In a world where links are the currency of the web, it’s important to rank high in search engines with plenty of them and you need to know link building.
The websites that have plenty of them are deemed “authoritative” and rewarded with high rankings in Google, while those without any links will suffer obscurity.
If you want to start ranking your website higher on search engines like google, figuring out how to build a backlink profile is always an important first step!
The world of link building and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a vast place, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the problems regarding these topics.
If you ask digital marketers about the best way to perform link building, you will obtain a wide variety of answers.
There are some Digital Marketers & SEO professionals who will tell you that creating great content and waiting for links can solve any problems with getting visitors from search engines like Google or Bing.
Others say it takes strategic link prospecting and targeted email outreach to get ahead in this competitive field when so many businesses want customers. Someone else may give you an enigmatic smile and just drop one word: PBN.
So who should you listen to?
There are many approaches to link building, but it is difficult to pinpoint the “correct answer.” The choice of tactics largely depends on your industry, your niche, your goals, resources, website and other factors.
Did we just make things even more confusing than they already were? Worry not. We created this link building guide with absolute beginners in mind and made sure that it’s full of actionable advice (that you can start implementing right away) to help them get some ground on the topic.
So let’s begin, shall we?
Link building basics
Since this is a guide for beginners, it’s only fair for us to start from the basics.
What is link building?
Link-building is a process of getting other websites to link back to your website in order for them and you, respectively, to rank higher on the Google search engine.
Most “white hat” link building strategies can be boiled down to two simple steps:
- Create something notable (and therefore worthy of a link);
- Show it to people who own websites (and thus can link to it).
Why is link building important?
According to Google, one of three major ranking factors is link popularity — aka “links”. So if you want your website’s content and articles ranked higher than that competition out there, make sure every piece has substantial backlinks so they can be seen by others as an authority on their topic with valuable information worth checking into! Therefore becoming a “link magnet”.
Google ranks web pages based on links, or “votes” from other sites. Google looks at the number of votes a given page gets to determine how high it should rank in search results for relevant queries (like yours).
The internet is filled with pages that are competing for the top spot in Google’s search results. The more links a page has, the higher it typically ranks on the first page of results when someone types something into their web browser.
This insight was discovered by SEO professionals and digital marketing agencies who have studied this correlation at scale time & time again – each instance revealing positive correlations between link count and ranking position within Google Search Results!
So links are important, that’s a given.
Websites will naturally link to each other, right? You’re just a few paragraphs into this guide and you’ve already seen me linking to two different pages. But why is it so important to be building them too anyway?
In an ideal world, the most valuable page would always rank #1 in Google. People link to pages that are authoritative and helpful because they can trust those sites better than others.
It seems like this should be universally true but it’s not – there is a problem with linking practices which means the best site might never get all of these links or even show up on top for some searches at any time (because people don’t do their research before clicking).
And there are two main reasons why the pages with the most links might not necessarily be the best ones:
1. The Vicious Cycle of SEO
When digital marketers, bloggers & content writers link to pages on the web many times you may wonder if they researched and studied thousands of similar pages. In reality, no one would go through such a hassle.
Not many digital marketers would go through the inconvenience of researching and studying thousands of similar pages on each topic to pick out one they wanted.
Most don’t do more than a quick Google search for what they need, then open up some top-ranking results to verify that their choice is accurate before linking them in order to save time from going down irrelevant rabbit holes.
And that’s how top-ranking pages got themselves a new link, which further secured their high rankings in Google.
Digital marketers have named it: “The Vicious Cycle of SEO.” And, there is actually research to prove that this process exists.
The moment your post is published, you’re at a disadvantage to those ranking high on Google for the same topic. To break into this cycle of competition and rank higher in search engines like Google, be proactive about acquiring backlinks from other pages with similar content topics.
2. Your competitors are likely building links
It’s not just you that want to rank #1 in Google. There are lots of other people who have had their page at the top and lost it due to your own work – they’re likely looking for ways back up there too,
which means if you maintain a position this high on search engines without any link building then eventually someone will come along with links and knock you off your pedestal.
It’s the same story with the owner of the page in position #3, which used to be in position #2. They’re not happy about it and they are likely to start building links to fix that.
