How to Create Amazing Backlinks


Go to any SEO forum and you’ll find the obligatory post from a confused, link building noob wondering, "How do I create amazing backlinks?"

In the post, the frustrated linker claims they’ve tried everything to build quality backlinks: free directories, profile links, article submissions, comment spamming, etc. But nothing works. Despite all their low value efforts, they can't leapfrog their competitors in the SERPs, so they're pleading with others to share their secrets to building amazing, stupendous, superfantastic backlinks.

Trouble is, those secrets don't exist.

There are no magic shortcuts, no highly classified insider hacks to getting quality links for your website. Building amazing backlinks takes work.But that's the last thing the forum vagrants want to hear. They want a quick fix, and creating something of value is a whole lot harder than slapping a forum signature on a discussion thread post. So that message often falls on deaf ears.

However, if you're willing to bust your ass, then I'll share my process for building amazing backlinks. It's not simple. It's not easy. In fact, it requires creativity, tenacity, dedication and hard work. But unlike low value link spamming, if you follow these steps, you can build some amazing backlinks.

5 Steps to Creating Amazing Backlinks

How to build backlinks

Step One: Find What People are Linking to

The first step in getting amazing backlinks is to ferret out the sites that already have fantastic backlinks and scrutinize their link profiles. The logic being that good content attracts links, as site owners feel compelled to share it with their audience. So in this first step, you’re looking for pages with ‘lotsa links’ because they’ve already proven to have link worthy content.

To find out which blog posts have attracted the most inbound links, follow this process. Note: for this entire blog post, we'll use a hypothetical example of Jim's Pet Shop, an online pet store looking to attract links, traffic and attention for its line of dog toys.

  1. Install the SEO for Firefox Toolbar (it’s free!)
  2. Run a search in Google (for this example, I’m running a query for “dog toys”), select "show options" button (below the search box, left) and click “blogs” from the categories
  3. Click the “100” option (just below the search box, right), which will give you the Top 100 search results
  4. Once that’s resolved, click the "CSV" link (just below the search box, right) and export the results file

    Finding quality backlink opportunties

  5. Firefox for SEO gives you a lot of great information, but for this exercise, we just want the data for the column “Y! Page Links,” so you can delete the rest.

  6. Sort the list by “Y! Page Links” from “largest to smallest.” Your CSV results should look like this:

Quality backlink analysis

We now have a collection of all the blog posts about "dog toys" that have attracted the most links. The next step in the process of building quality backlinks is to see which sites are linking to these posts.

Step Two: Find Out Who's Linking

Now that we know which content pieces are the link magnets, let's figure out who's doing the linking. Why is the "who" important? It's because these website owners have already pre-qualified themselves as link prospects by demonstrating their willingness to link out to a particular type of content, which in this example is content about "dog toys." So chances are good that they might link to our dog toy content.

So to find out the "who," pull up the CSV dashboard we created above, select each of the top linking posts and drill down into their link profiles. This can be done using the "Yahoo Page Links" button on the SEO for Firefox Toolbar or you can use the Yahoo link command: link:

This produces a SERP list of all links pointing to this page, minus any internal site links from the root domain, which looks like this:

quality backlink data

After running this analysis for link prospects, there are two sites that keep popping up in the link profiles of these top dog toy posts: and Given their willingness to link out to dog toy related content, they are great candidates for outreach campaign (covered in step five).

Now, if it's not clear yet, the objective of this step is to assemble a list of qualified prospects for outreach. This can be done in a simple spreadsheet with multiple data columns. For my own outreach lists, I like to collect data on :

  • Target website URL: note the name of the website as well as the deep page I've found that's linking out
  • Toolbar PageRank: here I use TBPR to sort by relative value (loosely)
  • Contact name: personalizing your outreach letter is key; addressing an email "To Whom It May Concern" is lazy and for losers
  • Personal email: don't send emails to info@ black holes or contact us forms, unless you like having your emails ignored or deleted. I give detailed information on obtaining hard to find personal emails, in this article about 12 advanced tactics on how to find someone's email address.
  • Social media profile(s): what's their Twitter or LinkedIn handle? don't know? figure it out.
  • Notes: additional information about the blogger or website to help personalize my outreach letters even more

Also, remember that many blogs have a stable of bloggers on staff. So I recommend you dig around and find out which ones link out to your type of content more frequently and cite that in your notes section as well.

Step Three: Find Out Why People are Linking

To create linkable content, you must determine why certain pieces of content attract links. Let's examine the blog posts in the example above and see if we can discern why these five blog posts about dog toys have attracted more than 11K total links. Is there some shared element, some common thread that makes them so link worthy?

