Link building. How hard can it be?
To give the classic SEO answer…
There are so many variables that go into link building: websites, content, authors, webmaster’s moods. The list goes on and on.
But, you don’t have to worry.
This article will cover 13 tried and tested ways to get backlinks.
Fundamentally, link building has one strategy, which is to utilise quality content to drive quality backlinks.
Within this core strategy, there are various techniques that can help deliver it effectively.
And those are exactly what you will learn in this article.
A summary of the link building techniques can be viewed in this video.
Let’s get started with the step-by-step link building techniques.
Pros: Can obtain some very strong and relevant backlinks
Cons: Often time consuming, competitive, usually short deadlines, and there are no guarantees
HARO is an incredible platform that journalists use every single day to acquire insights into various topics.
If journalists accept your pitches, you are often credited with a backlink to your website.
You’d ideally want to use HARO if you are an expert in your field and have valuable insights to contribute.
Signing up to HARO is simple and free.
Once you’ve signed up, log in and check your account settings to ensure your information (especially your email address) is correct.
There are various categories you can sign up to get emails from, and you should choose only the ones which are relevant to your expertise and/or business.
Make sure you select all of the subject areas that you wish to get notified about, then click ‘SAVE & UPDATE’ at the bottom of the page.
Now, you will receive three emails every weekday (morning, afternoon, and evening).
Ignore the first paragraph of the emails, what we want to look at are the queries.
You’ll find the media outlet at the end of each query. You can usually find some massive publications, such as Business Insider in this example.
However, you may sometimes find that the media outlet is anonymous.
Generally, it’s discouraged to pitch to anonymous queries because you want to know exactly where your submissions are going. But of course, you’re free to do whatever you want.
Once you click on a query, you will see it in full.
Read the query and requirements carefully to ensure your submissions are useful.
Notice how this query is asking for details, such as your name, title, and website URL.
These are the types of queries that you’re encouraged to pursue, as if a query doesn’t mention giving you a link, then what’s the point?
When you click on the email, it should begin a draft.
Make sure the email is correct, because if it isn’t, the journalist won’t see your submission.
For the subject line, keep it snappy.
Sometimes, if the journalist has included their name and media outlet, I would use those as the subject line.
Your answers should be succinct and without any waffle, as well as ensuring you have answered all of the pitch requirements.
Journalists on HARO get so many requests each day, so make it easier for them to want to include your insights.
Include all of the requirements afterwards, such as the name, title, and website in this case.
If you have an email signature, remove it.
Then hit send!
Whilst logged in to HARO, you can check to see if your pitch has gone through.
If approved, some journalists will manually update the status to successful, however, not all of them do (even if your submission was approved).
Pros: Can drive relevant traffic to your website
Cons: Many niche directories don’t have much SEO “authority”
Niche directories are great ways to get relevant links, and can drive qualified traffic of people who are actually interested in your offerings.
This technique is especially useful for local businesses, provided the directories are geographically close in proximity.
Of course there are generic directories, such as Yell and Yelp, which you should still sign up for!
The first thing to do is head over to Google and use the intitle: search parameter to source out specific directories.
Specifically, typing in industry + intitle:“directory” will provide some good results.
Using these results, you can manually check out each of the directories and find where you can submit your business/website.
NOTE: Check listings that are currently on the website to see if links are included as part of the listing.
You can also use a tool like Ahrefs to check the website’s “authority” and traffic metrics.
This website in particular has a bit of traffic, which is helpful if you want a chance of people actually clicking through to your website.
Most of the websites will have an option to add a listing.
Oftentimes they’ll try to up-sell on the free listing, but it’s usually just gimmicks.
All you have to do is sign up and provide the details.
NOTE: If you’re a local business, ensure your business name, address, postcode, and phone number are consistent, whilst changing up your bio across different listings to ensure they get indexed.
Pros: Can earn great contextual links and improve brand awareness
Cons: Time consuming and requires experts/good writers to write comprehensive content
Guest posting is a popular way to get backlinks to your website.
This is because you can write a piece of content and have it published on someone else’s website.
Many webmasters are open to guest posts because they’re receiving free content.
However, many people approach guest posts the wrong way.
Firstly, you need to find guest posting opportunities, which you can do with the intitle: search parameter.
For example, if you’re in the fitness niche, you would type in something like fitness + intitle:”write for us” on Google.
After you’ve found some results, you can check their metrics on Ahrefs to identify if the website is “authoritative”, and whether or not it receives decent traffic.
The thing to remember with the intitle: search parameter technique is that you may find some websites that are optimised for guest post footprints, which are also largely owned by SEOs (who may ask you for money).
Other ways you can find guest posting opportunities is by searching for expert keywords.
That is, keywords that experts would write content about.
For example, if you’re trying to find guest post opportunities around PPC, you could search for keywords such as “calculate ad impressions from CPM”, and combine them with informational content footprints like “how to”, “guide”, or “best practices”.
Now, the two most important parts about guest posts are:
- Have the content written by either yourself, an expert, or a quality writer.