But don’t think for one second that just because you’re on top of your niche now, your competitors can still outrank you if they are good at link building, even if your content might be better and higher quality than theirs.
You can either sit on your hands in frustration or stand up and take charge.
Links aren’t the answer to everything
In this introduction, it may seem that the best way to rank #1 is by building backlinks. Although some aspects of this are true, nevertheless, in reality, things are much more nuanced than that.
Other than the fact that all links are not equal, search engines factor in many other variables when ranking pages.
Google ( and other search engines) takes into account many other factors when ranking pages and the mix of these variables may actually depend on which type of search query you’re looking to rank for.
So if you build lots of links to your page, but it still ranks poorly don’t blame this guide for misleading you. This might be due to other ranking factors that are preventing your content from appearing higher in search engine results pages (SERP).
How to build links
There are many ways you can get links to your pages. In this section, we’re going to teach some of these tactics and strategies for getting more exposure on the web so that people will notice your page!
We will also talk about what those things are, why they work (or don’t), and how risky it would be if you used them.
Conceptually, most link building tactics and strategies fall into one of the following five categories:
- Adding Links
- Asking Links
- Buying Links
- Earning Links
- Preserving Links
1. Adding links
Placing a link on someone else’s website to point them back to your site is called “adding links.” Some of the most common tactics that fit this category are:
- Business directory submissions;
- Social profile creation;
- Blog commenting;
- Posting to forums, communities & Q&A sites;
- Creating job search listings;
Building links by employing these tactics is a completely easy task to undertake. For that very reason, those types of links can have little worth in the eyes of Google (and on some occasions are even flagged as spam).
Other than that, these kinds of backlinks barely give you any competitive advantage. If one could go into a website and manually place their link there, nothing stops their competitors from doing the same thing!
However, you shouldn’t ignore this group of link building tactics entirely. Each one can actually be quite beneficial for your online business and content for reasons other than acquiring links – here are a few examples:
Submitting your website to business directories
Let’s take a look at what you should do when it comes to getting links for your website. You might be tempted into adding yourself onto every single business directory there is just so that they will link back to you, but resist the urge!
Instead, focus on those which are well known and have traffic. These are going to be more effective because visitors may come from these directories and visit your site as opposed to only receiving a link and no visitor coming.
If you are a small business owner and have discovered that other entrepreneurs find their leads through local directories, then you should absolutely list your business there. Furthermore, the benefits of this one link and the ‘SEO value’ it brings outweighs submitting your site to generic directories found at random SEO forums.
Creating social profiles for your business
Claiming your brand name on all major social media sites ( Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, SlideShare, etc) is good practice to avoid squatters taking them once they get notice of you.
By ‘squatters’ we mean people who will use YOUR brand name once it’s on their radar and operate a social media page with your brand name. This is very dangerous, as customers, interested people and your clients may follow a fake page with your name and get provided with incorrect information about your brand and maybe even get scammed.
Leaving a meaningful comment on someone’s article is an excellent way to get your voice heard and start relationships with people. However, be careful, commenting for the sole purpose of shoehorning in links will only make blog owners despise you, which can lead to bad things like being blacklisted from their site!
And besides, links from blog comments are usually no-followed. So if you’re thinking of leaving someone a comment just to add your link there—don’t!
Also, since we are on the topic, while you’re looking for ways to “add” links to other websites, don’t bother with things like Web 2.0s and bookmarking sites; they used to work a few years ago but today it’s useless!
2. Asking for links
As the name suggests, this is when you reach out to the owner of a website and give them a compelling reason for why they should link to your page. The person doesn’t care about you or your site (usually), so it can be tough! As such a “compelling reason” is absolutely essential for this group of link building tactics to work.
As such, before contacting anyone with an offer or request and asking them for links – ask yourself “What’s in it for THEM?”
