Best Practice

Backlinks are Key to SEO

The importance of backlinks in SEO cannot be overstated. Got it - but what exactly is a backlink?

Simply put, backlinks are links pointing to your website from another website. 

Why are backlinks so important to SEO? Ultimately, backlinks increase your webpage’s domain authority, which in turn helps your web pages rank higher on the first SERP (Search engine results page). 

In this post, we’ll touch on:

  • Why link-building should be a core part of your SEO strategy
  • How to Create the best-quality backlinks
  • And more!

Let’s dive in. 

What are Backlinks?

As we mentioned earlier, backlinks are simply a link from one website to your website.

So, whenever any website links to your website, it’s considered a backlink for you and an “outbound” link for them. For example - Wikipedia offers a robust definition of a backlink here. The link to Wikipedia is an outbound link from Cruxdata, and a backlink for Wikipedia.  

How do backlinks help SEO?

Backlinks are one of the top signals that search engines use to rank a page. When other websites link to your webpage, it is a vote of confidence for a search engine. The higher the domain authority of the website that is linking to you, the more valuable the backlink is for your website.  

Intuitively, this makes sense. Consider this - if you published a guide on how to get fit for mountain biking in 30 days, and Mens Health and Bike Mag linked to your guide, search engines would score your guide as trustworthy and high value.   

Backlinks help in three ways: 

  1. As noted above, backlinks build your website’s authority because search engine crawlers will consider that web page’s content trustworthy and valuable
  2. High authority sites generally have high traffic volumes, which will increase referral traffic to your page
  3. Once your content is considered high value, you have a higher chance of appearing in one of 38 unique SERP features.

This is why backlinks are one of the top 10 elements of an SEO program. If you're thinking about hiring an SEO professional, checkout our blog How to Hire an SEO Agency or Freelancer.

Quality of a Backlink

With backlinks, it’s all about quality versus quantity. Most SEO experts agree, - fewer high quality backlinks are better than many low quality backlinks. 

Not all backlinks are made equal; you don’t want to build backlinks just for the sake of it, as you actually run the risk of harming your SEO. You want to analyze every domain to make sure it’s worth getting a backlink from.

Checking the Domain Authority of a Website

One of the first things you should be looking at while qualifying a domain is its authority.  

While determining a domain's authority score isn’t an exact science, it is still an important SEO metric. Moz provides a highly recognized tool that provides DA (domain authority) scores for websites.  

Although it’s an estimate, domain authority (DA) is represented as a number from 0 to 100, 0 being the lowest. It is a guideline, so using it to make ballpark estimates as to whether the website in question has high or low domain authority.  

Here’s how the Domain Authority (DA) metric can be broken down:

0-20 Domain Authority (DA)

A domain authority score of 20 or less is considered the lowest. 

Normally, it’s not worth building backlinks from low-authority websites. 

Unless your website is new and could use a little authority boost. 

20-30 Domain Authority (DA)

Websites with domain authority scores between 20 and 30 have moderate authority. 

If your website has a domain authority of less than 20, getting backlinks from these websites can be worth it. However - don’t garner not too many backlinks, as a high number of low DA sites linking to your site may appear spammy to the search engines.

30-50 Domain Authority (DA)

These are the websites with a pretty strong domain authority, which makes them an attraction for startup websites. 

50-60 Domain Authority (DA) 

A domain authority score between 50 and 60 is considered great.  

Backlinks from these domains can have a huge impact on your organic rankings. 

60-100 Domain Authority (DA)

A backlink from websites in this DA range is a dream come true for virtually every website owner. 

However, this also means that getting a backlink from them is the most difficult. 

Here’s a table with example domains and their respective DA scores out of 100.

If you want to further explore the concept of domain authority, here’s a more in-depth description by Wikipedia.  

Here are a couple of more example websites:

Food Network Vs a Local Backing Blog

Bake Shop: Domain authority = 34 (Pretty Strong)

Food Network: Domain Authority = 91 (Excellent)

Both are at separate ends of the DA spectrum. 

Clearly, securing a backlink from Food Network would be more difficult than securing a backlink from the Bake Shop. 

This is obviously because higher-authority domains have a higher demand, which raises their approval criteria, as well as the number of websites seeking their attention for backlinks, so they will be more selective. It takes many more hours to secure a backlink from a 60+ DA website than a 20+ DA website. 

Sometimes, you’ll have to offer a decent amount of paid compensation in return for a backlink from an authoritative website. 

Types of Backlinks 

The good thing is there are plenty of ways to build backlinks to a web page. 

Here are the types of backlinks you should know about:

Editorial Backlinks

An editorial backlink is a link pointing to your site typically from a publication. However, they can be from other websites with high-quality content. 

Many editorial backlinks happen organically, when the editor or webmaster links to useful content on other websites to add value to their own content/story. Hopefully your great content gets their attention. You can of course reach out to sites that provide coverage in your industry, informing them of your great content and asking to be considered for future opportunities.  

