Today’s post is about link building strategies, and we’re fortunate enough to have Brian Dean, the main man behind Backlinko, share with us his insights and expert advice on the subject.
Now, Backlinko is clearly one of the SEO world’s biggest success stories. But before that, Brian Dean had gone through a number of failed entrepreneurial endeavors– five of them to be exact– until finally making it with a site about personal finance (this was in 2012).
Backlinko is a company he created to teach those lessons he learned along the way– practical and actionable, no-fluff digital marketing strategies for fellow entrepreneurs to grow their own projects online.
Today, Brian is one of the biggest influencers in the digital marketing space, and Backlinko continues to be one of the most-followed blogs on SEO online.
Link Building Today
One of the biggest questions for search engine optimization practitioners is this: are backlinks still effective in helping your website rank? Is link building still an important part of your overall SEO strategy?
Different experts say different things. And while it might be true that search engines like Google don’t give that much importance to backlinks the way they did 3 or 5 years ago, we believe that backlinks– and therefore, link building efforts– are still worth pursuing.
Backlinks work like votes: someone linking back to your site essentially liked your content and gave it a vote. However, search algorithms are a lot more sophisticated these days, which means they can better keep track of the quality of those backlinks– so not any backlink will cut it anymore.
What you’d like to keep getting are links to your site coming from relevant, authoritative websites (the more relevant and the more authoritative, the better!) used in the right context. Essentially, you want to get votes from sites that matter, and votes from within your own industry carry much more weight.
In short: a well-thought out link building campaign is still very much worth pursuing.
Sharing us his expertise on the topic of getting backlinks, Brian Dean goes on to elaborate nine of his favorite link building action items that you can do for your own brand.
(What we have following is a transcript of a video he put up on the Backlinko channel on YouTube. You can also download a PDF copy here if you wish.)
9 Proven Link Building Strategies: How to Get Powerful Backlinks in 2018
Today you’re going to learn exactly how to build powerful backlinks to your site. In fact I’ve used the strategies I’m about to show you to get links from sites like Forbes, TechCrunch, Inc, Entrepreneur, and more.
I’m Brian Dean, the founder of Backlinko. And today I’m gonna show you nine proven link building strategies and some advanced techniques I’ve never heard anyone else talk about. Keep watching!
We have a lot to cover in today’s video, so let’s get started!
I started my first blog way back in 2010. Back then, spammy blackhat link building was all the rage. In fact my go-to strategies were things like article directories and link pyramids.
(Link pyramid? That sounds amazing!)
These blackhat links worked okay until Google unleashed its Penguin update this update wiped out 98% of my Google traffic literally overnight.
That’s when I decided to go all-in on white hat SEO. And thanks to the white-hat link building strategies I’m about to share with you, my organic traffic shot up like a rocket ship. I also started to rank for competitive keywords like “video SEO”, “keyword research”, “on page SEO”, and more.
1. LINK ROUNDUPS
So without further ado let’s kick things off with strategy number one: Link roundups.
Imagine if people publish blog posts for the sole purpose of linking out to quality content– the type of quality content that you already publish on your site. That would be awesome, right? Fortunately for us, that’s a real thing. And they’re called link roundups.
Here’s an example of a link roundup:
So what are link roundups exactly? Link roundups are daily, weekly, or monthly blog posts that curate and link to outstanding content.
For example: this is a link that I’ve recently built from a roundup. Now let’s break down the exact process that I used to get that link. First you need to find link roundups in your industry.
And here are a few search strings that work really well. Just pop these search strings into Google and you should find tons of high-quality roundups.
And once you find a link roundup that seems like a good fit, it’s time to pitch your content. Here’s the email script that I personally use:
You want to send this script to the person that runs the roundup. As you can see, this script isn’t pushy or spammy; I just let the person know that my content exists and gently suggest that they include it in their next roundup.
And if your post is a good fit for that person’s roundup, you’ll get a sweet link. That’s all there is to it!
2. BROKEN LINK-BUILDING
With that, it’s time for our second strategy: broken link building. Broken link building is one of my all-time favorite link building strategies. Why? You see when most people build links they send generic pitches that offer zero value.
(“Can I have a link please? Thank you!” *Send*)
But with broken link building, you add value to someone’s website then ask for a link. Here’s the step-by-step process: first add Check My Links to Google Chrome. Check My Links is a free Google Chrome extension that finds broken links on any page.
I’ll show you how to use this tool in a minute but for now let’s move on to step number two: find a site that you want to get a link from. You probably already have a few sites in mind. If not, just Google keywords related to your industry. The sites that show up in the search results are great sites to get backlinks from.
