How to get backlinks – the right way

Hannah Brice Written by
Hannah Brice

Nearly every business on the planet wants a prominent spot on the search engine rankings. This is why SEO programmes are becoming an operational priority.

As a lifestyle blogger in my spare time, I’ve been approached hundreds of times by SEO agencies seeking out backlinks to quickly elevate their client in the search engine rankings. So many of them break rules to get fast results, and end up penalising their clients in the process. They’re called black hat SEO agencies. And they are to be avoided.

SEO is tricky to get right and backlinks take time to gather. However, it’s a worthwhile investment of time to rise up the rankings on Google and attract visitors to your site.

Here’s Upmarketry’s guide on how to get backlinks. And high quality ones at that.

Backlink source 1. PR

This is probably quite an obvious one to start with but it’s also one that requires skill, planning and creativity.

What you’re trying to do is get your target online media to feature your news. And to do so, you need to make it stand out against the other ONE THOUSAND+ press releases or viewpoints they’ve received in the same two hour period. Yup. Some journalists receive that many emails.

So, a press release about a new product update, an appointment, or an announcement simply stating your company is really good at what it does, is going to go straight into the Trash folder.

On the other hand, if you’ve thought about the issues the media title’s readers care about… You’ve considered the topics they’ve covered in the past… You’ve come up with a new angle on the issue or topic perhaps with data or other evidence… And you’ve put your best writer on the case to produce newsworthy copy… Then you’re in with a chance of getting it published.

Add to that the right pitch over the phone to the journalist (at the right time) and a careful use of links to your site, and that backlink could be yours.

Sounds like a lot of work?

Well, get PR professionals to do it for you. Upmarketry’s PR campaigns can start from as little as £1,000 and will get you some of the highest quality backlinks as far as Google is concerned. Why? Because media titles have very high readerships and therefore have high domain authorities. This means a backlink from them is valuable as they are a superior source of information. And by linking to you they’re saying you’re also a superior source. Plus, because you are not the editor of the website, Google knows you’re not manipulating the website content. And have therefore earned the link honourably. So again, it’s counted as high quality.

Backlink source 2. Blogs

If you’re a consumer-facing business, then featuring in blogs is just as important as gaining media coverage. However, while a solid story will get you a mention in a news title for free, it won’t in a blog. Most influencers expect payment for every brand mention they include. And I think this is a real shame because it means that their readers are only being exposed to brands who have the budget to pay for it.

For the brands, it’s a problem too because if they do pay for a backlink, the blog post that is subsequently published will indicate that it is a sponsored post. This devalues the mention and the link is categorised as a ‘no follow link’, rather than a ‘dofollow’ link.

A dofollow link is like the backlinks mentioned in the previous section. They’re counted by search engines as a good endorsement of your site.

A no follow link is a link that search engines don’t count. And if a blogger takes payment from you and then uses a dofollow link rather than a nofollow, they are cheating the system. This could not only penalise their site, but yours too.

What you want is a genuine free endorsement of your site. So you need to get bloggers to see real value in what you do or say and want to share it with their readers. This is a struggle so it helps to have been a blogger before.

Put a blogger on your team

Bloggers help each other out. They trust the quality content other bloggers produce and know that by letting bloggers write on their site as a guest post or crowdsourcing piece, they are doing two things. They’re giving themselves a break from the slog of post writing. And, they’re getting access to traffic from a new source. This is because the blogger doing the guest posting will tell their followers about the guest post and direct them to the other blogger’s site.

I very much enjoy doing guest posts for my peers in the blogging world. Provided the company I’m writing about offers a service or product that I think consumers would benefit from, then there’s an opportunity to get several backlinks for them fairly easily.

Backlink source 3. Comment on other blog posts and articles

In terms of how to get backlinks, this is far less labour intensive than the previous methods.  It should help you engage with some target influencers too!

The first thing you need to do is identify the people that influence your target audience. And that sit in a similar space to you. So, for me, it would be successful business writers or marketing leaders. I’d look for articles or blog posts they’ve published online, that I feel I can add some value to. Or I can ask a question of. And I include a link to my site in the comment.

It’s crucial that the article you’re commenting on is relevant to the topics covered in your website and that your comment isn’t spammy. “Great article thanks” won’t be appreciated by the author of the article. On the other hand, a summary of your favourite points in the piece and a question will prove to the author that you’ve read it all. It’ll also show you value their help and are seeking more of it.

You can then follow up by mentioning them on twitter or another social channel and link to the article. They’re bound to appreciate that and a relationship is beginning to form!