Here are some of the link building tactics and strategies that fall into this category, along with a briefly defined “compelling reason” that they’re based off:
- Guest blogging — create useful content for their website;
- Skyscraper technique — show them a better resource than the one they’re linking to;
- Link inserts — show them a resource with more information on something they’ve briefly mentioned;
- Ego bait– mention them or their work in your own content in a positive light;
- Testimonials & Case studies– give positive feedback about their product or service;
- Link exchanges — offer to link back to them if they agree to link to you;
- Resource page link building– show them a good resource that fits their existing list;
- Broken link building– help them fix a “dead” link on their page;
- Image link building– ask to get credit for using your image;
- Unlinked mentions– ask to make the mention of your brand “clickable;”
- Link moves — ask to make changes to an existing link;
- HARO (& journalist requests) — give an “expert quote” for their article;
- PR– give them a killer story to cover;
All these strategies seem quite exciting, right? But as soon as you send your first email request to the website owner, you might face the harsh reality — your “compelling reason wasn’t good enough, because:
- Your guest post isn’t good enough;
- Your resource isn’t unique enough;
- Your “Skyscraper” isn’t “high” enough;
You see, for these link building tactics to be effective, you need to either create a truly incredible page that people would naturally want to promote on their website (or blog) or have a lot of authority and credibility in your niche, which might help to compensate for your page’s lack of notoriety.
As it’s so difficult to convince people on the internet that your website is worth linking, many Digital Marketers and SEO professionals looked for ways to sweeten the deal. Strategies to ‘ask’ for link include:
- Offer to share their content on Twitter & Facebook;
- Offer to promote their content in an email newsletter;
- Offer free access to a premium product or service;
- Offer a link in exchange;
- Offer money.
But offering these kinds of “extra benefits” can get us into Google’s minefield. According to their guidelines, any links that are given in exchange for anything other than the site content itself are considered a “link scheme” and will lead to your website being penalized or even removed from search engines.
And there you have it, the legitimate ways or asking for links has an underwhelming success rate, but as soon as you try “sweetening the deal,” you’re entering Google’s minefield.
You may be thinking by now that you’re being dissuaded from using strategies listed in this section. You are not, we just want to set the right expectation so that sending your 10th outreach email and getting no response doesn’t discourage you! It really takes a lot of effort for these tactics to work while still following Google guidelines.
Here is where we tell you about a cool “hack” that professional digital marketers employ. Before reaching out to connect with the person you want a backlink from, link to their website from guest articles. Then casually mention this in your outreach email.
“Pay it forward” is a good way to describe what digital marketers do here. They didn’t reach out asking: “Would you interview me on SPI podcast if I build ten quality links for you?” They just go ahead and build ten high-quality links for their other person regardless of the outcome.
Do note that this is not a surefire way to obtain backlinks, the content from which you gave them links must have been top-quality or else why would the other person bother to reciprocate. Even if you provide the other person with quality backlinks, they may not necessarily do the same for you.
3. Buying links
Let’s get this straight from the get-go: we don’t recommend that you buy links! At best, you’re likely to waste lots of money on bad links that will have zero impact on your rankings; at worst, you’ll get your website penalized.
However, it’s important for us not to leave out some key points about buying certain kinds of links.
This article won’t teach how one buys safe and high-quality backlinks but rather talk about some riskier ways in which people are doing so right now with varying degrees of success depending on who is reading the content or what their search history looks like when they land there.
Private Blog Networks
Also known as PBNs, these are groups of websites that are created and maintained with one purpose: to be a source of links.
Links from PBNs still work well in some niches. But the advantage of these links has been diminished by Google’s constant algorithm updates and cracking down on the usage of PBN. At worst, if you are caught by Google’s algorithm, your website might get banned forever.
You should always say “no” if someone offers you any form of private blog network (PBN).
There are hundreds of gigs on Fiverr offering you “natural, editorial, contextual, high-authority” links. They give you all sorts of guarantees that these links will propel your website to the top in no time.
Avoid them! Even if a friend tried it and had great success with their service, it might not necessarily work for you —the best link building agencies don’t sell their services there because those types aren’t safe or reliable enough in the long term for any business.
Link seller SPAM
If you own a website and have listed your contact details there, sooner or later you’re going to start receiving emails with offers to buy links.
Don’t be fooled by these spammy link building agencies – just mark them as “SPAM” and move on!
However, it is also good to know that you might also get outreach from legit link building agencies which build safe white hat strategies only; but I’m sure that most of us could tell the difference between a professional digital marketing agency contacting you for offers of link building versus someone trying to sell your company some shady link building service.
