What are SEO Backlinks? How to Build Quality Links (in 2023)

Backlinks, also known as inbound links or incoming links, are links from one website to a page of another website and are very important for SEO. They help your content rank high on SERPs. So, how many links does your site actually need, and how do you create or earn them?

Search Engines like Google consider backlinks as ‘votes’ for a specific page. Web pages with a high number of links have higher chances of ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs). However, only high-quality ones guarantee better SEO results and increase your traffic.

By the way, if you are a complete beginner in the field of marketing, you may want to learn about digital marketing, the importance of SEO, and how email marketing works.

This article contains all you need to know about backlinks: the best link-building strategies, mistakes to avoid, free and paid SEO tools, and much more.

Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links, we may earn a commission, but the price on your end remains the same.

What are High-quality Backlinks in SEO?

Not all backlinks are equal. In short, if you want your link-building campaigns to yield significant results, you’ll have to focus on quality links. A single quality backlink can be more powerful than 1,000 low-quality spammy-like links.

So, how do you differentiate between high-quality and low-quality links? Here’re five things I want you to consider.

#1 Links from High-Quality Sites

Getting links from reputable and high-quality sites should be your priority. In fact, a link from Havard is much better than that from a random guy’s website. Why? Because Google and other search engines already consider the website reputable.

So, while building links, I want to check the ‘Domain Authority’ of the website and the ‘Page Authority’ of the specific page you’re seeking a link from. The higher the page’s authority, the more power it can pass to your site. You just can’t give what you don’t have, right?

Google puts a lot of weight on links that come from authority sites. It also follows that backlinks from low-quality sites, especially the ones that have nothing to do with your content, or spammy ones, are less impactful to your SEO. Some can jeopardize your SEO efforts.

But to be honest, quality links can be hard to get, but they are worth it. And by the end of this article, you’ll know how to attract authority sites to link to you.

#2 Links that include Target Keywords

It would be better to include target keywords in the anchor texts of your links. For instance, if your page is about Affiliate Marketing, use this term and its variations like Affiliate Marketing Guide and How to be an Affiliate Marketer in your links’ anchor text.

A recent study by Ahref found a correlation between keyword-rich anchor text and higher rankings for that keyword.

However, do not do what SEOs call overoptimization, which means overusing a particular keyword while building links for a specific page.

Google uses a filter in its ranking algorithm called Google Penguin. And what it does is filter the web pages using black-hat link-building tricks and remove (or ban) them from the SERPs.

Black hat link building tactics are techniques used to drive traffic to a website by exploiting website loopholes, enabling a site to rank higher than it should through “organic” search means. Search engines like Google have become aware of such practices to game the system and boost search rankings.

Google Penguin focuses on sites that build links using exact-match anchor text. So, try to alter your anchor texts as much as possible to avoid getting into trouble.

#3 Links from Pages Related to your Content

While building links, you should focus on pages that have related content to your page. Building links at the page level have more SEO results than focusing your tactics on building links to your home page.

Think of it this way: You just published an article about Web Hosting Sites.

In that case, Google will put more weight on links from pages about hosting, blogging, digital marketing, and internet marketing than those about hunting or best car dealers.

Similarly, if you are writing an article about Blogging Sites, do you link to sites that talk about dieting and fitness or the free blogging sites themselves? Well, Google feels the same way.

Simply put, focus on web pages, not websites where you share the same or related content.

#4 Links with a ‘Do-follow’ Tag

High-quality links usually have a ‘do-follow’ tag, allowing Google and other search engines to point back to your website or webpage. In addition to transferring the rank signal to your pages, do-follow links bring traffic to your site when people click on them.

Unlike do-follow backlinks, no follow ones do not count in search engine ranking algorithms. And that is not a surprise because the majority of them are not that valuable, to begin with.

For instance, blog comments, links shared on social media, and profile links tend to have a no-follow tag. Such links are not helpful in SEO in any way.

Still, they are important, as they give your website exposure and can increase traffic to your site when people click them. What I mean is that you should build more do-follow links.

#5 Links that are Unique

A link from a web page that hasn’t linked to you before has more SEO impact than one from a page that has linked to you a couple of times.

Let’s say you get a link from blogger A. That’s great. But if the same author links to you again. And Again. The second and third links are not as powerful as the first one.

Thus, backlinks also follow the law of diminishing returns – the more you get from a particular page, the less impactful they are in your SEO.

