Stop Obsessing Over Backlinks, Quality Content First

What are you currently spending your time doing? If your spending hours on backlink building then I’m sorry to tell you, but you might be doing it wrong. A couple years ago I was doing the same thing, looking at Moz Rank, Ahref Domain Rating, finding new sites to get backlinks to, obsessing over dofollow/nofollow, etc. I would spend many hours each week doing this. But I learned the hard way and below is what I advise people spend their time on.

Spend the bulk of your time creating quality content and then promoting that content.

Quality Content First

That old saying “Content is King” still applies. However, you can’t just stop there. The second part that most people slack on is promoting. You might be writing killer content but if nobody sees it then what good is it doing? We live in social world and you should be utilizing social media and other outlets to get your content seen. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you shouldn’t spend any time on backlinks, but in my book content is king, content promotion is queen, and backlinks are the court jester.

backlinks court-side jester
Img src: GIPHY

It is so important to prioritize our time as there are only so many hours in a day. Many of us juggle thousands of tasks each week. I keep getting tons of questions from people asking me what my backlink strategy is, and to be brutally honest, the first response is always, create amazing content. I do build some backlinks, but that is the last thing I think about in order of importance.

[socialpug_tweet tweet=”Content is king, content promotion is queen, and backlinks are the court jester. #SEO #SERPs” display_tweet=”Content is king, content promotion is queen, and backlinks are the court jester.”]

Are Backlinks Still Useful?

Yes, backlinks are still useful and keeping your backlink profile clean is very important. Google’s search engine is still just an algorithm, a computer program that is determining whether you should rank or not. So in that sense, yes backlinks will always still be there.

A couple of high authority backlinks can definitely change your position in SERPs overnight, I have seen it first hand. Can Google determine whether your content is killer? No, but social media can. Let people drive your traffic.

So if you asked me right now if I would spend an hour building backlinks or an hour writing another blog post… I would say writing without any hesitation.

Reaching 100k+ Visitors a Month Without Building a Single Backlink

I wrote a guide a while back about how I took my authority niche site from 0 to 100k+ visitors per month in a year. And guess what? I didn’t spend one minute building backlinks.  I never sat down and created a profile just to have a follow link back to my site. I never went hunting for links and never sent a single email asking for a backlink or share.

no backlinks
Img src: ChainCC

Now I didn’t ignore backlinks on purpose, I simply didn’t have any time to do any outreach for backlinks. Because I was building an authority niche site, not just some crappy Amazon site, I wanted to focus on quality content for an entire year. And the results were nothing short of incredible. Now of course, that involves keyword research. But that is also without any paid advertising. It is 100% organic traffic, based solely on good content.

niche site traffic
Scaling organic website traffic

If you are curious, I published around 250 posts in a year. While that may sound like a lot, I outsourced almost all of it. Make sure to read my niche guide for more on how I did that. The main point here is, backlinks aren’t always necessarily required to be successful. But, they will also come naturally when you have enough high-quality content.

I keep telling people this. If you create amazing content and promote it, the backlinks will follow! Trust me. Stop obsessing over your backlink count.

Backlink Profile After a Year

Now the interesting part is the backlink profile on the site after a year of never building them. According to Ahrefs my niche site wound up with 471 backlinks spread across 94 domains, and the homepage has a DR of 49. So obviously, backlinks will come if you push out quality content. This is by no means a huge backlink profile, but for never doing anything but focusing on content, it is awesome progress on a brand new site.

backlink profile
Ahrefs domain authority

And as far as growth goes, you can see below… the backlinks just keep coming in on a regular basis as more content is published.

consistent backlink growth
Ahrefs referring domains

Will I be spending time eventually on building backlinks to the site? Yes, of course. But always in moderation. I will never be spending as much time as I used to on backlinks.

Tricks to Better Content and Promotion

So at this point, you’re probably thinking well that is awesome for you but that doesn’t help me. Well, I am going to share with you some of my tricks and hopefully, you will see as much growth as I have. Note: I will be constantly updating this post with promotion strategies, so make sure to bookmark it!

  1. Write Posts That Help Solve a Problem
  2. Write List Posts
  3. Focus on Evergreen Content
  4. Re-sharing Old Content with 3rd Party Content
  5. Mention Other People on Twitter
  6. Floating Social Bar

Here are some tips on content creation that have consistently worked for me.

