The old adage of “content is king” holds true, but it’s not enough anymore. Links are the queen that keeps everything running smoothly in an SEO campaign.
There’s a lot of regurgitated guru crap out there and equally as many misconceptions about how the hell to actually build a quality backlink.
From so-called SEO gurus like Neil Patel peddling vague BS like “Write Relevant and Competitive Content” and “Prove Your Site Is Legitimate” to agencies promising “10 backlinks in the first month”, figuring out how the hell this stuff actually works is a challenge.
So first, let’s calibrate your BS meter a bit, and let me explain some red flags and things to ignore.
Bull: Agencies (Or Freelancers) Promising XYZ Backlinks a Month.
I’ve worked in agencies that did this. They were too lazy to go out and do the actual work, so they ran a giant PBN that they would use to get backlinks.
What’s a PBN? A Personal Blog Network. To put it simply, they made up fake websites and added some content on them to make them seem real before adding backlinks every month like clockwork.
The idea is that this is faster and easier than actually going out there and getting backlinks. Plus, you have control over the entire link.
The problem? These links were of low quality. They didn’t provide a ton of value. And what little value they did provide was mitigated when the client’s sites got penalized.
PBNs are a huge no-no in Google land. They might seem like an easy way to get your site ranked but instead you could end up with penalties and even having it taken down entirely.
And I’ve seen this happen too – It’s not worth it.
Bull: Backlinks Will Shoot You To The Top Of The Results Instantly
This may be the most important thing to understand about SEO: it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
You’ll see your ranking improve over time and leads come in waves but don’t expect overnight success or immediate results
So if someone comes to you promising to have you outranking your competition in just one month, they’re either full of it, or you have an extremely low competition market.
Typically in my experience, it takes about 3-6 months to start seeing results from any SEO Strategy.
Bull: All You Need To Worry About Is Backlinks
Backlinks are not the end-all-be-all of SEO. They’re just one piece in an ever-changing puzzle! You’ll need good content that provides actual value before anything else will work.
Content is the foundation.
Bull: No-Follow Links Are Worthless
Short and sweet. No, no-follow links aren’t worthless, especially in SEO. They’re good for referral traffic, and in my experience, at least with Local SEO, it does help to have them. I certainly wouldn’t turn down a link opportunity or consider it a loss just because it’s a no-follow link.
How To Get Backlinks: Unlinked Mentions
This ones a little harder to do but extremely valuable. If you’ve been around awhile, there’s a good chance someone somewhere down the line mentioned your business by name, but didn’t include a link.
One way to identify this is to go on Google and search “Your Business Name” in quotes. This will find the results in which your business name is included in the page’s content but not linked.
Another is to use a tool like SEMRush or AHRefs. These tools have features to help you find unlinked mentions easily. The downside is the tools are pretty pricey.
But generally, these are easy links to get since they’re already mentioning you.
How To Get Backlinks: Sponsorships
Most people roll their eyes when I mention this. I did the first time I heard it.
Why? Because if you’re anything like me, when you hear “sponsorship,” you hear the sound of your bank account going negative.
But luckily, you, like I was, are wrong.
Sure, some sponsorship opportunities are expensive as hell, but there are some affordable options out there…
And if for some reason they include you in their list of sponsors but don’t include a backlink… don’t be afraid to just ask them to include a link.
Here’s a really cool way to get involved in your local community! Sign up for Meetup and find an event you want to support.
Not many people do this, so the organizers are usually pretty surprised when I contact them about it – which means they’re happy just hearing from me in general 😉
You don’t have to spend too much money either; $50 has been enough on several occasions for me (though sponsorship options may vary). What does becoming a sponsor of their group mean?
It gives both parties something valuable: You get links that can help establish yourself as trustworthy while also supporting causes near your local community, and they get some cash to buy drinks, pizza, uniforms or whatever else.
Offer Up Your Meeting Room
If you’re a larger business, for example, a car dealer, you likely have a conference room that you don’t always use. Or maybe your parts department closes early one day and just sits empty.
So reach out to local groups and offer up the space. They get a place to sit, have their meeting, have air conditioning, water, a bathroom, etc…
You can find groups on Meetup or even contact places like your local AA chapter.
Little League/Kids Groups
Little league groups are amazing. They’re local, and it isn’t too expensive to sponsor them a lot of times. But it will get you a high-quality backlink.
All you have to do is Google something like “Little League San Antonio” to find a local little league group, then look for a sponsor page on their website. Even if they don’t have them, contact them anyway.
The same goes for local kids groups: Band, Art, Debate Club, anything.
You can look for local music or art classes as well. Look for local painting classes and whatnot. Reach out. Offer to sponsor them and ask how much it would be.
If it ends up being out of your price range, then at least you know now.
Google or even your local city hall can be good places to find these. At the city hall in my hometown, I know there was a massive bulletin board where people added their flyers, and you could find local classes or groups.
