Link building can be an incredibly complex process that covers a lot of individual techniques and tactics. For people who are not that experienced with SEO, it is very easy to feel overwhelmed by the many different options that they have available.
One-way link building strategies are a good example of how a simple concept can become incredibly powerful when used in the right ways. The concept of one-way links is not exactly all that complicated, but using that concept well can take a deep understanding of link building as a whole.
With so many different ways to approach SEO, it is very easy to overlook a concept like one-way links in favor of flashier or larger-scope options.
If you have not heard of one-way links before, then it can be a worthwhile technique to learn about. Even in its most basic form, it can make a big difference to site owners who know how to employ it correctly.
This breakdown will tell you everything you need to know about how one-way links work and how they are meant to fit into a greater SEO structure.
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A one-way link is a link that points to your site but without you having to offer reciprocal links or anything in return. In a sense, they are “free links” since they do not require you to trade anything or make any kind of arrangement.
These links are most common on blogs, entertainment platforms, and news sites: spaces where links are used to direct traffic to something relevant.
While this might sound like an extremely basic idea, many people completely overlook one-way links as an option. The main advantage of these links is that they are completely focused on your site – you are not linking to another platform or having to pay for the SEO boost.
There is also a commonly-held opinion that one-way links are more valuable to search platforms since they are a clearer vote of confidence. If one site links to another with no reciprocal links, it shows that the first site has a lot of faith in (or sees a lot of value in) the second.
Of course, not all backlinks are created equally. While one-way links are great for SEO if used correctly, they are still backlinks, and that means that care needs to be taken when building a solid link profile.
In simple terms, a one-way link is any link that comes directly to your site without needing compensation. While many sites will gain a few natural one-way links over time, actively creating links like this can lead to huge SEO boosts.
A one-way link is just like any other link: high-quality links from authoritative sites are going to have the biggest impact on your SEO, whereas lesser links from smaller sites will offer minor boosts.
The best one-way links are developed organically – for example, blogs linking to your high-quality content as a resource. This acts as both a vote of confidence and a mark of your website’s value.
In most cases, a one-way link is still going to fall under the same rules as regular links. High-authority sites are going to provide better results than lower-authority ones, and the quality of the website itself will have an impact on how search engines interpret the link.
Relevancy is always important. Links from relevant sites will be valued higher than those from less-relevant sources, and completely irrelevant sites may not even be counter for SEO purposes at all. The closer the connection, the better the link.
In theory, a one-way link is more valuable than a regular reciprocal link. If your content earns links from other blogs without you having to point any back, it shows that your content is worth linking to, and many search platforms take that into account for SEO scores.
Since these links are harder to get in organic ways, they can also sometimes be a lot more powerful than their regular counterparts. While this is not always the case, it can make them a niche kind of link that is worth pursuing to boost your website’s rankings.
Understanding One-Way vs. Reciprocal Links
The difference between two-way and one-way links might sound simple, but it is important to understand the actual differences behind them.
Back when SEO focused primarily on link quantity, reciprocal links were a core part of SEO. There was no reason not to have more links, so sites would attract links by offering to return the favor or by making linking arrangements with as many sites as possible.
Now, link quality is far more important, and high-quality links are chosen through a long list of different factors. Having more links pointing at your website is not necessarily going to boost your search rankings very much – they need to be good links.
One-way links are inherently more valuable for site owners. If you are getting inbound links organically, then it shows that your site has link-worthy content on it.
This is especially true for links coming from an authoritative site, such as a major brand’s website or a popular industry expert’s blog. These are websites that have a lot of value in them already, which passes along some of that power in the link.
High-quality backlinks are always great, but getting them direct from a site that trusts and values your content can be a much stronger boost to your overall search engine ranking position.
One of the biggest advantages of one-way links is that you are not having to link back to the site, meaning that the connection is truly one-way.
While this might not sound that important overall, linking to the wrong sites can actually have a massive negative impact on your SEO. This is especially true if you are adding reciprocal links to sites of questionable quality since these can tank your rankings.
One-way links mean that you are not linking back to other sites, which can provide a boost to your rankings without risking you damaging your own ranking position through the reciprocal links.
This also prevents situations where the other websites’ webmasters remove their link to your site, turning the mutual linking arrangement into a one-way link to their site
It can be a lot harder to earn one-way links. However, this also means that they are usually higher-value, so it can be a worthwhile trade-off if you approach the task in the right way.
Like any other kind of backlink, you do not want to focus on one-way link building exclusively. Mixing it in with other kinds of linking opportunities ensures that your link profile is not built on shaky foundations and diversifies the way that you are improving your rankings.
While one-way links are far less common overall, they are not impossible to earn. There are multiple methods to securing them (or at least making them more likely), but natural one-way links are generally more powerful than ones earned artificially.
