+ A High-Level Overview of Link Building for SEO
+ Strategies for High-Quality Backlinks
+ Earning More Backlinks for SEO
+ Strategies for Approaching Link Building
+ Types of Content That Work Well for Building Links
+ Establishing Publisher Relationships for Link Building
+ Miscellaneous “Bonus” Link Building Strategies
It’s nearly impossible to achieve any measurable search engine optimization (SEO) results without at least some link building. The high-level view of link building is simple enough; place or earn more links pointing back to your domain so your domain-level and page-level authority grow, at which point you’ll naturally rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). But most marketers eventually get stuck.
Link building is a nuanced strategy that’s as much an art as it is a science, and there are dozens of different ways to approach it. It can all be intimidating for a link building newcomer, and frustrating to a seasoned veteran who just can’t break past their most recent plateau.
In this guide, we’re going to provide a high-level overview of link building for SEO, then delve into the 77 strategies most likely to help you boost the visibility of your new site or help your existing site ascend to new heights.
To better understand the link building strategies and tactics in this list, you’ll need to understand the fundamentals of link building for SEO.
“Backlinks” are just hyperlinks on the internet that point to your domain (and the various pages within that domain). They’re important because they’re considered as a marker of trustworthiness in PageRank, the algorithm at the heart of Google Search. Basically, Google wants to rank its most trustworthy results above its less-trustworthy results, assuming the relevance of content is equal. It uses the number and quality of inbound links to determine how trustworthy a site is; in other words, if you get quality backlinks from many different high-authority publishers, your own domain authority will increase. The higher your domain- and page-level authority, the higher you’re going to rank in searches.
In an ideal world, links would naturally be distributed according to which content is best—but this rarely happens unprovoked. Link building is a strategy meant to help companies generate inbound links intentionally, earning domain authority as well as direct traffic from people clicking the links.
Google hasn’t tinkered with the link-relevant side of its algorithm much in previous years. The last major addition to Penguin (Google’s link-centric algorithm) occurred in October of 2016. Throughout 2018 and 2019 (so far), there have been a few important updates, including carousel changes, mobile layout changes, unconfirmed rollouts resulting in ranking fluctuations, and a core update in March of 2019. None of these updates have had a substantial impact on how links are evaluated in Google Search, but it’s still important to review and audit your link building practices in 2019 to ensure they’re up-to-date—and getting you the best backlinks possible.
Link building tends to manifest in two main ways: link earning and direct link building. Link earning is a passive strategy designed to create situations that naturally incentivize other people to link to your site. Direct link building is a hands-on approach that allows you to build links on external sites. However, this requires a careful approach; Google wants to preserve the integrity of its search engine rankings, so it seeks out and penalizes sites that link to themselves in an attempt to manipulate rank. Accordingly, direct link building requires you to build links that are actually valuable to web users, and in a context that makes logistical sense. For the most part, this requires you to house your links in high-quality content, and work openly with external sites on the web.
In the rest of this article, we’ll be exploring link building strategies in different categories, from earning backlinks naturally with attractive content to best practices for managing publisher relationships.
In link building, quality is everything. Low-quality or spammy backlinks are likely to earn you a penalty, setting your ranking efforts back multiple steps. Good links, by contrast, have the potential to last forever, increasing your rankings while also forwarding more referral traffic your way directly. Accordingly, one high-quality backlink is often worth far more than many unattractive or low-quality links.
These strategies will help you ensure that the links you build are the highest possible quality:
1. Avoid building links indiscriminately. This first strategy is more about what you shouldn’t do. Newcomers are often tempted to build as many links as possible, without putting much thought into which types of links they build or how they build them. Before you even start link building, make sure you have a clear vision. What are you trying to accomplish? Which links will help you the most? It’s much better to build a small number of extremely helpful links than a large number of links that might hurt you in the long run.
2. Embed your links in good content. Good links exist in context. A lengthy URL existing by itself in a forum comment isn’t going to get much positive attention; it isn’t helpful, valuable, or even natural. But a link embedded as a citation in a solidly written article is a different story. When building links, your first priority should be the content housing your link, and the context that justifies its existence. Without good content as a backbone, your link building strategy won’t get far.
