Ever read a blog about link building strategies, tried the strategies, only to get:
- No responses, or
- Responses asking you to pay for links?
It gets so bad that most people doing SEO have declared link building as an impossible feat.
Why is link building the most pain-inducing part of SEO?
Mainly, because it’s hard to do it at scale, since it requires something that isn’t scalable: building relationships.
Building backlinks isn’t the funnest part about SEO.
But, it’s a cornerstone to SEO best practices. Luckily, it’s not as impossible to do as you think.
Not all of us have long lists of industry-wide connections to boost our content straight off the bat. But you can and should build them. In fact, they’ll be the cornerstone to scaling backlinks.
Instead of regurgitating the top techniques you’ve probably already read 100 times, we decided to ask people running successful websites what techniques have actually worked for them
Using these (white-hat) methods, our expert SEOs have built thousands of high-quality backlinks, directly contributing to growing a high-impact inbound channel.
What is a link building strategy?
A link building strategy is the process by which webmasters collect references from other websites that links back to their own content. A strong profile of backlinks-links from other websites back to one’s own content–is one of Google’s most important ranking signals.
The more people link to your website, the more social proof it is that your website is relevant. While you can organically get backlinks from publishing strong content, you can also use strategies to build them intentionally.
9 strategies for link building
Here’s a list of 9 strategies that others have tried and tested—and that have actually worked.
1. Curate industry statistics
Creating a hub of the most relevant statistics in your industry works wonders for building quality backlinks.
Content creators look for stats all the time. They like building data-driven content, and they need data to back it. If you can curate the stats on one page, it helps content creators cut back on research time.
You don’t need to own the data. Even when citing your secondary sources, having a curated list of industry statistics that are clear and to the point does the job. These posts act as resource pages for both searchers and content creators.
Steven Macdonald, Founder of Kingspoint, says that by using this link building tactic, he’s been able to “land links from TechCrunch, Intercom, Forbes, Shopify and Mailchimp. I rank number one for all “Industry” statistics posts I’ve published. I’ve earned 6,000+ backlinks over the course of 3-4 years using this tactic (to the stats blog posts)”
An example of curated industry statistics as high-quality content.
“Guest blogging still works great for us. The catch to using it in 2022 is to significantly increase the quality of work. So if you put yourself in the ‘shoes’ of the receiver, you will understand that templatized outreach is not effective. Even if you get a positive answer it will be from a low-quality website. This is why the key is to use personalized email outreach.”Davor Bomeštar, CEO at Fortis Agency
Guest posting for a piece of content requires research, time, and effort in order to produce quality results. The secret is to show you know the blog, care about their readers and brand, and produce something valuable.
Irina Kvashali of amoCRM explained how she gets guest blogging to work for her company in the form of a swap—an exchange of articles between different platforms to boost referral traffic.
“We’ve been putting a lot of effort into producing well-written articles for other websites. This allows us to place a dofollow link to our blog if the owner agrees to it. In my opinion, this is one of the most effective SEO techniques.”
Kvashali attributes the effectiveness to three main points:
When you write a piece of content, you can fit in relevant websites–including your own–to drive traffic. Also, since these are contextually good links, your own site will rank better on Google.
According to Irina, “We don’t believe in paid backlinks. Not only because Google can penalize you for these ‘black-hat’ tactics by damaging your website’s authority, but also because you never know if these backlinks will remain there in the future.
With the guest posting technique, you can obtain many dofollow backlinks for free.”
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Healthy backlink growth
“Although it requires a great deal of patience, another reason that makes guest posting one of the most effective SEO methods is that you grow a healthy backlink portfolio over time.
By choosing well-trusted websites with high domain authority, we know that we’re not running the risk of hurting our SEO ranking and going downhill.”
High-quality links need high-quality content. That may come in the form of blog posts, infographics, unique insights, or any kind of content.
Just know that if you put trash in, you’ll get trash out.
This strategy also improved rankings for keywords in the country targeted, including a first place ranking for “digital marketing agency” and “web development services” and a 227% improvement in B2B leads.
The way he pitches sites depends on:
- Topical relevance to your website.
- Incoming-outgoing link ratio.
- A strong backlink profile.
- The organic search traffic that website receives.
- The type of keywords that the website is ranking for.
3. Make it personal
Spammy emails are a nuisance for both senders and receivers.
To generate quality results, there needs to be a human element to each interaction.
Iris De Geest at Survey Anyplace explains that “in order to build a long-term collaboration with content partners, it’s essential to lighten up your conversations.
You don’t have to tell your whole life story or pile up emojis, but throw in a little joke from time to time. People will remember you and make a positive association when your name pops up in their mailbox.”
Using this strategy, she is easily able to build 8 backlinks a week and an Ahrefs domain rating which continues to rise.
4. Manual outreach
There’s nothing like doing something that isn’t scalable.
Sometimes, it’s the best way.
Chief Marketing Officer at SEO.co, Samuel Quincy Edwards, identifies manual outreach as the one link building tactic which has allowed him to build thousands of links.
“We scour Linkedin, Twitter, and other social media platforms to do our research on the contacts, their tone of voice, and interests. Once we’ve found their email address, we send manually curated emails to the contacts at the publications introducing ourselves, our client and how a mention would be beneficial for the publication.
