This is the most complete list of link building strategies on the Web. Period.
In fact, you’ll find 170+ strategies, tips and tactics on this page.
So if you’re looking to build backlinks to your site, you’ll really enjoy this list.
I want strategies that are
Show only Brian's favorite strategies
Alumni Lists and Directories
Most college sites (or standalone alumni websites) have a section of their site dedicated to their alumni. And some of them link out.
For example, here’s a list of alumni businesses on the University of Michigan website.
Ask People You Know for Links
This can be friends, relatives, employees, colleagues, business partners, clients… just about anyone.
More and more people are creating their own sites and blogs (or know people that do).
That said: you really only want to get links from relevant websites. If it’s not relevant, it’s not going to have much of an impact. Plus, these people might be (rightly) hesitant to link to your jewelry store from their football blog.
Be Specific With Your Outreach
Don’t be afraid to (gently) let your outreach targets know exactly where you want your link to go.
This isn’t being pushy: it’s considerate. Otherwise, you force them to figure out where your link should go.
Here’s a real-life example of a very specific outreach email:
Better Business Bureau
Links from the BBB are now all nofollowed. And Google has said that getting listed on the BBB doesn’t directly help with SEO. That said, if you believe that getting listed on the BBB website itself has some SEO value, it might be worthwhile.
The price of a BBB listing is determined by region and by number of employees. For example, St. Louis BBB ranges from $370 for 1-3 employees all the way to $865+ for 100-200 employees. Anything over that, as well as additional websites, constitutes as additional charges.
Either way, you are SUPPOSED to get a link of some kind out of all of this. You need to check on your listing once it is published as each region has their own rules regarding their directory. There have been some instances where a business’ website URL in the directory listing was NOT a live link, only text. All you have to do is contact your BBB representative and ask for that to be changed.
Do blog comments directly lead to dofollow links? No.
But they’re a great way to get on a blogger’s radar screen. Which CAN lead to links down the road.
For example, in the early days of Backlinko, I’d comment on marketing and SEO blogs all the time:
And this helped me build relationships with bloggers in my niche. And weeks or months later, I noticed some bloggers spontaneously linking to me. And others ask me to guest post on their site.
If you have a blog, you can submit it to various blog directories.
For example, here’s a link to my blog from AllTop:
Chamber of Commerce
Company Directory Submissions
Just like general web directories, you can submit your site to general company directories.
The big thing to keep in mind here is that you want to focus on getting links from highly-relevant sites.
For example, are you a startup in NYC? Then this business directory would be a solid link.
Contribute to Crowdsourced Posts
Unless you’re insanely busy, always say “YES!” to crowdsourced post invites. They usually ask you stuff you already know. So it should only take you 5-10 minutes to write a response.
For example, here’s a link that I got from a crowdsourced post a while back:
Create an RSS feed
If your blog runs on any popular Content Management System (like WordPress) you probably already have an RSS feed. If you don’t, create one.
How does an RSS feed help with link building? It’s simple. There are sites out there that will scrape your content (stealing it without permission). And they find your content via your RSS feed. Just make sure to include internal links to other pages on your site in your content. That way, even if the scrapers don’t link to your original post, they’ll at least copy your internal links.
Here’s an example of a scraper site that scraped my content… including my internal links:
Create Shoulder Niche Content
In a boring niche? Well, it’s still possible to get links. You just need to be creative.
For example, one industry study found that “tangential content” (content not directly related to what a site sells) resulted in 30% more links and 77% more social shares vs. content that was about the business’s specific industry.
Use sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo to find projects that need funding and are willing to give links to those who contribute. Here’s an example:
Fair warning: This is definitely a grey area in terms of “paid links”. Use this strategy at your own risk.
Discounts are a great way to get mentions in lists like this one:
Just reach out to writers that curate discounts. And let them know about your discount or coupon.
Donate to Charities & Non-Profits
Charities and non-profit organizations usually have a donors page, like this:
Unfortunately, this is one of the most overused link building strategies on the planet. In fact, Google has come out and classified donation links as “paid links”.
Email People That You Mention
This is simple. But it works.
Whenever you mention or link to someone in your content, let them know:
It won’t always result in a backlink. But as long as you’re not pushy, you can pick up some links and shares from this approach.
If you send out 100 emails a day, having an email signature with a link back can drive an extra 50+ people a month to your website. It’s not much, but it requires zero effort.
Create a resource that helps attendees get the most out of their experience at a popular event or conference.
For example, this SXSW survival guide has picked up 29 backlinks:
Fix Grammar and Spelling
This is just like Broken Link Building. But instead of broken links, you’re looking for spelling and grammar mistakes.
Obviously, most people aren’t going to add your link just because you pointed out that they used “your” instead of “you’re”. But it’s an easy way to get your foot in the door.
Getting Links From Scraped Content
If your content gets scraped, and the scraped piece of content doesn’t have a link back to you, contact the webmaster and ask for one.
Just like images and infographics, scraping content without attribution is copyright infringement. So you’ll find that sites that want to avoid DMCA complaints are willing to add your link (or delete the scraped content).
That said, most scraper sites aren’t that great anyway. Which means a link from that site isn’t going to do much for you.
Guest blogging doesn’t work as well as it used to for two main reasons:
First, bloggers are sick of guest blog pitches.
Second, Google has largely devalued links from guest posts.
That said, guest posting still has its place as a link building tactic. Assuming you follow these caveats:
- Only guest post on sites that are VERY picky about what they publish. If they accept anything, you probably don’t want a link from that site.
- Don’t use exact match anchor text in your external links
- Focus on publishing on relevant sites (even if that means compromising on Domain Authority)
- Don’t rely on guest posting as your sole (or main) link building strategy. That’s a footprint you don’t want
Hire A Recent Graduate
I’m not saying you should hire a recent grad for the sole purpose of getting a link. But if you’ve hired any recently, check to see if there’s a career sections of their school’s website that talk about recent grads landing jobs. If so, ask your new hire to outreach for the link. It usually just takes a quick call or email.
For example, the University of Oregon’s career center has a category of their blog dedicated solely to this.
If you have any job or internship opportunities, you can get a few easy .edu links. For example, if you work in anthropology and you’re looking for an intern, here’s an easy link.
If you run an agency, compile as many of these opportunities as you can in a spreadsheet. And categorize them by category (i.e. travel, hospitality, etc.). These will come in handy whenever you land a new client in that niche.
