Backlinks Checklist: Essential Steps for Quality Link Building

HomeDigital MarketingSEOBacklinks Checklist: Essential Steps for Quality Link Building


Key Takeaways

According to Moz, pages with backlinks from high authority sites see an average increase of 21% in their SERP rankings.

Gartner highlights that strategic link building contributes to over 30% of the search engine ranking factors for any given page.

Prioritize quality over quantity in link building to avoid penalties and maximize SEO benefits.

Regularly audit your backlink profile using tools like Moz or SEMrush to maintain link health and relevance.

The dynamic nature of digital marketing underscores the enduring importance of backlinks, which serve as critical endorsements that enhance a website’s credibility and ranking. 

By prioritizing a backlinks checklist that focuses on quality links from reputable sources, you can significantly boost your site’s visibility and authority in search engine results. With the intricate challenges of link building, how can you ensure your strategies for acquiring backlinks are both effective and sustainable?

The quality of backlinks is a crucial element in SEO because it influences how search engines perceive your website. High-quality backlinks from reputable and relevant sources can significantly boost your site’s authority and improve its ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs). 

Search engines use backlinks as a vote of confidence, indicating that the content is valuable, credible, and useful. Therefore, focusing on obtaining quality backlinks rather than merely increasing the number of links is essential for effective SEO strategies.

Identifying High Authority Domains

Identifying high authority domains is pivotal for building valuable backlinks. Domains with high authority are typically well-established websites with significant traffic and are recognized as industry leaders. 

Links from these websites are more influential because they pass on more ‘link equity’ or ‘link juice,’ which can positively affect the ranking of your own site. Tools like Moz’s Domain Authority (DA) or Ahrefs’ Domain Rating (DR) help gauge a site’s authority, enabling you to target your link-building efforts more effectively.

  • Topic Alignment: The topic of the linking page should align with your page’s content to be deemed relevant. This alignment increases the likelihood that the backlink will carry more weight in SEO evaluations.
  • Placement in Content: Contextual links embedded within the body of a webpage’s content are typically more powerful than those placed in footers or sidebars. They are seen as more natural by search engines.
  • Contribution to User Experience: Links that contribute positively to the user’s understanding or provide additional useful information are seen as more valuable in SEO terms.

Assessing the DoFollow vs. NoFollow Status

  • Understanding the Impact: DoFollow links allow search engines to follow through to your site, passing along what is often referred to as ‘link juice’ and benefiting your page’s ranking. NoFollow links, though they do not influence rankings directly, can still drive traffic.
  • Balancing the Link Profile: A healthy link profile should contain a mix of both DoFollow and NoFollow links. This balance makes your link profile appear more natural and less manipulative to search engines.
  • Strategic Use: While DoFollow links are beneficial for SEO, NoFollow links are useful for diversifying your backlink profile and reaching broader audiences, such as through social media platforms or forums where links are typically NoFollow by default.

Guest Blogging on Relevant Sites

  • Finding Opportunities: Start by identifying blogs within your niche that accept guest posts. Use search queries like “[industry] guest post” or “[topic] write for us” to discover sites that are open to guest contributions.
  • Evaluating Site Quality: Prioritize sites with high domain authority as these will provide more valuable backlinks. Tools like Moz’s Domain Authority or Ahrefs’ Site Explorer can help assess the quality of potential sites.
  • Crafting Quality Content: Your guest post should provide substantial value to the host site’s audience. High-quality, unique content increases the likelihood of your post being accepted and shared, thus driving traffic back to your site.
  • Including Strategic Links: While your main goal is to gain a backlink, ensure that the links fit naturally within the content. Include links to your site’s relevant and informative content that enhances the guest post and provides further value to readers.

