Types of Backlinks for SEO: Understanding Your Options

Backlinks are an essential part of any successful SEO strategy. They help to improve your website’s search engine rankings by demonstrating to search engines that other websites consider your content valuable and worth linking to.

However, not all backlinks are created equal. In this article, we’ll explore the different types of backlinks that exist and discuss the benefits and drawbacks of each.

Backlink Definition

First, let’s define what we mean by “backlink”. A backlink is simply a link from one website to another.

When one website links to another, it sends a “signal” to search engines that the linked-to website has valuable content. If you think of it that’s how the internet works.

When I write an article and I link to an other website’s article as a resource, I am acknowledging that the content the other website I am linking to is useful.

This signal is one of the factors that search engines use to determine where a website should rank in search results.

Not all backlinks are created equal, though. Some are more valuable than others. In this article, I’ll discuss the different types of backlinks and explain their benefits and drawbacks.

Types of Backlinks for SEO

Types of Backlinks for SEO
Types of Backlinks for SEO

Natural Backlinks

Natural backlinks are the most valuable type of backlink. They are links that are given voluntarily by other websites because they consider your content valuable. These links are not obtained through any sort of proactive outreach or link building campaign.

The benefits of natural backlinks are that they are highly relevant and authoritative. When other websites link to yours because they believe your content is valuable, it sends a strong signal to search engines that your website is trustworthy and authoritative. This can help to improve your search engine rankings and drive more organic traffic to your website.

The drawback of natural backlinks is that they are difficult to obtain. You cannot simply create high-quality content and expect other websites to link to it. You must have a strong online presence and reputation, and your content must be highly valuable and shareable.

Manual Backlinks

Manual backlinks are links that are obtained through proactive outreach and link building campaigns. This involves reaching out to other websites and requesting that they link to your website.

The benefits of manual backlinks are that they can be highly targeted and relevant. When you reach out to other websites, you can target websites that are relevant to your niche or industry. This can help to ensure that the links you obtain are highly relevant to your content and audience.

The drawback of manual backlinks is that they can be time-consuming and require a lot of effort.

You must identify websites that are relevant to your niche, reach out to them, and persuade them to link to your website. This can be a difficult, time-consuming process, and might cost you money – since many webmasters require a fee for “giving” you a backlink.

Plus, there is no guarantee that your outreach efforts will be successful.

Self-Created Backlinks

Self-created backlinks are links that you create yourself, such as by commenting on blogs, submitting articles to directories, or creating social media profiles.

Types of Backlinks for SEO: Understanding Your Options
Comment spam example. Image source: Neil Patel

The benefits of self-created backlinks are that they are easy to obtain and can be done quickly. You do not need to reach out to other websites or persuade them to link to your website. Instead, you can simply create your own links and drive traffic to your website.

The drawback of self-created backlinks is that they are generally low-quality and spammy. Search engines do not place much value on self-created backlinks, and they may even penalize your website if they suspect that you are engaging in spammy link building tactics.

Do-follow vs. No-follow Links

Do-follow links are links that pass “link juice” from one website to another – as the SEOs like to say.

Link juice is a term used to describe the value that is passed from one website to another through a backlink.

When a website links to another website with a do-follow link, it is essentially vouching for the quality and relevance of the linked-to website.

No-follow links, on the other hand, do not pass link juice. They are used to indicate to search engines that the linked-to website is not endorsed or vouched for by the linking website.

Types of Backlinks for SEO: Understanding Your Options
Google’s explanation of nofollow links. Image source: developers.google.com

While do-follow links are more valuable than no-follow links from an SEO perspective, it’s important to have a mix of both.

A natural backlink profile should include both do-follow and no-follow links, as this is a more natural and realistic representation of how websites link to each other.

If your backlink profile has only do-follow links it may trigger search engines spam filters and get your website penalized. So, keep that in mind.

Quality vs. Quantity

When it comes to backlinks, quality is more important than quantity.

Write that down and stick it above your laptop screen.

A single high-quality backlink from an authoritative website can be more valuable than dozens of low-quality backlinks from spammy websites.

When building backlinks, focus on quality over quantity.

Reach out to high-authority websites in your niche and work to build relationships with them.

Create high-quality content that is shareable and valuable, and promote it through social media and other channels to attract natural backlinks.

Anchor Text

Anchor text is the text that is used to create a hyperlink. It is the visible, clickable text that appears in a hyperlink.

Anchor text is important for SEO because it helps search engines understand what the linked-to page is about.

For example, if a website links to your website using the anchor text “best pizza in New York”, it sends a signal to search engines that your website is relevant to the topic of pizza in New York.