Yup, linking out is an on-page SEO best practice. But it can help you build relationships too.
(For example, you can send outreach emails to everyone that you linked out to).
Links from Shopping Mall Websites
If you’re located in a shopping plaza or mall, chances are that mall has a website. And if they do, they probably have a list of the businesses located in them (along with a link to each business’s main website).
Here’s an example:
They can be massive lists of 100+ strategies or tips. But small lists can work well too.
For example, this list of 17 SEO tips has been linked to 2,400 times:
Submit your site to local listings. You already know about the big ones (like Yelp). But there are literally thousands of these. Keep an eye out for sites that focus on your city or state. These are super relevant and have fewer submissions to comb through.
Mention Specific People
Whenever possible mention specific people in your content. Why? People LOVE getting mentioned. And when they see that you linked to them, you’ll at least get on their radar screen. And they’ll sometimes even share and link to your content.
Niche Specific Directories
Unlike general web directories (like BOTW), niche directories only accept sites that cover a specific topic.
For example, here’s a directory of California-based websites.
Our Retailers Pages
If you’re a retail or eCommerce site, make a list of manufacturer and supplier websites of the products you carry.
Here’s an example:
Then, reach out and ask them to add you to their list. Simple.
Note: This is a great way for local businesses looking to get more NAP citations.
Some directories cost money in order to be accepted into their listings (technically a fee to review your site). While some of these can pass legitimate value, most are a waste of money.
I’m not a fan of paid directories in general. But if you want to go for it, I’d recommend submitting to the BBB directory, BOTW and JoeAnt.
Personalize Email to Contact Forms
Contact forms and “info@” email addresses are like outreach black holes.
You have no clue who manages these generic inboxes… or if they care enough to forward your message.
That’s why I always write to contact forms as if I was writing directly to the person that I want to get in touch with:
In my experience, this makes it 2-5x more likely that your email gets forwarded to the right person.
People like hard copies (PDFs) of useful guides. Why? It makes your content more valuable (and worthy of links).
That’s why I offer people PDF versions of our definitive guides:
Profile links don’t do much. But they’re technically a “link building strategy”. So I had to include it on this list.
Basically, if you sign up to become a member for a site, you’ll get a link in your profile. Well, not every site. Some sites will allow quality links in your profile. Others won’t.
If you do build links from profiles, make sure to focus on niche-relevant profiles. That way, your links don’t look spammy.
Sites like Quora can build a few nofollow links that can also send you traffic. You obviously want to mention your website as a source in your answer.
For example, here’s a link that I built from Quora to one of my YouTube videos:
Yup, I included reciprocal linking even though I don’t recommend it. This list wouldn’t be complete without it.
That said, if you are going to exchange links with a website, be picky about who you exchange links with. Make sure it’s the most relevant, trustworthy website you’ve ever seen in your life.
Reclaim Links Pointing To 404s
You probably have a few broken links pointing to your site. Maybe you moved the page. Or maybe the person that linked to you messed up the URL.
You can easily find broken backlinks in Ahrefs (“Backlinks –> “Broken”)
Then, redirect those broken links to a similar page. And you just “built” a bunch of backlinks without any outreach. Sweet!
Reclaim Profile Page Links
People will sometimes link to your profile pages on external sites. For example, this links to my Twitter page:
As long as the page itself doesn’t have any real link value (for example, Twitter links are nofollow. So getting a link to that page doesn’t make that link more powerful), you’re better off with a link to your actual site. That said: don’t be pushy with your outreach. Just gently let them know that you’re more active on your own website. So a link to your website will send their readers to the right place.
Scoop.it is a great way to drive traffic and build a few nofollow links at the same time. Scoop.it is a site where users curate content they want to share.
All you need to do is find Scoop.it pages that get lots of views. For example, this page has over 2 million views.
Then, suggest your content to the person that runs that page.
If you have an awesome slide deck, submit it to Slideshare (nofollow).
Sites like Living Social and Groupon allow you to include (nofollow) links on your coupon page.
Whether it’s a local meetup, industry conference, or anything in between, events are always looking for sponsors. And they’ll usually link to you from the event website (or at least mention you at the conference).
You can also secure links from sponsoring venues where events take place. I’ve seen this most successful for outdoor sporting venues, like this one from my home state of Rhode Island:
But I’ve also seen this work successfully for indoor conference venues too.
Podcasts aren’t the only way to get interviewed on another site.
In fact, I actually like text interviews MORE than podcasts.
(Why? Because I can answer the questions when it’s convenient for me.)
For example, here’s a text interview that netted me a link from an authority site in the entrepreneurship niche:
If you have video content, make sure you’re getting links from all that hard work. Heads up: most of these sites (like Vimeo) only provide nofollow links.
Work With Niche-Specific Link Builders
Experienced link builders usually have a little black book of contacts (at least the good ones do). Which means they’ve dealt with people in either your vertical (or a similar one) already. And when you hire a link builder that has experience in your space, you get access to their contacts on Day 1.
How does this work? First, list any services or products you’ve bought recently. Then, reach out to the company and let them know how much you love their product, service, tool etc.
As long as it’s not a massive company (like Walmart), there’s a good chance they’ll feature your testimonial… and link to your site.
For example, here’s a testimonial that resulted in a backlink for me:
This is similar to Alumni Directories… but more valuable.
Unlike a directory listing, you get featured in an article. And because the link has contextual relevance, it’s more powerful than a simple directory link.
The key is having an interesting story to tell. If you do, your college will probably LOVE to write about it.
If you run an agency, ask clients for a list of their employee’s alma maters. And pitch their stories to these universities.
Pro tip: Check if there are any Awards (such as Drexel’s 40 under 40) that might provide another opportunity for a link.
If a happy customer emails you out of the blue, ask them to share their experience with your product and service online. Even if they don’t have a massive following, you get a link… and a blog post that puts your company in a super positive light.
Obviously, let them know that you’ll put your muscle behind the post and promote it around.
Associations and Organizations
Are you a member of an association or organization? If so, find out if they link out to their list of members. And ask them to add you to their list. In fact, it’s sometimes worth joining an organization just to get a link.
Here’s an example from the World Federation of Orthodontists:
If you have a client that’s an orthodontist, that’s a nice relevant link that couldn’t be easier to get.