Using the Skyscraper Technique

  • Content Identification: Begin by identifying a piece of content in your niche that has attracted a significant amount of backlinks. Tools like Ahrefs or BuzzSumo can help you find popular content with many backlinks.
  • Improving on Existing Content: Create a more comprehensive and valuable piece than the original. This might mean adding more recent data, covering additional points, enhancing the visual appeal, or providing a deeper analysis.
  • Outreach: Once your content is ready, reach out to the sites that linked to the original article. Inform them about your updated version and explain how it adds more value, thereby encouraging them to link to your piece instead.
  • Finding Broken Links: Use tools like Ahrefs’ Site Explorer to scan relevant websites in your niche for broken links. You can also use Chrome extensions like Check My Links to manually check specific pages.
  • Creating Replacement Content: Once you find a broken link, look at the content it used to point to (you can use the Wayback Machine for this). Create similar or more comprehensive content that can serve as a suitable replacement.
  • Contacting Webmasters: Reach out to the webmaster or content editor of the site hosting the broken link. Politely inform them about the broken link and offer your content as a replacement. It’s beneficial to emphasize how replacing the broken link with yours will improve their site’s user experience.
  • Overview of Tools: Ahrefs and Moz are two of the most robust SEO tools available for backlink analysis. These platforms offer comprehensive features to track the backlinks pointing to a website, which is crucial for understanding your site’s authority and relevance in the eyes of search engines.
  • Features of Ahrefs: Ahrefs allows users to see the total number of backlinks, the number of referring domains, the site’s domain rating, and the Ahrefs Rank. Users can also observe the growth or decline in backlinks over time, helping to gauge the effectiveness of their link-building strategies.
  • Features of Moz: Moz provides similar functionalities with its Link Explorer tool. It offers insights into inbound links, top pages, linking domains, and anchor text used. Moz’s Domain Authority (DA) metric is particularly valuable for assessing the potential SEO impact of links from other websites.
  • Identifying Competitors: The first step in competitor backlink analysis is identifying your direct SEO competitors. These aren’t necessarily businesses that offer the same services or products but rather websites that rank highly for keywords you’re targeting.
  • Analyzing Competitor Strategies: Use tools like Ahrefs or Moz to enter a competitor’s URL and retrieve a report of their backlink profile. Look for patterns in the sources of their backlinks, the types of content that attract most links, and any partnerships or guest posting patterns that could be replicated.
  • Benchmarking: Compare your backlink profile to your competitors’. Note differences in the number of backlinks, quality of links, and the diversity of linking domains. These insights can help prioritize your link-building efforts to close gaps or leverage untapped sources.
  • Regular Monitoring: Set up routine monitoring for your website’s backlink profile. Tools like Ahrefs can send alerts when new backlinks are gained or lost, helping you to react promptly to changes in your backlink landscape.
  • Audit for Quality and Relevance: Periodically review your backlinks to ensure they come from reputable sources. Disavow links from spammy or irrelevant sites that might harm your SEO performance. This involves creating a disavow file and submitting it to Google Search Console.
  • Identify and Resolve Issues: Look for issues such as broken links leading to your site, sudden drops in backlink numbers, or unnatural patterns that might suggest black-hat SEO tactics. Addressing these promptly helps maintain your site’s SEO integrity.

Creating Shareable Content Formats

  • Infographics: These are highly shareable and can distill complex data into visually engaging graphics, making them attractive for other sites to link to. The key is to ensure that the infographic provides valuable insights or summarizes research in a compelling way that encourages sharing.
  • Data Studies: Original research and data studies generate interest because they offer new information and authoritative insights into relevant topics. By presenting unique statistics or findings, you encourage other websites and media outlets to reference your study, thereby earning backlinks.
  • Interactive Content: Tools like quizzes, polls, and interactive maps can also drive engagement and shares. When these tools provide users with personalized results or valuable information, they are more likely to be shared across social platforms and linked from other sites.