All in all, link buying is a fairly common strategy used by digital marketers and SEO professionals. However, its scale largely depends on the industry that you’re in. But even if your competitors are paying for links, it doesn’t necessarily have to follow suit with them! You don’t need to break Google’s guidelines to rank well and get search traffic without resorting to this tactic either.
4. Earning links
You “earn” links when other people link to the pages on your website without you having to ask them. This obviously doesn’t happen unless you have something truly outstanding that others would genuinely want for their own websites.
But how will people link to things they aren’t aware of? As a result of this, it is necessary to invest in promoting these things so they can exist and be seen by more people who might then end up linking back or sharing with someone else about what they found interesting.
Here are a few tactics and strategies that fall into this category:
- Linkbait (or linkable assets);
- Data studies, infographics, maps, surveys, awards;
- Podcasts / Interviews / expert roundups;
- Content promotion;
Earning links is arguably the easiest and most effective way to get them.
Professional digital marketers much prefer investing their time into creating valuable pages that will generate word of mouth, rather than working on a sequence of daunting link prospecting workflows hoping for mediocre results.
You might argue that it’s easy for a digital marketing agency and professional marketers to advocate earning links with natural linkbait, given they as experts have:
- Access to lots of proprietary data, which we can use for research studies;
- A team of skilled professional digital marketers, who help create valuable resources;
- Due to their experience, professional digital marketing agencies are trusted by people which automatically gives credibility to all their work;
- A fairly large audience to promote their content to (and kickstart word of mouth).
While these things do help digital marketers tremendously, none of them is a prerequisite for earning links. Anyone can create noteworthy content and earn links if they have passion for the topic and are willing to put in some hard work even when it gets difficult.
You could spend hours upon hours trying to come up with a linkable asset that will earn you natural links, but what if your idea doesn’t pique the interest of people in your industry? What do you do then? What if you copied a linkbait idea from someone else and it didn’t fly?
In that case, it’s worth spending time to research your industry knowledge in order to get a better understanding of what might excite the other person. Don’t waste your time looking for tricks and gimmicks to get backlinks for boring content, when you can build up with content that is interesting and engaging—it will work out much more efficiently!
5. Preserving links
As one might expect from its name, this final group of tactics is focused on preserving all your hard-earned links. One could argue that reviving lost or dead links isn’t “link building” in the traditional sense – but as they say “a dollar saved is a dollar earned”.
There are just two ways of preserving links:
- Link reclamation;
- Fixing 404 pages that have links.
Let’s briefly discuss both of them.
Links are always changing. Sometimes, the website that is linking to you may update its page or remove it altogether due to webpage updates and de-indexing procedures. As a result of this change in links, your link from those websites might not exist anymore just as quickly as they came into existence.
In order to avoid any unwanted consequences for losing these valuable links on important pages, you should be constantly checking up on them periodically so if anything does happen then you can alert the owner of that site about what happened and try to get your link restored.
Fixing 404 pages that have links
The pages on your own website are just as likely to disappear. Whether purposefully or by a mistake, some of your pages might end up being deleted. And since links pointing at a 404 page don’t bring any SEO value to your website, you might want to restore the matter if it happens for whatever reason.
After identifying a 404 page all that needs doing is restoring the missing content or 301 redirect them to the most relevant pages on your website.
Side note: Though link echoes are not uniformly agreed upon, there is some evidence to suggest that Google might continue passing a certain amount of the value from a lost or broken link on through. This phenomenon called “link echo” dissuades people who monitor their links for any signs of deterioration by making them believe they’re still working properly.
Well, here’s our stance on this matter. If you lost an important link that was sending visitors to your website or served as some form of “social proof,” it is imperative that you attempt to restore it if possible. But in most other cases, spending time and money on acquiring new links would be a better use for those resources rather than preserving old ones.
What makes a good link?
You’ve just learned about tons of different ways to build links to your site, but what you need to remember is that backlinks are a means to the end. You’re building them because links act as “votes” and help Google identify which pages it should rank high in search results.
The question remains though: how does Google measure each link’s value?
Nobody knows for sure exactly how it works internally; there’s plenty of speculation out there on whether or not they use PageRank at all anymore (some think so). Regardless, we can still evaluate our own work with some general concepts from the SEO community that may be true –
- Anchor text
- Nofollow vs follow
Your friend just launched a blog and linked to your website from one of their recent articles. That’s no big deal, right?
