Best Backlink Strategy (and the Worst) with Examples

Backlink strategy post Google algorithm update ft

Read or watch how to steer the risky waters of backlink strategies with our latest insights based on dozens of clients’ websites. We’ll teach you to create the best backlink strategy and to recognize the poor one. If you’re leaning only on link insertions for your SEO, it’s time to reassess. Our guide unpacks the potential dangers of relying solely on the method, especially with looming Google updates. We share stories of clients who’ve seen massive traffic boosts under our guidance, illustrating the power and pitfalls of various strategies.

Whether you’re a seasoned digital marketer or the owner of a small business website, you should understand the best backlink strategies and risks you should avoid. Learn from real examples and enrich your approach. Avoid the common traps that will undermine your site’s credibility and rankings or even lead to penalties and deindexing (worst-case scenario).


Best Backlink Strategy that Could KILL or Save Your Site Next Google Update

If you rely on link insertions for your SEO strategy, you might want to think again. Let me tell you why.

Here’s just one example of a software as a service (SAAS) client who got up to 70,000 monthly visitors just six weeks after starting with us. She’s very much the exception, not the rule; but she’s proof that our process works very well. Not absolutely every time, but certainly a majority of the time. Here’s another great example of a client, a course creator, who started with us just over a year ago. They started from zero, and now they’re about to hit 30,000 visitors per month. They started with a domain rating (DR) of 0 and now have a domain rating of 30, which puts them in line with a lot of their competitors. And so for the next year or two, we’re hoping to get them into the serious high hitters, the 50s, 60s, 70s, where they’ll become a major player in that niche.

So the application page is open. We generally get quite full, but we keep it open because if you’re a good fit, we like to accelerate that process. Otherwise, if you don’t have that budget yet, scroll down to the bottom of our homepage where we’ve got my membership coming up. We’ll have regular group coaching calls, and we’ve also got my one-to-one consulting. But now to get back to the point about link building.



What You Need To Know About Link Building

Generally, with outreach link building, there are two types of links you can build:

  •  Guest posts
  • Link insertions


The Deception of Link Insertions

Now, notice I say link insertions rather than the more popular term of niche edits. And the reason I say that is for quite a simple distinction. Traditionally speaking, in the older, more advanced SEO community, niche edits actually refer to hacked links. And there’s still networks out there where you can buy  hacked links cheaply. So I’ve just identified one site, just a little parenting and mom blog. But a look at the outgoing links in the AHrefs extension reveals all kinds of dodgy links that have just been slammed in.

Now,  links are often available for just a couple of dollars. And what you’ll generally find is when you go to buy links on Fiverr or  other big marketplaces which gives people the idea that they can get  links for $40 – $50, a lot of  suppliers are just reselling  niche edits from marketplaces.

So they go to the marketplace, buy a hacked link for a couple of dollars, and then resell that for $50. Using the mom blog as an example,  they’ve got Viagra, Canada, 100mg right there on the site. If I have a look at the investment management company at the bottom, I’ve got all  dodgy Russian links. Also, a lot of  sites are just linking to each other on the same network.

Now,  networks do advertise themselves as being voluntary. You can list your sites with them. But from my various SEO groups, there’s always the talk and rumors that that’s their white hat front, and then on the back end, a lot more is going on. So even if you did go for  link insertions, even if you bought the wholesale price, not the retail price,  sites are being really heavily abused. They’re basically just PBNs. So it’s a dangerous footprint, and you’re probably not getting much power from that link, anyway. That’s why I like to be specific when I talk about link insertions from genuine outreach to real websites – which involves talking to a human, not niche edits that can be confused with suspicious marketplaces.



Why Agencies and Bloggers Like Link Insertions

Link insertions are the bread and butter of most agencies and most bloggers when they start out, because there’s the weird disconnect where for someone to publish a guest post for you, you’d have to go write it yourself. It isn’t so much of a problem now with AI, but two years ago, it was an extra cost you had to get. You had to have a writer producing content for websites that weren’t even your own, and also, the web Masters would often charge you a large publication fee so some of us figured out that if you go back to that same Webmaster and say: ‘let’s forget about the guest post. What would it take just to insert a link in an existing article on your site?’  the price is often much cheaper. It’s also a great negotiation where you say to them; ‘Listen, I’m giving you a 5-minute job to insert the link.’ 

I’ve been on the receiving end of guest posts before, and there’s a lot of back and forth. Often, you’re not happy with the quality of the content. If you do publish it, they might come back with tweaks saying: ‘Can you change the title, or remove the sponsored tag?’ and other things like that. So guest posting, in theory, is an easy way to make money with a website. However,  it can be a rabbit hole. So link insertions are just preferable for everyone involved. it’s a 5-minute job, so why wouldn’t you take just a handful of dollars and get it done?

