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The Complete SEO Link Building Guide for Personal Trainers

The Complete SEO Link Building Guide For Personal Trainers
Post Series: Online Marketing for Personal Trainers

Estimated reading time: ∼ 27 min

Link building is still the number one ranking factor and it is not going anywhere anytime soon. You cannot increase organic traffic and search engine rankings without backlinks.

Moz analyzed top 50 Google search results for more than 1500 different keywords to examine the correlation between ranking and number of backlinks. The study found 0.30 correlation which was the highest correlation found in the study. This shows backlinks are the most important ranking factor. Some 99% of all the results analyzed had at least one external backlink pointing to them.

google rankings and links

According to Andrey Lipattsev, who is a Search Quality Strategist at Google, the content and backlinks are the two most crucial ranking factors.

If you need to be at the first spot in Google for your preferred search term, you have to acquire high-quality relevant links.

The problem?

How to build links that don’t get your website flagged and actually help improve ranking. This link building for SEO guide is all about building high-quality backlinks that will help you improve your website’s ranking irrespective of your industry and niche.

If you have always ‘wished’ to be on the first page of search results and those link building and traffic case studies have always inspired you and you still ask yourself when on this earth will you’ve high-quality links pointing to your site, this guide is for you.

Let’s dive in.


Introduction to Backlinks

How does a backlink work and why on earth it is so important?

Search engines use backlinks to assess the popularity of a website. There is no other way for search engines to assess the popularity of a web page. A large number of backlinks pointing to a website means that it is trusted and is liked by people whereas a website that is not linked by other websites is considered to be less popular.

Popular websites rank well and outrank their counterparts because search engines want to deliver exceptional customer experience by offering most relevant and popular websites that people already like.

Search engines assign a value to every link. A backlink from The New York Times has more value than a link from a small blog that has no more than 50 pages.

Before you can start building backlinks, you must understand how search engines assign values to backlinks. Only then will you be able to create valuable backlinks that search engines love.

There are several factors that search engines use to assign a value to a backlink and based on this value, you can differentiate between a high-quality and a low-quality backlink. Some of the most important factors are:

  1. Link relevancy
  2. Authority of the website and the page
  3. Link type (dofollow vs. nofollow)
  4. Link neighborhood
  5. Anchor text

1. Link relevancy

A relevant backlink is one that you get from a website on a similar topic, niche, or industry than yours. For instance, if your website is about stuffed toys and you get a backlink from a toy website, it is a relevant link while a link from a smartphone tutorial blog isn’t relevant.

Backlink relevancy is the most crucial and important factor that determines the value of a backlink as said by Andre Weyher, who is an ex-employee of Google’s search quality team:

“A link from a high PR page used to always be valuable, today it’s more the relevance of the site’s theme in regards to yours, relevance is the new PR.”

Any backlink that is irrelevant doesn’t add much value. In fact, it is potentially useless.

If you’re getting backlinks from irrelevant websites, it doesn’t make any sense. It doesn’t just harm your website’s ranking but it confuses search engines in fully understanding the topic of your website because backlinks pointing to your website are also used to determine your website’s niche and industry.

2. Authority of the website and the page

The more popular a website is, the more authority it has. Authority is a score developed by Moz that predicts how well a website or a webpage will rank in SERPs. Domain Authority (DA) measures the authority of a domain while Page Authority (PA) measures the authority of a webpage.

Authority is a score ranging from 0 to 100 where high score correlates to a high ability to rank in SERPs. Authority of a domain and page can be checked free of cost with Open Site Explorer.

da and pa

You can also use Ahrefs Domain Ranking (DR) and Page Ranking (UR) to check the relative domain and page authority.

ahrefs dr ur

A backlink from high DA and PA will outperform a backlink from a low DA and PA site provided all other factors are kept constant. Backlinks from high authority websites help you get authority and trust because these backlinks are supposed to be most valuable.

3. Link type

When it comes to backlinks, you can either get a nofollow or a dofollow backlink.

A nofollow link is considered valuable but it doesn’t help your website get any authority (or link juice). While a dofollow link is what is considered as an endorsement.

nofollow vs dofollow

Whenever and wherever possible, go for dofollow backlinks because they’re the links that search engines count and value in terms of SERPs and authority.