Member directories and lists are one thing. But if you want to take this to another level, most organizations run posts on their members that highlight what they’re up to (just like with Alumni associations). So if you have an interesting story to tell, ask them for a feature.
Badges work great if you’re giving out awards. Just make sure to include a link back to the awards page in the embed code.
Your badges/awards can be just about anything. There’s the obvious “top X blogs” in a niche. But you can also do a list of top local venues, restaurants, service providers, etc. Or the best products in a category that doesn’t get a lot of social attention (like water pumps or CRM software).
These untapped awards usually work better because these organizations haven’t been featured anywhere before. Which means they’ll be pumped to spread the word.
Best Tools Lists
“Best Tools lists” are just like they sound: they’re lists of the best tools and software in your industry.
(In fact, I’ve published several of these myself)
So if you have a tool that’s a good fit for someone’s list, let them know about it.
This is pretty simple: you give bloggers your product and ask them to review it. There are hundreds of potential blog targets in most industries. Which makes this one of the few link building strategies that’s actually scalable.
The one catch is that Google doesn’t want you to exchange your product for a backlink. Instead, just send your product out and let each blogger decide whether or not to link.
If your brand gets mentioned without a link, you’ve got an easy link opportunity staring you in the face.
For example, someone mentioned “Backlinko” on their blog without linking to me here:
All I need to do is email that person and gently ask them to link to me. That way, people can easily find my site.
I recommend using BuzzSumo to find these mentions as they happen.
Broken Link Building
Out of the 150+ link building strategies on this list, Broken Link Building might be my favorite. The steps are: 1) find a page that might link to you, 2) look for broken links on that page, 3) let the webmaster know… and ask if the broken link could be replaced with a link to you.
Here’s a great guide that includes the detailed process.
Ever hear the expression: “it’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know”? Well, the same thing applies to link building.
The links you get from relationships are mostly indirect. But they DO happen.
Here are a few examples:
Share people’s stuff : When you see a great piece of content, share it. Unless the person is a huge baller, they’ll notice. And they might return the favor with a link down the road.
Go to meetups: I’ve given talks at dozens of meetups around the world. While these only landed me a single (nofollow) link from Meetup.com, these talks have resulted in a handful of dofollow links from SEO and marketing bloggers that went to my talk.
Answer questions: Answer questions on Twitter, Quora, forums… anywhere where people in your industry hang out. This can get you on lots of radar screens FAST.
This can be a 7-day, 30-day or even 365-day schedule of events, tasks, steps…just about anything.
It’s basically an ultimate guide laid out in the form of a calendar.
For example, this HIIT Calendar has over 400 backlinks:
As it turns out, case studies are GREAT for building links.
That’s because your case study is something that’s super easy to reference.
For example, this case study on my blog talks about how well The Content Upgrade worked for me:
And whenever someone talks about The Content Upgrade, they reference my case study as proof that it works.
In fact, my case study has been linked to 3,470 times. Sweet!
Charts and Graphs
And I can tell you from experience that attractive charts and graphs have led to 2-3x more links.
That’s because lots of bloggers embed our charts in their content… with a link back to the study:
This is like an ultimate guide… in list form.
For example, this list of SEO tools from my blog has accumulated over 7.76k backlinks:
This is a low-cost version of buying an entire website. So the next time you find highly-linked to content on a site that seems abandoned, ask the site owner if you could pay them to move that content (with a 301) to your site.
If you offer a product or service, reach out to bloggers in your niche that run contests. And offer up your product or service to the winner. They’re usually more than happy to accept. And 99% of the time, they’ll link to you from the contest announcement page.
Contribute to Wikipedia Pages
By citing your own content on relevant Wikipedia pages, you can get a link under the “References” section. It’s nofollow, but it’s super trustworthy and can send you highly relevant traffic.
Pro Tip: Make sure you don’t sign up as an editor with a company email address. Otherwise, people will disregard any edits you make with a link to you as spam. Also, if the link doesn’t make sense (you’re just adding it for the sake of getting a link), then it will get deleted within hours.
Create a Blog
Can you succeed with SEO and link building without a blog? Probably.
But it’s A LOT harder.
That’s because a blog makes it easy to publish awesome content, internal link, external link and more.
Plus, if you consistently publish awesome content on your blog, people will start linking to your blog’s homepage:
Create Conversational Content
If your content strikes up a conversation in the comments section and on social media, you’ll sometimes notice that people also start writing blog posts with their take.
(And they almost always link back to the original post)
This works best with controversial content. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be controversial. Anything interesting that starts a conversation can work.
For example, I published this voice search ranking factors study a while back. And HubSpot wrote an entire post with their take on the findings:
Also known as an “expert roundup”.
These are getting a little overused. But they still work. That’s because an expert roundup does something super valuable: it curates tips, strategies and thoughts from experts all in one place. That’s something that will never go out of style.
For example, this foodie roundup has generated 200+ links:
CSS Galleries and Awards
Does your site look amazing? Well, there are loads of CSS galleries and awards you can submit to.
And you usually get a link if you make the cut.
Curate Awesome Content
Content curation is one of my all-time favorite link building strategies. That’s because, unlike a traditional blog post, you have dozens of sites that you can reach out to on day 1.
Plus, when you curate a list of awesome resources, you have a piece of content that’s super valuable… and worthy of links.
For example, last year I published this list of resources to help people learn SEO:
Even though the post is largely a list of links to other content, it’s already racked up links from 231 domains.
Pro Tip: Don’t just copy and paste a list of links. Organize your links into sections. Outline why you included each piece of content. And make it easy for people to find the content that will help them most. This increases the value of your curated post.
Ranking scores of people, companies, teams, or just about anything can garner some serious links.
The list can be objective (like the Fortune 500 list).
Or subjective (like ESPN’s NFL Power Rankings).
Either way works.
Reach out to universities and let them know about your expertise in a given area. This works best for high-tech topics because most Universities are 10+ years behind the curve.
You can either help create or improve the curriculum for a course. Or offer your site as a course resource. Here’s an example:
Dead Content Recreation
This takes Broken Link Building one step further.
Well, with this approach, you recreate the content that was hosted on the broken link (you can usually find the old content on archive.org). Obviously, don’t straight up copy the content. But stick to the original format (for example, if the dead content was a list post, don’t write a case study on the same topic).
That way, when you reach out, you have 1:1 replacement for the dead link.
