Everything you need to know about backlinks

In this guide, we’re going to show you everything you need to know about backlinks. Our experts at Medium Marketing champion the use of backlinks for improving ranking in search engines. In fact, backlinking has become one of the most favoured methods in the overall scope of SEO strategy.

What is off-page SEO?

The term “off-page SEO”, also often called “off-site SEO”, refers to SEO methods and techniques conducted outside of your own website. The aim of off-page SEO is the same as on-page or on-site SEO: to improve your rankings within search engine results pages (SERPs). When you implement off-page SEO with on-page SEO, you will set into motion a well-rounded and dynamic SEO strategy to help your search engine rankings.

One of the most common off-page SEO techniques is creating backlinks, or links present in other websites that direct readers back to your own website.

What are backlinks?

As mentioned earlier, backlinks are links within a website outside of your own that send readers back to your own website or a specific landing page that you want traffic in.

Another term for backlinks is “inbound links” because they represent another website’s traffic coming to your own site. The main focus for you is to cultivate backlinks that are high-quality but also have a good quantity. Getting high quality backlinks will help your website rank higher in search engines such as Google and Bing.

We’ll cover backlink quality vs. quantity later on.


Types of backlinks

Now, let’s talk about the different types of backlinks. This will help you discern which type of backlinks is right for your website, marketing campaign, lead generation, and/or funnel plans.

Blogger outreach

This is one of the most common off-page SEO techniques. Simply put, a blogger outreach is when you pitch your product, service or content to relevant and popular bloggers, journalists and influencers by sending them a proposal email. The main objective of blogger outreach is to convince those with large targeted audiences to talk about you and link to your website.

One of the most effective strategies, without even sending them an initial “cold” email, is to visit websites in the same market, industry or interests as your business. Then, locate high-quality relevant content within their site and then include backlinks to that webpage when you’re blogging about a relevant topic in your own website. If those bloggers and journalists have backlink notifications enabled, they’ll get an alert when you backlink to them, which may encourage them to do the same for you.

Blogger outreach

Editorial Backlinks

An editorial backlink is very much similar to blogger outreach. It’s an organic inbound link that’s used naturally in an external website’s content. When and why does this happen? Well, when webmasters create content, they often link to other websites. For example, if a webmaster wants to mention a statistic, they may link to the website where it was originally published. This is why it’s important that you create articles on your website that have authoritativeness and are generally helpful, such as guides, how-to’s, and listicles (i.e., Top 10 SEO Techniques).

Searching for your competitors’ backlinks is one of the easiest ways to find leads for obtaining editorial backlinks. First, use a backlink checker, such as the one provided by Ahrefs, in order to find out where your competitors have backlinks. Next, visit those websites to determine whether or not you’d want to be associated with their website, brand, or content. If the website seems like a great candidate, find out how you can get a backlink published on the site. This typically involves contacting the editor or owner of the website.

Partner Backlinks

This is fundamentally similar to blogger outreach or editorial backlinks, except that the website you will be backlinking from is one you are in a partnership with. This means you have discussed, negotiated, and brokered a deal with the third-party website to be a partner. However, typically, you will hold up your end of the deal by backlinking to their website or helping them out based on the specifics of your partnership agreement.

Please note that the Google quality guidelines penalise websites with “excessive” creation of partner pages for the purpose of cross-linking. Having said that, in true Google fashion, they don’t tell us what specifically constitutes “excessive.”

An example of partner links would be if you’re a real estate website that has a resource or directory page that lists local home inspectors, mortgage brokers, etc. These are kosher because they are relevant to your industry and market, so Google won’t have a reason to flag your partner links or website.

Acknowledgment Backlinks

This is a type of backlink that is commonly published when your brand sponsors an industry event or has a representative speaking at such events. You can also receive acknowledgement backlinks when your company donates money to a charity or non-profit event.

This type of backlink usually contains minimal information about your brand, your products and services, but you can always ask the source to give you a little “bio” or blurb on their website if it’s in line with their editorial layout. Even if they don’t offer space for a small blurb about your company, the link alone is better than nothing.

The most important thing with this type of backlink is that people know you’re not just a faceless business, but one who gives to the community by donating or sharing your time to give talks at events.

Directory Backlinks

These are backlinks that derive from websites or web pages specifically designed as a directory or resource page. Directory backlinks are probably some of the oldest forms of backlinks. Even back in the late-90s and 2000s, you would see blogs and websites that specifically curated listings for websites that were relevant to their own industry or interest.