One-way link building can be a surprisingly complicated process since you can’t just rely on normal link building strategies. One-way links are usually natural, and getting artificial paid links or guest post links can sometimes be tough.
While you can absolutely pay for one-way links, this can still be quite hard to manage. The cost of a single link is not always clear, and sometimes you have to work with limited information about the sites you are approaching.
Here are some of the most effective ways of building one-way links, as well as the potential problems that you might encounter if you commit to using these methods.
Guest posts content can come in many different forms, and this is one of the most direct link building options in your toolkit. The right guest post link can help boost your status as an authority in your industry and can draw in more attention from specifically-targeted niches.
A guest post is a paid post that you have written yourself, usually placed as a blog post within a blog. These are basically the equivalent of paying for an ad, except the ad is an entire blog post on a site that is relevant to your business.
These are a very basic form of one-way link building since there is not any need to link back to the blog post. Since guest posting usually involves writing the article yourself, you also have a way to influence the content you get, which means that you can properly tailor it to suit your requirements.
The Advantages of Guest Posting
Guest posts are a straightforward link building strategy that can get a link embedded on a blog you trust. Most site owners will be willing to host paid content if you pay enough, and submitting guest posts is usually quite easy.
If a guest post does not stick, then you can always re-use the content on another site. This makes guest blogging a relatively cheap way to earn links with actual value behind them since the blogs are going to have “link juice” to offer based on the site’s relevance and popularity.
Once in place, a guest-written post will effectively be permanent unless the post is removed or the blog shuts down.
While these are both very real possibilities, choosing the right blog will give you a long-term link from high-quality content that you wrote yourself, letting you control the exact content you are being linked to from.
The Risks of Guest Posting
Like any link, there is always a chance that the guest posts will eventually become a broken link, or it might even be removed entirely by the blog owner.
You also need to know which other websites you are working with. Choosing the wrong site (such as an irrelevant blog) could lead to poor link performance or even spam penalties if you choose a completely irrelevant place to post the content.
There is also the fact that some blog owners will outright refuse to accept these posts. Depending on how niche your company is, this may force you to rely on slightly-less-relevant sites that are willing to take this content.
Paid and Sponsored Content
Like guest content, paid content is something that you are paying to have placed on a site. However, in these cases, you are not writing the content yourself – the site owner is.
This tends to make them more acceptable to blog owners but also means that you have less control over the end result. Depending on the situation, this could either lead to better link performance or a worse overall piece of content that does not suit your needs.
There is also sponsored content, which usually focuses on site owners reviewing products and services that you provide. This can be good if you are wanting links to a specific product page since reviews about the said product are obviously going to be incredibly relevant.
The Advantages of Paid Content
Paid content is another great way to get inbound links, requiring even less work due to the fact that you are not writing the posts yourself.
As long as you choose the other websites well and approach them for the right kind of content, you can create one-way links that paint your brand in a good light or even promote a specific product or service very well.
Choosing a popular blog also means more traffic coming from them, which can be important if you are creating content for SEO purposes and to gain new leads.
The Risks of Paid Content
If you are not creating the content yourself, you do not necessarily know what the article is going to be. Some website owners will stand firm at the idea of only including certain details or only linking to specific kinds of pages.
Since a lot of reviewers like to be unbiased, they might produce negative content about your brand – it will still boost SEO but might harm your reputation.
Like guest-written posts, there is also the fact that the post could eventually be removed or have its link broken. If the owner is not willing to fix it, then there is not really much you can do.
A resource page can be an incredibly good source of links. If you are able to provide a resource or tutorial that others refer back to, you can expect to see the occasional inbound link from other websites referencing it.
Whether this is a step-by-step “how to” guide or a pool of relevant statistics, these pages are a link building goldmine – but only if constructed correctly.
These resource pages need to be something link-worthy. For example, creating resource pages based on your own research can be a very strong choice since original research is more likely to get references than a page that just copies and collects information from other websites.
The Advantages of a Resource Page
Resource pages are perfect for presenting yourself as an expert within the industry and are a good way of creating high-quality content that will remain relevant in the long term.
They also tend to provide a lot of link popularity as long as they are relevant and well-written, meaning that they can become a cornerstone of your SEO strategy.
While it might take a while to gather the original research required to make these resources, these pages can sometimes be easier than creating content normally. Sometimes the focus is on things like relevant statistics and visual graphics, cutting down on the amount of writing needed.
The Risks of a Resource Page
Resources require research, which can take a long time, depending on what you are trying to actually create.
Resources also often have to strike a balance between being specific and not being too specific. Website owners want to link to relevant resources, so something too vague or something targeted at a slightly different niche might not suit their needs.
You also need to be sure that the resources fit with your own site. Even if the link is relevant to the page of resources itself, that page has to be relevant to your website; otherwise, you might get penalized.
