Written by: Ben Hanzel | Best Company Editorial Team
Last Updated: February 24th, 2020
If you don't have backlinks to your site, it isn't worth much in Google's eyes.
Considered to be one of the most difficult aspect of SEO, building backlinks has always seemed a bit like uncharted territory.
Building backlinks seems to be a trial and error process, and while this can be achieved in hundreds of ways, we reached out to the experts to see their strategies and what they recommend.
Fundamentals of building backlinks
Luisito Batongbakal, Director at Monitor Backlinks sums this up well: "For people to discover your website, you need to build pathways and big, flashing signs that lead them there. In digital marketing terms, this means you need links, links, and more links."
Long story short. The more links you have, the more traffic will be driven to your website. Here are some tried and true methods to get backlinks that you should always be utilizing
- Guest posting — Reaching out to blogs or websites and offering to post an article on their site in exchange for a link back to your site.
- Link out — By linking out to other site, you may be able to initiate a link exchange.
- Writing great content — This one definitely falls under the ‘easier said than done’ umbrella, but the foundation is solid. If you write original, useful content, people will share it, and sharing will get you links back to your site.
- Build a blog — This method is actually recommended by the engineers at Google. With blogs, you’re able to contribute new material on a consistent basis, and it also gives you the opportunity to earn links from other blogs and exchange that way.
Although these are some of the most common methods, they have a reputation for working well, and many SEO experts use them frequently. If you want to go a bit further, or try something that you may not have done before, here are some unique strategies our experts have shared.
1. The catalyst approach
David Alexander, Developer and Digital Marketer at Mazepress
“One of the best, unexpected successes is that by building a few high-quality backlinks to your website and individual pages, this can act as a catalyst that allows for increased discovery leading to more organic backlinks that you don't have to build yourself or encourage via outreach.
When more people in your industry come across your content as a result of the links you have put effort into building, you are likely to receive even more backlinks as a result.“
2. Outbound content marketing
Graham Shorr, Director of Growth Strategy at SquareFoot
“Our company's backlink strategy is based on outbound content marketing — writing content for a target audience (germane to our brand), building a list of prospects, and running an email marketing cadence. We see about 200 links per year doing this.
One thing I've noticed is that there are a lot more people doing outbound content marketing, and usually really spammy stuff. This spoils the well for everyone, as bloggers and website owners are increasingly jaded by anyone they come across — no matter the quality of their content.”
3. Stats articles
Catherine Giese, SEO Associate at Fundera
“We've found stats articles to be invaluable for links. That said, "skyscraper content," as the term goes, is not always successful. It really has been true that 20 percent of our content gets 80 percent of the attention.”
4. Quality over quantity
Natalie Athanasiadis, Owner of OrmiMedia
“Our backlink strategy is focused around quality, relevance, and more PR focused than strictly SEO. We have been achieving around two higher quality editorial links per week in addition to any acquired through guest authoring. We craft relevant content that aims to please two separate audiences, one being our target customers and the other being industry professionals who then cite our articles and include our posts in roundups!
Our rebranded agency site, with this method went from 0 impressions to 74,000 and climbing in around six to eight weeks.“
5. Help a reporter out
Chris Waits, Lead Acquisitions Manager of WeBuyFtWorth
“I was referred to this company HARO (help a reporter out) by someone who was helping me build my company website and increase my google rankings, and they mentioned to me about how to go about building backlinks for my website to increase my google ranking.
Basically I get a list of different topics that different publications and reporters request answers to or are looking for knowledge on the category that they published their question in.
I then go through the categories and select which one that I feel like I can provide some insight or knowledge on and reply to the author of the post or publication.
My signature on my emails which is my company name and logo, also with my picture and my name are actually links that can be clicked on and will link back to my company website thus the term backlink.”