1. Write Posts That Help Solve a Problem

Think about why people Google for a second. Most people go to Google or Bing (I won’t leave you out Bing!) because they are trying to find an answer for a problem or solution. So write posts that help solve those problems. This applies to any niche or category! I have worked in all sorts of boring niches for clients and trust me, you can always find a way to get creative with any niche. I used to work for a pain management company where we had to market “back pain,” “neck pain”, etc… and we found ways to make it interesting.

This entire woorkup blog in fact is based on this strategy. People are searching for a problem and my posts try to provide solutions.

2. Write List Posts

This has been proven time and time again by other internet marketers and case studies; that lists posts always do well! People don’t have time to read and are always looking for that next product or solution they haven’t tried yet. List posts usually get more shares on social media as well. Am I a big fan of list posts? No, but sadly data doesn’t lie. If you want traffic and shares, list posts work in any niche!

sorry list posts
Img src: Memegenerator

Here is a funny comment from a blog post on CopyBlogger about why list posts will always work.

I’ve never seen so many lists in my life. It’s getting so bad with the lists, I’m almost to the point I don’t want to read a post if there’s a list. Of course, I’m still writing posts like that, because it works! — MacStansbury

Most of us marketers are probably in the same boat. We might not agree with lists posts or like them, but sometimes you have to write what works. That doesn’t mean you can’t create an awesome list post. As many of you know, I write over on the Kinsta blog. Something that was very popular was my list post on 45+ WordPress SEO tips. But, it is also 8,500+ words long. So while it is a list post, it has depth to it.

3. Focus on Evergreen Content

If you notice on this blog I removed the original publish dates from my posts and replaced them with last updated. I do this on all my sites. This is because I try to focus on Evergreen content. What is evergreen content? Basically it is content that is always applicable. So in a year from now, my tutorials for content and social promotion would still work. That is because I spend time going back and updating old posts to make sure they are always fresh. Always build upon what you have already worked hard on writing. You can check out my post on how to remove publish dates on your WordPress posts.

Here are some tips on content promotion that have consistently worked for me.

4. Re-sharing Old Content with 3rd Party Content

You might think this is common sense by now, share out multiple times over social media. But I still don’t see a lot of people doing it. And if they are, they are doing it wrong or creating more work for themselves. I am one of Buffer’s biggest fans, and have been a customer since they first launched. But a big problem with Buffer is, it still requires time for me which I don’t have. That is where SmarterQueue comes into play. It allows me to add my evergreen blog posts into a queue that rotates and shares out forever.


Basically how it works is you set up categories, throw it in your queue, and say “re-queue after posting.” I recommend getting at least 50 posts on your site before doing this as you don’t want to share the same content too often. Check out my in-depth SmarterQueue review and see why it is better than Buffer, Edgar, and HootSuite. It supports Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram… with more networks coming soon!

Next, you have 3rd party quality content. This where people screw it up. You can’t only share just your content. In fact, I try to share 30% of my content and 70% other content. The problem then you have with that is time. Well, guess what? There is a tool for that too. Quuu is a hand-curated content suggestion platform that connects to your Buffer queue, allowing you to grow a relevant social media following across your entire social landscape. Select categories/interests that matter to you, and they queue relevant suggestions to your Buffer.


There free plan allows up to 2 curated posts per day, and 5 categories. You can then pair it up with the free Buffer plan and boom! You now have kickass 3rd party quality content being shared for free. I have used Quuu for over 6 months now and never once had an issue with the quality. It is great. They also have an option to manually approve if you are nervous about that.

So, after you combine SmarterQueue with Quuu, you now have a 100% automated social media profiles with amazing content. Check out my Twitter growth below. Between January 1st and January 31st, I gained over 700 followers. There are some other things in play here, so stay tuned for an in-depth post I have coming out soon about the smart way to do social media automation.

twitter growth
Social media automation growth

Below are a few examples of Tweets that were sent out by Quuu, totally automated. One got 12 RTs and 17 likes, the other 11 RTs and 13 likes. So as you can see, the engagement on these is super high. And the greater your engagement, even on third party content means more people that see your name/brand, follow you, and in turn, click into your website.

