Note: the wording of this page was changed from "strategies" to "tactics" since that's exactly what they are: tactics.
This is the most complete list of link building tactics on the Web, period. I created it because the best tactics are never found in one place, and the most complete lists are completely outdated.
One thing to keep in mind while reading: I did my best to split each one up by category (i.e. Local, Paid, Events etc.), but a lot of them overlap. For example, sponsoring an event could easily fall into paid & events, but I had to pick one. So keep that in mind if you’re looking for i.e. only event tactics.
Another thing: these tactics can be spun in many different ways. For example, guest blogging might be in the content-based section, but you can make it a local tactic if i.e. you’re a restaurant and you post on local food blogs.
If you just want to see the names of each tactic and not the descriptions, you can Expand/Contract All.
You can also Check/Uncheck all options.
As well as Show/Hide all tactics.
You can filter the list of tactics below by time to execute & dependencies.
These are the most basic tactics in the book. Everyone can build links with these tactics, no matter what industry you’re in.
Creating content on a consistent basis not only builds links internally (by linking out from your posts), but also gives you the ability to naturally attract links to your content. A blog is essential to many tactics I list below, such as linking out.
To reiterate – a blog is a means to an end from a tactical perspective. Creating the blog in itself won’t build you any links; it’s what you do with it that builds links.
For more information, read these tips & tutorials.
If your blog is run on any of the popular Content Management Systems, you'll already have an RSS feed. If you don't, create one. If you do, burn it at Feedburner.com so you can get statistics on your subscribers.
For link building, it's simple. There are sites out there that will scrape your content (stealing it without permission). When they do, make sure you get a link back by 1) including links to other pages on your site in your posts and 2) installing the RSS footer plugin for WordPress (adds a link to your blog after every post).
You have pages and posts on your website, so make the most of them. Internal links are HUGE for link building because you can control everything about them, from the location on the page to the anchor text.
If you’re thinking about using a CMS plugin that automatically hyperlinks a certain word every time it appears on your website (i.e. like Wikipedia does), I’d suggest refraining from doing so unless you’re a relatively big brand or if it makes complete sense from a UX perspective. Instead, go through all of your content that’s been previously published, and if you’ve got more detailed content written on subjects that you briefly go over in your posts, then link in that context where it makes sense. But make sure you consistently mix it up from an anchor perspective.
For future/new content, as you’re writing it, try and steer your way into certain topics that you’ve already written on so you can link to it & so it makes sense from a user’s perspective.
Other webmasters have created links or resource pages, and these are legitimate opportunities to get links.
Unfortunately, it's not as easy as just asking for a link. I'll go into specific tactics below that help you get webmasters liking you before you ask, because doing that greatly increases your chances of getting a link.
In general, though, focus on relevance above all else. It’s tempting to just shoot for the big, authoritative opportunities, but by doing so you run into a few issues. The first is that you limit yourself to a smaller pool of prospects, so you generally end up with less links (in some low quality niches, this can leave you with next to none). Second, relevance is having a much bigger impact in the algorithm moving forward. And third, by targeting more relevant opportunities, you’ve got a bigger chance of having the webmasters say Yes.
If you sign up to become a member for a site, you'll get a link in your profile. Well, not every site. Some sites will allow quality links in your profile, while others won't. Some are in the middle, such as Twitter, which gives nofollow links (links that don't pass link juice).
You should also be looking for niche relevant profile opportunities. Is there a prominent industry community that you can get a link from via a profile? If so, these usually go further than general opportunities that would make sense for really any website.
Example: CrunchBase. Sign up here.
Whether it's your friends, relatives, employees, colleagues, business partners, clients, or anyone else, ask them for a link. Someone you know has a website or blog, so take advantage.
I suggest putting pen to paper on this one. As the digital age continues to trend upwards, more & more people are creating their own sites & blogs, and chances are more than a few are people you know. I’d even suggest posting on Facebook or Twitter seeing who’s got their own site.
In general though you really only want to be getting links from relevant websites from these people. If it’s not relevant, it’s not going to have much of an impact, and these people will most likely be a little hesitant to link if it’s i.e. a jewelry store & they run a sports blog.
Note: this might not be the best option based on the community you're located in. Are you in the cement niche? Then this is perfect. Are you talking about Internet related business? Then this might not be your best bet, because the majority of your audience probably already knows how to link.
A large chunk of my time finding links is by looking through my competitor's link profiles. Essentially, you're piggy backing off of their success. While some links are unobtainable (i.e. a random mention in a news post), others can be diamonds in the rough (a high quality niche directory).
I suggest using Ahrefs for this. Plugin your competitors and export their backlinks to a CSV. Do this for all of your competitors so you can get all of their links in one place (Excel). Then you can sort them by various link metrics to find the best opportunities.