Depending on what we find during the research phase, the tone of voice may be playful, or more serious. The big thing to note here is that no matter who you reach out to, they’re just a regular person on the other side of the computer reading the email, so we are sure to be polite, straight to the point and appreciative of their time and consideration.“
5. Triangle backlink exchange strategy
The triangle backlink exchange strategy is a win-win three-way link relationship.
Foti Panagiotakopoulos, Founder of GrowthMentor, got backlinks from 154 dofollow referring domains with an average Domain Rating of 65.7 in around 6 months using just this strategy. He says “for this strategy to work, you’ll need to have access to another website that’s got a DR60+. Essentially it’s a turbocharged backlink exchange where you say ‘Hey! I’ll get you a backlink on this DR60+ website if you can give me a backlink to my other site (the target).’”
Foti’s spreadsheet keeping track of link swaps in the triangle strategy
Foti says that “What makes this special is that the exchange is non-bi-directional, which makes it much easier to get a ‘yes’ on an outreach attempt”. He also says “My #1 tip for building links the white hat way is just make more friends.”
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6. Reach out to journalists
Journalists provide unique link building opportunities to content marketers. See them as influencers who can use their connections to link to you.
Amit Raj, Founder of Amit Digital Marketing, says that for him, “reaching out to very specific journalists has been instrumental in securing large placements – on sites like Business Insider, Forbes, the Kitchn and others. We’ve even reached out to a blogger that just so happened to be a journalist as well, and secured links on the Associated Press and other regional US publications off the back of that one outreach correspondence,”
7. Join a Mastermind Group
Melanie Allen, owner of Partners in Fire, says that the most effective link building strategy she’s used has been joining a mastermind group.
“Yes, I had to pay to join, and it’s actually not a link building group. But it’s a group full of other bloggers in my niche who are all willing to help each other out and syndicate each other’s content. It’s been extremely beneficial for my blog growth.
Since joining the group, my domain authority has improved from 27 to 56.”
8. Leverage link building communities
Link building communities are online spaces, such as Facebook, Slack or LinkedIn groups, where content marketers join and exchange link building opportunities with one another.
The Director of Marketing at Outback Team Building & Training, Datis Mohsenipour, says that by leveraging such networks, they were able to:
- Double the organic traffic of their site in 6 months
- Increase the total number of unique referring sites by 40%
- Increase Ahrefs domain authority from 48 to 62
- Rank in the top 5 for targeted queries relating to all new blog posts created
Me reaching out for contributors to this blog post on a link building community
Alladdine Djaidani at Hustler Ethos uses the same strategy, and also ties in guest blogging whenever possible.
For his company, this strategy led to an increase from 0 to 41 in domain rating in three months. Through these groups, he got “102 links for [his] personal site, and about 210 for everybody involved in the process.”
9. The Skyscraper technique
We couldn’t have a link-building post without talking about the Skyscraper technique.
Yes, apparently it works. AbdulGaniy Shehu, founder and lead content strategist at Your Content Mart, says that this tactic led to a 36% MoM growth in organic traffic by 36%. His Skyscraper page also ranks for more than 800 organic keywords and sees approximately 3300 visitors a month, with conversions at 20%.
Step 1: Analyze the Top-Performing Content on SERPs
This helps figure out the search intent, kind of content people are reading as regards the keyword, what the current ranking pages are doing well and where they are lagging behind, etc.
Step 2: Writing a SERP-Based Content Outline
Create a SERP-based outline because it’s based on science and research, and not guesswork.
Of course, if a page is ranking high on Google for a particular keyword, it means they’re actually doing something right. Identify the main headers that are common in all the results on the SERPs.
This also helps different contributors from your team throughout the content creation process to distinguish the most important elements from the completed research, including strategic elements such as URL structure, and aspects related to content like alt text and subheadings.
Step 3: Create Unique Content That Has a Unique Angle
Duplicate content isn’t the only thing you should be afraid of. What about regurgitating the same thing you see on the internet over and over?
By putting in the effort to create content that provides a different edge, you’re providing something 10x better and more valuable to audiences. Try to think of a unique angle that your content will have that the other pages don’t.
Some elements you may want to include:
- More actionable information
- Images and screenshots
- Embedded relevant videos
- Presentation slide
Step 4: On-Page SEO
On-page optimization is vital. Even though the Skyscraper technique is known as a link building strategy, you still need to check all the boxes for it to rank.
Our friends over at Your Content Mart recommend:
- Using the right heading tag
- Having the primary keywords in the right place
- Creating a catchy and optimized title tag and meta description
Step 5: Reach out to people linking to the top results on the SERP
This is where the link building part comes in. After you create the “best” and 10xed piece, you reach out to those linking to your competitor’s page, and convince them that yours is a better resource to link to.
Again, this works best if you can make friends.
Why link building strategies are hard
Link building properly is 100% dependent on the relationships you can build.
It’s not that scalable.
For high-quality links, you need to build relationships with people who have good websites with actual readers. You can’t spam people asking them to publish on their page, or to link to you—you have to build relationships with them.
Frequently Asked Questions about link building strategies
Is link building hard?
Link building is not hard, but it requires a lot of time and commitment. In order to begin to build links and truly generate backlinks, you have to provide value—either to readers/journalists/content creators by providing useful, well-researched data, or to the host website, by providing something in exchange.
How do you run a link building strategy?
Link building is an art and a numbers game.
There are several ways to build links to your website. Whether it’s writing new content to publish on another website (guest blogging) or getting websites to insert your links on existing content (niche edits), there are endless ways to get links pointing to your website.
The challenge is finding ways that work.