What Are One Way Links? (+ What They Do For SEO)

Adam Steele
Sep 12, 2022

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One of the key factors that determine how likely a website is to appear at the top of Google’s search results is the number of high-quality backlinks pointing to that site.

These are links from external pages that navigate to the target website, passing along positive reputational points in the process. Of these, one-way links are backlinks that only go in one direction, without any need to reciprocate with a backlink in return.

What Are One-Way Links?

One-way links, also known as inbound links, are made up of two components: link text and a URL. The URL can be for just about any page on your website, and the link text may be your brand name or some other text that makes sense in the context in which it appears and is relevant to the content being linked.

The term one-way links differentiate this type of backlink from another common type of backlink, the reciprocal link. As the name implies, reciprocal links involve providing a backlink in return on your website.

One-Way Links And SEO

One-way links are preferential to reciprocal links since the latter can potentially be interpreted by google as part of a link scheme.

Google doesn’t permit link schemes that aim to inauthentically trick the algorithm into ranking a website artificially high on its search engine results pages (SERPs), and reciprocal links can appear inauthentic if there are too many of them in your backlink profile.

One-way links suggest that the link was won based on the value of the content, rather than as a favor. This makes them a higher value kind of inbound link, and one that is less likely to lead to possible repercussions down the line in the event of an algorithm update.

However, as beneficial as one-way links can be for your search engine rankings, it’s always important to remember that not all backlinks are created equal. Some will have a far greater positive effect on your rankings than others, while some can still potentially be flagged as problematic by Google, damaging your rankings.

So, what determines the true SEO value of a one-way link?

The best one-way links are organic, meaning they are not the product of money exchanging hands. Instead, they are placed because the owner of the website providing the backlink wanted to link to your content. This indicated that your content is valuable enough that they felt it would enhance the experience of their readers.

In addition to a link appearing natural, another element that determines how much a one-way link will help your SEO efforts is the relevance and domain authority (DA) of the linking site.

Domain Authority is a third-party metric that isn’t used by Google, but that is a very good indicator of high a website is likely to rank in Google’s search algorithm.

The closer to 100 the DA of a website is, the better a one-way link from them will be for you.

It’s also important that the linking website is relevant to your niche. If you sell fishing poles but get a one-way link from a website about kitchenware, this won’t appear like a very natural or authentic instance of linking. The more relevant a site is to your niche, the more a one-way link from them will help to boost your rankings.

Benefits Of One Way Links

One-way links, when obtained in the right way, can make a significant impact on your search rankings. The more high-quality one-way links you have, the more reason Google’s algorithm has to understand that lots of people on the internet in your field love your content. If the content is great, then it should appear at the top of search results.

While some reciprocal links (also known as two-way links) won’t necessarily hurt your SEO rankings, especially if they appear natural rather than as a product of shady black-hat link-building practices, a one-way link from the same site will always be better, all else being equal.

Why? Because they provide a stronger positive signal to Google about the value of your content.

One Way Links Best Practices

Getting more one-way links in your backlink portfolio is a long-term project. Like just about all SEO efforts, you can’t click a few buttons or get a few posts published and expect instant results.

Instead, focus on consistently implementing as many of these practices as you can, and with time, the links will start rolling in. You’ll also likely find that it’s hardest to get one-way links when you’re brand new, but that it becomes significantly easier with time.

Why? Because the more high-quality links you have, the more reputable your website appears to others, and the more confident they will feel linking to you. Plus, all those links don’t just help your SEO goals; they also help spread awareness about you or your business, which results in more links over time.

Guest post

An effective way to get more one-way links from websites in your niche while also establishing yourself as an authoritative voice in your industry is to write guest posts. Just ensure that the websites on which you guest post have a good reputation and, ideally, a higher DA than you.

Depending on which site you’re guest posting on, they may have different rules about inserting one-way links in your content. Be aware of these rules before you start creating content. For example, some may only allow you to link to your own site in your author bio. That won’t help your SEO efforts as much as being able to insert a contextual link in the body of your blog post will.

Use directories the smart way

Sometimes directories can get a bad reputation, and there are indeed plenty of spammy directories out there that don’t provide real value and that aren’t widely used by real consumers. However, reputable directories such as Yelp and Yellowpages can be great for your SEO. Not only do they count as one-way links from high DA websites, but directory listings, in general, can boost your local SEO rankings significantly.

Focus on content

To get natural one-way links to your website, creating original and high-value content is non-negotiable. If you’re churning out generic content that already exists in a million other posts on the internet, why would anybody choose your specific example to link to?Further, you’ll have a very difficult time ranking with content that isn’t differentiated in some way.

Instead, focus on creating content that serves to either entertain, educate, or inform, and that is highly shareable.

For example, if you create a unique Q and A type of post addressing questions that come up in your niche and that you can’t easily find online, you might find that lots of people want to create one-way links to your unique information.

Interactive content such as calculators or quizzes can also perform well, especially if there aren’t many similar examples online.

Finally, if it makes sense for your niche, consider doing some original research to create statistics or infographics with your findings. These are highly shareable, and you don’t necessarily have to be a statistician to pull it off. Polling your existing email list about an interesting subject, for example, could generate a research finding or infographic.

Sing up for HARO

Registering for HARO (help a reporter out) link opportunities can earn you one-way links from some very covetable sources, namely magazines, journals, and newspapers. When a reporter makes a HARO request, people with relevant expertise can provide their domain knowledge. If your blurb is used, you’ll earn a one-way link that can potentially come from a very high-DA site.

Promote your content

For your content to be linked to by other sites in your niche, it goes without saying that they have to be aware of it. You can certainly reach out to website owners to share your new content, but promoting it on your social channels and through your email newsletter is also a good practice to get into.

For particularly strong content, you can also revisit it and repromote it occasionally. If you’re lucky, the right person will notice it and provide you with a rankings-boosting one-way link.

Seek curated links

Curated links are links that are retroactively placed into existing content. For example, a site may have a blog post about your niche that was written a year ago and ranks highly on Google. If you have content they can link to in the piece that would enhance it, you might be able to get that one-way link placed.

The major benefit of curated links is that they go into content that is already performing well in the SERPs, so you can start seeing the SEO benefits much faster than usual.

Ensure your links are relevant

If you have an opportunity to get a one-way link placed on a site, remember that DA isn’t the only relevant variable to be concerned about. The content in which the link goes should be relevant to your website, and just as importantly, the anchor text used should be relevant both to the URL being linked to and to the content in which it appears.

Irrelevant linking websites and anchor text can do more harm than good. But don’t worry, there are ways to check if you have these kinds of links polluting your backlink profile.

Conduct link audits

A link audit can reveal if you have any one-way links or other backlinks that are hurting rather than helping your SEO efforts. If you do have bad links, whether from past efforts at link building or even from malicious third-party attacks, identifying them is the first step.

Next, you can try asking the webmasters of the sites on which the bad links appear to remove them. If they do, great!If not, Google also has an option to disavow links, but this should be used as a last resort.


One-way links provide a strong vote of confidence for your content because it’s clear the website providing the link didn’t do so just to get a link in return. As long as they appear natural and are on relevant sites, ideally with high DA, they can provide a serious boost to your rankings.

Managing your link-building efforts is time-consuming and difficult. Leaving it to the pros at Loganix will ensure that your backlink profile grows while you can focus on growing your business.

Hand off the toughest tasks in SEO, PPC, and content without compromising quality

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Written by Adam Steele on September 12, 2022

COO and Product Director at Loganix. Recovering SEO, now focused on the understanding how Loganix can make the work-lives of SEO and agency folks more enjoyable, and profitable. Writing from beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia.