Link Building Tactics
Don’t worry if you’re new to website SEO and to the practice of link building.
Link building is not as difficult as it might sound. It’s essentially networking and building relationships with other webmasters and content creators.
Human beings to human beings. That’s what it is — a dialogue. And there’s nothing scary about it— even though we understand it might sound too much if you’re an introvert.
This short guide is here to teach you a few techniques that work and that won’t require years of experience in SEO.
So let’s start.
Why Link Building?
First of all, let’s answer a fundamental question: why link building?
Essentially, you may want to build links for two reasons:
- To improve your rankings in search engines
- To grow traffic (and consequently, conversions) to your or your client’s website
The first reason is what SEO is after, as getting links helps you get higher rankings for your content in the SERPs of the major search engines.
The second reason is what brand building, public relations and webmaster relationships are after: exposure of your brand or name and website name (and link) get people interested in you and what you do, and interested in your website, so they’ll come and visit and, hopefully, contact you or download or buy from you.
That’s how it works. You may want to build links for both reasons or only one of them. You’ll work with the same link building techniques.
How to Do Link Building: 3 Pre-Link Building Tips
1. Create content first, go after links later
You already heard it. Content is king.
But is it king when it comes to link building, too?
The answer is yes. Because it’s near impossible (unless you buy a lot of meaningless links) to get quality links to a piece of content that is not quality at all.
So the first step before you build any links is to invest in the quality of your content.
- Content that answers searchers’ queries thoroughly and possibly better than the competition, or that shares at least some original ideas
- Carefully picked images, videos and/or audio, and links
- A piece of content that speaks directly your audience and encourages feedback (call to action)
Create that masterpiece before you seek out opportunities to get it linked.
Remember: people want to link out to something helpful and memorable, not the usual rehashed stuff.
2. Don’t try to get links from any site
Not every link is like another.
Only links that come from sites that relate to yours to some extent are valuable to your users and search engines alike.
Imagine finding a non-contextual pharma link on your favorite electronics store site: would you click it?
Even if it’s a legit link, it’s irrelevant, and it’s unlikely that you’re also interested in pharma when you are searching for the latest iPhone.
So that irrelevant link is also bound to carry little to no traffic to the pharma site.
Now imagine if that was your link. You would lose traffic and search engine “points”, since search engines also penalize for link schemes (and an irrelevant link like that smells unnatural link everywhere).
- Search Google or another search engine for websites in your niche or related to it
- Manually surf and choose the ones that you think are more relevant (and have a lot of content you could get a link from)
- Collect the sites in a list — an Excel file or a Google Doc will do — for when you build links later
3. Don’t be afraid to experiment
One link building technique might work for you better than another.
Or maybe you want to get original and create your own methods to acquire links.
Don’t be afraid to experiment: like anything in marketing, link building is a creative practice and you may just find out that something you never tried before (or that none of your mentors tried) actually works for you.
How to Do Link Building: 10 Easy Link Building Techniques for Beginners
There’s no need to get complicated when you’re starting out, so this list of 10 ways to build links is all about simplicity and easiness to replicate results.
1. HARO Link Building
This is one of the most effective link building and brand building techniques, and we’re not alone in thinking so. Nearly one hundred experts responded to our HARO query recommending HARO, because it works.
All it requires is that you sign up on platforms like HARO (Help A Reporter) and Source Bottle or follow the #JournoRequest hashtag on Twitter to get media queries in your niche emailed directly to your inbox every day or week.
Then you will respond to interesting queries through email or tweet.
Anna Rubkiewicz, Co-Founder & Content Strategist at Contentki, has found good success with using HARO to earn quality backlinks:
“To fully explore the backlink potential of HARO, I have dedicated 3 months last year and read all 3 HARO newsletters daily. I answered each and every question that fit the profile of the company I was working at. While it required a lot of dedication, it was definitely worth it! Within these 3 months, I was able to earn 18 backlinks from websites that had a domain authority of over 70. As far as backlinks are concerned, I can’t recommend HARO enough – you do, however, need to be consistent to see the results at scale.”
