Backlinks hold as one of the top Google ranking factors. So much so that Google has remained steadfast in weeding out bad links from good ones. Abundant links still mean a higher rank.
Though, it’s more challenging than ever to cull from diverse and relevant domains. Link building is a profession unto itself. As crucial as links are, you can torpedo your SEO efforts by overpopulating your site with links.
Broken links and weak backlinks are other offenders. Worse, Google can slap you with a penalty, causing a significant loss of organic traffic.
SEO is a wide-reaching discipline. Let’s focus on backlinks. What does Google say about them? And what are the best link building tools to help you create effective backlinks? Stick around to find out.
Why Quality Backlinks are Essential
Backlinks exist on another page and reference your web page. Another website mentions a link to your website. Backlinks are also called inbound links (IBL).
These are not at all like internal links or outbound links, which lead outside of your web page. All these links have their place in SEO. Though, your site won’t rank without backlinks.
Relevancy of External Sites
Consider the relevance of the external sights where your backlinks appear. Are your mentions in sites within your niche? If you sell photography equipment, for example, you want your backlinks to appear on photography-related web pages.
Almighty Google’s Hand in Link Building
In a nutshell, Google Penguin changed how backlinks impact your SEO. Before it went live in 2012, more links of any kind meant higher rankings. Google Penguin added a spam filter to Google’s core algorithm.
This filter works in real time to spot overused and nonrelevant backlinks. In this way, poorly-chosen links pose a risk.
Basic Link Building Tips
When starting a link building campaign, deliberation is the key. Not all backlinks are equal. Your goal is more than improving rankings. You are building links for your company as well as your customers.
Links should be relevant to both. Of course, you must associate them with good content. The result is happy users, a growing business, and favorable Google search results.
Natural Is Best
Make sure your links are natural. They should be of high quality, relevant, and focused on users. Otherwise, Google may conclude that you’re manipulating its search algorithm.
Google considers such links to be a violation of its Webmaster Guidelines. Next are some simple ways to build the best SEO links.
Ask Friends and Colleagues for Backlinks
Old-school networking is the best place for beginners to start. Ask people you know who have their own websites and blogs. Ask for a backlink to your site.
You can reciprocate of course. In-content links are always better than links in the footer or sidebar. Take care to ensure that the backlink comes from a website that is relevant to your niche.
Testimonials benefit all. You say a few words about your experience using another company’s products. The company gathers customer trust with each testimonial. And you can leave a backlink and generate traffic from their site.
Build new contacts by joining niche-related communities. Blogs, social groups, and discussion forums provide networking opportunities. Contribute with relevant and engaging posts and comments.
Your goal is to provide contextual value to the conversation. You’ll also generate some good backlinks.
List Your Website in Directories
Google excludes those directories from search results that provide little to no value. Though, there are legitimate directories, which make excellent places to list your website.
Niche directories offer a place to leave your link as well as an opportunity to provide useful information to potential users. Find directories from informative websites related to your industry.
Listing there creates an opportunity for getting indexed in major search engines.
Write Engaging Guest Posts
Numerous sites will publish articles and blog posts from guest writers. Reach out to a blog or website that relates to your topic.
That being said, your topic should NOT be an advertisement for your company. Focus on the quality of your content so that you present a professional face through your article.
Best Link Building Tools
Link building is a challenging job. Once you are past the basics listed above, you’re ready for advanced link building techniques. At this point, you need to add some professional backlink tools to your arsenal.
Here are a few proven SEO link building tools. Take some time to learn about each (and others) so that you can generate more positive results for your search engine rankings.
Check My Links
Check My Links is a Google Chrome extension you can use to find broken links from other websites. It’s among the easier backlink tools. Once you find the broken links, reach out to the host website.
Suggest that they replace the link with one to your site. Backlink checks are quick, and broken links are easy to pinpoint. Most backlinks display as green, or active. Those that display red are broken external links.
Broken Link Builder
Broken Link Builder is another backlink checker. Rather than search one page at a time, this tool searches the web. It reports broken links related to your chosen subject matter within seconds.
You can begin the same outreach process of getting in touch with whoever can replace the broken link with one of yours.
In many ways, Linkbird (part of the Contentbird suite) is a do-it-all SEO tool. The focus is on link building. Though, other features allow you to analyze your backlink profile and popularity.
You can also track your rankings and conduct keyword searches for SEO. With Linkbird, you can integrate your link-building strategy with content marketing and SEO.
Additional features include the capability to locate websites for quality incoming links. You can find out what your competition’s backlinks are and go after them.
You can integrate with email ticket systems to aid in the outreach process. Finally, this backlink tool has a collaboration feature. Your company may have a marketing team charged with the link building strategy.