There’re tones of websites that help you check the number and quality of backlinks your site (or your competitors) has. They gauge the success of your link-building strategies over time. Five of my favorite link-checking tools include:

#1 Google Search Console: Your Site Only

With Google Webmaster, you can check the number of external links your website has, the top linking sites, and even the number of internal links for free.

So, if you haven’t submitted your site to Google Webmaster, now is the time to do so.

However, with Google Console, you can only check the links from your website, as verification is required. You’ll also be able to check our site performance on Google Search, submit sitemaps, request page removals, and inspect URLs and other features.

#2 Semrush: Best for Beginners

Semrush is more than just a backlink checker – it allows you to keep track of your rankings, the number of domains, overall authority score (domain authority), and monthly search traffic.

SEMrush, best backlinks checker in seo

Semrush is a great tool that helps you with the entire site audit, not to mention the backlink audit, to help check what links have the potential to harm your overall SEO results.

#3 Ahref: 2nd Largest Backlink Database

Ahref is considered the second-largest backlink database, after Google. So, if you want to keep a check on your link-building campaign, this is one tool you have to use.

Ahref backlinks checker in seo

With it, you can check your site’s overall domain rating score, which ranges from zero to 100. Also, get to know the total number of backlinks your website or specific webpage has, and boost your SEO rankings.

#4 Ubersuggest: Best SEO Tool

You can use Uberssugest by Neil Patel to check your backlink growth over time.

Ubersuggest backlinks checker in seo

With Ubersuggest, you check your domain authority, referring domains, and the total number of backlinks. More interesting is that you can check the daily backlinks gains and losses.

#5 Moz Link Explorer: Amazing Tool

MOZ is a resourceful backlink audit and tracking tool that allows you to check the domain authority, page ratings, referring domains, and the total number of backlinks.

Moz backlinks checker in seo

You can use the free version, start a new trial or consider subscribing to Moz Pro.

So, which of the five backlinks-checking tools should you use? Well, I suggest you use all, and that is because each has unique features that will help you accurately measure the outcome of your link-building strategies.

The Best Link-Building Strategies in SEO

Link-building strategies are methods that marketers and SEOs use to increase backlinks for their sites and boost their rankings. Some of the most successful approaches include:

#1 Create Linkable Content

The most basic yet appropriate way to increase backlinks for your website is by creating resourceful content that people want to rank to organically. Although this may take a little more time for beginners, it boosts your ranking and helps boost conversion in the long run.

You can try to create awesome resources like lists, tools in your niche, statistics posts or pages, or infographics. The advantage of this approach is that people start noticing your site as an authoritative source, and that’s how they start linking to it.

Similarly, when you reach out to people you have linked to in your content or those who have linked to your competitors, they would be happy to link to your high-quality content. Content marketing is the most sustainable and effective backlinks building strategy in SEO.

#2 Link Broken Strategy

While using this strategy, you should identify a page with related content to the one you’re aiming to create backlinks for.

Then, audit the specific page, and identify any instances of broken links. So, there are links that redirect to deleted pages or the ones that the author has renamed the URL.

When you have identified a page that has broken links, you send an email outreach, requesting them to replace the broken link with yours. And then explain why your page is resourceful.

Replicate this process with as many related pages as possible, paying attention to authority.

#3 Check and ‘Steal’ Competitor’s Links

Use any of these Backlink Checkers to scan pages that link to your competitors’ pages. By competitors, I mean those pages already ranking for the focus keyword you’re targeting.

You send email outreach to those pages, explaining why linking to your page will add value to their content. This is when you leverage statistics, infographics, or case studies. Again, focus on sites with high-quality content and authority.

#4 Use Guest Posting

Guest posting is one of the oldest link-building tactics. So, how does it work?

You write a resourceful article for another website in your niche. And when they publish it, you’ll get a chance to link to your site. Most sites allowing guest posts allow you to add one do-follow link to your website. It’s that simple.

#5 Email those you link to in your Articles

You can create a post that features, let’s say, the top 100 Digital Marketers in Kenya. Or 100 social media marketing statistics in 2022, compiling data from 100 different websites.

Now, you email all the websites you have linked to, not to demand a link back, but to inform them of your article. And then request them to link to you or share your page.

But to be honest, some won’t reply. So I want you to reach out to as many web admins as possible. And don’t create unhelpful resources for your audience in the name of building links. Remember, content and audience come first.

