Simply put, a direct backlink is a connection from one website to another.  The quality of the “sending” site (the place where your link appears) directly affects how much mass this particular link adds to your gravity well.  That connection actually transfers some of the importance and reputability of the sending site to your website. Naturally, there is little or nothing you can do about the reputation of someone else’s site. They are what they are.  A single backlink from a seedy site isn’t going to negatively affect your SEO. Those things are considered “neutral”, in the Google algorithm. Too many of them, and you’ll have a problem. (This is where the concept of “negative SEO” comes into play). But if you have a good spread of links on decent sites that relate to your field, you won’t have to concern yourself with the occasional outlier.

There are two elements to direct backlinks that we need to consider.  One is how to get them, and the second is how they are constructed to give you maximum benefit.

There are basically three ways to get good backlinks.  The first is through simply creating material that people want to quote, forward or otherwise send their site visitors to you. One of the best ways to get high quality links of this nature is through direct contact and negotiation with the site creators/contributors at the major sites.  Staying with our medical example, you can find a doctor or other specialist who contributes work to WebMD on a regular basis, and simply drop her an email to let her know about your product or service, so that she can keep it in mind when she writes her next article.  There is a slightly (and by slightly, I mean “a lot”) less kosher way of getting your backlinks onto big named websites, and that is through the posting abilities on the forums that follow the articles by these reputable authors. It is MUCH more advantageous to have your link contained directly in the body of the article than it is to have it in the comments section below.  But, if you have tried and you can’t break into the content itself, then there is no real downside to creating good content relating to the article in question, and then posting a link from the comments section of the forum back to your site, where people can read the rest of the article.  Here is an example from a WebMD article that demonstrates this particular tactic.

A good response to this would be as follows:


The seven exercises they list are all excellent. I personally like planking, but this article seems to be a bit older than the planking craze. Would you put it on the list now? I’m a fitness trainer, and I have found that the people I counsel have trouble finding the time to exercise. Many of them do well with squats and walking, because they don’t actually require workout clothes or a major disruption in the workplace. In fact, I developed a list of ten posture building exercises you can do at work. They include squats, walking, core exercises and some discreet stretches. You can see the whole list at

Thanks for putting this article together. I’ll be sure to pass it on to my clients! “


Notice the link is just provided for people who want MORE information about what I posted, and not as a way of redirecting people from what the author wrote.  Think about it: you wouldn’t want people to be drawn away from your article, but if someone is appearing to be an authority on a subject and is actually adding to your discussion, this makes for a great way to earn respectful backlinks. This is why I think services that sell you backlinks are going to eventually get you hurt in your SERP rankings. It won’t take long before Google figures out how to discern between real backlinks and spam backlinks, so don’t leave yourself exposed to the sandbox. Do it the right way the first time.

One of the thing that scares people about backlinking is that when you have the software to run the averages, you find that there is a tremendous difference between the average and the median number of backlinks on page one.  Let me give you an hypothetical example. Your key word phrase is “lower back pain exercise”.  The software shows that the average number of backlinks for page one SERP results on Google is 756,000. Holy cow!  How can you get three quarters of a million backlinks?

Looking more closely, you can see that the top four results all belong to WebMD and the Mayo Clinic, and they each have over a million backlinks.  Once you get beyond those articles, you find that the next website only has 650 backlinks. By the time you get to the bottom of the page, the last link only has 14 backlinks. Remember the story about the two guys being chased by a bear?  “I don’t have to be a fast runner, I just need to be faster than you!”  Same thing here.  Your initial backlink target is 15.  If you’ve followed the other rules of seonomy I’ve outlined in this section, you probably won’t even need that. Many page one links are there because of one overriding factor, like the Mayo Clinic having a million backlinks. The SEO of the articles themselves is often horrible.  You can get ahead of the competition by being a better “all around” competitor.

Create a checklist

Being good at everything is hard, unless you develop a checklist for all the pieces you need to create, using the sections above as your guideline. Every business is different, so some parts of this section won’t work very well for some businesses, while they work exceptionally well for others. For example, if you don’t have an online store, it’s hard to create backlinks from your product listings, because you don’t have any. But creating that checklist for everything you post is important, and sticking to it will be your key to long term success with business marketing online.