3. Favor high-DA sites over low-DA sites. Google judges not just the number of linking domains to your site, but also the quality of those linking domains. Domain authority (DA) is a relative measure of the trustworthiness of a given site. The higher the DA of a domain is, the more authority its links will pass. Accordingly, getting a link on a high-DA site is better than a comparable link on a low-DA site. As an added bonus, high-DA sites tend to get more traffic on their own, which means they’ll have a higher likelihood of passing referral traffic your way.
4. Favor new domains over already-linked domains. Links pass authority from one site to another, but there are diminishing returns for links on the same domain. In other words, the first link you build on a 78 DA website will pass significant authority to your site, but the second link you build there will pass much, much less. As a general rule, getting a link on a new domain is a better use of your time, even if its DA is slightly lower. In this example, a link on a new 55 DA site will be superior to a second link on the 78 DA site. Of course, this isn’t written in stone; even if you aren’t getting as much authority, new links on already-link domains will still increase your brand visibility, and may forward additional referral traffic your way.
5. Link to a high-quality page onsite. You can technically link any page of your site, but it’s a good strategy to link to the best-written content or otherwise most valuable pages of your site. This is useful for a few reasons. First, it strengthens the value of your link, meaning it’s more likely to be accepted by publishers and clicked by readers. Second, it passes page-specific page authority (PA) to this page, increasing its ranking potential disproportionately to the other pages of your site. Third, the referral traffic visitors you earn will form a much more favorable impression of your brand when they see this quality material (and you might have a better chance of converting them).
6. Make sure your link adds value for readers. What function is your link serving? The best links exist to provide additional value to readers. There are many possible approaches here, but you’ll need a good one if you want your link to succeed. For example, your link can serve as additional reading material on a topic, or it could serve as a citation to back up the facts you report. It could also provide resources in line with what a reader is seeking, or even add a humorous element to the article. If a reader is happy to see this link, it’s a good link for your campaign.
7. Make sure your content is relevant. “Relevance” applies in two contexts here, and both are important. First, your guest blog or offsite content needs to be relevant to the publisher and the audience reading it; if it seems out of place, it either won’t get accepted or it won’t be read. Second, the webpage you’re linking needs to be relevant to the article housing the link. There’s some wiggle room here, but if your topic is too far off-base, it’s going to weaken your link.
8. Place your link early in the article. There’s some evidence to suggest that the higher up your link is in a page, the more authority it’s going to pass. Links in the header or early in the body will be much more valuable than links in a sidebar or in the footer. If you can, try to get your link as high above the fold as possible. This is also beneficial for referral traffic generation; early links tend to get more attention, increasing your brand visibility as well as total clicks.
9. Never include more than one link to your site in an article. While it may be possible to include multiple contextually relevant links to your domain in the body of a single article, this is inadvisable as a strategy. If you link to yourself multiple times, each subsequent link will pass less authority to your site, and if you link too much, you’ll flag the suspicions of both your publisher and Google’s search algorithm. Focus on building one strong link to your domain instead, and feel free to include links to other domains.
10. Include descriptive anchor text. Anchor text refers to the section of text in your article that “houses” the link you build (often highlighted in blue). In the early days of SEO, the best strategy was to use anchor text that exactly matched your target keywords and phrases. However, doing this now is counterproductive, both because keywords are less relevant (thanks to Google’s semantic search updates) and because excessive keyword stuffing can harm your campaign. Still, anchor text is an important consideration. These days, your best strategy is to include anchor text that effectively describes the content you’re linking, with phrasing that naturally blends with the rest of your article.
11. Avoid keyword stuffing in your anchor text. On that note, make sure you’re not keyword stuffing. As a general rule, if you start with a firm idea of the exact anchor text you want, you’re going to end up with unnatural phrasing. Feel free to come up with a phrase adjacent to your target keywords, or contextually on topic, but your top priority should be using anchor text that makes sense.
12. Include links to other high-quality sources. If you want your link to stick (and be well-received by your readership), it’s in your best interest to include links to other high-quality domains in the body of your article. This will make your brand look more authoritative in context, and perhaps more importantly, it will increase the likelihood of other people linking directly to your site if and when they research this content. In other words, it’s a useful trick to get more attention from researchers and writers on the web.
13. Don’t write off the possibility of nofollow links. By default, links are “dofollow,” which means Google’s web crawlers and search algorithm will consider them when making calculations and determining rankings. However, it’s also possible to include a “nofollow” tag in the backend HTML code that prevents a link from being considered. Some sites (especially high-DA publishers) intentionally make the majority of their links nofollow links to preserve their online reputation in Google’s eyes. Because nofollow links won’t increase your authority directly, many link builders dismiss them as worthless. However, nofollow links can be valuable; they’re still a source of brand visibility and referral traffic, and they may be your chance to make a good impression on a high-DA publisher, serving as a stepping stone to the dofollow link you’d prefer.