However, keep in mind that nowadays many directory websites charge a fee. Some of these directory websites are actually flagged by Google’s strict Page Quality Rating guidelines, while others simply have low Domain Authority ratings, don’t rank high in the SERPs, or are targeted by spam. So, be careful which directories you reach out to for backlinks. Make sure they are reputable, ethical and authoritative.

SEO Backlinks

Comment Backlinks

These are backlinks to your website that are found in the comment sections of websites, blogs and social media. For example, if a YouTuber is unboxing a limited-edition shoe bought at your shop, but they didn’t give a shoutout for some reason, you would usually find someone in the comment section asking where they got it from. Then another commenter, who might be familiar with your shop, might give you your much-deserved shoutout and link to your website.

That’s just one particular example. Nowadays, almost every website or social media platform has a comment section. Your best bet is to target websites designed around commenting or discussions, such as forums. In particular, you should leverage the power of Reddit and other forum websites that have a large number of users.

Press Release Backlinks

These are backlinks from paid or free press releases. Press releases are distributed to multiple media outlets and publications, which contain a brief statement about your brand, product, services and/or a specific thing you want to promote.

Press releases are still powerful tools even in this modern age when social media alone can be a form of press release. The difference between the two is that press releases are targeted to an immense global media network, which contains various mediums. Social media, on the other hand, is still a Wild West. Yes, it’s free, but what are the chances that your message goes viral? Press releases can be affordable or expensive, depending on how far and wide you want your release to reach.

Why are backlinks important?

Backlinks are very important in the grand scheme of your SEO strategy because they essentially represent a “vote of confidence” from a website or online publication. This is especially the case if the website you reach out to has a high Domain Authority or is simply an authority figure in the industry. Getting a thumbs up via backlink on their site can exponentially increase traffic to your website and also boost your reputation. On a more technical level, backlinks also improve your SEO by giving a signal of “high-quality” to search engines like Google and Bing. A webpage you’re backlinked in, say, a first-page ranking blog post from a popular website, in turn means your website will be riding along to the top.

Building Moz’s Domain Authority or Ahref’s Domain Rating

These two juggernauts of SEO have their own terms and own metric system, but they’re essentially the same and are equally important (although Moz’s Domain Authority is probably the more popular of the two). Let’s look at some of the ways to boost your DA and/or DR.

Produce quality content

Create original content that will enrich your site visitors. Make sure to pack it with high-quality sources such as studies and industry research, expert quotes, and data & statistics to boost your authoritativeness.

Domain Authority

Social sharing

Encourage your audience to share your editorial content on social media. That’s why it’s important that your brand has a presence in most, if not all, social media platforms.

Build partnerships with your network

Encourage past customers and clients, as well as business partners, to backlink to your website.

Keep your ears to the ground

Search the web–search engines and social media–for any mention of your website and brand. Perhaps you were mentioned in a Tweet or references in a blog post. If they didn’t backlink to your website, kindly ask them to do so or do it yourself in a comment section.

Write guest articles

This is the blogger outreach we covered earlier. Reach out to high-ranking, high-Domain Authority/Domain Rating websites to see if you could write a guest blog post, where you would not only flex your expertise but also pack with backlinks to your website.

Backlinks vs number of domains

The main difference between referring domains and backlinks is that the former are the websites your backlinks are coming from. On the other hand, backlinks are the links on websites that are linking to your web pages. Simply put, a referring domain can have one or more backlinks to a website.

Also, backlinks are evaluated based on relevance, Domain Authority (DA), site diversity and link location, among a few other factors. However, referring domains are websites containing one or more backlinks that point to another site.

Backlink Quantity vs Quality

The higher the Domain Authority, the more valuable the backlink is for your rankings. Having said that, you’re probably looking for an exact figure or at least a quantifiable range.

First, let’s talk about quality. Generally, a ranking of 60 to 100 is top-notch, 40 to 50 is decent, and below 40 is bad news.

Now, let’s talk about quantity, which is not as important as quality. 10 backlinks per month on average is considered safe for a new website. However, even 40 to 50 links per month is safe if those backlinks were built organically and are within the search engine webmaster guidelines.

TIP: A good strategy is to start with a low number of links and increase the quantity each month.


Now that you know the fundamentals of backlinks, you’re on your way to building the best backlinking strategy that’s right for you and your brand. Stay tuned because we will discuss more nuanced and advanced backlinking topics, tips, and strategies that will help your business grow.