Building Backlinks – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Building backlinks is something that is regularly talked about but many people just don’t know how to, by the end of this article you should know what a good backlink is and how to acquire them.


  • Do I need backlinks
  • What is a backlink
  • What is a good backlink
  • What is a bad backlink
  • 3 ways to build stronger backlinks
  • Conclusion




The simple answer is yes, if you want to reach a higher position on Google’s search engine results pages (SERP) you need backlinks. Google sees a backlink as a vote of confidence from one website to another. Therefore it believes the quality of the page that has been linked must be higher than those that have not been linked by others, it makes sense really, you write an article and it helps someone so they share it because it was GOOD.

In SEO there are many contributing factors to a page’s rankings, its believed that there are over 200, Google doesn’t release what these are to prevent people from cheating the system. Although no one can be 100% certain it is widely believed that the top 3 contributing factors to ranking are; Content (click here to find out how to write great content); Google artificial intelligence, nicknamed RankBrain and importantly Backlinks. This is not just about a numbers game, not all backlinks are equal as we will continue to discuss



Before we talk about anything else many people don’t know exactly what a backlink is.

A backlink is quite a simple concept in theory. It is a link from a domain (a different website) to your website. If only it really was as simple as that!

A backlink must be a clickable link www. chesterfielddigital. would not help us for example whereas would be considered a backlink when placed on another domain.

backlink infographic



Quality backlinks are essential if you want your backlinks to actually make a real difference to your page rankings. High-quality backlinks are likely to be;

  • Relevant – There is no point getting links from articles that are in no way linked to yours, users won’t stay on your website. Google’s ranking are based on relevance between the searched term and your content, the same can most likely be said for the quality of links. If the content surrounding the backlink isn’t relevant to your content it isn’t as likely to help you.
  • From trusted sites – If Google believes a website has high-quality content they also trust that they will only link to good content that adds value to their readers. Google is all about adding value to its users, if they trust a site to add value and that site is linking to yours this can only do good things for you.
  • Within the content – If the link is sat within a block of text rather than at the end of an article this shows search engines that it is linking directly to relevant content and is more likely to add value.
  • Not easy to get – If you are getting links easily then so are your competitors. If you and your competitors are getting the same links then they equalise each other and it is unlikely to place you above them. Work hard to get linked on websites that Google ranks highly and the rewards will be much greater than large numbers of lower quality links.



Low-quality backlinks won’t help you, even worse they can actually do harm to your search engine rankings. They may even cause Google to penalise your website. You should avoid links that are:

  • Unrelated – Avoid backlinks being placed in articles or on websites that aren’t related to the link. If you sell coffee beans being linked on a bike shop blog will not help you. Links help Google gauge your trustworthiness, random links that don’t add value to the user have no good reason to improve your rankings.
  • Inactive – If the website you get a link from is not updating and adding content to their website then Google won’t consider it very important or authoritative. You need to consider why they are no longer updated, have they themselves been penalised, for example, this will definitely do you no favours with Google.
  • Low-traffic – Low traffic sites won’t add value to any readers as few if any people will even be seeing these blogs. Although these don’t directly negatively impact on your site it is often wise to remove them. If they don’t add value remove them as you may risk a penalty if your site is manually reviewed by the Google Search Quality team.
  • Penalised – If a site has been penalised it won’t show in Google and will likely harm your site if it links to you. The best way to check for this is to type site: before the web address. If nothing shows up the site has been removed from SERPs
  • Low Authority – Links from one low authority site to another will not add much value in terms of your own domain authority. You want to try and gain links from people with the highest possible domain authority. These are harder to get but actually add value, especially if they are relevant and from a trusted authority in your niche.


There are numerous ways to gather backlinks, these are a few of the methods we would suggest;

  1. broken link with blue centre link The broken-link method

    – this is quite a time-consuming strategy but it can still work well, as long as you are willing to try and contact lots of websites that have broken links. Ahrefs say that if you have a  5-10% success rate then you are doing well.

    Broken links can be checked for by searching websites within your niche using ahrefs or using if you need a free service.

    Once you have a list of broken links you can see what they used to be by using Wayback Machine if this doesn’t work you can try and assess what the article was by looking at the title.

    You then need to check everyone that has still got links to the missing/broken page. To do this check the backlinks to this page on ahrefs or a free checker like SEO Review Tools backlink checker

    Once you have a list of referring domains contact each of them individually and let them know. Tell them that there is a link on their site that is broken and offer up your content as an alternative to link to.

    Do this politely and helpfully, add value to them as you would a customer, let them know where the link is, the anchor text, your link and why it would work. Make it personal so read a little on their site and make a comment on another piece of content. Ahrefs say you are aiming to get about 5% conversions but this will require you to write great outreach emails. Below see Ahrefs video on Writing outreach emails.

  2. Guest Blogging

    – Guest blogging is great if you can find other bloggers with reasonable domain authority within your niche.

    At a very basic level this can be done in a few simple steps;

    Find a site to offer guest blog posts to – On Google, use searches such as;

    Your keyword “guest blog”
    Your keyword “guest bloggers wanted”
    Your keyword “guest blogs wanted ”
    Your keyword “guest blogger”
    Your keyword “accepting guest blogger”
    Your keyword “accepting guest blog posts”
    Your keyword “become guest blogger”
    Your keyword “become guest writer”
    Your keyword “write for us”
    Your keyword “submit content”

    You may also search Twitter, loads of connections are made on Twitter every day using hashtags like #bloggerswanted there are more advanced methods for finding potential guest blog placements but for now, we’ll leave you with the basics.

  3. Link “stealing”

    –  Link stealing is a white hat SEO method that requires you to find older or lower quality links on other peoples pages then write or share previously written content that is of a higher quality and more value. The idea being that any content of your competitors is no longer linked on their site and instead your high-quality article has a link in its place.

    For example, if my niche was baking

    I have searched “top 10 cake recipes” in Ahrefs this was the top result:
    Ahrefs Backlink Reasearch How to
    Noticing that there are 24 referring domains and the domain rating is high I checked out the URL. This was the result:
    Backlink blog example

    Upon looking at the site it links to 10 recipes but each links off of the site which isn’t always the best for user experience. I know I could write a similar article but better than the original, maybe even including downloadable recipe sheets also to really improve on the experience.

    What I do next is check the backlinks for the article. This is what I found:

    The next step is to then check all of the linking domains and contact them with your new and improved content. Make the email personal to them, just like with guest blogging, and letting them know where they currently link to, on what page and why your article is better.

    For more on “stealing backlinks” watch the video below.



So what have we learnt? Not all links are equal, some may help you some may not and some can be positively negative for your SERP rankings.

Check carefully when looking at websites you’d like a link to be placed on and make sure you are linked in a place that is relevant and helpful to the readers.

When looking to guest blog make sure you write content that you would be proud to put on your own website. If people are finding you through another website, it’s not just about building a link but building trust with your audience.

Finally, don’t be afraid to poach links from your competitors by doing things better than them, and offering your work to sites currently linking to them.

Building backlinks can be both time consuming and frustrating, lots of emails will be sent and most you will never hear anything back. Just stick with it! The more you do, the more links you will get.

Over time you will see your rankings improve as your domain authority increases, which results in more organic backlinks with no work required. The key to it all is to write truly great content.

If you would like to get someone else to do the hard work for you contact us today.

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