By collaborating, the teams reduce redundancy and increase efficiency.
Pitchbox is one of the more powerful backlink tools, especially in the areas of prospecting and outreach. This tool automates much of the otherwise tedious process of finding targeted opportunities.
Outreach is the key here. Pitchbox helps you build natural links based on your search preferences. With it, you can pinpoint targeted opportunities down to the profiles and contact information of each prospect.
Pitchbox even generates an automated follow-up feature, keeping you in contact with incoming link prospects.
One more thing. Pitchbox comes with Intelligent Templates that makes your outreach messages stand apart. Your communication is styled, customized, and professional.
One of Whitespark’s key features is helping you improve your ranking for local search terms. An example is “Philadelphia coffee shop.”
An example of this would be the search phrase “Philadelphia Coffee Shops.” In addition to a list of local coffee shops, Google results include targeted web page titles like this:
22 Essential Philadelphia Coffee Shops – Eater Philly
Where to Find the Top Coffee Shops and Espresso Bars in Philadelphia
The Best Coffee Shops in Philadelphia Right Now – Fitt
As a local SEO tool, you can use Whitespark’s link prospector to find opportunities for niche directories, guest blogging, and link pages.
It can also discover opportunities for you to make donations and find professional organizations related to your niche. Any of these opportunities leads to more quality backlinks to your site, thus improving link popularity and local rankings.
This SEO link tool is more for analysis than link generation, though it does add some punch to your link building strategy. Besides monitoring your own backlinks, it lets you monitor your competition’s backlinks as well.
Monitor Backlinks generates information on new backlinks. It generates keyword ranking and site speed information. And, it sends you alerts when competitors obtain new links. This tool is exceptionally useful when it comes to link building.
Through the dashboard, you set up your competitors. Pay attention to new incoming links that your competition gets. From this, you begin to understand their link building strategy.
It also positions you to reach out and match their links. You may even pull off having the competitor’s backlink replaced with your own.
Monitor Backlinks also provides useful SEO metrics, including link status, anchor text, and IP host detection. Additional metrics are MozRank, external link counts, and the number of social shares.
Link building has a clear goal. Generate as many high-quality links as you can. Yes, quality outweighs quantity. But, more quality links give you an edge. So does knowing when you gain a new incoming link. Linkody is a backlink checker tool.
The motivation factor here can’t be ignored. It’s exciting to see it when you secure a robust and free backlink, right? Linkody highlights who is most interested in your content, something you can leverage in the future.
Sometimes folks link to your website for negative reasons, like a bad review. Far from an optimal link. Now that you can see it, though, you can take action.
On the other hand, when you find content that’s generating links, you can capitalize on it. Say a blog post is getting traction. You can run with it and promote the post on social media to spread the message.
It emails you when one of your competitors gets a new backlink. You can jump on the change to grab the same link. You can also review your competition’s backlink profile and evaluate how they are faring with their link building strategy.
Linkody provides the number of links, when your competitor discovered the link, and where the URL originates.
It also shows the anchor text, Moz Domain Authority, IP, TLD, and EFL. All these details can help you understand why you are (or are not) outranking a competitor.
GroupHigh is more complex than some tools, though there’s a good reason why. It has a few more features. With them, you can find top bloggers and influencer. You can manage your relationships and the value of your of your content.
To get started with GroupHigh, enter some industry-specific keywords. Filter your results by the most recent posting date and Domain Authority. Why? So you can reach out to active blogs with a strong reputation.
The GroupHigh backlink check tool also tracks your results from its dashboard. This way, you have a clear view of what is working, what is not, and how you can modify your link building strategy.
BuzzStream simplifies the outreach process for you. Outreach is more than a buzzword these days. It means connecting with website owners. And offering them something in exchange for a free backlink.
Email outreach can be a troublesome process. With BuzzStream, you can track your email communication. The tool allows you to set reminders to follow up, track progress, and share chosen tasks with your team.
Such a tracking tool eliminates redundant tasks and improves overall processes. Not every email you send will result in a positive response. Though, the more you can generate, the higher the chance of making an advantageous connection.
BuzzStream takes most of the headache out of this process.
Expand Your Link Building Strategy
Learning how to do link building involves some pretty simple concepts. Though, orchestrating the related tasks takes time and effort. This article contains some of the best link building tools out there.
Any one of them helps you simplify your efforts to gain more free backlinks. SEO is less complicated than it seems at first. Using tools like these leaves you more time to dedicate to creating sharp content in your niche.
At the same time, you can avoid “spammy” SEO moves that drag your rankings down rather than up.
At some point, you will want to expand your reach beyond free backlinks. If you have any questions about paid backlinks, please contact us.