If there’s a myth that most people in your industry believe, debunk it. If the myth is big enough, you can get some serious attention.
For example, this list of 9/11 myths has over 15k backlinks:
Do Something Shocking
Keep in mind that “shocking” doesn’t mean “controversial”.
For example, the “Will it Blend” series got a ton of links and eyeballs to Blendtec’s site:
Drawings and Illustrations
Illustration and drawings aren’t just for comic strips and memes.
In fact, they work GREAT in B2B.
For example, this drawing that outlines how RankBrain works has been shared (and linked to) dozens of times:
In a nutshell, you’ll be finding other eCommerce sites that sell complementary (but non-competing) products. Then, partnering with them to promote each other’s stuff.
Although they aren’t Ecommerce, VividSeat and ESPN have a similar partnership. Schedule pages on ESPN links to VividSeat’s page that sell tickets for that page:
It’s a fact of life: people like to look good. And if you feature a person or community on your blog, you’ll at least get on their radar screen.
(And in many cases, if you put them in a really positive light, they’ll happily link to you)
Moz recently analyzed 759 content marketing campaigns that were designed to build backlinks.
Highly-emotional content got 70% more links than content that didn’t elicit any emotions:
Recaps of important industry events can turn your scribbled notes into solid backlinks. Especially if you make your recap post super interesting and actionable (like a blog post or ultimate guide).
For example, this “6 Key Takeaways from SXSW” got 19 backlinks:
Why does this work? Well, there’s a surge of content that comes out after a conference. And if you write an awesome list of tactics and takeaways from the conference, you have a link magnet that people will happily share.
Pro Tip: Promote your recap with the conference hashtag so it gets in front of the conference audience.
Your content doesn’t always need to be on a hot topic.
In fact, evergreen content usually works BETTER over the long-term.
Why? Well, you can promote evergreen content for years. And if it ever gets out of date, you can easily give it the ol’ update.
Plus, evergreen content tends to rank well in Google. This means more people will see your stuff… and link to it.
For example, I published this post 5+ years ago:
According to Ahrefs, this evergreen post still generates about 150-200 links every single month.
Buying expired domains is definitely black hat if you’re just going to 301 redirect the domain to your site.
Fortunately, 301ing isn’t the only way to use expired domains for link building. In fact, there are plenty of white hat approaches.
For example, you can find expired domains that still have links pointing to them. Then, use archive.org to create similar content on your site. Finally, reach out to people that still link to the expired domain and ask them to replace the link with a link to your site (aka Broken Link Building).
Find Influencers in BuzzSumo
One of the hardest parts of link building is finding people that will want to share your content.
Lately, I’ve been using BuzzSumo’s cool “Influencer” search.
And if you’re only interested in finding people to link to you, the tool gives you the influencer’s SEO stats (Moz’s Domain Authority and Page Authority).
Find Link Opportunities With Reverse Image Search
This works for guest post target, columns, interviews, podcast appearances, speaking engagements… just about anything.
All you need to do is grab a headshot of an influencer in your niche. Then, pop it into reverse image search.
And you’ll find sites that the person appeared on as a guest or contributor:
Find People Using Your Images
You can easily find other websites using your images or infographics with a reverse image tool (like Google Images).
For example, here’s a site using one of my images without attribution:
If this happens to you, politely ask them if they could link back to the original source (your site). Most people will be happy to hook you up.
Use ScrapeBox to find sites with malware, then reach out to webmasters and let them know. They’ll usually thank you with a link.
Remember: don’t go to their site! You might get a virus. Use a whois lookup to find contact info.
Forums aren’t as big as they used to be (thanks largely to Reddit). That said, you can usually find a handful of active forums on just about any topic.
For example, when I first started Backlinko, I was an active member of online marketing forums.
Sure, I got a few links. But more importantly, my content got in front of people… people that eventually linked to my stuff.
Get Covered in Local Newspaper Sites
Everybody and their mom wants to get featured in the New York Times. But you might not realize how EASY it is to get featured in your local newspaper site. Most local sites are starving for stories. And they’re happy to feature anything remotely newsworthy that your business is up to.
Pro Tip: Local papers and news sites LOVE covering events (like a fundraiser). It’s an easy story to write.
Get Interviewed on Podcasts
Podcasts >>>> guest posting.
And your link isn’t a devalued “guest post link”.
For example, I’ve appeared on over 50 podcasts over the last few years. And I got a link from almost every single one of those podcast appearances.
Get People to See and Read Your Content
People won’t link to your content unless they see it.
(Thanks Captain Obvious!)
But seriously. It’s not only important to get your content in front of people. You need to get it in front of the right people.
This is where social media, content marketing, connections and brand awareness come into play. These can all help your content spread like wildfire.
I also want to point out that you don’t have to limit yourself to sites in your niche. You can also promote your content to related industries that might be interested in your content.
Glossary of Industry Terms
A glossary of industry terms and acronyms is a GREAT way to attract links.
Most industries are full of jargon that newbies can’t understand. So when you curate these terms into a glossary, you have something that people will HAPPILY link to.
For example, this glossary of internet terms has landed 9,200 links from over 1,200 root domains (imagine if you made an updated version!).
Certain industries (insurance, gambling) are REALLY hard to build links in.
And other industries (like the green niche) are on the other end of the spectrum.
Why? First off, there are LOTS of untapped topics in the space. Second, green bloggers and environmental organizations are usually happy to link to great content.
For example, this list of 100+ ways to save water has been linked to 25 thousand times.
Help a Local Non-Profit
This can be in the form of a donation, volunteer work or a company outing to lend a hand. Sometimes the non-profit will write about people and local businesses that have helped them… and link out.
Help A Reporter Out (HARO)
HARO, or Help A Reporter Out, connects journalists with bloggers and industry experts.
It’s not easy to get mentioned (there’s A LOT of competition for every request). But if you grind it out, you can get some legit links from major newspaper sites and blogs.
For example, here’s a backlink that I got from HARO a few years back:
Help College Clubs
Most colleges have a wide range of clubs, and if you help the club with technical help (like lending a hand with the club’s website) or to organize an event, they’ll sometimes mention you on the site.
And because the club’s site is hosted on an .edu domain, that link will carry some legit authority.
Pro Tip: When you search for clubs, think “general”… not specific. For example, for this blog, I’d look for marketing clubs rather than SEO clubs.
