How to Get Backlinks to Improve Search Rankings: SEO Strategies for 2021

Backlinks remain one of Google's top three ranking factors. When combined with strong technical SEO foundations, great on-page SEO, excellent content, and a good user experience, link building can be super effective at driving more organic traffic.


This means we small business owners are left wondering how to get more backlinks to our site. Links from another website are seen as votes of confidence, trust, and authority. This increased authority can mean higher rankings, giving your site more visibility and likely more organic traffic.

Essentially, backlinks should:

  • Be editorially earned

  • Come from topically relevant, authoritative websites

  • Not have been paid for or sponsored

The suitable backlinks can help to supercharge your SEO strategy, and there are many ways to earn excellent links.

What Is a Quality Backlink?

Quality links come from trusted sources and are not intended to manipulate search engine rankings in any way. To understand what these look like, the best place to turn is Google's Webmaster Guidelines.

Google directly tells us:

The best way to get other sites to create high-quality, relevant links to yours is to create unique, relevant content that can naturally gain popularity in the Internet community. The more helpful content you have, the greater the chances someone else will find that content valuable to their readers and link to it.

Online and Local Directory Submission

Listing your website in local or online directories will give you a strong backlink. Regardless, directories like Yelp, Yellow Pages, and Four Square make it easier for potential customers to find your website, read reviews, and determine if you are the right provider for them.


Additionally, Google’s My Business pages allow you to list your business and website on Google Maps, making it easy for customers to find you. Be sure to use the correct name, address, and phone number consistently across all online directory listings to avoid potential confusion.


Listicle Link Building

Listicles are an essential component of your backlink building strategy. When it comes to getting links to your site, you can use listicles to get your products or services in front of your audience while also earning links that do so much more than increase your search rankings. Look for popular listicles in your industry that reference your competitors but may not include you.

These are usually articles that cover:

  • The best ... web design agencies, chiropractors, dentists

  • Top 10 ... restaurants, schools, salons

You can use Google search operators (i.e., search for "best real estate agency" in Cincinnati) to identify listicles in your industry that list your competitors and then see if you are included.


To get added to some listicles, you need to be reaching out to the list, journalist, or blogger and justify why you are a better inclusion than some of those already on the list. Sometimes, it is as easy as setting up an account and updating the already aggregated profile information.


You will find that the writer will be happy to update and add your business to demonstrate how it adds value to users. It all comes down to selling yourself.

Read Semrush's guide on Email Outreach to learn top tips on how to reach out.


Guest Blogging

One of the best strategies to gain high-quality follow backlinks is to guest blog for other websites in your industry. This is far more time-consuming than the other options we have mentioned, but this is the best way to build high-quality backlinks. To perform guest blogging, you will need to research quality sites in your industry and find out which ones accept guest blogs.


You will then need to ensure you are writing content that fits their guidelines and submit it to them for approval. Be sure to include a link back to your website somewhere in the copy, as this is the entire purpose of guest blogging. While you’ll find that many sites won’t be interested in a guest blog, plenty of others will oblige considering the free content they’ll receive for a backlink.


Now that you understand how backlinks work and why they are important you should put more effort into a formal backlink strategy to help you rank better in search engines and get more free traffic to your content.