What is Link Building?
Link building is an SEO practice of promoting the content of your website with other website owners with the primary goal of acquiring links from their site to yours.
Basically, link building is a process of acquiring links (hyperlinks) from other relevant websites to your own.
If you’re looking to drive quality traffic from search engines, you need to consistently earn or secure good links from relevant websites. Unlike other digital marketing efforts, link building is not an easy task. It requires strong social skills, excellent communication, and creativity.
Link building is a combination of marketing, sales, and psychology.
Why link building is essential for businesses?
The main objective of an SEO campaign is to get your web page on the first page of Google. Link building is one of the essential Google ranking factors.
You need to approach link building the right way to improve your search ranking.
So why is it important for businesses?
- Improves search engine ranking for targeted keywords
- Helps to increase referral traffic from other relevant websites.
- Increases brand exposure and improve brand awareness among the targeted audience.
- Valuable for digital marketing. A link is like a vote of confidence from related websites. Each link builds a long-term relationship with other businesses.
In short, links are important in increasing traffic online. If you’re not implementing any link-building strategies, you won’t be able to drive the amount of traffic you deserve from search and other digital marketing channels.
I agree that many SEOs are focused on creating amazing content and avoid link building for their sites and still manage to generate good traffic.
But it depends on many factors.
Before diving deep into link building, you need to understand the importance of creating high-quality content.
What is the point of building links if you don’t have high-quality linkable assets on your website?
What is High-Quality Content?
You might have noticed that most SEO resources online focus on creating high-quality content as their highest priority.
Do you know why?
Although it positions the site as an authority or industry leader, it’s actually easier to build links to high-quality content because it stands out from other content online.
Businesses and individual bloggers are always in search of high-quality content. For example, in most of my blog posts, I’ve linked to at least 1 or 2 resources that provide value to my visitors.
But, if you choose to add external links don’t you think your potential visitors will bounce from your site to other sites?
That’s not the case if you’ve crafted high-quality content. Visitors want to consume the information that you’re providing before moving on to other sites to check whether the content is backed with valid research studies and data.
I’ve created hundreds of blog posts but I’m not getting enough inbound links?
Where did I go wrong?
Well, there is a huge difference between creating top-notch content and content that simply stuff with keywords and links. The content you create should provide valuable information for your readers. and attract authoritative links from other relevant websites.
I hope you’re still keeping up.
If you want to invest your time and resources in link building, you need to create the best content in your industry.
Let’s get down to the process of creating the best content resources.
How to Create Linkable High-Quality Content
I’ve mentioned that high-quality content can help you attract links from relevant sources.
So what is the characteristic of this high-quality content?
- Offers accurate and valuable information
- Satisfy audience query
- Well-researched and written impeccably (high standard)
- Includes visuals like images, infographics, graphs, and videos
- Consistently updated with the current trend changes on the subject
If you want to create high-quality content that contains all the mentioned characteristics, you need to perform in-depth research about your industry.
Why do people bother to consume your content if you don’t have in-depth knowledge about your industry?
When it comes to high-quality content nothing beats the Skyscraper Technique introduced by Brian Dean. I’ve been using this technique for almost 5 years now.
To make your content stand out from the crowd, the Skyscraper technique involves:
- Find the web pages or blog posts ranking high on the search engine for your targeted keyword
- List down the top 5 results from Google
- Analyze the structure and important elements included in the content
- Create something better than the analyzed top content
- Promote your content on various digital marketing channels
- Reach out to the right people that you’ve mentioned in the content and the sites that are linked to the top 5 results that you’ve analyzed earlier.
If you’re serious about creating successful content, you should definitely read this guide by Brian Dean.
Performing in-depth research on your competitor’s content that ranks well on the search engine will help you understand the important information they’re providing their visitors. It also helps you to leverage that information and come up with something way better.
When you choose to create content that stands out, you will realize that your content becomes longer. I understand that people’s attention spend has reduced over the years and you might wonder whether your potential customers will consume long-form articles.
Of course, they will.
If your visitors are serious about finding valuable information that can help them, they definitely going to consume the entire content as it’s providing value to them.
So, longer content is not a bad thing. Eventually, it helps you to open up more opportunities.
Brian researched 912 million blog posts and found that long-form content acquires more backlinks and increases social shares.
As you can see from the research, the longer the content, the more links the content acquired. This shows that other websites actively looking to link the best resources in the industry.
The ideal length of content that gets the attention of social media is the ones with 1000-2000 words. But, the difference in the number of social media shares is not far away for longer content.
In this blog post, I’m not going to provide a step-by-step guide in creating content using the Skyscraper method.