But you don’t have to stop at just direct competitors. You can also look at how indirect competitors in your vertical (i.e. if you sell flashlights, a site that sells flashlight batteries) or really any other niche-relevant sites are getting links. If you’re local, look at other sites in your geographical area. If you’re ecommerce, look at how other ecommerce sites are getting links to the same types of pages you’re having trouble with.
Linking out is huge. Don't be a link hoard; you're going to create content, so use it to gain favor with other people. I'll go more into depth below with specific tactics on linking out, but in general, you only have something to gain when you’re linking out.
The only time when I wouldn’t suggest linking out is if you’re in a hyper-competitive industry (i.e. gambling) where no matter what you do, linking to someone isn’t going to catch their eye and possibly return the favor sometime in the future. But I’d say less than 10% of industries are competitive enough to justify this.
There are many places across the web where you can build links through submissions, whether it’s submitting your site, a piece of content, or anything else.
You can submit your articles & blog posts to article syndication sites, and in return, you’ll get a link or two in the content or the author bio (varies from site to site). Since late 2011, early 2012, they really haven’t been worth much, but if you’re not afraid to dabble in some automation based techniques, this is one that’s still somewhat being used.
Example: Ezinearticles.com. Sign up here.
Web 2.0 sites are similar to article directories, but instead, you can add images, video, and other interactive features to your content. These usually pass more value than article directories, but it depends on the authority of the site.
If your content is original, then it’ll pass a lot more value, and even has the possibility of being picked up for some long-tail queries in the SERPs (meaning their may be a traffic component to the links depending on the quality of content).
Example: HubPages.com. Sign up here.
By submitting a press release to distribution sites or specific syndication sites, you can build links if you add one or two into the body of the release. Some options are paid, while others are free.
To get the most impact from this historically overused, spam-driven tactic, I highly suggest only going with one link, and making sure the anchor text of that link is the URL or the domain. It’s also suggested to push big content pieces through press releases, just because with the right syndication services, you’ll get your content in front of a handful of journalists that could pick it up & write about it.
Example:PRNewsWire.com. Sign up here. Packages start at $129.
If you've created an infographic, you can easily submit them to infographic directories or blogs. Paddy Moogan put together this awesome list of 27 of them.
A fair amount of these sites you’ll come across will ask for some level of payment. It’s up to you if you think the link is worth the price point. Keep in mind though that these pay-to-play sites lack the editorial selection that non paid sites have, and with that characteristic usually comes with an audience that lacks engagement.
Example: CoolInfographics.com. Suggest one here.
Just like general web directories, you can submit your site to general company directories. You really don't even need an actual company; you only need a website.
Just like with most submission-based tactics, try to zero in on relevance at every possible opportunity. For example, are you a business in the San Francisco area? Then this business directory would be a solid link, more so than a general business directory with a similar level of authority.
If you have video content, make sure you're getting links from all that hard work. The best list I’ve found is here. Just as a heads up, some sites only provide nofollow links, and they're usually in the description.
If you're looking to submit videos on a large scale, consider checking out OneLoad. It's a paid service, but it can save you some serious time.
Example: Vimeo. Sign up here.
As opposed to general web directories, niche specific directories only accept sites that meet a certain topic criteria. For example, one directory might only accept sites about arts & crafts. Some of these directories are free, while others are paid.
Example: Calif.com, a directory for California based websites.
If you set up a Webcam, you can get a few high quality links, such as the PR6 directory listed below. If you're wondering where to set it up, don't worry; it doesn't have to be Times Square. I've seen a few of highway roads set up right outside of their offices (pretty lame, right?). You can do something similar. If you want, set it up some place awesome, because it could attract links on its own.
Example: Earthcam.com. Submit here.
There are hundreds of free web directories to submit your site to. The only qualification you need is to have an active website. Because these links are so easy to get, though, they don't pass much value. Still, there are a few free general directory links that pass both link juice and trust.
Example: Website Launchpad. Submit here.
If you have an RSS feed, you can submit it to RSS directories. There are hundreds. Here's a fantastic list (scroll down) of RSS directories to start out. Although these links won't be directly to your content, they'll pass link juice to your RSS feed which links to any content you linked to in your posts.
Example: www.Feedage.com. Submit here (create an account first).
If you have an mobile phone app, you can get a few easy links. Or, if you want, you can create one to get these links. An easy one to create is an app that just acts as a mobile RSS reader of your blog (this app from the SPI blog is a great example of this).
Example: Appolicious. Sign up to submit here.
If you've already written a few eBooks, or if you plan to, there are a solid amount of eBook directories you can get links from.
You can also reformat your blog content into an eBook for this very purpose, so don’t worry about trying to get one written just for this.
Example: E-BooksDirectory.com. Submit here.
If you have an online tool or application, you can get links for it. If you're thinking about creating one, know that it can also be used to attract links (link bait). We'll go more into that below.
Example: Go 2 Web 20. Hit "Suggest an App" to submit.
