August 13, 2016
Link building describes the actions aimed at increasing the number and, more importantly, the quality of inbound links to a webpage in the hopes of increasing that page’s search engine rankings. If you are wondering why other pages linking to your page matters, then you should know that page-level link features are one of the most important search engine rankings factors. To sum it up, Google(the search engine that matters) assumes that if reputable pages are linking to you, then you must be an expert producing high-quality stuff.
OK, so we know why getting awesome, high-quality links from sources with heavy gravitational pull on the web is the goal, but how do you do it? The web is awash with tactics, both white and black hat, that just don’t work( you know the difference, right?). You are either wasting your time or worse, trying to trick Google, and Google doesn’t like getting played(you will be penalized!).
In this entry we will cover link building strategies that actually matter. 19 of them to be exact! Want more organic traffic for your website? Keep reading!
#1) Link roundups
Imagine that there were a gathering of all of the best posts in an industry during a given time period(for example, weekly). Now imagine that you could get links to your content from high-authority sources without having to lie, beg, cheat or steal anything from anyone. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you link roundups.
Link roundups are exactly like what they sound. They are blog posts that link out to all of their favorite content during a certain time period. You see, the more great content that you link out to the better, so it’s a “you scratch my back, I scratch yours” kinda thing. No need to twist anyone’s arms. For example, a roundup might be “June’s best small business articles” or “the best link building posts of 2016(this one, anyone?).
How to land a link: it’s simple: email them and be genuine. No crazy sales stuff. Just a quick email saying you saw their roundup, you’ve got a great piece of content, and that they might want to link to it. These people are looking for content to curate, so just google them or search for their hashtag on Twitter. It’s your best bet to secure links in bunches.
#2) Pitch to resource pages
A resource page is a post where people go to find all of the best evergreen content in their niche. Evergreen content is content that never grows old or loses its foliage in winter. Think of a post like “the beginner’s guide to knitting”. If you want to learn to knit, then you can always go to that post. It won’t go out of style. They differ from roundups in the sense that roundups are regular publications of fresh content and resource pages are rather static, only inscribing the best evergreen posts of all-time in their sacred annals.
You won’t’ have nearly as much success in pitching them, but hey, what do you have to lose?
Identifying the right opportunities is key. The best way? Google it! Scour the depths of the SERP for opportunities. Type “the best resources for ___” and you’ll be on your way. Since the content is likely to be old, point out how yours is updated or how yours is better, and offer to share them on social.
By the way, Pinterest has a great article with all of the best knitting tutorials on the web. Get on it!
#3) Replacing broken links
Nothing is worse than finding a broken link when you thought you were about to get to the best content that you’d ever read. It’s a UX killer. So why not seek out broken links and notify the people, politely asking to replace the broken link with your awesome content instead? It’s a great idea. Does it sound like a ton of work? That’s because it is, but hey, nothing worth it comes easy.
Why bother: there are a few reasons why replacing broken links is a great way to build links:
- You can make it part of your resource page seeking. If you find a broken link, make it a broken link pitch. If you don’t find one, make it a resource pitch.
- You are helping someone fix a problem. They will be grateful. So grateful that many will accept your pitch. Broken link pitches are 5x more successful than resource link pitches.
How to do it: First, you need to get yourself a broken link finder, and then locate relevant pages. Once you’ve done that, send a cordial, detailed email to the webmaster detailing that you happened upon the link. Submit your link(humbly!) for replacement and offer to push it through your social channels. Good luck!
#4) Guest posting
Having someone write for free on your blog to gain exposure is awesome for both parties. Guest blogging flat out works for both sides. It’s the best way to earn links for you site and increase your blog’s rankings. Hands down. 63% of readers perceive blogs with more than one author to be more authoritative, so webmasters are always on the hunt for great authors to contribute to their cause. Want to get more organic traffic, better SEO benefits, and make industry contacts? Get to writing guest posts.
There are tons of blogs accepting guest posts, all you have to do is search for them. Google “your niche blog + write for us”, and you’ll be on your way. Once you’ve landed a few gigs, then you can start pitching anyone you want. Send them a nice email about how you’d like to write for them, include recent guest posts, and hype yourself up a bit. Detail how your post will benefit them, and what made you want to write for them. Make sure to be a good guest and clean up after yourself, too.
#5) Sponsor a post
It might not be as organic or white hat as the previous tips, but sponsoring a post is still a good way to build links. It’s definitely better than getting a spammy banner ad(*shivers*). After locating an opportunity, send a pitch asking to sponsor a post. Make sure to make it clear that you DO NOT WANT THE POST TAGGED AS SPONSORED. You only want a native placement. Most readers don’t put nearly as much stock in paid posts as they do organic ones.
In your email, state that you are looking for native placement only. Not tagged posts, not banner ads, not anything like that at all.
How to find sponsoring opportunities: you may have guessed already but you should…GOOGLE IT! Just look up “advertising + your niche + blogs”.
Choose wisely, though! Only reputable blogs are worth it.