But what if the Toronto Star published an article linking to your website? Suddenly you would have all sorts of new visitors checking out your site!
We perceive those two websites as having different levels of “authority.” The Toronto Star is a leading publication trusted by millions around Canada while your friend’s new blog barely gets any traffic at all.
So how does Google measure the “authority” of a website (or a webpage) that is linking to you? Well, if links are votes, then it would be fair if a page that has more votes would cast a stronger vote to other pages, right?
How does Google measure the “authority” of a website (or webpage) that is linking to you? Well, if links are votes, then it would be fair if pages with more votes cast stronger votes for other sites.
And this is actually the main principle behind their PageRank algorithm–one we still don’t fully understand! They’re also used to be a browser plugin that displayed the PageRank score of any webpage on a scale from 0 to 10.
However, at some point in 2014, they discontinued one browser plugin which displayed each page’s score on a scale from 0-10 and left SEO experts guessing how much authority these web pages have within search engines.
Luckily, many SEO tool providers have developed their own link-based authority metrics, which are based on some of the same principles used in the original PageRank algorithm.
For example, Ahrefs has Domain Rating (DR) and URL Rating (UR). Both DR and UR measure your site’s “authority.” This is measured on a scale from 0 to 100.
Some Digital Marketers & SEO professionals also look at a website’s search traffic to gauge its “authoritativeness.” The logic here is simple: if Google ranks the site high in their results and sends it lots of visitors, then they likely consider it authoritative.
As such, professional digital marketers and SEO professionals base their own link building strategy on acquiring links from pages with high authority will help you get ahead when competing against other web pages for visibility. This is because those links are more likely to help their own pages to rank higher in Google.
Does this mean you should avoid getting links from low-authority websites and pages? Not at all. Those links aren’t “bad” in any way, they just carry less weight with Google because of their mediums.
The proper way to use link authority metrics is gauging how much effort you should invest when trying to get a specific site as opposed to another website or page; this ensures that your efforts are proportional based on the value of what you want out of it for SEO purposes.
If you’re asked to write a well-researched 10,000-word article for your friend’s new blog the link in return might not be worth all that effort. If on the other hand, it was the Toronto Star asking then absolutely do it!
One last thing. Some people obsess over their own link authority metrics a little too much. If you’re building links “to increase UR,” you’re pursuing the wrong goal! You should be building links with the goal of ranking higher in Google instead and better yet – to help visitors find your website on other websites as well!
Let’s say you own a digital marketing agency and have a blog. You publish articles on various topics regarding aspects of digital marketing, and then two of your friends decide to link to it from their blogs “Top 10 Best Digital Marketing Agency in Canada” and “Top Money-saving Tips.”
Which of the two pages would cast a stronger vote in the eyes of Google (given that both these pages have equal authority)?
The more relevant one! Well, you’d rather get digital marketing advice and help from professional digital marketers than a personal finance expert right?
SEO professionals believe that relevance also applies at the website level. And there’s actually some evidence for this on Google’s “how search works” page: If other prominent websites on the subject link to the page, then it is of high-quality information.
This means that you should strive to get links from websites that are somehow relevant to yours, instead of pursuing every single link opportunity that pops up.
3. Anchor text
Anchor text is a clickable snippet of text that sends you to another page. In many cases, anchor text describes what the linked page is about. So it’s no surprise that Google uses the words in anchor text to better understand what keywords the referenced page deserves to rank for.
So how do you leverage anchor text when building links? Well, you don’t. Well, in a way that doesn’t get your site slapped with the always-dreaded penalty!
The more you try to control how pages link to you and the more precise and specific of an anchor text target you try for on every page possible, the higher chance Google will penalize.
And besides, most white-hat link building tactics give little to no type of control over what gets linked too anyway so why bother trying (and risking) it at all if there’s the minimal payoff?
4. Nofollow vs follow
The field of link building is always evolving, and Google’s latest update to its ranking algorithm has created some confusion for website owners. Websites that are trying to rank have historically relied on “followed” links from other sites with the same or similar content as theirs in order to get approved by search engines like Google.
