Link Building Tactics – The Complete List
Note: the wording of this page was changed from “strategies” to “tactics” since that’s exactly what they are: tactics.
This is the most complete list of link building tactics on the Web, period. I created it because the best tactics are never found in one place, and the most complete lists are completely outdated.
One thing to keep in mind while reading: I did my best to split each one up by category (i.e. Local, Paid, Events etc.), but a lot of them overlap. For example, sponsoring an event could easily fall into paid & events, but I had to pick one. So keep that in mind if you’re looking for i.e. only event tactics.
Another thing: these tactics can be spun in many different ways. For example, guest blogging might be in the content-based section, but you can make it a local tactic if i.e. you’re a restaurant and you post on local food blogs.
If you just want to see the names of each tactic and not the descriptions, you can Expand/Contract All.
You can also Check/Uncheck all options.
You can filter the list of tactics below by time to execute & dependencies.
3Dependency On Other Sources
These are your options for the selections you have made:
Create a blog
These are the most basic tactics in the book. Everyone can build links with these tactics, no matter what industry you’re in.
Other webmasters have created links or resource pages, and these are legitimate opportunities to get links.
Unfortunately, it's not as easy as just asking for a link. I'll go into specific tactics below that help you get webmasters liking you before you ask, because doing that greatly increases your chances of getting a link.
In general, though, focus on relevance above all else. It’s tempting to just shoot for the big, authoritative opportunities, but by doing so you run into a few issues. The first is that you limit yourself to a smaller pool of prospects, so you generally end up with less links (in some low quality niches, this can leave you with next to none). Second, relevance is having a much bigger impact in the algorithm moving forward. And third, by targeting more relevant opportunities, you’ve got a bigger chance of having the webmasters say Yes.
A large chunk of my time finding links is by looking through my competitor's link profiles. Essentially, you're piggy backing off of their success. While some links are unobtainable (i.e. a random mention in a news post), others can be diamonds in the rough (a high quality niche directory).
I suggest using Ahrefs for this. Plugin your competitors and export their backlinks to a CSV. Do this for all of your competitors so you can get all of their links in one place (Excel). Then you can sort them by various link metrics to find the best opportunities.
But you don’t have to stop at just direct competitors. You can also look at how indirect competitors in your vertical (i.e. if you sell flashlights, a site that sells flashlight batteries) or really any other niche-relevant sites are getting links. If you’re local, look at other sites in your geographical 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.
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, while others won't. Some are in the middle, such as Twitter, which gives nofollow links (links that don't pass link juice).
You should also be looking for niche relevant profile opportunities. Is there a prominent industry community that
you can get a link from via a profile? If so, these usually go further than general opportunities that would make
sense for really any website.
Example: CrunchBase. Sign up here.
Make it easy to link to you
Note: this might not be the best option based on the community you're located in. Are you in the cement niche? Then this is perfect. Are you talking about Internet related business? Then this might not be your best bet, because the majority of your audience probably already knows how to link.
Linking out is huge. Don't be a link hoard; you're going to create content, so use it to gain favor with other people. I'll go more into depth below with specific tactics on linking out, but in general, you only have something to gain when you’re linking out.
The only time when I wouldn’t suggest linking out is if you’re in a hyper-competitive industry (i.e. gambling) where no matter what you do, linking to someone isn’t going to catch their eye and possibly return the favor sometime in the future. But I’d say less than 10% of industries are competitive enough to justify this.
You have pages and posts on your website, so make the most of them. Internal links are HUGE for link building because you can control everything about them, from the location on the page to the anchor text.
If you’re thinking about using a CMS plugin that automatically hyperlinks a certain word every time it appears on your website (i.e. like Wikipedia does), I’d suggest refraining from doing so unless you’re a relatively big brand or if it makes complete sense from a UX perspective. Instead, go through all of your content that’s been previously published, and if you’ve got more detailed content written on subjects that you briefly go over in your posts, then link in that context where it makes sense. But make sure you consistently mix it up from an anchor perspective.
For future/new content, as you’re writing it, try and steer your way into certain topics that you’ve already written on so you can link to it & so it makes sense from a user’s perspective.
Get people to see and read your content
People won't link to your content unless they see it. At the same time, you need the right people in front of your content; not everyone is a potential linker.
This is where social media, content marketing, and brand awareness comes into the link building realm. Getting people to see and know your content & brand is a massively important strategy to build links.
Because a lot of the tactical ways to get eyeballs on your content aren’t direct ways to get links, I decided to delete that section in this guide, and instead list all of them here. So here they are.
Segment your content - If you catch yourself writing a few monster paragraphs, cut them up into smaller, bite-sized pieces. Make sure you use headers, lists, and bullets when ever possible. Don't forget to add appropriate spacing. This strategy directly correlates with increased readability, and thus, linkability.
Minimal grammar & spelling mistakes - It just looks bad when you link to content that's full of spelling & grammar errors. Do your potential linkers a favor and make sure your content is free of them.
Evergreen content - Timeless content can not only be used for manual outreach, but it can also give your content the ability to be rediscovered, and thus, a second chance to be linked to.
Offering your content in multiple languages - Your potential linkers might not all speak English, so get your content translated as soon as possible. When you do this, remember to submit to non-English directories as mentioned above!
High Flesch-Kincaid readability score (readability) - If your content needs a Literature major to be deciphered, then you're probably not going to get a lot of links. Why? Because if they don't understand it, they have no reason to link to it.
Social platform optimization - Your linkeraiti and my linkeraiti are two entirely separate groups that find content on two entirely different platforms. Whether it's Twitter, LinkedIn, or a niche news site (ex. Inbound.org), you need to find the right place that gets your content in front of the right people.
I also want to point out that you don’t have to limit yourself to just sites in your close knitted niche. You might find that your space is full of stuck-up webmasters & bloggers that wouldn’t even smile at their own wedding, so move past it and find other semi-relevant spaces full of webmasters that you can catch the eye of.
Create an RSS feed
If your blog is run on any of the popular Content Management Systems, you'll already have an RSS feed. If you don't, create one. If you do, burn it at Feedburner.com so you can get statistics on your subscribers.
For link building, it's simple. There are sites out there that will scrape your content (stealing it without permission). When they do, make sure you get a link back by 1) including links to other pages on your site in your posts and 2) installing the RSS footer plugin for WordPress (adds a link to your blog after every post).
Create a blog
Creating content on a consistent basis not only builds links internally (by linking out from your posts), but also gives you the ability to naturally attract links to your content. A blog is essential to many strategies I list below, such as linking out.
To reiterate – a blog is a means to an end from a tactical perspective. Creating the blog in itself won’t build you any links; it’s what you do with it that builds links.
For more information, read these tips & tutorials to get started.
Remember how people say, "it's not about what you know, it's about who you know"? The same goes for the Web. Those relationships will turn into links, both in the short-term & the long-term.
Just like with getting people to see you content, I realized a lot of the tactical ways to build relationships aren’t direct ways to get links, I decided to delete that section in this guide, and list all of them here instead. So here they are.
Random acts of kindness - Whenever you can, be nice to people. It might just payoff. Always be on the lookout for helping those in need. I know this isn't exactly an actionable strategy, but I'm telling you, you'd be surprised. These random acts can turn into lasting relationships.
Give a crap - Actually care about people. Show them you're not just a bot with a picture, but that you're somewhat human. If they share on Twitter that their daughter just graduated, congratulate them. Something as simple as that can open up your chances to build a relationship in the future.
Participate - If someone is conducting a survey or testing something, get involved and participate. Those are great chances to start conversations with new people.
Local meetups - Whether you find one or start one, meetups are a fantastic way to get to know people close by. For example, if you live in a big city (Seattle, NYC, Philly) then meetups are absolutely perfect. Here's the best site to find or start one.
User group meetings - A great way to get to know people who think like you is by finding those who use the same products or services like you. A great example is the Hubspot User Group Summit I attended last year (one of my clients used HubSpot and I got a chance to tag along).
Conferences - Seriously, go to them. At the time I'm writing this, I've only gone to one, but it was awesome and I highly recommend it. Here's a fantastic testimonial to why conference events are such great investments.
Call them - Yep, I said it. Get them on the phone. Make them hear your voice and know that you're a real person. Ben Wills was the first to do this with me. I now know a lot more about him & Ontolo, something I'm extremely grateful for.
G+ Hangouts/Skype - Be the first person to use a Google+ hangout! But seriously, that or Skype is a great way to meet face to face with someone without actually meeting face to face (if that makes any sense!).
Twitter RTs, Responses, & DMs - If you want to get to know someone on Twitter, first retweet them a few times. Then respond a couple times to a few of their tweets, then continue the conversation as direct messages. Finally, ask to email (because 140 characters is never enough), and now you've got the ball rolling.
Answer questions - Answer questions on Twitter, Quora, and anywhere else people hang out. People ask questions all the time. These external opportunities are a great way to put you on their radar.