If your website has 100 nofollow backlinks from an authority site, it won’t help improve rankings. However, a single dofollow backlink from the same site will outperform all the nofollow links in terms of ranking.

4. Link neighborhood

Backlinks living in a clean neighborhood are more valuable than links from a spammy neighborhood. A website that links to spam is most likely a spam itself. Nobody likes linking to spam websites over and over again.

This is where webmasters use nofollow tag. A website that links to spam websites without using nofollow tags means it is doing it intentionally.

Your backlinks must reside in a clean neighborhood on websites that don’t link to spam sites. The cleaner your neighborhood is, the better it is.

5. Anchor text

Anchor text is a powerful factor that helps with improving ranking. A study by Ahrefs revealed that anchor texts are correlated to higher Google rankings.

ranking anchor text stats

Use of appropriate anchor text helps improve your website’s ranking for that particular keyword/phrase.

Any backlink that fulfills these five factors or most of these factors is known as a high-quality backlink that is, a link that is relevant, from a high DA and PA site, is dofollow, resides in a clean neighborhood, and uses appropriate anchor text.

All other backlinks are low-quality backlinks that don’t improve rankings and authority as effectively.


How to acquire high-quality backlinks

Your goal is to acquire high-quality backlinks that are considered valuable and popular by search engines and to stay away from low-quality backlinks that might lead to a penalty in the long-run.

The sections below will show you how to acquire high-quality backlinks for SEO.

Generate Links with Content Marketing

Content marketing is the new SEO. According to a survey by Ascend2, 72% of marketers reported that relevant content creation is the most effective SEO tactic.

content creation stat

A Content Marketing Institute survey revealed that 95% of B2B content creators intend to produce more or the same amount of content in 2017.

content creation survey 2017

Marketers don’t just say it, they’re doing it.

They do it because generating quality backlinks get a whole lot easier with content. When you create awesome content that helps others, people will start linking to it. Marketers use different content marketing tactics to create content including blog posts, case studies, videos, etc.

content marketing tactics

But there are four types of content that helps brands generate most backlinks. These include:

  1. Long-form content
  2. Visual content
  3. Research reports
  4. Case studies

1. Long-form content

Long-form content is any content having more than 1200 words. Statistics show that long-form content rank extremely well in search results.

long form content stat

Long-form content gets backlinks naturally because this is the type of content that is detailed and helps the readers in the truest sense. A study by Moz found a correlation between long form content and backlinks. Content with high word count acquires more links as compared to content with low word count.

Long-form content doesn’t just rank well and garners backlinks but it is the type of content that gets all the love on social networks. Twitter users are found to be in love, in one study, with long-form content.

twitter share stats

Write detailed posts and articles that fully cover the topic. You’ll rank well for it naturally and at the same time, it is the type of content that people will link to whether you ask them or not.

For instance, consider writing a detailed guide on a subject. Cover the topic completely in a way that once someone reads the guide, one doesn’t have to go anywhere else to find more information. Include all the information in the guide.

This guide will rank high in SERPs and will generate backlinks and will continue to drive traffic for the years to come.

Another post type that works great naturally is a list post. List posts are famous and something that readers love because they know in advance what they will get in the post.

list post example

2. Visual content

Visual content is the future of content. It includes images, videos, charts, diagrams, infographics, vectors, memes, GIFs, and all other types of visual content.

Generating backlinks with visual content is easy. Anyone who will share your visual content will link to your site as source. If you create evergreen visual content consistently, you’ll continue to get backlinks for several years.

KISSmetrics created 47 infographics in two years. These 47 infographics generated more than 41K backlinks from more than 3700 different domains and generated more than 2,512,596 visitors. Not to mention the brand awareness that the blog received because all the infographics had the brand name at the bottom.

infographic brand awareness

Infographics are shared by bloggers and webmasters like crazy because they deliver extensive value. Everyone who shares the infographic links back to the source. Not just infographics but it works for all types of visual content. This is how you generate natural relevant backlinks that search engines love.

3. Research reports

Research, surveys, and data-driven articles are highly linkable. Imagine you just conducted a leading industry survey and have published the results on your blog, you’ll start getting backlinks from all types of websites including authority sites.