5. Mention Other People on Twitter

If you spend all this time writing a great post, mention people and influencers in your tweet. Adam Connell mentioned my strategy in Step #9 of his post: How To Get More Twitter Followers: 24 Effective Tips To Grow Your Following Fast Check it out! He also has some other amazing Twitter tips in that post. Also, my friend Tom over at Kinsta literally just did this earlier today so it is a great example. He reached out to Brian Dean at 9 am over at Backlinko to let him know we mentioned him in a blog post.

One hour later, Brian shared it on his Twitter and it resulted in 19 RTs and 22 likes. So as you can see, just one simple Tweet and asking for a share can do amazing things! Don’t be afraid to ask people to share.

Also, I have had amazing success with this paired up with social automation. Mentioned a brand in an automated Tweet that you have scheduled up in a queue on rotation. I have some brands that always retweet it, every single month like clockwork. And we are talking Twitter accounts with half a million followers.

6. Floating Social Bar

Just like Social Media Examiner points out in Step #2 of their post: How to Drive More Facebook Traffic to Your Website in 5 Easy Steps, it has been shown many times that a floating social bar will increase your shares! There is a reason why Neil Patel, Brian Dean, and many other big-name marketers all have floating share bars.  Sometimes people miss your inline share buttons. I use Social Warfare on all my sites, partially because it is blazing fast, and it also has Twitter share counts.

That’s it for now. So stop obsessing over your backlinks and get out there and start writing more posts and promoting them! The backlinks will follow.


If you are obsessing over backlinks, you might want to pause and think for a second about how long you spend trying to obtain them each week. If you could push out more quality content and promote it at that same time, you might want to try that and compare the results. My strategy is that backlinks come last, after I do the heavy lifting.  And as you can see, there are tons of ways to promote your content, and there is always advertising and boosting them on Facebook too if you have the budget. Although I’m a sucker for organic traffic.

What are your thoughts on backlinks? I’m curious to know how much time some of you spend trying to obtain them. I am however working on a backlink building guide… because even though I don’t spend much time on it, I have learned a thing or two. So stay tuned for that.

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Brian Jackson

Co-founder of forgemedia. Passion for crafting actionable content from first-hand experience and performance-driven WordPress development. Connect: Twitter.

14 thoughts on “Stop Obsessing Over Backlinks, Quality Content First”

    • Glad it clears up some things :) Backlinks are definitely important, but they are the last thing I work on. I find that with great content and promotion, a lot of backlinks just naturally come.

      • Great article… Creating great content is not toooo hard for me, promoting…now that’s a different ballgame… Do you recommend promoting posts on fb or other social media platforms to promote an article?

  1. Great article… Creating great content is not toooo hard for me, promoting…now that’s a different ballgame… Do you recommend promoting posts on fb or other social media platforms to promote an article? I see that you mentioned that.. On my FB I have 4k plus real fans, but my amazing articles real like 2 percent of them unless it’s promoted, which can get costly..

    • I recommend testing what works best… For this site, Twitter works the best for me. For my niche site FB and especially Instagram does better. I am having to learn Instagram for my niche site because I am seeing good engagement, and have never bothered with Instagram previously lol. It really depends on your audience and where they hang out. FB is definitely hard to get organic reach no matter what niche… I would keep building up your fan base, sadly 4k is not enough anymore.

      Are you referring to the paid promotion option with quuu? If so, I do it once in a while for really good content. It definitely helps boost your reach. Although that is pretty costly too. I mainly use quuu for the 3rd party content sharing, which you can use their free plan and it works great.

      • Got it… Great idea with quuu, but they don’t have my niche in their categories, not enough posts lol, well none at all… But I like their idea a lot.

        Do you send every single posts to your subscribers? Say you write 4-5 a week, which is a log, do you send it to them or do you just do selected few?

  2. Hi Brian,

    I would say that it is an amazing post where you have revealed the importance of engaging content. I have come across so many bloggers who crazy in building backlinks for their low-quality, unessential content.

    I always prefer to write the blog post that would nudge the readers to read till the end and take action. Thanks for the awesome post. I would like to link it :)

  3. I must say brian that this type of articles are the ones that made me fall in love with your blog.

    Always on point.
    Thank you so much!


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