Our User Guide on how to build a profile of Great Backlinks, and improve your Organic SEO and Google Search Results in 2023.
1 – Quick Recap – What are Backlinks?
Backlinks are hyperlinks from one website, back to your own. They are well known to be a key success factor in getting ranked on Google and other search engines, for your keywords and key search terms.
Backlinks are a key ingredient to any SEO strategy.
You can have great content, but if no sites are linking to your domain or your content, then search engines are less likely to discover your content or regard it as being valuable to end users (i.e. readers, or prospective customers).
When other sites link to your domain and content, Google (and other search engines) see this as a signal that your content is valuable and worth crawling and indexing.
If the backlinks which you acquire are from other sites which share your subject matter or niche, then that’s highly relevant – and is an indicator that your content is well regarded by your peers and of value to people searching for terms within that niche.
Your Backlink profile helps to build a picture of how strong your content is – in terms of relevancy, and quality. In turn, this is what will help Google and other search engines to favour your content and present it nearer the front and top of SERP pages (i.e. closer to the first page of Google). Ultimately, that is what will drive organic search traffic to your site – the position of your site and content, within search results pages for relevant keywords and search terms.
*Note: a key term here is “SERP”, which stands for Search Engine Results Page. It’s just the page (or pages) which are presented to a user when they search for a given keyword or search term.
To gain backlinks from other websites and content publishers in your target niche, you can either wait and hope for them to discover your content and decide that it warrants their time and effort in linking to it, or you can do Backlink Outreach.
2 – Backlink Outreach Campaigns
Backlink Outreach is a proactive SEO method, and it’s where you identify other blogs and news sites within your target niche, and reach out to them with a proposal to collaborate.
Typically – you might reach out and ask if you can provide a Guest Post for their site. A Guest Post is simply a relevant piece of content, written by you (or your team), and which contains one or more hyperlinks back to your own website. Or alternatively, you might ask for them to place backlinks onto existing pages of their site – in places where you’ve identified key terms for which you have relevant content.
For example – if you find a blog post which contains the phrase “… we’re always on the lookout for the best new SEO techniques…” and you have a post on your site which focusses on the subject of new SEO techniques – then you could ask them to link the text “best new SEO techniques” – to your post.
Historically, all Backlink Outreach campaigns have faced the same two key difficulties – Time & Effort to implement, and Cost.
Backlink Outreach – the problem of Time & Effort
Put simply, it takes time and effort to get backlinks. You have to spend time researching your target niche, and finding other sites which are complimentary to yours, and which look like they might be open to approach and a collaboration. Then you have to actually put the effort in to reach out to them – find their contact point (email or a social media DM), and write to them with a proposal they will respond to.
If that pays off, and they engage with you – you then have to put time and effort in to make the arrangements for a backlink placement. Or you might also have to agree upon a Guest Post subject, and go away and either research and write this yourself, or have a freelancer do it for you.
To get a return on your efforts (i.e. secure some quality backlinks), then putting in Time & Effort is always unavoidable.
However, the amount of Time and the amount of Effort you put in, is something which this post can help with (and much reduce!) – as we’ll get to in a minute…
Backlink Outreach – the problem of Cost
The other key issue for most backlink building campaigns is Cost.
If you’re an established publisher and your site is already well ranked and has a large base of inbound web traffic and a strong backlink profile – then getting new backlinks to any new posts will likely happen organically. This is because you’re already a well regarded source of accurate information and content within your niche. In this case – peers regularly read your content, and refer to it in their own (i.e. by backlinking to it).
However, if you’re a new publisher, and your site is just starting up and has very little (or even zero) Domain Authority, then you’ll need to find other, better ranked sites to link back to you, to help build your backlink profile.
This is where Cost comes in.
Unfortunately for many of us – the bigger, more established sites will charge a fee to accept and publish a Guest post from you, or to place a backlink on their site which points back to yours. A whole industry has built up around this practice, and it’s nothing new. Just think of Instagram, where you have the big players – the “Influencers” commanding large sums of money and fees for ‘shout outs’ and product placements. That’s the same thing, just in a different arena and with a slightly different medium.
The problem here is that the cost of paying for backlinks is often prohibitive for many small blogs and startups who are just starting out.