Better yet, represent results of your data-driven study visually in the form of graphs and charts. This will increase the number of backlinks because linking to visual content isn’t just easier rather preferred.

4. Case studies

Just like research reports, case studies are shared like crazy. They have this amazing potential of generating backlinks on complete autopilot.

A case study is more detailed and shows the exact steps followed to achieve the results. The best part, you don’t have to do research for creating a case study. You can do a case study on things you do.

For instance, you can do a case study on how you generated your first 100 sales or how you design your weekly newsletter.

Writtent posted this case study about one of its posts that how it received backlinks from top authority sites. They did nothing special but shared the statistics from their previous post and created a blog post.

ahrefs screenshot

Case studies are easy-to-create. If you’re a service provider, things get interesting because every single client that you serve is a standalone case study. Do a blog post on every client and share the amazing results you delivered. You’ll get backlinks at no additional cost.

Boost link building with email outreach

Creating high-quality content isn’t enough. Even if you’ve published the best content on your blog, you cannot just sit back and pray and wish that someday people to link to it.

This is not how it works.

You’ve to reach out to the right people and show them your awesome content so that they link to it. Reach out to bloggers and webmasters who have linked to similar content in the past.

This is how your content that you just created will generate more backlinks and at a much faster pace.

Here is a step-by-step guide to help you reach out to the right people and get a backlink.

Step #1: Find people

Find people who have already linked to similar content as these are the people who are most likely to link to your content. For instance, if you wrote a detailed guide on ‘health benefits of alcohol’, you need to run a search query for the exact term.

Copy the first few best results and see who are linking to these pages. You can use a tool like Ahrefs or Majestic. Enter the URL in Ahrefs and click backlinks to see the backlinks pointing to the URL.

ahrefs backlink analysis

You can also use BuzzSumo to find most shared content, who shared it, and to find the backlinks.

buzzsumo screenshot

Step #2: Collect email addresses

Once you have prepared a list of websites that have linked to the type of content you just created, the next step is to find correct email addresses.

I don’t prefer using an automated tool because they aren’t efficient. Find email addresses manually. You can hire someone on Upwork to do it for you.

Not just an email address but find personal social accounts too. Sending a customized message on Twitter increases the likelihood of getting noticed.

Step #3: Send emails

This is the tricky part.

The basic rule is to tell them about your awesome content and what’s in it for them. Nobody will link to your content just because you spent 12 hours in crafting it or you spent $870. Give them a solid reason why they should link to it.

Here is an email that Tim uses for outreach. This is the format that I personally love because it shows what’s in it for them.

outreach email template

Here is another example.

outreach email sample

These types of emails are always answered.

You can send a message on a social network too such as Twitter or Facebook. This shows the recipient that you really did you work.

A rigorous email outreach campaign to show your content to the right people will help you generate relevant quality backlinks. Whenever you create awesome content, don’t just let it sit on your blog.

Show it to the right people.


Best and Effective Link Building Strategies

Content marketing is just one tiny part of the link building domain. There are several other strategies and techniques that you can use to acquire backlinks. Following is a list of some of the best and the most effective link building strategies that will super-charge your rankings.

These strategies include:

  1. Skyscraper technique
  2. Resource page links
  3. Broken links
  4. Linking out

Let’s discuss these strategies in detail.

1. Skyscraper technique

The Skyscraper Technique by Brian Dean is probably one of the best link building strategies that has helped a lot of people. It is a logical technique that, if done right, will deliver exceptional results.

Here is how this technique works.

  1. Find content that has performed extremely well and is shared and linked by others.
  2. Create something better by adding more value and material to the content that has already performed well.
  3. Reach out to people who have linked to the existing piece and show them your better content.

This is the exact technique that helped Brian generate several high-quality links in as low as 2 weeks.

skyscraper technique for backlinks

The process might seem daunting but it pays off and when you get into it, things get interesting.

Step #1: Find content worth linking

Thanks to tools like BuzzSumo, Ahrefs, and Majestic that it is no more any difficult to find best content that people are already linking to. I have already discussed the process of finding link worthy content so let’s move ahead to the next step.

