How to Get High Quality Backlinks (Without Guest Posting)

How to Get Quality Backlinks with The Moving Man Method You already know that the only way to move your site to the top of Google is to build high quality backlinks (and lots of them).

That much is clear.

But how do you find authoritative sites that might be interested in linking to you?

And how do you get them to actually add your link…without bribing them with a guest post, link exchange or cash?

Well, that’s exactly what I’m going to share with you in today’s blog post.

Because over the last few months I’ve been experimenting with a new link building strategy (“The Moving Man Method”)…

…and have some AMAZING results to share with you.

Let’s Start With a Case Study of The Moving Man Method in Action

Before I reveal the step-by-step plan that you can use to generate high quality backlinks to your site, I want to show you some real life results.

Using “The Moving Man Method” I recently scored links from…

A DA87 .edu site:

High Domain Authority Link

A PA81 resource page:

Resource Page Link

And several contextual links from relevant sites in the SEO and online marketing space, like this:

Contextual Link

And this:

Link To My Site

As this point you’re probably wondering, “How can I use this strategy to get more search engine traffic for my site?

The Step-By-Step System for Landing High Quality Backlinks With The Moving Man Method

There are 3 simple steps to follow to take advantage of “The Moving Man Method”.

Step 1: Find sites or resources that have changed names, shut down, or moved.

Step 2: Find sites linking to the old page.

Step 3: Give them a heads up about their outdated link.

And you’re set.

Now it’s time to break down each step in detail.

Step #1: Find Outdated Resources

Your first step is to find sites in your industry that have:

  • Changed names
  • Moved to a new URL
  • Stopped offering a service
  • Stopped updating a resource
  • Shut down

How about an example?

You probably heard that SEOMoz recently changed their name to Moz (and moved their site from SEOmoz.org to Moz.com):

seomoz_to_moz

After I heard the news, I realized that this was a PERFECT opportunity to reach out to the hundreds of sites still linking to the old, SEOMoz.org URLs.

“Wait, How Is This Different Than Broken Link Building?”

For one, the links aren’t actually broken.

For example, if you run a broken link checking program like Check My Links on an old SEOMoz.org link, it shows up as working:

Links to SEOMoz.orgSure, that SEOMoz.org link IS technically working (it redirects to Moz.com)…

…but  the link points to the old URL and the anchor text has the site’s old name. Which means it’s out of date.

I also executed this same strategy with Blue Glass, an SEO agency that shut their doors a few months back.

Even though their site doesn’t have any content (except a “for sale” page):

blueglass

Check My Links doesn’t mark links to Blue Glass as broken (broken links are in red):

Broken Link Check

While the essence of the strategy might be similar to broken link building, this twist allows you to find HUNDREDS of link building opportunities that the tools miss.

How To Find Moving Man Opportunities

There are a two simple ways to find outdated resources that you can tap into:

1. Keep an eye out for sites in your industry that rebrand or change names.

As you probably know, SEOMoz wasn’t the first company in the history of business to rebrand…

…and they won’t be the last.

In fact, dozens of businesses change their name or move to a new domain every single day.

For example, I just did a quick search for “health rebrand” in PRWeb (most businesses announce their name change using a press release):

PRWeb Search

And found this press release:

Rebrand Press Release

Sure enough, the health center’s old URL has a nice dofollow link from Idaho.gov:

Backlink from a.gov Site

You can also use the same process at Google News.

For example, I just did a quick search for “rebrands as” in Google News:

Google Search

And found dozens of businesses that recently rebranded with a new name or moved to a new URL.

Including sites in the insurance and finance space:

Metlife Google Result

The tech and mobile industry:

Tech Niche Result

And the marketing niche:

Marketing Niche

As you can see, this strategy works no matter what industry you happen to be in (even a “boring” one).

2. Use search strings to find site features that no longer exist.

Sometimes — for one reason or another — a business shuts down a feature on their site (like Google recently did with Google Reader).

And some of these features used to be REALLY popular back in their heyday…

…which means they accumulated a lot of backlinks from authority sites.

But instead of deleting the page that hosted the service…businesses tend to set up a “service no longer available” page like this:

Service No Longer Available

Which means you can search for them :-)

Here are some search strings that you can use:

  • “service not available”
  • “page no longer exists”
  • “this website is no longer updated”
  • “this page is no longer updated”
  • “no longer available”
  • “website closed”
  • “service no longer available”

To show you how easy and powerful this technique is, I just did a 2-minute Google search for “this page no longer exists”:

Search String

And found this PA47 page from Michigan State University:

Retired Website

This page — and the other pages that used to be on this subdomain — have authority backlinks from:

  • Wikipedia
  • About.com
  • EPA.gov
  • And a handful of authoritative .edu and .gov sites.