Publishing Comprehensive Ultimate Guides

  • Depth and Coverage: An ultimate guide covers all aspects of a topic in significant detail, making it a go-to resource. This type of content tends to accumulate backlinks naturally because other content creators reference it when discussing related topics.
  • Evergreen Content: Ensuring the guide remains relevant over time by focusing on evergreen topics can lead to sustained backlink growth as the content continues to be of interest.
  • Utility and Usability: Including actionable tips, step-by-step instructions, and useful resources within the guide increases its practical value, which in turn boosts its linkability as other sites will reference it as a thorough resource.
  • Identifying Popular Topics: Use tools like Google Trends, BuzzSumo, or Ahrefs to identify topics that are currently popular or gaining traction in your niche. Creating content that taps into these trends can attract timely backlinks as the community looks to explore these topics further.
  • Leveraging Evergreen Topics: These are topics that retain their interest and search volume over long periods. Examples include “how-to” guides, “beginner’s guides,” and “tips and tricks” in areas like cooking, finance, health, and technology. Such content can accumulate backlinks consistently as it remains perpetually relevant.
  • Updating and Repurposing Old Content: Take existing content that has performed well in the past and update it with new information, improved graphics, or expanded insights. This not only revitalizes the content but also makes it attractive for new backlinks, as updated content is more likely to get shared and linked to.
  • Conduct Regular Backlink Audits: Schedule periodic reviews of your backlink profile to identify and remove links that could negatively impact your SEO. This includes links from spammy or irrelevant sites, which can be detrimental to your site’s authority.
  • Use Backlink Tools: Employ tools such as Ahrefs, Moz, or SEMrush to analyze your backlinks. These tools help you spot any toxic links by assessing metrics like domain authority and trust flow.
  • Remove Harmful Links: If you identify harmful backlinks, consider reaching out to the website owners to request link removal. If this isn’t successful, use Google’s Disavow Tool as a last resort to tell Google to ignore these links.
  • Variety in Link Types: Ensure your backlinks come from a mix of sources—blogs, news sites, forums, and other domains relevant to your industry. This diversity helps build a more resilient and natural-looking backlink profile.
  • Balance Follow and NoFollow Links: While follow links are crucial for passing SEO value, nofollow links are essential for a natural link profile. They can signal to search engines that your link acquisition isn’t overly manipulative.
  • Secure Links from Different Geographies and Languages: If applicable, obtaining links from various geographic regions and in different languages can enhance your site’s global appeal and SEO performance.
  • Stay Informed on SEO Updates: Keep abreast of the latest SEO trends and Google algorithm updates. Websites like Search Engine Journal, Moz Blog, and Google’s Search Central Blog are great resources for staying updated.
  • Evolve Your Content Strategy: Adapt your content and backlink strategies based on new SEO practices. For example, if Google starts prioritizing certain types of content, like video or specific authoritative domains, adjust your strategy to align with these preferences.
  • Test and Learn: Continuously experiment with new link building tactics and refine existing ones based on performance analytics. Use A/B testing for different outreach strategies to see what works best in terms of gaining new high-quality backlinks.


In conclusion, the pursuit of building a robust backlink profile is pivotal for enhancing SEO performance and should emphasize quality over quantity. Key strategies such as identifying high-authority domains, leveraging tools for backlink analysis, and utilizing content-driven tactics like guest blogging and the Skyscraper Technique are foundational. 

Furthermore, regular monitoring and auditing of backlinks ensure the health and effectiveness of your SEO strategy. Effective outreach and maintaining relationships with key influencers also play a crucial role in acquiring sustainable, high-quality backlinks. By consistently adapting to evolving SEO trends and focusing on creating valuable content, marketers can establish a strong backlink profile that boosts their site’s visibility and authority in the digital landscape.


A backlinks checklist is a strategic plan used to acquire high-quality links from reputable sources which significantly impact SEO rankings.

High-quality links from authoritative sites drive better SEO results than a larger number of poor-quality links, which can potentially harm rankings.

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Look for websites with high domain authority, relevance to your niche, and a clean profile free from spammy practices.

SEO tools like Moz, Ahrefs, and SEMrush provide comprehensive functionalities for tracking backlinks and evaluating their quality.

SEO tools like Moz, Ahrefs, and SEMrush provide comprehensive functionalities for tracking backlinks and evaluating their quality.

Yes, guest blogging remains effective if done on relevant, high-authority sites that add value to your content strategy.

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