The Ultimate Guide to Generating Backlinks – Part 1

by Meghan Wolff on December 17, 2012

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Whether you own a non-profit organization, e-commerce business, or simply an informational blog, search engine optimization (SEO) will play a vital role in the success of your website. There are several elements involved in SEO, but one key element many people need help with is backlinking. The Ultimate Guide to Generating Backlinks, Part 1 explains the different options for backlinking, how to search for blogs that allow guest posts, and determining what sites are worthwhile based on Google PageRank.

1. Options for Creating Backlinks

There are many different ways to create backlinks to your website and some methods are more valuable than others are. Below are a handful of approaches you can take when planning a backlinking strategy.

  1. Guest Blog Posts
  2. Vanity Websites
  3. Website Directories
  4. Social Media Websites
  5. Link Exchanges

 A. Guest Blog Posts:

This option is pretty simple and self-explanatory. Connect with the owner of a blog website and propose a topic. Be sure that the topic you are offering is relevant to the theme of the site and will benefit the audience. I speak from experience when I say connect with the website owner before writing the blog post. Understand that all blogs have different writing guidelines that may not be viewable on the site. Start by showing that you are human and build a professional relationship.

B. Vanity Websites:

A vanity website is a site used to support your primary website. It can focus on specific keywords or keyword phrases as well as themes. For e-commerce merchants and entrepreneurs, vanity websites often include blogs. By creating vanity websites and increasing their PageRanks (PR), you will have your very own arsenal of sites to backlink to your primary website.

C, D, and E. Website Directories, Social Media Websites, and Link Exchanges:

While these types of backlinks are good options for new websites with a PageRank of N/A or zero—or even for site owners with little free time—these types of backlinks do not have much value. It would take about 100 backlinks from these types of sites to equal one quality guest blogging backlink from a reputable website.

2. Search for Blogs and Connect with Site Owners

There are many methods to search for blogs including using forums such as and You can also connect with bloggers through blogging communities like and

If you are searching for niche blogs where you can submit a guest post, you can try Googling phrases such as “submit guest post” or “contribute guest article” along with niche topics. For instance, I often search for “submit guest post” online business as well as “submit guest post” credit card processing.

Another great way of finding bloggers and blog websites where you can submit guest posts is by searching for blog posts relevant to your industry. Perhaps the author of the article is a guest blogger and their site is one where you would like to publish a guest post. You can also check out those commenting on the post. There is a high probability that their industry is also relevant to your industry and they have a site where you would like to publish a guest post.

Social networking is another great tool for connecting with blog owners. On several occasions, I have tweeted at a new follower and offered a guest blog post or even a blog post exchange. Be creative with your methods of connecting with blog website owners.

3. Determine What Sites Are Good for Backlinking

Now that you have found a site where you would like to publish a guest blog post, you need to determine if it is a good site for backlinking. The method I most often us is the FireFox add-on WebRank Toolbar 4.4. It allows me to check Google PageRank, Alexa Rank, and Compete Rank, pages indexed in Google and Bing, and backlinks according to Google, Bing, and Alexa all at once for the website I am visiting.

The best part about the WebRank Toolbar is that clicking on any one of these statistics will provide me with more information. The worst part is that the add-on developers have not fully worked out all of the bugs—meaning sometimes it does not provide any statistics.

Luckily, there are websites you can use to input a URL and check the website’s statistics. The website I use is This site works like a charm even though it only provides me with the Google PageRank.

What Is Google PageRank?

The most important statistic you need to evaluate when determining what sites are good for backlinking is the Google PR. PageRanks range from N/A to 10, with 10 being the best of the best. With that said, you should steer clear from websites with a PR of N/A or PR0. A PR1 typically means the website has done very little to increase its PageRank.

You may be asking yourself why PageRank is so important. Well, consider this: In the world of the Internet, a backlink is equivalent to a gold star of approval, a two-thumbs-up, or a vote of confidence. Which do you think has more credibility? A vote from a well-known, trustworthy person or a vote from an unknown person who, for all you know, is a liar, cheater, and fraudster? If you picked the trustworthy person, then you are on the right track.

The moral of the story is that a backlink from a website with a higher PageRank has more value than a backlink from a site with a PR0 or no PR at all.

Stay Tuned for Part 2

There is much more to backlinking than finding a great website that will allow you to submit a guest blog post. Stay tuned for The Ultimate Guide to Generating Backlinks, Part 2 where I will show you how to write amazing anchor text and top-quality content. In the meantime, what are some unique ways you have connected with blog owners? How do you approach a blog owner for the first time? Join in on the conversation and share your thoughts with me below.

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Doreen Dickens February 20, 2013 at 3:35 am

Guest commenting is one of the easiest but powerful way to get quality back links. I have tried this and i could not believe it. Thank you for sharing this article with us.