 I say a handful of dollars, but the webmasters know it’s valuable, so you can expect to spend well over $100 even for a linking session. But the fact is they’re a really good utility and definitely worth it. It’s a strategy most agencies rely on and if you’re just starting out with link building, or doing it yourself, then the is a great tactic but not one you should entirely rely on.



Success Story: Experience With Link Insertions

So here’s just one example from my own personal brand website where I was trying to rank for SEO speaker and we’ve given up on the campaign because I’ve now got enough inbound queries for speaking. My brand has risen, so I don’t really need to worry about ranking for SEO speaker anymore; it’s happening automatically and I’ve got loads of speaking gigs coming up. I’ll be sure to let you know when you’ll have a chance to come and see me in person when that time comes. I think it’d be great to meet some of you.

Now back to the campaign. For the, we followed the exact methodology we use at our agency: basically, we’re reaching out to sites scraped from competitors. I’m talking about the top 10 of Google. As with everything else, you want to try and match the correlation of what’s already ranking, and that includes the content.

When clients start with us, we always try to ensure the content of your key money pages is absolutely in line with the top 10 in Google.

Google tells you what it wants from your page, so if your page isn’t optimized in the same way as the top 10, then chances are you’re not going to get the full ROI and full benefit of those links. That’s why we include free content and free consulting with all our link-building plans, to make sure those links have the best impact they can.

Once we’ve scraped all those competitors to get an idea of the types of links we want to build, we reach out to all websites en masse. To do that, we look for minimum traffic of 1,000 and a minimum DR of 30 but the average DR tends to be much higher. Typically, we average a DR of 55 from the linking site and the traffic tends to be well above 1,000, so consider the minimum requirement. The formula has given us results — consistent, good-quality content.

Consistently build links from good quality websites, and over time, you’ll get fantastic results. 90% of SEO is just content and links; the extra 10% is that sort of technical and consulting element that we include for free in all our plans to make them a no-brainer.



The Basic 100% Successful Methodology For Link Insertions

Once we’ve reached out to all websites, we screen them for quality. We’ve got a very long screening process.

Backlink strategy post Google algorithm update


1. Check Traffic Trends

We look at things like traffic trends and we ask questions like 

  •  Is the traffic declining or is it growing?
  • Is the traffic all coming from irrelevant sources?

For example, we considered a website where the traffic is just coming from random stuff with high volumes. In terms of trends, their traffic had completely dropped off so that’s an instant red flag and decline for us. We also thought to ourselves ‘Let’s have a look at the homepage and see: are they basically selling PBN links?’

If the homepage is full of essay writing services and casinos, then that’s a good sign are the sites that are going to get penalized. Often, those things are disguised as ‘our partners,’ ‘sponsorships,’ and things like that on the sites, so you want to be on the lookout for those signs.



2. Assess Backlink Quality

We also look at the backlink quality of the actual site itself.  So you’re inheriting your backlink power from the backlink power of the site that links to you. So where are those links coming from?

We talk about a minimum DR of 30, and an average DR of about 55, but DR can be quite easily manipulated, and in this case, we found a new site that had used the technique called exploits where basically you can create a ton of redirects from all kinds of different websites. But one of the biggest DR manipulations is actually on Google, where you can see each of individual Google subdomains and locations. You can then create a redirect that gives you a high DR link to your site, that shows up in AHREFS and contributes to your DR metric.

This is the kind of thing you get if you go on to Fiverr and pay $50 to blow up your DR to 70 or whatever. That’s why anytime clients come back to me saying: ‘our DR’s not going up, we want to get to DR 70,’ I reply to them saying: ‘well, yes you do, but you want to do it in a sustainable manner that actually reflects in your traffic and revenue. If you just want to get up to DR 70, I can get you up to 70 within a week, but you won’t be thanking me for it. We want to do it in a way that’s safe, sustainable, and enhances your bottom line.’

Then we have Web 2.0 spam. Again, this is similar to the process where you can use software to spam loads of subdomains to increase your DR.

Then we can also get into redirects. As we know from the latest update, Google is really going after misusing expired domains. Supposedly, they’ve been doing that for a long time but they are stepping it up a notch.


So what some sites would do?

They will redirect expired domains to boost DR. One or two is generally okay, but what we can see in some cases is websites that have collected together huge numbers of irrelevant expired domains and redirected them all into one, and it looks great for the DR.

The average agency would consider the high DR site with traffic, and they’ll buy those links. But in reality, those links are dangerous. And on the subject of dangerous links, people talk about guest post pages, and things like that, wondering if they are bad.