Again, when you use a broken link checker on links to that page, they show up as working…

Kind of Broken Link

…even though, as you saw, the resource is long gone.

How can you squeeze the most SEO value from these outdated resources?

Keep reading.

Step #2: Find Sites Linking to the Old Resource

This step is important:

Now that you’ve found a site that recently re-branded or a site feature that’s no longer there, it’s time to find the links pointing to that page.

Just grab the URL of the outdated resource and put it into your backlink checking tool of choice (I’m using ahrefs in this example):

Site Explorer

And export all of the backlinks pointing to that page or site to an Excel spreadsheet or Google Doc:

Exported Backlinks

When you do, you’ll have a spreadsheet with fistfuls of link opportunities:

Link Opportunities

Once you have your link opportunities in hand, it’s time to be a Moving Man :-)

Step #3: Reach Out and Get Your Links

Your last step is to reach out to all of the people that still link to the outdated resource.

You want to give them a quick heads up about their outdated link…and gently suggest that they add your link to their site.

I tested a few different outreach email scripts for my Moz/BlueGlass campaign. Here’s the one that worked best:

Outreach Email Script

And because I added value to their site twice — once from the heads up about their outdated link and again by showing them my valuable resource — people were more than happy to add my link to their page:

Email Response

That’s all there is to it :-)

The Bottom Line

If you got some value from this post, leave a comment below.

I want to hear how YOU plan on using The Moving Man Method to add some juice to your SEO campaigns.

Are you going to find rebranded businesses in your space? Or look for closed website features?

Or maybe you’ve tried something similar before.

Either way, write a comment in the section below right now.

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{ 454 comments }
  • Shekhar

    Hi Brian,
    Thanks for sharing this wonderful strategy. It looks very promising. However, I feel that it is a very time consuming strategy. Moreover, it is quite unsure if the concerned website owner will agree to add our link to their website. Is there any way to automate this process so as to save some time?

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Thanks for reading, Shekhar.

      It’s actually not as time consuming as you may think. You should be able to find a business or site feature that has 200+ referring domains in about 10-minutes. And if you use a program like OSE to sort by Domain Authority, that should leave you 50 solid targets. That took 15-minutes. Then it’s outreach time, which can be outsourced somewhat cheaply.

      Reply
      • Danny

        Brian, honestly you are my favourite blogger at the moment:) No fulff and same old s***.

        Reply
        • Brian Dean

          That’s how I roll, Danny :-)

          Reply
    • Adam Roseland

      Shekhar,
      Can I suggest using outsourcing for this if you don’t have time? The content that you are hoping to have linked to has to be top notch, so I don’t suggest outsourcing that… but the outreach can all be done via a virtual assistant. If you don’t have a va, get one. Or pay someone to use theirs!

      Brian, always awesome content and names for your strategies!! Keep it up!

      Reply
      • Brian Dean

        That’s a really good suggestion. I agree: everything but the content could be (easily and cheaply) outsourced.

        Glad you liked the post, Adam :-)

        Reply
      • Jake

        Great idea Adam, thanks for the idea!

        Reply
      • Josh

        Im confused how do we find the business that are gone

        Reply
        • Brian Dean

          I’d use these search strings, Josh:

          “service not available”
          “page no longer exists”
          “this website is no longer updated”
          “this page is no longer updated”
          “no longer available”
          “website closed”
          “service no longer available”

          Reply
  • Loz James

    Hey Brian
    Killer strategy – this takes broken link building to a new (and easier to execute) level. I’m going to have to start an encyclopedia of all your techniques. This is great creative linkbuilding.
    Cheers!
    Loz

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Thanks for your kind words, Loz! You’re so right: in many ways this is easier and more scalable than broken link building. I’ve definitely had a lot of success with it lately. Give me a heads up if you decide to give it a go :-)

      Reply
  • Mikk

    Yummie, will implement this ASAP on my new niche site. Probably it will convert well also.

    By the way, where do you come up with such names “The Moving Man Method”, it’s catchy, but lol :D

    Cheers

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Nice Mikk! Keep me posted on how the strategy works out for your niche site. The names usually come to me suddenly when I’m walking around the streets of Berlin :-)

      Reply
  • Robert A.

