEO-driven pages.

Here’s how it works:

Step #1 – Identify what pages on your site have existing backlinks

The easiest way to find these pages is to use Ahrefs.

Just open up Ahrefs → Enter your domain → Start analysis

Then click on “Best by Links” under “Pages” → Sort by “Referring Domains”:

Step #2 – Add internal links on those pages to relevant SEO-driven pages

Now all you need to do now is add internal links. Your internal should target pages that are A) topically relevant and B) you’re trying to rank.

I recommend using exact match anchor text with your internal links (it’s safe to do so as long as they aren’t site-wide).

I recommend using this technique every time you publish a new SEO-driven page. It’s one of the best ways to give your page a boost out of the gate (by leveraging existing authority).

Your goal should be to push your pages up the SERPs as far as possible before acquiring links.

The Authority Transfer Technique is one of the best ways to accomplish that goal (fast).


2. LIS Technique

What qualities make people want to link to your website?

There are many qualities, but there’s one that helps enormously and is called “Length Implies Strength” or LIS.

Ever seen one of those super long sales letters that seem to scroll for decades?

Well, that’s not an accident.

Long sales letters leverage “Heuristics.”

In short, we (humans) are lazy and hate thinking. So we use mental shortcuts to make decisions, solve problems, pass judgments, etc.

So what does this have to do with link building?

According to Backlinko’s study:

“Long-form content gets an average of 77.2% more links than short articles.”

That means if you want more backlinks, then create long-form content.

For example, if you examine what pages have attracted the most backlinks on GotchSEO.com, you would see that they are all my longest pieces of content:

The average word count for my top 4 most linked-to content assets is 7,223 words.

Pretty insane, right?

Here’s the main takeaway:

If you want more links, write longer in-depth content.

Don’t take this out of context though!

It needs to be well-thought-out and add massive amounts of UNIQUE value.


3. Predictive Links Technique

What if you could create pages on your site that attracted backlinks like clockwork? That’s possible when you use the Predictive Links Technique. The best part is that it’s super simple.

Here’s what you do:

Step #1 – Examine your competitors most linked-to pages

Just open up Ahrefs → Enter a competitor’s domain → Click on “Best by Links”

Right away you’ll see what topics have attracted the most backlinks in your niche.

You can also use this same technique for creating “predictively” viral content on social.

Just go to Buzzsumo → Enter a topic

Then you’ll have access to ideas that are proven to attract social shares (and links).

You can also do the same thing with YouTube.

Go to a popular channel in your niche → sort their videos by most popular

And BOOM! You see the ideas that niche is most interested in.

Step #2 – Create a page around the same topic, but make it 10x different and better

Whether you’re using this method to attract links, get more social traction, or dominate YouTube, the principle is the same. You are going to create a content asset that’s 10x different and better than your competitors.

Step #3 – Reach out to the people that linked to your competitors content

I recommend “testing the waters” (a concept I teach in Gotch SEO Academy) before pitching your content when you use this strategy. Send a simple outreach email like this:

Hey [NAME],

My name is [YOUR NAME], and I’m the [YOUR POSITION] at [YOUR COMPANY]. I researched [TOPIC] and saw that you linked to [COMPETITOR’S URL] – that makes sense because it’s awesome. I just published a new guide on [TOPIC] it [VALUE PROPOSITION].

Would you be interested in seeing it (and maybe give some feedback)? Let me know, and I’ll shoot the link over.

Thanks again!
[NAME]

If the prospect complies, then send them this:

Hey [NAME],

That’s great! Here’s a link:

Let me know what you think.

Also:

If you think it adds value to your readers, would you mind linking to it? I can [INSERT SOME VALUE YOU CAN GIVE THEM]. Thanks again!

I recommend testing many different templates for the second email until you hit a sweet spot.

Just make sure you’re giving something of value when you’re asking for a link.


3. Relationship Accelerator Technique

The Relationship Accelerator Technique serves a dual purpose:

  1. It can help you build relationships with key “linkerati” (people who are capable and willing to link to you).
  2. It can help you score links with minimal effort.

There are few different ways to go about this.

You can host expert roundups, host interviews, or ask for expert contributions to your content.

For example, I had Miles Beckler on my SEO podcast and he linked to the page where it was hosted:

 

This technique works because there’s a clear exchange of value. The experts get exposure and you get to build a non-transactional relationship with them.  You’ll be exposure yourself because they likely share or link to the content.


4. Oprah Technique

I created a cool name for this technique, but it’s super simple. You’re going to get interviewed and land links.

Go to Google → Enter “interview + niche” or “interview with + [YOUR COMPETITOR]”

Add all these prospects to your link building database. Then, just reach out and pitch yourself for the interview.

Use a simple template like this:

Hey [NAME],

My name is [YOUR NAME] and I’m the [YOUR POSITION] at [YOUR COMPANY]. First, just wanted to thank you for all the amazing interviews you’ve been doing. I’ve listened to your interview with [INSERT ONE YOU LIKED] multiple times because it’s so incredibly valuable. Quick question: are you accepting new interviewees at this time? If you are, I would love to chat because of I [COOL RESULT].

Let me know. Thanks!


5. Use The Merger Technique

The Merger Technique is simple:

Find websites with high-quality link profiles, acquire them, and 301 redirect them to your website.

For example, Neil Patel acquired UberSuggest and merged it NeilPatel.com. As a result, he gained an additional 17,500 backlinks from 5,610 referring domains:

And Backlinko did the same thing when we acquired PointblankSEO.com. Brian scored 24,500 additional backlinks from 2,000 referring domains:

They both acquired active websites or tools, which is the best strategy.