6. Create, then promote
Kris Hughes, Senior Content Marketing Manager at ProjectManager
“We create linkable content monthly which I actively promote to blogs and websites with high domain authority as value-added pieces to existing articles, or potentially as guest posts with at least one link back to our blog.
These items include map-o-graphics, infographics, white papers, and studies. One of our more successful recent white papers was a study on paid time off for full-time U.S.-based workers, where we surveyed over 2,000 folks and compiled some interesting trends. These items are constantly in development and planning, and require a touch from all members of our marketing department to refine and ensure a quality product which will be likely to receive links when pitched to publications that make sense.”
7. Look for the broken link
Elizabeth Bradshaw, Owner of Canvas Art Boutique
“One of the best link building strategies is to first scan all the pages of the top websites you'd like to get links from. Then, isolate error 404 pages (aka broken pages). Next, use Wayback machine to see a snapshot of what the page used to contain at some point. You'd then create a piece of content that is an updated version of what you've seen. After that, you're going to email the webmaster, point out the broken link, and offer up your content to replace it.
It sounds like a lot of work, but if you can get a link from a super authoritative website, you're nearly guaranteed to see an increase in traffic. And if you don't get a link, you can still use the new content as a linkable asset elsewhere.”
8. Check Wikipedia for dead links
Chris McCarron, Owner of GoGoChimp
"One of the best techniques for acquiring backlinks is to search Wikipedia for dead links. These are broken links on Wikipedia that point towards external citations that no longer exist.
This technique is very effective because there are often a number of websites that also link to the missing content. This will have a negative effect on their rankings on search engines such as Google and Bing.”
9 . Make sure you prioritize
Alex Tran, Digital Marketing Specialist at Hollingsworth LLC
“There are over 100 ways to get backlinks. I create a plan around how I want to spend my time and who I want to delegate tasks to.
I have interns who backlink on high DA directories and I work on establishing relationships with large publications such as Insider, Medium, Forbes, etc. I am in the process of creating a backlink checklist to streamline the backlink process.”
10. Offer promotions
Michelle Ngome, Marketing Manager at Sutliff & Stout, Injury & Accident Law Firm
“One thing that has been truly successful for us is our ‘No DWI Free Holiday Rides’. On the holidays we reimburse up to $30 on Uber/Lyft or taxi rides. It brings good media attention anytime people can put money back in their pocket during the holidays.
It provides a quick segment for news stations, and it is easy to add the details to websites and event listings. I usually start my outreach two weeks prior to the holiday. It takes five to seven days to complete my list and update listings.
In most cases, news stations will reach out one to three days prior to the holiday to request an interview or confirm details. On average we receive five to ten links a month plus mentions help with local SEO and brand awareness.”
11. Prioritize your content, and where it’s going
Nina Krol, Outreach Specialist at Zety
“The most important thing is to choose the right content to pitch. There's the one that attracts organic traffic, the one that resonates well with social media audiences and gets you likes and shares, and there's the content that's perfect for getting backlinks to. The biggest mistake for some is to waste time and energy on pitching the wrong content.
Another strategy worth focusing your efforts on is assessing your opportunities correctly. You don't want to be backlink to sites that may potentially harm you. It's also good to prioritize your opportunities and devote your time into pitching them accordingly.
Last but not least, working on "give and receive" relationships with influencers, bloggers, and reporters always pays out. And for me personally, it is the most exciting and rewarding way to build backlinks."
12. Repurpose your existing links
Brian Winum, Digital Marketing Director at MAXPlaces Marketing, LLC
“While not a true link "building" strategy, one of the techniques we use on a regular basis to great success is backlink repurposing. The great thing about this technique is that it doesn't involve building new backlinks.
Most websites we find have the vast majority of their backlinks pointing to the homepage. We'll end up repointing some of those duplicate backlinks to other subpages or blog articles we'd like to rank and that would benefit from the repurposed backlink.
It's usually a simple thing to reach out to the website owner to repoint the link or if you have direct control over the backlink, even better.”