Hire Industry Veterans
Relationship building is HARD. Especially if you’re brand new to a given industry.
What happens when you work with a well-known person in your industry? Well, you just cut out months of outreach and legwork.
You can hire an industry veteran in any capacity that makes sense for your business. It can be as a consultant, guest writer, interviewer, interviewee or as an advisor.
Host Other People's Events
You don’t necessarily need to host your own event to reap the rewards. If you have space suitable for events, offer it to other organizations to use for free (or really cheap). This is an easy way to earn links to a directions or “event info” page of your own website.
This is especially powerful for businesses like hotels, retirement communities, restaurants, bars, and other similar local business sites that can be tricky to build links to.
How-to Guides and Tutorials
It might surprise you to find out that how-to guides are awesome for link building.
When someone mentions a topic in a post, they usually don’t have room to dive into all the details. So they usually link to a tutorial that outlines all of the steps.
Here’s an example:
Icon sets are pretty easy to make. And if they catch on, you’ll find yourself with links from a ton of design blogs.
For example, this mobile icon set has over 500 backlinks:
Pro Tip: Make sure your icon set is relevant to your niche. For example, if you run a sporting goods eCommerce site, create an icon set of baseballs, soccer balls and footballs).
Do infographics work as well as they used to?
But they CAN still work. The key is to create an infographic that’s truly remarkable. It’s kind of like a blog post. In 2006, a 500-word post would work. Today? You need to pump out amazing stuff to get noticed. And it’s the same with infographics right now.
Here’s an example of the type of infographic that I’m talking about:
And to make it easy for people to embed your infographic, check out this handy embed code generator.
Instructographics are infographics that teach you how to do something.
Like any infographic, their power comes from people embedding them in their content (and linking back to you).
But as a nice bonus, Instructographics work really well on Pinterest too.
Internal links are HUGE. That’s because, unlike external links, you control everything about them… from the location on the page to the anchor text.
That said, one piece of advice about internal linking: don’t automate it.
Instead, go through all of your older content. Then, when it makes sense, add links between pages on your site. And don’t forget to mix up your anchor text.
For example, I usually use about 5-10 internal links per page:
That’s all there is to it.
Interview an Expert
Interviewing an industry expert can net you a handful of decent links. For example, this Tim Ferris interview by Jeff Goins netted him 50 backlinks:
Pro Tip: Feature easily-shareable quotes on your interview page. This gives bloggers something easy to reference from your interview.
Most bloggers struggle to find relevant images to use in blog posts. Especially when it comes to visualizations or anything that requires a graphic designer.
In fact, that’s one of the main reasons that I invest in professional images, like this:
Yes, these images make my content easier to follow. But they also create passive link building opportunities. That’s because bloggers and journalists use my images in their content (and link to me when they do).
In fact, I’ve racked up 500+ links from images on this blog alone.
List of Stats
Here’s where you curate a list of statistics on a given topic:
The funny part is this: even though you’re collecting stats from other sites, most people that use a statistic from your list will link to your page… not the original source.
Pro Tip: This works 100x better if you get your page to rank for “X statistics” keywords.
After all, who do you think searches for these terms? Bloggers and journalists that are looking for stats to include in their content!
If you’re at an industry event, blog about everything that you see. If you’re the only one doing it, you can get a ton of traffic (and links).
I know it’s Wired, so it’s a little unfair, but hopefully you can learn how it’s done from this example (451 links from 140 root domains in 3 months).
Also, check out this fantastic guide on live blogging.
Make It Easy to Link
If you want people to link to you, make it easy for them.
For example, if you found a resource page that would be PERFECT for your content, let the site owner know exactly where your link makes sense.
Or if you’re promoting an infographic. Send people an embed code they can use to add your infographic to a WordPress post.
Getting a link in a newsletter is a GREAT source of highly-targeted traffic (in other words: visitors that are super likely to link to your site). It can be your own newsletter… or someone else’s newsletter.
For example, I (obviously) link to my stuff in the Backlinko newsletter. But I’ve also been featured in big newsletters in the SEO niche (like the Moz Top 10), which led to a huge spike in traffic…
…and a few days later, links to that post.
Niche communities are an untapped way to get traffic and links.
Obviously, most community links are nofollow. But some aren’t. Either way, they’re a great source of traffic and exposure.
For example, back in the day I was an active member of (the now dead) Inbound.org.
And this helped get my content in front of people that ran blogs in my niche. Powerful stuff.
Offering discounts to faculty, teachers, and students can get you (easy) links from pages like this.
If you run an eCommerce site, and your products are something that students might be interested in, then these links are a no-brainer.
Or let’s say you’re a local business. Well, there’s usually a college or two within 100 miles that have a discount program. Plus, these links would be super authoritative and highly relevant.
If you’ve got a product or service you want reviewed on a blog, you can pay for one. In fact, there are even entire websites (like PayperPost.com) that connect you with bloggers that review products. Obviously, if you want to comply with Google’s guidelines, these links should be nofollowed.
If you have a podcast, you can snag some links by sending your podcast to websites that have “Best of” podcast lists in your industry.
If someone has linked to you in the past, chances are they’ll be more likely to link to you in the future. But don’t just pitch them links every other week. Instead, thank them for the first link. Get to know ’em. And keep them in the loop with your content.
For example, I have a small list of folks that get early access to upcoming content. And I even let them know what I’m working on weeks in advance.
Here’s where you publish an in-depth analysis that compares two competing products, services or tools.
As a nice bonus, lots of people search for “X vs Y” in Google. So you’ll get eyeballs on your content even after the initial buzz dies down.
For example, this comparison of Aweber vs Mailchimp has been linked to 50 times:
Quizzes and Tests
As BuzzFeed proved years ago, people love taking (and sharing) quizzes.
But what you may not know is the right quiz or test can attract backlinks from bloggers in your niche.
This is similar to coining a new word, phrase or strategy. But instead of a punchy name, it’s usually a 1-2 sentence phrase.
For example, a few years back, Gary Vaynerchuk famously said: “marketers ruin everything”.
Today, a search for that phrase (in quotes) brings up around 4,000 results.
The only catch is that your phrase really has to resonate with people. For example, the Gary Vaynerchuk quote is hilarious because it has an element of biting truth to it.
And if your phrase catches on, it can generate links on their own (for example, lots of people link to garyvaynerchuk.com when they say: “marketers ruin everything”).