It just so happens that in this case the clues are pretty clear: the top link performers are all articles about weird, odd, whacky or silly dog toys.

build backlinks seo

It's really not surprising because life can be pretty mundane, so people love anything that's out of the ordinary. That's why creating odd or funny posts or videos is often a sure fire way to attract links.

Dog Mustache Toy

Backlinks for the dog mustache

Michael Vick Dog Chew Toy

Backlinks for the Michael Vick dog chew toy

I mean, how can you not share or link to that Michael Vick dog chew toy photo, right?

So if you're the owner of our hypothetical Jim's Pet Shop and you're hunting for content ideas that will attract links, writing a post about weird dog toys looks like a fantastic strategy.Which brings us to our next step. 

Step Four: Create the Bait

To attract links like the top link worthy posts, you need to create something of similar value. Now, I’m not saying outright copy it, and I’m also not saying you need to reinvent the wheel. You can absolutely do something similar, but make it your own. If it’s a handy widget, create a widget. If it’s a whacky list, create a whacky list. Point is, the content that you create needs to be valuable and interesting to your target market.

For example, take the premise above that people love content about weird dog toys. Now, there are many different ways you can turn that intelligence into an effective content strategy. I've thrown together a few ideas for articles that I'm grading by degree of effort and difficulty:

  • Easy: Create a blog post about a whacky dog toy: It's not entirely original, but I bet it attracts a stray link or two.
  • Harder: Create an article about "10 Weird Dog Toys Your Dog is Gonna' Love." This involves more work, but there's more opportunity for links.
  • Wicked Hard!!: Fire up your big brain, get super creative and start a contest on your pet shop website where people submit and vote for pictures of their dogs with bizarre dog toys, with the top pics all win a prize. You create a contest page (with contest details, photo galleries and voting component), write a blog post announcing the contest and one announcing the winners, with the winning pictures, names of the dogs and their owners.

Now which of these ideas is most intriguing? Which do you think will attract the most links? Point here is that the effort matches the results, which is why I listed each idea by level of labor involved. In my experience, the harder I work on a piece of content, the more links it attracts. This isn't rocket science, but it bears mentioning.

Step Five: Pimp Your Content

Okay, so it's time to market your content via blog marketing. You're going to get to work reaching out to the site owners, key influencers and bloggers for the sites in backlink profiles that you've gathered in your pitch list from step two. Now, you're not going to boldly ask them to link to your page about X in your request. That's way too obvious and heavy-handed. Instead, you're going use a more subtle approach, by writing to make them aware of your content and asking if they'd be willing to "share it" with their audience, as they've done with similar types of content.

To give you a better idea of what I'm talking about, here's what a sample letter might look like using the "Whacky Dog Toy Photo Contest" idea for Jim's Pet Store. Note: this email template is based on successful outreach letters I've used in the past.

Dear (name of blogger or site owner):

I read your recent article on the Top 10 Weirdest Dog Toys on the Planet (note: add a link to that story here to add further legitimacy and to remind the blogger of the article) and it was very funny. I liked it so much that I shared it with my friends on Facebook and on Twitter (actually tweet the article and drop link it that tweet here for proof).

Seeing that you're a fan of weird dog toys (and who isn't right?), I wanted to let you know about a contest I'm running over at Jim's Pet Shop (link to your website), called the "Weird and Whacky Dog Toy Photo Contest".

(Include details about the contest)

If you think the contest is noteworthy, it would be great if you could share it with your audience. Here's a link to the contest page and a link to the blog announcement (note: I like to add a lot of links in an outreach email; that gives the blogger more options; and quite often most of the links I send get included in the article).

If you need any other information, just let me know.

Thanks for your time.


Jim Yastremski
Jim's Pet Shop

Build backlinks strategies

Now, anyone who's ever engaged in the sort of coordinated, targeted, personalized and aggressive link outreach that I've outlined above understands its value. But you'll get the naysayers who say "link outreach doesn't work" and that's primarily because:

  • They don't create anything of value
  • They're unable to dedicate themselves to marketing content effectively
  • They've never even tried it, yet slam it because they're lazy

Whatever the case, I'm here to say that I follow the same process I've laid out in this article and it works for me.

Also, don't fall for the old adage that all you need to do to attract links is create great content. Just because you write good content doesn’t mean the Web will automatically notice. You have to hit them over the head with it. It's okay to be self promotional, in fact, it's vital. Nobody else is going to pimp your content, so it’s up to you.

One last note on link outreach is that once you get all the steps in place and have an outreach list and an email template, you can have just about anyone help with sending out the emails. I usually enlist interns to send out the emails and tell them to customize and personalize each email in the various fields, using the data I've collected in my outreach spreadsheets.