14. Don’t get fixated on quantity. On some level, link building is a numbers game. It’s hard to dispute that more links from more publishers will increase your authority and your rankings. However, this shouldn’t be your motivating priority, especially in the early days of your link building campaign. Instead, focus on building good links; the quantity will come in time.
One common approach to getting backlinks for your site is earning links passively. The overarching goal here is to create onsite assets so interesting or valuable that other authorities naturally want to link to them.
These are some of the best tactics for the job:
15. Include original, referenceable stats in your core content. If you want people to link to your work, you need to give them a reason. Think about the links you’d build in high-quality content of your own; you’ll likely link to sources that give you numerical statistics, original research, or unique arguments that aren’t all over the web. If you include these points of reference in your own work, it will be far more likely to be cited by other authors. Conducting original research can be cost- and time-intensive, but you can guarantee access to data no one else has; as long as those data are valuable, you’ll almost certainly earn links.
16. Utilize social media for all it’s worth. There’s one small issue with pumping your content full of referenceable stats; if nobody can find or discover your content in the first place, they’ll never see what you wrote. To combat this, lean on social media. Sharing your content is free, and if you have a decent subscriber base, you can instantly make it available to hundreds, if not thousands of people. While you’re at it, engage with your followers and try to attract new followers so your future shares are even more powerful.
17. Post in niche forums regularly and comment on other posts. You’ll earn more links if you’re known as a reputable source. If people in the industry know and respect you, they’ll read your work routinely, and they’ll be willing to link to your material in their own work. One of the easiest ways to do this is to find niche forums and online communities where professionals like you gather to discuss industry topics. Make regular posts, answer community questions, and engage yourself in active discussions; over time, you’ll build a reputation, and people will take your content more seriously.
18. Provide your work to influencers who might have an interest in it. This tactic is something of a hybrid between asking for links and earning them naturally. The idea is to find an influencer in your field (i.e., someone with a large social following or someone known for producing great content), then provide that influencer with a piece of your content you think they’d appreciate. For example, let’s say a leading authority in your industry makes a social media post about the seeming decline of sales in the industry. You can use this opportunity to send them a case study you did on long-term industry growth; if they like it and find it valuable, they’ll probably link to it in future content (or share it with their followers).
19. Collaborate on posts. You can try something similar by collaborating on posts. Find another expert in your field, and work together on a shared piece of content. You can write it together, or each contribute pieces of research that one author stitches together in a finished narrative. If you host the content on your site, you can be sure your partner will want to generate links to it; after all, it will work in both your best interests.
20. Guest post and invite guest authors. Similarly, it’s beneficial to invite more guest authors to your site. Ask for contributions from guest authors as a mutually beneficial exchange; they get the visibility of your blog platform, and you get the value of their work. If you have trouble finding guest authors willing to contribute, consider offering a trade and guest posting on their site. Your new guest authors will likely want to reference their own work in the future, or spend effort to popularize it; accordingly, you’ll earn more links. Plus, it never hurts to have more diverse, authoritative voices on your blog.
21. Flesh out your personal brand. Spend some time fleshing out the details of your authors’ personal brands. If you’re new to link building, start with one. Make sure this author has a clear realm of expertise, and include details on their career in an author profile. This author should be guest posting regularly, engaging with their social media community, and connecting with other professionals. Over time, they’ll build a better reputation, and the content they post, share, and distribute will carry more weight; in other words, it will be more likely to earn links.
22. Spend more time networking with other people. This has countless benefits; it will increase your number of social media followers, increase your total readership, give you access to more guest authors, and introduce you to more guest posting opportunities for your own strategy. The bigger your collective network is, the more likely you’ll be to earn links.
These strategies are high-level approaches you can use to increase your link building effectiveness:
23. Mix up link building and link earning. Link earning is undeniably safe; it’s practically impossible to get penalized by Google if you’re just passively earning links, but it’s also inconsistent and unreliable, making it difficult to scale. Link building is consistent and reliable, but it takes significant skill and effort to make the strategy work, especially over long timescales. The best approach for most businesses is to use a blend of link building and link earning, capitalizing on the best qualities of each.