Generally, I say no. However, some of them do include publicly listed pricing. So in one case, we saw a backlink that one of my old corporate jobs got from a very high, globally-renowned agency, and it was very obvious on that site. You clicked on the guest post link, and it said if you want the permanent post, it’s £100. That was an absolute red flag. There’s nothing wrong with buying links, but you need to make sure you’re buying links from websites that are smart about it.

If they make it really obvious we’re selling links to anyone and everyone, then there’s a problem. The same goes for websites that publicly list a huge directory of all their different websites which you can buy links from.



3. Build a Solid Relationship

Once we come up with the shortlist of relevant websites, great DR competitors who also have really good metrics, genuine websites with traffic, with backlinks, and they’re not linking out to a million different websites, then we know we’ve got a really good shortlist.

So then we reach out and build a relationship with those websites. Because again, selling links is easy. Loads of people just want to throw up a site or maybe they had a blog or a new site that’s no longer making money, but they found they can make money by selling links. But of course, it’s a two-way street. They could easily take your money, place the link, and then decide a month later to take down that link.

That’s why we focus on networking and relationship building. Of course, if we find a good quality website, we want to keep coming back to that website every single month, both for my projects, and my client’s projects. It’s actually a two-way street. We also want to make sure they don’t mess us around and to do that, we make sure we don’t mess them around. So in order to get a link, we just find a relevant page on that site, and then we reach out. We take a paragraph or lightly rewrite a new paragraph and include our link and anchor text.


Best backlink strategy


Importance of Anchor Texts for the Best Link Strategy

What is an anchor text? It’s the text of the link. And what we want to do is make sure that the anchor text is relevant to the page we are linking to. You can go a step further and analyze the anchor text ratio, which is where you want to work out the top 10 in Google for your keyword.

What is the breakdown between keyword-rich anchor text as an exact match and partial match, the branded anchor text that just mentions the brand, and then generic anchor text like “click here” or ‘read more,’ etc? People will come up with different formulas for the.

Generally, you want to look at what’s ranking, but if you don’t want to go that far, the safe bet is to just go with a measured approach where you just take a few words to describe what’s on the page and don’t use that same anchor text again. Keep on mixing it up. If you’re just starting, it’s generally safest to start with brand name anchor text because, of course, if you’re naturally acquiring links over time, generally the majority of natural links when a blogger links to you tend to be your brand name, not the products you’re promoting.

But of course, you can combine both. On some of mine, I’ve got brand name anchor text and text with my keyword, and text of ‘SEO speaker. So that is literally how link building with link insertions works. You rewrite a paragraph, include your link, and politely ask if the webmaster will insert it for you.

The result, most times,  is that you get a pretty good quality link on a page that’s already aged and relevant for that topic. The downside is you’ll probably have other people inserting their links on there. A couple of links aren’t bad, but there is an argument that too many links on the page will split the power of that link. So that’s one thing you need to bear in mind.


Don’t Forget To Mix Things Up

Generally, we have highlighted the easy way to build up a lot of good-quality links. So you can see all links from the particular campaign are all triggering that best link filter, all with unique but very similar anchor text combining ‘SEO speaker’ with Stewart Vickers, the brand name. So I’d say the is a pretty aggressive link-building campaign, but that’s not a problem. It all depends on the nuances of that particular campaign.

Don’t forget, you also want a healthy mix of inner page links to homepage links because, like the brand name anchor text thing, the majority of websites linking to you naturally will be linking to your homepage. So if you’re just starting out and you’re starting building all your links to your product page trying to rank that, then that could look suspicious to Google.

You want a very natural link profile where you’ve got brand name anchor text links linking to your homepage and some linking to your inner pages. Whereas if you go hard and put exact match anchor text all to your inner page, your product page, and none to your homepage, then that looks a bit suspicious and that could result in a penalty.



Link Building Problems To Watch Out For

I’m always saying I am against absolutes in SEO where, especially on Facebook and Twitter, people will be going on about how and why you can’t do the and you can’t do that. I then go and do the thing and make a load of money. So beware of dogma.

No one is saying that link insertions don’t work and they won’t continue to work. However, I’d be careful about relying on them entirely because there’s a big footprint here. The argument for niche edits or link insertions like the is that it’s normal for a blogger to update their article and insert a few new links. But it is rare, and I think the is the problem we’ve got to watch, that if 100% of your links are coming from blogs that have been updated and had your link added, then that would not be difficult for Google to notice and filter out.

So let’s imagine a future Google update. We’ve seen a wave of recent updates that have severely affected the SEO industry, and it generally comes from one specific signal that’s been over-exploited. So for instance, the latest one has gone after mass-generated AI content. It doesn’t seem to be that successful in that, but we do know that Google doesn’t like the so-called scaled content.

