How to Get Started in Getting More Links to Your Website


Ever heard of the 80/20 rule? It’s about the trivial many (80%) and the vital few (20%), the trivial many that bring small results and vital few that bring most of the results. Guess where link building belong in the overall search engine optimization game? Link building a vital thing to do if you want to stay competitive in the search engines. There are many ways to get links (natural and non-natural ways), and I will outline some ways to get started below.

Before You Start

There is one thing you need to realize before you start: The power of metrics. As you build links, how will you measure the results? How will you determine what links are the best links to get?

What people often use is PageRank, a metric from Google. They see the SEO game through the lenses of PageRank. There are a few problems with this:

  1. Pagerank is not updated often, the last update was 5+ months ago
  2. Google doesn’t say publicly when do they update PageRank, they seem to want to hide this
  3. There isn’t a strong correlation between the Pagerank of a page and where it ranks in the search engines. SEOMoz did this correlation, by the way.

On the positive side, there is a significant correlation between the home page pagerank and where it ranks. So if you want to get a link from a specific domain, take a look at its homepage PR instead of the individual page from where you want the link.

So, besides homepage PR, what are good metrics to use? Page Authority and Domain Authority. These are 2 metrics SEOMoz constantly tries to match so they have significant correlation with Google rankings. Use page authority when you’re determining whether you should get a link from a specific page and domain authority as a replacement for home page Pagerank (they have veru similar correlations with Google rankings, so it’s your choice which one you’re going to use, domain authority is probably going to exceed Pagerank over time because the SeoMoz guys are constantly working on it).

Why am I telling you all this? Why am I telling you about metrics? There’s been some business studies that show that one of the main differences between companies, in terms of how much money they make, is whether they use the right metrics. And if you think about this, it makes sense. If you’re using totally wrong measures then you don’t know how good you perform and you can’t focus on improving the thing you do. Ever heard of “You can’t improve what you don’t measure?”

And now, finally, the main part :)

Get Started in Getting More Links

If you aren’t ranking for your websites name, then how do you expect to rank for other terms? That’s why I recommend you read this article on 1stWebDesigner I wrote several weeks ago on that topic. You’ll find there a description of what ‘authority’ is, and how Google is constantly trying to establish a balance between ranking a page based on its authority / how relevant that page is for that particular keyword.

Imitate: MATCH Your Competitors

What are your competitors doing to get links to their websites? There is one way to find out.

Enter their website into Yahoo Site Explorer and Open Site Explorer (in Open Site Explorer, select “external links” and “to all pages on the Root Domain”). Example? Let’s use 1stwebdesigner :) :

Wow! What are these links from home pages of various (powerful) sites? After further investigation we can see that these sites link to each other in the ‘blogroll’ section of their blogs. Quick, how can you get these links as well? Say you also have a powerful web design/development blog, you can try sending a nice email to each of those people asking if they can reference your website, and in exchange, you’ll make a reference in the blogroll to their site as well. One tip: focus as much as possible on what’s for them, the what’s for you part will usually come naturally with the power of reciprocity.

So, before you go to the next step, PLEASE have a good look at the top 10 competitors (let’s say you want to rank for a ‘design blog’, take a look at the top 10 people who are already ranking, analyze them using the 2 tools I mentioned above, see what links you can also get). Sure, you can get links by the second step alone and still perform well, but isn’t the whole purpose to get more links in the easiest way possible?

EXCEED Your Competitors

This is the part where you’ve already seen and got the links your competitors have. Now it’s time to go a step further and get links none of your competitors have. How?

You can get many ideas from the previous analysis you did. For example, if you’ve seen that some of your competitors got links from guest posting on other blogs, you can do the same, email the webmasters and offer them a guest post. Or if you see that your competitors were active on design-related forums and put a link in their signature, you can try to do the same. To exceed, you can always try and do the ‘standard’ link building methods like article marketing, leaving useful/relevant comments on blogs, submitting your site to directories (avoid directories that don’t have the option for a free submission) etc.

I hope you now grasped the match & exceed concept. I’ve noticed that most people who try to get more links to their websites usually do the one thing but forget to do the other. In reality, doing the both (with preference to first doing the ‘match’ and then the ‘exceed’) helps you get more links in the shortest time possible.

What Types of Links Should I Get?

There are 2 types of links you should get:

1. Have a preference toward stronger links (in terms of home page page rank/domain authority and page authority). These help a lot.

2. Have a preference towards links from DIVERSE domains. Diverse = unique root domains = eg. and are 2 unique root domains, but and is 1 unique root domain because “” is a SUB-DOMAIN, not a root domain. is the root domain.

There is a strong correlation between rankings in Google and the number of unique root domains they got (if you think about it, it makes sense, this is the single hardest metric to fake by spammers and it takes time/energy to get links from such a wide range of diverse domains).

