Build High-Quality Backlinks in a Scalable Way in 2020

Build High-Quality Backlinks in a Scalable Way in 2020

In the year 2016, Google spokesman Andrey Lipattsev stated that backlinks were in the top 3 main ranking factors.
Today, backlinks still play an important role in the search results, and their influence mostly depends on their quality, not quantity. 

In the same year, Google introduced the Penguin algorithm, which detects spam, purchased links, and irrelevant links. An article on this topic – What is SPAM and How To Protect Yourself. As a result, a poor-quality link mass is not only useless but can lead to Google sanctions and filtering your website from the search. Learn more about algorithms and sanctions in this article – Google Algorithms That Affect SEO. Therefore, an important question for SEO-specialists today is, “how to get backlinks”. Let’s see which ways and methods can solve this problem.

Backlinks SEO & High quality backlinks

Let’s find out how high quality backlinks differ, what characteristics make links valuable, and what factors contribute to Google ranking:

  1. The credibility of the site on which the link is posted: A link from a quality site with a good reputation has a much higher value than several links from an unauthorized resource. At the same time, links from sites with a poor reputation that fall under the sanctions for spam can do significant harm.
  2. The relevance of the site: A link is of great value if it relates to the theme of your site and to the niche in which you work. This is important to consider when creating quality backlinks.
  3. Link location: The most valuable links are located inside the content and in the middle of the page. Links located on the side, header, or footer are less useful.
  4. It is important to know how many links are located on the site that posted your backlink. If the site has hundreds of outgoing links, they are less valuable than when the number of outgoing links seems more reasonable.
  5. “Dofollow” links (links that tell search engines to scan the page) are more valuable for ranking. You can use the Google tool to see if the “Dofollow” is contained in the code.

Chrome Google

You can also try looking inside the site code. If you are looking for more information on how to do this, check our article – How to view source code.

At the same time, nofollow links can still contribute to traffic.

How to get high quality backlinks?

Considering how rigorous Google algorithm is in regards to large link masses, it’s important to build an effective and secure strategy for getting high quality backlinks. This is the case when quality is more important than quantity. Let’s look at effective tactics for getting links and find out how to build backlinks.

Creating quality content

This is the first thing worth mentioning when it comes to how to get backlinks from authority sites. In order for users to have a desire to share a link to your content, it must be of high quality, relevant, and valuable. This includes:

  1. Thoughtful and well-implemented site structure: it should be convenient, visually attractive, with logical navigation, and high speed.
  2. Blogging, writing posts, expert opinions, professional recommendations. Read more in our article How to Write a Blog Post.
  3. “How to” articles with useful life-hacks relevant to your niche
  4. Conducting research, analytics, and creating exclusive content: this is a time-consuming process, but it will allow you to distinguish your site from the rest.
  5. Creation of infographics: most users like this content because it’s easy to read, and they will be willing to share it. In order to create graphic content, you can use various tools like, which has a free version for example. Learn more about how to create viral content that appeals to your target audience in the article What Is Link Bait?

Building relationships with media and bloggers

You need to become one of the sources of information for the media because journalists and bloggers are constantly in search of high-quality and exclusive information. During the promotion of your brand, positioning, and image formation, it is important to establish good relations with representatives of the media and regularly offer them your materials, cases, ideas for posts and publications. Read more in the article Blogger Outreach.

You may use  Help a Reporter

This platform provides communication between the media, bloggers, and representatives of information resources. It has free and several types of paid accounts:

After registration, you need to check on the requests in your niche and offer your resource to journalists. According to Brian Dean, this tactic takes time and attention, but in turn, brings good results. His experience has shown that this is one of the best ways to build high-quality links:    


Systematic work with media and the use of media relations will allow you to get editorial backlinks in the form of quotes from your site, the words of a representative of your brand or company, links to material or to the site, etc. This is a laborious process, but it can bring good and valuable results both at the stage of brand building and in the process of its development and promotion.    

Link baits

The technology of attracting natural links that users share on their sites, blogs, and social networks. The most obvious example of linkbating is viral content that flies around the web. At the same time, the method of link baiting can be used to distribute high-quality and valuable content that will make your resource popular in its niche, create an audience, and ensure the availability of high-quality links.

One of the most popular types of content that is actively shared in media resources and social networks is lists and ratings of institutions, institutions, services, etc.

The reason for the popularity of such content is simple – such lists give people useful and intuitive information gathered in one place. The more detailed the list is, the better.

As an example, consider the ranking of the best national universities in the USA in 2020 from the U.S. News publication:


This material received 27.6k backlinks:   

Such an amazing result was made possible due to the high relevance of the topic, since the ranking of universities is always in the center of public attention: representatives of the education system, journalists, etc.

For comparison, take the material of the same publication on coronavirus, published March 20, 2020.

