SEO has evolved over the years, as have its techniques, such as keyword relevance. However, one strategy always maintained its worth in boosting a site’s visibility, ranking, and conversion rates. That strategy is link-building.
Link-building gives rise to backlinks. Backlinks are hyperlinks on other websites that direct audiences to your personal site. Every successful SEO strategy depends on backlinks to establish a robust online presence. We’ll tell you how to earn them.
We will explore ten link-building strategies you can apply as an SEO pro or a new website owner finding their footing in digital marketing. We will give you insightful tips to implement these techniques to maximize the benefits.
By the end, you’ll understand how to nurture high-quality backlinks and form relationships that earn you backlinks for a long time.
Why are backlinks important for SEO?
We have to put this article into context by explaining why backlinks are essential in the first place. Here are some benefits you enjoy when you have high-quality backlinks.
Higher search engine ranking
Google considers backlinks endorsements that point to a site’s authority, relevance, and credibility. The more high-quality backlinks you have, the more search engines trust you. As a result, your website ranks higher on the SERP, which grants you benefits such as increased visibility.
Search engines follow backlinks just as much as people do. When these bots come across a link to your website, they follow it and crawl the web page they land on. Constant indexing ensures you remain included in search engine databases.
Backlinks from reputable websites in your niche cement you as an authoritative source of information. Google ranks experts higher on the SERP.
Link building techniques
Nurturing high-quality backlinks involves the following methods.
- Create linkable assets.
- Guest blogging.
- Broken link fixing.
- The Skyscraper Technique.
- Earn a link from a journalist.
- Give testimonials.
- Create a listicle.
- Update old content.
- Use outbound links.
- Promote your content.
1. Create linkable resources
The best way to naturally earn backlinks is to give websites a reason to link you. Everyone’s searching for quality content that simplifies information or provides additional insight into an idea. Linkable resources make your content valuable; thus, people will likely link them.
Linkable assets give you a compelling advantage when contacting other website owners, influencers, or content creators. Additionally, in-depth linkable assets prove to people and search engines that your website is an authority in your niche. The more informative your assets are, the more reputable sites link to them.
What has the potential to go viral on social media? Linkable assets. People love sharing and engaging with links to valuable resources. In addition to more visibility, other content creators and website owners pick viral links to include in their content.
If your resources contain evergreen content, you can attract backlinks for a long time. Evergreen refers to content that remains relevant. Unlike trending topics, evergreen content has a long shelf life.
There are many kinds of linkable resources. Let’s define some of them.
These guides give readers a step-by-step tutorial on how to do or make something. They are perfect for targeting people with informational intent. Here are a few tips to guide you when creating a how-to guide.
- Define the problem your guide will solve. This definition convinces people why they should care in the first place.
- Use clear headings and subheadings to break down each step in the guide. Additionally, use bullets or numbers to show audiences the path to follow.
- Write straightforwardly. Avoid any jargon or technical terms that will limit your audience’s understanding.
- Instead of demonstrating using words, include visuals such as pictures and screenshots.
- Include a real-world example of your demonstration to help people envision how they can practically apply your guide.
- Always anticipate that people will have lingering questions. Include an FAQ section in your guide.
- Include links to additional resources in your guide. These outbound links also give you a bargaining chip when building links. We’ll explain how later on in the article.
- Always proofread your guide to check for spelling and grammatical errors. Mistakes make your how-to look unprofessional.
These assets are visual representations that break down information to make them easier to understand. Infographics are very shareable, and website owners, SEO experts, and content creators love linking their audiences to them.
Here are some nifty tips to remember when creating infographics.
- Keep it simple. A cluttered infographic is challenging to follow and will turn people away.
- Choose a color scheme that compliments your brand. For example, this infographic by Spotify uses its signature green and black, making it instantly recognizable.