Brett Downes, Founder and SEO at HARO Helpers, also got great results with HARO for a recent site:
“I launched my site at end of March, and have earned 49 referring domain backlinks and my DR is 53, higher than 90% of sites in the same niche as me who have been operating for a few years.”
Laura English, Lead Copywriter at Sonder Digital Marketing, recommends:
“Putting aside 10 to 20 minutes a day to get through all the callouts on HARO and SourceBottle and putting forward a couple of quotes is fairly simple and a sustainable strategy.”
How to Do HARO Link Building
- Signup on HARO or Source Bottle or follow #JournoRequest on Twitter
- Receive interesting emails and tweets, and reply to those emails or tweets
- Make your pitch emails as in depth as possible, and respond to the query precisely. On Twitter, say that you’re interested and ask that they contact you through email
- Always end your pitch with your full name, the name of your brand and your website URL, so it gets easy for journalists and bloggers to link back
2. Link Earning Outreach
I’m calling it link “earning” because results are not guaranteed with link outreach if your only scope is to get links that boost rankings.
That happens because the target webmaster may choose to not link out at all, but only to share your content to their social media followers. Or they may choose to create a link but with a rel=nofollow attached to it.
It’s really up to the webmaster to see what to do with the resource you offer.
How to Do Link Earning Outreach
- Look for sites that can bring in traffic and help ranks
- Offer your content in a warm email, highlighting how helpful it is and why (don’t ask for a link)
- Follow up after 4-5 days if you get no response (this time, kindly suggest the idea of a backlink)
I’m [YOUR NAME], a reader of your blog. I read the recent post on [TOPIC] and I found it enlightening. [ADD A GENUINE COMMENTARY OF THE POST HERE]
Some time I ago I also wrote about [TOPIC] and the piece took me some long time to get together! Here’s the URL in case you are interested: [URL]
Mind if we swap feedback on our respective pieces?
3. Guest Posts
Although Google’s John Mueller recently told SEOs that guest post links don’t work because Google is pretty much ignoring them, guest posts are a great brand building tool and they can get you links that will bring in traffic and leads.
In fact, don’t worry if site owners assign a rel=nofollow to your outbound links in guest posts: Google now uses nofollow as an hint, meaning that there’s a chance they might actually follow the link and assign a value to it.
How to Do Guest Posts
- Know the niche you’re going to write for (e.g. cooking or gardening)
- Search Google for sites in that niche (example keyword: “write for us” gardening, or “guest posting” cooking)
- Select a few of those sites that have the quality you’re looking for, especially traffic potential, and study them thoroughly, by reading some of their posts and the About page
- If there’s a chance to leave comments on blog posts, leave some interesting ones that add value, so you’ll get a first meaningful interaction with the site owner
- Find the site owner’s contact information, come up with a guest post idea and pitch it, highlighting how valuable it may be for their readers. If the site has a comment section, let the owner know that you already interacted there so you’re not a new face
- If your idea gets green-lighted, write it and get it published, along with a backlink to your site (hint: let the site owner choose the format and the landing page)
- Do this for each site you have targeted for guest posting
4. Link Reclamation
This one may be harder for you to put in practice if you’re really new to having a website and an online presence, but if you’ve been on the Web a while, you might find that your name or brand name is cited somewhere.
With link reclamation, you can turn these simple textual citations into live backlinks to your site.
And it works! Sam Williamson, co-founder of CBDiablo, used unlinked mentions to build their first links:
“When we first launched our website we’d already built up a bit of an offline following, so there was already a bit of discussion going on about us online. An easy way for us to quickly gain links into our website was to find mentions of our business which didn’t include a link to our website, and ask for one to be included.”
Sam suggests that you use search operators on Google to find mentions from last month, last year and so on, so you don’t miss any mentions.
How to Do Link Reclamation:
- Search Google or another search engine for your name (example: “John Doe” or “ACME Inc.”)
- Find the author’s or website owner’s email address or social media account
- Get in touch using warm emails, thank the author for citing you, and ask if they would be so kind to add a live link to that citation
5. Host Expert Roundups on Your Blog
“But shouldn’t I join others’ roundups instead?” You may be asking.