Note: don’t think of it as a short-term input & short-term output, especially if you’re a marketing agency. More so, realize that these relationships can be tapped into for multiple links (i.e. for different campaigns, clients, etc.), as well as for other marketing opportunities (i.e running a joint-contest).
Ask people you know for a link
Whether it's your friends, relatives, employees, colleagues, business partners, clients, or anyone else, ask them for a link. Someone you know has a website or blog, so take advantage.
I suggest putting pen to paper on this one. As the digital age continues to trend upwards, more & more people are creating their own sites & blogs, and chances are more than a few are people you know. I’d even suggest posting on Facebook or Twitter seeing who’s got their own site.
In general though you really only want to be getting links from relevant websites from these people. If it’s not relevant, it’s not going to have much of an impact, and these people will most likely be a little hesitant to link if it’s i.e. a jewelry store & they run a sports blog.
There are many places across the web where you can build links through submissions, whether it’s submitting your site, a piece of content, or anything else.
Although the majority of widget directories you come across don't outright give you a link, you can still do some serious link building with them. If you make sure there's a link somewhere in your widget, you can get it in front of large audiences with these directories, and in doing so, some will embed them (thus, you earn a few links).
Example: GadgetsDirectory.Blogspot.com. Submit here.
Web cam directories
If you set up a Webcam, you can get a few high quality links, such as the PR6 directory listed below. If you're wondering where to set it up, don't worry; it doesn't have to be Times Square. I've seen a few of highway roads set up right outside of their offices (pretty lame, right?). You can do something similar. If you want, set it up some place awesome, because it could attract links on its own.
Example: Earthcam.com. Submit here.
Web App Directories
If you have an online tool or application, you can get links for it. If you're thinking about creating one, know that it can also be used to attract links (link bait). We'll go more into that below.
Example: Go 2 Web 20. Hit "Suggest an App" to submit.
Web 2.0 Submission
Web 2.0 sites are similar to article directories, but instead, you can add images, video, and other interactive features to your content. These usually pass more value than article directories, but it depends on the authority of the site.
If your content is original, then it’ll pass a lot more value, and even has the possibility of being picked up for some long-tail queries in the SERPs (meaning their may be a traffic component to the links depending on the quality of content).
Example: HubPages.com. Sign up here.
If you have video content, make sure you're getting links from all that hard work. The best list I've found is here. Just as a heads up, some sites only provide nofollow links, and they're usually in the description.
If you're looking to submit videos on a large scale, consider checking out OneLoad. It's a paid service, but it can save you some serious time.
Example: Vimeo. Sign up here.
User Rating Reviews
Designing WordPress themes or website templates can be a great way to net a few fantastic links from directories. Also, you can host the download page on your site, and if it's decent, you'll get a few links from design blogs.
If it's a WordPress theme, you can submit to the WordPress.org theme directory, which will get you a couple of high quality nofollow links (not to mention a ton of free exposure).
Example: free-css.com (website templates). Here's the submission information.
Note: Remember to include credit links in the templates or themes, because sometimes that's the only way you'll get a link back (they'll link to a demo page, not the creator's site). Popular page locations of links include the footer & the sidebar.
If you have an RSS feed, you can submit it to RSS directories. There are hundreds. Here's a fantastic list (scroll down) of RSS directories to start out. Although these links won't be directly to your content, they'll pass link juice to your RSS feed which links to any content you linked to in your posts.
Example: www.Feedage.com. Submit here (create an account first).
Press Release Submission
By submitting a press release to distribution sites or specific syndication sites, you can build links if you add one or two into the body of the release. Some options are paid, while others are free.
To get the most impact from this historically overused, spam-driven tactic, I highly suggest only going with one link, and making sure the anchor text of that link is the URL or the domain. It's also suggested to push big content pieces through press releases, just because with the right syndication services, you'll get your content in front of a handful of journalists that could pick it up & write about it.
Example:PRNewsWire.com. Sign up here. Packages start at $129.
If you have a podcast, you can snag a few free, easy links by submitting to podcast directories.
Example: PodcastDirectory.com. Submit here.
Some directories cost money in order to be accepted into their listings. Once again, while some of these can pass legitimate value, others pass little and aren't worth your time or money.
Example: The Yahoo Directory. Submit here. The only other general paid directories I'd recommend are the BBB, Business.com, BOTW and JoeAnt (although BBB & Business.com are just for businesses, but seeing that this is most of you, I'd consider them general).
If you've created multiple versions of your site in different languages, you can get links for it.
Example: Hello Dir (Italian). Choose category, then submit.
Niche Specific Directories
As opposed to general web directories, niche specific directories only accept sites that meet a certain topic criteria. For example, one directory might only accept sites about arts & crafts. Some of these directories are free, while others are paid.
Example: Calif.com, a directory for California based websites.
If you have any PDFs, PowerPoint Presentations, word documents, or any other documents, you can submit them to these sites and get a link in return. You have to put the links in your documents, such as in the first slide of a PowerPoint or in the text of a PDF.
Note: Although you can get a profile link from each, I'm still not 100% positive Google counts these links. I'm 99% sure Scribd's links are, but I know these are nofollow. Also, Slideshare's & Scribd's profile links are nofollow.
Mobile App Directories
If you have an mobile phone app, you can get a few easy links. Or, if you want, you can create one to get these links. An easy one to create is an app that just acts as a mobile RSS reader of your blog ( this app from the SPI blog is a great example of this).
Example: Appolicious. Sign up to submit here.
Logo Design Directories
Most of you have logos for your website or company, so get a few links in return for them.
Example: TheLogoMix.com. Info to submit here.
If you've created an infographic, you can easily submit them to infographic directories or blogs. Paddy Moogan put together this awesome list of 27 of them.
A fair amount of these sites you'll come across will ask for some level of payment. It's up to you if you think the link is worth the price point. Keep in mind though that these pay-to-play sites lack the editorial selection that non paid sites have, and with that characteristic usually comes with an audience that lacks engagement.
Example: CoolInfographics.com. Suggest one here.
Free Web Directories
There are hundreds of free web directories to submit your site to. The only qualification you need is to have an active website. Because these links are so easy to get, though, they don't pass much value. Still, there are a few free general directory links that pass both link juice and trust.
Example: Website Launchpad. Submit here.
If you've already written a few eBooks, or if you plan to, there are a solid amount of eBook directories you can get links from.
You can also reformat your blog content into an eBook for this very purpose, so don't worry about trying to get one written just for this.
Example: E-BooksDirectory.com. Submit here.
There are loads of CSS galleries you can submit to if you did a great job designing your website or blog. There are also a few HTML5 showcases that you can get links from too.
I suggest forking out $20 to have your site submitted to 100 of them. Don't worry; it's quality manual submissions, not software.
Company Directory Submissions
Just like general web directories, you can submit your site to general company directories. You really don't even need an actual company; you only need a website.
Just like with most submission-based tactics, try to zero in on relevance at every possible opportunity. For example, are you a business in the San Francisco area? Then this business directory would be a solid link, more so than a general business directory with a similar level of authority.
If you have a blog, you can submit it to various blog directories. Like all other directories, some pass value, while others are crap.
Example: AllTop.com. Find a relevant category, then sign up to submit.
You can submit your articles & blog posts to article syndication sites, and in return, you’ll get a link or two in the content or the author bio (varies from site to site). Since late 2011, early 2012, they really haven’t been worth much, but if you’re not afraid to dabble in some automation based techniques, this is one that’s still somewhat being used.
Example: Ezinearticles.com. Sign up here.
You can use your content to get links. Most of these tactics don’t necessarily attract links (which we go into below), but they can if the content is good enough.
This one is HUGE. Right now, list any services or products you've bought recently. As long as it's not a product or service from a massive company (i.e. Walmart), there's a good chance you can get a link in exchange for a testimonial.
For example, this testimonial page has a PR of 5. The best part is that it only costs the customers a few sentences about that specific service.
Just like guest blogging, you can get links in return for your content, but why not just trade? You both get content on each other's site, links, and visitors from an entirely different community.
If you or the other has a significantly more popular blog, see if the less significant one can do something extra in return. A good example is buying the other $10-15 worth of StumbleUpon paid traffic. It doesn't have to be huge, but it levels the playing field, as you'll find very few blogs with exactly the same audience size.
Images & Cinemagraphs
Something so frequently overlooked is the use of images for links. Bloggers just like me struggle to find relevant images to our content, so why not take advantage?
When people use your images you'll get an attribution link in return (that's if they're honest). A great idea is to always have a camera with you whenever you're at an industry event. Imagine if you took 100 pictures at SXSW of all the different speakers and published them on a certain portion of your site.
You can also use the tactic of creating quote graphics, which are basically just pretty pictures of (you guessed it) quotes (i.e.).
If you do go this route and generate a lot of images, consider setting up a section of your site as a media gallery. From there, do some image SEO to get them ranking for some different image search queries, then bank on people stealing them & placing them on their own sites (which, at this point, is when you reach out to them & ask them to include an attribution link if they already haven't).
