Okay, so you want to know how to get backlinks that Google loves? It’s not easy. It’s not fast. But it is possible. Link building is certainly not what it used to be. If you want to be visible online for the foreseeable future, you need to approach link building with caution, uber high quality, and make sure you’re adhering to Google’s guidelines.
To quote Matt Cutts from Google,
The objective is not to “make your links appear natural”, the objective is that your links are natural.
In short, this means we shouldn’t be building links. We should be earning them. Easier said than done right? Not all businesses are like Apple who get press coverage and naturally earn backlinks left, right and centre. However, there are ways to get great backlinks. In this article I’ll give you some of the keys to do that. You’ll learn just how to get backlinks Google loves.

Why you shouldn’t pay for backlinks

Paying for backlinks is against Google’s guidelines as they don’t want anyone to manipulate search engine results and play the algorithm. Google wants the best quality content to appear at the top of their search engines. Any website which seems to be trying to manipulate the search engines to get to the top of the results can be penalised, or at the worst, banned from Google. As hard as it might seem to get backlinks, paying for them is not something you should be doing to improve your web presence. However, this doesn’t mean link building is over.

What is a paid link?

In this video Matt Cutts talks about what the Google web spam team’s criteria is when it comes to paid links. It’s all a bit vague, but should help give some outline on what they may classify as not adhering to their guidelines.

So basically, a paid link is any external website link which is pointing to your website and which you have given money in exchange for.
If you want to pay for a link because you think there is a high value in terms of referral traffic (people clicking the link and coming to your website), you can and should still do so. Just make sure it’s a “nofollow” link. This means Google will not crawl the link, therefore it won’t pass any SEO value or help your website gain authority in the search engines. However on the right website, nofollow backlinks can bring in a lot of referral traffic to your website.

What is a quality backlink?

As long as your backlinks are totally natural editorial links from high quality and relevant websites, they are going to be good quality. SEO software, Moz gives a spam score so you can asses the quality of a webpage before acquiring a link. Use the Moz plugin for super fast analysis as shown on The Verge website below.
Moz software shows spam score of websites
Ruth Burr from Moz perfectly sums this up when discussing link building in this article.
“Link building should always, always be done with driving traffic in mind. If it’s not a link that a real person might see, click on, visit your site and then buy something, the value of that link goes way down, followed or not. If you can get a great link from a reputable website that your target audience visits a lot, then I say go for it.”

Quality backlink checklist

Use this checklist anytime you are unsure of the quality of backlinks. If all the answers are ‘yes’, you’re all good! Below are five steps to highlight how to get backlinks Google loves.

  1. Is the link coming from a high quality website? (Check domain authority, page authority and spam score as minimum analysis).
  2. Is the website where the link is coming from relevant to what you do?
  3. Is the link contextual and logical in terms of placement?
  4. Does the link offer readers of that page a good opportunity to learn more or see a relevant resource which is related to the article?
  5. Would you be happy for Google to crawl the link?

How to get Backlinks Google Loves

What Makes the Ultimate Backlink?

Earn your links with outstanding content

Content is king. It’s a buzz phrase that keeps circulating the digital marketing world, but it’s perhaps the most important piece of the digital marketing mix, and should be done to the highest possible standards with no expense spared.
Good content is how you will earn links to your website. As long as you are creating factual, resourceful and in-depth articles, videos, podcasts, tools, and answers to your customers problems, you will be well positioned to earn links.
The kind of content you can create is obviously dictated by your industry. You should always ensure relevance and refrain from creating content which isn’t in-line with your brand or what your company offers.
Once you have created your content, you need to promote it as far and wide as possible within your allocated budget. For ideas on getting more eyeballs on your content, see:
In the past, I’ve seen several websites ranking for major search terms having never tried to build even one backlink. All they do is create content. Day after day after day.
After all, this is what Google wants. They want people creating amazing content which can be found via their search engine. If other websites link to your content as a result of your hard work, then you’re definitely doing the right thing.