    Very interesting and useful. But you can get backlinks from forums also. My site is built in Joomla so I went and searched for Joomla forums, mostly I found nacional forums from countries like are Germany, Italy, Spain, France…and those forums are very active. I checked if I can saw as unregistered user other peoples profiles and signatures, and mostly I can, so i add my homepage and signature with three links on those forums. And you do not need to write on forums to get backlinks.:)

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Thanks for your comment, Robert.

      I’m actually not a huge fan of forum backlinks. Forums are great for driving targeted traffic, but in my opinion, I don’t think Google places a lot of weight on forum backlinks :-(

      Reply
  • Jordan

    I’ve had much success using this technique, I think the reason why many just pass this technique by is because they simply cannot be ‘bothered’. To be completely honest, those who didn’t already have an idea of this, just don’t have the brain power(intelligence) or drive to complete real SEO. Fact!

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      You’re 100% right: techniques like this can get pretty time and resource intensive. But they’re definitely doable if you’re willing to put in the work. Like you, I like it when SEO gets harder because it raises the barrier to entry. Great points all around, Jordan!

      Reply
      • Lilia

        The technique itself seems to kinda fall into category of manually emailing and asking for a link back (aka knock on doors or leg work), but the way of building the contact list is unique. This strategy might or might not work for niche topic sites where you can find at the most 5 sites to email (not my case, just wanted to point out for others). I would say this should probably be reserved for when more simple tasks (e.g. email sites that link to your competitors) are complete to maximize productivity and outcome.

        Brian, would you say for outsourcing a task like this or similar the email should come from an email on your domain to make the request look less farmed-out compare to say bob12345@gmail.com that a random freelancer might have?

        p.s. Need to fix “nameMoz” to “name to Moz” in the post

        Reply
        • Brian Dean

          Good points all around, Lilia. This is definitely an email outreach focused approach (in my experience those are the strategies that work best). I tend to use my email just for the sake of transparency. I think it’s a bit shady to pretend that you’re just some random person.

          Thanks for the heads up about the typo. Fixed :-)

          Reply
        • Kazura

          Looks like some niches are better than others, but I really like Lilia’s comment about emailing sites that have links to your competitors. This is really awesome, especially if you can offer them great content that benefits them and their users. So glad I saw it!

          Reply
          • Brian Dean

            Absolutely, Kazura. Fortunately, there are still some opportunities in every niche (although as you said, some have more opportunities than others). Lilia was right on with her comment: competitor’s links are one of the best places to find link building opportunities.

  • Kheng

    Brian, your always so creative. Your one of the main guys I follow when it comes to white hat methods. You’re always giving actionable advice. Thanks mate!
    Oh…l can see your naming most of your strategies too!! nice! I heard that strategy from Derek Halpern..

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Thanks Kheng! I appreciate that. Yes, naming your strategies is a great way to establish your brand and make your advice more memorable. Derek is a master at that (his Drafting Technique was brilliant!).

      Reply
  • Gustav

    Hey Brian,
    It’s always a pleasure to read your great posts filled with tips – really! I will implement all the tricks asap to my sites, and hope for the best ;)

    Greertings – Gustav

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Really glad to hear that, Gustav! Keep me posted on how this strategy works with your sites :-)

      Reply
      • Gustav

        Thanks, I will keep you posted :)
        I have actually a really quick question for you, Brian. When you’re writing for example: “A PA81 resource page:” What does “PA81″ stands for? Or “DA87″ for that matter ;)
        I know you probably already have explained this, but I have unfortunately missed it..

        I’m hoping for an answer,
        Greetings Gustav

        Reply
        • Brian Dean

          No problem. PA stands for “Page Authority” and DA stands for “Domain Authority”. They’re two metrics developed by Moz as alternatives to PageRank.

          Reply
  • boni satani

    Awesome (y) Head’s up for that man! Darn creative technique

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Glad you enjoyed the post, Boni. Shoot me an email if you ever have any questions.

      Reply
  • Wolston Lobo

    WOW! Just when I thought all the smart strategies have been covered you come up with another one. I have not seen this one anywhere else on the net and it is surely worth a try. There are so many brands that change their name and go through re-branding. I’m sure this idea will catch steam but for early adopters… This is pure gold.

