Links have always been one of the major factors Google and other search engines use to rank web pages. Yes, you got me right, you have to build links if you want to rank in search.
You have probably studied a lot of information about link building already. Some of it was helpful, some of it was not. So, I decided to compile only working link building strategies in this noob friendly guide.
Do I need to remind you what is link building? It is the process of acquiring new inbound links, also called backlinks, to a website from external sites. Every link building campaign has a goal. Most often it’s increasing future search traffic from Google.
Well, I guess it’s time to finish the introduction and pass over to the main part of this blog post.
Major link building strategies
Here we are going to take a closer look at some of the working tactics.
Let’s start with the most popular and the most effective one.
Creating link bait content
Link bait content can take many forms. Some of them will follow this section. So, what exactly is link bait content? The term refers to the unique valuable content which attracts links naturally. However, just like any other content, link bait requires promotion.
What can add value to your content? Different things. For instance, it may be in-depth research, unique data, a survey, attractive graphics, a free tool, etc.
Link bait can be called white hat link building tactic in its purest form.
As you have already understood, link bait requires a top-quality resource that will become a ‘bait’. In other words, you need a piece of content that will engage users, that will be widely shared, and that is worthy to rank in search.
Creating content that baits influencers’ ego
We often shy to contact industry leaders because it seems to us that we will never hear back from them. The feeling is totally wrong. Even famous marketers like to be featured, quoted, or mentioned.
Here are some of the effective ego-bait tactics:
- Interview with an influencer on your site
- Include an influencer in an expert roundup
- Quote an influencer in your content, or link to their site
- Including an influencer in a top 10 list
You’ll see that most of the influencers will at least share your content as it contributes to their positive image. This is likely to broaden the reach of your article and potentially bring links.
Repair the web, replace the broken links
Websites come and go, this is a natural process. This may happen because the companies behind those sites go out of business or the websites are just not maintained anymore.
This is a good opportunity for a link builder.
I advise you to create a similar resource on your own site, then reach out to the sites with broken links and offer them to replace those broken links with your content. The tactic has a pretty high success rate. Most of the website owners are always ready to fix errors on their sites.
Build links through reclamation
This strategy can be subdivided into 3 sub-strategies:
- Fixing broken links pointing your site and internal broken links
- Finding unlinked brand mentions
- Monitoring for uncredited use of copyrighted material (proprietary images or videos, etc.)
Let’s say a few words about each subcategory.
- Fixing broken links that point to your site
Why is it important to fix such kind of links? Because they point to 404 pages on your site, which means you are losing valuable link juice.
Here, at Ahrefs, we fix the broken links with the help of free WordPress Redirection plugin.
At first, we run the Broken Link Checker report in Ahrefs Site Explorer and get a list of all broken backlinks
Then we create a 301 redirect for each detected broken link using the “Redirection” plugin.
- Unlinked mentions of your brand
This is the case when someone on the web mentions your brand but doesn’t include a link back to your site.
All you need to do is reach out to the site, thank them for the mention, and ask to paste a link.
- The use of your copyrighted material without a credit
If someone uses your copyrighted material on their site (it may be a photo, for example), this is one more link building opportunity. You should email the webmaster and inform about the infringement asking for accreditation.
A simple way to pick up a link… By the way, you can use Google’s reverse image search to find sites using your copyrighted images.
Get into the news
The tactic of newsjacking implies tapping into the quick stream of trending news and inputting your own brand or ideas into the story.
The strategy can be very effective when you pursue the goal of picking up high-quality links from popular publications.
Time is the decisive factor in newsjacking. When something newsworthy occurs, journalists are dying to cover each and every angle of the story and gather experts quotes to add insight. But you have to act super fast here as good that comes too late is good as nothing.
Guest blogging has been and continues to be an effective way to familiarize new audiences with your website or brand and build authority boosting links.
Please keep in mind that guest posts of poor quality will not work. They have been edged out by Google while high-quality articles still stay an efficient way of gaining white hat links.
I am sure that there are top blogs accepting guest posts in every business niche.
Modern link building is similar to traditional PR in many aspects. Posting interviews and building links through them is a good example of the above.
The interviews can take many forms. Here are some of them:
- Blog interviews
- Participating in ’expert roundup’ posts
Each case is aimed at growing your authority in the niche and picking up some quality links.
Fashion for infographics is back again, so you can use the tactic for building links.
The reason why such kind of content works is simple. When you reach out to people, your efforts bring better results if you offer something valuable. It may be a quality infographic with a customized introduction, for example. You both get benefits – the host site gets some awesome content and you get a backlink.
I don’t advise you to syndicate content everywhere because only syndicating it to quality sites with link attribution can lead to traffic increase and rankings boost.
Here is a short list of sites that can be considered quality:
- Linkedin Pulse
- Business 2 Community
If you want to get more out of your syndication, write custom title and introduction for each platform.
Repurposing of the content
Why can it be brainy to repurpose content? Because this way you will be able to extract more value out of it and obtain high-quality links
What can you repurpose your content to?
- A video
- An infographic
- An eBook
- A slideshare presentation
Afterwards, you can share each piece of content on the relevant channels. Many of those channels will offer the backlink opportunity.