Pro tip: hotlink your images. Make it easy for publishers to copy & paste HTML code right into their posts. This not only makes it easier to use your images, but it also makes it much more likely you'll get a link from each.
As for cinemagraphs, the process is the same; build up a library of them, and try and get other bloggers & webmasters to use & embed them. When they do, make sure you get the attribution link.
Bloggers, just like me, sometimes have trouble cranking out content on a regular basis. That's where you can help. Pitch bloggers to ask if you could guest blog, because if they say yes, you can get a few links from the post, and if the blog is popular, you can drive traffic too.
If you want, use sites like Blogger Link Up and My Blog Guest to connect with bloggers who need content. It's scalable, but the bloggers you get in touch with aren't usually very authoritative (they're mostly mid-level bloggers).
Keep in mind that guest blogging has been a tactic that’s recently been beaten into the ground. This has a few different major implications:
- Bloggers are generally sick of guest blogging pitches at this point
- As of the time of this writing, Google hasn’t taken any action on them, but it’s only a matter of time
Starting with the first, you need to understand that your pitch will be mixed in with a lot of other similar pitches, so if you think you can send off a batch of generic requests in hopes of getting some quality placements, you’re going to be disappointed. In general, you can test the effectiveness of your pitches by looking at the kinds of blogs that are accepting your requests, rather than the raw acceptance rate, just because some blogs accept guest posts from anyone (and they’re easy to point out by their low quality blogs).
In general, the kinds of sites I just mentioned that accept guest posts from practically anyone are usually not the kinds of sites you want placements from. Therefore, do your research to 1) weed out sites that publish an excessive amount of guest posts (use your own judgment for how you define excessive), and 2) those who haven’t published any guest posts (meaning you most likely have no chance no matter how good your pitch is).
In regards to the second implication mentioned above, Google hasn’t taken action on what they define as ‘large scale guest blogging’, but it’s going to happen soon. To combat this, first understand that because Google solely looks for patterns (Google is math), you don’t necessarily have to do what they publicly approve of, you just have to not fit the mold.
So to do this, do things like:
- Invest time in your content (i.e. only 800+ word posts)
- Have multiple outbound links in the article, not just to your target site
- Have an internal link or two, as very few large scale guest bloggers do this
- Include an image and/or a video, where & if it makes sense
- Don’t get your link in the author bio, but in the middle of the content (unless the site has a quality level that makes it worth getting anyways)
So with that said, if you really want to do some guest blogging at scale, make your pitches stick out like a sore thumb, don’t create predictable patterns, and do your homework by reading one of the gazillion guest blogging guides on the Web if you need more information on the process.
Just like educational content, create something that targets a specific community. In this case, it would be the environmental community. They've got hoards of link juice just waiting to be tapped into.
Simply outreaching to green bloggers and letting them know about your content usually does the trick. If the content is good enough, and if it's a complete conversation (i.e. a huge infographic on the environmental impact of drift nets), they'll usually dedicate an entire post to it.
Pro tip: As stated above, an infographic or something similar would work great, because all they have to do is embed it. If there's any community willing to embed an infographic that's relevant & worth sharing, it's the green community.
Get your own column
Instead of looking for one-off guest blogging opportunities the entire time, look for opportunities that could win you regular contributions to a single blog or your own column. These links look very natural, you can get multiple high quality links a month, and if the blog has a decent audience, you'll send a bit of traffic through those links too.
Example: Squidoo.com. Sign up here.
Just like you should interview others, seize opportunities to be interviewed, no matter how small the audience is. The 5-600 words that take you 15-20 minutes can turn into a few highly authoritative contextual links.
There's usually nothing you can do to open up opportunities like this, unless you're actively pursuing them. For example, see if there are any industry interview series of other people/companies that are on the same level of caliber as you. Reach out to whoever is running them, introduce yourself, and say that you think you or your company might have a story that's worth telling. It can't hurt to ask, as long as your polite about it if they say no.
Entering Contests & Giveaways
I love online contests, and so should you. They're not only your chance to win some cash or prizes, but they're also a chance to net a few high quality links. The most popular contests & giveaways you'll see are guest blogging contests.
For instance, I not only got a link from this post I entered, but I also won the $1000 grand prize. Not bad, eh?
Here's a great example of where your great content pays off. I entered an infographic created by Kapil Kale, a friend of mine, into a contest on StumbleUpon, and it got a link from their blog! Talk about high quality links!
If you're trying to get links from colleges, create content targeted at them that you can use during outreach. Trust me, there's usually something you know that you could write an entire tutorial on that would interest college webmasters.
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 so you end up creating content on topics that you know for a fact that you can get links to. For more information on this, see this podcast.
Contribute to Crowdsourced Posts
Just like with interviews, if someone reaches out to you to participate in a crowdsourced post, make sure you contribute. The questions usually don't take more than 5-10 minutes of your time, and you'll get a decent link or two from it.
The only way you could actively pursue these opportunities is if you can identify people in your industry that do a lot of these types of posts, and try and build up some favor with them.
If you're a relatively new blog & would be willing to write a blog post for the sake of getting one solid, contextual link, then blog carnivals are a no brainer. Basically, blog carnivals are a blog community that writes about certain topics as a group. These posts then get linked to from an issue, kind of like a magazine.
So for example, this issue is on homeschooling.
Each carnival has an organizer (who starts & runs it), a host (who volunteers to host that month's issue), and bloggers (the part we're concerned about). Each carnival allows submissions from bloggers who are generally experts in their given fields.
To get all the details, check out this FAQ page.
You might be thinking research & white papers are the same, but they're not. Someone writing a research paper doesn't know what the outcome will be; someone writing a white paper has a clear understanding of the objectives and intended results from the beginning.
For example, you could outline an entire sector of an industry from top to bottom.
This one outlined the company and its services and got over 300 links from 100+ root domains. No, you're not Bitcoin, but there's probably some related topic you know of that you can go into some detail of.
Spending a couple hours every month by doing a webinar is a great idea for attracting links over the long term. Set up a page on your website solely dedicated to webinars, and as you create new ones, the links will roll in each time.
HubSpot has done a great job with this, having over 1000 links from 100 root domains to their Webinars page.
Creating free online tools, like calculators, is a fantastic way to attract links. They don't even have to be complex. If it could save me five minutes, then I'll probably use & share it.
A fantastic example of a simple, yet effective free online tool is this one by Solo SEO. I can't count how many times I've seen SEO bloggers such as myself link to it. It's netted almost 500 links from almost 200 root domains.
I love this term. I think Rand Fishkin or Kris Roadruck first said it. Basically, it's a better way to say "create something controversial".
Creating controversy can be a great way to attract links. Godaddy's SOPA fiasco is a fantastic example. They originally supported it (which rose controversy), and then stated they would now oppose it (which rose even more controversy).
Creating the right content at the right time can get you a ton of attention. For example, publishing a fun visualization of the Kentucky Derby following up to the event could score you a lot of links.
The same goes for seasonal content. Whether it's Valentine's Day, Christmas, or Halloween, you can create holiday themed content that can get a ton of attention over a short period of time (and every year after). This is a great example.
There's generally a two-step process to attracting links with surveys.
The first step is asking people to participate. If it's on a particularly interesting topic, reaching out to bloggers, experts, and industry news sites to ask to spread the word both on their blog and on social media sites is a great way to attract your first wave of links.
The second step is releasing the results. Combine the release with some nice visualization and a bit of controversy, and you've got yourself a fantastic piece of linkbait.
Although it didn't use the above formula, this survey has attracted 250+ links from 100 root domains in only 4 months (published September 2011, last OSE update Jan. 17).
James Chartrand managed to attract over 1,000 links from nearly 300 root domains with this interesting one.
Review Something New
You can also use this to gain favor with the creators of the product or service you're reviewing. For example, I reviewed Domain Hunter Plus, a new link checker, and not only did I get a few links to the review, but the creator of the tool worked out a deal with me by linking to me from the tool's home page, which (before the page moved) had a PageRank of 5.
Going all out and 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. If you make any major discoveries, you'll get at least a few citations from scholarly and news websites.
This one, which attracted 7,600+ links from 1,500+ root domains, might look a little familiar.
Testing your reader's knowledge and letting them share their results with their friends is always a great idea.
OKCupid does a fantastic job with this. Their 2008 politics test attracted 1,600+ links from over 500 root domains.
Look for products that people don't know how to decide between. Then do an in-depth analysis on comparing the two. It's up to you whether or not you want to give a conclusion of which is better; it'll help create some controversy, but there are some negative side effects if you don't include solely objective information if you want it to be held in high esteem for both parties.
There's also usually search volume for these topics, so if you rank highly and the content is top notch, you could attract links to these posts steadily over time.
One example that I love is this comparison between Ahrefs & Majestic SEO, despite this being an example from the SEO industry.
People like hard copies of useful guides. By creating a printable resource with an awesome design, you can almost guarantee a few links will come your way.
Check out this case study (see what I did there?) about how Brian Flores created a printable HTML5 cheat sheet that got shared by the Google Developers G+ page.