In 2019 however, Google made a change, they switched to a hint model, which means that some ‘no-followed links may now influence your search rankings, sometimes. They also introduced two new link attributes with this announcement:
- rel=“UGC” — should be applied to “user-generated” links, e.g., blog comments and forum posts.
- rel=“sponsored” — should be applied when the link is part of an advertisement, sponsorship, or some other compensation agreement.
The following is a general rule: the more “followed” links you have (links that don’t possess any of these attributes), the better.
However, when an opportunity arises to get a no-follow link from a relevant site with high authority, it’s worth taking advantage and doing so. A good example would be Wikipedia; all their outgoing external links are labelled as such – which makes them hard for SEOs to obtain but also valuable in Google’s eyes
Google’s reasonable surfer patent talks about how the likeliness of a link being clicked may affect how much authority it transfers. And the placement of a link on an article page can be what affects click-through-rate (CTR).
Let’s say there is a web page that consists of three blocks: content, sidebar, and footer. As a general rule links in the content will get more clicks because it gets most of the visitor’s attention. When trying to get more clicks on a link, make sure it’s in the content block and near the top of the content and not buried at the bottom of an article. Readers are most likely to follow links that appear early in articles rather than those near the end.
And finally, the more links you have on a page, the more they will compete with each other for clicks and thus dilute their authority. However, the problem is that like anchor texts, most white-hat link building strategies give you little to no control over where your links are placed.
But if you’re writing an article for someone else’s blog or website as a guest poster, then you should definitely try to entice readers to click on your links. Not just for boosting the SEO value of those links, but because it will also send some nice referral traffic your way.
When building links to your website, there are three destinations where you can point them:
- Your homepage;
- Your linkable assets;
- The pages that you actually need to rank high in Google.
And quite often the pages that you need to rank well are also the easiest ones to get links. Why? That’s because people prefer to link where their audience can find instant value for free, rather than commercial pages with hidden costs.
Thus, one of the most common questions in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is: “How to rank boring pages?”
And while there’s no single right answer to this question, everyone agrees that you should leverage the power of internal linking to help your “boring pages” rank better.
For a start, try building as many links as possible for all linkable assets and then funnel those links towards the page(s) you actually want to rank via an effective internal link structure strategy. Also keep in mind how placement (e.g., header vs sidebar), relevance (i.e., topic relevance & anchor text match) or even timing can impact the value of your internal links!
Best link building tactics
In chapter two, you learned quite a few different link building strategies. Now let’s look at a few actionable link building tactics.
- Pursuing competitor’s links
- Creating linkable assets
- Content promotion
- Guest blogging
1. Pursuing competitor’s links
Competitor link research is one of the most fundamental activities in your online marketing strategy. Think about it, if you want to outrank a competitor for any given search query, you have to have all the right links to persuade Google that your page is superior.
By looking at what type of websites are linking back to your competitors you can figure out how best to get similar links so as not only to rank higher but also overtake pages that are on top.
And this where SEO tools like Ahrefs, Ubersuggest, Google Keyword Planner and more come into play because these will help make researching even easier than before!
To rank higher in the search engines, you should research what type of links your competitors have. Look at how they got them and try to find similar pages that will link back to yours.
In your own niche, the dominant type of linkable asset might be completely different — infographics, online tools, surveys, ego bait, etc. Your job is to figure out what it is and use that knowledge to create linkable content for your own website.
One last tip in this section is to study your competitor’s homepage links. More often than not, when a page links to their site, there may be some opportunity for you too!
Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying that any of these examples are a surefire way to get a link from yours truly (or anyone). They’re merely reasonable opportunities worth pursuing as you craft your digital marketing & Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy and work towards the top spot on Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs)
2. Creating linkable assets
It can be hard to get people to link back to your site, but the process is easier when you have something that they actually want.
When talking about linkable assets people tend to think of very specific things like:
- Online tools & calculators;
- Infographics, GIFographics & “Map-o-graphics;”
- Awards & rankings;
- Studies & research;
- “How to” guides & tutorials;
- Definitions & coined terms;
We argue that the concept of “linkable assets” should be made more flexible in regards to what can qualify as such. Because, even a single idea from your article motivates people to link to it, as well as the existence of your company or products.
