What are backlinks, are they useful?


What are backlinks?

A backlink is any link from another website that goes to your website.

It could be an online directory (Yellow Pages), news report (Vancouver Sun talking about your company), blog post (some blogger reviewing your product), or podcast review note etc.

Simply, it’s just another website mentioning your company with a link to your site.


What types of backlinks are there?

  1. Citation Backlinks – like YellowPages, Canada411
  2. Social Profile backlinks – like Facebook, Youtube, Twitter
  3. Online Review sites – like Yelp, Homestars, Trusted Pros, BBB.org
  4. Guest Post backlinks – If you write articles for another company they often credit you the work and will link to your page
  5. PR / News Backlinks – Vancouver Sun, Vancity Buzz, VanReal Podcast
  6. Sponsors / Banner Ads – You might sponsor a local charity, or sports team who has a link from their site to yours

Example 1: Citations

A citation is simply the mention or reference of a business’s name, address, and phone number, otherwise abbreviated to “NAP.” Citations are an important variable in determining the ranking of a location in Google Maps search as well as the local 3-pack shown in Google Search.

YellowPages, Yelp, Citysearch, Superpages, Manta, and Yahoo Local.

Example 2: Online directories

Canada411 – is an online business directory of all Canadian businesses. If users are on there browsing, they can also navigate to your website via a link. Again, this is called a backlink to your website.

Example 3:. A news story

Your company has closed a round of funding for $100M and a tech news blog is writing about your company. The article will talk about your company’s product/service and within this article they will give a link back to your website.

Example: Review Blog

You see these “comparison review” blogs every day. Best WordPress Themes, Best Email marketing tools, 7 Fastest Hosting providers. In these articles, your product or service is reviewed and they will generally link back to your website.

Get reviewed by a top tech review blog.. and you’ll get solid traction.


Why does it matter?

It’s all about reputation.

In the real world, if you have everyone talking about your brand and you’re a topic of conversation around the dinner table… then you must be relevant and important.

The same goes for online.

If 30 websites are talking about your brand, about what great products you have, or about what fantastic customer experience you provide, Google notices this and will reward you. Google will see your site as an authority and in turn will rank you higher in search results.

So your online reputation matters.

The traffic you get from a backlink is Gold, because you have not paid for it, you have earned it.

What this means is that… the more backlinks you have, the more FREE traffic you receive back to your website.

bad backlinks


Are there good backlinks and bad backlinks?

Yes there are good and bad backlinks.

Bad links are ones from random countries that have no relevance to the country you do business in.

Good links are ones from reputable websites like Forbes, Huffington Post, Blogger.com etc.

Focusing on quantity and attempting to acquire as many links as possible is a classic tactic of Black SEO consultants in an attempt to manipulate the Google PageRank algorithm. This tactic is frowned upon these days with Google enforcing penalties for spammy and poor quality links to your site.

Example. A link from India for a company in Canada.

MuchMore.in, an Indian company who gives free links. You can set up a profile and link back to your website. Is it relevant? No, not at all. Google will not see this as a quality link.

What to do? .. choose quality over quantity

give me backlinks

What’s a good backlink?

Any link from a reputable website or blog with a high Domain Authority.

Example: This Jewelry Appraisal company, Imperial Gem Lab, has a link from the Canadian Jewellers Association, back to their website. That’s a good link. To the average Joe Soap, the Canadian Jewellers Association sounds pretty legit, so any company mentioned on that website, most likely is also legit.

Example:  Lotus Seed Vegan has a profile set up on Happy Cow, a leading Vegan Restaurant web app. If they get a lot of traffic from Happy Cow back to the Lotus Seed website, Google will notice that importance and make them rank higher.


How do you find good backlinks?

The low hanging fruit is to search for business directories within your niche market and also search for blogs within your industry.

Look at the picture below, you’ll see all these websites that offer to list plumbing businesses on them. These are good relevant directory websites for an easy backlink.

Plumber directory - Google Search

Do it for your own industry.

Keyword directory - Google Search


Next step, use a tool like Buzzsumo to find out the most popular websites who are taking about your industry.

You are trying to find websites that might talk about your product or service.

Example. A vegan restaurant.

There’s a blog post for “the 10 best vegan restaurants in Vancouver

You need to find the author of that article and reach out to them to ask to come to review your restaurant. Your goal is to get included in the list when they update it in 6 months time.

To understand if a link is good or bad, you’ve got to think in terms of reputation.

Can I just steal my competitors backlinks?

Sure you can.

And most companies have active monitoring on their closest rivals to spot newly created backlinks and jump on the opportunity. There is nothing wrong with it. If those links are easy to set up, then go for it!

Neil Patel’s Backlink tool is great tool for analyzing your competitors backlinks

So how do I actually go about getting a backlink from some blog? How does it work?

Now, you’re asking the right question.

Here, you need to do some manual leg work. You need to find potential websites who could talk about your product, and then you need to reach out to those authors, editors, writers, bloggers, and you need to ask them for a shout out.

There are not going to just talk about our company for no good reason are they?