For example: last year I wanted to build links to this list of SEO tools so I Googled things like “SEO checklist” and “SEO tutorial”. Next, it’s time to check for broken links– to do this, just visit a few pages on the site you just found and run that Check My Links extension. This will reveal all the broken links on that page.
Finally let the site owner know about their broken link and offer your content as a replacement. For example when I find a broken link on someone’s site I send them this email:
Note how personalized my email is. The more you personalized your email the more links you’ll get.
Anyway, when they replied to my message I sent them the URL of the broken link, I also pitched my SEO tools post as a replacement for the dead link. And because I added value first, then asked for something in return, people were happy to link to me!
3. LINKS FROM PODCASTS
And now it’s time for strategy number three: build links from podcasts.
A few months ago I was checking out where one of the sites of my niche got their backlinks from. And I noticed that a big chunk of their backlinks came from going on podcasts. So I decided to become a guest on as many podcasts as I could.
In fact I appeared on over 50 podcasts over the next year and a half. Not only did these podcasts send some serious traffic my way, but they resulted in tons of high quality backlinks.
4. BRANDED STRATEGIES AND METHODS
Moving right along to our next technique: create branded strategies and methods.
A few years ago I was searching for some productivity tips. And I came across this post by Merlin Mann. In this post Merlin outlines something called Inbox Zero: a productivity approach where you use your inbox as your to-do list but that wasn’t what grabbed my attention.
What shocked me was that this simple idea generated over 5,000 backlinks and when I looked over those backlinks I noticed a pattern: most people link to the page because it outlined a strategy with the unique name– Inbox Zero.
That’s when I decided that I would try naming my strategies too. So the next time I talked about a strategy on my blog I called it “The Skyscraper Technique”.
So how did it go? The post where I first mentioned “The Skyscraper Technique” has been linked to over 9,000 times. And if you look at those links, 90% of them are due to the fact that I gave my strategy a unique branded name.
5. BECOME A SOURCE FOR REPORTERS AND BLOGGERS
Okay moving right along to strategy number five: become a source for reporters and bloggers.
Here’s the deal– if you want to rank on the first page of Google today you need to build links from authority news sites and blogs in your industry.
Fortunately this isn’t as hard as it probably sounds. In fact it’s very doable thanks to a free service called HARO. HARO is like a dating site for public relations. HARO connects bloggers and journalists that need sources to people that want links and press mentions, and I personally used HARO to build links from mega news sites like Entrepreneur.com.
To be clear this strategy takes work and it’s not always easy. But in my experience, it’s one of the best ways to build quality backlinks at scale.
With that let’s dive into this step-by-step process: first register as a source. Once you’re signed up you’ll get three emails a day from reporters looking for sources like this:
And when you find a request that seems like a good fit, send them your pitch.
For example: a while back I saw a HARO request from someone that wanted to know what’s the difference between graphic design and web design, so I submitted this pitch and I got this sweet link from Rasmussen.edu, which is an authoritative .edu domain– not bad!
Next up we have strategy number six: pre-outreach.
A while back one of my readers, Emil, was getting ready to publish this epic piece of content. And Emil realized that his post had the potential to rank a number one in Google for his target keyword. But for that to happen he’d need to build links.
So Emil decided to promote his post before he even published it. This is known as pre-outreach. Here’s how it went down: first Emil found blogs that wrote about employee wellness and he sent them this message:
Because he didn’t beg for a link, most of the people that Emil talked to were happy to hear from him. Then once Emil’s post went live he sent a link to everyone that responded to his first email. And that led to a bunch of social shares and nice contextual backlinks.
7. .EDU RESOURCE PAGES
With that it’s time for strategy 7: .Edu resource page link building.
It’s no secret that links from .edu websites are super powerful. The question is: how do you actually get University sites to link to you?
(.Edu resource pages!)
Here’s how it works: most universities have resource pages where they link to content that could help their students and faculty. Here’s an example of a resource page that links to content about nutrition and supplements:
For example: let’s say you have a website about nutrition– first you want to find resource pages like the one I just showed you. To do that, pop these search strings into Google:
Then look to see if a piece of your content would be a good fit for that page. Finally email the person that runs that resource page this proven script:
Now keep this in mind: only about 5% of the .edu sites that you reach out to will actually add your link– that’s the bad news. The good news is even one or two of these links can make a massive difference in your Google rankings.
For example: I recently used a strategy to get a link from this resource page on the University of Michigan website, and that single link made a significant dent in my organic traffic.
8. THE MOVING MAN METHOD
If you thought that was cool, wait until you see strategy number 8: The Moving Man Method.