However, you can check out the following resources to learn more:
Once you have linkable content assets on your site, you can start implementing link-building tactics. Sometimes you just need to go out there and promote your content to be discovered and recognized. In competitive niches, you can’t sit idle and wait for your content to magically gain exposure and attract quality links.
Implementing link-building tactics isn’t easy. It’s F**** hard. That’s why most people tend to stay away from link building and resort to sites like Fiverr to build low-quality and spammy links.
In this article, I’m not going to list down thousands or even hundreds of link-building tactics.
I’ll show you the exact tactics I’ve been using for my clients. These are tactics that actually WORK!
9 Link Building Tactics That Works
Most of the link building tactics revolve around outreach.
So, what is outreach?
It’s a method using online communication tools like email to reach out to people and promote your content. You need to have assets that the people can link to.
The content doesn’t need to be a blog post (but a blog post is the best form of content), you need to have something that is link-worthy which can be your product page, service page, or even a landing page that contains valuable information.
I’ve never focused on building links for this blog but planning for an aggressive link-building campaign.
So, one of my posts started ranking on the first page for the term “digital marketing agency” after 3 months. It’s quite competitive as the 1st page of Google is dominated by top digital marketing agencies in Malaysia and platforms like Clutch.
Currently, the article is on the 3rd spot on the search result page. I could easily argue it’s ranking because of the quality of content. But, It’s ranking for another reason.
The content was curated on the Cradle website and Nuweb digital marketing agency has been linked to the article.
Basically, both of these sites linked to the article I wrote after finding the article on a Facebook group I shared. So, this helped my blog post to get relevant authority links that helped to increase the ranking.
I did not perform direct outreach to these organizations to link back to my article but they somehow found the content on the Internet and provided valuable backlinks.
But it doesn’t happen all the time. You need to manually reach the potential websites or individuals who can either find your article useful and may share with their followings or reference them in future articles.
The outreach tactic only works when you have a linkable asset.
You need to reach out and tell people about your content and the valuable information it has to offer to them.
So, who should you reach out to?
- People who’ve mentioned your target keywords in their article.
- People who’ve offered backlinks to similar content on a topic like yours.
You can use tools like Ahrefs or SEMRush to find people who mentioned your targeted keywords in their articles.
For this article, we will use the SEMRush tool.
Once you log in to SEMRush, click on “Keyword Overview” and enter your targeted keyword. For example, I’m searching for sites with “remote working” keyword.
You can also choose which country results to show up. If your target market is from the United States, you want to choose the United States as backlinks also determine which geography traffic you’re targeting.
Once you click on Analyze, you will see a page that shows various information about the keyword, the volume, and the difficulty of the keyword.
You need to scroll down and check the SERP analysis which shows the top 10 results on Google’s first page. The web pages that show up on the SERPs are usually separate pages with content.
Check their content and see whether there is potential to get a backlink from the content that uses your target keyword. Once you have a list of unique sites, you can start to reach out.
Find their contact information and send them an outreach email.
If you’re unable to get their contact information, try to use tools like Hunter.io.
Next, we move on to find the people who have offered backlinks to similar content like yours.
Earlier we were looking at the sites ranking on the search result page under SERP analysis, click on the result that is similar to what you’ve written.
Once you click on the result of your choice, click on “Backlink Audit” on the left panel of the page.
You will land on the following pages that will show referring domains, backlinks, and monthly visits. Click on “backlinks”.
You can see the complete list of backlinks to the particular content. You can check the exact web pages that are linking to the site.
From the list of backlinks, you can determine the sites with higher authority scores and focus on getting a backlink for them.
It might sound easy, but it takes a lot of work in persuading the site owner to provide a link back to your high-quality content.
Resources that you should consider reading:
Guest Blogging… The Right Way
Guest blogging is not something new to link building. It’s one of the oldest link-building tactics.
But how does guest blogging actually works?
You write for another blog related to your niche. The blog publishes your content on their site and you get a link from that article to your site. It’s just easy-peasy!
Here’s one guest post that I’ve written for Techinasia way back in 2015:
I had a link back to one of my high-quality content. As I stopped blogging on my site and abandon my site around 2016, I lost the backlink as TechInAsia decided to remove the link as it re-directs to the 404 error page.
So, how do you find guest blogging opportunities?
You can use the same old method that SEOs are using over the years in finding the best sites that accept guest posts.
