Backlinks are one of the most important rankings factors that Google uses to determine a site’s rankings in the SERPs. The more links you have on high authority websites, the better off you’ll be.
Understanding the various types of backlinks can help you diversify your link profile and identify more opportunities to get links.
In this guide, we outline the 15 different types of backlinks, which ones you should choose, and how to carefully navigate some of the more questionable link acquisition strategies.
7 Best Types of Backlinks to Boost Rankings in Search Engines
We’re referring to these as the “best” types of backlinks because we believe they have the biggest impact on your link building strategy. If you’re developing a strategy and trying to get links, these are seven of the methods you’ll want to deploy as often as possible.
1. Editorial Backlinks
Editorial backlinks occur when your site is naturally mentioned within the content of another site. These types of backlinks are most often created by inserting a link naturally into content and using relevant anchor text to link back to your website.
The best way to utilize editorial links is to be referenced, quoted, or cited as a source for information.
For example, in this article on our site about trust flow we cited a real estate website regarding real estate trends and the data they provide. These are editorial backlinks.
The best way to get editorial backlinks for your web pages is to create valuable evergreen content that demonstrates your expertise on a subject. If you provide a lot of data, serve as an authority, and create engaging content, you’re more likely to generate editorial backlinks.
The reason we believe these are the best option for link building is because they seem most natural to Google. Links that are inserted properly on relevant content add more value to the existing piece by offering additional information to the reader.
Leveraging editorial backlinks as much as possible is the best strategy you can choose.
2. Guest Blogging Backlinks
Guest blogging backlinks are another popular type of backlink that you can use to increase your search engine rankings.
A guest post is an agreement between you and a website owner for you to write a piece of content for their website in exchange for a properly placed link within the content that points to your website.
Sometimes guest posts are free and other times you might have to pay for them. Either way, guest post links are a powerful link building tactic because they again, appear natural and provide value to readers.
You also have more control over the content that your link appears in. If you’re doing a niche edit or link insertion you won’t have complete control over the content where your link appears. With guest posting, you’re writing the article so you determine the quality of the content.
Getting links within a guest post tends to be one of the more contextually relevant ways to get a link as well which looks good in the eyes of Google.
There are a number of ways to find guest post opportunities but the most common way is through manual outreach. Figure out who your competitors are, see where they’re getting their links from using Ahrefs, find their contact information using Hunter.io, and send them emails asking if you could write a guest post on their website for free in exchange for a link.
3. Business Profile Backlinks
You can create nofollow links on business profiles like Yelp, MerchantCircle, LinkedIn, Hubspot, Crunchbase, and other industry directories. While the linking site might only provide you with a nofollow link, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the link is useless.
Having a link to your website on these pages often means that you are an established and legitimate business which looks good overall and helps build authority.
Best of all, getting these types of backlinks usually doesn’t cost much (if anything) and the process is incredibly simple. It doesn’t require any outreach and you can set up these profiles yourself. It’s good to have a nice variety of links and this is a solid strategy to diversify your link building campaign.
4. Image/Infographic Backlinks
Infographic backlinks come from informative or entertaining images that usually highlight more complicated data and research. These are found in the search engines through the use of image searches and can be a powerful way to earn more high quality backlinks.
Each time someone shares your infographic on their own web pages or on social media they should provide attribution to you. Every time they do this, it serves as a link for you.
The reason infographic backlinks are so powerful is because they compile a lot of data in one place. Google likes these types of backlinks because they actually provide a lot of value and show that a lot of time and effort went into the creation of the graphic.
If you’re looking to increase your rankings in the search engines, start finding ways to create niche-related infographics. We’d recommend starting by seeing what your competitors are doing and seeing if you can piggyback off of that by creating a more comprehensive and engaging design.
5. Press Release Backlinks
Press release backlinks are interesting because Google actually made a statement explaining why they have no impact on search engine rankings.
John Mueller said in a Google Hangout that they ignore these types of backlinks because it’s usually the company itself that is issuing the press release and they so too often so these links are not naturally and typically disregarded.