Step #2: Make content better

Once you’ve found the content that has done exceptionally well in terms of generating backlinks, you’ve to come up with something better.

Add more value. Update and add recent information.

Or maybe, add more details to make content actionable.

Step #3: Email outreach

Once you’ve published the article, reach out to people who have linked to the old content and show them your latest and updated article.

If they’re linking to an article and your article is better (in any way), they will link to yours too. This is something that’s natural and always works.

You know how to craft a killer email to reach out to bloggers and influencers, right? Don’t just ask for a link instead show them what’s in it for them or for their audience.

When you’re doing so, make sure your content is truly better than the old piece. Don’t try to fool others by rewriting the same article and asking for a link. This won’t work.

Chris Gimmer used skyscraper technique for his new blog and garnered over 17K visitors in a single day.

skyscraper technique case study

His article was shared 243K times.

skyscraper technique social proof

Most importantly, he received backlinks from a whole lot of different domains in no time.

skyscraper technique for backlinks

Next time when you’ve to write a new article for your blog, stick to skyscraper technique.

2. Resource page links

You must have seen those awesome resource pages all over the internet that share and list best content on the internet. Here is a resource page example.

resource page example

You can contact these resource pages and request them to include a link to your helpful and awesome article. You get a backlink for free.

In order to have your site or an article listed on a resource page, your content has to be awesome and must be exceptionally well.

Follow these steps to get free backlinks from resource pages.

Step #1: Find resource pages

Before you start writing your next article, find resource pages and see what type of content they link to. This will help you create content that’s better and the resource page owner will happily link to it.

If you’re planning to write an article on picnic backpacks, do a quick Google search to find all the relevant resource pages.

Here are a few key search strings that you can use.

                Keyword + helpful resource

                Keyword + resource page

                Keyword + useful links

                Keyword + inurl:links

                Keyword + inurl:resource

You get the idea.

Copy all the resource pages in an Excel sheet.

Step #2: Screen resource pages

Not all the resource pages are worth getting a link from. Filter the resource pages and remove all the ones that aren’t worth getting a backlink from.

Run all the URLs from Ahrefs or Open Site Explorer. Check the Page Rank and the Domain Authority of every URL. Remove URLs that don’t fulfill the criterion we discussed in the first section of this guide.

As a rule of thumb, remove all the resource pages having Domain Authority less than 15.

Step #3: Create killer content

Analyze the type and quality of content these resource pages are linking to. This will give you an idea of what type of content you should create to get listed there.

Use skyscraper technique to create better content so that the editor cannot say no.

Step #4: Send an email

Send an email to the webmaster asking him to add your link to the resource page. Remember the ‘what’s in it for me’ rule.

3. Broken links

Broken link strategy is easiest of them all because the success rate is quite high and it is super-easy to get backlinks.

You’ve to find blog posts and articles having broken links. Send an email to the editor and tell him about the broken link and meantime suggest a new updated link to your website.

You’ve to find relevant resource pages or articles with lots of outbound links. Find broken or dead links on these pages using any tool like LinkMiner.

Prepare a list of all the broken links. Create a similar article and post it on your blog.

Once you’ve an alternative resource ready, reach out to the admin or the editor via email. Let them know about the broken link and offer them an alternative link to your website.

Since you’ll be helping the editor, therefore, chances of getting a backlink are significantly high.

Moz has one of the best guides on broken link strategy. It will help you become an expert at this particular link building strategy.

4. Linking out

This happens to be a nice way to get backlinks as well as brand awareness. The best part, you don’t have to spend a lot to acquire backlinks by linking out.

You’ve to link out to authority sites to get backlinks. When you link out consistently over and over to high authority sites and you send them referral traffic, they will link to your site too.

Neil Patel used this exact technique to increase QuickSprout’s traffic by 700K a month and it helped him acquire thousands of backlinks.

You just have to link out to relevant high-quality authority sites and experts when writing a post. Do it for every single post that you write. Doing so will help you get notified and you’re more likely to get a backlink from most of these sites.

Research shows that newspaper websites that consistently link out to other sites outperform newspaper websites that don’t.

Not to mention, Matt Cutts has said that linking out is a Google ranking factor. You cannot ignore it now, right?

Start linking out to relevant websites and continue to do so. You might not see any results soon but eventually you’ll start getting backlinks.


