A strong backlink profile shows that people find your content so useful that they’ll recommend it to others.
Search engines use that as a ranking signal and give you a boost as a result.
Unfortunately, not all backlinks help your website. In fact, poor backlinks can trigger a penalty from search engines which in turn damages your ranking.
That leaves new website owners with a conundrum. You need to build great links without resorting to bad tactics. This article shows you how. But first let’s take a closer look at what backlinks are.
What to know about link building in 2018
A backlink is a link to your website from another website.
Figure 1 - https://moz.com/learn/seo/backlinks
Search engines essentially consider these as “votes” that favour your website. High quality links coupled with relevant anchor text add weight to these “votes”.
The more “votes” you have from high-authority websites, the better your website performs in search engines.
They’re also one of Google’s main ranking signals. The websites that rank well for high-competition keywords will almost always have strong link profiles:
Figure 2 - https://backlinko.com/backlinks-guide
As you can see here, the websites that reach position number 1 on Google have an average of 35,000 or more backlinks. That number drops considerably as you get further down the list.
And that’s just for page 1 results. Pages that don’t hit the top 10 tend to have far fewer than 5,000 backlinks.
That sounds intimidating for a new website owner. You don’t have any links. How are you supposed to get tens of thousands?
Everybody has to start somewhere. These techniques are a good starting point for your next link building campaign.
Link building techniques to reach the top of rankings
1. Create Skyscraper Content
Skyscraper content is content that takes advantage of popular trends and pieces of content. Your aim is to build a piece of content that follows the same theme but does it much better.
Here are the steps:
Search for a content topic in Google. All of those results on the first page show you what’s already working for that topic. Check each piece to see who’s linking to it and to find out what audience it’s trying to capture.
Read every piece and figure out how you can create something better. You’re aiming for a piece that’s five or even 10 times better than what you can see in the results.
How do you do that?
You’re looking to deliver something similar but with a twist. You’re taking something that’s already worked once and reworking it so you can appeal to the same audience.
For example, you could create an infographic or video to give a more visual representation. Or, you could make a piece that covers even more tools/technologies. For example, let’s say that you’ve seen a piece for 50+ team building activities. You could improve on that by boosting the number, creating videos of some activities in action, or shifting the focus to new teams.
Start promoting. If the piece mentions a tool, organisation, or person, get in touch with them to let them know. If you’re lucky, they’ll check it out and link to it. Of course, this only works if it’s a positive piece.
You should also use tools like BuzzSumo to see who’s talking about the pieces you used as inspiration. Get in touch with those people to let them know you’ve created something that will interest them.
The promotion is the key aspect here. You’ll get links from major influencers, which boosts your ranking. Plus, their recommendations lead more people to the content, which means even more links.
2. Become a Resource for Journalists
If you have information that a writer would find useful, you need to tell them about it.
There are several tools for this. Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is amongst the most popular. It’s essentially a networking tool that connects reporters and bloggers with people who want backlinks.
Just sign up as a source and you’ll receive three emails per day detailing requests from people in your industry. Pitch a response based on those requirements. If it’s accepted, you get a link from a credible source.
It gives you access to thousands of reporters plus some major news agencies.
There’s also Sourcebottle. It works in in a similar way to HARO.
With Sourcebottle, you sign up to become a source. During this process, you’ll select a set of topics that you specialise in and the countries relevant to your expertise.
From there, you’ll start receiving “Drink Up” emails.
Each of these presents you with some “call outs”. If you find something that interests you, just click the link and offer your services.
Unfortunately, you’ll only see each “call out” once. They expire after 24 hours, so you’re under a bit of pressure as soon as you get the link.
Tip #3 – Ask for Mentions to Become Links
There may be times when someone writes about your brand or product without linking to it.
Sometimes, building links is as simple as asking the writer to add a link into such content.
Use Google to search for your brand or products. Search for blogs and websites that have pieces that mention you. Finally, shoot an email across to ask the publisher or writer to link to your website from the piece.
There are two keys to this:
- Make the email as personal as you can. Don’t just spam the same message out to everybody on your list. Start a conversation with the recipient.
- Remember that you need to offer something of value at all times. You’re only making a small request. However, you still need to let the recipient know why there’s a point to giving you a link.
Here’s an example:
I’m a huge fan of your blog and really enjoy the work you put into your posts. I actually noticed that you featured one of our products in one of your recent pieces.
Thank you so much for the kind words!
I was wondering if you’d like to discuss what we do in a little more detail. Perhaps we can provide more insight or products for you to take a look at.
Hope to hear from you soon,
You’re not asking for the link directly here. Instead, you’re opening up a conversation that will hopefully lead to you being able to ask for the link.
It’s not unnatural as you haven’t solicited the piece in the first place. If anything, you’re just making it easier for people to find you from the content that gets written about you.
Tip #4 – Create Great Gated Content
Gated content is any content that requires the reader to take action before they can access it. For example, the user may have to fill out a form before reading.
Typically, these are white papers or other highly valuable pieces of content.
Your gated content needs to be a link magnet that’s worth sharing. It needs to be so good that people:
- Want to read it
- Want to link to it
Examples of great types of gated content include:
- Ultimate and Definitive guides to a subject.
- The Skyscraper pieces mentioned in Tip #1.