#6 Steal Links from Inferior Sites

In addition to getting links from your competitor’s profile, you can find inferior pages with quality links and email the site owners to consider linking to your better version.

But be respectful in your email copies. You don’t want to look like you are discrediting the other guy’s site. Your intentions should be to explain to the site owner why your page is worth linking to – very brief and direct to the point.

#7 Create an Online Tool

Whether paid or free, tools can attract a great volume of backlinks over a short period. Just find a problem your audience is facing, think of an innovative tool to solve it, design it or hire someone to do it for you, and then share it with your audience.

People in your niche won’t mind discussing the tool and linking to it. But if you’re new to coding, you can hire a web designer or buy templates online. Then hire someone to customize it for you.

How many Backlinks do you need to Rank?

The number of links you need to rank on the first page of SERPs remains unknown as search engines consider many other factors, including the quality and structure of your pages and how people interact with them, to decide where to place your content on SERPs.

The number of links you need depends on the competitiveness of your keywords and other factors. To have an idea of the number of backlinks you need for better SEO results, do this:

Step 1: Optimize your page for a specific keyword

If you’re a beginner, check out how to conduct research using these awesome keyword research tools or Semrush. Let’s say you’ve selected “video editing software for YouTube” as your target keyword.

Step 2: Install Ubersuggest Extension

The tool helps you check the DA, PA, traffic, and the number of unique links the sites is already ranking for your target keyword (your competitors) while browsing.

After installing and activating the extension, search for the target keyword on the search engine. In this case, “video editing software for YouTube.”

Step 3: Search for your ‘target keyword’

Here’re the results:

You can notice that the page ranking 1st on the first page of Google has a DA of 79, 1 Facebook share, 21 unique backlinks, and at least 660 visitors per month in the USA.

The page ranking second has a DA of 81, monthly 13,100 visits per month, 107 unique backlinks, and 55 Facebook shares. While the page ranking third has a DA of 86, monthly traffic of 38,565, 182 Facebook shares, and 131 unique backlinks.

So, we can conclude four things from the results:

  1. The more backlinks a page has, the more traffic it gets from Google
  2. High DA does not guarantee position 1 on Google
  3. Social shares could have a positive correlation with SEO traffic and rankings
  4. You can rank 1st and have less traffic than those ranking after you. Why? Because the majority of the pages rank for over 100 keywords.

Step 4: Focus on Getting more Unique Links

Now that you have an estimate of the number of links you need to outdo your competitors, proceed and use the strategies above to create more links for your pages.

Try and have the same or more links than your competitors (whose sites you have almost similar domain ratings). Remember, in most cases, you’ll need more than links for your pages to Rank higher than theirs, and the process can take time. Regardless, don’t give up.

Types of Backlinks to Avoid in SEO

There’re a few categories of links or link-building strategies that will jeopardize your chances of ranking on Google or any other search engine like Yahoo and Bing.

Always AVOID these 6 backlink-building strategies for your SEO to yield better results.

  1. Don’t Buy Links:  Google warns that buying and selling links can negatively affect a site’s placements on the SERPs.
  2. Avoid links from low-quality directory sites: created links from directors that have nothing to do with your website (not related) or are untrustworthy will harm your SEO efforts.
  3. Low-quality Forum links: Avoid creating links from unrelated and low-quality forums. Otherwise, they will cause more damage than benefits to your SEO.
  4. Unrelated Sites: I can’t emphasize enough – don’t create links from unrelated websites; otherwise, they won’t have much effect on your SEO. Create backlinks from pages you’re sharing related content.
  5. Spammy Blog Comments: Blog comments can help you sell your brand and create awareness. However, don’t spam! Avoid linking your site if a blog has many spammy links in the comment section. After all, you’ll be increasing your backlinks’ spam score.
  6. Link Exchange Schemes: DON’T engage in link exchange schemes where you link to people for them to link to your pages. It’s closely related to buying links and harmful SEO tricks. Just link to people because their content adds value to your audience and not for having them link back to your site.


Link building is important in SEO, but you should focus on creating content or resources first and then backlinks later. I don’t mean you publish 1000 articles first. But if you can, why now?

You should create high-quality content that people can and will reference and link to you.

So, Google and other search engines consider link votes while deciding which site to put on the SERPs. In most cases, the more links you have, the higher your chances of ranking. Though, the quality of your backlinks will influence your SEO outcome.

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