You likely don’t have a budget for this, and the price tags for backlinks (which can be in the hundreds of dollars per link), quickly add up.
Quick FYI – paying for backlinks is against the Terms and Conditions of Google and other search engines. So the whole pay-per-backlink practice is a bit of a black market. However it still exists, because there is a market for it – one group of people desperately need backlinks, and the other group and in a position of advantage, being webmasters of sites with high Domain Authority.
So, what’s the answer?
Well, if you have the money and the budget – feel free to go buy up backlink placements on a range of high ranking sites. It will certainly boost your backlink profile and Domain Authority, but comes with the risk of a search engine penalty if Google (or similar) take a close look and determine that your backlinks have been acquired through ‘black hat’ techniques (i.e. paid or low relevancy / low quality backlinks).
The other option? – build authentic backlinks, through outreach campaigns, and for free.
Sounds nice, but what about the significant Time & Effort which we discussed earlier?
Well, that’s bitter pill to swallow unfortunately.
At this stage, if you’re just starting out – you’re going to have to dedicate some amount of time and effort to your backlink outreach campaigns. But the upside? – if you do, and you persist with reaching out to quality targets, then it will pay off and those backlinks which you acquire will have a positive impact on your website’s SEO and Google search rankings.
As time passes, and your website becomes more established in its own right – then securing new backlinks will become easier as other webmasters pay your site more respect and see the value it offers.
To really make it work, you have to find and connect with other blogs, news sites, businesses etc. within your market niche (your ‘peers’ effectively), so that you can start a conversation about collaborating – with the end goal being the mutually beneficial sharing of backlinks.
3 – How To Identify Websites which will offer you Valuable Backlinks
Ask Yourself – Why do other sites want to share Backlinks?
For the same reasons as you. Other websites (or rather the people behind them), want to avoid the cost of paying for backlinks, and see what backlinks they can build for free with likeminded members of the same community.
For sites who are referred to in blog posts and on pages of your site – the benefit is that they get exposure. By reading your content and clicking a link through to their site – new users can find and discover their site for the first time. They can see what niches and subject matter that other site specialises in, and they can also see their contact details to be able to get in touch for a collaboration.
Doing Your Research Upfront
To make the most of online opportunities within your market niche you need to do some research and good thinking up front.
You first need to have a think about your own current website, your target audience, and what websites already exist which are either complimenting your website’s offering, or are direct competitors.
*Useful: Maybe take a pen and piece of paper and jot down your notes as you complete this 2 minute exercise…
Ask yourself – what is the purpose of your site? Is it a blog, news site, sales site for a product or service? – write that down.
Ask yourself – what is the market niche which your site’s content best caters for? – is your content written for the Consumer Banking niche, the Music Production niche, or something else? Your site’s content could quite easily be relevant to several niches, and you might find that 3-4 related niches all overlap and are appropriate for your content. That’s fine – write all of these down. You might want to circle 1 ‘Primary Niche’ as a priority, and then a few ‘Secondary / Additional Niches’.
Ask yourself – what market niches do your Target Audience hang out in? By this we mean – your blog site and content might cater to the Plants & Seeds niche, and that can be one particular niche for your audience, but actually they also move around in the ‘Gardening’ and ‘Home Improvements’ niches.
This is important because even though your content might not be written specifically for the ‘Home Improvements’ niche, collaborating with a blog or news site in that niche might still be relevant to you and will put your content in front of an appropriate audience.
Searching for Niche Sites on the Web
Once you have a good picture of your landscape, with your content and target niches at the centre, and relevant adjacent niches and audiences around it, then you’re much better prepared to do a targeted search for potential collaboration partners.
Contacting Niche Sites online
Once you’ve found a site online which you think is appropriate (matching or complimentary niches, relevant content examples etc.) – then it’s time for you to reach out, make contact, and propose a collaboration!
Most websites worth their weight in salt should have a point of contact. Typically this will be an email address, or one of several social media profiles where you can direct message (DM) the website’s operating team.
Take the contact details, and then it’s time to craft your first contact message…
Remember though, not all sites are made equal, and indeed not all website owners will be open to collaboration and approach.