So as I said at the beginning of this post, everything I've discussed here takes work. Like anything worth doing, it’s worth doing well. Now if this isn’t for you and your heart just isn’t in it, then that’s fine. There’s no shame in admitting this is more work than you signed up for. But don’t go back to bitching in the forums in a few more months about how you’ve created 300 social bookmarking links and you can’t get on page one of Google, so you need a magical way to build amazing backlinks that doesn’t involve thought or effort.

Point is, the top ranking sites work their tails off to acquire quality links. To keep pace with them, you need to devote the same level of effort to content strategy and link marketing. If your goal is to outrank them, then you'll need to do something even more exceptional. And dumping a dozen comment spam links on some poor guy's "do follow" blog isn't going to get it done.

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Richard Hostler
Apr 01, 2010

Very informative article, Ken. I especially like your detailed strategy for identifying the best potential link sources.

I'll be subscribing to your feed.

Ken Lyons
Apr 01, 2010

Hey, Richard.
Glad you liked the article. Thanks for the Sphinn and thanks for subscribing to our feed. I'd also recommend you become a fan of us on Facebook too:
Thanks again,

Darren Usher
Apr 01, 2010

Great article. Sometimes we lose the basics in developing an easy back link strategy. I agree with the usage of the SEO toolbar also. Since you mentioned my invention, the Official Vick Dog Chew Toy in your article, I thought I would generate a backlink. :-) The version of the Michael Vick Chew Toy you have in the article was actually the prototype I built in my garage and it morphed itself into our product release found here: Thank you for the mention and looking forward to more articles. We are also on facebook: with plenty of photos of the dogs raising awareness towards animal abuse!

Thanks again.


Jurrien Schouten
Apr 02, 2010

Great article!

A great way of linkbuilding wich i never thought of before. Unfortunately the 'top 100' button is gone in my version of SEO for Firefox and my Excel is doing weird things to the .csv documtent. But there are some other ways to find some great relevant blogs where you can try to get a link from. Anyway, thanks for this article, it helps me a lot with my study for an internship at a e-tail company.
I'm following you on Twitter now as well,

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Apr 02, 2010

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SEO Doctor
Apr 02, 2010

Good article Ken, you are right - quality link building takes time and is hard work. Creating 'link targets' is the way to get good links.

Apr 02, 2010

Links grabbing is quite tricky work in SEO buy Ken hardly there will be anything related to creating amazing back-links which you have not explained in this article. Detailed analysis and i got enough knowledge from your post.

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Apr 02, 2010

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Apr 03, 2010

excellent article. definitely going to use this for a whole bunch of stuff. I love how you identified the sources of what people are linking to!

John Paulie
Apr 03, 2010

When I saw this article on Sphinn i thought it was gonna suck balls, but it didn't. Good stuff.

Ken Lyons
Apr 03, 2010

hey, john.
glad you liked the article. and doubly glad it didn't suck any balls.

Apr 03, 2010

Great articel and thanks for sharing the information which i will study and use to see if it works

Apr 04, 2010

Nice info ken....very informatif
I like it...Do you SEO master??
I think yeah...

Phil Powdrill
Apr 04, 2010


You've definitely laid down an excellent structured process for building backlinks to your site, that anyone should be able to follow. The key to success is the desire and willingness to do the work. If you put in the effort you can reap the rewards. I'm recommending this article to all my readers.

Thanks for such a comprehensive article.


Ken Lyons
Apr 04, 2010

hey, phil.
thanks for sharing this post with your audience. much appreciated. btw, i left the remainder of this comment over at sphinn (and thanks for the sphinn), but i thought i'd repost is here as well.
my philosophy for life is the same for building quality backlinks: you get out exactly what you put in. shit effort earns shit links. but if you bust your ass, you'll be rewarded.
cheers! ken

Dragon Blogger
Apr 05, 2010

Fantastic article and very beneficial for helping people not only get idea's on how to ask others to get links, but the instructions for finding another site's backlinks is very helpful.

CA karan batra
Apr 05, 2010

Very valuable piece of info.
u've been able to hit the nail on the head by clearly highlighting the topics where people make mistakes and how to correct them

Apr 05, 2010

Great post. You're right, to earn good links you have to roll up your sleeves and do the work. There is no quick, magic way to build quality inbound links.

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Apr 05, 2010

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Apr 06, 2010

Nice tips and newer way of creating backlink. thanks

Apr 06, 2010

Great Post, thanks for sharing your tips with us some great information has been detailed here.

Cpt Awesome
Apr 06, 2010

Thanks for this! This is an awesome post that I am hoping will FINALLY bring some luck into my backlinking efforts! Thanks for taking the time to do this!