Naturally, it can’t hurt if you do, and you could scores some good backlinks that way, but there’s a reason we are recommending to host your own roundups instead: it’s easier and a traffic and backlink magnet.
Adelina Karpenkova, Content Marketer at Joinative, says:
“We […] find it effective to publish expert roundups on our blog. First of all, these pieces of content perform especially well in terms of driving traffic. And the more people see our content, the more likely it is that a few of them will want to link to this roundup on their website. Moreover, when you host interviews with professionals that run their own blogs, it won’t be a big deal to get a link from this blog. Sometimes, you won’t even need to ask for it – people are usually willing to share something they contributed to on their owned channels. For instance, after we featured this native advertising trends roundup, we got great links from Taboola, Revcontent, and other relevant websites.”
How to Do Expert Roundups:
- Setup the roundup on your blog and come up with a list of questions to ask experts
- Find experts through HARO, Source Bottle, MyBlogU or by manually searching Google for experts in your niche (for example, search for “[niche] speaking contacts”)
- Once you got in touch with the experts and got their go ahead for the roundup, send them the interview questions by email
- Copy and paste their insights into the roundup article, edit and review, and publish
- Email all experts the live URL of the article and kindly ask that they help spread the word
6. Go Local
Another link building idea is to leverage local entities, radios, websites and organizations to get backlinks.
Even your old school or church group are good candidates for this strategy.
Colin Little from Social Launch SEO, explains:
“I’d recommend to anyone starting out, especially if it’s for a local business client, to reach out to local bloggers, radio stations, local charities etc. Having that local connection will help in your outreach efforts and it can result in some big wins.
Start by searching city sponsor(s), city blog, city radio station, etc and look for good low cost to free opportunities to drop a link. Local radio stations, charities and blogs can have surprising domain stats that will be a great starting point.
They’ll often be more willing to give you a break on the cost of guest posts or link insertions since they feel they’re helping out a local business in their area. The quickest way to check the page/domain quality is to use an SEO chrome extension like Mangools.
Once you get the hang of identifying, stat checking, and building your outreach list you’ll start generating some high quality local backlinks with ease.”
How to Go Local:
- Look up local entities or businesses you have personally used (school, church, sports club, local library, favorite shoe shop, etc.) and find out if they have a website
- If they do, find a way to support them (or see if you helped them in the past) and contact them asking for a link opportunity, even in the form of a guest contribution
- After this first stage, that will get you the first links, take a habit in checking the metrics of any interesting or related local business website you run into before you contact them for a link opportunity
- Remember that a low score website that however has the potential to drive in a lot of traffic is still a great site to get a link from. Link building is not all about SEO!
7. Monitor Competitors’ Backlinks
Have you ever thought about getting linked from the same sites where your competitors get dofollow links from?
Jeff Moriarty, Marketing Manager for Moriarty’s Gem Art, shares:
“One of the first link building strategies we used starting out was setting up Google Alerts for all our main competitors. This showed us exactly where they were being mentioned online and we were able to then request to get links on those same websites. This was so much simpler and took less work than going out and just requesting links from websites we hoped would link to us. With this strategy, on average we got 1-2 links out of every 5 requests we made. Was very successful for us and we continue to do it today.”
Riddhi Khatri, SEO Executive at Elsner Technologies Pvt. Ltd, suggests to “Find who is currently ranking highly in Google’s organic search for [your] keyword” and says that by monitoring competitors “you may find quality links like business listing, profile creation, social media profiles, guest post and many more. You may directly create a business listing by filling out your business information. For guest posts you may outreach to their emails, It’s a great way to earn high quality links.”
“I am sharing this technique because I personally use it for my client’s website link building. It is an easy way to rank higher than your competitor and I also find it less time consuming. It’s best for SEO beginners without much knowledge of SEO.”