If you want to take this even further, Google your phrase every week. Then, see who used your quote without linking. And gently remind them that you coined the phrase.
I spend a lot of my time poring over other sites’ link profiles. Basically, with this approach, you piggy back off their link building success.
To be fair: a good chunk of a site’s links are unique opportunities that you won’t be able to copy (for example, a random mention in a news post or a link from a close friend’s blog). But sometimes you can find legit diamonds in the rough (like a local directory or resource page).
Pro Tip: Don’t stop at your direct competitors. You can also look at how indirect competitors in your vertical (for example, if you offer piano lessons, look at sites that offer guitar lessons). If you’re local, look at other sites in your area. If you’re ecommerce, look at how other ecommerce sites are getting links to the same types of pages you’re having trouble with.
Resource pages are a link builder’s dream. After all, the point of the resource page is to link out to useful content.
So if you have a piece of useful content, you’re in a good spot.
Unfortunately, getting links from resource pages isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Your content (and outreach) really needs to bring it. Otherwise, it’s not worth the person’s time to add your link.
(It also helps if you know the person that runs the resource page)
With all that said, resource pages remain one of my favorite ways to get links.
Reverse Guest Blogging
Get an influencer in your space to write a guest post for your blog (or sit down for an interview). Not only will they share the content with their audience, but people are more likely to link to it because it’s from an influencer they know and respect. This is especially helpful if you’re just starting out.
Review Something New
If you’re the first person to review something, you’ll get a ton of traffic (and links).
For example, the first reviews that come out for the new iPhone almost always go viral in the Apple community.
Second Tier Link Building
Building links to pages that link to you is a VERY underrated link building technique.
The big plus of this approach is that people are usually MUCH more likely to link out to authority sites than rinky dink blogs. So if you scored a link from an authority site, you can feature THAT page in your outreach.
Also, promoting a third party site in your outreach is a Jedi mind trick that makes people more likely to say yes.
Second tier link building isn’t only for outreach. For example, you can “build links to your links” from guest posts. And because you’re not linking to your own site, the link will fly under the editor’s radar.
Social Platforms for Outreach
Sometimes email isn’t always the best way to get in touch with someone.
In fact, I’ve used Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and even Google+ (RIP) for outreach. Depending on the niche, these platforms can sometimes convert better than email.
Speak at Universities
Most universities announce speakers on their website, and when they do, they sometimes link back to you from the event page.
Pro Tip: You don’t need to actually physically speak at the school. Instead, offer to do a webinar for students… and get a link in return:
Start a Petition
If you and your community are passionate about an issue, start a petition. If the petition catches on, news outlets will start covering your petition as a story.
For example, this petition about open access in the EU resulted in nearly 4k backlinks:
People love a good personal story. Whether it’s crazy, funny, or embarrassing, stories strike an emotional chord… which makes people more likely to share and link.
For example, this fascinating true story has picked up links from over 300 root domains.
Students are sometimes allowed to create blogs on their respective college websites. They’re a lot easier to get links from then a regular college webmaster. In fact, back in the day I created a “College Blog Awards” for the sole purpose of getting links from student blogs. And it worked GREAT.
Target Link Roundups
I love getting links from roundups. Why?
Because it’s one of the EASIEST link building strategies out there. For example, here’s a backlink that I got from a link roundup:
Pro Tip: Don’t be pushy with the person that run the roundup. First of all, there’s no need. Second, these are awesome people to build relationships with. You can literally have a Rolodex full of people that you can send new content to and get an almost-guaranteed link.
The Moving Man Method
This strategy is really similar to Broken Link Building.
The main difference is this:
With broken link building, you focus 100% on links that aren’t working (usually pages that 404).
But with the Moving Man Method, you’re looking for links to pages that aren’t relevant anymore. For example, maybe the content they linked to changed to something completely different. Or maybe the content now redirects to the site’s homepage. In both cases, the link still “works”. But the link isn’t relevant anymore. Which means it’s ripe for a replacement link (yours).
The Skyscraper Technique
I first wrote about The Skyscraper Technique in 2013.
And it still works GREAT.
(In fact, I have a stack of emails in my inbox from people that had success using this strategy)
The one downside of The Skyscraper Technique is that it takes A TON of work. Especially now that people started publishing higher-quality stuff.
But if you’re willing to put in the work, this is still one of the best link building strategies out there.
The right content at the right time can get you a TON of attention. For example, this GDPR checklist came out weeks before the new law went into effect:
And it generated 3.1k backlinks within a few months.
The same goes for seasonal content. Whether it’s Valentine’s Day, Christmas, or Halloween, you can create holiday-themed content that gets a bump in interest (and links) every single year.
Find bloggers who publish podcasts and videos on their blog… but don’t transcribe the audio.
Then, get the content professionally transcribed. And send it over to them.
99% of the time, if they use your transcription, they’ll link to you. No need to even ask.
Most websites aren’t accessible in different languages. And auto-translation tools like Google Translate leave a lot to be desired.
So when you translate a piece of content that could use an international audience, you’ll often get a link in return.
Here’s an example:
Pro Tip: Host the translated content on your site. That way, the author needs to link to your page for them to read the translated version.
This works just like promoting an infographic, chart… or any other type of visual content.
Just send bloggers your video with an embed code. When they embed your video, they’ll usually link to you.
And if your video is hosted on YouTube, they’ll at least link to your video page.
Creating free online tools (like a calculator) is a fantastic way to attract links. And they DON’T need to be fancy. As long as it’s useful, people WILL link to it and share it.
A great example of a simple free online tool is this embed code generator from Siege Media:
It’s netted over 1k links from 280+ root domains.
White Papers are kind of old school. But they still work.
For example, this white paper by Cisco is a backlink MACHINE.
(20k+ backlinks in 18 months. Insane.)
This used to be a super popular (and effective) link building strategy. But Google has put the hammer down on widgets in recent years.
In fact, they’ve even come out and said that they’ll penalize sites that use a widget link building… unless they nofollow the links.
People that leave a comment on your blog are SUPER likely to link to you.
For example, a while back, I got this comment on my blog:
I reached out to Danny to strike up a relationship, which ultimately led to an interview on his site.
Your Twitter Followers
Don’t limit your outreach targets to sites that come up with Google searches (like intitle:resources). You probably have a ton of solid link prospects right under your nose.