Creating content for other websites

 All websites need content. Part of your content marketing campaigns should be to not only create content for your own website, but also to create content for other websites which are relevant to what you do. Once you have identified the right websites, get out there and build relationships with them. Create meaningful content for their websites which can contain links back to your website.
Obviously this needs to be an ongoing thing for you to be able to continuously get backlinks that Google loves. Instead of spending time and money on a ‘link building team’, spend your time and money on a content creation and outreach team.

Keep an eye on your competitors

Your competitors are earning links. It’s important that you keep an eye on their backlinks and see if you can also earn links from the same places by creating the right content and making sure it reaches the right influencers.
Open Site Explorer from Moz is a good tool to research competitor backlinks with. You can enter any website URL and generate a CSV of all the backlinks to that page, sub domain or root domain. You can also use filters to identify clusters of links categorised by differentiators such as: “dofollow” and “nofollow”. You can also use tools like Mejestic SEO and ahrefs, but bear in mind that none of these tools are able to find 100% of the back links pointing to any website as outlined in this study:
It’s all good practise to earn links in the same places as your competitors, but if you really want to rank higher than them in search engines, you also need to be one step ahead. Work hard to create better, more in-depth content. Research the latest trends in your industry and be the first to communicate them.
How to get backlinks - Keep an eye on your competitors
Keep an eye on your competitors

Monitor mentions and get backlinks

Another good way of earning links is to track where your brand is being mentioned and then reach out to the entities mentioning you to see if they would be happy to link to you from their websites. Chances are, if they are happy to mention you, they should be happy to link to you.
To find out where you are being mentioned, use one of the following options.
  • Fresh Web Explorer  – Research and Compare Mentions and Links
  • Mention – People are talking about your brand – Find them and join the conversation
  • Google Alerts – Monitor the web for interesting new content
You can do the same thing to monitor where your competitors are being mentioned.

Broken link building

Neil Patel recently wrote a good article on link building. He talks about how broken link building could be a great strategy to get more links to your website.
Angular Marketing actually created a brilliant resource back in 2012 (see below) which is featured on the Moz blog to help you with this strategy. Quoting their take on broken link building:
“As a link building tactic, broken link building is an effective, white-hat, scalable, content-focused link building strategy that builds links through finding broken links, recreating that broken content, and helping webmasters replace broken links with your corrected link.
Broken link building may perhaps be the most effective, white-hat link building strategy in years. In particular, broken link building is appealing because the success of the campaign is directly proportional to how much good you do for the web. You profit only if you create good content to replace lost or abandoned content that webmasters still want to link to. This is the type of strategy that marries so many of the competing interests our industry: content vs. links, link earning vs link building, inbound vs. outbound, etc.”

Design for earning links

It’s not good content alone which will help you earn  great backlinks. It’s good content which looks amazing that will ensure your strategy really pays off.
Don’t skimp on design costs. Make sure your website, blog and any other company assets online are designed by professionals who have creative expertise in making stuff look good.
Not only do your online assets need to be aesthetically pleasing, they need to be designed with conversion optimisation in mind. Add the right call to actions, in the right places, on the right pages. Make your sales funnel as slick as possible and ensure the final purchase is as easy as possible to complete. A/B testing is your key to knowing what works best.
If you think good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design. ~ Dr. Ralf Speth, CEO Jaguar

How to get backlinks Google loves – Conclusion

In summary, link building is still very much alive, but how you generate backlinks needs to be of the highest standards with the user in mind. Think for the click, rather than for the robot crawling the links. If it’s not natural, it’s not a good link. Better to have no links at all than one hundred dubious links which could harm your web presence.
When you approach search engine optimisation, not only should you be thinking about ‘what works now’, you should also definitely consider ‘what could potentially change in the future’. As hard as it is, we need to try and second guess what Google might do next so we can be sure we’re on the right side of the algorithm. If you can take anything from this article, take the message below.
If you’re not doing it for the users, don’t do it at all
If you have any other ideas on how to get backlinks that Google loves, let us know in the comments below. If you want some help with your link building, get in touch.