Because of that, we’ve got to focus more and more on creating valuable content. We can still use AI, but we need to go a step further to disguise that footprint, and make each article slightly more unique, just 10-20% better than the majority of people who are just abusing the AIs.

And it’s the same thing with link building. If you rely entirely on link insertions, then you’re creating a massive footprint. Now, the solution is quite simple. The problem is a lot of agencies rely entirely on link insertions or brands will rely entirely on link insertions, and then you’re just building that footprint bigger and bigger, which so far is not a problem. But how far are we from that crucial Google update that could completely disrupt that industry?



How To Achieve Link Diversity Through Various Tactics

So the key thing is to link diversity. So, I’ve said before that when you first start a website, I like to go for a mix of citations, which are listings in local business directories, and a press release. Now, what the does is it already gives you a massive array of backlinks, which are all perfectly legitimate listings in local business directories, and the press releases are completely normal. It’s fine for a website to start that way. And what that therefore means is if you then start the link insertion campaign, your link insertions make up a very small percentage of your overall link profile.

Citations and press releases are good, but they don’t have a lot of power. They’re very much about volume and scale, whereas your link insertions provide powerful links that will move the needle for you and give you good keyword movements.


So, by layering up different tactics – citations, press releases, link insertions – you are diluting the emphasis on link insertions while still getting the full benefits. Not forgetting that your citations and press releases will have a lot of brand name anchor text on your homepage. So once again, you’re creating the pillow effect where you have a good, healthy, safe link profile that’s branded, goes to the homepage, and a lot of it is no-follow as well.

As you start introducing powerful link insertions, you’re not going to trigger any filters that are setting alarm bells off saying, ‘The website is entirely link insertions.’ But there’s another step further you can do, and that’s going back to guest posting, effectively.

In the agency, we like to go beyond that. Rather than just do normal guest posting, if you’re trying to promote your brand and you just want to get powerful backlinks and you’re contributing guest posts, why would you make do with the simple generic guest post that says: ‘Five Tips on How to Achieve X” and you just happen to drop your link in there somewhere? Why not go a step further? You’re already negotiating the placement, so the chances are you should be allowed a little bit of leeway in terms of being promotional.

So, there are two steps we like to take with our guest posts.



Use PR-style Content

We like to talk about our guest posts as being more PR-orientated. We specifically go to our writers and our AI tools and basically say, ‘You are a journalist, you are a PR expert, and we want to write a news feature that basically promotes your brand and is optimized for the target keyword.’

 Anyone coming across the article will find that the blogger, the journalist, has personally taken it upon themselves to write a news feature about the brand. So that looks a lot better for the human element, but also it disguises the footprint. It makes it look much more like you’ve done a natural PR campaign or even better,  bloggers have just taken it upon themselves to write about you.

And with those PR-style guest posts, we will generally write them in a tool like SEOSurfer, where not only will it read like a news article, but we’ll also actually optimize it for the keyword in line with the top 10 of Google.

That means that guest posts should rank on Google for your target keywords, which therefore means your links become much more powerful. You can even parasite SEO Google with your own guest posts because you’re building up the network of news articles about your brand that are optimized for your target keyword and they are going on powerful websites and can therefore actually rank for your target keyword, sending more power through to your link.


Link Insertion Campaigns

Whereas with link insertion campaigns like the, you can see right now in the example that  articles we’ve inserted links on are not actually ranking for any keywords. So they’re still being indexed, they’re still being crawled, and passing power to your site; you’re still getting the benefits of that DR and the domain traffic, but it’s not as powerful as if you wrote a fresh blog post fully optimized for the keyword that ranks and therefore passes much more power to your site.

So, if I just take an example of one of the client case studies I showed you in the beginning, they’ve had the process done for them. That’s how they’ve got up to 30,000 visitors per month within a year. So if I just take the links we built for them, and drop them into an AHREFS analysis, we can see not only do we have  really powerful high DR links of 53, 73, 77, 63, and 54, but we’ve also got all keywords ranking. So it’s not currently getting traffic, but a significant number of commercial keywords ranking. And that’s what matters.

That shows that Google trusts and respects the page enough to actually get it ranking for keywords. It’s not very high, but it’s a very good start. Therefore, not only do they have the power of the DR, but they’ve also got the power of the rankings.


Top Tip for Successful Link Building Process

So, link insertion campaigns like this are absolutely brilliant. I highly recommend them. But don’t rely on them as your only strategy. Layer them in, maybe somewhere between 20 and 40%. Mix in some other tactics like your press releases and your citations, but also get some optimized guest posts in there, not only for power but also to diversify and hedge your risk and show to Google you’ve got the rich, broad profile of all kinds of different links, not just a single strategy.


Share the Post:

Related Posts