If you and your community are passionate about a certain issue, start a petition. If you can gain any traction from an industry news site, it could catch on like wildfire.
This petition received 1,100+ links from over 200 root domains.
Instead of trying to cover news first, see if you can take advantage of currently hot topics through newsjacking. This is the practice of looking for new & upcoming stories then capitalizing on them by writing up a blog post on the topic. There's a few different ways you can go about it:
- Just the story itself – if it's early on in the story's life, you can basically fake covering it first by just writing all the known facts about the story & keeping it updated.
- With some analysis – if you're not one of the first ones there, then try & give a new spin on the topic that adds new perspective.
- Delayed recap – once it looks like all the details are out, try and write a full recap of it & capitalize on freshness.
- Detailed analysis – once the dust has settled, do a deep dive into everything that's come out, and analyze each point. Do your research to uncover new, interesting facts that are out there on the Web, but not tied in with the story yet.
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.
Creating fun, quirky microsites is a great way to attract links. While some people might naturally link to your main site to give credit, they'll most likely link to the microsite, which should have at least one link back to you on it.
Why? Because the content is super easy to digest.
If you don't believe me, check out this simple list of water conservation tips that received over 1,900 links from 400+ root domains.
Interviewing industry experts will always be a fantastic way to attract links, but getting them to interview is only half the battle. The other half is asking great questions.
A good way to find out what questions you should ask is by holding a Q&A with your blog's community, whether it's on Google+, Twitter, or any other site. Ask what kinds of questions you want your readers to see answered.
The next big thing in linkbait is interactive content. The reason: because it's flat out cool and few people are doing it.
A great example is what Thomson.co.uk did with this.
Your first thought might be that because there are few, if any, tools out there to help you create interactive content (without needing a developer), but realize that because the barrier is high for this content, it has a better shot at success. To illustrate this, notice how infographics went downhill after a lot of DIY infographic tools came out.
They're basically infographics that teach you how to do something. So, for example, you might create one on a 10-step process to create your own jewelry box.
Instructographics work especially well on Pinterest. For all the details of promoting them correctly, see this.
If you want some cool examples of instructographics, see this website.
People love data, but sometimes it's hard to digest. Creating an infographic on it is a popular way to change that. Not only will it naturally attract links, but you'll also get other bloggers embedding it, which means even more links! Not to mention you have control over the anchor text of the embed code.
Here's a fantastic case study on an infographic that not only netted a ton of links, but also some serious traffic and social traction.
Instead of creating an infographic, why not create a video that displays the same information? It's a lot different than what most are doing, and trust me, that's a good thing. The best part is that it works the same way as infographics; the video can be embedded and can act as a post by itself.
Creating a parody, spoof, or industry jokes list is a great way to loosen up your readers. People love sharing things they can laugh at.
The Onion, a fake news network, is built on humor. This story in particular attracted 4,400+ links from 1,200 root domains. No, you're not a major site like The Onion, but making a similarly funny industry news story is something worth thinking about.
I try to use as few examples as possible from the SEO industry, but if you need a laugh, watch this.
How-to's and Tutorials
Whether it's a tool, DIY project, or anything else, showing people exactly how to do something is extremely helpful.
This RSS tutorial attracted 8,000+ links from over 600 root domains.
Google Maps Mashup
Google Maps is a great tool, and you can use it to attract links if you get it in front of the right audience. A great idea would be to map out all the industry events taking place this year.
For example, Mashable linked out to 100 helpful mashups in this post.
Glossary of Industry Terms
Newbies in your industry probably don't know all the jargon you and other bloggers are using. Do them a favor and create a glossary of industry terms and acronyms.
Here's a fantastic glossary of internet terms that landed 2,600+ links from over 1,200 root domains (imagine if you made an updated version!).
Creating exciting games to keep visitors content is not only a strategy to attract links to the game itself, but if you make it embeddable, other webmasters will put it on their site (if it's good enough), which means even more links.
A great example of this is what Travelpod did with their Traveler IQ Challenge. Better yet, they made it embeddable!
If you've got a few tidbits of data lying around, make them into charts and graphs. Google themselves actually do a great job with this; their databoard allows you to create custom infographics out of the available marketing research data they have available.
Now, I know you're not Google & can't create a custom tool like this, but you can probably whip together a few different charts & graphs that others might find useful.
It's a fact of life: people like to look good. If you're featured as one of the top bloggers in your niche, you're probably going to spread the word.
By appealing to the egos of people, companies, and communities, they'll help spread the word about your content. For example, this post I wrote appealed to some of the authorities in the SEO industry who all helped me spread the word.
Note: you can also do what's known as ‘communitybait', which is basically just Egobait for communities. Here's an entire guide to it.
If there's a common misconception in your industry, make sure you let everyone know. If it's big enough, and if your statements are bold enough, you could get some serious attention.
This debunking of 9/11 myths, with 4,000+ links from over 200 root domains, is a perfect example of it working flawlessly.
By collecting data on just about anything, you can attract links. Why? Because, like lists, people absolutely love data. One reason is because they like to make conclusions from it that support their arguments.
Take it one step further. Release it as straight data, then release it again that makes it visually appealing with any of the tactics below, as well as any possible conclusions you could take from it.
Pro tip: If your data supports a side of an argument (i.e. nature vs. nurture debate), reach out to those that it would support. People love telling the world how right they are.
If you create rankings or scores of people, companies, or anything else, and if it's decent enough, then trust me, you'll get a few links. The best part is that they don't even have to be accurate (of course it would be great if it was).
A few good examples are Klout and this list of Top blogs on Startups. Again, both aren't exactly accurate (Klout isn't the best depiction of your influence on Twitter, and the #1 blog on that list is no longer active), but people care about numbers and rankings, especially the ones that make them look good.
Getting answers from a group of industry experts is another fantastic way to attract links. If the piece is good enough, and if you have the right influencers involved, the amount of links you'll attract can grow exponentially.
For example, SEOmoz did a study on ranking factors, getting input from over 130 different experts. You can probably guess it was a huge success. It's attracted 27,000+ links from 3,300+ root domains. Why? Because the experts did the promotion for them.
Entering contests is great, but creating them is even better. By requiring your participants to write about & link to the contest from their blog, you'll not only get links from them, but their posts will increase the exposure of your contest, thus growing your number of contestants at an exponential rate (and thus, the amount of links you get).
If you're looking for a much more detailed look at running contests, checkout that guide.
Pro tip: when thinking about what to make your contest about, use Twitter search to see what people are saying about your products. So for example, if you sell AC units, you might find a lot of people on Twitter are talking about how their AC broke, so you could have a contest about your worst broken AC experience. (Where I got this idea.)
Covering News First
This one's tough, but remember to always keep it in mind. If you see someone talking about a new developing story, and no one has covered it yet, start mashing on your keyboard at lightning speed.
A good way to do this is by making sure all of the news sources are in your RSS feed reader. For example, if I wanted to cover the latest development of search engines, the Google, Yahoo, and Bing blogs would all be in my reader.
If there's controversy in your industry, or if most in your niche have one particular view on a topic, don't be afraid to write up a post on the opposing view. If you do it quick enough, and if you do a good enough job of laying it all out, you could get a lot of exposure out of it. A great example is what Rand Fishkin said in response to this post, which attracted over 800 links from 140+ root domains.
Creating evergreen resources that are complete guides on a subject are fantastic. This complete list of link building tactics is my attempt at one.
Why? Because when people need to explain an entire topic, they'd love it if they could refer to just one resource, and not a group of them. For example, Kristi Hines created one on the Google +1 button.
Pro tip: If it's not timeless, curate it and keep it up to date. It might be an awesome resource, but it could become stale in a couple of years (i.e. a guide to Pinterest if you created one 6 months after it launched).
Everyone loves a good case study. Real results with real numbers can instantly catch people's attention. If you offer a product or service, this is a no-brainer. If you give out advice, find someone who's used it successfully.
Although this particular case study didn't attract more than 200 links, it's still a great example of what one should look like.
One of my personal favorite link building tactics is helping out, or adding value to, webmasters. By doing something for them, they’ll be much, much more likely to give you a link.
Update Old Content
If information is outdated, do webmasters a favor and help update it for them. If you're in a rapidly changing industry such as SEO, look for articles & posts written a few years back that still get traffic (i.e. rank high for a decent keyword). This is because if many people no longer see the content, the webmaster probably won't care enough to have it updated.
Here's a great example. Danny Sullivan even states in the article that he needs to update it! If I knew Danny better, I'd outreach to him with newly updated content, and ask if he could replace it (he'd probably be more than likely to). Unfortunately he's not exactly easy to get in touch with, but in most cases for you, this shouldn't be a problem.
Remember, when you do update the content, make sure you add a link to you in it. We are building links, aren't we?
Pro tip: to save time, use the outdated content finder to find these opportunities.
Not all websites are always accessible in different languages, and a lot of web visitors do not use a browser like Chrome that allows the content on those pages to be translated on the fly. Therefore, you can help by translating their content for them.