- Pay attention to your typography. Use fonts that are legible and match your brand’s aesthetic. Vary font sizes to create emphasis but avoid using many different fonts. Here is a collection of fonts you can draw inspiration from.
- Add a call-to-action to direct people back to you.
Nobody can resist a good study. They are factual, relevant, and thus very linkable. An excellent advantage of research studies is they influence people to think of you as an industry expert. Before creating an analysis, keep the following tips in mind.
- Review existing studies about your topic. You’ll gain new insights so your work can contribute positively to an idea. Reviewing also stops you from duplicating existing research.
- Choose the right research design that aligns with your objectives.
- Collect high-value data from established scholars, authors, and publications. Minimize using information from non-academic blogs.
- Use tables, charts, and graphs to break down data.
- Ask for feedback from your peers.
These tools give value while also letting people interact with them. An excellent example of an interactive tool is an online calculator. Here are resources to make interactive tools people want to link to.
A compelling element of any argument is statistics. Creating this resource makes people link to you to support their claims.
Gathering insights from industry experts and influencers can create valuable content that attracts links. Ask the experts featured in your content to share it with their audience to earn more backlinks.
Being a one-stop destination for people looking for resources is a sure way to earn backlinks. Website owners will link to you to save their audience’s time.
2. Guest blogging
Guest blogging is creating content on another website. This practice is an excellent way to build backlinks. How? You can include links back to your website in the guest posts. However, guest blogging is more than nurturing backlinks. You can enjoy the following benefits by posting on another website.
- Exposure to new audiences. You can tap into groups of people who don’t know about your brand.
- Networking opportunities. On your quest to guest on another site, you build industry relationships. Networks are critical in any market. Brands will likely share their resources and audiences with brands in the same network. This principle will ensure they share your links throughout their website, not just in your guest posts.
- Earning opportunities. Often, you will get compensation for creating content for another website.
- Brand credibility. The audience will see you as an authority if your content is high-quality, informative, and entertaining. This way, you become an attractive link for website owners.
Guest blogging requires a strategy to ensure you maximize your benefits. Here are some best practices to follow.
Select the right websites
Backlinks are irrelevant when they appear on the wrong sites. Thoroughly research a website’s metrics before you choose where to guest. Consider websites in your niche, domain authority, and engagement analytics. Use these tools to find out about any website’s metrics.
Study the website’s guidelines
Familiarize yourself with the format, content requirements, word count, and topics a website prefers. Straying away from these guidelines makes your guest posts seem alien.
Understand the audience
Remember, the website’s audiences are new to you, and vice versa. Research their pain points, preferred tone, and interests. The website owner can tell you more about their readers to ensure your content resonates with them.
Reach out with a compelling pitch
Contacting website owners is the most intimidating part, and your pitch is significant in securing a guest opportunity. You only get one chance to make a first impression, so follow these tips.
- Research the website and its owners. Find out their name and mention site pages or content you found informative. This step aims to personalize your pitch.
- Begin with an attention-grabbing subject. 33% of people open an email because of the subject line alone. Keep it between 6 and 10 words.
- Introduce yourself by mentioning your experience, website name, and achievements as a content creator.
- Highlight how this guest blogging opportunity will benefit their website. Mention how your posts will entertain and educate their audience.
- Outline your guest post. Before you create this pitch, you should know the topic you’ll write about. Mention it and how you’ll structure it. This step allows them to evaluate your work’s relevance and value.
- Mention any previous guest blogging experience you have and provide a link to these posts. This step shows your track record of collaborating successfully with other website owners.
- Mention your willingness to promote the guest posts on your social media, newsletters, and in person. Your pitch will look more enticing thanks to your enthusiasm to share your posts and their website.
- Keep it concise. The best cold email pitches are between 50 and 200 words.
- Make it easy for your recipient to find you by including your contacts and preferred communication channels.
Include a bio and link to you
Your excellent guest post has captured everyone’s attention, so naturally, the next question is, “Who wrote this?” Your bio tells them who. Include a short section that explains who you are and your experience. Mention your website and a link to lead people back to it.