Sherryl Perry
February 22, 2013 at 10:22 pm

Doreen, Did you mean guest blogging? That is something that I really need to make time for.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..How To Set up Google Authorship & the Rel=Author TagMy Profile

Doreen Dickens March 5, 2013 at 5:06 am

Hi Perry,

Sorry about that. I sure meant guest blogging. It will be nice sharing your knowledge through guest blogging. I don’t doubt your capability. Thanks

February 18, 2013 at 10:43 am

how about commenting on blog post? I have found it very difficult to find any blogs which are related to the automotive industry. There are loads but none of which allow comments which link back to a URL. Most are links to your Facebook profile or Twitter. I do comment on them but I guess I get little benefit from it.

Sherryl Perry
February 22, 2013 at 10:20 pm

Hi Richard,
It would be great if you could find automotive blogs that are enabled with CommentLuv. (That way, you could leave a link to your site in your comment.) I checked the “Dofollow Blog Directory and Compendium” – for you. They list 4 blogs under automotive. (I checked a couple and they do allow comments but I didn’t see CommentLuv.)

You can also check out Ileane Smith’s article “The Ultimate Collection of CommentLuv Blog Lists”. You can find it here: Good luck!
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February 15, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Thanks for providing valuable info on generating backlinks. The problem with my blog is not page rank but traffic as it needs good amount of backlinks and offcourse hardwork 🙂
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Sherryl Perry
February 17, 2013 at 4:14 pm

Good luck following Meghan’s tips for generating backlinks Josh. Part 2 has been posted already. You may benefit from checking that out also. Good luck!
Sherryl Perry recently posted..The Ultimate Guide to Generating Backlinks – Part 2My Profile

Shiv Govind Patel January 17, 2013 at 7:59 am

hey Meghan !I am newbie in blogging. I got constant traffic in my blog i don\’t know how to increase traffic. Is back link help me to increase traffic! Thanks!

Sherryl Perry
February 3, 2013 at 5:25 pm

Hi Shiv,
Thanks for letting Meghan and I know that you found her guest post helpful. Good luck generating backlinks to increase traffic to your site.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Tips for Bloggers | Before You Press that Publish ButtonMy Profile

Meghan Wolff
January 11, 2013 at 11:31 am

Hi George, The exposure you get from writing guest blog posts is a huge perk of writing for another site. Not only that, but interacting with another website’s audience! 🙂

January 11, 2013 at 2:45 am

Nice info and nice tip about the WebRank Toolbar 4.4 Just installed it and it seems to do a fine job.
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Sherryl Perry
February 3, 2013 at 5:27 pm

Hi Rick,
Sorry it’s taken so long for me to reply to you. Unfortunately, Meghan has been having problems replying to comments on my blog. Thanks for letting us know that you found her tip about the WebRank Toolbar helpful.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..SEO Gets Social | How to Use Social to Get More out of SearchMy Profile

January 10, 2013 at 5:06 pm

The hardest part for me is determining which sites are good for backlinks. It seems like my competitors don’t publish my comments and a majority of them are nofollow sites. Do you have any advice in this regard?
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Meghan Wolff
January 11, 2013 at 11:38 am


Do you leave spammy comments? Or do you post comments that engage and join in on the conversation? On my company’s blog, we monitor our incoming comments. We have many spammy comments that we do not publish from competitors or even unrelated websites.

In regard to blog post comments providing “nofollow” links, I suggest you write a guest blog post that will provide you with one (sometimes even two) “dofollow” links.

January 8, 2013 at 7:42 pm

I love Guest posts not only for their ability to create backlinks. It gives you lot of social exposure, since your blog post will be shared by the guest blog owner to his or her own networks.

Salman Ahmad
December 24, 2012 at 11:07 am

This is a very Great Post Megan !Thanks for sharing,
Waiting for the 2nd part !

Sherryl Perry
December 28, 2012 at 10:29 am

Hi Salaman,
You can check out part 2 here: Thanks for letting us know that you found Meghan’s post helpful.

December 22, 2012 at 6:55 am

Certainly back links can be obtained through guest posting on good quality blogs and website.
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Ray December 21, 2012 at 4:39 am

It has been a while since I have submitted to web directories. I think I got irritated with the time it took to submit my sites and that some of them seemed to disappear a few months down the road. I know some people seek out the more valuable backlinks, and don’t bother with certain sites or kinds. I like a variety of different types, and get board with doing the same thing or kinds all the time. So I like to mix it up a little even if some aren’t as valuable as others. Obviously I do avoid sites that definitely look spammy.
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Meghan Wolff
December 21, 2012 at 11:54 am


Submitting to some directories does take a fair amount of time and for the backlinking value directories provide, they just do not seem too worth it. Avoiding sites that look spammy, even if they have a high Google PR, is a good idea. It will likely just hurt your own PR and SEO strategy in the end.