As an example, see this page, and see the bullet point titled ‘Estonian language translation of this page'.
Find bloggers who produce podcasts & videos on their blogs but don't transcribe the audio files. Do it for them, then reach out to them letting them know; you can either post the content on your site for them to link to, or (more recommended) have them post it on that blog post, along with a link to you for attribution.
I recommend using SpeechPad if you're looking for a transcription service.
A decent website usually has some sort of logo, graphic, and web design. If you have any experience with any of these, reach out to webmasters and ask if they'd like any of the above services free at no cost.
If you don't know design, you can get someone on Fiverr to create a logo for 5 bucks. No, it's not going to be amazing, but it'll get the job done.
Give Them Hosting
Every webmaster has to fork out a few bucks a month (or more) for hosting. Why not help them out by either providing hosting or paying for it? For those who have a server, this shouldn't cost you a penny. A great thing to ask for would be a link in their blogroll.
Ross Hudgens pointed this one out to me. It's just as simple as it sounds; look for grammar & spelling mistakes, notify the webmaster, and ask for a link on a relevant page.
Chris Dyson pointed this one out. Use ScrapeBox to find sites with malware, then reach out to webmasters, let them know, and ask for a link.
Remember: don't go to their site! You might get a virus. Use a whois lookup to find contact info.
Filling Gaps in Content
If a site is missing information on a certain topic, whether it's an article entirely or a portion of one that should be better elaborated on, reach out to the webmaster and ask if you could fill that gap. Here's a great post on this strategy.
Fight Viagra Hackers
There's a huge issue on the Internet that I didn't realize could be used to build links until recently. Hackers (most notably trying to get links with anchors like "buy cheap viagra", "online gambling", etc.) are infiltrating blogs, college sites, and regular html websites in order to get the links they want. A lot of times, the webmasters of these sites have no idea it's happening.
And yes, creative would be an understatement.
Dead Content Recreation
Take broken link building one step further by recreating the content found at those URLs, then outreaching to not only that specific linking site, but also other sites linking to that broken URL.
For this, use Archive.org to find what content used to be found at that URL.
To find dead content that's ripe for recreation, start by finding some highly authoritative, niche relevant, & aged resource/links pages. If you check these pages for broken links, you'll usually find one or two to some kind of highly linked to page of content. To initially find those resource/links pages, start by grabbing a few of the most authoritative, niche relevant sites you know of, and throw them into Ahrefs to find their best links.
If you're thinking horizontally, you might stop prospecting once you've gone through all of the different links to that old page, but if you did, you'd be missing out on a ton of others. Look for other content on the same or similar topics that got links by using the same methods to find the initial dead content (but instead, keep your eyes open for live content as well).
Out of all the tactics listed, this is my favorite. The scalability of finding broken links is outright unfair. In a nutshell, you'll be 1) finding pages that could potentially link to you, 2) looking for broken links on the page, and 3) if there are any, you'll let the webmaster know and ask if the broken link could be replaced with a link to you.
You can get really creative with broken links. It's by no means a narrow, straightforward strategy.
Here's a great guide on the entire process.
Twitter Profile Links
Social Platforms for Outreach
Sometimes email isn't always the best way to get in touch with a person.
With the growth of Twitter, it's been proven that real, genuine outreach through this platform yields higher returns on response rates & ultimately links.
In some international markets, you'll find that more people actually check Facebook more often than their email (if they have one).
Sites like Delicious, Digg, and Pinterest offer a bit of link equity through social bookmarks. Keep in mind though that because they're so easy to abuse, they usually don't have much value.
The only ones you should really be pursuing are these 10, Pinterest, and niche specific ones (i.e. Inbound.org for inbound marketing).
Because Google+ is on Google's link graph, there's a very high chance that shares on this platform are seen as links just like they're from another website. And because Google+ pages, profiles & communities have PageRank, these links are worth pursuing.
For a more detailed look as to why this is, see this post.
Create Useful Things
If you build it, they will come. There are numerous things you can create that webmasters can embed on their site. In return, of course, you’ll get links. Some of these things will also naturally attract links to the page you’re offering on them, so they work both ways.
By creating embeddable widgets, webmasters can place them on their site, and if you code it correctly, you can easily get a link back.
Plugins & Extensions
CMS plugins & extensions, like those for WordPress & Joomla, can get you a few links.
For example, in the Sharebar plugin, the default setting includes a link on the bottom of the floating bar. It can be disabled, but some people don't bother, thus giving the developers a link.
You can also get links from the official websites of the software that your plugins & extensions work in (i.e. the WordPress plugin directory).
They're easy to create, and if they catch on, you'll get a ton of design blogs linking to you.
You don't have to know design to create an icon set & get links to it. Hire someone (on oDesk for example) to create a set for your blog. Then give away the set for free in a new blog post for anyone who wants it, and of course, notify design blogs about your free giveaway (they love free giveaways!).
Note: make sure it's niche specific to keep it relevant (i.e. for sports, make the icon backgrounds as baseballs, soccer balls, footballs, etc.)
If you're thinking about designing CMS themes (i.e. WordPress, Drupal, etc.), know this: the links you get have little value, and that to gain any real value, the anchor text needs to not be spammy (i.e. go for branded) and the theme needs to be used by sites with relevant content.
For example, if you're a sports blog, create a sports theme.
If you're OK with this, here's the best guide on the Web for utilizing WordPress Themes for links. As for other CMSs, the concepts will be the same, but each will have its own set of differences. If you want to create a Drupal theme, the official Drupal theme depository includes only roughly 1,000 themes, meaning a lot less competition for downloads.
Creating badges, such as the ones for the TopRank BIGLIST, work great if you're giving out awards. In the embed of the badge, include a link back to the awards page.
In terms of who you can give out awards to, it can really be anyone. The easiest one to think of is the top X blogs in your niche, but this has been a little over done by SEOs. You can also do top local venues/restaurants/service providers/etc., which usually work better because these organizations A) probably haven't been featured in many things (meaning they'll be pumped & wanting to share with the world) and B) probably haven't been pitched before to embed a badge on their site.
On the other hand, you can create a badge like this for anyone, and not just an exclusive group. If you run a community that has some size & klout, member badges could be a relatively passive strategy.
If you have a little room in your budget, then consider some of the below paid tactics. Google is against paid links, but there are some out there that are acceptable, such as the ones listed below.
It's a bit shady, but sponsoring WordPress themes is a way to build links. They usually don't cost more than $25-50 per sponsorship. If you're thinking about doing it, check out this guide to theme sponsorship.
Moving forward, I wouldn't recommend this tactic, but if you're going to go this route, make sure your anchors are branded & not exact.
Blogging contests usually don't cost more than $50-100 to sponsor. Make sure to look for ones that require participants to post about the contest on their blog & link to each of the sponsors in the post.
Most colleges have a wide range of clubs, and if you ask one to sponsor it for a link in return, they'll probably say yes. You can usually sponsor one for $50.
When searching for clubs to sponsor, think general niche instead of specific. For example, if my target site is this blog, looking for marketing clubs rather than SEO clubs will yield a much larger pool of prospects.
Sponsor Animal Shelters
There are usually more than a few local animal shelters you can sponsor, and according to Adam Melson in this post, they can be as low as $10. If you're a pet related site, this one's a no-brainer.
Pay Authorities to Embed Your
It's a paid link that cannot be detected, it increases brand awareness & trust, and best of all, it can be used to get natural embeds.
For example, if I get one of the two bloggers in the industry to embed a badge of "Featured in Top 10 X Blogs in 2012", and I outreach to a few mid level bloggers that I also included (exactly for this reason), they'd be more than happy to embed it, because if the big time blogger did, they'd be honored to.
Honestly, if you're going to pay for a sitewide, this is the way to go. There are so many added bonuses.
Note: If you go for spammy anchor text, and not branded or partial, it could send spam signals, so don't play around there.
If you've got a product or service you want reviewed on a blog, you can pay for one. By using sites like sponsoredreviews.com, ReviewMe.com, and PayperPost.com, you can pay for blogger reviews. Of course, they'll link to you in the review.
Hiring Industry Veterans
Relationship building can be hard. Find people in the industry you can hire that can tap into their list of contacts for links, because they've already built up those connections. This can extremely helpful for those who are just starting to try to make a name for themselves in a new industry.
You can also incentivize other link building opportunities (i.e. guest blogging) with paid stumbles.
Hire veteran link builders
Just like industry veterans, experienced link builders have built up little black books of contacts (at least the good ones have). Chances are they've dealt with people in either your vertical or a very similar one. In that case, they can get in touch with those contacts, saving you the time to initially build those relationships.
Donate to Charities & Non-Prof
Charities and non-profit organizations usually have a donor's page like this one. The amount you need to donate to get the link shouldn't be more than $50-100.
Use sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo to find projects that need funding and are willing to give links on their websites to those who contribute. So, for example, I might do a site: search on one of those 2 (or any of the others out there) along with the text "link to your website". You'll come across dozens of these opportunities that usually cost no more than $10-20, so from here, narrow it down to ones that are relevant & pull the trigger.
