It was fall 2018 that I decided to get some backlinks for my new website. As an experienced web developer I knew how to optimize web pages like adding and improving meta tags; however, I knew little about online marketing concepts like backlinking, site traffic and Domain Authority (DA). As I was determined to get my site off the ground, I did lots of trials and errors by testing different methods and strategies. After almost 1 year, I moved from amateur online marketer to a professional one by acquiring lots of tips, tricks, and things that I learn from reading online resources and applying them to website marketing. Had I seen an article like this last year, it would have saved me lots of time and effort. Indeed, my intention for writing this article is to give sincere advice to new entrepreneurs that have great products or services with tight budget, yet they are looking for boosting their site traffic and DA.
When I look back at mistakes I made and things I learn, I can briefly sum them up in 5 categories as follow:
Lie #1: You need to have money to get backlink
There are three types of site owners: i- entrepreneurs with no marketing budget, ii- new business owners with low budget like $2000 or less, and iii- established companies with lots of money. This article mainly targets first two types of readers. When I started to getting backlink, I was so scared of not being able to afford it. So I did outreach to few guest post writers and I got their quotes. I got rates like $100 to $900 per article guest post. At that time, I did not know that I can get free backlink or even get paid for getting backlink. The mistake I made was to reach out to guest post writers or site admins first. But I was wrong as I did not have a simple market plan prior to approaching writers.
My advice is simple- before do outreach, make a simple marketing plan like what is your business, who are your competitors, and what are their backlinks. Had I have a good competitor analysis, I would have saved myself lots of money. In other words, around Jan 2019 I started digging into my competitors’ backlinks. Against all odds I discovered that my competitors have got lots of DA 90+ backlinks for free. I just followed their steps and it was a great success.
Another advice is to reach out site owners or editors directory without going through third-party dealers if possible. That way, you can negotiate a better deal.
Hint- DA ranges from 0-100 and it shows the authority of a website or domain in Google search results. The higher the DA, the more authority a site is.
So the answer to “Do I have to have money to get quality backlink?” is simply NO. Currently, I can get free backlinks from 20+ sites such as IBM, SAP, etc with DA ranging 80-95. I just did lots of research on my competitors and my niche market. I did outreach to the right sites and along the way, I developed such a solid portfolio that new sites would love to accept me as their guest post writer.
Lie #2: You need to be a good writer to get backlink
At the beginning as a developer, I was scared to do outreach since I was not a good writer. But later on, I noticed that have a gift that many site owners are looking for- that is my coding skills. You can not believe how many authority sites out there are looking for technical tutorial writers. Writing tutorial for a Linux solution or HTML web design tricks does not require advance writing skills. So if you have a tech co-founder ask him to write few tutorials and get backlink juices for your site.
The same applies to anyone with special knowledge in business, law, medicine, etc. Just find sites that are looking for expert writers in your field and share your (how-to or to do list) insights.
If you are not in the IT field and still worried about writing, I have another advice for you. When you finish up your competitor analysis, you will noticed that you get lots of quality backliks by posting in forums, creating profiles, volunteering in your community, etc. In other words, guest post content writing is not the only way to acquire backlinks.
Lie #3: Only few sites are available for guest posting
Since I did a poor market research on my competitors, I found only a short-list of sites to outreach. Even when I reached out to freelance writers or marketer, their list of sites mostly were not relevant to my niche. No one knows your niche better your competitors and no one knows your product or service better than you. The best freelancer I found has a list of 3 sites with DA 90+.
If you dig into your competitors’ backlinks, you can come up with a long list of sites for outreach. It may take time and effort to compile such list, yet it definitely pays off.
A word of advice: Focus on the quality of backlinks rather than quantity. In other words, one backlink from an authority site like IBM is almost equal to 10-20 backlinks from sites with DA 20-35.
Lie #4: A new site may not get backlink from DA 90+
For a new site to get backlinks from an authority site (DA 90+) may be very daunting if not impossible, or at least it was like that for me when I started. However, later on I realized that it is not true. Some sites with DA 90+ may rejects your request for guest posting, so in that case, either get creative like writing technical articles for free for them, or join them as volunteer, member, or if possible sponsor. Again, your competitors have already been there, so just follow their foodsteps to see how they get a backlink.
A word of caution: When I started doing web development around 2011, it was relatively easy to get backlink from authority sites like Wikipedia, etc. However, as more and more sites are fighting for more traffic, it becomes much more competitive to get a back-link. That means, keep in mind that you may not be able to get the same backlinks that your competitor get 5 or 6 years ago. So my advice is to cast your net wider.
A word of advice: Of highest domain authority ranking are domain with the following extension: .gov, .edu, .org, and .com. That means, if you get backlink from a .gov is better than .com even if your .com may have a relatively higher DA.
A word of advice: After you get a quality backlink, there is no guarantee that Google will index it. So you have to be patient as it may take up to 2-3 months for your backlinking efforts to pay off.
Lie #5: Few backlinks are enough to get revenue from a site
By now you have a better idea what I went through to get my backlinks. I did no competitor analysis, spend $2k and got 8 backlinks from sites ranging from DA 50-80 in 3 months. I thought that money will come back quickly and no more efforts are needed. It turned out that I was wrong. My site DA moved from 1 to 22. Yet, I only get 5 site visitors per week, which was disappointing. So I started reading more online resources and doing more outreach. It was around March 2019 that I learned about my niche market and competitors backlinks. I aggressively follow them. As of August 2019, my site got almost 30 backlinks from DA 85. Indeed, I have more than 10 new sites with DA 90 that I have not get a chance to write articles for them. My ultimate goal is to get backlink from 100 sites with DA 90+.
Depending on your industry, services, or product as well as rate of online competition, you should decide how much efforts and budget you put into acquiring backlinks. There are some differences among concepts such as DA, site traffic, impression, and conversion. It requires an in-depth article to analyze them.
In short, considering the current market pressure on online businesses, especially e-commerce it is a good practice to be on the safe side meaning acquiring as many quality back-link as you can.
In this article, I discussed my story of moving from amateur online marketer to a professional one in one year. I discussed mistakes I made while acquiring backlinks for my site. You just follow my tips especially in the area of competitor analysis.
I like to conclude this article by emphasizing the fact that a successful marketing plan includes the following steps on top of backlinking:
- Offline marketing and branding
- Customer service for returning clients
- Newsletter, email or campaign marketing
- Social media marketing
- Podcasting or public speaking
- Press releases or news coverage
- Affiliate marketing or cold calling by sale team
So to have sustainable growth in your online business, you need to develop an integrated marketing plan that includes all said steps.