The Complete Guide to Building Backlinks on a Budget

The best free tools, how to write great content, and what to avoid

Elias Arosemena
Jul 10, 2019 · 10 min read
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Photo by Lukas Blazek on Unsplash

Link building is more competitive than ever. Before, at least you could win with a big budget — you hired a firm or specialized team, gave them your keywords and targets, and let them handle the rest.

But times have changed. Google’s algorithms have adapted to even the most subtle manipulative practices. It’s now clear that the only way to win is with quality over quantity.

This guide will bring you up to speed on the basics, as well as introduce you to a few vital, but free (or cheap) tools you can use to build backlinks on a budget. We’ll also cover how to go about it in the first place and what bad practices you should avoid.

Let’s go!

What is Link Building?

Link building is an ongoing process of getting links from other websites that direct to your own. Search engine algorithms use this to crawl the links found between the two sites’ individual pages and the links between full websites.

There are a lot of techniques for link building and SEO experts agree that link building is the most challenging part of their jobs. Lots of SEOs spend time trying to do this well and fail. Because of this, if you can master high-quality building backlinks, you’ll have a direct advantage against your competition and other SEOs.

The first step is having the right tools. You can spend a massive amount on tools, courses, and more and get subpar results — that’s just the way it is. Whereas budget and arsenal was the key before, in the current SEO climate creativity is the heart of what makes things work.

But before we get into that, here are six tools that I consider necessities.

Link Building Tools

There is free software available that can help you on your link building efforts. Some of them can be installed onto your web browser, meaning that you don’t have to download any additional software to your PC and many integrate with feed data that will help you when doing potential target research on the fly.

Link Explorer

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Get complete link metrics for any website, including Page Authority and Domain Authority with Moz’s Link Explorer

Moz launched Link Explorer, a robust piece of software which people can use to compare and research websites for free. Right now, you can use this tool to help you on the SEO side of things while helping you make important choices such as deciding which sites are excellent sources for potential links or are just spam vaults.

Aside from this explorer, you can also use the Mozbar, which is free to download. With these tools, you can easily decide if a particular link is beneficial or detrimental to your site using the metrics displayed with include everything from a Spam score to the overall DR/DA.

It’s important because you can’t merely scoop up every relevant site and link to and from them. Google’s search algorithm considers this spam. Linking is one way that Google uses to understand the relevancy of your site and the quality of content it has to offer its visitors, and you don’t want to get penalized by Google for having unrelated links on your page.

Link Explorer shows you what keywords you should look for, position in the search engine results, and how you can rank the site for those keywords. You can use this to spot where you rank, and it is essential for attaining high to medium difficulty keywords.

I suggest first time users get Link Explorer for organized and streamlined SEO link building. You can compare metrics of 6 multiple sites, filter links by link equity, and allow you to export the links to an Excel sheet for easy sorting or an examination of links.

Pros:

  • Multiple site comparison
  • Keyword Analysis
  • Link Testing
  • Domain authority checker

Cons:

  • Excel sheet lacks quality

Disavow.it

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disavow.it helps you to quickly compile/clean a Disavow file, ready to upload to Google Search Console.

Sometimes our websites have low-quality links sent to our inner site pages. Whether you’ve done this on your own or hired a lousy search engine optimizer (SEO), bad links can reduce your results on Google’s Search Engine Rankings.

Thankfully with Disavow.it, you can make disavow file that can be uploaded to Google’s Search Console. Without this tool, you would have to manually create a file to upload, which can lead to further mistakes if you haven’t formatted it correctly.

Disavow.it’s “Apply Disavow File” option is one of its best features. This helps when you have multiple URLs that you need to disavow links from and creates a disavow file just for you. It then compares the two lists and tells you which links will be disavowed.

The disavow process can be complicated. It makes the process streamlined and more straightforward for the average website owner. It’s also helpful as it helps you proactively disavow low-quality links on your website before they become a problem.