24. Consider topics in addition to keywords. Many newcomers to SEO spend most of their strategic effort choosing and prioritizing keywords and keyword phrases. While this is beneficial in many ways (see our section on “anchor text”), it can also compromise your efforts. The big issue here is that Google’s Hummingbird update (as well as subsequent updates) utilizes semantic search capabilities; rather than scrounging for content with a one-to-one keyword relationship with the search query, Google works to understand the user’s query and find content that’s on-topic. Accordingly, while it’s still beneficial to research keywords, you should also consider and research high-level topics and families of keywords.
25. Create amazing onsite pages. Whether you want to earn links naturally or build them yourself, you’ll need amazing onsite pages to succeed. High-quality onsite content will make people more eager to link to you, and will make your links “stickier”—in other words, publishers will be less likely to remove or alter them. Plus, remember that all your links will generate traffic to your site. If you get referral visitors, you’ll want them to be left with a good impression of your brand. Strong onsite pages are the only way to accomplish this.
26. Prioritize your best onsite pages. When you build links, you generate domain authority for your entire site, but also page authority for individual pages. If you want to make the most of your strategy, you should prioritize building links to your best onsite pages. If you have a comprehensive guide or an amazing piece of research to show off, build several links to it; this piece will rank higher and get more traffic, ultimately benefitting your brand in multiple ways. The caveat here is that you need to mix up your links as well; building links exclusively to one onsite page can look suspicious.
27. Monitor (and mimic) your competitors’ link building strategies. You aren’t the only company building links for SEO; chances are, most of your competitors are doing the same. You can learn a lot by observing and mimicking their strategies. The easiest way to start here is with a tool like Moz’s Link Explorer; here, you can enter a competitor’s domain and quickly generate a list of all the links pointing to that domain on the web. Check those links to see where they’ve been built, and where they’re pointing. You’ll discover new publishers you can work with, and possibly some strategic weaknesses that you can exploit for competitive dominance.
28. Steer clear of link schemes. It’s tempting to build links quickly and by any means necessary, but many newcomers with this attitude end up falling for link schemes (or willingly engaging with them). A link scheme is basically any attempt to build low-quality links in an exclusive effort to increase your ranking. There are many varieties here, including spamming links, participating in link circles, and heavily exchanging links with one or two other participants. Link schemes are Google penalty magnets, so avoid them at all costs, and be wary of any link building company that promises immediate results (or if they have an offer that seems too good to be true).
29. Work with a professional link building agency. That said, a professional link building agency could help you develop your strategy faster and more reliably. Expert link building agencies understand the nuances of the strategy, and make content, link quality, and long-term relationships with publishers their priorities. They have access to far more resources and more specialists than you do, and while they tend to charge a relatively high fee, they also tend to give you a high return on your investment (ROI). Just make sure you do your due diligence; work with a company that has a good reputation, and investigate their strategic approach so you know what you’re getting.
30. Start small and scale up. Even if you’re eager to grow and you’re willing to invest lots of time and money in your strategy, it’s a good idea to start with a small scale and work your way up. Building a small number of links with a minimal investment will help you discover the best approaches for your brand, without spending lots of money to do it. When you have a good bank of onsite content, knowledge of the top publishers in your industry, and a sense for your top priorities, you can gradually expand the scope of your efforts.
31. Measure your domain authority. You’ll probably be excited to check on your search engine rankings as you develop your link building strategy. But while this is a good metric to measure and improve, it may not be a direct reflection of the progress you’re making. It’s also important to measure your domain authority (DA) regularly. The higher this climbs, the more likely all your pages will be to rank higher in searches. It’s also a good indicator of whether your tactics are working; you should see steady progress as long as you’re committed to building more powerful links and a greater number of them. Just be aware that as your domain authority grows, it becomes harder to advance; for example, it’s very easy to go from DA 10 to DA 20, but getting from DA 80 to DA 90 is slow and challenging. There are several tools that can help you measure your domain authority, including the Link Explorer tool we referenced in point 27.
32. Measure your page authority. Similarly, you’ll want to measure the page-level authority (PA) of your best pages. If you’re trying to prioritize an exemplary piece of content, or if there’s a landing page you want to earn more traffic, you need to know that your extra links are working. If your page authority becomes stagnant, it means something is going wrong.