You can also use expired domains. I recommend using Spamzilla to find them:


6. Leverage The Phantom Technique

At a certain point, you may reach your target backlink volume for a specific page. But what should you do if you’re still not ranking where you want to be?

That’s when the Phantom Technique enters.

Instead of building more backlinks on tier one (links directly hitting your website), you can strengthen your existing backlinks.

This process is known as tier two link building. It’s extremely powerful and your competitors likely won’t have a clue you’re doing it.


7. The Switch Up Technique

The Switch Up Technique is my favorite way to build relationships fast. As you may or may not, building relationships is a critical piece to getting more backlinks.

Most people fail at link outreach because they’re metaphorically trying to hit a home run on the first date. Just like in sales, you need to take baby steps along the journey.

You have to build relationships with the websites (and people who are capable of linking to you) BEFORE you ask for something.

There needs to be an exchange of value.

“Value” comes in many different forms including money, help, or content.

Here’s a perfect example of a student of Gotch SEO Academy exchanging value with me (I had no choice but to link to this tool because it solved a REAL problem and added REAL value):

Money works well, but you can acquire links without having to pay people. But that will only be possible through building real relationships.

The first step to accomplishing that is to use the Switch Up Technique.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Go through your blog content and examine all your external links.
  2. See if you’re linking out to general websites like Wikipedia, CNN, or any authority website with many authors.
  3. Go to Google and look for a replacement from a lower authority blog.
  4. Change the link
  5. Reach out to the person

Use a non-threatening template like this:

Hey [NAME],

My name is [YOUR NAME] and I’m the [YOUR POSITION] at [YOUR COMPANY]. I was doing some research on [TOPIC] and discovered your guide about [TOPIC]. I really enjoyed it. I never realized that [SOMETHING YOU LEARNED FROM THEIR CONTENT]. Super cool. Anyway, I won’t take up any more of your time. Just wanted to thank you for putting the article together and wanted to let you know that I linked to it from my article: [INSERT NAKED URL] – it’s about [TOPIC].

Thanks again!
[NAME]

So that’s it! Still, have questions about backlinks? Here’s you go:


FAQs About Backlinks

My backlinks are decreasing. What now?
It’s natural and normal to lose some links over time. That’s why it’s critical to remember that link acquisition isn’t a one-time event. It needs to be an on-going activity. You should always be taking action to acquire new backlinks to make up for those that you lose.

My backlinks are not showing in Google Search Console, Ahrefs, etc. Why?
Google Search Console only shows a sample of your total link profile. While third-party tools like Ahrefs are amazing at find backlinks, they aren’t perfect or comprehensive. Assume that these tools are only showing a percentage of your entire link profile.

Are Fiverr backlinks good?
In my experience, 99% of link opportunities on Fiverr are bad. In general, I would avoid buying backlinks from Fiverr. Remember… you usually get what you pay for.

Are NoFollow backlinks good?
NoFollow backlinks are not good or effective because they don’t pass PageRank. The only time they’re useful is if you’re getting referral traffic or sales. But from an SEO perspective, they have no value.

How many backlinks per day are safe?
You only need to worry about link velocity when you’re building artificial backlinks. If you’re acquiring backlinks through outreach and content promotion, then you don’t need to worry about this.


That’s a Wrap!

The art of getting more backlinks is a massive topic, but I hoped this gave you the right framework for getting more.

If this was helpful, please share it. Or better yet, link to it 😉

– Gotch


Need more link building help? Check these resources out:

Buy Backlinks – Link building is extremely time-consuming, which forces most people to ask this question. Buying backlinks is against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. But what if you’re not buying links and you’re buying a process instead? That’s what this post dives into.

19 Link Building Techniques & Strategies – In this video, you’ll learn 19 evergreen ways to get more backlinks. These techniques work now and will continue to work into the future.

Best Link Building Services – We spent $140,424 to find the best link building services. Our results were surprising!

Niche Edit Backlinks – We spent $22,960 on niche edits to see if they actually work.

Sell Backlinks – We sold backlinks and made $470,998. In this guide, we show you how to do the same.

3,049 thoughts on “How to Get Backlinks Like an SEO Pro (NEW Guide for 2021)”

  1. Thank you Nathan so much for sharing this very detailed backlink guide! I have tried different ideas in the past, but I think that you have better tips to try. I really appreciate the simple script that you provided to reach to others to get them to link to a site and using ahrefs. I just subscribed also to your Youtube channel!!

    Reply
  2. Interesting article! Backlinks are especially valuable for SEO because they represent a “vote of confidence” from one site to another. In essence, backlinks to your website are a signal to search engines that others vouch for your content. If many sites link to the same webpage or website, search engines can infer that content is worth linking to, and therefore also worth surfacing on a SERP. So, earning these backlinks can have a positive effect on a site’s ranking position or search visibility. Thanks for sharing, Cheers!

    Reply
  3. Hi, Nathan Gotch
    My native language is not English, but I set up an English niche website, I want to get more traffic and increase the conversion rate; As mentioned in your post, I bought some backlinks from Fiverr in the early days, But found no effect. Your post is really eye-opening for me, I plan to try your way.
    Thank you.

    Reply
  4. Thank you so much for sharing such valuable information. I have been finding it difficult to be able to learn the SEO process as per 2021 and how the web has changed so much. This offered so much valuable information.

    Reply
  5. Hi Nathan,
    Glad to see the complete and genuine guide on backlinks. I think the best way is to find the redirect links and then reach out to them. thanks.

    Reply

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