What types of Backlinks do you need?

Written by: Heidi Miller   Austin, Texas

Posted on: October 15, 2010


What is a Backlink?

We get this question all the time. More specific questions about backlinks include: ‘How many backlinks do I need?’, ‘What types of backlinks should be developed for my website?’ and ‘What constitutes a quality backlink?’



1. Types of Backlinks
2. Backlink Recommendation
3. What constitutes a ‘quality’ backlink?

1. Types of Backlinks

Paid inclusion directories:
Search engines are placing less importance on ‘paid’ link inclusions. In extreme cases, less reputable paid links are marked as spam. However, there are certain paid link inclusions that provide value to your search engine marketing campaign. Examples include, Yahoo Business Directory, Business.com and over a dozen other paid directories that raise the value of your website.

SEO TIP: To get the most value from paid link submissions, the link must be submitted with proper anchor tags, descriptions, keywords, etc.

One-way free directory backlinks:
The least important, least valuable type of backlink. However, they are free and benefit your website when relevant to content. Often low PR websites offer free URL submission. One-way directory backlinks must be properly anchor-tagged to positively impact SEO efforts.

One-way social backlinks:
While value of paid links is on the decline, the value of one-way social links continues to rise. Recently, search engines are placing more importance on one-way social links for the following reasons;

  • High PR: Social websites (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) are among the most valued websites on the Internet
  • Timeliness: Links and information on social sites is highly current
  • Dynamic: The information on social websites is constantly evolving, members are interacting, re-posting and commenting on content.

One-way article backlinks:
Article links are important to SEO efforts. During the course of an SEO campaign, FindMyCompany.com authors multiple articles for submission to high PR article websites. Articles links are given more value than directory links because they offer value to potential readers. Contributing a unique article requires considerably more effort than simply submitting a URL–therefore, you are rewarded accordingly. Press releases and blog submissions also fall under this category of backlink.

SEO TIP: A 300-500 word article gives you opportunity to highlight several SEO keywords anchor-tagged back to your website.

One way backlinks on other general websites:
Getting non-directory websites to link back to your site without a reciprocal link (more on reciprocal links in next section) is a difficult task. To get links from other sites without reciprocation, you must clearly demonstrate value.

SEO TIP: Demonstrate your value to other websites.
This can be done by writing interesting content, developing a valuable tool, or providing anything else that another website would deem important enough to share with it’s visitors.

Reciprocal backlinks:
Reciprocal backlinking is the process of earning a link on a website by adding their link to your website. Reciprocal links are highly important to the success of most SEO campaigns and take time and resources to complete. High-level SEO companies dedicate a significant amount of time to building reciprocal backlinks. This task is easier for SEO companies to complete than individuals because of participation in quality link exchange networks and databases of websites/contacts in industries related to your business.

3-way backlinks:

An advanced type of backlink development. Large SEO companies have established websites specifically for 3-way link development. A 3-way link exchange uses an intermediary website to give the customer’s site a highly valuable one-way backlink.

2. Backlink Recommendation

The number and type backlinks needed depends on a client’s business area and level of competition. National campaigns with competitors already performing SEO will require significantly more backlinks than a local service company without competition. 


3. What constitutes a ‘quality’ backlink?

There are three main criteria to determine quality of a backlink;

  1. Anchor-tag: An anchor-tag is the association of a keyword to a backlink. Rather than seeing a plain URL, www.yoursite.com, the link appears as, Your Service. Backlinks placed without anchor tags only marginally improve the value of your website.
  2. Website PR: The value assigned to the website you receive a backlink from. The higher the PR ranking, the more valuable the backlink. NOTE: For reciprocal backlinking, we typically only request links from sites of equal or higher value.
  3. Quality and Relevance of Website: Backlinks should be placed on websites with similar or relevant content to the services and products you provide. Receiving backlinks from websites that are properly optimized is beneficial because search engines will quickly and accurately record your backlink.


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