How to Monitor Competitors for Links:
- Signup for a backlink tracking service like Linkody or Monitor Backlinks. You can find more by searching Google for “backlink tracker”
- Add your competitors’ websites to the tracker and wait for the tool to retrieve backlinks (usually within 24 hours). If you don’t know who your competitors are, find who is ranking on page one of Google SERPs for your main keyword(s)
- Browse the backlinks list and note down websites where you would like to be linked. Note down all the guest posting opportunities, too (i.e. where did your competitor guest post?)
- You may also want to check metrics for each backlink (MOZ and Majestic metrics, Alexa Rank for traffic estimates, social shares through Buzzsumo, comments and other engagement on blog posts, social media followers)
- Reach out to each website that the backlink comes from to see if there’s a link opportunity for you
8. Pinterest Group Boards
Danielle Miller, Social Media Marketer at Miller Media Management, says that a good and unique strategy to get backlinks is to “put out a stellar piece of content and get it posted to Pinterest group boards.”
Pinterest group boards are an option for regular boards that allows you to invite people to the board to submit pins. In other words, you create a collaborative board.
“So many SEMs forget to leverage Pinterest. Pinterest repins build backlinks and have strong search engine rank. Pinterest works because posts have longevity and continue driving traffic for years. Group boards are key because they have thousands of captivated followers, so you don’t need to wait to build your own following.”
Danielle also shares a success story:
“When I started my social media marketing business, I created a set of free marketing plan printables on a Saturday morning. That day, I pinned the promo image to a few group boards. Over the years, this piece of content has been repinned over 12,000 times. All these backlinks have improved my search rank and this pin continues to drive traffic to my website to this day.”
How to Use Pinterest Group Boards:
- Signup for Pinterest if you don’t already have an account
- Find a group board related to your content and submit it. As an alternative, you can create your own board but it will take longer to drive repins and followers
9. Internal Linking
Internal links are completely under your control, so why not take advantage of the opportunity to improve your search engine positioning?
But just linking one page to another won’t do it.
Kevin Puls recommends “Linking relevant pages to each other by using (linking) the keywords, or LSI (Latent Semantic Index)/synonyms.”
How to Optimize Internal Linking:
- Using keywords in your anchor text to link to your other content on the site
- Also uso LSI keywords (or related keywords) to link to content where that topic is touched upon
- Make your anchor text useful to the user who’s searching for content on your site
10. Build Relationships
This one wins every time, because relationships are at the core of any marketing activity — and SEO is no less.
International SEO consultant, speaker and blogger Milosz Krasinski says to build relationships with these 4 types of persona:
- Other link building agencies or freelancers
Milosz elaborates further:
“Journalists looking for a unique angle, give them what they are looking for.
Editors – ask them about their editorial calendar so you can provide them with necessary information in advance.
Bloggers – contribute by doing expert roundup in a given niche.
Lastly, connect with other freelancers who are having relationships with whom you don’t have so may mention each other on upcoming blog posts.
All that can be done with no tools by simple email and basic research.”
Milosz kindly shared a SEMrush screenshot with us showing the correlation between the number of published contributions (dofollow links) and the growing number of authority score:
How to Build Relationships:
- Manually search for journalists, bloggers and publishers and get in touch to know their needs. For journalists, you can also leverage HARO and Source Bottle as seen earlier in this post
- Email these new contacts or reach out to them on LinkedIn. Remember to introduce yourself and to be helpful
- Ask them how you may help them with a current project. Don’t charge for that help, this is for networking and relationship building, not money.
Conclusion: How to Do Link Building When You’re An SEO Beginner? You Stick to A Few Tactics
We offered 10 strategies in this guide, but you may just pick a few and stick with them over the course of your SEO campaign.
It doesn’t matter how many you use, as long as you do your best to make those tactics that work.
That said, there’s one strategy we strongly advise you don’t skip: building relationship. It’s so foundational that even if you may find yourself at loss of options sometimes in the future, you’ll never be really option-less if you have built a network of professionals to rely on.
Also, as a beginner, don’t overlook SEO communities: they can help you get things right and back on track if you make a mistake along the way.
What’s your biggest link building fear?
Share it in the comments below and we’ll do our best to help you.