The 3 Best Ways to Earn Backlinks in 2021

A large part of what we do for our clients is sourcing backlinks. Back in the early days of SEO, anyone could start a site, point a handful of links to it and it would rank in Google a short while after. This was in the glory days of SEO before there was a lot of research put into this type of marketing and how to be successful with Google search results. Today, as most SEO consultants know, you have to accomplish three major things to be successful:

  • Technical SEO: ensuring a site is crawled by Google and doesn’t have any technical red flags
  • Content: creating pieces of content that will satisfy readers of a site as well as search engines crawling a site
  • Links: earning links from reputable sources to the content on the site

From there, one of the ongoing pieces of an SEO strategy is the continuous development of links pointing to a site.

Why Links Matter

The topic of link development has been argued by SEOs for years. Some people believe you shouldn’t try to earn links unnaturally in any way whatsoever. Other people don’t believe in the value of content and only care about links. What matters is that Google needs a way to find a website, and the way to do so is through a backlink. As search engines crawl the internet, they discover new pages to crawl through links. Without links spread throughout the internet, things would be very difficult to navigate for search engines and humans.

How to Know If a Link Is Good

One of the biggest problems website owners face is knowing when a link is of good quality. The keyword with this statement is quality. We can talk about metrics like DR (from ahrefs) or DA (from Moz), but the bottom line is that website needs to earn quality links from relevant sites. For example, imagine you ran a business in the US, but your entire link profile is coming from foreign sites. Or imagine you run a food blog, but you’re earning links from tech support sites. Google has no problem seeing the lack of relevance and won’t rank a site well because of it.

When looking for links to build to your website, remember quality is always more important than quantity and you want to ensure the links you build are topically relevant.

Link Development in 2021

With all this being said about link development, it’s easy to understand why it’s a difficult process. Companies like us, Octiv Digital, spend time reviewing link data, reviewing placements and ensuring the links we earn for clients are of noteworthy quality to impress Google.

To earn great links for a small to midsize business, there are three tried-and-true methods that are still majorly effective in 2021.

Citations & Directory Links

These types of links are intended to help with a local SEO strategy. A placement on a citation or business directory will provide Google with essential NAP (name, address and phone) information, as well as a relevant link to a website. While a vast majority of these links contain rel=”nofollow”, they still have topical relevance. This is especially true for a website with a local presence.

HARO Pitches

Help A Reporter Out (HARO) is a service that helps connect journalists with contributors. In exchange for a contribution to a HARO request, the contributor is often provided with a backlink. These types of links are highly relevant and may be placed on sites with a lot of credibility to Google. Some common placements from HARO include the Huffington Post, Reader’s Digest and Upcity (among many others).

Sign up for an account with HARO to start corresponding with journalists. You’ll make great connections and earn high quality links for your site.

Guest Posting

Guest posting is another controversial topic in the world of SEO because it has been spammed so much over the years. A lot of guest post placements are sold by overseas vendors that actually end up being a scam. For this reason, many people in SEO think it’s a terrible way to earn links. However, true guest posts published on relevant blogs continue to drive SEO growth.

If you are considering guest posting to earn links for your site, you have to be very selective in where you plan to publish your content. Check the overall theme and categories of a website, look for other content similar to yours and try to avoid sites that are hosted in other countries. Additionally, you’ll want to check for real traffic to know that your post will be read by real people. Most importantly, you’ll want to pitch websites that are topically relevant to yours. As an example, we pitched a legal website to publish a post related to a client promoting a new HOA law in California. The site’s admin was thrilled to have content for his site and provided a link in exchange. Here’s an example of that post:

Be Consistent

With any type of link development you choose to try, it’s important that you stick with it. You’ll want to keep a natural pace with link building and earn links month in and month out to show Google your site is rankable.

If you have any questions about getting started with link development or you want to know how your link profile looks today, reach out to and we’ll help you out.


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