Other Organic Links
You do not need to create specific resources to earn links. One-way link building is possible by simply creating pages that others will want to link to, even if they are not any kind of major resource or statistical breakdown.
The only limits to this depend on what you can fit into the site that is relevant: specialized storage pages, product breakdowns, how-to guides, video content pages, interactive experiences, or even just well-written blog content.
The pros and cons of doing this vary wildly based on the content you create, and there is no specific one-stop solution to building these links. Like most things in link building, you need to be reactive and proactive, keeping your brand and goals in mind at all times.
Spreading Your Brand
If all else fails, you can try to push for more link building opportunities by getting your brand in front of more people. This can mean things like running ads, posting on community forums, or even making new social media accounts to draw in more users.
Anything that drives attention to your site has a chance of bringing more natural links with it. A seasonal sale might get you links from sites that talk about online deals, while a product announcement could grab the attention of niche community sites looking for new products.
There is no guarantee that all of these links will be good, but having more is always better than having fewer. Even if some are not worth your time, you can simply cut off the unwanted links in various ways.
Managing your One-Way Link Building Strategy
The actual link building within this one-way link building is only part of the process. Building links is obviously important, but you also need to manage those links if you want to maximize the potential that they can offer.
There can be a lot to consider when you are building links specifically to boost your rankings in search engines, including:
Not all links are good. When you build links, you are always going to have at least a few that are not worth keeping – spam sites, poorly-made blogs, or just good sites that are not relevant to your needs whatsoever.
Compensating for these bad links or removing them entirely is important. Quality is more important than quantity, and too many bad links might damage your rankings or even get you penalized by some search engines.
A link’s position can matter more than you might think. For example, in guest blogging, you want your links to be placed on the page’s main body if possible.
Trying to build links in headers, footers, or other parts of the page will lead to less effective outbound links, even if the outbound link itself is basically the same.
Never turn down a good link exchange opportunity just because you are focused on one-way links.
It is easy to get tunnel vision when working on a specific project, but SEO as a whole relies on a mixed bag of link types – do not shut yourself out to potentially lucrative options.
Minor and Major Search Engines
Some search engine platforms are obviously more important than others. For example, Google penalties will hit a lot harder than penalties on more niche search engines.
If you have to prioritize, focus on search platforms that are most relevant to your audience and are most likely to bring in the traffic you want.
There is no point in becoming more discoverable on a site that has less than 1% of all search traffic, especially if it damages your position on more popular sites.
Using the right anchor text for each link is important. While it can seem daunting to identify links and their anchor text individually, you want an inbound link to have relevant anchor text to the target page.
Anchor text is not just a matter of link quality. Bad anchor text (or good anchor text on an unrelated site) might lead to Google penalties.
This is especially true if your link profile is full of obviously spammy sites that have suspiciously created a single page related to your business, despite the rest of the site being unrelated.
Broken Link Building
Broken links are both a blessing and a curse depending on how they are handled. Most broken links occur when the linked page or URL no longer exists, leading it to either an error page or a redirect to the main page of the target site.
Encountering broken links can provide an opportunity for link reclamation, where you get the link adjusted to point toward a page that actually exists.
You want to have each link appearing natural if possible. While dedicated link building sites can give you easy links, those are not naturally earned and usually do not feel like natural links to search engines.
While it is fine to have some paid links in there, you want to put at least some effort into keeping up the pretense of all links being natural. Some search engines hate forced links and will tank your page ranking for having too many obviously-artificial backlinks pointing at your site.
Always understand the kind of search results that are relevant to your business.
This does not just mean the terms people in your audience use but also the terms that people are using to find your business.
Knowing the right keywords can help you form a strong link building campaign based on the search results you have the best page rank and relevancy levels for.
Scams and Attacks
Remember that malicious third-party attacks are still a possibility.
Some companies resort to black hat or grey hat tactics that directly harm their competition. While this is frowned upon and often prohibited, some still manage to get away with their attempts to drag down their opponents.
There are always ways to remove links that you do not want or to separate yourself from scam sites that suddenly link to your website. A good link builder is prepared to cull bad links as soon as they appear.
Pursuing One-Way Inbound Links
One-way links are a vital part of building a good link profile and should not be ignored.
Whether you are finding them through broken link building and paid content or using entirely natural means, you want to secure good links that search engines will interpret as a vote of confidence in your site.
While the information above is useful, there is so much to cover that it is impossible to explain every single possible scenario you might encounter. In the end, the best way to manage your link building is to take things one step at a time.
Scott Calland is a highly regarded content specialist with an English Degree. He has a passion for creating compelling content as a UK journalist that engages, informs, and entertains readers. With over 10 years of experience in creating news publications as a reporter, Scott has developed a keen eye for detail and a deep understanding of how to craft content that resonates with audiences. Working closely with data analysts Scott’s research on topics is unrivalled for latest news updates.
Scott is also an investor in Searcharoo.