It’s ultimately at the discretion of each website publisher to accept proposals and provide backlinks.
For best results and the highest chances of success (securing backlinks), we recommend that you write your first contact message using our template below…
Top Tips for Outreach and Proposals – including our Top Template for Backlink Collaboration
Nailing a good first outreach message and proposal is key to securing backlinks from collaborating sites.
Don’t forget that, much like you – the owners of these sites are busy. They have their own sites and businesses to run, and may already receive several requests a week for new collaborations and backlinks.
If your first message lands in their inbox and is poorly written, with bad English, poor spelling and grammar, and looks very much like a copy / paste job, then they may just ignore it and move on to the next.
Take a couple of minutes of effort to get it right. Make sure that your proposal reads well, and doesn’t have the name of one of your other target sites still pasted into the first line! (An easy mistake, that looks quite unprofessional).
Keep it simple, to the point and easy to read and respond to.
Maybe reference the fact that their site and yours both overlap in the ‘XYZ’ niche, and that your post – (provide examples), is a great compliment to one of their articles, or one of their products.
Offer Free Value and Reciprocal Backlinks, Upfront!
Offer them reciprocal backlinks!
This bit is so easy and of no cost to you, but offers them some free value in the transaction.
Going a step further, you could do this in advance and add a backlink from your site, to their site, and then show them the page where this already exists. That way when you first contact them – you can provide evidence of how you’re already providing value to them and of how you intend to reciprocate and build a mutually beneficial relationship.
Side Note: You don’t have to offer backlinks in return, but it is a good way to sweeten the deal, and will boost your chances of collaborating again in the future. It’s also just a nice thing to do – and we’re all about helping each other out and supporting the blogging community as a whole.
Draw parallels between your sites or your business mission statements, sign-post why you’re relevant, and provide examples and links to show that your content is relevant and appropriate. In essence – make it super easy for them to say yes!
4 – Backlink Outreach Proposal Template
Here’s a great example which you can use as a template if you’d like:
SUBJECT / TILE:
Proposal for Backlink Collaboration (WhichFreelancer.com & TenXBlog.com)
Hi WhichFreelancer.com site owner,
Hope that this message finds you well.
Just came across your great site whilst searching for some complimentary sites in the Freelancing niche, and I think our two sites could be a great complimentary fit for a backlink collaboration.
I’d like to propose that I provide a Guest Post for your blog site, and that you publish it, including 2-3 backlinks back to posts and content on my site TenXBlog.com
I can provide a draft of the Guest Post, and the specific links, within a week, and typically produce posts around 600-1,000 words long. I also have a few titles and subjects to suggest:
- (List them out…)
My site is still only young and I’m trying to establish it and build it’s backlink presence. A few backlinks from an authority site in the same niche(s) such as yours, would go a long way to helping me with that 🙂
Please let me know if you have any questions, or suggestions on how else we could collaborate and benefit each other.
Look forwards to hearing from you,
Thanks and Regards,
Other Backlink Proposal Variants
You can swap out, or add to the proposal for a Guest Post – with a proposal for a backlink placement, a quote / citation link, or something else.
+ I also see that you have a great post on Productivity and Best Ways to be effective when Working From Home (see: How To Work From Home Effectively – Top Tips)… however you don’t have a list of productivity tools and software. I have just completed a post on that subject, titled “10 Best Productivity Tools for 2023”. Could you please add a sentence to your existing post, with a link to my post on that subject?
+ I really enjoyed your post on Free E-Learning Courses (Best Free Online eLearning Courses and Videos in 2023), but I see that ‘Fiver Learning’ is currently missing from your list. I think it could be a great addition and would be happy for you to include this quote from our post, with a link back to the same post please if you can: “Fiver Learning is a great new online e-learning platform from the team behind Fiverr. It’s full of great short courses, both free and paid, and looks set to rival the likes of Udemy and LinkedIn Learning in years to come” – quote from WhichFreelancer.com (include post link: https://tenxblog.com/best-free-online-elearning-courses-videos-2023/)
*(As time goes on, we will continue to update and iterate on this template to make it better. This takes into account feedback from our users on what works well, what doesn’t work so well, and suggestions for other ways to boost chances of a successful backlink collaboration between two parties).