Pros:

  • Helps with disavow Google Links
  • Multiple URL links disavow sheet
  • Easy to Use

Cons:

  • Might be limited for advanced SEO users

Majestic SEO

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Majestic SEO lets you explore a domain/url in great detail.

Majestic SEO is a tool that’s used to manage backlinks. Users can handle bulk requests, making it easier to monitor multiple pages at once.

Majestic is best used if you’re combining it with other SEO tools for more advanced SEO practices. If you’re a marketer, blogger, or entrepreneur that is familiar with some of the more complex aspects of running a campaign, Majestic will be needed to run one smoothly.

One highlight feature is its TrustFlow Metric. It helps measure the trustworthiness and credibility of a URL. It is determined by measuring the clicks from a group of trusted links to a specific domain, or URL, scoring the site out of 100.

Another feature I’ve noticed is its Compare Tool, which lets you compare ten domains side by side. This tool gives you a graphical view so you can compare sites easily.

Pros:

  • Accurate backlink profile tracking
  • User-friendly
  • Measures authority and trust efficiently

Cons:

  • Difficult to generate reports
  • Not effective in keyword research

SEO Quake

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Check any webpage for a huge selection of SEO parameters on the fly, with
the free SEOquake browser extension.

Next on our list is SEO Quake. SEO Quake is a simple browser plugin that gives you useful SEO metrics for any page found on the internet. It includes buttons that show the Alexa site rank, MSN index, Web archive page, and shows the Google rank and index.

The numbers and icons might be incomprehensible for less informed users, but users that are used to digging into the more in-depth details of a site will appreciate the full information that this plugin provides. Click on any of the toolbars and receive metrics on the number of viewers visiting the page, traffic history that trends on a graph, and city of origin.

When changing your configuration options, I suggest that you set your loading requests to the “by request” option. This prevents your tool from consistently hitting engines like Google and Yahoo and getting banned for automated use.

I suggest trying out this tool, but its configuration will take some time getting used to. Also, I like how the reports give you detailed information on how to improve your site’s rankings. If you’re trying to promote your site to a broader audience, this tool is a must-have.

Pros:

  • Free for the first 100 audits
  • Gives detailed information on how to improve your website
  • It’s non-invasive on your browser. Its placed on the top left corner of your screen and you can expand it when needed.

Cons:

  • The high-level parameters are difficult for new users
  • The keyword density tool doesn’t give you the rationale on what your websites should aim for.

SEO Book Toolbar

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SEO X-Ray allows you to look at things like on-page headings, internal and external links and gives you access to the keyword density analysis tool.

SEO Book Toolbar is similar to MozBar in design and utility. This is a free tool that can be used to identify multiple link prospects and find out which ones deliver the most returns for your website.

This includes information on Yahoo domain backlinks, page rank, estimated visitors, and several directory links. They also have a multitude of advanced features that can be used off the toolbar, and they’re all free. Whenever you view a web page, it automatically gathers and sends data to various services that you can access immediately.

One feature that I like is the SEO X-Ray. This is useful when you want to look at the meta description tags, page titles, meta description keywords, without having to look at the site’s source code. It also shows the outbound link count, which can help with gathering links from a page.

If you are planning to use SEO for your online marketing campaigns, SEOBook Toolbar is worth your time. It gathers search marketing data and search engine optimization from the most powerful tools on the web, and it’s incredibly accessible.

Pros:

  • SEO X-Ray provides enhanced analysis
  • Keyword optimization
  • Good for first-time users

Cons:

  • Slow interface

Check My Links

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‘Check My Links’ is an extension developed primarily for web designers, developers and content editors that crawls through your webpage and looks for broken links.

Need a hand checking the quality of your website’s links? Don’t worry, Check My Links can help. It’s a free plugin that can be easily installed on a Google Browser, and it crawls through your website searching for broken links.

When editing a webpage that has over 10 links, it can be challenging to see which ones work manually. Check My Links highlights the correct links in green and broken links in red. This makes it easier for web editors to make changes on their pages to increase it on Google Search Engine rankings.