I have to give credit to Chris Gilchrist and this post for this one.
If you find highly linked to content on sites that are no longer maintained, reach out to the webmaster and ask if you could pay him $100-200 to 301 that page to a page on your site that has the content. Chances are he'd be more than willing to if he doesn't care anymore.
Buying StumbleUpon Traffic For
Ask webmasters if they'd give you a link on a relevant page in exchange for $10-20 worth of StumbleUpon Paid Discovery traffic. Sometimes they'd be willing to link regardless of the PD traffic, so this just encourages them to link even more.
You can also incentivize other link building opportunities (i.e. guest blogging) with paid stumbles.
Buy Existing Domains
Finding existing domains for sale through Flippa is great if you're looking to build up a few link assets. It's costly, but nonetheless, it's a strategy.
.Edu links are some of the best, yet toughest links to get. There are a few specific tactics I listed below that work great if you’re willing to try them out.
Reach out to universities and let them know about your expertise. By writing curriculum for courses (the more basic, the easier it is to get involved), you can get a few citation links from their site.
Students are allowed to create blogs on their respective college websites, so get in touch with them. They're a lot easier to get links from then a regular college webmaster. Whether it's buying them lunch or making sure you get a link from a college intern, you can always get links through students.
For agencies, this can be scaled. Create incentive programs for students to recruit more student bloggers, and so on.
Speak at Universities
Most universities announce speakers on their website, and when they do, make sure a link to your site is included.
Scholarships can become the bread and butter of your .edu link strategy if it's in the budget. Give out a decent sized scholarship, such as $500-1000, and reach out to multiple colleges & high schools. You don't have to settle for just a couple here; usually there's not a limit on this one.
You could take it one step further and set it up as a contest; the finalists have to write blog posts on your blog on why they deserve it, and half the voting is done socially (i.e. tweets, +1s, FB likes). Heck, I bet you could get even more creative at that point.
When prospecting for scholarship opportunities, make sure you follow the paper trail rather than trying to find ones from scratch via Google. Start off by finding a few pages (i.e. search "external scholarships site:.edu"), and from there, plug all the scholarships listed into Ahrefs, go to town on those, and then do the same with other scholarships featured on those pages.
By offering discounts to faculty, teachers, and students, you can easily get links from pages like this.
If you're an ecommerce shop and your products are something that students might be interested in, then these links are a no-brainer.
If you're a local shop of any kind, then usually there's a college or two within 100 miles that have a discount program, and if so, then these links would not only be fantastic from an authoritative standpoint, but also a relevance standpoint. For example, if you're located in Chicago, you should get a listing here.
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.
For agencies, try and compile as many of these opportunities as you can in a spreadsheet, and categorize each of them (i.e. travel, hospitality, etc.).
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 any career sections of their school’s website that talk about any job search success examples of their recent grads. If you do find these opportunities with your grad, make sure they do the 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 to solely this.
This is very similar to your Alumni Directories but it's more valuable (albeit admittedly a bit more difficult to secure) based on the fact that your link has contextual relevance rather than simply a directory. Many colleges and universities love to share stories about notable alumni with links back out to the associated websites (here's an example). Ask your clients for a list of the alma maters for their high profile employees and pitch their stories to these universities.
Pro tip: You should also see if there are any Awards (such as Drexel's 40 under 40) that might provide additional opportunities for links.
Most colleges dedicate a part of their site to their alumni, and some of them link out to their alumni's websites.
For example, one of my client's competitors had a link from one of the Harvard Business School's most authoritative pages, only because they got listed under "HBS Entrepreneurs".
By interacting in communities, you can not only build links, but also relationships (remember how I said how important they are at the top?). This is a great way to get to know people in your industry while snagging a few links at the same time.
Using sites like Yahoo! Answers, you can build a few nofollow links that should also send a bit of traffic. Make sure to cite pages on your site when answering questions in order to guarantee a link.
Instead of going into Q&A blind, I suggest to first identify some of the most frequently asked questions in your space, then create detailed content around them, and setup web alerts for them (I recommend Mention). Then when someone asks, you can chime in with an answer you've already done your research on, and you can link to your content for a more detailed explanation.
Forum posting is a great way to find the people in your industry that are really passionate about your niche. Again, you'll get links when you post in the right forums.
For ecommerce sites, this can not only be a solid, scalable link building tactic, but you can drive enough revenue with it to justify every second of your time investment. See this post & this follow-up for more details.
There are a number of online newspapers that are run by the people, for the people. By contributing, curating, and adding your insight, you can get links from these sites on a regular basis (you get the chance to promote yourself in your bio on most of them).
Here are a few for example:
It's definitely classified as low hanging fruit, but you can still get value from commenting on blogs.
To get the most value, comment on relevant blogs, dofollow blogs (blogs that offer followed links to their commenters), and CommentLuv blogs (blogs that have the CommentLuv plugin installed).
If you do it right, you'll build rapport with bloggers and links at the same time.
As a bonus, some blogs have a widget that displays the top commentators in the sidebar of their blog. All you have to do is make it up on that leaderboard and you'll get a sitewide link. Granted it might take 10-15 comments, it's still worth it.
If you do this, make sure you don't drop all of the comments on the same day; you'd look like an idiot. Do one or two a day for a couple weeks until you get that link.
Leverage Existing Opportunities
Chances are there are links out there that are already yours that you just haven’t gotten yet. For example, if someone uses your content, you should be able to get a link back. Here are a few existing opportunities for you to snag a link or two.
Your Twitter Followers
Someone who follows you on Twitter is much more likely to link to you than those who don't, so scrape your followers & the URLs associated with their profiles, find their link metrics, and prioritize your outreach efforts accordingly to get links from these people. For more info, check out this post.
To download all of your Twitter followers and if information about each (including their URL), I recommend using Simply Measured.
If you've built up influence, you can definitely use this to build links. If I got an email from Aaron Wall asking to review his toolset on my blog, I'd be more than willing to.
Outside of outreach, you can use your influence for a ton of things. For example, Ann Smarty used her influence to get a chance to write posts for Mashable (no lack of quality links there). Tim Ferriss landed an insane amount of features on news outlets and blogs when promoting his newest book because, well, he's Tim Ferriss.
In general, you can use your influence to get a much higher success rate with every other strategy I talk about, but remember: if the person you're contacting doesn't know who you are, then your influence is worthless (ex. a .gov webmaster could care less if you're a big shot travel blogger).
By scraping your commentators and their URLs with this plugin (only for WordPress though), you can find influencers that have commented on your blog in the past. Just like with Twitter followers, use this to build relationships with them to use for future link opportunities.
Short Form Text
As defined by Ross Hudgens, "short form text... is a small chunk of content that you have created that is deemed worth enough to mention, that my be plagiarized or referred to with or without a link." This is similar to a new term you coined, but instead, it's usually phrase-length or a sentence or two.
Some examples of short form text are:
- A data point. i.e. "people who apply sunscreen to themselves generally apply 50-75% less than the recommended amount"
- A definition. i.e. "Content Marketing is a marketing technique of creating & distributing relevant and valuable content..." ( source)
- A quote/phrase. i.e. "A penguin cannot become a giraffe, so just be the best penguin you can be."
With each of these, people won't always quote them exactly, so using Google search to type them in as quotes will not show you all the opportunities present. Therefore, also search them without quotes, and in the meta descriptions, look for near matches that dictate they're from the same source.
To make this an on-going strategy, set up web alerts accordingly for these. For a more detailed look at this (and a cool example), once again see this post by Ross Hudgens.
Reclaim Links Pointing To 404s
Sometimes links to your website break over time, whether it's because you've moved the intended page, or because the webmaster messed up your URL. Go into Google Webmaster Tools to see which pages are getting 404 errors, then redirect those pages to either the homepage or the implied intended page.
Reclaim External Profile Page
People will sometimes link to profile pages of yours on external sites, so take advantage. This could be social profiles, business profiles, member profiles, or really anything else. As long as the page itself doesn't have any real value add that you can't replicate (i.e. you wouldn't want to do this for a ResellerRatings profile page), such as your Twitter page or Crunchbase profile, then you can reclaim these links.
For example, for your Twitter page that has links to it, do what I did here by going to the Twitter widget page and grabbing a full-page widget. Then ask webmasters to link to your Twitter page on your site rather than directly to Twitter.
If someone has linked to you in the past, chances are they might be willing to in the future. Get to know them, and make sure they're up to date with your content, because that only leads to more links.
I like using Linkstant to instantly see who's linked to me. I always make sure to stop by and leave a thank you comment.
An action plan for this strategy is to make a continuous list of bloggers/webmasters who've naturally linked to you in the past. Make sure you touch base with them saying just how thankful you are for the mention, and after that, if they're OK with it, could you notify them of any future content you put out? What you're basically doing is building up an email list strictly for potential linkers that you can push big creatives to.
