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Caroline Drake

by Jeanne Butler (2020-06-29)

Acquiring backlinks is an essential part of an effective SEO plan. Links tell search engines that a site is recognized, trusted, and, therefore, worthy of a top spot on search engine results pages (SERPs). But it’s not just the number of backlinks that appeals to search engines; it’s also the types of backlinks.

Depending on the link type, backlinks have varying levels of influence on search engine rankings and on the results you can see from acquiring them . The rest of this post will look at the different types of backlinks, explain their value, and offer tips for how you can acquire the most valuable and effective backlinks.

3 Factors That Impact Link Value
Before we review a full list of backlink types, it’s important to understand what makes a link valuable. As mentioned above, backlinks are not all created equal. There are a variety of factors that can make backlinks more valuable than others, and there are also some that make a link very bad for SEO.

The 3 main factors that impact link value include the following:

1. The Authority of the Linking Site
The most valuable types of backlinks come from quality websites. Links from sites that are recognized as top authoritative resources will send more positive signals to search engines than links from low-quality, lesser-known sites.

To determine the authority of a site (and the value of a link), look at the linking site’s Alexa Rank. The better (i.e., lower) the Alexa Rank of the linking site, the better the link is for SEO. Sites with a low Alexa Rank are more authoritative than sites with a high Alexa Rank. You can check a site’s Alexa Rank using Alexa’s Site Overview tool.

2. Do Follow vs. No Follow Status

When a publisher adds a link to their website, they can use HTML code to set the link as either “do follow” or “no follow.”

Do follow links tell search engines to notice and give SEO value to the links.
No follow links tell search engines to ignore the links and give them less SEO value.

Because do follow links send better signals to search engines, they are more valuable than no follow links. You want links to your site to be coded as do follow. However, a no follow backlink can still drive traffic to your website.
Because do follow links send better signals to search engines, they are more valuable than no follow links.
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To know if a link is a do follow or no follow, you can use the NoFollow Simple Chrome extension to easily check the link’s code.
do follow backlinks extension

Google and the Google logo are registered trademarks of Google LLC, used with permission.

3. On-Site Link Location

Websites are set up in sections, and how valuable a link is may be impacted by the section in which it appears.

The most valuable links are placed within the main body content of the site. Links may not receive the same value from search engines when they appear in the header, footer, or sidebar of the page. This is an important factor to keep in mind as you seek to build high-quality backlinks. Look to build links that will be included in the main body content of a site.
The Best Types of Backlinks

Now that you know what makes backlinks valuable, let’s look at a list of the best backlinks for SEO. As you learn how to create backlinks, these are the strategies that will provide the best long-term SEO results.
Editorial Backlinks

The best types of links in SEO come from editorial mentions. An editorial mention is when another website refers and links to your website in a piece of quality content. An editorial backlink may be included as:

Citing someone from your company or something from your content as a source of information
Referring to your website as a resource for additional information
Citing your website as the creator of an infographic
Including your website or content in a link roundup
Interviewing someone associated with your website

The best types of links in SEO come from editorial mentions.

How to Get Editorial Backlinks:

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Guest Blogging Backlinks

Guest posting is another way to acquire valuable backlinks. When you submit a guest post to a website, you’re often allowed to include an editorial backlink within your content. These types of backlinks are a reliable way to build trust and authority through other influential publications.

How to Get Guest Blogging Backlinks: Build a list of valuable guest blogging sites and master guest blogging outreach.
Business Profile Backlinks

In most cases, when you create an online profile for a business, you can include a link back to your website. These links on business listings, social media networks, and industry-specific directories show search engines that a website is established and high quality.

How to Get Business Profile Backlinks: Create profiles on well-known directories or review sites (such as Yellow Pages, Yelp, Foursquare, Capterra, etc.) in your industry. Or consider using a service like Synup or Yext that creates and manages profiles for you.
Webinar Links

Creating a valuable resource on your site often encourages other sites to link back to it. A high-value piece of content that often leads to links is a webinar recording. Other sites frequently link to or even embed other brand’s webinars on their site, leading to both links and brand mentions.

How to Get Webinar Backlinks: Repurpose your webinars by posting them as recordings on your website so people can visit and link to them. Use blog promotion to attract attention to the webinar recording, and find guest blogging sites that may be interested in using the webinar as resource on their site.
Free Tool Links

Another way to get sites to link back to something valuable on your site is by offering a free tool. A free tool could be a basic tool (like an auto loan calculator) or a scaled down version of a paid tool (like Alexa’s Site Overview and Audience Overlap tools). If the tools are valuable enough, others will link to them in their content. Plus, on free versions of paid tools, you can add call-to-actions to sign up for the full product/service which drives acquisition in addition to awareness.

find similar sites free tool backlink

How to Get Free Tool Backlinks: Create a simple tool or free version of your paid tool. Use Alexa’s Audience Overlap tool to find sites that have a similar audience who would be interested in using your tool, and use guest blogging outreach to connect with the sites and see if they would like to feature your free tool.
Good Types of Backlinks