Apr 06, 2010

Hey! Thanks for a great article. I think there are a few more ways to create links which require a little more time and financial expendature but can give great results.
For the professional - we can all learn from putting quality content on the web, it is the basis on which the web is built.
For the non-professional this is a great way to get links and promote your site!

Apr 06, 2010

Thanks for a great article. Lots to learn from this kind of work! Congrats!

Quality content will always win on the web, its what the is built to thrive on, so will always work!

This way of 'naturally' building links is exactly the way it should be done. Other forms of building links are essentially playing with Google’s algorithm and will at some stage caught.

Apr 06, 2010

Well thanks for nice explanation. But as you mentioned on the headline the post is not so unusual for build backlink, you mean that we have to find out the popular blog post for certain keywords and then have to analyze the backlinks of those blog post to see who linking to the post, thereafter we will request them for link to us. This is somehow tradition link analyze method. I even find out more tricky method to build quality backlinks from .edu blogs.

Apr 06, 2010

Hi Ken, this is a great summary of link outreach but I have to ask, have you successfully and scalably applied this method in an agency setting? This sounds like something that would work very nicely with the time and focus an in-house SEO has to play with but, between coming up with the right content and emailing the right people, it seems like quite a time consuming and scattergun approach for an agency that has to show that everything they're doing brings some ROI. Would you even say it's SEO? Online PR, maybe?

Lee H
Apr 06, 2010

Great information! Thanks so much for sharing. Looks like I need to revisit the Firefox browser to make use of that plugin. Unless I can find something similar for Chrome.


Apr 07, 2010

In three words: Great, great post!!
Thank you so much for this useful info on the hard task of link building

Apr 07, 2010

Some great information here. But I think the reason most people fail is simply that it takes a great concept to get people linking out, and I've found other bloggers prefer to link to blogs that are at about the same level.

Dave Lucas
Apr 07, 2010

You're absolutely right about one thing: having to hit 'em over the head with great content! I've even had to beat 'em into the ground once they're down, and still it's difficult to get those links. The time-tested way is with a little luck: nothing beats getting a link from an "A-List" Blogger! Cheers!

James Lee
Apr 08, 2010

Dead on.

At the end of the day, it's the hard work we do and the quality content we produce, working together, that produce the best results. This isn't a surprise... right? :)

John Paul Aguiar
Apr 08, 2010

luv SEO plugin on FF.. easy to use and always right there as I surf. Also nice way to see do follow sites and links.

Great article.. lil bit of work, but well worth doing all the research to find High quality relevant backlinks.

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Apr 08, 2010

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Apr 09, 2010

hi, i am just in love with seo for firefox plugin. it is very useful. by the way, some of the steps could not be recognized. like step 3. i hope you will help me

Apr 12, 2010

Very interresting article. I've learned a lot from it.

Before that article I didn't even knew about that Firefox Plugin existed! What a time saver. Thanks a lot.

Apr 13, 2010

Great informative post. I even installed the plugin for Firefox though I am now an exclusive Chrome user. Like you said, this will take some work but I am going to try your approach. I have bookmarked it. Thanks.

Apr 15, 2010

Awesome article,really i have learn more than enough from this post thanks for sharing

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SEO Help
Apr 22, 2010

Hi Ken,

One of my client has share this article with me, and I am surprised by reading you have noted each and every point..

Great Write up, thanks for sharing...

Bryan Jackson
Apr 22, 2010

I genuinely found this article very interesting, and if I had more time to dedicated to serious backlink building, I'd certainly follow your suggested steps.

However, one thing that does concern me is how everyone is obsessed with getting links / getting good rankings, but fewer and fewer people are interested in creating good quality, engaging content.

On our site, pretty much all the press releases we received are loaded with keywords of SEO links, and the content tends to be dreadful.

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Apr 27, 2010

Thanks to the author for a good story.
Attracting quality links - it is really serious work on the preparation of materials.

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Apr 30, 2010

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Ed H
May 02, 2010

That's a lot of work. But if it works, I'll give it a try. I already have the Firefox plugins.

May 03, 2010

The only other suggestion I'd make is to think carefully about the title of your e-mail. I like to use the name of the company, website, or blog as the title. In the example above, I'd use "Jim's Pet Store" for the title of my e-mail simply because it's more likely to be opened and read by the owner.

I get so many pieces of spam e-mail every day, so when one comes through with the title or name of my business, it stands out. I use the technique so that my e-mails actually become a lot more likely to be opened and read by the intended recipient.

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Offshore ruby on rails developer
May 04, 2010

thanks for the information i found your information is so useful and very informative and very nice one thanks for posting this