Advanced Link Building Techniques

The backlink strategies discussed in the previous section are more than enough to put you on right track. But this is just the beginning.

There is a lot more to link building than the strategies discussed above.

The following advanced link building techniques will give you a competitive edge and will help you generate powerful backlinks like a pro.

  1. Scholarship backlinks
  2. Copy your competitors
  3. Links from brand mentions
  4. Dead link recovery
  5. Reverse image search
  6. Coin a term

1. Scholarship backlinks

Edu backlinks are considered high value by search engines because they’re hard to acquire. Any link that is hard to acquire is considered extremely high-quality.

A scholarship program can help you land some of the best backlinks from top edu sites. Here is an example of a scholarship page.

scholarship page example

Here is how this strategy works.

Step #1: Create a scholarship program on your website

You’ve to create a scholarship program and publish it on your website. It has to be a simple blog post that outlines the terms, reward, and all the other details of the scholarship program.

Make it compelling because you’ll use this page to create backlinks from university sites.

Step #2: Find universities

Find universities that have a dedicated scholarship page for its students where it links out to relevant scholarships. This is something that most of the universities have so finding sites is not a big deal.

Use the following search string: “scholarships”

You can use other relevant search terms too such as:

(city name) + college + intitle:scholarships

(city name) + university + intitle:scholarships

google search query

Copy all the university pages in an Excel sheet and move to the next step.

Step #3: Contact universities

Send an email to universities and let them know about your scholarship program. Most of the universities will add your scholarship program to their page happily.

Use the following template for reaching out to universities.

Hello [Your Name],

I’m excited to let you know about a new scholarship opportunity for [School] students.

Our scholarship is called “[Name]“, and it’s designed to help [Brief Description].

Here is a brief list of our requirements:

[List of Requirements]

We would be honored if you’d be kind enough to add our award to your scholarship page [Scholarship Page URL].

Of course, we’re here to answer any questions you may have.

Thank you,
[Your Name]

The scholarship program by The Hoth has edu links from 21 different domains. If you manage to promote your scholarship program smartly, you can land a lot more backlinks.

edu backlink example

2. Copy your competitors

This technique is simple. See where your competitors are getting their links from and get the same backlinks. If a website is linking to one of your competitors, it is likely to link to you too.

Better yet, if a website is linking to more than one of your competitors, you’ve a great chance.

You can use SpyFu or Ahrefs Link Intersect tool to see where your competitors are getting backlinks from. The Link Intersect tool helps you identify missing linking opportunities.

competitor analysis ahrefs

Enter your top competitors and the tool will show you who links to all of them. Your job will be to reach out to the sites that link to two or more of your competitors.

Inspect the type of links and try to get a backlink for your website.

For instance, if your competitors are listed on a resource page and your website is missing, you can send an email to the webmaster for inclusion of your website.

Though this is an advanced backlinking strategy but it is an easy one. You just have to know how to find websites that link to multiple competitors and rest is easy.

3. Links from brand mentions

A lot of times, your brand is talked about and mentioned without a hyperlink. For instance, if a customer talks about your brand in a forum, he might simply mention the brand name and might not link to your website.

All such unlinked brand mentions are link opportunities. With the use of right tools, you can convert all such brand mentions into backlinks, especially, if you’ve a well-known brand.

BuzzSumo, Mention, and Link Research Tools are the three best tools that can help you find brand mentions. Find mentions of your brand using one of these tools and see if they have linked to your site or not.

You can also activate Google Alerts for your brand. Every time someone mentions your brand, you’ll get notified. You can then see if it is linkable or not.

As long as people are linking to your site with brand mentions, that’s fine. But when someone doesn’t, you’ve to reclaim your link. Send an email to the editor/webmaster asking for a backlink.

Easy backlinks, right?

Use the following template to reach out for link reclamation.

Hey [Name],

I just wanted to reach out and say “thanks” for mentioning [Your Brand] in your excellent article yesterday.

We really, really appreciate it.

I’m reaching out today to ask if you could add a link back to our site. That way, people can easily find us while reading your article.

Either way, thanks for the shout out and keep up the great work!