During this period, interest in Covid-19 in the USA was very high. The peak of inquiries on this topic was only a few days before the publication of the article:

Trends Google

This time, the content received 10 times fewer backlinks (235):

After analyzing the addresses of sites that posted links to the university rankings described above, it immediately struck me that many of them were nofollow and were placed on Wikipedia pages (pages of sites, cities, universities, etc.). At the same time, a lot of media resources referred to the list, which certainly brought a lot of high-quality backlinks.

Having checked the ratings and lists made by this publication in other nominations for comparison, we can make sure that their indicators are also quite high. For example, an article that rated 50 best hospitals in the United States in 2020 received 5.5K backlinks.

Compiling relevant ratings in your niche can bring good results in the form of backlinks, although creating this content will require a lot of time and effort. On the other hand, when creating a rating, you can return to the topic annually while acquiring the status of an expert in your niche. This, in turn, will affect the frequency of citing your materials and getting backlinks.

Details on the most effective types of this content can be found in our article about Link Baits.

The Skyscraper Technique

This technique was presented by Backlinko’s Brian Dean in 2015 after it brought him a jump in the number of backlinks and an increase in organic traffic by 110% in 14 days:


The technique has three steps:

  1. Find the most popular content in your niche that collects the maximum number of high-quality backlinks.
  2. Make your own content that will be even better.
  3. Make deals with those who have already linked to similar content about links to your materials.

Monitoring content and finding the most successful materials, posts, articles, etc., in terms of backlinks, will allow you to analyze what causes the interest of the audience from your niche and what topics are at the top. Thus, you can highlight evergreen content, which can become the basis for filling the site.

For the next step – creating the best version of the requested content – Brian Dean advises the following steps:

  1. Make the content more detailed and increase its volume. If you see popular material that describes 10 ways to solve the problem, suggest 25 options. More detailed and useful material will be an argument for attracting an audience.
  2. Update outdated content. If you see a popular and high-quality post with a large number of links, but with information that has lost relevance, it is worth creating content on a similar topic that will be relevant for today. This is especially true for SEO and IT, where changes are more dynamic than in other industries. If you write on more conservative topics, such as tourism, landscape design, or cooking, it’s worth refreshing the content by describing the trends of the season, new trends, etc.
  3. Quality design: Visually appealing posts get more links, and if you replace or add useful infographics to your content, you can earn extra points.
  4. A more detailed and thorough approach: An expanded description of the list items, details, life hacks, and other details will make the content more attractive and useful.

The final step is communication with the audience. The peculiarity of the method is that you turn to a specific recipient who either works in your niche or shows interest in it. To determine your target sites, try using an SEO tool, for example, the SEMrush service, choosing the backlink analysis option. For instance, the site of a yoga studio, we see 817 backlinks:

When you go to the “backlinks” menu tab, you can see a list of sites:

It is worth selecting the most useful ones among them, disregarding the sites like directories, unpopular blogs, etc., and sending them letters using the rules and skills of outreach. At the same time, it is important to remember how to get a dofollow backlink. In the case of a successful dialogue about the placement of links, you can discuss this aspect. 

How successful the Skyscraper technique will depend on many factors, so it’s difficult to say that it is guaranteed to be effective. An example of her case, implemented in 2017, is shared by the Chanty CMO, Olga Mykhopakina in an article for Search Engine Journal.

The company’s product is a messenger for communication in a team, focused on communication between colleagues and solving work issues and tasks. The team used the keywords “Improve team communication” to create content. After browsing the net, they saw that there were blog posts in the SERP top:

Search Engine Journal

Mostly, the content was presented in the form of lists with recommendations on how to improve communication in the team. An analysis of the pages showed that the number of potential backlinks was around 230, after which it was decided to write an article 50 Ways to Improve Team Communication at Work in 2017.

To improve the content in comparison with competitors, the list of recommendations in the article was expanded to 50 points. The volume of the text was 2 times more (about 4 thousand words). The title was tied to 2017 for relevance, the text was structured, supplemented by graphics, and was accompanied on Twitter by the publication of quotes and announcements.

The next step was Outreach. For communication, we created several letter templates and sent them to 230 recipients. The result of the 40-hour work on the strategy was 24 answers, and 3 promises to give a backlink, 15 offers to buy links at a price of $45 to $200, and not a single real backlink as a result. 

After analyzing the failure to implement Skyscraper tactics, Olga identified several probable reasons:

  • Unsuccessful selection of the main key: improving communication in the team is not as important for marketers. For example, “200 Google Ranking Factors” from Backlinko shows this. Therefore, one of the key factors influencing the fact that Skyscraper will work is the right topic, which will be really relevant to a niche audience.
  • Unknown brand: At that time, the company only entered the market, and in order to position itself as an expert in any field, it takes time. The tactics of writing expert articles in the hope of backlinks are good when the brand is already recognizable, even in narrow circles.