I mean performing arts theaters. No one thinks of these, but they are almost always struggling for funding. Reach out to them and ask if you can sponsor them. Often times they’re thrilled for the help.
Make Use Of Your Blog to Get Backlinks.
It’s easy! Just write high-quality content that is highly relevant to your audience, and then people will want to link back to your content!Every SEO Guru Ever
No one is going to just link to your content for no reason, at least not when you’re starting out.
You need to make a content plan. And you need to post locally relevant content, link to other local businesses, and then reach out.
Most businesses make the common mistake of improperly utilizing their blog.
Either they don’t use it at all, or they make constant posts trying to sell their services or products. These type of posts aren’t going to provide much value.
What you truly need are two kinds of blog posts…
The business posts should be focused on questions your customers typically ask.
If you’re a pool cleaner, that might be “Why does my pool turn green” or “How to fix a pool pump”.
If you’re a car dealer, it might be “Which is better, the Hyundai Elantra or the Hyundai Sonata?” Or “What’s the maintenance schedule for my Ford F-150?”.
Find out what your customers are asking and looking for, and then make a post about it.
If it’s a question, answer it. Tell them exactly how to fix their pool pump or how to change their cars oil themselves. Post something about what to look for when buying a used car.
Give them all your knowledge. Don’t hold back. Too often, business owners hold back their knowledge, thinking that if they tell the customer too much, they won’t get the sale.
But you want to show you’re a trustworthy expert. Charge for implementation, not knowledge.
Locally Relevant Posts
These are where you’re going to get your backlinks. Or at least most of them.
Now, some may argue that if you’re a car dealer, it’s impossible to get backlinks.
I say that’s not true.
Say your dealership is located in San Antonio, TX. Some areas around San Antonio would be Boerne, New Braunfels, and Pleasanton.
Start writing about other businesses in those areas. No, not competitors, just local businesses.
For example: “The Best Coffee Shops in Boerne, TX” or “Things To Do in San Antonio, TX”.
Continue with that mindset; look for barbers, restaurants, massage places, outdoor activities, colleges, anything.
Let’s say, for example, I write about “The 5 Best Coffee Shops In Boerne, TX”.
In that article, I mention 5 different local coffee shops.
- Allies Coffee
- West Avenue Coffee
- Blue Dolphin Brews
- The Bean
- Dutch’s Coffee Shop
I’m now going to include links to each of these places.
Then I am going to reach out to each shop, and I am going to say something like:
My name is Cameron and I am the Community Outreach Coordinator for San Antonio Mazda.
We’re all huge fans of Allie’s Coffee and the excellent coffee you serve the local Boerne area communities. I’m reaching out to let you know we actually featured you in our recent blog post “The 5 Best Coffee Shops in Boerne, TX”.
While on your site, I noticed you have a press page. We would love to be featured on the page with our new post, “The 5 Best Coffee Shops in Boerne, TX”.
Also, if you’d like to share our post on social media in the meantime, feel free!
Thanks again, and keep up the great work!
Of course, if they don’t have a press page, you’d have to change this up. Usually, I mention that I noticed they lack a press page, and most businesses are missing out on that in the area.
I mention it’s super easy to make and very powerful for getting more media coverage.
This doesn’t always land a response, but it often does. And then you not only get a backlink, but you get a locally relevant backlink.
This is great because it’s just another way to confirm to Google that not only are you an authority figure, but you are a trustworthy local business.
Note: A nice side effect of doing this is that you will often find even more sponsorship opportunities this way.
How To Get Backlinks: Chamber Of Commerce
These links are incredibly valuable as well.
But like sponsorships, they often require some financial investment.
For example, if you search “Atlanta Chamber Of Commerce” for example, ” you come across https://www.metroatlantachamber.com/investors/membership.
This particular one costs about $2,500 to join, but they provide you with a high-quality backlink to your site.
Now keep in mind, Atlanta is a huge city. I’ve seen smaller cities’ chambers of commerce charge as little as $150 to join.
How To Get Backlinks: Industry-Specific Directories
You can also find industry-specific directories to list your business on. For car dealers for example, a popular one is DealerRater.
These can be decent links to get as well.
Bonus: How To Get EDU Links
This honestly goes hand in hand with locally relevant blog content, but I figured I’d dedicate a section to it.
EDU links are EXTREMELY valuable. And a lot of people are convinced they’re almost impossible to get.
In some cases, they might be. And they are definitely difficult.
But one way I’ve managed to do it is to include a post about “The Best Universities In New Braunfels,” for example, and link to some local colleges.
Then you outreach to them as normal.
I have actually managed to land clients a few EDU links using this method in the past.
So there you have it – the real story on how to build quality backlinks. It’s not as hard as some make it out to be, but it does take a bit of effort.
But if you put in the time and do things the right way, you can reap the rewards for years to come.