Dan Meyers December 19, 2012 at 10:10 am

Great information, thanks for expanding on the strategies to back link. Quick question, how valuable are the back links we get here in the comments section? Are they equivalent to a link in a guest post?

Meghan Wolff
December 20, 2012 at 10:04 am

Hi Dan,

It is tough to estimate the true value of a backlink from posting on comments. Like Jeannette said below, there are some bloggers who disable their SEO “juice” with backlinks. So, some backlinks from comments may give you zero value. However, in my opinion, the value of a “dofollow” backlink from a blog probably falls between a guest blog post and adding your website to an online directory site.

I hope that helps!

December 18, 2012 at 4:24 pm

Thanks for the great tips. I am planning on getting more into the behind the scenes aspect of my blog in 2013.
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Meghan Wolff
December 19, 2012 at 7:23 am

You’re welcome, Jeri. Good luck on your SEO work on your blog next year–it’ll be fun!

Susan Cooper
December 17, 2012 at 3:15 pm

It always amazes me how much there is to learn when it comes to optimizing a website. I do as many of these things as possible, with what time I have available. I wasn’t aware of what a vanity website was until now. It is something new I will explore. BTW: I can’t wait for Part 2

Meghan Wolff
December 17, 2012 at 3:42 pm

Hi Susan,

Yes–there is SO MUCH to learn and it is ALWAYS changing! However, you can keep up with the changes and learn more about improving your website’s search quality by visiting helpful blog sites like Sherryl’s 🙂

Jeannette Paladino
December 17, 2012 at 3:13 pm

Meghan — thanks for the advice. I’d like to mention that many well-known bloggers have enabled “nofollow,” which means they are instructing Google not to assign SEO “juice” to the site being linked to (your site). They keep the SEO benefit for themselves. However, you still get the benefit of having the personal exposure in your comment on the well-known blogger’s site and people can still click on your link to go to your blog and learn more about you and your expertise.
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Meghan Wolff
December 17, 2012 at 3:40 pm

Hi Jeannette,

Thank you for your advice, too. I am aware that some blog websites can enable the “nofollow” feature and I think it makes perfect sense to choose what links you wish to assign SEO “juice.” There are too many blog comments posted by spammers simply looking for a backlink. This is another reason why guest blog post writing is my favorite technique. It is honest and I dedicate myself to my writing.

December 17, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Interesting post Meghan.

Checked out my rank on Compete but they wrote that their sample size is too small for my site since it’s based on US data only (????).

What do you consider a good Google Page Rank? How much can you raise it by back links? How is Google Page Rank affected by linking to prestigeous institutions in your posts? Say Harvard, Congress, The White House.

How much can you increase your Google Page Rank by guest posting?
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Meghan Wolff
December 17, 2012 at 1:12 pm

Hi Catarina,

Honestly, I would not pay much attention to Compete Rank. Since the majority of computer users use Google, the most important rank to consider is Google PageRank, which is why I did not mention Alexa or Compete very much in this post.

As for linking TO prestigious websites, this, to my knowledge, has no affect on your PR. We are focusing on BACKlinking–getting a link FROM a prestigious website BACK to your website.

Like all good things, you have to work hard to see results. To be with you, I have published about 40 guest blog posts in the past 18 months and my PR has only increased by one point. However, it may take more than 100 backlinks from an online directory to have any affect on your PageRank. Guest blog post writing is hard work, but the results are most effective.

As long as you continue to write and submit guest blog posts, you can forever use this technique to increase your PageRank (unless you run out of blog post websites!). However, the more popular your website or blog becomes, the more you can rely on other authors to link to your site.

Like John’s tip, those who respect your work will occasionally link to a use post on your site, throwing you a free backlink. Consider how many people throw free backlinks to Mashable or The New York Times. The audience of these sites do the backlinking work for free.

I hope this has helped you.


Richard Newman
December 17, 2012 at 11:10 am

Thanks for the backlink primer. I’m looking forward to Part II.

Meghan Wolff
December 17, 2012 at 1:13 pm

You’re welcome, Richard. I’m so glad that you enjoyed it!

John Soares
December 17, 2012 at 9:22 am

Thanks for this info Meghan. I especially like your explanation of Page Rank.

I’d add a another way to generate backlinks: networking. When other bloggers in your specialty get to know you and respect your work, they will occasionally link to an especially useful post on your site.
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Meghan Wolff
December 17, 2012 at 11:10 am


You are most welcome! Your additional tip is great–thanks for your input!

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