Creating content in a style that helps generate backlinks

A research conducted by Buzzsumo in 2015, covering 100,000 blog articles and posts, found that 75% of online content was left without backlinks:

Since any content has a cost to be created, it makes sense to concentrate on the material that is able to generate links. The study found that links are most often collected by the following types of content:

  1. List Posts.
  2. Quizzes.
  3. “Why” Posts.
  4. “How to” Posts.
  5. Videos.
  6. Infographics.

Of course, these types of content are not always directly applicable, but depending on the niche, you can try to maximize the use of elements of the content that is linked more often.

Complementing the text with infographics and video, you can make it much more attractive to users. “Why and How to” format can also be applied to almost any topic, making the content more user-friendly. Quizz options can be polls or tests, as interactivity attracts users.

Creating Guides

Guides are effective content for getting backlinks. To create a working guide, it’s worth conducting a review to determine which topic will be in demand among your target audience.

We’ll select the guide option for the site, which is related to the theme of gardening. Having studied the links in the top of the issue and the data on the backlinks, you can see the best performance for beginners’ guides:


This page has 4К backlinks in total:

The site with a similar topic has 1.2K backlinks:

Having studied the content of competitors, it’s worth creating your own while making it better, as described in Skyscraper technology. In the guide, you can also apply content from the list of popular and potentially capable of bringing backlinks. For example, to develop a small test or quiz, determine your type of gardener, how well you know the plants in the USA, what type of garden is best for you, etc.

Create a guide, use infographics, lists, structure the form, and fill the content with illustrations. If possible, include thematic video in the material. This makes the material attractive for it to be shared.   


This element of communication can be useful and effective in the process of building links, making contacts, and presenting your brand. At the same time, it is important to follow the rules of business communication so that letters do not fly into the basket without being read. To do this, you should clearly determine the audience and think over a strategy.

The most promising for interaction may be representatives of the middle segment of your niche, who also develop their business and may be interested in a mutual exchange of links and cooperation.

Communication with representatives of related niches where you have intersections on certain topics can be useful. This applies to specific content, research, development, etc.

To gain interest from large representatives of the industry, you should seriously approach the presentation. If you have a high-quality and interesting case, research, project, etc., you can contact the top representatives of the niche. At the same time, it is not worth writing about cooperation as about interest in their expert opinion, advice, etc. This can be the beginning of an acquaintance and in the long run, can lead to cooperation and communication. 

If we talk about using Outreach to exchange links, it is important to note a few key points.

  1. Link exchange is referred to as gray SEO, and can sometimes even be labeled as black if it is mass building without regard to the essence of links and how relevant they are on the site, in content, context, etc. Read more about this topic in the article White Hat VS Grey Hat VS Black Hat SEO.
  2. Link exchange is quite acceptable when it comes to relevant content, a common niche, and benefits for a site visitor.

For example, the site is dedicated to automotive topics, and in the context of the article about vehicle inspection, a link to the car service website is posted. The article on this site, in turn, describes the technical aspects of maintenance, complementing the content of the first article. In this case, everything looks appropriate, while sites can make this exchange by prior arrangement.

The outreach technique is useful when promoting content in the form of a list or rating, which was described above. For example, after compiling a list, you can contact those who occupy good positions in it, as well as with platforms in your niche who may be interested in such a list, etc. Moreover, success in obtaining backlinks depends primarily on the quality, usefulness, and exclusivity of the content.      

Guest blogging

Although Google spokesman Matt Cutts said back in 2014 that guest blogging had come to an end, after more than 5 years this method still remains quite relevant. As with any competitive content, blogs for other sites should be of high quality and be relevant both for the site and for your specialization. Low-content, re-optimized texts with a large number of anchor links will certainly not cause sympathy among users, and search engines definitely will not like it.   

Sponsored links

The completely white and Google-approved practice of obtaining backlinks does not always look attractive due to the paid component. At the same time, if you have high-quality content that is important for you to convey to users from a well-known and reputable site, it is worth considering sponsored links, especially at the beginning to accelerate the brand’s launch on the market.

Public relations, online & offline activities

As you already know, one of the decisive factors in obtaining high quality backlinks free is communication, contacts, and building partnerships. To promote a young brand, it is important to participate in all kinds of niche activities, joint projects with large companies, and search for media partners to regularly receive backlinks. Professional conferences, training camps, and other events are an excellent platform for getting acquainted with industry representatives, brand presentations, and projects, as well as increasing audience loyalty.

Each year, the technology of obtaining high quality backlinks is getting more and more complicated, while standing out against the backdrop of a tremendous amount of information becomes a real challenge. In addition to high-quality content and other familiar and necessary components, a wide range of marketing communications, including public and media-relations, should be included in the brand promotion process. Of course, multi-level communication requires significant resources and time. However, in the future, this approach can lead to stable growth and high brand positions in the market.

About author
Leyla is a journalist with more than 15 years of experience. She also worked at marketing - PR and advertising (about 7 years). She was so interested in IT, especially SEO. Now Leyla is deep in SEO, this sphere inspires her for new issues and researches.