Don’t forget that any repurposed content should be of the highest quality and able to stand alone.
Build links with images
Here are some of the ways to leverage custom images and gain backlinks to your site.
- Visualizing data with charts.
- Creating memes understandable in your niche.
- Creating images with famous in your niche celebs and bloggers quotes.
- Creating pinnable images for your blog posts.
- Providing stock images for use with attribution.
Note that adding ‘swipeable’ images to your blog posts, especially charts and graphs, are particularly effective for gathering links. Especially when you encourage the readers to download and share them on their own sites.
While today is not the time for mass directory submissions, you can still find some SEO value in acquiring links from quality or niche specific directories.
You can use pagerank metric to determine the strength of the directory. But this metric is not updated frequently, so it can hardly be called accurate and is open to manipulation. Therefore, I recommend you to consider the following.
- Make sure that all links added to the directory go through a human review before going live.
- Check the quality of the sites included in the directory as well as the obvious manipulated anchor text links from the directory pages.
- Use archive.org to know the age of the directory and ensure it has been around for some time in its current form.
- Check the directory’s backlink profile. Use some decent marketing tool to ensure the site has a relatively clean link profile, and has not been building spammy links.
- Check that the page where your link would be placed is cached by Google. You can use this command cache:thedirectory.com/theurl
Remember that directory submissions should be only a small part of your overall link building strategy.
Distribution of press releases
Just like in the case with directories, mass press release distribution offers little benefit as a link building tactic and may be a sign of manipulative link building.
However, if your goal is attracting genuine press, press release distribution is a quite legitimate PR tactic which makes it a legitimate link building tactic.
If you have something that deserves public attention, like a site launch, for example, choose one channel to distribute your press release and make sure that it is high quality and written in the third party.
This will increase the chances of your press release to be noticed and lead to more links.
Keep in mind that press releases are not the right places to build your anchor text links. That is why branded links are recommended.
Citations on local business directories
I recommend you to build citations on local business directories and portals as it remains an effective tactic for improving local SEO.
The point is that business directories have higher acceptance standards than general web directories and list only legitimate businesses. Due to the fact they are well trusted by Google.
Be ready that not every business directory will include a link back to your site. But that’s not a big deal as many SEOs believe that even a mention from such trusted resource may be counted as an ‘inferred link’ by Google and help you with rankings.
Comment on blogs
Leaving comments on blogs is one of the easiest ways to get backlinks to a website. Effective blog commenting helps you keep your backlink graph constant or going up with time.
Google likes those who actively participate in a niche and comment on blogs. This is a great way to show that you are an engaged community member.
Commenting is also good for establishing friendly relationships with other bloggers. This helps with outreach because it is much easier to contact somebody you already know.
Yet, mass commenting will not work. Only smart comments on particular blogs may help with rankings.
Comments that add insight and show expertise can drive traffic to your own site and help to grow your audience.
Contribute to niche forums
Wise SEOs always follow their audience. It’s easy to find out where your potential customers hang out. Most niches have specialized forums.
It’s not hard for an active forum participant to paste a link back to their site if that link adds value or answers a question, of course.
Such links are good for traffic and conversions. When you participate in a forum showing your expertise, it helps to build a trustworthy image among the community members and anyone browsing your site will have a positive attitude towards your knowledge of the subject.
Participate in niche community sites
There is a subreddit for pretty much everything from air pollution to home remodeling.
I advise you to identify subreddits that are related to your niche, participate, and share valuable and relevant content from your own site. This is a quite legitimate way to build links that drive traffic.
Did you know that once submissions achieve a certain number of upvotes, which varies from subreddit to subreddit, they become dofollow. This increases their SEO value.
If your Reddit submission becomes popular, it will surely bring you additional editorial links, as many curation sites use Reddit to source their content.
The great news is that there are many other industry-specific community sites aside from Reddit (inbound.org is a good example of the resource for marketers). Participation in industry-specific community sites presents opportunities both for building links and relationships.
Answer questions on sites like Quora, Yahoo, etc.
Links from question and answer style sites like Quora and Yahoo Answers are a good way to drive traffic to your site and enhance your authority in a niche.
You can also monitor these sites to identify trending topics in your niche.
When you notice that a particular question is being asked every now and again, people have probably failed to find the answer on Google. Use this chance. Create content on your own site and fill the information gap. This is your opportunity for both attracting search traffic and future link building.
Sponsor charity organizations, events etc.
Almost all charity organizations list their sponsors and often link back to their sites. Charities are trusted by their nature and often have high domain authority, which may be beneficial for rankings.
You can try to offer your services in exchange for a blog post on the charity site. For instance, if you are a photographer or a videographer, you could offer to shoot some charity event for free, and then this organization would include some of the images/videos on their site with link attribution.
Over To You
Well, you have just read a brief guide to link building and now I would like to hear your thoughts on the topic. Which strategies do you use at the moment? Which of the tactics on our list are new to you? Are you going to implement any of them in the future?
Have any questions related to the topic? Feel free to leave them in the comments below.
I wish you best of luck with your own link building campaigns!