Speaking of, your Twitter followers are an awesome source of link opportunities. After all, if they follow you on Twitter, they clearly like your stuff. Which makes them super likely to link to you.
(Obviously, this approach isn’t limited to Twitter. It also works for Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest etc.).
This strategy is simple in theory… but tough to pull off. The goal is to be the first person to cover or analyze a hot story. Or at least one of the first.
For example, you probably already read about the Google Medic Update.
Well, Marie Haynes quickly published this post with her findings:
That post racked up 300+ comments, an insane amount of social shares… and 400+ backlinks within 6 weeks.
Blog Network (White Hat)
Here’s where you build a “network” of similar non-competing blogs. Agree to share each other’s content, swap strategies, and leave comments. This helps get your content in front of more peeps.
Important caveat: this isn’t a link exchange because you’re not swapping links. It’s more of an Avengers-type relationship. You’re all independent. But once and a while you come together to help each other out.
In fact, some of my best strategies and insights have come from a little group of bloggers that I’m friends with.
Browser Toolbars and Extensions
Toolbars aren’t as big as they used to be. But they still work if the toolbar solves a pressing need.
For example, Hunter.io is only a few years old. And their extension page already has 409 backlinks:
Buy Existing Websites
Existing websites have assets (namely, content and links) that every site could use more of. And if you acquire a site, those assets are now yours. You can either continue to run the site independently or redirect it to your existing website.
Pro Tip: Look for sites that haven’t been updated for a while. This is usually a sign that the person that runs the site has lost interest… and might be willing to sell.
Cobranded content makes the entire content development and promotion process 2x easier.
First, you can split up the work that goes into creating a piece of content. And you both team up to spread the word.
How about an example?
A while back I teamed up with HubSpot to make this infographic:
And because HubSpot was a partner, they happily promoted it to their massive following.
Coin A New Term
Coining a new term in your industry is one of the best ways to get passive links. It definitely takes work (and a little bit of luck) for the name to catch on. But when it does, you can find yourself with dozens of links per month pointing to your site… without needing to do any outreach.
For example, my original post about The Skyscraper Technique now has 11,000 links:
And I haven’t done anything to promote that content in years.
Pro Tip: Set up web mention alerts for your new term. That way, you can reach out to people that use the term… but didn’t link. If you reach out right after the post goes live (while the content is still fresh), you’ll find that people are more likely to update their content with your link.
Complete guides are one of my all-time favorite link building strategies.
The downside is that they’re REALLY hard to make.
For example, this guide to Google RankBrain probably took me 30 hours to write:
But it already has over 1,000 backlinks. Not too shabby.
Pro Tip: Keep your guides up-to-date. That way, people will still link to it YEARS after it originally came out.
If most people in your niche share the same view on a topic, don’t be afraid to publish a post with an opposing view.
Doing this right can lead to A LOT of exposure.
For example, Derek Halpern published this post about “The Content is King Myth”.
People that agreed with Derek (namely, designers) linked to the post. But more importantly, Derek got a ton of links from people that disagreed.
In total, this contrarian post has accumulated over 900 backlinks:
Create an Awesome WordPress Theme
Designing WordPress themes can land you some killer links.
For example, the Sage theme website has links from 7,900 websites:
Even if your theme isn’t world-changing, you can still submit it to the WordPress.org theme directory. This will get you a couple of high-quality nofollow links (not to mention some free exposure).
Create Something Controversial
Controversy can be a great way to attract links. The people that agree with you will share your content like crazy. And the people that disagree? They’ll share it too!
GoDaddy’s SOPA fiasco is a great example. GoDaddy originally supported SOPA (which created a firestorm). Then, they pulled a 180 and said they opposed it (which created even MORE controversy).
Data and Research
Data can be a link building GOLDMINE.
Why? First, people love data-driven content. But more importantly, data is something that’s easy to cite.
For example, when someone wants to say that “longer content ranks best in Google”, my ranking factors study helps add credibility to that statement:
Pro Tip: Turn your findings into visuals. This can be a chart, graph or infographic. These visuals give bloggers an easy way to share your data with their audience.
Design and Coding Help
If you’re good at graphic or web design, reach out to ask people if they’d like any of the above services at no cost.
Or maybe you notice that a site’s CSS is broken. Send them a fix for free.
Word of warning: Exchanging anything (including services) for links is a big no-no in Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. So the goal of this strategy is to get your foot in the door…. and hope that relationship pays off with a link or two down the road.
Filling Gaps in Content
Is a site in your niche missing something… something that you could easily fill in for them?
If so, let them know and offer to fill in that gap. Obviously, you’re walking a tightrope here. You want to emphasize that their content is great. But it could be even BETTER with a little something extra.
In fact, this is exactly how I got this link a few years back:
Get Your Own Column
Yes, one-off guest posts have their place. But also look for opportunities that could win you regular contributions on an authority site in your niche.
Why are column links better than guest posts? Well, for starters: the links look more legit, you can get multiple links per month, and having a column on a site like Forbes gives you instant credibility.
Plus, if the site has a decent audience, the links will send you some targeted traffic.
Get Your Own Wikipedia Page
Having a Wikipedia page about you or your company is an SEO goldmine. Why?
First, it helps build up your E-A-T.
Second, it makes you and your company seem more credible and legit, which leads to more links over time.
So you created an infographic. Now what?
Well, you need to actively promote it. And I don’t mean spamming your infographic to 1000 blogs. Instead, try Guestographics. It’s a way to strategically promote your infographic… without being spammy.
Here’s the step-by-step process if you want to learn more.
Have an Influence
You can use your influence to reach out to big name bloggers, get your emails opened, and increase your outreach conversion rate.
That doesn’t mean that influence=easy links. As someone that’s built up a solid following in the marketing world, I can tell you from experience that outreach is still REALLY hard. My influence has probably increased my link building outreach success rate by 5-10% MAX. So it’s not a magic bullet. But it definitely helps.
You can also use your influence for a ton of things outside of straight up outreach. For example, Tim Ferriss landed an insane amount of features on news outlets and blogs to promote the 4 Hour Chef because, well, he’s Tim Ferriss.
Host Your Own Events
Hosting meetups and conferences can land you links from two sources:
First, blog posts dedicated to events (like “Best Conferences in ___ Industry” lists).
And if your event is a hit, people will link to you in their recap blog posts.