Correct. You have to give them a reason. What’s in it for them? What’s in it for their readers?

You’ve got to have some damn good content, either something that is entertaining, topical, or brand-new.

links everywhere

So if backlinks is all about targeting blogs to talk about you, what are some good strategies?

  1. Do your research and create a blog post that you know their readers will love. And it will be a no-brainer for them to share.
  2. Ask them to collaborate on creating an article together (*works very well)
  3. Find articles they have shared and write a better more in-depth posts and ask them to share with their readers.
  4. Target podcasts for backlinks – speaking on podcasts is a great way to get a highly valuable backlink
  5. Offer exclusive rights to a blog to publish “new research“. Blogs love to be the first to report on brand new findings.
  6. Offer to write content for them – aka “Guest Posts“. Most blogs are screaming out for writers. So offer your services.

Email Outreach for Backlinks

Now it’s time to reach out to these bloggers.

So, say you found a blog that you think would be a great opportunity to acquire a backlink from.

A cool tool you can use to help with the outreach process to all these various websites and blogs is a tool called Hunter.io

Hunter.io’s Chrome Extension can help you find any email address for a website. One click and you’ll get it;

Hunter.io Chrome Extension Tool For capturing emails

Then Hunter.io can also help with the email outreach by letting you track emails you send out to these contacts.

Hunter.io mail tracker

And they’ve also got a great resource on how to find anyones email address. Check it out, worth a read!

Another Email Finder Alternative

Another great tool to consider as part of your email discovery is a great email finder tool called AeroLeads

Aeroleads is a prospect generation software for businesses of any size in a variety of B2B industries. Through the Chrome plug-in, AeroLeads pulls data for relevant targeted sales leads from social networking websites such as LinkedIn, GitHubAngelList, Inbound.org, and CrunchBase

Email Finder tools aeroleads

For more information on email finder tools, check out this blog post from AeroLeads

Want to get started with email outreach but don’t where to begin? 

No sweat! Check out this awesome email marketing guide created by the Buildaprenuer team.

Think of backlinks as a network

What are the different types of groups you come across and deal with throughout the course of business?

Industry associations, boards of trade, suppliers, partners, contractors, networking groups, trade shows, business awards, to local sponsorships etc.

These are all possible sources of quality backlinks.

The guys over in SERP.co do a very good job at categorizing the different types of backlinks that you could go after.

“We like to build backlinks in a certain order that follows the most natural progression of backlink types that a website would pick up if they were just doing what most people do.

  1. Foundational Social Profiles
  2. Foundational Business Directories
  3. General Business Directories
  4. Niche Business Directories
  5. Location Business Directories
  6. General Business Authority links
  7. Industry Authority links
  8. Extra Social Profiles
  9. Web 2.0 Blogs
  10. Press Release
  11. Niche relevant blog comments
  12. Niche relevant forum/community links
  13. Guest posts
  14. Link outreach
  15. Competitor Backlinks
  16. PBN links”

Seeing it like this might open your mind to all the possible opportunities that are available to you.


Actions to take yourself, now

OK, I got it now, so where should I start with Backlinks? (Actions for you to take now)

In the sense of checking off a checkbox, then here are the most important boxes to check.

Make sure your web address, postal address and phone number are the exact same across all the platforms.

VP:  Consistency of NAP.

Set up your Citations

  • Google My Business
  • Yellow Pages
  • White Pages
  • True Local
  • Yelp
  • Hot Frog
  • Bing Places
  • Cngloinfo.com
  • Canadianbusinessdirectory.ca
  • Bookmark4you.com
  • Placestogoinvancouverca.com

List in “niche” specific directories

Whilst there are plenty of main stream commercial type directories available to list in, with a little bit of searching, you can often find highly targeted “niche” specific directories to submit to also. Submitting to directories like this is extremely valuable, because they’re HIGHLY relevant. For example, I just performed a quick search in Google using “metal fabricator” + directory and found this listing here. For any company operating in the metal fabrication industry, this would be absolutely perfect.

Don’t forget, you can use Google search query operators to find industry specific directories (see below)

Keyword +”add your business”/”list your business”
Keyword + directory
Keyword + directory + add/submit/suggest/post
Keyword + intitle:”directory”
Keyword+ inurl:”directory”
Keyword + Listings

Seek reputable local backlinks

  • Local Chamber of Commerce
  • BBB.org
  • TrustedPros
  • HomeStars

Check out the Paid Directories

Here are our recommendations for paid directories –

Great for Local SEO

  • Other Local Businesses
  • Associations within the community
  • Car Garages
  • Churches
  • Charities
  • Local Sports Clubs
  • Think partnerships, Joint ventures, cross promotions, sponsorship, charity donations

In Conclusion

Backlinks provide real value. Google likes backlinks.

At the core, it’s all about having a great product/service that excites people and makes them want to talk about your company. Becoming an expert in your field gives you a better chance of other websites, blogs, podcasts to talk about your brand and link back to your website.

Good SEO is about having a great company.

Want to learn more? Download our FREE Ultimate Backlinks List for Vancouver