33. Evaluate organic traffic, referral traffic and other factors. Domain authority and page authority are two of the strongest indicators that your strategy is working, but there are many other metrics to consider. For example, you can measure the referral traffic generated by each of your links; this will help you determine which of your publishers are most valuable for direct traffic. Sometimes, a publisher may have a relatively low DA, but the links you build forward a ton of traffic to your site, making up the difference. Also pay attention to your keyword rankings, organic traffic, and even direct traffic to your site; the more metrics you measure, the more of a comprehensive picture you’ll see.
34. Estimate link value and update your strategy as needed. Whenever you build a link with a new publisher, try to estimate the total value of that link. Try to isolate its effects on your domain- and page-level authority, determine pageviews of the main article, and measure referral traffic. Compare and combine these metrics to estimate how valuable this link is, and compare your conclusion to other links you’ve built. Then, adjust your strategy for the future; build more links on the best publishers, and find more publishers like them. Don’t waste any more time on links or publishers that aren’t returning much value your way.
Different types of content have different advantages and disadvantages when building links. The content types that follow are examples of content sources that tend to attract the best links (and attract them consistently).
35. “Best of” lists. “Best of” lists, or listicles, tend to be numbered lists that collect some of the best or most notable items within a given topic. They’re appealing because they promise the reader a concise read; something like “10 tips to improve your onion chopping experience” invites the reader in with the understanding they can glance at those tips at a high level and still learn something. It’s also easy to build a link within one of these points if you use this archetype for a guest post.
36. Surveys and other original research. Original research is extremely powerful for attracting links, but it can also be expensive to conduct. A good, inexpensive method of original research is conducting surveys; get a few hundred people within a niche to respond to a short survey, collect the data, and publish it on your site. Now you have statistics that no one else has, and you can attract or build links as you see fit. Throw in some visuals on the data and you’ll have an amazing onsite asset.
37. Controversial opinion pieces. Most brands are reluctant to write controversial opinion pieces, for fear of alienating their target audience. However, taking a controversial stance can be great for your link building campaign, so long as you do it respectfully and with hard evidence. Being resolute in your opinion will strengthen your brand voice, and as long as your topic is debatable, it will invite lots of people to discuss and share the topic. All those comments and shares will make your work more visible, making it easier to generate links.
38. Original news reporting. If you have access to original news in your industry, work to be the first ones to report it. If your customers and other readers grow to trust you as a first-line publisher, they’re going to stay glued to your blog—and link to your news articles the moment they get published.
39. Newsjacking. Of course, if you don’t have immediate access to industry news, there’s another way to make use of newsworthy content: newsjacking. The general idea here is to read up on some event in the news, then write a piece of content with your own spin on it. Consolidate details from multiple different sources to create an article with comprehensive coverage, or include your unique opinion on the news.
40. Initial topic exploration (or reviews). Being the first to explore a topic can also be powerful, since you won’t face much competition, but it’s hard to find a topic that’s never been covered. For example, you might review the latest tech gadget the moment it becomes available to consumers, or you might analyze a new trend in your industry.
41. Case studies and whitepapers. Case studies and whitepapers are both long-form content archetypes filled with analytical information. Case studies tend to focus on real events, individuals, or organizations, while whitepapers provide more of an overview or hypothetical examination. Either way, meaty forms of content like these tend to attract a ton of links.
42. Engaging content. Any piece of content that encourages people to interact can be valuable, since it will attract more likes, comments, shares, and visibility on its own. Engaging content comes in many forms, but one of the most valuable is a contest; a contest usually makes some request of your readers (like submitting a photo or other piece of content of their own), and is very compelling if there’s a unique reward.
43. Glossaries and indexes. Glossaries, indexes, and other forms of encyclopedic material are fantastic pieces of content, especially for complex industries. These pieces are highly informative, dense, and evergreen—meaning they won’t ever expire or lose relevance. Keep them updated, and you’re bound to get lots of citations.
44. Educational content and how-to guides. This is usually one of the first archetypes of content new link builders try to use, since it’s fairly accessible. You’re an expert in at least one field, so write about what you know; teach your readers something new, or provide them with high-level education on a given topic. Step-by-step instructions and guides that include images are especially well-received.
45. Entertaining content. Though somewhat riskier, you can also attract links via entertaining content. Hilarious and/or fun videos tend to get lots of shares, and are frequently cited in online compilations. The trouble is, there’s no formula for what people find fun or humorous, so if you miss the mark, it could hurt more than help.