Ensure the link directs people to a polished landing page that expands on your discussion in the guest post.
Promote your guest post
Make good on your promise in your pitch and promote your guest posts. Share it on your social media profiles, mention it in your email newsletter, and engage with people who comment on the blog.
3. Find broken links
These links direct users to non-existent pages. Broken links are the bane of any website owner because they injure the user experience. All blame shouldn’t fall on website owners and editors. Broken links can occur because of the following reasons.
- Page removal. The destination’s owner may delete a web page or content without updating the link. This deletion often happens when a website is undergoing maintenance or restructuring.
- URL changes. Sometimes, a website can modify its URL when moving pages, reorganizing content, and assigning new permalink structures. Doing so causes existing links to lead to nothing, becoming broken links.
- Typos. To err is human; a website owner can sometimes mistype a URL when creating a link. Unfortunately, these mistyped URLs create broken links.
- Domain name changes: If a website changes its domain name without redirecting the old URLs to the new ones, all the links pointing to the old domain will become broken. Domain name changes happen when a website rebrands, moves, or transfers ownership.
- Non-existent or expired content. Sometimes, site owners direct their audiences to websites they don’t know are non-existent.
- URL canonicalization issues. Canonicalization refers to assigning one URL as a representative of duplicate pages. When done wrong, multiple URLs point to the same content, thus causing broken links.
Regardless of the cause, broken links demand website owners fix them fast. That’s where you come in. Here are some ways you can capitalize on broken links to earn backlinks.
- Find broken links pointing to your website and reclaim them. It’s easier to reach out to website owners in this instance because they’re already familiar with your content.
- Find broken links pointing to other websites and offer to replace them.
- Notifying website owners about broken links allows you to grow relationships with them. These owners then become likelier to link to your website moving forward. This relationship will also make it easier to guest-post on their website.
4. Apply the Skyscraper Technique
Skyscrapers are architectural miracles that tower over other nearby buildings. Backlinko’s Brian Dean defines this technique as creating content that towers over others. In other words, make content that’s better than everyone else’s.
In a case study where he applied the technique, Brian’s search traffic shot up 110% in 14 days. That study shows people love linking to valuable content, and yours could make the cut. Here’s a step-by-step of the Skyscraper Technique.
Find content with a track record
First, you have to find the content you want to outdo. Identify popular competitor sites that get the most attention. Content analysis tools are perfect for this. Search for keywords and topics that get the most shares or engagement.
Another way to find link-worthy content is by paying attention to conversations with the most buzz on social media.
You can also find content gaps in your industry to fill. Content gaps are ideas that others are yet to explore. They give you the perfect opportunity to chime in with a unique perspective that makes your content linkable.
Create something better
After finding link-worthy content, you need to make a better version. You can improve the content by adding valuable resources such as statistics, case studies, and infographics. You can also break down hard-to-understand work to make it user-friendly.
Here are other ways you can provide more value.
- Make your content longer. For example, you could improve on an article about 50 healthy foods by making yours about 200 healthy foods.
- Make your content more up-to-date. Include recent articles, research, and case studies.
- Design your content better. Include high-quality visuals to make your content livelier than others.
- Exhaust your topic. Ditch the word count and explain everything there is to explain in your content. Make it possible for people to get all they need from your content without searching the internet further.
It’s time to get your improved content out there. Reach out to website owners, influencers, bloggers, and journalists who included similar links before. Tell them about your enhanced version and explain how it provides more value than the existing content.
You can use the guidelines we explained before for your pitch when promoting your content.
Follow up and build relationships
If someone chooses to link your content, strike up a conversation and build a rapport with them.
We always emphasize the importance of relationships because they keep the wheels of your link-building going. You’ll likely earn backlinks from site owners who already know you and your work.