Guest Blogs

Guest blogging is probably the most popular and effective strategy for building links to a website. 

A guest blog post is simply a piece of content on a blog website with a link back to one of your web pages. The piece of content may be an entire blog or a single sentence in a blog on their website.  In order to build backlinks this way, you have to reach out to other blog owners in your industry and offer them something they can’t say no to.  This, in most cases, is a high-quality piece of content that resonates with their audience. 

Niche Edits

Niche edits are a link-building strategy where backlinks are inserted on an already published blog post or article. Owners of websites are constantly updating their content with new, valuable information. To build niche edits, reach out to editors and webmasters and ask them for link insertions in relevant posts.

Business Profiles

Business profile backlinks, as the name suggests, are links in business profiles. There are business profiles that apply to all businesses. If you have a local business, listing your business on relevant directories can help boost your website’s local search visibility. Finally there are industry specific directories. These are easily found with a few Google searches. If a site charges for their listing, we typically move on and find directories interested in providing the best open solutions for their audience.  


Webinars are another great way to build SEO backlinks for your website. A webinar backlink is simply a backlink that leads the audience to a live or pre-recorded online presentation. All you need to do is produce some great webinars (easier said than done, we know) and then watch the backlinks roll in!  


Acknowledgment backlinks are when your company or a person from your company supports an article, interview, event, etc.  They are relatively low value links, but help support your brand regardless.  

Guest Post Bio

Every guest post should have an author bio section. Your guest post author bio is a perfect place to introduce yourself. It’s also a great place to include a backlink to your website.  


Blog commenting is another popular link-building strategy. But, its effectiveness depends on how you use it.  Many comment backlinks are no-follow links, and have a lower value for SEO. However, done right, blog comments can help you build relationships and eventually get a lot of high-quality backlinks. 

Caution: spamming blog posts with your website’s link doesn’t get you anywhere. You need to add value with insightful comments. Relationship building should always be your top priority, no matter what link-building strategy you’re pursuing.

Anchor Text Keywords and Backlinks

Anchor text is the text that is displayed to the user in an article with a hidden, clickable HTML link. 

For Example: 

Check your our article top 10 SEO components,


Check out our article on the top 10 components of an SEO program.

Instead of publishing the URL, which is not that readable, we use the anchor text “10 components of an SEO program”. In the second example, the URL is hidden. From an SEO perspective, it’s always better to use anchor text hyperlinks instead of inserting a full web page address. When possible, use keywords in your anchor text. So, when securing SEO backlinks from other sites, provide them with the anchor text you want them to use. This, of course, is also relevant if you’re hiring a link-building expert. 

Here’s another example of a hyperlink anchor text:

Many websites are hosted in Wordpress. YOAST, a popular SEO optimization WordPress plugin, and has a more in-depth guide on anchor text.  Even if you do not use Wordpress, the article is still insightful. 

Follow and NoFollow Backlinks 

Backlinks with the “Follow” HTML attribute pass link confidence to the destination URL, whereas backlinks with a “Nofollow” attribute don’t. 

While nofollow links don’t necessarily hurt your SEO, they don’t offer SEO value either - but it is natural to have some no-follow links. Examples of no-follow links: 

  • Business directories 
  • Blog comments
  • Social media Profiles 
  • Links in forum posts 
  • Certain types blogs and news aggregator sites 
  • Links from “widgets” on websites 
  • Links in press releases.

Good Backlinks Vs Bad Backlinks

Generally, backlinks can be classified into two categories:

  • White hat backlinks
  • Black hat backlinks

White hat backlinks are good backlinks; the ones that don’t put your website at risk of a Google penalty.  A white hat link is a link from an authentic website, that links to your website, in order to add value to their website. 

Black hat backlinks are links that are paid-for links, acquired unethically or illegally.  Unfortunately, there are quite a number of freelancers and agencies that engage in black hat link building. 

Backlinks to Avoid

  1. Private Blog Networks or PBNs - a group of websites owned or affiliated to a single or a group of owners, with the sole purpose of linking to each other to create backlinks for clients. They often buy expired domains, and populate low quality content on these sites.  In 2017, Google stated that it would begin targeting PBNs.Spamming Blog Comments 
  2. Low Quality Guest Blogging sites - sites with the specific intent to reproduce content to just create links. Today many are full of AI written content.  
  3. Bad Redirects - creating a page with spammy links and keyword stuffing.  
  4. Buying links directly - this is different than hiring an expert to find and do outreach for you.