The best backlinks are the ones that weren’t solicited. When people see value in what you’ve created, they’ll make their own editorial decision to link to it and share with others interested in your product or service- all without being paid for by a marketing team!
Let people make their own editorial decisions to link to you, motivated by the value that your references had for their readers:
- To learn more about a (somewhat confusing) concept;
- To study the source of an interesting statistic;
- To see an example of a product-led company;
- To explore a useful product.
Don’t waste time with infographics and surveys to attract backlinks. Take a moment step back and instead review what you already have. If it has potential “re-package” to make it more noteworthy:
- What makes your company stand out? Is that mentioned on your homepage?
- Are your products somehow unique? Do you have dedicated pages for each product explaining its uniqueness and utility?
- Do you have cutting-edge ideas about your industry? Are those ideas properly conveyed in your content? How smooth is your writing overall?
The chances are, there’s plenty of opportunities to improve your existing pages and make them more link-worthy before you invest time and effort into creating ‘linkbait.’
But what if you were specifically tasked with creating a brand new linkable asset for a website? How do you ensure that whatever you create would be successful?
Well as we already shared in the previous section, it’s all about studying the assets which have proven themselves most effective over time – those created by competitors. You should also review the proven linkable asset formats and see if any of them would be a good fit in your situation.
But the research is the easy part. Once you settle with a promising idea the execution is what matters. And that would be way out of the scope of this “beginner’s guide.”
3. Content promotion
No matter how “linkable” your pages are, people can’t link to them without first discovering them. In other words, even the best linkable assets have to be promoted in order to attract links.
Generally speaking, there are just three ways to promote content:
This sounds rather straightforward, right? You can pay money to the likes of Google, Facebook and Twitter for visitors. And you can reach out to pretty much any website where your audience hangs out in order to strike advertising deals with them too! The more people you advertise to, the higher the chances someone will link to it.
The only problem is that it’s nearly impossible to attribute acquired links back into the advertising dollars & time invested.
But the page that you’re looking to get links to likely has some business purpose too, right?
Here are three common reasons why businesses invest in creating content:
- To get leads & grow their audience;
- To get customers & make sales;
- To grow brand awareness & improve customer loyalty.
If your piece of content helps you achieve any one or more of these three objectives, then it is clear that an advertising budget for the page will be worth its weight in gold. If not, however, there are some questions to answer as to how justified spending time and resources to create it in the first place and what can realistically be done with it now.
In other words, links should be a byproduct of advertising your content, not the goal!
Outreach is probably the best way to put your content in front of the “link rate”—people who have websites and are able to link you. Yes, those same people can likely be reached with advertising, but a well-crafted personal email would be way more effective if you want to increase your chances of getting a link from them.
There are hundreds of articles out there on how to write an outreach email that will get results so we won’t go into too much detail here today!
Do note, according to digital marketers when writing an outreach email, rather than blatantly asking someone to link to you right then and there, try to impress them with your content and make them want to check it out.
What you want to do is elegantly plant a unique idea from your content in their head so they want to mention it in an upcoming article.
Communities can be great for promoting your content to relevant audiences. To do so successfully, you’ll need to put in some time and effort before posting anything about yourself or your work. There are likely groups on Facebook, Slack, Discord and subreddit communities where like-minded people hangout.
But it’s not as easy as simply joining a community then dropping an occasional link from there – you’re liable to get banned if they catch wind that all the posts coming from one person serve only their own interests rather than being genuinely helpful towards other members
To gain access to a community, it is important that you promote your content and build relationships with the members of this group. You should not post every new piece of content on these groups for fear of potentially annoying them; instead only reserve posts about your best work in order to maintain their good graces.
One other strategy is to build your own community that would actually be happy to get notified of every new piece of content that you publish. For example, here at Damex Digital, we give people three options to connect with us:
Follow us on Facebook;
Follow us on our website;
Follow us on our blogs.
Those three “channels” give our newly published articles quite a bit of initial traction. But it can take us quite a few years to build them up.
4. Guest blogging
Every blogger wants to publish high-quality content that brings value to their audience, right? But doing that consistently is a hell of a challenge. Which is part of the reason why many blog owners accept guest articles on their blogs.