5. Earn a link from a journalist
Would you like to have your backlinks featured in news articles? You can, thanks to a platform started by Peter Shankman in 2008. Help A Reporter Out (HARO) is a website that connects bloggers to reporters.
While HARO’s main aim is to help reporters find credible sources, it is also a link-building strategy in the following ways.
The first rule on HARO’s sign-up page for sources is, “Sources will receive three emails a day, Monday through Friday at 5:35 a.m., 12:35 p.m. and 5:35 p.m. EST, with requests from reporters and media outlets worldwide.”
You can reach out to requests you’re interested in and have your content and backlinks featured.
Journalists often credit you by including your name, affiliation, and link to your website when you contribute as a source through HARO.
Grow your relevance in a niche
HARO lets you filter source requests based on specific topics and industries. This filter means you can target relevant issues to your niche. If your content features in many niche articles, you’ll likely earn backlinks on other publications in the industry.
Publications that seek sources from HARO include The Chicago Tribune, Fox News, and New York Times. These are reputable websites, and people perceive links featured on them as credible.
Here are a few tips to help you make the most out of HARO’s link-building strategy.
- Respond promptly. HARO requests are time-sensitive, so make sure you reply fast to better your chances of reporters selecting you as a source. Make HARO emails a priority in your inbox.
- Provide unique insights. Remember that journalists have many requests racing to feature in their articles. Your content must offer perspectives unlike any other. Explore topics in incredible detail and give actionable information if needed.
- Establish your credibility as a source of information. HARO explicitly says in its rules, “Sources must have clear, reasonable expertise in a topic relevant to the query they are responding to.” Include relevant credentials, experience, and qualifications in your response to demonstrate your expertise.
- Follow publication guidelines. Pay attention to specific instructions journalists provide in their requests. Stick to the format of other articles in the publication.
- Track your mentions. Monitor your contributed articles to ensure the journalist included the correct link. If necessary, politely contact the reporter to request any corrections or changes. Doing so demonstrates you’re just as invested as they are.
6. Give a testimonial
Your rave reviews about a product or service are an untapped link-building strategy. Testimonials are an excellent opportunity to foster brand relationships and get high-quality backlinks. Let us explain how.
- Reciprocity. Testimonials act as social signals that endorse a brand and help attract customers. These endorsements encourage brands to reciprocate by linking their audiences to your website.
- High-quality backlinks. Testimonials often include your website name and link. If the testimonial appears on a reputable and high-ranking website, you earn a valuable backlink that improves your site’s authority and visibility.
- Increased exposure. Testimonials can expose you to new audiences. Suppose a well-known brand features your testimonial prominently on its website or social media. You can capture their clients’ attention and that of other famous websites.
So how do you use testimonials to build backlinks?
- Target reputable websites and businesses in your industry or niche. These websites will give you high-quality backlinks and funnel interested audiences to you.
- Ensure your testimonials are genuine and detailed. It’s easy to spot fake reviews, and they will hurt your credibility.
- Avoid writing the same review for many websites. Again, this indicates your testimonials are ingenuine.
- Include your website URL in the testimonial whenever possible. Doing so ensures you get a backlink even if the brand forgets to link your site.
- Follow up with the business or website owner to thank them. Expressing gratitude builds upon the positive rapport your testimonial created. This step makes it easier to ask for more backlinks in the future.
- Monitor the internet for your testimonials. Sometimes, brands can publish your reviews without your knowledge. Reach out to them and ask for a link if this happens.
7. Link building on listicles
As the name suggests, listicles are content that provide resources as a list for audiences to grab and go. If you know of articles with titles like “5 things to do” or “15 places to visit” and so on, then you’ve come across a listicle.
Listicles present information in an easily digestible format, thus making them easily shareable. They also have high click-through rates because people view them as credible curated lists. These attributes make them perfect for building backlinks.