46. Infographics. Infographics capitalize on people’s desire for information and their love for digestible visuals. Visual content remains some of the most shared types of content on the web, so a sufficiently detailed and aesthetically pleasing infographic can help you earn dozens of links.
47. Quote graphics and other shareables. Along similar lines, you can create a “quote graphic,” which is usually a photo or illustration with a concise quote from a thought leader in your industry (or other authority). Pretty much any sharable visual piece of content that provides entertainment or information can work well for link building.
48. Directories and/or consolidated content. There’s a ton of content on the web, so users love to see directories and other forms of content organization. Compiling a list of your favorite resources, guides on a given topic, or bits of information can make you the go-to resource on the subject.
49. Interviews. Interviews have several advantages as a type of content for building links. For starters, you can publish interviews in multiple different mediums, such as video, audio, or a written transcript. You’ll also likely be interviewing people from outside your organization; those people will be incentivized to link to the finished product, and share it on their own social media platforms. It’s a built-in boost to your initial distribution.
50. Memes. Memes are dangerous territory. Come up with a good template, or use an existing popular template in an interesting and amusing way, and you could go viral, earning links from all over the web. Try too hard or miss the point of the meme, and you could become a laughingstock. Of course, even if people are laughing at you, they might build links to you anyway, so it could easily be worth the risk.
51. Webinars. Many companies try to promote webinars, to varying degrees of success. Webinars are interactive video presentations, generally provided to novices on a given subject. To be successful, your webinar has to cover an in-demand topic, be hosted by an expert, and either be free or worth what you’re charging for it. Interactive elements, such as live Q&A, can improve your performance, and making the webinar permanently available (i.e., not exclusively live-streamed) is ideal.
52. Tests and quizzes. As you’ve seen from many of the items on this list, interactivity is highly successful in encouraging shares, and there are few types of content more interactive than tests and quizzes. Depending on the nature of your industry, you could come up with a calculator for your products and services, a quiz to test someone’s knowledge on a subject (like financial literacy), or something sillier, like “which tech CEO are you?”
53. Videos (in combination with any of the above approaches). Videos can be incredibly powerful types of content, especially when used in combination with any of the content types above. Video interviews, video news, and video lists can all be powerful for generating links. However, you’ll need to think carefully about how you publish and distribute your video content; if you host your videos on YouTube (as most companies do), any direct links the video earns will pass authority to YouTube, not necessarily your site. Accordingly, it’s a common tactic to host the YouTube video on a page of your site, so you can earn links directly to your domain.
You may also consider using these as guest content material.
If you’re pursuing direct link building, most of your efforts will revolve around guest blogging. The idea is to work with external publishers of sites with high domain authority, providing them with content that their audiences want to see. When you submit the content, you’ll include a high-quality link back to your site, assuming there’s a relevant opportunity for it.
These strategies can help you in this endeavor:
54. Start with small-time publishers and work your way up. Higher-DA publishers will reward you with more powerful links, so it’s tempting to prioritize them in your guest posting pursuits. However, high-DA publishers tend to have much higher standards for the work they accept, and may not be accessible to an unproven author or brand. Instead, focus on the publishers accessible to you; do a good job for them, publish lots of content, and eventually you’ll build a good enough reputation and a big enough portfolio that you can start climbing the ladder. Local publishers and niche-focused publishers are great stepping stones on your way to nationally renown authorities.
55. Keep things focused on one personal brand. Some companies try to write and publish material under their brand name, but it’s usually better to publish under the name of an individual in your company. Over time, you can publish under multiple names, but for now, just focus on one. Focusing on an individual instead of the brand will make you more trustworthy and open up more publication opportunities. And building one personal brand before you build others will help you consolidate your progress.
56. Prioritize the needs of a publisher’s readership. You have some selfish motivations in getting published, but if you want to get published and keep getting published, your priority should be on your publisher’s readership. Editors are interested in distributing the content their readers find most valuable. Accordingly, they’re only going to accept your submissions if their readers will enjoy them. Get to know the demographics of your target publisher, and see what kind of content they like best. You may have to compromise some of your other priorities to make this relationship work. Usually, you can find a topic that both presents you with an inbound linking opportunity and appeals to the target readership.