- Have already existing similar pieces of content that can be naturally linked to within the article you’re submitting.
Remember that your identity is shown as an author for that post, and the perceptions of quality within that post will all come back to you.
NOTE: Some webmasters will try to ask for money if you wish to contribute to their website, which is a red flag that you should avoid.
This is because they’re likely neglecting the content that appears on their website (which leads to random, poor, and irrelevant content).
It’s also advisable to read what Google has said about guest posts.
If you need ideas about what content to contribute, you can use the ‘Topic Research’ tool by SEMrush to find lots of ideas.
For this example, a search about SEO strategies came up with many topics to write content about.
You can click on any of the topics and see popular headlines, as well as questions regularly asked about the chosen topic.
Broken link building
Pros: Fairly simple and straightforward
Cons: Requires paid SEO tools such as Ahrefs
Broken link building is great because you can benefit webmasters by doing their job for them.
That is, essentially making sure their content is up-to-date and free of 404s.
For this, we’re going to be using Ahrefs.
First, find a website that is popular within your niche.
Then, navigate to the ‘Broken links’ under ‘Outgoing links’.
You’ll get a list to all of their outgoing links which are broken.
In this case, all of these are blog comments, but if you find a broken link that goes to a page with a similar topic that you’ve written already, you can reach out to the webmaster and ask them to update the link to yours.
This outreach works well if you show genuine interest in their content, as well as explaining the benefits of why your link would be the perfect replacement for the broken one.
Alternatively, you can also find broken links on the website itself, and identify which websites have linked to the 404 page.
Simply put, going to Pages > Best by links will show you which pages have the most links pointing to them.
You then change the HTTP Code to 404 so that you find the 404 pages which have the most links pointing to them.
All of these referring pages that show up are linking to a 404 page, which means you can approach these webmasters and inform them of this.
Again, don’t just email them asking to update the link.
Develop a well-written email that expresses your interest for their piece, as well as why the broken link is not good for them to have.
Then, and only then, suggest replacing it with your link (provided that it’s similar to what was previously linked to).
Infographics (and videos)
Pros: Can improve brand awareness and obtain new customers
Cons: Can be difficult and/or expensive to produce
Multimedia content is a great way to get backlinks naturally.
This is especially true if you have conducted studies and use infographics/videos to display results.
There are plenty of tools (free and paid) that you can use to create them.
Now, how do you make sure you get backlinks to your infographics and videos?
For link reclamation, you can perform a reverse Google search on infographics to see where they appear on the web.
If you find that someone hasn’t given you attributions, make sure to contact them and ask to provide a link to where that infographic was first shown.
To find video embeds, first identify the video you want to check, then copy its title.
Once you’ve copied the title, paste it into Google with quotation marks and add the video publisher at the end.
The results that show up will have your video embedded on their website, so you can go ahead and request for a backlink to the relevant page on your website where you’ve embedded it originally.
You can also do initial outreach to get your videos and infographics embedded on websites.
This is typically done well by searching for content that is relevant to your infographic/video, and then asking the webmaster if they can embed them so that their audiences have an easier time digesting the content.
Building up a professional network
Pros: Provides many great opportunities to get links in the future
Cons: Takes a lot of time and effort to build trust and credibility
Your network is your net worth.
That statement holds true when it comes to link building.
Your network can provide incredible opportunities for you to get links.
But just how do you build up a professional network?
Firstly, you must identify where people from your industry are active.
Checking social media websites will help you with this process.
LinkedIn; Facebook groups; Reddit subreddits; Twitter – the list goes on and on.
When you start engaging with people in your industry, over time you will build up a strong network.
You can utilise this network to help you in many ways, including appearing on expert roundups and/or appearing on webinars/podcasts.
Pros: Improve brand recognition and allows for relevant links and traffic
Cons: Expert roundups with many outbound links don’t pass on as much value
Expert roundups are essentially compilations of experts who share insights about a particular topic.
Being featured in an expert roundup provides you with increased awareness and credibility, but having a backlink to your website is also beneficial.
To find expert roundups that already exist, simply perform a Google search with a topic/industry along with “expert roundup”.
You can check some out that currently exist to see the format and the answers that the webmaster accepted onto their roundup.
NOTE: You can also check other platforms like Twitter to find expert roundups that have been shared.
In this example, the webmaster did provide backlinks to the participants.
Now, you can do one of two things.
Either reach out to the webmaster and ask if they’re still accepting unique submissions to their roundup.
Or, ask them to inform you when they next plan to curate one (make sure to tell them why you’d be a good fit for them).
Also ask your professional network if they or anyone they know are creating expert roundups that you could add value to.
Webinars and podcasts
Pros: Fantastic for brand building and getting strong, relevant links
Cons: Can be difficult to achieve without having built relationships and/or credibility first
As well as expert roundups, webinars and podcasts are other ways to increase your online reputation and get some awesome backlinks.
If you want to appear on them, always pick a topic that you know inside and out, as well as trying to offer twists on what is currently talked about regarding that topic.