Now, that doesn’t mean that your backlinks should have ALWAYS your targeted keyword as an anchor text.

The reason is because you want to make your backlinks look as natural as possible. Surely, you understand that if you were to acquire natural backlinks, you wouldn’t get keyword specific anchor text to your links – right?

You would most probably get backlinks from words like “click here”, your website’s name, “source”, “learn more” etc.

My advice is, when building backlinks, every five times, use your exact keyword as anchor text once.

How to Acquire Backlinks

Now that we’ve covered the different types of backlinks, let’s dive into some techniques for acquiring them.

Editorial Backlinks

Editorial backlinks are the holy grail of backlinks. These are the links that you get naturally because another website thinks your content is valuable and worth linking to. To acquire editorial backlinks, you need to create high-quality content that is valuable and relevant to your target audience.

TIP: After you created your high-quality content, you can try reaching out to people that discuss that topic on social media and pitch your article as a resource.

Backlinks from Guest Blogging

Guest blogging is a great way to acquire backlinks. When you contribute a guest post to another website, you can usually include a link back to your website in your author bio.

To get the most out of guest blogging, you should focus on contributing to high-quality websites that are relevant to your niche.

When people reach out to me for guest posting, I ask that they submit an

  • Article that is at least 1500 words
  • Well researched
  • SEO optimized around a specific keyword relevant to my blog
  • Plagiarism free,

If you submit content with these traits, bloggers and website’s will most probably publish it and you’ll acquire your backlink.

Backlinks in Business Profiles

Business profiles on websites like Yelp, Google My Business, and LinkedIn are a great way to acquire backlinks. Make sure to fill out your profile completely and include a link back to your website.

Backlinks from Webinars

Hosting webinars is a great way to acquire backlinks. When you host a webinar, you can usually include a link back to your website in the webinar description or on the registration page.

Free-Tool Backlinks

Creating a free tool that is useful to your target audience is a great way to acquire backlinks. The internet world generally loves free online tools and you can expect getting hundreds of backlinks from other websites that will include your tool in their content.

Also, if you allow other webmasters to embed your tool on their websites with a link back to your website, 99% of the times, they’re gonna have not problem doing it.

An example is Trading View and similar finance websites that offer widgets and other financial tool for websites. You can visit Trading View’s widgets page to see the widgets yourself. You can also hire a freelancer on Fiverr to help you with similar widget creation tools.

Types of Backlinks for SEO: Understanding Your Options
Screenshot from Trading View’s widgets page were you can see how it provides free financial tools for webmasters, with a small link back to their website.

When you create a free tool, you can usually include a link back to your website on the tool’s page.

Acknowledgment Backlinks

If you have mentioned someone in your content, you can reach out to them and ask for a backlink. This is known as an acknowledgment backlink.

Most people will be happy to link back to your content if you have mentioned them in a positive light.

Guest Post Bio Links

When you contribute a guest post, you can usually include a link back to your website in your author bio. This is known as a guest post bio link.

To get the most out of guest blogging, you should focus on contributing to high-quality websites that are relevant to your niche.

Badge Backlinks

Creating a badge that other websites can display on their website is a great way to acquire backlinks. When someone displays your badge on their website, they usually include a link back to your website.

Badge examples include the Better Business Bureau badge you may see in a lot of websites.

Types of Backlinks for SEO: Understanding Your Options

GreenGeeks Hosting – which offers hosting from renewable sources.

Types of Backlinks for SEO: Understanding Your Options

Trustpilot – that allows you to add their sleek reviews on your website

Types of Backlinks for SEO: Understanding Your Options
Screenshot of Trustpilot review system with a link back to Trustpilot on GreenGeeks’ website

Comment Backlinks

Leaving comments on other blogs and forums is a great way to acquire backlinks. Make sure to leave thoughtful comments that add value to the conversation.

When you leave a comment, you can usually include a link back to your website in the comment form. These are low-quality links and usually are used by spamming software.

It doesn’t harm to acquire one though, if you want to leave a genuine comment on another blog.

Bottom Line

Backlinks are an essential part of any successful SEO strategy. They help to improve your website’s search engine rankings by demonstrating to search engines that other websites consider your content valuable and worth linking to. However, not all backlinks are created equal.

When building backlinks, it’s important to focus on quality over quantity, to use relevant and descriptive anchor text, and to have a mix of both do-follow and no-follow links in your backlink profile.

By following these guidelines, you can build a strong backlink profile that will help to improve your website’s search engine rankings and drive more organic traffic to your website.

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