Leverage Copy & Pasting
Here's a fantastic post on this concept.
Pro tip: if you make the "More from" text something like "Cited from", it'll look more scholarly & professional. This usually gets a much higher success rate.
Getting Links From Scraped Con
If your content gets scraped, and the scraped piece of content doesn't have a link back, then make sure you contact the webmaster and get one. Just like images & infographics, it's copyright infringement, so they're not going to say no if you get a response.
Contacting People Using Your I
By using a reverse image search tool, you can easily find other websites using your images or infographics. Politely outreach to each and ask you could a link back for using them. If they don't, make sure to let them know it's copyright infringement.
Coin A New Term (And Reclaim M
Coining a new term in your industry can get people talking. It (semi) worked for me when I coined the term Scrape Rate, and it worked for Rand when he coined Linkerati.
After you make an attempt, immediately go & setup web mention alerts for the term. The quicker you can reach out while the content is still fresh, the better chance you'll get them to include a link if they already haven't.
If your brand gets mentioned, then make sure you ask for a link. For example, if someone mentioned "Backlinko" on their blog, I might ask if they could include a link so the reader would know where Backlinko is located on the Web.
Once again, I recommend using Mention to find these as they happen. I also recommend checking out this guide to using Link Prospector for finding previous mentions at scale.
Associations/Organizations You're A Part Of
If you're a part of an association or organization, chances are they have a website. If they do, find out if they link out to their members. Get included if they do.
Some might also do spotlights on their members just like with Alumni associations (which were mentioned in the .edu section). Reach out to try & get featured, and if you do, get the link.
If someone just bought something from you, then this is the perfect time to ask for a link if they have any influence online. Ask them to write a review of your product or service, and then offer to help promote it to spread the word. It's a win-win!
Whether you’re creating them or attending them, there are a variety of ways you can utilize events to build links.
Utilize National Days & Events
Whether it's a national day, week, month, or event, they can all be used to build links. You could create your own, or you could help promote an existing one. If this sounds like something you think you could do, check out this entire post on the subject (props to Will O'Hara on taking this idea and really expanding on it).
You talked a good deal about sponsoring events, but you can also secure links from sponsoring venues where these events take place. I've seen this most successful for outdoor/sporting venues (such as my local Georgia Soccer Park) but I've also seen it be successful for indoor/conference-type venues as well.
Whether it's a local meet-up, industry conference, or anything in between, event groups are always looking for sponsors, and you can usually get a link in return for a $100-200 sponsorship.
Wil Reynolds brought up a good point in this post. The moment an event is over, ask if you could sponsor next years. The event committee will be so excited that they'd instantly say yes, and in the end you get the link for close to two years instead of one.
Pro Tip: (h/t to Phil Rozek) On Meetup.com, you can quickly find meetups that don't have any sponsors yet by using this search phrase & appending your niche keywords: site:meetup.com "this group does not have sponsors right now"
If you're at an industry event, blog about everything that's taking place. If you're the only one, you'll get loads of links. If you're not, you'll still get A LOT of attention.
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.
Host Your Own Events
Hosting local meetups or even paid events are excellent ways to get links from a variety of websites dedicated to events in general, as well as niche sites in your area that likely have a decent audience that you're looking to tap into. This article by Kane Jamison goes into more depth on footprints for finding event listing websites and conducting outreach to people likely to talk about your event.
Host Other People's Events
You don't necessarily need to host your own websites in order to benefit from events. If you have space suitable for events you can offer it to other organizations on a paid or free basis, which 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, restaurant/bars, and other similar potential event spaces. Once your venue is established, you can go also back to event listing sites that allow you to "Add A Venue" in their database.
Sticking with events, providing the event audience with some resource to help improve their experience is another quality way to generate links. For example, Mack Fogelson put together a cheat sheet for MozCon last year that acquired 18 links from 6 domains, but more importantly I'm sure it helped with initiate or reinforce relationships with other industry veterans/speakers.
Along the same lines as Live Blogging, writing recaps of events can help secure some additional links simply using the notes you're already taking. There is always a surge of content that comes out after a conference talking about ways to apply the tactics you learned, so getting your notes out there gives people a resource to reference as they're writing this content. Make sure you promote these recaps using the conference hashtag so that it gets in front of the conference audience.
A great example of this is John Doherty's recap of LinkLove last year (55 links from 8 root domains).
You have something that people want, so give it away. Here’s a list of things you can give to get links.
Sites like Living Social & Groupon allow you to include anchor text links in the description of your coupons. If you're wondering, Google does cache the pages, so I'm 99% sure these links are indexed.
Products to Bloggers
There's no better way to connect with bloggers than by giving them your product or service in exchange for a review. Usually there are a lot of mid level bloggers in big industries more than willing to, so this can be quite scalable.
P.S. if you have a link building related product or service (please, no black hat software) reach out to me using this tactic. I might just review it and give you a link :).
Giving out discounts & coupons is a great way to get mentions in lists like this one. Make sure to reach out to writers who dedicate posts to discounts & coupons so you can get included, usually they'd be more than happy to.
If you have a product or service, and if there's a relevant blogging contest taking place, reach out to the blogger running it and ask if you could give your product or service to the winner. They'd be more than happy to, and they'll give you a link on the contest page if you ask.
Not all links that we build are for search rankings. Some are for traffic. We are getting high rankings so we get more traffic, right? Besides, having all of your eggs (links) in one basket (Google) is never a good idea. Here are a few examples of links for traffic.
Scoop.it is an awesome way to drive traffic and to build a few nofollow links at the same time. This site is a content curation site; users get to curate what content they want to share. It's hard to explain, so watch this video.
For us, we'll be suggesting content to users that get traffic to their pages. For example, look at this one. It's received 21.6k views, so I know it will give me a bit of traffic if I can get my content here. All I have to do is hit the "suggest" button at the top, and wa-la, they can accept or deny my content.
Note: If your content sucks, this won't work for you. If it's great, this is a reward.
Including links back to your site in newsletters is a great way to get traffic, but take it one step further. Find influential newsletters in your niche and try to get a link included.
For example, I've gotten a link in Eric Ward's Link Moses Private. An even bigger target (that could potentially crash my site) is the Moz Top 10 newsletter, which has 220,000 subscribers. Yeah. I know.
Pro tip: Find out who's sending out the newsletters, and get to know them.
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.
Craigslist and other classified sites are great places to drive a bit of traffic. Make sure you're not spamming, and make sure it's relevant to that category.
Creating a new project in your niche cannot only help build your authority and trust, but it can also get you a few links if you know where to put them. Here are a few examples of what you could create.
Wikis are great, but only if you get people involved. Having a little influence to begin with helps a ton. By outreaching to influencers to contribute and by incentivizing contributions, you can build it up as an authority. Again, make sure to link to yourself with it.
New Online Community
Whether it's a niche forum, Q&A site, or social network, you can probably create it without much trouble.
If you want to above and beyond, create a community from scratch. Inbound.org, created by Rand Fishkin and Dharmesh Shah, is exactly that.
Industry Specific Directory
Creating a human curated, quality niche directory is something worth looking into if there isn't one in your industry. If the design sucks (i.e. it looks like every other one) and the submissions you're accepting are subpar, you'll have little success, but if you're accepting only quality sites, it could get listed often on resource lists.
I suggest starting with directory software, then customizing from there. Just Google "directory software" if you're looking for one; most don't cost more than $100.
Obviously, since this is a link building strategy, link to your main site.
Based on where you’re located, you can get a few links from local websites. Here are a few ways to use your location to build links.
If you're located in a shopping plaza or a mall, chances are they have a website, and if they do, a fair amount of them list off each of the businesses located in them along with a link to a website.
Here's an example of a mall located near me.
Local Newspapers with Press Re
Send press releases to your local newspapers. They like to feature news from local businesses, and if your press release is newsworthy, they're usually happy to syndicate it (so have a link or two in the original press release).
Most local libraries have a website, and most of them have somewhat of a link profile. Nonetheless, get in touch, and do what you can to get a link; it's going to be a link from one of the most white hat sites in your profile.
For example, my local library has a Page Rank of 5. At the time I'm writing this I haven't gotten a link from them, but it's only a matter of time :).
Chamber of Commerce
Getting a link from your Chamber of Commerce is a guaranteed link just waiting for you to get. In some cases, though, it takes a little bit of time to find the right person to get in touch with.
Better Business Bureau
I don't always suggest an individual site, but when I do, it's the Better Business Bureau. This link will pass more trust than almost any other link in your profile.
The price is determined by state/region/city and by number of employees. The 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.
That being said, you are SUPPOSED to get a "dofollow" link 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 of businesses. There have been some instances where your businesses 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.
To Spark Conversation
Try turning off your comments and asking other bloggers to continue the conversation over a particular issue or topic on their blog. Promise that you'll link to them at the end of the post if they do. When they do this, they almost always link back to the original post.
This works best with controversial posts.