Bonus Value – Benchmarking Your Site Against Competitors
Beyond the obvious benefits of using a targeted Backlink Outreach campaign approach, which revolve around reducing Time, Effort and Cost in acquiring new Backlinks, there’s also an opportunity to gain insight from the directory of sites which you have produced in the process…
Using the list of target websites compiled for your Backlink Outreach Campaign – you can research existing sites in your immediate niche (and secondary niches) and find out more about them. For example – you can quickly see how they position themselves in terms of which Niches they pick as their Primary and Secondary (Additional) niches. And once you have them identified, you can then use external tools including Ahrefs, GT Metrix, Google Keyword Planner, and Google Pagespeed Insights, to check things like their Domain Authority, Keyword Rankings, Backlink Profiles, and PageSpeed.
All of this can quickly build up to give you a picture of the current content marketing landscape in your target niche.
By doing this, you can see where your competitors (and allies) are, and benchmark yourselves against them in terms of current Domain Authority, Backlink Profile and so on.
All of this is very valuable.
Being able to see the lie of the land and know your starting point, will give you clear goals and milestones in terms of moving the dial and increasing those same metrics over time. The ultimate goal of course, is to become more and more relevant within your niche, have better SEO metrics, and capture more of the organic search traffic volume which is available for your key search terms.
Bonus Value – Increasing Your Addressable Target Audience
You can also use Web Searches and SERP pages for customer and market research…
It’s one thing identifying your target audience and building a persona or profile for them, but if you search through the top search results pages (SERPs) in a given market niche – you can quickly identify a shortlist of adjacent blogs and news sites which your target audience might be reading and subscribing to online.
Many of these sites might have fallen under your radar, but once you discover them – you can get a better picture of where your target audience might be hanging out online.
This is a powerful asset.
If you discover that there is a very popular niche blog site which is focussed on “Garden Weedkiller” and is hoovering up organic traffic from keyword searches related to that, and your site sells complimentary products such as lawnmowers or garden tools – then that site might be an ideal partner for you to collaborate with!
5 – What requirements might other websites have on you, and your website?
What does that mean? – basically, everyone knows that it’s hard to startup a new blog or content website from scratch and gain traction.
Unfortunately, some website owners do expect you to have lots of existing traffic or even a good Domain Authority score, before they will consider backlinking to your site.
There is some logic in this – since backlinking to too many sites which have zero traffic and poor metrics paints a picture of being connected to “low quality” websites. In reality – the truth might just be that your site hasn’t had time yet to establish itself and improve upon those metrics, and everyone’s got to start somewhere! You just need to be given a chance.
If you have zero (0) Domain Authority, and very few or even zero (0) existing backlinks, it can be a hard sell to try get website owners to accept your proposals and backlink to you. But if you make it clear that your intentions are good, that your site has quality, relevant content and will be well maintained and updated going forwards – then that should help.
Be Clear Upfront – You Have High Quality, Valuable Website Content and a Trustworthy Site
The one thing that all other website owners should be looking for from you and your website – is value content and a legitimate site which both their own user community and search engines in general will find valuable.
Your site must be presentable, and have published original content on it – preferably in well written English language.
If your site is empty or in a state of “Under Development” – most webmasters will be unlikely to accept and link to it.
If your site is not secured by an encryption layer (i.e. does not have an SSL applied and is not reachable over the HHTPS protocol), some website owners may still accept it. However please be aware that Google and other search engines now publicly acknowledge that HTTP (unsecured) sites score lower / will be de-prioritised in their SERP rankings, favour of those with an SSL certificate. So it’s in your best interests to apply an SSL certificate and let other webmasters know asap once your site links can be updated to HTTPS.
If you site is reviewed and deemed to be over-saturated with advertising or low-quality content or duplicated content – then it’s unlikely to accepted for a backlink collaboration.
Always keep the following pointers at the forefront of your mind:
- Quality (good quality content, offering value to readers,
- Relevance (aligns with a given market niche, and interests of readers of the site you are collaborating with),
- Security & Trust (you site must be clear of vulnerabilities, spam and malicious content, and use HTTPS where possible).
Thanks for reading, and good luck in your Backlink Outreach Campaigns!