Listicles have the potential to go viral, more so when they cover popular or trending topics. A viral listicle attracts links from many websites trying to jump on the bandwagon. You get backlinks from all over the internet. Your website enjoys more traffic and broader visibility.
An excellent benefit of listicles is that they attract natural backlinks. If your listicle contains unique information, other websites and blogs link to it as a reference without you promoting it. Natural backlinks indicate to search engines that your website is a resource, thus convincing them to rank your website higher.
Google will likely feature informative listicles on the Featured Snippet segment on the SERP. This coveted placement will increase your traffic and make other website owners willing to link back to you.
Creating listicles is straightforward if you keep the following tips in mind.
- Choose an engaging headline. Consider current trends, common problems, or valuable tips that people would find helpful. Use strong action words, numbers, and intriguing phrases to create curiosity.
- Make your listicle scannable. Keep your sentences and paragraphs short, and use bullet points or numbered lists to simplify the listicle. Highlight key points using different typefaces to catch people’s attention.
- Include external links that provide context to the information in your listicle. Remember, link-building is a give-and-take practice. External links make your content credible and encourage others to link to it.
- Proofread to ensure your listicle is free from grammatical errors, typos, and inconsistencies. The last thing you want is for your content to look unprofessional.
- Include high-quality images, gifs, and videos in your listicle.
8. Update old content
Your past works are an untapped gold mine for link building. Updating old content ensures it remains relevant and up-to-date with the latest information and industry trends. The content stays valuable and attracts more backlinks than before.
Updating old content prompts search engines to crawl and index your website again. Indexed websites have a better chance of ranking higher, thus increasing visibility. That visibility is what you’re banking on to earn backlinks. The more people see your content, the more they’ll share links.
Over time, some links in your old content need to be updated or fixed. You can also contact websites that link your old content and inform them of the update to ensure your backlinks don’t fall under the broken links category.
9. Use your outbound links
Outbound links are hyperlinks that take your audience to other websites. You’ve come across plenty in this article already. These links are an excellent way to earn backlinks while building relationships with other site owners and content creators.
Back to that give-and-take approach, outbound links make website owners inclined to reciprocate by linking to your content.
Outbound links also attract the attention of other content creators. If they find your content informative or entertaining, they share it with their audience as links in their posts.
Simply put, outbound links show that you’re open to collaboration. Some website owners take the initiative to contact you and nurture a mutually beneficial professional relationship.
Remember, your outbound links should direct people to high-quality, relevant content from reputable websites. Avoid excessive linking; otherwise, your content looks spammy. Finally, don’t fall into the trap of link schemes. You might lose all your link-building progress when Google penalizes you.
10. Promote your content
Your excellent content may not get backlinks for one reason; nobody knows it exists. Creating great content is only part of the link-building process. You have to promote it. There are two ways to do so.
One way to promote content is by posting about it on your platforms, such as social media and newsletters. This method allows your work to attract natural backlinks. Website owners include links to your content in their articles or blogs because they find it entertaining and informative.
Another way to promote your work is through outreach. Contact influencers, website owners, and other content creators and tell them about your work. If it aligns with their interests or compliments their content, they’ll likely reference it and include a link. You may even get a guest blogging opportunity if you promote well enough.
Link-building is the foundation of a successful SEO strategy. Strategic link-building affords websites more visibility, higher ranking, and excellent relationships with other site owners.
Nurturing high-quality backlinks begins with creating linkable resources. Value in your content makes others want to interact and share it.
You can also nurture backlinks through guest blogging. Broken links are another excellent avenue to contact site owners to replace these links with yours. The Skyscraper Technique is another popular link-building technique that helps you sharpen your skills while earning backlinks.
We can’t forget about HARO, your chance to work with reporters and earn backlinks in news publications. Another great way to build links is by giving a testimonial. You can also craft informative listicles that make you a one-stop resource for people.
Remember, successful link-building includes your relationship with other industry players. Use these techniques to forge working relationships that will earn you backlinks for a long time.