Following are the common Google search operators you can use to find sites in your niche that are accepting guest posts:
- keyword + intitle:” write for us”
- keyword + intitle:” write for me”
- Keyword + intitle:” contribute to”
- Keyword + intitle:”submit” + inurl:blog
- Keyword + “submit a guest post”
- Keyword + inurl:/guest-post/
- Keyword + “guest post”
- Keyword + “guest post by”
- Keyword + “accepting guest posts”
- Keyword + “guest post guidelines”
- Keyword + “guest author”
- Keyword + “guest article”
- Keyword + “guest column”
- Keyword + “become a contributor”
- inpostauthor: guest keyword
- inpostauthor:” guest blog” keyword
- inpostauthor:” guest post” keyword
Everyone is using this method. And the blogs that accept guest posts get hundreds to thousands of email pitches every day.
You need to do something different if you want to stand out from this competition.
Why do you want to guest post on the sites that are advertising that they are accepting guest posts?
Don’t you think those sites are providing backlinks for each guest post published on their site?
Let’s do something different here. Look for relevant sites on your niche, get their contact details, and send them a pitch email. Most sites will be willing to accept guest posts even if they’ve not publicly stated them.
If you think top sites might not accept your guest post, try to think about it like this. Why would a site reject a well-written epic content that has huge potential to rank on search engines and attract quality traffic?
Come on guys, they won’t simply reject your content.
Look for sites within your niche. They can even be your competitor but offering products and services that are not identical to yours. This will help you leverage their traffic as well.
You have to do manual research to find the right sites or you can use tools like Ahrefs that can help you find sites that publish content on a specific topic.
I’m not a fan of Ahrefs though for certain research and analysis, Ahrefs tend to perform better than SEMRush.
Once you get the list of potential sites, you just need to reach them out as you reach out to sites accepting guest posts and persuade them to publish your content.
It might take a longer time compared to the sites readily accepting guest posts, but stay assured the quality of link and traffic that you’ll receive will be worth it.
Broken Link Building
Broken link building is a technique that finds broken links (links which show 404 error or the content is not available anymore) and creates high-quality content around the anchor text and requests the site owner to link to the content you’ve created.
Dead links on sites lead to a poor experience and top blogs and sites are extremely cautious about broken links. If you manage to find the broken links and tell the site owner about it, they’ll definitely consider replacing the broken link with working ones (link to your content).
But how to find pages with dead links?
You don’t want to check the content with few external links. The ones with a few external links are either short content or content with zero broken links. The probability of finding broken links is high when a web page has a lot of external links.
Google is the best tool for you to uncover pages with a high number of external links.
You can use the following search strings on Google:
- “Keyword” + inurl:resources
- “Keyword” + intitle:links
- “Keyword” + “helpful resources”
- “Keyword” + “useful resources”
Just type resource page + keyword. For this example, I’ll be using “resource page + digital marketing”
Check every result for the search you’ve made. I’ll be checking on the article that ranks #4 on the SERPs.
You can download chrome extensions that identify the broken links on the content. You can use the following extensions:
I’ll be using Broken Link Checker by AtomSEO for this example.
Click on the Broken Link checker once you’re on the resource page. It will show the links with a 404 error. Make sure the identified links are linked to external content.
From the screenshot, you can see that there is 1 broken link found on the resource page. An article with the title of “10 Tips for Getting Started With Social Media” is not available anymore and shows a 404 error.
You can create content around the same title or something better like “21 Tips For Getting Started with Social Media Marketing”.
This will get you one backlink from this site.
But, do you think this is the only site linking to the unavailable content?
You can find other sites that are linking to the broken link by using tools like Moz, SEMRush, or Ahrefs.
Just enter the broken link to your preferred tool and check for the “referring domains” or “backlinks”.
For the example I’ve used, there are only 2 referring domains. So the content is not being massively linked by other sites.
Maybe we can use another broken link that I found on one of Neil Patel’s blog posts. The link to Quicksprout’s article was broken for “page speed”. Basically, the content should’ve been about ways to increasing page speed.
You can check the content that was previously published using the Wayback Machine.
So, other than Neil’s blog I found that other 46 domains are referring to that unavailable content. This is a big opportunity to get a good number of high-quality links to your content with a similar topic.
Once you found the broken links which are highly relevant to your niche, create high-quality content around the topic if you don’t have one. If you already published the content, you can start reaching out to the sites and suggest swapping the broken links with yours.
Resources that you should consider reading for broken link building:
Unlinked Brand Mentions
Have you ever encountered people mentioning your brand or business on their site without linking to your site?
This is very common nowadays.
For example, I mentioned Shaun Anderson from Hobo Web in my article ” 28 Best SEO Blogs to Read in 2021“. Shaun added it to his personal blog’s “About” page. Unfortunately, he did not add the link to the blog post with the right anchor text. He published the entire URL instead.