After being featured in several podcasts and webinars, the best tip to get yourself featured is to continue engaging with your network.
You’ll most likely find that there are a few people in your professional network who have either appeared in or hosted webinars/podcasts, so the best action to take is to ask if there are open slots, as well as pitch interesting topics related to your audience, but more importantly, to the host’s audience.
PR link building
Pros: Provides fantastic backlinks (if done well, you can get loads of them)
Cons: Requires a lot of time, resources, and money (and sometimes connections)
PR link building is valuable because public relations are what help to maintain a strong brand image.
Plus, you can also get some great quality links from very authoritative domains.
With PR link building, you must ask yourself two questions:
- What unique activities are associated with my brand?
- How can I leverage these with current trends to get links?
PR link building is about using the right resources, creating the right story, and finding the right people who can spread the story.
With resources, think of what you can do to help your community and/or the wider society.
This entirely depends on your business, and you can also check out what the competition has been doing to get some ideas.
The relationships you have with media outlets will make things much easier, but you generally want to come up with something that will grab the attention of a journalist.
Press releases are helpful for creating specific stories about your brand and gaining relevant media attention.
You can also use the likes of HARO (which was mentioned earlier) to connect with journalists and update them regarding your activities.
Resource link building
Pros: Can help to out-compete others in your niche if your resources are used/linked to more
Cons: A lot of R&D is required to execute great resources
Resource link building is getting added to existing editorial content on another website.
This is often confused with resource page link building (which is the next technique).
The resources can be pages with definitions, widgets, calculators, or anything that adds value to the existing article.
They can be added to an existing article or used to replace a currently mentioned resource.
This is an example of a resource that analyses a website’s backlink profile.
They managed to get the resource added to a list of free SEO tools.
Now, they may have done outreach to get this link or obtained it naturally, but it shows how this technique can earn some pretty awesome links.
If you want to get your resource added as a replacement to another, you have to find where the competitor’s resources are mentioned, and convince the webmaster why your resource is better than the ones currently on their page.
To come up with ideas for resources, you can:
- Reverse engineer successful resources from your competitors
- Research popular content in a specific niche or for a specific audience
- Check for common questions in your industry using AnswerThePublic, AlsoAsked, SEMrush, Ahrefs, or with Chrome extensions such as SEOruler
Resource page link building
Pros: Simple acquisition process
Cons: Not every webmaster will care about adding new resources
Resource pages are non-editorial pages that have external links to many resources.
Why is this useful for building links?
Simply put, adding your resources on someone’s resource page will ensure that their page is fulfilling its purpose.
That is, by having the best resources on there (assuming your resource is awesome – which it should be!)
To find resource pages, you can try the intitle: or inurl: Google search parameters with keywords such as “links” and/or “resources”.
In this example for SEO resources, the exact phrase of “useful resources” shows over 3,000 results that you can get listed on!
Some resource pages (such as this one) contain old content, so it’s always worth reaching out and trying to get your resource on there.
The outreach for this technique has to revolve around the value that the resource page has brought you, as well as how you can contribute to its greatness.
This piece of outreach for the brand management guide put the value of the resource page first, and only mentioned adding the guide towards the end of the email.
Within a couple of hours, the guide was added to the resource page!
Pros: Easy to find and generally have high conversion rates
Cons: Require paid tools such as Ahrefs to do efficiently
This is another great way to build links easily from websites that haven’t linked to your website, even though they’ve mentioned your brand.
For this, we’re going to be using the Ahrefs ‘Content explorer’ feature to search for yourbrand -site:yourwebsite.com
The reason for this is that we want to find where you’re mentioned, but excluding your own website.
Then, you can get highlighted results of domains that haven’t linked to your website by adding it with the ‘Highlight unlinked domains’ option (as shown in Step 3).
Once you’ve found a list of domains, you can reach out to the webmasters and request that they add a link to your website.
It’s only fair, right?
Pros: Mutually beneficial for yourself and the webmaster
Cons: In some cases, the website may no longer be active
Nobody likes outdated content.
Which is why helping webmasters update their content using your up-to-date content is ideal.
For this technique, you want to be searching for pages that specify the previous year in their title tag.
For instance, if it’s 2020, you’ll want to add 2019 to your search.
In this example, we’re looking for articles about SEO strategies in 2019, so the search parameter is seo strategies + intitle:2019
All of the results will essentially be outdated, so you can look into these pages and identify ways for your updated content to get linked.
Keep in mind your approach needs to be related to the content that they’ve already produced.
Mention how you’ve found the page useful, but you think that there are a few changes that could be made as there are new things to add for the current year.
That’s where you bring up your updated content.
The only way to make link building work well is by providing value.
Considering that the web is full of different sites, it’s more important than ever to stand out with high quality, link-worthy assets.
If you’ve managed to reach the end of this article, you should now have plenty of different link building techniques that you can implement.
Remember that link building is one of many SEO tactics, but as far as digital marketing trends go, it’s very popular!
As a summary of the pros and cons for each technique, you can check out the infographic below!