There are other types of backlinks that don’t provide as much value as those listed above, but can still support your overall link profile and help boost your SEO.
Acknowledgment Backlinks

An acknowledgment backlink is when a website mentions and links to a website in reference to a relationship or sponsorship. These links typically don’t have much content related to the brand or what they do, and instead, are simple mentions that:

Indicate that the brand made a donation
Show that someone from the brand is speaking at or sponsoring an event
Include a testimonial for the linking website’s brand

How to Get Acknowledgment Backlinks: Use Alexa’s Competitor Backlink Checker to find backlinks your competitors get traffic from. Identify sites where they acquired acknowledgment backlinks, and look for places in those sites’ content where you can do the same.

find competitor backlinks
Guest Post Bio Backlinks

In some cases, guest blogging sites don’t allow or won’t include a link back to the author’s site within the main body of content. Instead, they allow the author to include a link in the author bio. While not as valuable as a link in the body of the post, bio backlinks can still add value to a website’s link portfolio.

How to Get Guest Bio Backlinks: Use the same guest posting strategies mentioned above and also perform a backlink analysis on your competitors to see where they have acquired guest post links.
Badge Backlinks

A way to build backlinks by providing value to other sites is through branded badges. A branded badge is an award that a brand creates and gives out to other sites as a status symbol. For example, you could create a list of the top sites or best brands that are published on your site, and then give badges to each brand on the list so that they can show the status on their site. You include a link back to the article on the badge to create the link.
badge types of backlinks

Credit: Scary Mommy

How to Get Badge Backlinks: Look for a group of sites that you can qualify together and create a badge to identify them. To find similar sites, use Alexa’s Audience Overlap tool to identify groups of sites that share themes and audiences.

find similar sites using Audience Overlap
Newsworthy Press Release Backlinks

A press release can serve double duty for marketing efforts. It can alert media outlets about your news and also help your website gain backlinks. But it can only build links effectively if executed properly. Only write and distribute press releases when a brand has something newsworthy or interesting to share . This strategy can gain links on the actual press release post as well as on the stories that media outlets write about it.

How to Get Press Release Backlinks: When your brand has news, write a press release and use a service like PRWeb or Newswire to distribute it to media outlets.
Comment Backlinks

When you comment on a blog post, you are usually allowed to include a link back to your website. This is often abused by spammers and can become a negative link building tool. But if you post genuine comments on high-quality blog posts, there can be some value in sharing links, as it can drive traffic to your site and increase the visibility of your brand.

How to Get Comment Backlinks: Don’t overdo it with this strategy. Only focus on commenting on relevant, high-quality blogs or forums related to your industry. To find sites relevant to your industry and audience, use Alexa’s Audience Overlap tool to find similar sites your audience uses.

Build a Better Backlink Strategy

Links are an essential part of any good SEO strategy. But remember, it’s not just about the quantity of links; it’s also about the quality of the links .

There are different types of backlinks that come with varying levels of value and importance. Create your link building plans around acquiring top-tier links that will be the most beneficial to your SEO.

To find the best backlinks for SEO, sign up for a free trial of Alexa’s Advanced Plan. You’ll get access to all of the audience, industry, and keyword research tools mentioned in this post that can help you build an effective link building plan.

How SEO Strategists and Content Creators Should Work Together to Drive Results

In today’s fast-moving content and marketing world, it’s important to collaborate. We can’t do everything on our own – as individual contributors so to speak – to truly be successful. Teamwork matters, but not just as a buzzword. We have to have the right teammates collaborate at the right times.

In “Content Performance Culture” – my Top 100 PR book, one of my pillars of content performance is to have the right people in the right roles. Two of those areas are the content creators and SEO strategists. They can’t live without each other in a content performance world, but how do they truly work best together? Let me share what I’ve seen work in the field.

But first, let’s get some basic definitions out of the way.
What do I mean by content creator?

Traditionally, writers would fall into this group. Then multimedia content creators who write but also dabble in other content, like quick videos. Today, I would say anyone who creates content that is intended to be published – usually on the web – falls into this category. That could be:

Podcasters, producers, etc.
Video shooters, editors, directors, etc.

It’s really anyone that produces content hands on. I’m a content creator right now, writing this. Keep in mind that podcasts and videos are also starting to get indexed. SEO strategies apply there as well.
What’s a SEO strategist?

SEO strategists are usually more technical in the art and science of determining the best SEO strategy for a content project. They know what terms to analyze based on the goal and find alternative words. They also often look at what competitors are ranking for when it comes to the same topical area.

One of my favorite SEO strategist stories: At the start of a project, the strategist determined that the top competitor was ranking extremely well for the top keyword. Should we go after that one? Let’s beat them! That’s an easy sentiment. But this strategist recommended that we go after the next keywords in line. It turned out that No. 2-5 still had a good volume of search traffic and were just as viable.

