What are Good Backlinks?

What Makes a Backlink Good

Backlinks don’t work anymore as they used to in the past and the blogs perpetuate that SEO myth.

When one buys into the ‘backlink equals rankings’ myth then it’s all about quantity. You find what the competitors do to outrank you and you go and buy more backlinks. But Google has ways to ignore all those artificially acquired links just because they violate its policies. This is why the old-school method of creating a strong backlink profile doesn’t work so well. There will be always exceptions and pages that slip through the cracks but we are not here to talk about exceptions. We want to recognize patterns and do some correlation, if we have done a great job maybe we find causation, the hidden rule. But the bloggers and SEO industry leaders hide the facts and promote the backlink-focused research (all about correlation there) just because they need to keep selling their priced services, monitoring, and audit tools.

The best source of backlinks for your target search query is one out of the ten pages/competitors that rank well, meaning in the top ten. All the rest about Domain/Page Authority, outgoing links, dofollow/nofollow tags, don’t matter so much, but I will get into those.

A good backlink is the backlink you earn naturally; I got a good backlink from Wikipedia because my article is relevant to the topic.

Image by Parveender Lamba from Pixabay

Backlink Tools / Audits

There are plenty of tools showing you metrics that offer to help you rank your pages. Opensiteexplorer, Ahrefs, Majestic, Link Research (use with caution), Monitorbacklinks, and Ubersuggest, all are paid (it’s important to note that because they keep you on a leash/subscription) tools that promise to automate your work (note that all-in-one solutions never work without an expert eye to review and make decisions).

Domain/Page Authority/Rating doesn’t matter so much; it’s just a metric. I prefer a tool showing me how relevant a page is to my topic, not even a keyword. The spam score doesn’t matter if the page ranks well. If it’s good for Google, then the spam score is not a reliable metric. Outgoing/Incoming links again the same as above, and Trust Flow same as above; If Google likes the page, I do too. Page traffic would be a good metric if the tools had a reliable way to measure it, but they don’t. Bottom line: Start with pages that rank well or the websites that show up in search. If you manage that there’s no tool to do it better for you.

Enough Backlinks to Rank

You may have as many backlinks as you want but still, you could be ranking lower than your competitors. Funny isn’t it? That fact right there, tells you very clearly that backlinks are not the main factor when it comes to ranking pages. Take a look at websites currently ranking on the first page. How many backlinks do they have? Are backlinks the only factor for their prominent positions? How do they present their content? What page elements, metadata, and structured data markup do they have? Does Google prefer a content format that’s different from your page? Are there any featured snippets or knowledge panels on the first page? If you could imitate the format and present your version, do you think that you’d have a better chance?

Do your keyword research and then find out the best format currently used for the queries. See if you can offer something elevated to the current state of the query, i.e., a FAQ page, current facts with references, stats and case studies, video content, etc. The intent would be to help Google present a better version of answering the search query. If you can help Google by providing a quick and easy answer, it will reciprocate.

Always provide the user with their location on the site (breadcrumbs, page titles) and give them exit links to the homepage or the sitemap. Clean your navigation links from any Javascript that impedes search engine crawlers. Interlink your most important pages (revenue) and trim navigation bulk menus that confuse users. Build the navigation links for your visitors and not over-optimize them for Google.

Stop for a couple of hours and think about what you can do better with your content. Build a keyword map with the pages and maybe design a visual wireframe of the structure; it will help identify your main landing pages and your traffic hubs. You might need to merge pages on the same topic because your stats don’t show they have much traction. Make sure you redirect old to new pages to keep traffic and link juice flowing. If you need to build supplementary pages (stats, information, blog posts, guides, etc.) with lots of content, do it without linking to them from the homepage, but inversely, link those pages to the main topic page, interlink them, and focus conversions on your main cluster page.

Buying Backlinks Is Dangerous

Dangerous enough to get you a nasty penalty. Amateur webmasters like to portray themselves as experts in SEO, so instead of hiring an expert, they prefer to save money and throw some backlinks that they find very cheap online from third-world countries. Bookmarks, forum profiles, blog comments, web 2.0 sites, link directories, article marketingguest posting, any gig goes as long as the price is right, and if it doesn’t work, no worries mate. Well, I see the practice going on for years, and it has serious consequences. Despite the information that Google discloses, the warnings, the increasing number of penalties, the AI, and the innovations that create new highways in search, despite our efforts to change the mindset, people still get hit by penalties every day. There are fantastic gigs out there, but when it comes to backlinks or SEO, gigs with backlinks blasts, comment blasts, web 2.0 sites, and forum profiles, will get you in trouble.


Core Web Vitals measure user experience in 6 areas
if you fix all of them you get a perfect score (90+),
visitors will convert more and your rankings will improve.