[Your First Name]

Such an email will rarely go unnoticed because a brand mention without a link doesn’t help the readers much. Chances of getting a backlink are fairly high.

4. Dead link recovery

At any given time, your website has some dead links that point to a 404 page. For instance, if someone links to a wrong page that doesn’t exist in the first place or if a page or post has been removed and there are people who still link to it.

There could be several reasons.

Every dead link is a lost link. You’ve to reclaim it.

Finding dead or broken links for your own domain is something that can be done with any backlink analysis tool such as Ahrefs or Majestic.

Once you find a broken link, you know what you’ve to do?

Write an email to the editor with an updated link. These types of emails are always welcomed and appreciated because you identify and fix a problem that helps the readers of the host website.

5. Reverse image search

This technique works for those who publish images, infographics, and other original visual assets. For instance, if you created and published an infographic, there will always be people who will use your infographic without linking to your website.

The good news – you can send a friendly email to all such webmasters and ask them to link to your website since you’re the original source/author.

Use Google Image Search to find all the websites that are using your visual asset. Search by image.

google image search screenshot

Upload the image and see who is using your image without linking to your site. A friendly email will help you get new backlinks at no cost.

6. Coin a term

Have you ever coined a term? Try coining one.

Not just that you’ll get all the love from experts but this is an awesome strategy to acquire new backlinks. If your term is picked up by a few leading sources, you’ll start getting a lot of backlinks.

Coining a new term isn’t easy though.

If you can do it, go do it. Write a detailed post on the term. Reach out to influencers and experts to share your post.

Activate Google Alerts for your new term. As people will start using the term, you’ll get free backlinks. If people are using the term but aren’t linking to it, send them emails to reclaim links.

Rand Fishkin coined a famous term ‘10x content’ in 2015 and today, it is used all over the internet by some of the leading sites like Forbes, SEJ, SingleGrain, and others. The term has over 13K results in Google.

10x content search query

Not bad, right?


Backlinks You Should NEVER Build

This section will cover black hat and grey hat link building strategies. Why?

So that you can refrain from creating these types of links.

Black hat link building techniques are those that violate search engine guidelines such as Google Webmaster Guidelines. These link building techniques are only geared towards manipulating search engine rankings and are not intended to help human beings.

Grey hat link building techniques are legal highs. These are the techniques that are suspicious but technically legal. Grey hat link building strategies put your website on the fence. You might lose everything one fine morning.

When you build backlinks using black or grey hat methods, you’re at risk of getting either a manual or an unnatural link penalty from Google known as Google Penguin. It is a penalty that targets websites that use spammy link building techniques that violate Google’s guidelines.

It is, therefore, strongly recommended to read Google webmaster guidelines here before you even think of building backlinks.

So how to avoid getting a penalty?

Stay away from spam backlinks. Whenever you try to buy paid links or involve in shady link building techniques as a shortcut, you’re building links that do more harm than good.

Here is a list of backlinks that you shouldn’t try to build.

Paid links: Any link that you’ve to pay for is counted as a paid link and is no good for your website in the long-run. Sure, it will improve ranking but if you get caught, you might end up tanking your websites.

Spam blog comments: Leaving comments for the sake of getting a backlink is not considered good. Leave a comment to participate in the discussion. Don’t do it for backlinks.

Private Blog Networks (PBNs): Though PBNs are quite famous but they’re not good. If you’re building backlinks using PBNs, pray that search engines don’t find your PBN.

Link exchange: If the sole purpose of your website is to exchange links, consider yourself out of business soon.

Doorway pages: Webpages that are created for spamdexing and are not allowed. Don’t create them.

The list can go on and on.

Spam links are good for short-term but if you’re into a real business, stick to white hat backlinks. They might take long to improve rankings but they will never harm your website and you can sleep peacefully every night.



Backlinks are the backbone of SEO and ranking. You cannot be on the first page of search results without backlinks. Once you’re there, don’t stop building links.

Because link building is a continuous process. The moment you’ll stop creating links, you start losing rankings.

The techniques and strategies discussed in this guide will help you push any website to the first page. Stick to it.

Share and let me know how this guide helped you by leaving a comment below

Fitness Entrepreneur. Personal Trainer. MSc Sports Scientist. Author.

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