To Active Medium Level Blogger
Medium level bloggers are the best audiences to target. When they get linked to, they go bananas. I did when I got my first few links; I actually told my friends about this particular mention I got because of how excited I was.
Linking out & letting them know you did so is a great strategy for this large group. Usually the best natural link profiles come from blogs that have control over this middle group.
Mention Specific People Whenev
Whenever possible, and I mean whenever possible!, mention specific people. People LOVE getting mentioned. Link to their site (so they know they got mentioned), and when they find out, they're usually more than willing to share the post at the very least (if not link to it!).
Again, this is a great way to put yourself on their map.
Reward people who link to you by giving trackback links. Take it one step further and make them dofollow. When they sort through there backlinks and see these, they'll be a lot more likely to link out to you in the future.
As opposed to giving trackbacks, find blogs that allow you to get trackback links. For example, the Google blog gives out trackback links, and even though they're nofollow, they're still worth something.
Create Link Roundups
Whether they're monthly, weekly, or even daily, doing roundups of great posts in your niche is a fantastic way to put you on the map. Mid-level, and even some high-level, bloggers take notice when they get links from these.
Pro tip: Make sure you add a little insight to why you listed the post. It helps the bloggers being linked to know that someone is actually taking the time to read their posts.
There are a lot of fantastic tactics that don’t quite fit in one specific category, so here is a miscellaneous group you should check out.
By including links in the embed code of videos, and reaching out to bloggers to host them (i.e. as part of an upcoming post), you can get a link for each embed.
Target Link Roundups
Instead of creating them as a linking out strategy, find bloggers who produce these, and get on their radar. These are the kinds of people you want to build relationships with, because when you produce something share worthy, you want to be able to send it to a person like this who has the ability to link to it, no questions asked.
Set Up Free Blogs
Setting up free blogs for others is fantastic, because doing it might be complex for others, but easy for you. Make sure you get a link from their blogroll in return.
I hate to bring it up again & again, but keep relevance in mind. If your target site is about insurance, and you're helping a friend setup a blog about fashion, the link is going to look a bit weird to both users & search engines. So in that case, it might not be worth your time.
Second Tier Link Building
Building links to pages that link to you can be awesome if you do it right. You not only can pass more juice back to your site, but you can also use it for reputation management and to drive sales.
Pro tip: Do second tier link building to trustworthy sites linking to you, such as a guest post on a highly authoritative blog. For example, if you're utilizing broken links, asking for the replacement link to be to a highly trustworthy site over a link to you will get you accepted a lot more often than if you asked for a link to you.
This is because the site is more trustworthy (webmaster more willing to link) and because you're not asking for a link to the domain that hosts your email (i.e. jcooper@pointblankseo[dot]com asking for a link to pointblankseo.com), meaning it looks more natural in the eyes of the webmaster.
Reverse Guest Blogging
Try & get influential authors to write a guest post or two for your blog. Not only will they share it with their audiences, but the thing is, people love linking to stuff they've written in the past, so having it hosted on your blog is a way to get those links.
Reverse Engineering Assets
By finding assets that have worked in the past for competitors, such as awards & infographics, you can steal their success with little work. Basically, you're taking advantage of them not keeping up with the times.
Overall, your best bet is to find either A) outdated assets or B) incomplete assets (ones that have information gaps). So in general, if you have no way of actually improving upon what they've created, then it's not worth making just another carbon copy.
It's a lot to explain, so here's a great guide to reverse link building.
Relevant Reciprocal Links
Yep, I included it. If you're going to exchange (reciprocate) links with a website, don't do it as if you're living in 1998. Make sure they're the most relevant, trustworthy websites you've ever come across. If they're not, don't do it.
Good ole' fashioned PR outreach is always a great idea if you're buzzworthy. If you're not up for hiring a PR company for this, make sure you research who you're pitching, and make sure to keep it short and to the point.
If you do it right, you'll build up a relationship with the person you're pitching long before you pitch them. This will also result in you being able to tap into that relationship multiple times, and not for just a one-off pitch.
Our Retailers' Pages
If you're a retail or eCommerce shop, look for manufacturer & supplier websites of the products you carry and see if they list off any of their retailer locations (usually a mix of offline & online). If they do list online ones, then it's an easy link. For example, pages like this:
Note: for local businesses looking for citations, this is a great tactic to get them (i.e. this page).
Whether it's meeting your customers, handing out business cards, or even putting a sticker of your URL on your car, getting the word out away from your computer can help increase brand awareness, traffic, and in the end, links.
Non-College Job/Intern Posting
Job & intern postings outside of colleges can be a huge win. When one major job site, such as Monster.com, picks up your postings, it gets distributed to a ton of others. Most of the links don't last long (until the vacancy is filled), but some do stick.
Non-Brand Mention Monitoring
Outside of looking for brand mentions for link reclamation, there are numerous ways to utilize web mention monitoring for link building purposes.
The first is for product mention monitoring. You can setup queries for your products or your competitors products, and see where they're getting mentioned. For example, if they're in forums, join the conversation, answer some questions, and where appropriate, include a link. You can also setup review based queries such as:
- "product giveaway"
- "submit a product for review"
- "category: product review"
- "If you have a product that would like"
The second is competitor queries. You can setup queries to find where your competitors are getting mentioned, and in some cases, you can contact the authors who wrote about them to let them know more about you & if it's possible if you get written about as well (see: drafting technique).
For a more in-depth article, see this fantastic guide written by Ross Hudgens on using Google Alerts (although I recommend using Mention.net instead which works the same way).
Groups, organizations, and associations, local and niche specific, sometimes offer links to their members.
Help A Reporter Out (HARO)
HARO, or Help A Reporter Out, connects journalists with bloggers & industry experts. By becoming a source, you can get big time links from news sites.
Some outdated sites still offer guest books you can sign in. If you come across one, include a link.
Get Your Own Wikipedia Page
As opposed to contributing, having a Wikipedia page about you or your company is something to look into if you've already built up authority. If you're well known, this is a great option & a huge way to build trust.
Make sure you're not the one writing it; have someone else write it, because it needs to be as unbiased as possible.
Get On The News By Crashing Cars
Yep, you heard right. I saw this comment, and I couldn't resist not dedicating an entire strategy to it.
Luckily, there's a point to be made. Get creative! Creativity is the key to pioneering new link opportunities, and usually ones your competitors can't get.
Expired Blogspot Blogs
This is a little something I came up with myself. Some blogspot blogs become expired and allow anyone to register it, so by finding these blogs that have a few links pointing to it, you can gain control, put up some content, and link back to your site.
For example, I picked up this PR3 blog (Update April 2013: Google has taken it down) and added a link back to Backlinko. I did this awhile go, and I agree that it's a little grey hat. I wouldn't do it again, but it's something I thought I should at least mention.
The easiest way to find them is to do is to check for broken links on pages that link out to a ton of blogs. This could be blogrolls, links pages, or blog directories. If a link is broken, and if it's to a blogspot blog, check to make sure you can register it. Most you can't. If you can, then go to OSE and check out its link profile to see if it's worth registering.
In a nutshell, you'll be finding other ecommerce sites that sell complimentary, but non-competing, products, and partnering with them to get links from their category & product pages.
So for example, if you sell high powered flashlights, find retailers who sell the specialized batteries for those flashlights. Getting links on those category & product pages would be highly relevant & would earn direct revenue. In exchange, you can do the same, offer them payment, or you can give them some other form of value (i.e. including a mention of them in your purchase confirmation emails to customers).
Although they both aren't eCommerce, StubHub & ESPN did a similar partnership where on schedule pages on ESPN, links are included in each row of the table to StubHub to purchase tickets. Likewise, on StubHub, on each team ticket page, the standings of that team are displayed with a link to ESPN.
Contribute to Wikipedia Pages
By citing your own content on relevant Wikipedia pages, you can get a link under the "References" tab. It's nofollow, but it's very trustworthy & can send a lot of highly relevant traffic.
OveWhen doing this, make sure you don't signup 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's a waste of time & will be taken out.
Blog Networking (White Hat)
Use some of the relationships you've built to create a network of similar non-competing blogs. Link out to them, and ask for them to do the same. A good number to have in your network is 5; it's not too much, but it's not too little.
For example, make sure everyone links out to each different blog in the network once a month. Heck, make it once a week.
It's like reciprocal linking, but way better, because the links are relevant, contextual, and natural in Google's eyes.
It's a strategy past its prime, but by starting an affiliate program, you can not only get links through affiliate links, but you can also get links to the affiliate program page itself (affiliate bloggers will link out if they like it).
Make sure whatever software/vendor you use is SEO friendly, meaning that the affiliate links are direct links to pages on your site with referral strings at the end.
Finding and taking over abandoned domains is definitely a strategy on the black hat side if you're doing something like a 301 or using its expired content outside of the site.
One strategy is to find abandoned domains that have link equity, then use archive.org to repopulate the content on some of the pages that got the most links. Obviously, include a few links in the content back to you.
I recommend using Domain Hunter Plus and Godaddy auctions for finding them in the first place.