But I Want the Blueprint to Getting More Links!

Sorry, there’s no such thing as a step-by-step process of getting more links (although a lot would love to sell you that idea for hundreds of bucks). There’s no such person who knows all the answers in this area. So if you plan to get more knowledge on this (and I’m sure you will), get your information from as many people as possible, get multiple points of view, multiple methods for getting links, and most importantly, try things out.

What about natural links?

I spend around 1/4 of my time in this. Natural link building, unfortunately, isn’t working quite well as it used to. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it, it’s worth over the long run. Making viral content that attracts natural linksis another topic by itself and I’ll try to cover it in some other article

Take a look at your Analytics data

This can be crucial to making decisions. Take a look whether the keywords people use to get to your website are short tail or long tail. This depends a lot upon your market. Why should you take at the short/long tail? Because you’ll know what to focus on, short > rank for individual keywords, long > pump out more content.



  1. I really liked this article. Googles algorithms measures around 300 different things and I know the amount of links and the quality of them is crusial. It must be really though to find unique root domains and these must there for be limited for all companies, blogs etcetera. I do hope the sub links do have some value atleast, because they are the easiest of finding and I guess everyone has to keep up when there is so many links out there increasing in numbers.

  2. Zed

    Good points in this article. Even though it is easier said than done. And it takes so much time that outsourcing it seems a really good idea.

  3. Max

    i started this tech news and share blog and i really really need to get some visitors via search engines. i just have no idea about this link building strategies. and thanks for the post. i really wish if you could write some more posts about link building.

  4. Jay M. Kusombi

    Matching and exceeding is essential. Competitor Analysis will give you insight as to what works, but one should use the data no just to imitate but to get a general idea and get creative. A coach once told me “every minute you’re not working on your game, someone else is…”, you’re competitors may become complacent, so once they’ve unintentionally showed you the way, dig deeper! Awesome article.

  5. mazin

    how many times you have to do that?i mean back link building??when others just pay to go high in the rankings???this is unfair and screwed!one guy has his one website included 7 times in the first 2 pages??how fair is that??give room for others!what the fuck is Google doing??

  6. Andrea Osborne

    Thank you for this article. I’ve been working on improving our links and I’m bookmarking this to get me started. Andrea

  7. Thomas

    Although it is not that important for your article I would like to clarify one common misconception people have about PageRank (PR). It is important to differentiate between Internal PR (that’s the PR Google uses internally for ranking purposes) and the toolbar PR (the PR score that is publicly visible, eg. in the Google Toolbar). Google updates and recalculates the internal PR all the time, every day, or hour or however they handle this. External (toolbar) PR gets exported only once in a while (every 6 months or longer). Also it is unknown how the internal PR gets translated into the publicly visible (toolbar) PR. Internally Google uses a wider scale for PR than the score from 0 – 10 you see publicly. So two sites with a public PR of 6 can have completely different PR scores inside the Google datacenters.

  8. Rahul

    well that is right , actually i know seo and i think it is one of the best ways to do that , many companies do that like Dell and many others
    i love the trick of finding out your competitors links with yahoo that helps a lot §
    Thank You , very clear :)

  9. Brandon

    Great article!!! This was definitely a great help to me as I’m a newbie to creating links into my account!

  10. Billy Barker

    Great article – thanks for the tips. By the way, 1stwebdesigner is one of my best referring sites, thanks again!

  11. Lee Fuller

    There is some great information in this article, link building can be so tedious at times, hopefully these tips will help speed things up…

  12. Gayle

    I’m wondering if you can help me with a query: I’ve always used Yahoo Site Explorer and found that the sites that show up on here are the ones I’ve quickly scanned via Page Source and don’t show ‘no follow’. Any links I’ve made that actually have no follow in their code don’t show up when I check.

    However, opening the Open Site Explorer after reading this article, it is saying that some of the ones I believed to be ok, are actually ‘no follow’.

    Can you please help shed any light on this and tell me that if they are actually ‘no follow’ after all, if they’re powerful enough to be shown on the Yahoo Site Explorer, then should I continue making links with them?

  13. Good article although somewhat topical. I disagree with you though on the point about subdomains. Subdomains are handled as separate entities in search engines. IE and are treated as seperate sites and domain authority(or pagerank) does not really flow from the host domain, or from one sub domain to another- exception of course if there are do-follow links between the respective sites. I believe this is due to the fact that you can have each subdomain pointed to a separate hosting account, and that in general the respective content is really not likely to be relevant to each other. So in other words it would be valuable to have inlinks from multiple subdomains, as long as it wasn’t excessive(aka an obvious influence play).

  14. Great post, and getting more links to your site definitely is a long term strategy and great advice that you should try and get as many ideas as you can from others to build your own strategy.