This does not add any value. I could have requested Shaun to add the link to the blog post with the title instead of the URL alone. But I realized that it was the same for all the sites that mentioned his blog.
You can use tools like Ahrefs or Brand Mentions to uncover unlinked mentions. You can also do it manually but it will take more time.
I’ll show you the manual way because I don’t have access to both Ahrefs or Brand Mentions 🙂
You need to use Google search operators to find out unlinked mentions manually. Let me show you an example for better understanding.
- intext: brand name
- intext: website URL
Let’s use the brand name of Usedcomputer Malaysia.
There are almost 7,140 results appeared when we searched for the brand.
Imagine checking a huge number of search results and identifying unlinked brand mentions. You need a mountain of patience.
Just use this as an indication of whether you will need a tool to simplify the process of identifying unlinked brand mentions. If you can justify that investing resources for this technique will help you improve your search rankings and site’s authority, just purchase the right tools and get the work done.
I would suggest going for Ahrefs as it will also help you with other SEO tasks. You don’t want to buy a tool that helps you with one particular task. That’s going to be a waste of money if you’re a startup or small-medium business.
Re-claim Lost Links
Search engines are constantly updating their algorithm and it’s quite difficult to build links.
But, did you know that you’re also losing backlinks over time?
Take a look at the backlinks I’ve lost over the last few months.
It looks like my site is down by 152 links from 20 different domains.
You can actually build high-quality backlinks from other sites consistently when you have a link building campaign in place.
But did you know that re-claiming your lost links are easier than building new ones?
I’m sure you know the process of acquiring new links takes time.
You need to find out the reasons for losing links. Most of the time it happens due to two main reasons:
- The site owner remove the link from the linking page
- The linked page is not available anymore.
In most cases, the link gets removed when the site owner updates their content and added relevant links instead of yours.
When I checked on SEMRush, I found that my links from Bloggingtips.com were completely removed and the linked content was not available anymore.
From my research, I found that the site was sold to Brett Helling in September 2020. I tried to search for the linked contents and realized they were removed as well.
There is nothing much I can do about it as the pages were deleted.
Sometimes, the content might be available and the owner accidentally missed out on adding your link during the revamping process.
You might want to reach out to the blog or site owner to learn more about the issue while building a great relationship. Maybe you might have opportunities to acquire more links in the future.
Testimonials & Reviews
Testimonials and reviews are often considered as the most important trust signal that influences customer’s purchase decisions.
Using testimonials and reviews as a link building tactic is often overlooked.
This method is one of the easiest link building tactics when you do it right without being too pushy.
Let me show you an example of links earned by sites by providing testimonials for Ahrefs:
Each review provided get’s a backlink from Ahrefs to their site. The example above shows a testimonial by Gael Breton, co-founder of Authorityhacker. If you look closely, the word “AuthorityHacker” is hyperlinked.
Ahrefs is showing testimonials from industry experts to position their brand better than their competitors. Moreover, it also shows that experts are using their tools which encourage others to try them out.
So how to offer testimonials or reviews and gain quality backlinks?
First of all, you need to make a list of products and services that you’re using on daily basis for your business. Make sure they are relevant to your niche.
You need to know that not every organization provides you with the opportunity to submit your testimonials or reviews. Even if you’re not able to provide a review that shows up on their website, you can start by giving outstanding reviews using Yelp, Google My Business, and Facebook.
If you have the time and resources, you can also review their products or services on your blog in the form of a review article. When you create a review article, you’re actually providing a backlink to their site. So it will be easier for you to approach them and ask for a link back to your site.
Even if they do not link back to you straight away, they might include your brand name or site name under the review or testimonial section.
You also should focus on building a long-term relationship with the business you’ve provided review or testimonial. There is a high probability for the sites to link to your site in the long-run.
Running a successful link-building campaign is not an easy task. When you focus on building a relationship with the sites rather than completely focused on acquiring links, you gain trust and credibility from those businesses which result in achieving your primary objective; acquiring quality backlinks.
Re-purpose and Syndicate Content
You don’t have to completely rely on outreach-based link-building tactics.
There are other awesome ways to build quality links. Content repurposing and syndication are one of them. You can submit your content to various video-sharing sites, infographic directories, and other relevant sites.
You need to modify and re-purpose your content in the format accepted by the directories.
Your content needs to have the flexibility to be re-purposed in other different formats without damaging the quality of the information provided.
These links are not the strongest. But, it’s worth it. You still reach a bigger audience while acquiring links to your site.