For example, the Brighton SEO conference site has 11,000 links from 1,000 domains:
Lots of people think interactive content is “the next big thing” in content marketing. And they might be onto something.
For example, this cool interactive piece about “Avengers: Infinity Wars” was shared thousands of times:
After all, VERY few people are doing interactive content because the barrier to entry is really high. You usually need to work with a designer and developer to create your interactive content.
But that’s an advantage if you’re willing to invest in a cool piece of interactive content.
Quirky little microsites are an underrated link building strategy. There’s something about creating an entire site about a topic that gets people linking like crazy.
For example, this microsite from Dominos resulted in 1k links:
Most people will link directly to your microsite. So make sure to add at least one link from the microsite to your main site.
Mobile App Lists
You can easily turn your app into a few easy links. (Or, if you want, create an app just to get these links).
If your app is cool enough, submit it to people that run lists of the best apps in your industry, like this:
Instead of trying to cover news first, take advantage of hot topics. In other words: you find a big story and write a blog post on that topic. There’s a few different Newsjacking approaches:
- Just the story itself – If it’s early on in the story’s life, you can basically curate the information that’s out there (and keep it up to date).
- Quick commentary – Give a new spin or commentary on the topic.
- Delayed recap – Now that all the details are out, write a full recap of the event or story.
- Detailed analysis – Once the dust has settled, do a deep dive into everything that’s come out, and analyze each point. Do your homework to uncover new, interesting facts that are out there, but not tied to this particular story.
There are a few other post tactics for this, but these are by far the most popular. For a more detailed review of newsjacking, see this.
Non-Brand Mention Monitoring
There are LOTS of ways to use mention monitoring for link building (outside of unlinked brand mentions).
For example: product mention monitoring.
Setup alerts for your products or products in your niche. For example, if people are discussing your product in a forum, join the conversation, answer some questions, and include a link.
You can do the same thing with competing products. Find where your competitors are getting mentioned. And contact the authors who wrote about them to let them know more about you (aka Drafting Technique).
Yes, WordPress themes can generate lots of links. But why stop there?
Drupal, Joomla and Shopify need themes and 3rd party applications too.
And they have a community of bloggers that might be happy to share your theme with their audience.
Plugins and Extensions
Plugins and extensions can get you some serious links.
(Assuming that it’s useful.)
For example, the ShareThis plugin has received links from … wait for it… 41 thousand different websites.
Good ol’ fashioned PR still works. That is, assuming you’re doing something newsworthy.
To be clear: “newsworthy” doesn’t have to mean the front page of the New York Times.
For example, when I published the results from our search engine ranking factors study, I got featured on some huge authority sites in the business space:
Publish Educational Content
Want to get links from colleges and .gov sites? Then you need to create content targeted at that specific group.
In other words:
Instead of tackling the content creation process from a top-down approach (creating content, then finding link opportunities), go at it from a bottom-up approach. That way, you end up creating content on topics that you KNOW big sites will link to.
Diving deep into a subject is a great way to establish yourself as an industry leader. It’s also a great way to attract a few links. And if you make a major discovery, you’ll get at least a few citations from scholarly websites.
This one, which attracted 16,000+ links from 3,100+ root domains, might look a little familiar to SEO peeps.
Reverse Engineer Linkable Assets
You probably already reverse engineer your competitor’s content.
But you can do the same thing with infographics, visuals, video, tools and software.
For example, I saw that this on-page SEO infographic from Moz was good… but outdated.
(They’ve since updated it.)
So I made a bigger and better version. And because I reverse engineered something that worked, it’s racked up 6 thousand links.
This strategy is getting abused like crazy. But scholarship link building can still work. So I had to include it on this list.
Here’s how this works:
First, create a decent sized scholarship (at least $500). Second, create a page that lists out the requirements for your scholarship (this is the page that people will ultimately link to). Finally, reach out to colleges that list scholarships and let them know about yours.
Pro Tip: Don’t limit your scholarship opportunities to search strings like “site:.edu scholorhips”. Instead, plug all the scholarships you can find into Ahrefs. You’ll usually uncover 2-5x more scholarships than you would with search strings along.
Speak at Conferences
Yes, you usually get a link from the conference website.
But more importantly, you get links from people that write about the event too. In fact, you can sometimes get 10+ links from a single conference.
Plus, if you crush your talk, people that attended will mention your talk in blog posts, podcasts and videos:
Using surveys for content and link building is a two-step process:
The first step is getting people to participate. If you have an audience, and you’re not picky about who responds, you can ask people to participate in your survey. If not, there’s always Google Surveys.
The second step is to collect and release the results. Do you find something controversial? Highlight that in your survey. Controversial or interesting findings are KEY if you want your survey to get featured on news sites.
For example, one survey found that YouTubers were more influential to US teenagers than musicians or actors.
And because the results of this survey were surprising, a ton of sites linked to it (811 referring domains to be exact).
Tap Into Holidays
Tapping into holidays is a tried-and-true PR tactic that also applies to link building. You just need to tie your company (or content) into the holiday.
Sure, there are the obvious holidays (like Thanksgiving). But did you know there’s a Chocolate Day, Selfie Day… even a National Peanut Butter Lovers day?
In other words: there’s probably a holiday that ties into your business.
And if you can create something newsworthy on that day, you’ll find that bloggers will happily talk to you.
For example, StarWars.com ran a Valentine’s day quiz called: “Which Star Wars Character Should Be Your Valentine’s Day Date?”
According to BuzzSumo, this simple quiz has been shared 42 thousand times on social media. And it has 45 backlinks.
Update Old Content
This is the Broken Link Building approach applied to outdated content. First, find content that could use an update. Then, reach out and offer to update it.
Most site owners WANT to keep their stuff up to date. But they’re too busy (especially if they have thousands of posts).
This obviously works best in an industry with lots of changes (like SEO). But I’ve seen it work in all sorts of different industries.
Here’s a great example of an article that could use an update (it hasn’t been changed since 2011).
The author even states in the article that he needs to update it! If I knew Danny a bit better, I’d reach out to him with an updated version of the content.
Obviously, add your link to the updated content. We are building links, right? 🙂
Infographic + video= Video Infographics.
In other words, an infographic in video format.
The best part? People can easily embed them in their content (just like with an infographic).
Here’s an example:
Anything I Missed?
Now I’d like to hear from you.
Did I miss one of your favorite link building strategies?
Or maybe you have a question about something.
Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now.