Build Backlinks Safely

First things first: there are no White-hat backlinks. If you try to manipulate your rankings, you have already left the white space. I would suggest going for brand mentions, showcasing your business, differentiating your content (content type variety), and providing a lot of useful information. Use a variety of content types to present your business, i.e., articles, press releases, videos, infographics, images, slides, and PDFs. Introduce your brand and what you do better compared to your competitors. If it’s an article or blog post, make sure you put your contact details and homepage at the end of the piece or in the designated author box. Offer value to the readers utilizing extra information, case studies, research data, facts and figures, opinions, lists, and roundups, something they can’t find commonly online. Try to get a reporter, blogger, or influencer to interview you and profit from the extra visibility by adding your link. Videos are a great way to showcase your services/products and have your landing page link in the description.

Ranking well today is not about having the maximum number of backlinks, but having high-quality links still helps a lot in Google. Getting free links is not as easy as in the past, and many of the old tactics are now obsolete or spam (blog comments, bookmarks, forum profiles, etc.). But you can still earn links with content marketing, and it’s my opinion that this method will stick to building safe backlinks for years. You still need a marketing budget to create and distribute content, but that’s not changed a lot as old methods (and their damage) cost money too.

Earning links with content is not an easy task. The content needs to be top-class, very interesting and shared a lot before turning eyes and earning links. It is somewhat of a similar tactic to ranking a website. For the content to rank, it needs to have qualities that make it stand out from the fold. It works pretty much the same way with a landing page; if your on/off-page SEO is outstanding, it will rank well. Outreach plays a pivotal role in promoting content and can turn the game, but not every outreach method produces excellent results. We want links from established websites in the same niche as the receiver. A handful of such links will have more impact than large quantities of unrelated backlinks.

I get daily requests to link to content that supposedly offers value to my readers (an in-depth article or an infographic), or it adds a resource that the creator thinks my website is currently lacking. Do I link to them? I don’t. I prefer to give a backlink or publish well-researched content that offers full coverage of the topic and remains close to the original creator, meaning somebody took his/her time to create an outstanding informative piece. I am talking here about the outreach that needs to offer an excellent product and reach the right people. In the above examples, they have contacted me (the right guy to publish their content), but their content wasn’t good enough for publishing (failed outreach).

Backlinks from Local Contacts

Sharing experiences and content online is a new trend in generating traffic. The best results you get when local celebrities, influencers, or news reporters mention your business. As to the type of content shared, it could be a blog post, a video, a review, a Facebook or Instagram post, and more. Strictly Google guidelines speaking, it is manipulation when the celebrity or influencer asks for money or any other compensation as it involves an incentive to leave a positive review (nobody would want a negative review anyway) or endorse your business. So, technically you will be manipulating your traffic, rankings, and backlinks, but who cares what Google says? It makes sense to use traditional marketing methods with a modern twist on online marketing.

Traffic and Links from Sponsorships

Events are always seeking sponsors, and here’s an opportunity to draw more visibility and backlinks. Most of the time, local events are announced through their web page, and they dedicate a prominent section to their sponsors. The event page draws attention and backlinks from local media (social networks, newspapers, bloggers), so it will be a somewhat strong backlink. Secure that the backlink (image or a text link) is a clean one, meaning not hiding in javascript, has nofollow tag, or is placed in a noindex, nofollow page. You may target events in other locations if you offer services to many areas by entering in Google something like sponsor/s + city name.

Say no to unnatural links and yes to link-worthy content. One technique is to create detailed guides and tutorials. I’m talking about long tutorials over 2000 words. Tutorials are so many in some niches and only a few in others; now there’s the opportunity. Long guides give readers everything they need to know about the subject, and Google finds that the content is so useful that it has no other option but to rank it above the fold. Bloggers may link to your tutorials because it of high value or reference them as a source to visit and read more about the topic. It is the same way I used to get a link from Wikipedia without doing any outreach.

DoFollow vs. Nofollow

It doesn’t matter what type of backlinks you build. Both types pass link juice, and it’s good to have a mix. Google takes into account both types and gives extra credit, of course, to follow links. You don’t want to forget, though, that nofollow links are still a great source of referral traffic. You can find nofollow links everywhere: in blog comments, sidebar links, footer links, forum profiles and signature links, and social bookmarks. Google suggests webmasters add nofollow or sponsored tags to all paid links.

Internal and External Links

It’s good to have a mix. You build internal links when you connect pages from the same website (interlinking). It is always best practice when you interlink pages that talk about the same topic.

When you give a link to a page outside your website for any reason, this is an external link. Usually, blogs give external backlinks to other sites from their sidebar and their footer sections (these are sitewide links and search engines don’t give them much credit). When you insert links in the body of an article, this is an editorial link and passes the most link juice because the writer considered it of high value to the readers.

Take care with external links; the quantity matters so much; If you give more than 20 from a page that has only a few paragraphs, Google sees it as a low-quality page. If you extend the practice to other pages of your site, again from pages with poor content, Google might think you are building a link farm (spam).