That said, there is still a way to benefit from press release link building if you can issue a press release and get another site to cover the press release with a link back to you.
This involves a similar process as some of the other link building strategies and will require you to do manual outreach, but it’s an option.
If the information you’re releasing is interesting, value-packed, and relevant to your audience then they might want to either cover the story or link to the press release somewhere on their site.
In this case, it would impact your rankings in the search engines because the linking site is different from yours.
6. Free Tool Backlinks
Free tool backlinks are a unique way to acquire backlinks. For this strategy, websites link to your page because you created and provide a free tool that they can use. Some sites will link to you because the tool is literally on your website while others will link to you in an editorial fashion referencing your site.
Ubersuggest is an incredible example of this. This is a freemium tool for keyword research that offers a few free searches before you have to pay for a membership.
While you don’t need to get this advanced, giving away a free version of whatever it is you sell is a great way to score some quality backlinks while increasing your rankings in the search engines.
7. Webinar Backlinks
A lot of people create webinars but don’t realize that they can earn backlinks to their website for them. The process of obtaining these types of backlinks requires a similar strategy to guest blogging and other manual methods.
You’ll want to research other relevant sites in your industry and find websites that could benefit from a link to your webinar.
For example, let’s say you coach real estate agents on how to increase their sales and you have a webinar that provides a ton of useful information. Perhaps various real estate agencies would want to include the webinar on their website?
Imagine how many real estate agencies you could reach out to with that single webinar. Not only would it be great for increasing rankings in the search engines but it would be incredible exposure for you as well.
The goal of every link building strategy should be to provide as much value as possible to people. As long as you’re doing that, you’ll increase your chances of getting the types of backlinks you want which makes the whole process easier.
3 Other Types of Backlinks
The reason we refer to these three as “other” types of backlinks is because they might not be the “best” choice per say but they’re still a great way to increase search rankings and diversify your link building.
Remember, as long as you’re providing value and staying relevant, there’s no such thing as a bad link.
8. Acknowledgment Backlinks
Acknowledgment backlinks are a unique one and these come when your business sponsors something, donates money, or does something worth earning a mention on someone else’s website.
Building an entire link building strategy around this method is impossible because you can only sponsor and donate money to so many causes before you run out of ideas.
That said, these are great for boosting local rankings in the search engines. If you sponsor a local sports team, donate money to a charity, or do something of recognition, most organizations would be more than happy to include a link back to your website. These can be highly contextually relevant and also carry a lot of weight for your overall brand image.
9. Badge Backlinks
Have you seen this image before?
If you’ve been in the world of digital marketing for any amount of time, chances are you’ve seen this. It’s a badge of recognition for completing the Hubspot Inbound Marketing certification.
When you complete this course, you can proudly display this badge on your website to build authority and show that you know what you’re talking about.
So, how does this build quality backlinks?
If you can find a way to create a badge like this for yourself, you could earn a ton of badge backlinks each time someone displays it on their website.
This is a bit complicated but it’s a great long-term strategy that could be worth the initial investment.
Think about what type of badge you could create and how you could motivate other people in your niche to want it.
For example, using the real estate niche again, if you offer some sort of educational program geared towards real estate agents, you could reach out to agencies in your local area promoting it. Starting local can be a great way to get your feet wet and help people get familiar with the badge.
10. Comment Backlinks
Blog comment links are almost always seen as a “bad” link and that’s because spammers have been exploiting this which kind of ruined it. That said, there are always opportunities for SEOs that are willing to do things the right way.
You can still leave blog comments and include links back to your website as long as they’re relevant, useful, and reasonable. Don’t spam your links, don’t comment multiple times, and make sure the links you’re providing add value to the website.
Keep in mind that most of the time these blog comments are filtered and personally vetted so if you’re spamming, you won’t likely get the link anyway because the comment will be deleted.
Doing this in the right context can provide your site with more traffic while also increasing your brand awareness.