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Thanks Wolston! It’s so true that brands change names and re-brand (literally) very single day. Considering that, I think this approach will be around for the long haul and (hopefully) won’t get burned out like so many other link building strategies.

      Reply
  • Richard Marriott

    Nice stuff Brian! Like the name “Moving Man Method”. I’m definitely gonna be giving this a go for the new niche authority site I’m building. Btw, what was your link:email ratio like for this method?

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Thanks Richard :-). This is a great strategy for a new site.

      I didn’t track the conversion rate for this campaign. But I’d say it averaged around 10% or so.

      Reply
  • Vukasin

    Very nice Brian. Those are some powerful ways to instantly help people better rank their sites with some additional backlinks on higher PR sites.
    Thank you for this.
    I will try this method and I will keep you notified if I see some results.

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Glad to hear you got value from the post, Vukasin. This is definitely a great way to get links from high PR, niche relevant sites.

      Reply
  • Jay Soriano

    Interesting post Brian, and a reason why some of my expired domains are losing a few links ;-)

    I always found broken link building to be quite laborious and tedious as compared to other methods – such as guest posting and infographics… which of course, if done correctly, bring a lot more value than just a link.

    I’ve seen you use all three – how would you rank them (1, 2, 3) and why?

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Tough question. If I had to rank them I’d also take into account the other benefits they can bring (namely, traffic and brand exposure).

      So I’d say: infographics, broken link building and guest posting in that order. But it’s a close race.

      I’d put guest posting higher (because you can get laser targeted traffic from it), but you have to do it right to make sure those links pass value over the long-term.

      Reply
  • Julian Hooks

    As usual a great method. The only problem is that there aren’t enough hours in the day for me to try out all these tactics! I wish I had a team member to assign to each method you post lol.

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Thanks for reading, Julian. As Adam Roseland pointed out, this is a great strategy for outsourcing to a VA. You could have him search daily or weekly for the search strings I provided in Google News or PRWeb, find the links pointing to the old resource and then reach out. It will definitely take some time to show him the ropes, but if you’re strapped for time, it’s a way to tap into the strategy without having to find extra time in the day.

      Reply
  • Michael

    Impressive indeed. Thanks for sharing this Brian. Sure, it may require time being spent finding and getting the link placed but these are exactly the types of links that the big G are looking for in a sites link profile.

    These links will be much loved by Google as they are links that the site owner; A) Didn’t mass produce and B) Didn’t create themselves. On top of that the site linking to your site is relevant AND trusted.

    Yep, these are the links that will make a difference to your sites ranking. For this reason they are worth spending the time doing or paying your outsourcer to do for you.

    Either way, this is a winner.

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Couldn’t have said it better, Michael. These are the exact types of links that work right now (and will always work). So like you, I see strategies like this well worth the investment.

      Reply
      • Henry

        The only question remains, how to find relevant niches without browsing the net for hours ?

        Reply
        • Brian Dean

          It definitely takes some work to find a relevant and outdated resource, Henry. But it’s something you can easily outsource :-)

          Reply
          • Henry

            Yeah for some businesses it is very hard to find the relevant niche just like for ours. But definitely kudos for you :)

          • Brian Dean

            That’s true, Henry. You may also have to settle for a closely-related niche.

  • Crystal

    I just love your tips Brian. Thank you for making it so easy to understand and I love the step by step. I work along as I read and just see for myself how easy it can be by following your SEO “recipes”. :D

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Thanks! I work hard to make the strategies simple and easy to follow. As a passionate cook, I love the “recipe” analogy.

      Go cook up those delicious links, Crystal :-)

      Reply
  • Rob

    hey brian, It seems to me like in order to get those quality high authority links from these sites based on the moving man method, i’d need to have written some very very very good content then being able to share them with these sites…i like the approach, it forces to create amazing content, then networking to share them and getting links…nice job

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      That’s very true. Great content can really bump up conversions with this strategy (or any link building technique that required email outreach). Good points, Rob!

      Reply
  • Lalit Burma

    Would love to read this whole post again with fresh mind in fresh morning air :)

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      No worries. It’ll be there tomorrow :-)

      Reply
  • Krystian Wlodarczyk

    Really smart strategy. I enjoyed reading your post very much. Tweet!

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Thanks Krystian! I’m glad you got something from the post. Send me an email if you have any questions.

      Reply

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Brian Dean is the founder of Backlinko, the training hub for digital marketing professionals with over 50,000 monthly readers and a popular email newsletter. Continue reading