The Moving Man Method is simple: first find web pages, resources, or businesses that are outdated, just rebranded, or recently changed names. Then find sites that are still linking to these outdated resources. Finally let people know that they’re linking to something that’s out of date.
Let me show you how this works with a real-life example: a while back I read that a website for a big SEO agency suddenly shut down. This meant they had tons of pages on their site that weren’t working anymore; pages that lots of people were still linking to. Specifically I noticed that an infographic about SEO on their site wasn’t working anymore which was perfect because I had just published my own SEO-focused infographic.
So that was the first step. Next I had to see who actually linked to this infographic so I fired up AHREFS and pulled all of their links. Finally, I emailed everyone that’s still linked to that infographic. I let them know that the image wasn’t working anymore. I also let them know that my infographic would make a great replacement for the BlueGlass one.
And as you can see, people were more than happy to link to me.
Speaking of infographics, it’s time for our last link building strategy: Guestographics.
Last year, Backlinko reader Matt Lawry had a problem. Matt runs Yellow Octopus, an e-commerce site in Australia that sells gifts. And he quickly realized something: it’s really hard to build links to e-commerce sites. After all, who would want a link to a site that’s made up of a hundred percent product and category pages?
That’s when Matt realized to build links to his site– he’d need to publish awesome content. So what did he do? First, Matt put together an epic piece of content: an Ultimate Guide to Australian Gin. This guide contained everything someone would want to know about gin from Australia in one place.
Now of course Matt didn’t just sit back and wait for the links to roll in, he promoted his content with email outreach.
Because Matt reached out to the right people and sent them personalized emails, some people even offered to link to his guide. And all these backlinks boosted Matt’s rankings for a keyword that his customers search for every day: Australian gin. His content even shows up in the highly coveted featured snippet spot.
BONUS TIP: FIND GUEST POSTING OPPORTUNITIES (WITH GOOGLE IMAGES!)
Now before we close out this video let me show you a cool bonus tip: find guest posting opportunities with Google Images. That’s right– I said guest posting.
Now a lot of people say that when it comes to building links, guest posting is dead. But is it true? Not really. In fact, when you’re just starting out, guest posting is one of the best ways to build links to your site.
For example: when I first started Backlinko, I guess posted like a madman I wrote over 50 guest posts and interviews in about a year, and the links I got from guest posting gave my organic traffic a nice early boost. That said, I was very strategic about things. I made sure to only write guest posts for quality sites in my niche.
So if you run a site about the Paleo diet and write a guest post for a site about iPhones, that’s gonna look spammy. But when you write mind-blowing guest posts for quality sites in your industry, those links do help.
The question is: how do you find sites to guest post on? Google Images. Here’s this step by step process: first, find someone in your niche that writes a lot of guest posts. Second: grab the URL of the headshot that they use in their author bio. Finally pop that URL into Google. Reverse image search and boom you get a list of places that guest posted presented to you on a silver platter– very cool!
So there you have it: nine of my all-time favorite link building strategies. If you learn some cool new stuff from today’s video, make sure to subscribe to the Backlinko YouTube channel right now. Just click on the subscribe button below this video, and if you want exclusive SEO techniques that I only share with subscribers, head over to Backlinko.com and hop on the newsletter– it’s free!
Now it’s your turn: which technique from today’s video are you gonna try first? Are you gonna try broken link building, or do you want to start using Google images to find sites to guest post on? Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now.
“Where were we?”
“Wait. Link– that’s like every word.”
“You lucky bastard.”
“So we have some funny moments? We can just do those all at the end.”
“Well, supposedly funny moments>”
“So, what are (mumbling)…”
“So, that’s good…”
“It’s time I just take that out.”
“Yeah you got it rough over there.”
Backlinko is one of our new favorite go-to resource sites for SEO tips to help you act on your website’s search engine rankings.
Yes, we know all about how and why we should be churning out high-quality content. Backlinko helps out with very useful tips and advice beyond this: backlink initiatives, technical SEO, on-page optimization techniques– all these are available on the Backlinko website.
Looking For More Ideas and Tips on Link Building Strategies?
Here are a few more awesome finds online worth checking out:
- “Growing Popularity and Links”, from Moz.com.
- “A Successful Link Building Strategy in 6 Easy Steps”, from Yoast.
- “9 EASY Link Building Strategies (That ANYONE Can Use)”, from the guys over at AHREFS.
- Neil Patel’s “13 Efficient Link Building Strategies for Busy Marketers”.
- “Four Link Building Strategies For Beginners” from Forbes.com.