#6) Taking your links back
Links get lost all of the time. Whenever a site that once linked to you no longer does, then you’ve lost a link. There’s a few reasons for this:
- You’ve been removed for some reason
- The site changed their URL
- Their site is down
You never know why. Sometimes links have crash landed on a deserted Pacific island and are gone forever, but oftentimes you can take them back.
First, get a tool that helps you crawl the links of your site. Once you’ve got it, track your lost links. Then you should reach out to the webmaster and kindly ask for reinstatement. Be nice, be happy, offer to share on social media. You get the gist of it.
#7) Claiming unlinked mentions
Since the content you are creating is incredibly awesome and people across the internet are salivating at each and every post you make, there’s a good chance the nice people of the web will mention your name. The problem is that they won’t always link to you.
If you monitor these mentions, then you can keep track of the ones without a link. It’s monitoring that’s the problem. You can’t do it manually. You need a tool.
Here’s a great tutorial from Seer Interactive on how to use the IFTTT tool to track mentions(look under “track mentions”). There are a few other options at your disposal, too.
- Google Alerts- with this free tool you can set it up to notify you when keywords are mentioned. Set it up to track your name and brand, and when people talk about you, you’ll be the first to know.
- Mention- an awesome tool, but a bit pricy. If you’ve got an agency with multiple clients, then it’s worth every penny. You can track the web presence of, well, everything!
When going for the gold, stroke their ego a bit. Tell them you loved what they were doing and how much you appreciate the mention. Then, slyly slip in that you’d like a link because it will help you continue to make great content that they love reading.
#8) Pitch articles to related websites
Say your link building strategy is aimed at building high-quality links in the real estate industry in and around New York City. Does that mean you should only target:
- Geo-specific sites in the NYC area or
- Real estate agents in New York City?
In fact, pitching articles to related websites that have to do with your industry but aren’t in direct competition is a great way to build links. Think about it, why not pitch real estate articles to companies in New York State, Connecticut, or elsewhere close by?
Going outside of the industry into closely related industries such as construction, mortgages, or interior decoration is a great way to build links without coming up against stiff resistance, too.
Make sure to try to make a connection. Tell them you’re a an up-and-coming blogger, or, if you’re pitching on behalf of a client, point out that you’re in the same niche. How about titling the email “from one real estate agent to another”.
#9) Blog commenting
Most people think links in comments are just blog spam. Sadly, that is usually true. There is definitely a right and wrong way to do it. The wrong way should be pretty obvious. Take, for example, a comment on a recent sports blog that that we’ve found:
“ Into sports? Why not try the biggest sports betting casino on the web? $100 free! Wow, I built my bankroll from nothing!”
Now that we’ve got that atrocity out of the way, let’s get to how to do it right.
Add value to the discussion and be humble:
If you’ve found a discussion that you are deeply interested in and it relates to an awesome piece of content that you’ve written, then there is no reason not to submit it in a discussion so long as it’s relevant. Write a full response(100-150 words), and use your content as support for what you’re saying. Always be sure to apologize for your shameless plug!
Here’s a great piece on blog commenting that should help get you started.
#10) Forum commenting
Like blog commenting, the idea of commenting on forums often conjures up horrific images for SEO’s and digital marketers around the world. The web is awash with spammy forum commenting, but when you do it right you’ve got a gold mine for link building.
Gather up a list of related forums. For example, if you’re writing about nomadic living, make sure you google all related terms and keep a list of the most popular sites. Then, write an informed response, drop a link, and voila! No pitch necessary at all.
Pro tip: Reddit is your friend. There is an endless sea of subreddits, and one is certain to be related to your niche. Clients and industry contacts, as well as valuable links are to be had.
#11) Meet the press
No we don’t mean pitching the NBC hit TV series, we mean pitching the members of the media that contribute on major publications related to your niche or perhaps major publications that aren’t necessarily related, but still cover your niche from time to time. We’re talking about the Huffington Post, Forbes, and other gigantic outlets that accept guest posts.
You see, there are two types of contributors to these fine publications:
- Freelancers, many of whom write for free and would love some extra cash
Want to land some easy links? Target contributors that choose what they get to cover. Offer to pay them a certain amount of money in exchange for some coverage. Some people say it’s unethical, but in reality, it’s fine. No writer worth their salt would ever jeopardize their reputation and cover subpar stuff in exchange for a few dollars. You have to be good to get your name up there. You’re merely expediting the process.
Snoop around for outlets accepting articles in your field, find contributors and reach out to them with a straightforward, professional, and ego-stroking email.
#12) Local blogger outreach
If you are in any decently populated area, then there are going to be tons of bloggers within a 5-10 mile radius, most of whom aren’t making very much money at what they do. As they say: “blogging is a hard way to make an easy living”.