Check My Links Version 3.6 Update has warnings for empty ahref links, attributes, anchor tags — trailing #s. Also, the invalid links can be placed in the console in an Excel CSV format for better exporting. Bad link removal has never been easier.

Overall, this simple little plugin can save hours on website link building. You’ll want all of your links to be relatable and high quality, to increase traffic and conversion rates for your website.

Pros:

  • Helps remove broken links
  • Simple to use and understand
  • Easier Link Identification

Cons:

  • Needs more features

How to Build Backlinks for Your Website

Making backlinks for your page might seem difficult at first, but all it takes is high-quality content, making the right connections, and a detailed plan on how to consistently build links for the page. This is how you can build links the right way:

Relevant content is needed

When you are making a website, link quality is just as important as the keywords. Google’s search algorithm will penalize you if you have content that’s not related to your site. This means you have to be choosy on what you decide to write on your page, or who you let do the writing.

While there is a multitude of demographics out there, all of us are wired the same way. The National Human Genome Research Institute states that “human beings are around 99.9% identical based on their genetic makeup.’’

Knowing the preferences, habits, and tendencies of your audience can be helpful and advantageous to your website’s content. By creating relevant content, you’ll have better links which leads to better search engine results.

Avoid leaving footprints

A common mistake that first time SEO users make is to leave new footprints when they are creating backlinks. All of your links need to look natural, especially the ones you’re building for SEO.

  • For guest posts, always use a different pen name and change the author bio.
  • Change the description, don’t use the same stale description throughout the entire web.
  • All of the links need to look untraceable and natural.

By avoiding footprints, you can create backlinks that will rank high in Google’s algorithm. This means that your site traffic will continue to increase while having a clear and organized website in the process.

Create detailed and deep content

You have to create comprehensive content and have it connect to your audience. Readers love to read longer content if it’s filled with graphics and broken up in a way that makes it easy to digest and share. If you create authoritative, long-form content, you will get more site traffic and attention to your site.

If you ever have to decide on length and detail, always stick with detail. Your readers will stay engaged and will help your backlinks become naturally embedded in your content.

Have patience when building backlinks

If you’ve just created your website from scratch, it’s unlikely you’ll have both natural and fast backlinks. It’s usually either one of the other.

Getting natural links takes time. Thinking that you’ll get links from Forbes or New York Times won’t get you anywhere. You have to drive relevant traffic and build links naturally to your website.

So how can you solve this?

One way is to create guest posts on high DA and reputable websites within your niche. This allows you to build authority as an expert and have your links increase in value over time. So stay patient, your high-quality backlinks will come over time.

Backlinks you should avoid

There are some links that you should avoid having on your backlink profile.

Here are some examples of bad backlinks:

1. Comment spam

None of your readers like spam. Neither does Google. If you are writing spamming comments throughout the internet, your website’s ranking and reputation will decrease. Nofollow comments can also be an issue if you start abusing them. Make sure that every post you make is organic so that your backlinks can have more value.

2. No value

The best examples of websites in this category are article directories, social directories, and social bookmarking sites. All of these are only used for SEO purposes and Google doesn’t give them a lot of credit. To make matters worse, once you’ve submitted your link to websites like these, it’s virtually impossible to remove them.

3. Links from webpages with no content

Google penalizes pages with little content. It’s obvious that links from such websites have little SEO value.

Conclusion

SEO is not going anywhere, so it’s imperative that you use tools to help you with backlink building. If you need something simple, try Disavow.it or Check My Links. Advanced users can use SEO Quake and Majestic SEO to get the most from their websites.

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Elias Arosemena

Written by

💻Founder & Content Strategist @SocialGeekDigital •🌎Traveler • 📈Inbound Marketing Consultant for SaaS

Better Marketing

Marketing advice and case studies to help you market ethically, authentically, and effectively.

Elias Arosemena

Written by

💻Founder & Content Strategist @SocialGeekDigital •🌎Traveler • 📈Inbound Marketing Consultant for SaaS

Better Marketing

Marketing advice and case studies to help you market ethically, authentically, and effectively.

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