SEO strategists also keep on top of how rankings and algorithms evolve. That’s a full-time job in itself.
How content creators and SEO strategists can work together

When content creators and SEO strategists choose to work together, they can make their projects more successful. SEO strategies change constantly. What’s working changes. And then keep in mind that it can take months for content to drive traffic from organic searches.
At the beginning of new content creation

Content teams are facing an ever-increasing pressure to not just create content, but to create content that performs. With that in mind, content creators should really make use of all the tools and expertise at their fingertips and that includes working with SEO strategists.

I grew up in print journalism and I wrote daily stories. There was no keyword research done back then. We hadn’t even heard about it. You have a story, you figure out the best to write it – in your opinion. Then write it. An editor would edit. Done. Of course, content performance wasn’t a thing back then.

I’m the first to admit that the urge to just write what we think is a good story. We’ve done that for a while. It’s ingrained. But there are real advantages to connecting with our SEO strategist first.

Are people even searching for the topic we want to write about? I’ve had plenty of “great” ideas that nobody was searching for at all. Think zero monthly searches. Why would I write about that? Even when a topic shows zero monthly searches, a strategist can help us evolve the topic into something that does have searches.

Sure, 15 percent of daily searches have never been searched before. But it’s a gamble to produce content with the hope that somebody may potentially perhaps search for it tomorrow.

For example, “marketing emergencies” has no searches while “reduce stress” has more. While the topic is similar, picking the right words can help the content perform. That’s where an SEO strategist comes in. Many content writers can do their basic keyword search but SEO strategists can take that a level deeper. In addition, the SEO strategist can keep the site’s overall strategy in mind. Already have content that is ranking for a specific keyword phrase and update that instead. New content isn’t the only kind of content that can perform.
To update existing content

Some content pieces really do not have to be produced new. If your site already has content on Topic A and there’s new information, don’t create a new page or a new blog post. Here’s the workflow I would recommend:

Look at how much traffic the current page draws
What keywords is it ranking for
What’s the potential for other keywords or improve visibility for the current one?

Most of those tasks I would put in the SEO strategist camp. If an article doesn’t perform and isn’t ranking for anything, maybe it’s okay to send it to the trash completely. It’s not performing anyway. Let’s start from scratch or repurpose pieces of it.

In fact, over the years and after many projects it seems that many sites I’ve audited have an overabundance of non-performing content. Often it looks like this:

5 percent of pages are home runs
5-25 percent are above average
15-25 percent are slightly above average
50-70 percent are under performers

That doesn’t feel good to us content creators when we look at a site and 70 percent of content isn’t living up to performance goals. Ugh. But it’s often a reality. One of my pillars of the Content Performance Philosophy is the Next-Play Mentality. Like athletes in a game, run the next play to drive results going forward.

Updating existing content doesn’t come naturally to many content creators. As the title says: Content creators create new content. They often don’t create content by updating content. Many prefer – or default rather – to creating new content. That can lead to issues with having content that is targeting the same search queries and can dilute content on our site.

That’s where SEO strategists can shine as well. They can identify the content that is a candidate for updating, deleting and repurposing in new articles.
To combine existing content

This strategy is similar to the one above. When a site has multiple similar articles like this it likely is a good strategy to combine:

The 12 content marketing strategies that work
5 content marketing strategies to pursue in 2020
8 strategies in content marketing that are now outdated

How do these kinds of clusters of similar content happen anyway? Usually that can occur when content creators work in silos and without historical background.
What’s the best workflow?

Content ideas can come from the content team. They can also come from the SEO strategist. It doesn’t have to be a production line workflow. If an SEO strategist has an idea for content and already knows based on their research that SEO success is likely, that can help the entire team – including the content creator.

Empower SEO strategists to bring story and content ideas to the table as well.

I’m a big fan of hallway collaboration. You know the kind. A content creator and a strategist run into each other in the hallway and exchange ideas. There’s a place for this, but that process is hard to scale and we do need to look up data to make informed decisions. Certainly, that can be done to an extent end from mobile devices. I still recommend a workflow like this:

Agree on a standard process to pass assignments and requests back and forth in a written format. Use a tool that works for most.
In this tool, content creators can assign requests for research to a strategist. Make sure to include the current idea with topic name and potential keywords that you are thinking of targeting.
It’s also helpful to share the audience with the strategist: Who is this content for? People might be searching for the topic in healthcare but if your client is in wellness that might not be a match.
Add a deadline and keep in mind that not every request is an emergency.
Consider an in-person collaboration. Or on the phone or via messaging app.

This workflow is also a two-way street. I’ve seen strategists catch content tasks that need to be considered. Examples include updating old content, combining content or creating new content for a keyword that is starting to trend up.

At the end of the day, content creators and SEO strategists have similar goals: To get their sites to get to peak performance. Marketing – which includes good content and SEO – at the end of the day is a team sport. Well-rounded teams can find ways more easily than individual players.

SEO strategists and content creators have different skill sets – all of which are needed for high-performing content. Using them as a team in a collaborative manner can drive wins quicker.