Backlink source 4. Guest posts

Guest posts, viewpoints, placed articles, thought leadership pieces. Whatever you call them, these are word-for-word pieces of copy you’ve drafted that media titles and blogs publish on their site.

As with PR, you need to ensure your article is brilliantly written, relevant to the publication’s target audience and teaching them something new. What’s more, you have to ensure that the copy doesn’t exist anywhere else. If Google considers the copy to be duplicate content because it has found it somewhere else on the web, it won’t count. So for each backlink, you need one piece of copy.

And where do you put the backlink? Some publications will only let you put it in the introduction or ending next to your name. However, if you can agree for it to feature within the article itself, it will be more valuable to Google.

How do you secure a guest post? Look for contact details on the sites you’d like to feature and try this email copy:


Hi [insert name]

I’ve just finished reading your article [insert name of article] and found it really helpful. You’re completely right that [insert key point from the piece]. No doubt it’ll be a very popular article on the site with your readers and I wondered if you’d consider a piece from me? I am [insert title] of [insert name of company and the problem you solve for the title’s readers] and I have a viewpoint on [insert title]. Below is a short summary of the article for your consideration. The full piece is 800 words and has not been published anywhere else. 

Please do let me know if you’d be interested in seeing it.

[insert synopsis of viewpoint]

I’m afraid I can’t write the whole email for you but hopefully this helps!

Backlink source 5. Get listed on relevant directories

This is quite possibly the easiest way to get backlinks and can be a good source of customers too!

For a list of directories to consider, try these from Nexus Websites  and Invoiceberry.

It’s also wise to google “[insert region you’re based in] business directory” and “[insert industry you operate in] business directory” to find some local and sector specific directories too.

Some will expect payment for including your business but there are plenty that are free.

UPDATE (May 2018): Moz has announced that search engines no longer value directory listings as high quality backlinks. (But it will be some time before this change is fully in force.)

Backlink source 6. Create killer content

It’s all very well going out seeking backlinks. But your goal is for people to find the content on your site so valuable that they’ll share it widely for you.

This is where investment in marketing comes in. Spend some time and money on producing extensive guides, infographics and tools, videos and data-filled reports and white papers. These assets need to be more informative than anything else on the web. So, if you’re a specialist in childcare, your site could have a tool on it to work out typical childcare rates in your area. Or, you could try “skyscraping” which is where you scrape all of the best insight on the internet on a certain topic. And pull it altogether with you own added extras to create something brilliant.

Host them on your site and then ensure you’re giving people plenty of opportunities to find them. This could be via your blog, social media and advertising. What this should do, provided the content is strong enough, is encourage industry writers and influencers to refer to your content and link to you in their own articles. And voila – a valuable backlink!

It’s also worthwhile contacting a few key bloggers and influencers to share the content with them. That way it’s definitely on their radar.

Backlink source 7. Stealing links

Surely stealing can’t be allowed? Oh yes it can! If you’ve created skyscraper content mentioned above that is better than anything else on the web, then you need to make sure that any sites linking to other, less informative guides, link to yours instead! Think of it as a good deed in fact!

How do you do this? There are a number of tools that will help you but the one we like at Upmarketry is called Ahrefs and it’s worth every penny of its £93.42 monthly fee. It’s got a wealth of amazing features to help you get backlinks but today I’m going to tell you how to use it to secure backlinks to your killer content.

Say you’ve created some skyscraper content on saving money on your car insurance. You’d click on Ahrefs content explorer function, type in the keyword phrase “save money on your car insurance” and it would show you all the pages that rank on page one of google. No big deal – you could have just googled that right? Well no. Because what it also shows you is how many backlinks each page has got. You can then click on each one, find the sites that linked to them and then contact each one in turn to pitch that your article is better. Simple!

Think you’ve got some good content? Here’s a valuable checklist to see if it’s likely to be picked up and linked to by the industry experts:

Infographic - checklist of backlink-worthy content

Backlink source 8. Check where your competitors are getting links from

Even with an extensive PR and influencers outreach programme, you may still miss out on some great places for backlinks.

And which places do you definitely not want to miss being included? On sites that link to your competitors! To check where your competitors have backlinks, a great tool if you aren’t ready to pay for Ahrefs is Open Site Explorer from Moz. It does a free 30 day trial and you can look at the backlinks for a number of competitors to find out where you should be focussing your attention.

And that’s the guide on how to get backlinks. If you’ve found this article helpful, please do help Upmarketry’s own SEO programme by sharing and linking to it where possible!

Hannah is the Managing Director of Upmarketry.