57. Find the editor (or someone in charge). If you’re reaching out to a new publisher, it’s best to find an individual (rather than submitting a generic contact form). Look at the “About” or “Contact” page of the website to try and find the contact information for the editor, content manager, or other authority. If it’s not available here, try to find them on social media networks like LinkedIn. Making a personal appeal is always better than blindly writing to an organization, especially if you can find something in common with them and achieve mutually beneficial goals.
58. Send a warm email with a compelling, original subject line. When sending your first email, it’s important to stand out and immediately make your message seem valuable. Editors are typically very busy, with inboxes flooded with generic, unappealing requests. If you want a chance at having your email opened, you need to have a compelling, original subject line; come up with something they haven’t seen a million times already, and make it clear what the value is. Something like “New statistics on entrepreneurship – would your readers be interested?”
59. Prove that you’re an avid reader of this publisher. In the body of your email, it’s important to show that you know this publisher. If you’ve never read this publisher’s work before, the editor may not want to work with you. If your email reads as if you sent the same template to 20 different people, it’s going to get rejected. Highlight and compliment a handful of posts you’ve enjoyed in the past, and make it obvious that you know this publisher’s area of specialty.
60. Pitch an initial post that aligns with similar content on their site. At some point in your message, you’ll need to make a pitch. It doesn’t have to be fancy—usually, a couple of concise sentences describing your idea are plenty. Pitch a tentative headline if you can, and describe the body of the article you plan to write. Some publishers have specific requirements for the formatting or presentation of new pitches, so do some research before you submit, and adhere to those rules as best you can.
61. Explain why this pitch will work. It’s also helpful to explain why you think this would be valuable for the publisher’s readership. You might note that there’s a similar article already on the site, but it doesn’t cover the topic from this angle. Or you might note that the publisher’s target demographics tend to be very interested in material like this, citing statistics to back your claim. If you’ve written successful guest posts on other publishers, you may want to provide metrics like how many shares or comments those posts received.
62. Follow up politely if you don’t hear back. Like I said, editors are busy people—and they just get busier as you climb the DA ladder. It’s normal to not hear a response for a few days. If you don’t hear back after 3-4 business days, send a polite follow-up email; ask them to confirm receipt of the pitch, and ask if they think it needs any modification.
63. Comply with all editor requests. In many cases, the editor may respond to your pitch with a recommendation for how to make it a better fit. In other cases, you’ll provide a written draft, which the editing team will review; at this point, you may get additional feedback for how to improve the piece. While you may not necessarily agree with the suggestions they make, if your priority is getting published, it’s best to make the requested changes. For example, you may be forced to remove a link or replace it with a nofollow link; while not ideal, it’s often worth making this initial compromise. The more polite, agreeable, and fast you are when editing the article, the more likely they’ll be to work with you in the future—or recommend you for other opportunities. Make their life easy, and they’ll respond in kind.
64. Leverage your new guest author spot. If your first article is successful, your editor/publisher will likely be eager to work with you again. They may invite you to pitch some new ideas, or eventually, set you up with a recurring guest author spot. If you find yourself in this position, try to take advantage of it. Highlight your position when making pitches to new publishers, and try to publish follow-up pieces here—even if you don’t end up linking back to your site in every new submission.
65. Nurture your publisher-based community. Editors are fantastic connections to make, but readers are even more important. When publishing work on a new publisher, spend some time responding to the comments that (inevitably) roll in. If you’re an active presence in discussions and you positively reinforce the community, people will be more excited to read your work. They’ll also start following you on social media, which can lead to a bigger following—and one more reason for bigger, better publishers to accept your work.
66. Maintain your old relationships. As you start to scale your link building strategy and work with higher-DA, national-level publishers, your old publishers may start to seem less valuable by comparison. However, it’s a good idea to maintain those old relationships, posting content occasionally on all your guest post accounts and checking in with editors on a periodic basis. Staying in good standing with a wide network of publishers will maximize the number of opportunities you eventually have, and boost your reputation as an author even further. The only exception here is problematic relationships (e.g., a very difficult or impolite editor, a practically nonexistent readership, etc.)—feel free to cut those out entirely.
These strategies don’t exactly fit with any of the other categories in this comprehensive guide, but they may still be helpful in earning you more links, stronger links, or more consistent links:
67. Set up 301 redirects for old or broken links. Occasionally, you’ll need to get rid of a page, either because it’s no longer relevant or because you’re retooling it into something else. If you change the URL, all the links you built to that page in the past will become broken, rendering them practically useless for your brand. You can combat this by setting up 301 redirects, which take all traffic from the old URL and redirect that traffic to a new URL. As long as you’re sending people to a relevant new page, Google is completely fine with this tactic—it even encourages it.