Note** I’m not talking about social bookmarking here. Some people still believe that social bookmarking provides great results for their overall SEO campaigns. But, I’m not a fan of social bookmarking tactics.
Apart from re-purposing your content, you can also syndicate your content to top content syndication sites.
What is content syndication?
Content syndication is defined as a process that publishes and promotes online assets like articles, videos, and infographics on third-party websites.
These content syndication sites often have a large audience and great exposure online.
So, how does it help with link building?
When the content syndication site publishes your content, they either publish an excerpt of your content and include the source link, or they publish the entire content.
However, there are some disadvantages to syndicating your content in terms of SEO. If the site that performs content syndication has higher authority compared to your site, the re-published content might rank higher than the original content.
If you choose to include the content syndication method, make sure to do it right.
Here are the top content syndication sites that you can try out:
Free Content Syndication Sites
Paid Content Syndication Sites
Resources you should consider reading for re-purposing and syndicating content:
- Content Syndication: What It Is and How to Get Started
- The Only Guide to Repurposing Content You Will Need in 2020
- Content Repurposing: 24 Easy Ways To Extend The Life Of Your Next Blog Post
Event Link Building
Event link building is one of the least used link-building tactics.
A link-building strategy that leverages local, national, and international events to acquire quality backlinks.
There are two ways to get these links:
- As an event organizer: Arrange your own event and get it listed on third-party event websites.
- As an event sponsor: Sponsor an event and acquire like as a sponsor.
If you’re organizing an event, even if it is a small event you can earn a backlink by having your event published on a third-party event site.
On the other hand, if you choose to sponsor an event, you’re building a great relationship with the event organizer while earning a link back to your site.
There is another way to acquire links from event organizers apart from being a sponsor. You can create a resource page for people who are attending the event and get the best experience.
Usually, this type of resource page only works for events that are conducted on yearly basis. For example, events like SMX West, PubCon, NameCon, and more.
If you’re organizing an event, you can actually search for sites that publish roundups on the events to attend. Let’s say you’re having an event related to social media marketing, you can search Google for event roundups.
For example, search for “social media events to attend in 2021”
In the search result, you can find several roundup posts. You can reach out to the site owner and request them to add your event. This will help you acquire links from many authority sites.
You can also use post your events on the following sites:
Also, search for local event sites based on your country and get your events published there as well.
Next, let’s take a look at how you can find events or conferences to sponsor.
You just gotta use the Google search operators by typing the right strings.
Here are some of the search queries you can use to find events that are looking for sponsors:
- site:eventful.com inurl: events +” sponsors”
- site:eventful.com inurl: events +” link to your”
- site:events.com inurl:registration +”sponsors”
- site:craigslist.org +” sponsors”
- site:meetup.com + “donation”
- site:eventbrite.com + “become a sponsor”
- site:eventbrite.com -inurl:support -inurl:blog +”link to your website”
Basically, these search queries will help you filter the events that are relevant to you.
If you’re looking for niche-based events to sponsor, you can actually search for ” keyword+ event in 2021″
So you will get the list of events that will be conducted in 2021 and they will definitely have a page exclusively for sponsors.
For example, we search for remote working events in 2021.
Remoter.net published a full list of remote working related events for 2021. You can check the events one by one and look for their sponsorship section.
If you have products or services related to remote working, then you can become one of the sponsors. Although link building is your main objective, you get great exposure through the events.
Get Products or Services Reviewed by Influencers & Bloggers
This method is not identical to guest blogging as guest blogging focus on providing value for the readers of the site that accepts your guest posts.
Getting your products or services reviewed by influencers looks more like a sponsored post. Usually, you need to provide some kind of incentive (usually money) for the influencers and bloggers to review your products or services.
If you’re lucky you might get it done for free.
Sometimes your products or services could be turned down by the influencers and bloggers if it doesn’t meet their requirements. This is because influential bloggers often have a huge reader base and they only want to recommend quality products and services to them.
You need to provide in-depth information about your products or services and walk them through the entire process. This will help them get a clear picture of your products and services.
This link-building tactic will not only get you a quality backlink but also exposure for your products or services. If it’s done right, you might gain a few customers once the review is published.
Link building is not hard if you dedicate the right resources and time. You need to be consistent in implementing the link-building tactics that I’ve listed above.
I can’t offer any guarantee that all the listed link-building tactics will work for your site. Some tactics will work and some won’t. You need to test the tactics and identify the ones that work best for you.
Are there any other amazing link-building tactics that I’ve missed?
Share it with us by commenting below.