Look for bloggers in your locality that are in some way related to your niche. Going with our knitting example from earlier on, ask yourself who might be interested in covering knitting. What kind of blogs also cover knitting? Think about a few major factors here:
- The majority of knitters are women
- Knitters are often older
So where can one find bloggers that write posts for that demographic? Maybe a local blog covering senior’s events, an online magazine for retired people or perhaps a fashion blogger. It’s up to you to tie your niche to theirs. The good news for you(and bad for them) is that bloggers don’t usually make much money for what they do. There are two routes you can go by here:
- Cold pitch them for an article
- Offer them money to cover you
Guess which one works better? Use your local area to bond and tell them you think they’re the perfect blogger to promote them because of their style and audience. Not only will they land a paying gig, they will get to build their portfolio for a real local-area business. Win win.
#13) Video links
If you’ve got a new website, then you need to start with a nice cushion of mildly inconsequential links before you really get down to the nitty gritty. Using video links to create this cushion, known as “pillowing”, is a common, easy, and effective tactic.
That is, if you’ve got a video. There are a plethora of video hosting sites for you to choose from, and if you’ve got a vid then you can send them out across all of the sites and embed a nice little link back to your content.
Getting the video is the hard part. Got drawing skills? Then you can make your own whiteboard video with this tutorial. Look to sites like Fiverr and Upwork for cheaper videos or just record a powerpoint presentation. Whatever you’ve got to do.
#14) Get links from directories
Websites like Yelp, the BBB(that’s the Better Business Bureau, by the way), and Angie’s List, along with the ancient ruins once known as the phone book all have one thing in common: they are directories! Places people go to find things they are looking for.
They are also awesome for link building. Don’t pay some bum to just copy/paste your info into a million directories; do it the right way.
Do some searching around for good local and non-local directories outside of the big ones, and even pay a bit of money if you find a good one(they are worth it). Once you’ve found them, submit your info and even give a good brief description. Here’s a good list to get started with.
#15) Industry organizations
People love organizing into groups. It’s basically the story of human history. Once we got families all set we moved onto villages, then cities and countries. Now people have nothing left to do but organize by job. Every industry does it. There’s even a World Clown Association!
Regardless of your niche, using your professional directories is a great way to earn links from trustworthy sources. The best thing about them is that you get yourself in front of eyes that can help you, either with business or with contacts, and there isn’t the spammy overflow you get on free directories. The downside is that you usually have got to pay. That’s fine; it’s worth the money. Locate yours and join up.
Tip: local business? Don’t forget your local chamber of commerce website and any other local organizations that deal with business in your area.
#16) Links from conferences
So you’re a big speaker at a fancy event. Chances are this is a great opportunity to get a link! The good news is that you don’t actually have to speak. Simply attending the event will probably do just fine. Despite what many people in the digital age think, personal relationships and real communication still matter a lot. There are 3 major outlets for coverage and links:
- The event’s site itself
- Contacts you meet at the event
- Bloggers who cover the event
Each one of these channels is a great way to build links. So get out there and start schmoozing it up!
#17) Pitch an infographic
Did you know that visual content like infographics are shared on social media 3x more than normal content. Well, it’s true, at least according to research done by Hubspot. So you best bet that sites are gonna want them. They are basically data aggregated into a visual form, and when they are designed nicely, they make a great piece of content.
Pitch them as a guest post or get them to aggregator sites. Just google “submit infographic” and voila. Look for sites that have submitted them as blog posts before. That’s key. Many sites have grown weary of them because of spam(a tired song in the SEO world).
#18) The “kill the king and take the throne” method
We’re ripping a page straight out of a Game of Thrones book here, and telling you all about the “kill the king and take the throne” method. Basically, you find what’s trending in your niche, create a better form of it(because you rock and create the best stuff, right?), and submit it to niche blogs and sites. To improve it, think about a few things:
- Can you update it?
- Can you add some visual stimulus into it(remember how people love pics!)
- Can you add more info?
- Can you give insider industry perspective?
If you answered yes to any of these, then do it!
Once you’ve got it finished, contact the sites that link to the original and show them that you have a more suitable candidate for the throne. In your pitch email, just create a good connection, throw in some humor and let them know that you’ve got a way improved version of their article.
The throne is yours!
#19) Reach out to bloggers
Do you know how many bloggers there are on the web these days? No seriously, we’re asking you because we have no clue. What we do know is that there probably isn’t a number invented for it yet. They all represent a link opportunity. Your success rate will probably be small, but as with all things, building a reputation is the most important part. Once you’ve got gravity, then you will be attracting other matter with no problems. Here’s a good place to start:
- Corall a list of bloggers and keep them updated when you publish new content(building your reputation)
- Ask to do promotional exchange(I link to you, you link to me)
- Cold ask. Just ask for them to link to your stuff(careful with this. It might make them angry)
Just search for blogs in your niche. We don’t recommend sifting through the hundred million or so results that you’ll get, but look around for the best ones. Send a nice email, and voila.
We aren’t quite sure if the point has been driven home enough, but we will reiterate: LINK BUILDING IS IMPORTANT! Use these 19 link building tactics more than anything else that you’ve read. Why? Because they flat out work. There are tons of tactics, but few that actually matter.