Guest blogging has become so popular in the SEO world and has been exploited to such an extent that Matt Cutts, former head of Google’s webspam team, famously declared it dead back in 2014:
“So stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done.”
And yet, here we are in 2021 and all the link building practitioners that I’ve talked to still consider guest blogging one of the most effective ways to build links.
One way you can stay on Google’s good side is by finding legit blogs from which you would be happy publishing your own content. Rather than paying someone $10 for a 500-word article submitted to an irrelevant blog with zero followers or traffic no longer cuts it.
So how do you persuade them to publish your content?
Well, apart from actually having something meaningful to say, paired with some copywriting skill and experience, we have two good tips that should help you.
1. Build your way up
To be taken seriously by the top blogs in your niche, you need a solid track record of articles published on similar sites. So before pitching to #1 blog go for some lesser-known ones first like try to get published at #2 first. And before you pitch #2, try to get published at #3 and work your way up over time.
2. Make an irresistible offer
As mentioned earlier every blogger wants high-quality content- so what separates successful blogs from unsuccessful ones? Popularity! Successful blogs often have tens (or even hundreds) thousands behind them due to loyal readers who follow the blog regularly and interact with it.
Daily via likes/comments etc.; unfortunately, though, these popular people get dozens upon dozens of similar submissions each week offering “high-quality unique value”(which in reality isn’t any good at all). So how do you stand out in all that noise and grab popular blogger’s attention with your guest post pitch?
Well, one of the best ways to do that is by finding a “content gap”—a popular topic that is bringing lots of search traffic to one of their competitors but isn’t covered on their own blog.
Let’s say you decided to pitch a guest article to a food blogger. What you can do is go through the food blogger’s website and see what type of content they mostly post, and what might be missing.
Maybe most content in the blog is about appetizers & main course dishes and you see there is barely anything about desserts.
However, you find out through your research that posts related to desserts are really popular— and you happen to have a high traffic post regarding
Pitching this specific topic to the food blogger and explaining how your article would stand out will drastically improve your chances of getting published, compared to a generic “I can write a high-quality article for you” kind of guest post pitch.
Another interesting way to stand out with your guest post pitch is to offer to rewrite one of their old and underperforming articles.
Link building tools
While it is technically possible to build links with just a bit of brainpower and an email account, there are a number of link building tools that will help make the process of acquiring links much easier.
Let’s review four kinds of tools that might help you with building links:
- Backlink Research tools;
- Content Research tools;
- Web Monitoring tools;
- Email Outreach tools.
1. Backlink research tools
As you already know, studying the links of your competitors is extremely helpful when developing an actionable link building strategy for your own website.
To help you in your efforts of researching backlinks, you can use various backlink research tools available online to aid you in your research. Below is a list of backlink research tools we recommend you use in your backlink research:
- Neil Patel Backlink Tool
- Majestic SEO
- Monitor Backlinks
- SEO PowerSuite
- Open Site Explorer
The above backlink research tools mentioned are simply amazing at helping you perform a thorough backlink research. And the most exciting thing — most of them are free. You don’t have to pay a cent to access most of these tools.
To know more about these amazing link building tools, you should definitely check out this article by Neil Patel where he provides a more in-depth analysis of most of the tools above.
2. Content research tools
Content research tools take the guesswork out of creating shareable, link-worthy content. You can use them to find content angles that have generated lots of links and shares, and leverage those findings to create your own content.
To perform in-depth content research, below are some content research tools you will absolutely love to use & these tools help you massively!
- Google AdWords: Keyword Tool
- Google Trends
- Answer the Public
- Portent’s Content Idea Generator
- LinkedIn Discussions
These content research tools do an amazing job of providing you content ideas. Most of these tools are free to use as such anyone can use them.
3. Web monitoring tools
Web monitoring tools alert you of newly-published pages that mention your keyword, or new backlinks that your competitors have acquired. Both of these alerts can serve as a great source of link building opportunities. Below is a list of fabulous web monitoring tools we recommend you to use to monitor your competitor’s actions:
- Google Alerts
- Sprout Social
- Social Mention
These web monitoring tools can help you monitor keyword-specific pages in real time. These tools are absolutely fantastic and digital marketers such as ourselves absolutely recommend you to test them out.