- Interactive tools such as quizzes and calculators
Here’s an example:
In short, they are big pieces that have a lot of value. Create something awesome and put it behind a gate. You’ll create a link magnet that improves your backlink profile.
Tip #5 – Pitch to Link Roundup Articles
A link roundup article is exactly what it says on the tin. It’s an article that contains a lot of useful links that have relevance to a particular niche.
You can pitch useful content to the link roundup writers to get another backlink.
Here’s how you do it:
- Use Google to find some relevant link roundup articles. Search strings like “keyword” + link roundup and “keyword” + best of work well.
- Send an email to the article writer that pitches your piece. Explain why you think it would be a good fit for the roundup and ask if they’d like to link to it. The key here is to be polite. They’re under no obligation to link to you, no matter how well the article fits. Just ask the question and have no hard feelings if they refuse.
That’s it. Assuming you’re successful, your piece gets added to the roundup. You may even get lucky and find that the writer also shares your link on social media.
Tip #6 – Use Credible Guest Posting
Guest posting has become a dirty phrase in SEO. When people hear it, they think of people sending out hundreds of shoddy articles to different article websites in an attempt to build links.
That’s not what you’re doing here.
You’re aiming to add your voice to someone else’s site in a helpful and valuable way.
You want to guest post as much as possible in the early days. The key is that you only post to authoritative sites within your niche. That means getting a little choosy with your guest posting. A post about content creation isn’t going to fly on a website dedicated to dieting, for example.
It’s not enough for a site to accept the post. You need to ensure that site offers enough relevance and credibility to make a link from it worthwhile.
Here are a couple of quick steps to help you find great sites to guest blog on:
- Find potential guest posting websites. Google is your friend here. Use different search strings related to your niche to find other people’s blogs and content. If they’re providing something of value to readers, they’re a good choice. You can add to their voice and get a solid link from them.
- Prepare your idea and pitch it to the blog. Don’t just come up with one idea and pitch it to multiple people. Check the blog and figure out what audience it’s trying to appeal to. Design your pitch around how your piece can help the blogger to appeal to their audience.
- Assuming the blogger accepts your pitch, you write the post. Here’s the key point. Don’t knock out a quick piece and call it a day. Most decent bloggers and site owners won’t be happy with that. Plus, the piece is a reflection of your brand. If it’s no good, it’s not going to encourage people to check you out. Give the piece the same care and attention that you’d give a piece on your own site.
Follow those steps and you’ll build some solid links through guest blogging.
Tip #7 – Get Links from Testimonials
You want people talking about your brand as much as possible. Testimonials tell readers that real people have tried your service and loved it.
However, you’re looking to flip the script when it comes to link building techniques.
Instead of soliciting testimonials, start creating them. Write a testimonial for any brand or service that you use and have good things to say about. Send it across to the company and they’ll usually want to put it on their site.
Now, here’s why this helps.
These companies want to show that the testimonials comes from a real person or company. To do that, they’ll link to your website to show readers that you exist.
They get positive word of mouth and you get a new backlink.
Tip #8 – Collaborate With Influencers
Every industry has influencers. They’re the people who have tons of followers on LinkedIn or who have popular blogs that talk about industry topics.
They’re also a great source of backlinks if you can collaborate with them.
This works particularly well if you have a product that an influencer can review. Send them a free sample and ask them to provide an honest review. More often than not, they’ll link to your product as part of the review, though it’s always important to clarify.
Be upfront, honest and helpful while negotiating what they’re offering in exchange for your products or services.
You can also collaborate with influencers to create guest posts. This assumes you have something worthwhile to say to the influencer’s audience.
Check the influencer’s content to find out what both they and their audience want. From there, figure out what you can offer for a piece of content that serves that need.
Tip #9 – Check Where Your Competitors Get Links From
For this tip, you’ll need a backlink checking tool. Majestic SEO is a great example.
Pop a competitor’s URL into the tool and you’ll get something like this:
That’s a list of all of the backlinks that your competitors have. Scour that list to find credible websites that aren’t already linking to you. Each one provides you with an opportunity to build another backlink.
There are plenty of backlink checking tools out there that you can use to do this. Run your competitor’s URLs through all of them to create as detailed a link profile as possible. Then, look for the opportunities in those profiles.
Tip #10 – Follow an Influencer’s Example
The influencers that you identify in your industry aren’t just a potential source of backlinks.
They can also reveal guest posting opportunities.
When an influencer posts on another website, they usually provide a bio. This bio often contains an image that the website will use to lend further credibility to the post.
A Google Image Search for the influencer’s name should reveal a bunch of places that host that influencer’s work. These are all websites that are open to having links placed on them.
Create a list of every website you find and then start sending emails. Offer up quality guest posts and you can start using those websites to build great links.
The Final Word
These are ten tips that will help you to build links for your new website. Each falls within search engine guidelines and will result in high-quality and credible links back to your website.
Research and promotion of your work is as important as creating the content in the first place. Use these tips to create great content and find people that want to link to it.
Of course, link building is only part of your SEO strategy. You may need help to build a more comprehensive strategy, which is where Online Marketing Gurus come in.
Download our Ultimate Guide to SEO in 2018 today. Inside, you’ll find up-to-date information that can help your business enjoy rapid growth. We even reveal some of the secret techniques that we’ve used to help others boost their rankings and attract more traffic.