Providing the right link can also open the door to more opportunities because you could personally reach out to the owner of the website you commented on for additional link building through guest blogging or link insertions.
5 Types of Backlinks to Be Careful With
Last but not least, let’s talk about some links that you’ll want to take with a grain of salt. These are highly prone to abuse by spammers so they have a bad reputation.
As we’ve said, there are opportunities to earn links anywhere as long as you’re willing to take the right steps, provide value, and make the right choices.
11. Paid Links
Google has made it crystal clear that buying links is against the rules but we never really follow the rules in the world of search engine optimization anyway.
A quick “site: write for us” search will yield a number of results for websites you can use for guest blogging. Many of these are paid backlinks which means you’ll either need to pay to write a guest blog or pay to get your link inserted onto their website somewhere.
The reason paid links are frowned upon is because anyone can get them and the content you get the link on is typically low-quality.
That doesn’t mean it has to be that way. You just need to be choosy about where you accept paid backlinks.
Make sure to only choose high authority websites by checking the site’s domain rating using Ahrefs.
Check to make sure the content on the site is of good quality and be quick to turn down a site that appears to publish random content about every subject under the sun. Google will pick up on this immediately and you’ll end up paying for a link that does nothing but hurt you in the search engines.
12. Forum Links
Forum links are another generally low-quality type of link but when used correctly could be a positive move for your website.
The point here is to reserve your links for only the highest-quality forums and relevant discussions. Most forums only provide nofollow links but there are a few where you can actually get dofollow links if you use them correctly.
Some of these have a wide audience with a lot of different topics as well so you may be able to find something relevant to your niche.
Keep in mind that the good forums will see through you in a second if you join and immediately start dropping comment backlinks on various threads.
For this strategy to work, you need to provide value. That’s been the magic word of this guide.
You need to join, answer some questions, ask some questions, engage in the conversation, and make a name for yourself before you start dropping links.
13. Directory Links
Way back in 2008, directories were all the rage. This was a primary way of building a lot of backlinks and increasing rankings in the search engines.
Today, directories are viewed as obsolete by most SEOs.
That said, this is still a way to build links but it must be done very carefully.
Directories are no longer seen as a way to increase your place in the search engine results pages but they’re still a way to build trust and direct more traffic to your site.
The key is avoiding low quality directories and irrelevant directory links. These two things will get you nowhere fast.
Is the site you’re about to post on reputable? Is your target audience likely to visit that site? If a potential customer or client saw you on that site would it increase or decrease their opinion of you?
Some examples of reputable directory links include:
While getting links from these sites will have little impact on your search engine optimization, it can’t hurt to give it a shot to boost your authority.
14. PBN Links
PBN link building is another gray area and four letter word that SEOs shy away from. PBN stands for “private blog network” and it refers to a network of websites created with the sole purpose of interlinking between each other.
Right off the bat that sounds like a bad idea.
That’s because it usually is.
While it is a manipulative strategy that Google hates, it can be done well if you’re extremely careful. The consequences can be dire if you get caught because Google could deindex the entire network which would result in a lot of lost links.
The goal is to use seasoned websites that have been around for a while to include in the PBN. You’ll then rebuild the sites from the inside out to provide links to other sites in the network.
15. Social Media Backlinks
Social media platforms allow you to include links to external websites on the social media profiles. These are almost always nofollow links so they don’t pass any link juice to your website.
These have also been ripe for abuse with spammers creating a ton of social media accounts for the sole purpose of getting as many links back to their website as possible.
While social backlinks have no impact on ranking, they can still benefit you by increasing your online presence and driving more traffic to your site.
If your goal is to increase your rankings in the search engines then understanding the various types of backlinks will help you score more links and identify more opportunities.
It’s best to diversify your link building as much as possible and try a number of different methods. Of course, an editorial backlink is best but combining various methods will help make your overall link profile stronger.
If you find yourself struggling to build contextual links and increase your rankings, we can help. Click here to learn more about what we do at WeOutreach and how we help site owners get more links!