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Beginners guide to backlinks

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So, you’ve heard that backlinks are good for SEO, but you don’t really understand what they are nor how to go about getting them. In this article, I’ll demystify backlink terminology and give you tips on building backlinks for your website.

What is a backlink?

Put simply, a backlink is a link to your website (the homepage or any page within your website) from another website.

Why backlinks don’t always have an SEO value

When another website links to your website, it can be done in one of two ways – a ‘Dofollow’ link or a ‘Nofollow’ link. A Dofollow link signals to Google that there is an association – a bit like a vote of confidence. A Nofollow link on the other hand, tells Google not to pass any of your link juice to that site.

There are reasons why you might want to add a link to your website as a ‘Nofollow’. Let’s say you are writing an article on local builders. You mention some really great businesses, but you also want to alert people to a cowboy builder. You might provide a link to that cowboy website, but, you don’t want them to benefit from your own SEO juice!

Many blog comment systems are set up as ‘Nofollow’, because they tend to get abused by spammers.

While a Nofollow link doesn’t pass any ‘SEO juice’, it can still generate traffic, so it can have a positive effect. In addition, nowadays, Google can tell if you’re trying to build links artificially or if you’re building them naturally. A balanced profile will contain both types of links.

Natural link building

Gaining hundreds of links over a short period of time can do your website more harm than good. This is because Google can spot unnatural linking behaviour.

Natural link building is best. I’ll take you through some examples.

Directory Listings

Add your website to online directories. Consider paid directories and industry-specific directories as well as free ones. You may be interested in the Top 12 Directories to list your UK business or the Top 12 Directories to list your Irish business.

Create interesting content that others will want to link to. If you don’t have writing skills yourself (or if you don’t have the time), you can employ a content writer to write articles for you.

Guest blogging

Seek out opportunities to write for other website blogs. This will gain you a backlink and will expose you to a new audience potentially.

You can find guest blogging opportunities by searching for your niche or keyword plus “guest blogging” or “write for us”. For instance, a hairdresser might put the following search into Google: hairdresser “write for us”. But, do take a look at the quality of the website to ensure it’s one you want to put your name on. You can check the authority (or “strength”) of a domain free here:

Work with Influencers

Reach out to a popular blogger or influencer and ask them to review your product or service.

Create social media content

Google has admitted that it gives weight to links that people share on the public pages of social media accounts. Social network metrics show how relevant or interesting your content is to users. Reposts are an effective social signal that search engines pay attention to.

If you create high-quality content that is liked, shared and discussed, you’ll drive traffic to your website. This may also generate more backlinks.

Engage in forums

Seek out the most interesting forums in your industry, create an account and start to engage. Be sure to follow forum rules. Forums should not be seen as a way to advertise free of charge – nobody appreciates spammy behaviour. Instead, see it as a chance to share your expertise and help others. Your signature can contain a link to your website and building up trust within the forum can drive traffic to your website.


Think about newsworthy opportunities that warrant a press release, such as launching a new product, opening a new branch or announcing an award you have won.

You can also seek out journalists who are looking for an expert in your industry for content and quotes for articles. Help A Reporter Out (HARO) is good for this. It’s free to sign up and you can look out for requests you can contribute to.

A word of warning

There are companies and individuals who will offer you hundreds of backlinks for a very low fee. These will be links on spammy websites and this will end up doing your website more harm than good. Be wary of all paid links and certainly anything that sounds too good to be true.

There are exceptions to this though. For example, BrightLocal are a company who offer to list your website in a number of online directories for you. You are paying BrightLocal for the time it takes them to provide this service to you, so while you are gaining backlinks and you are paying a fee, this is not a service you need to be wary of – in fact, it’s great if you don’t have time yourself to add your business to multiple directories.

Working with an SEO

Gaining valuable backlinks will likely form a part of any SEO service. But, it is just one small part of the picture. We provide SEO services tailored to your specific business and needs. Get in touch to arrange a free consultation.

About the Author

Victoria Bennett

Victoria is a technology consultant and founder of Alpha Pixa. Her specialist expertise includes Wordpress, WooCommerce and SEO.