68. Keep your old content updated. If you’re following best practices for content marketing, much of your content will be “evergreen,” meaning it’s likely to remain relevant for a long time, if not forever. However, even evergreen content could stand to be periodically updated. Revisit your older material and make sure it’s relevant, and be willing to add new facts, updated old statistics, and make tweaks to make sure it’s better suited for the modern era. It’s much cheaper and more efficient to keep your old assets relevant and link-generating than to only create new ones.
69. Use HARO. Help a Reporter Out, or HARO, is a resource used by journalists and writers when they need information from a specific source. Browse this periodically; you may find a request for an expert like you to provide insights on a given topic. If you indeed help this reporter out, they’ll likely credit you for your contributions, including a link back to your site and/or author profile. Depending on the publisher they use, this can be massively valuable.
70. Volunteer or donate. You can also usually earn a link by donating to a nonprofit organization, or volunteering your time or services. For example, you might donate your services to a fundraiser for a local organization. When advertising the event on their website, this organization will likely reference your business with a link. If you donate money to an organization, they may include a link to your site on their donor page.
71. Make Wikipedia edits. In rare cases, you may be able to build links to your onsite content to serve as references on Wikipedia articles. Wikipedia is open to edits from practically any user; however, be aware that their community standards are very strict. If you include a link to your site, make sure your content is highly relevant, with specific information that’s actually valuable for the article. It’s also a good idea to make occasional Wikipedia edits elsewhere, so it doesn’t look like the sole purpose of your account is to link back to your site.
72. Find and replace broken links. As you read content on the web, you’ll likely encounter broken links—links that send you to a 404 page, or links that are no longer relevant. Treat these as an opportunity. If and when you find a broken link, reach out to the author or the publisher with a suggestion for a link to replace it; assuming you have a piece of content that fulfills this requirement, your request will likely be met.
73. Leverage Quora and other services. Quora is a question-and-answer service where individual users can ask questions, and other users can answer them. You can think of it like an FAQ version of Wikipedia in this way. Create an account and start posting answers to questions in your specific industry; occasionally, you’ll find an opportunity to link back to an article on your site, either to cite a statistic or for further reading. As always, make sure you aren’t spamming links; instead, prioritize good answers, and include a mix of links to different authorities. If you consistently give good answers (which users can upvote), your account will become more prominent, and your answers (and thus your links) will get even more visibility.
74. Offer corrections. Occasionally, you’ll find mistakes on pieces of offsite content. They may cite a statistic that’s out of date, or make an argument that isn’t quite accurate. When you find these instances, offer to make a correction—especially if you have an onsite article that already features the correct information.
75. Offer to update old content. You can do something similar by offering to update old content. For example, let’s say you find an article with a title like “How to Buy a Used Car in 2016” that hasn’t been touched or updated since. You can reach out to the publisher and offer to write a new version that’s updated for 2020. When you write this content (or revise what’s already there), you’ll get the chance to include a link back to your site in some way.
76. Guest speak. If you know who to talk to, you can easily find guest speaking opportunities in your city. If and when you do, take them. Guest speaking gives you a chance to speak in front of like-minded professionals and show off your expertise. You’ll also get the chance to present your blog to a new audience. Assuming you spend some time networking after, this can easily lead to a new influx of people reading your onsite material, and possibly new opportunities for publishing or content collaboration.
77. Create and sustain a community. One of the best things you can do for your link building strategy is create and sustain a community. You want people to actively engage with your content, sharing it, commenting on it, and reading it no matter which publishers you use. The more active fans you have, the easier it will be to find new publishing opportunities, the more links you’ll earn, and the faster your online presence will grow. The best ways to build a community are to engage with your readers directly, give your readers a platform for comments and discussion, and network with new people constantly.
Are you interested in using link building to improve your site’s visibility, and get more organic traffic than you ever thought possible? These strategies will be a good start, but if you want reliable, long-term results, it’s in your best interest to work with a seasoned link building agency like SEO.co. Contact us today, and we’ll set you up with one of our dedicated account managers, who will provide you with a free consultation and an assessment of your current needs. From there, we can put together a custom link building strategy that works perfectly for your brand.