Best Practices

  1. Target High Authority Websites
  • You only want SEO backlinks from as high-authority websites as possible. A mix of high quality and decent quality is the reality and for people starting out.  
  1. Anchor Text Includes Keyword
  • Your anchor text should have your primary keyword, or a keyword from your keyword cluster for the main keyword. 
  1. Linking Site Relevance
  • Website relevance is probably the most important thing to consider while building backlinks.  Non relevant sites are typically a clear indicator of black hat techniques that can get your penalized with search engines.  
  1.  Strongly Consider Hiring and Expert 
  •  Link Building is very time consuming, especially if you are just starting out. It’s not uncommon to hire experts for other areas of your business or personal life - you should consider your SEO link building as well.
  1. Monitoring and Measuring 
  • for SEO you want to measure: 
  1. Visitor traffic from search engines 
  2. Your keyword rankings 
  3. Your backlinks 
  4. Your own Domain Authority 
  5. On-page & Technical SEO 
  6. Your competitor backlinks 
  7. Keyword Density 
  • provides a convenient set of dashboard and tools allowing you to DIY parts of your SEO, out source elements, 100% DIY or 100% outsource, you are in control, 

How to Get Backlinks?

Generating backlinks is very similar to the sales process. The best way to do it is by creating great, compelling content. The type of content that others will want to reference and link to. 

Here are a few of the top-performing content types when it comes to link-building:

  • In-depth explanations 
  • How-to guides
  • List posts
  • Educational pieces 
  • Infographics
  • Free tools 
  • Badges 

Here’s a general the step-by-step process:

1) Identify sites (your opportunities) 
Evaluate Competitors backlinks 

Use a backlink tool like Ahrefs or SEMrush to evaluate your competitors’ backlinks and try to replicate their backlink profiles. 

Editorial Websites

You can also find editorial sites in your niche using a simple Google search. 


Another way to build super-high-quality backlinks is HARO (Help a Reporter Out). HARO is a service that bridges content creators with journalists.  Sign up on the HARO website, monitor different queries, and respond promptly. 

Blogs on Reviews and Trends

You want to keep an eye on blogs on product roundups, reviews, product overviews, and trends. 

Guest Blogging

As discussed earlier, guest blogging is one of the most effective ways to build backlinks. 

Existing Sites

In addition, find existing content and see if a link to your website fits in (Niche edits). 

2) Identify the Contact on Each Site

Find a way to contact the person behind the website. 

3) Outreach and Pitch Your Expertise

Next, reach out and pitch your offer. 

4) Follow Up

As with any sales process, you seldom get a yes on the first attempt.  

5) Repeat the Process

You want to repeat these steps several types because the response rate is typically pretty low. Expect to get 1 response for 10 outreach messages or even less for high authority websites.

Hire Backlinks Specialist

Hiring a backlink specialist or an SEO agency to do all the heavy lifting for you is inarguably the best option. 

You are not buying links; you’re paying the experts that will do the job for you. Large companies have dedicated people on staff that perform this function. 

Certain white-hat backlink specialists focus on certain types of links, while others cover all types of backlink opportunities.  

Beware of push-button links, PBN, and low-cost web 2.0 directories.  If it sounds too good to be true, it is.  

Brian Dean from Backlinko published a really in-depth blog post on backlink services. 

Cruxdata works with a variety of backlink service freelancers and providers.We take the burden of screening, trial and error off your shoulders. You get quality link-building experts without having to go through the whole hiring process.  

Remember, you’re paying for an expert’s time, and not just the links.  

How Much Should Backlinks Cost?

DIY link-building is free; however it does require a lot of your time. Many in-house projects start and fizzle out due to the un suspecting time requirements. Between the average response rate and your potential lack of experience, the time to secure a proper backlink could be anywhere from 5 to 20 hours or more. 

Paying an expert can cost $50 - $1500 dollars for high-quality white-hat backlinks. The higher the domain authority of a backlink, the more its cost. 

By hiring an expert, you’d be paying for someone’s time, experience, and industry contacts. 

We recommend a hybrid approach. Establish contacts and develop relationships with key editors and website owners in your industry on your own, and hire an expert to build out an ongoing and robust backlink strategy.  

Monitoring Backlinks

As mentioned above, monitoring and measuring is a key part of the job. Having your own set of SEO dashboards and metrics in addition to what an agency or freelancer offers leaves you in control, and allows you to measure the success of your own strategies, as well as the strategies of hired help.

With Cruxdata, you can effectively track your backlinks directly from your intelligent dashboard.  

Summary: Backlinks are a Key Component of an SEO Program 

A few steps are recommended before your start a backlink program. 

A keyword analysis is needed to provide the keywords for targeted anchor text.

Just like a backlink expert, a keyword specialist can help you save a ton of time at a reasonable fee. 

They don’t just do a keyword analysis but can also provide you with a list of profitable keywords for your SEO strategy (Semantic core development). 

As for link-building, start by acquiring backlinks from a wide range of sites, including a couple of high-DA websites and a handful of mid-level domain-authority websites. 

A backlink specialist can better understand your keywords, semantic core, and SEO competitors to build high-quality backlinks and boost your website’s authority and rankings. 

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Preston Derrick