Although the majority of widget directories you come across don't outright give you a link, you can still do some serious link building with them. If you make sure there's a link somewhere in your widget, you can get it in front of large audiences with these directories, and in doing so, some will embed them (thus, you earn a few links).
Example: GadgetsDirectory.Blogspot.com. Submit here.
Some directories cost money in order to be accepted into their listings. Once again, while some of these can pass legitimate value, others pass little and aren't worth your time or money.
Example: The Yahoo Directory. Submit here. The only other general paid directories I’d recommend are the BBB, Business.com, BOTW and JoeAnt (although BBB & Business.com are just for businesses, but seeing that this is most of you, I’d consider them general).
If you have any PDFs, PowerPoint Presentations, word documents, or any other documents, you can submit them to these sites and get a link in return. You have to put the links in your documents, such as in the first slide of a PowerPoint or in the text of a PDF.
Note: Although you can get a profile link from each, I'm still not 100% positive Google counts these links. I'm 99% sure Scribd's links are, but I know these are nofollow. Also, Slideshare's & Scribd's profile links are nofollow.
There are loads of CSS galleries you can submit to if you did a great job designing your website or blog. There are also a few HTML5 showcases that you can get links from too.
I suggest forking out $20 to have your site submitted to 100 of them. Don't worry; it's quality manual submissions, not software.
Designing WordPress themes or website templates can be a great way to net a few fantastic links from directories. Also, you can host the download page on your site, and if it's decent, you'll get a few links from design blogs.
If it's a WordPress theme, you can submit to the WordPress.org theme directory, which will get you a couple of high quality nofollow links (not to mention a ton of free exposure).
Example: free-css.com (website templates). Here's the submission information.
Note: Remember to include credit links in the templates or themes, because sometimes that's the only way you'll get a link back (they'll link to a demo page, not the creator's site). Popular page locations of links include the footer & the sidebar.
You can use your content to get links. Most of these tactics don’t necessarily attract links (which we go into below), but they can if the content is good enough.
Bloggers, just like me, sometimes have trouble cranking out content on a regular basis. That's where you can help. Pitch bloggers to ask if you could guest blog, because if they say yes, you can get a few links from the post, and if the blog is popular, you can drive traffic too.
If you want, use sites like Blogger Link Up and My Blog Guest to connect with bloggers who need content. It's scalable, but the bloggers you get in touch with aren't usually very authoritative (they're mostly mid-level bloggers).
Keep in mind that guest blogging has been a tactic that’s recently been beaten into the ground. This has a few different major implications:
• Bloggers are generally sick of guest blogging pitches at this point
• As of the time of this writing, Google hasn’t taken any action on them, but it’s only a matter of time
Starting with the first, you need to understand that your pitch will be mixed in with a lot of other similar pitches, so if you think you can send off a batch of generic requests in hopes of getting some quality placements, you’re going to be disappointed. In general, you can test the effectiveness of your pitches by looking at the kinds of blogs that are accepting your requests, rather than the raw acceptance rate, just because some blogs accept guest posts from anyone (and they’re easy to point out by their low quality blogs).
In general, the kinds of sites I just mentioned that accept guest posts from practically anyone are usually not the kinds of sites you want placements from. Therefore, do your research to 1) weed out sites that publish an excessive amount of guest posts (use your own judgment for how you define excessive), and 2) those who haven’t published any guest posts (meaning you most likely have no chance no matter how good your pitch is).
In regards to the second implication mentioned above, Google hasn’t taken action on what they define as ‘large scale guest blogging’, but it’s going to happen soon. To combat this, first understand that because Google solely looks for patterns (Google is math), you don’t necessarily have to do what they publicly approve of, you just have to not fit the mold.
So to do this, do things like:
• Invest time in your content (i.e. only 800+ word posts)
• Have multiple outbound links in the article, not just to your target site
• Have an internal link or two, as very few large scale guest bloggers do this
• Include an image and/or a video, where & if it makes sense
• Don’t get your link in the author bio, but in the middle of the content (unless the site has a quality level that makes it worth getting anyways)
So with that said, if you really want to do some guest blogging at scale, make your pitches stick out like a sore thumb, don’t create predictable patterns, and do your homework by reading one of the gazillion guest blogging guides on the Web if you need more information on the process.
Instead of looking for one-off guest blogging opportunities the entire time, look for opportunities that could win you regular contributions to a single blog or your own column. These links look very natural, you can get multiple high quality links a month, and if the blog has a decent audience, you’ll send a bit of traffic through those links too.
Example: Squidoo.com. Sign up here.
Just like guest blogging, you can get links in return for your content, but why not just trade? You both get content on each other's site, links, and visitors from an entirely different community.
If you or the other has a significantly more popular blog, see if the less significant one can do something extra in return. A good example is buying the other $10-15 worth of StumbleUpon paid traffic. It doesn’t have to be huge, but it levels the playing field, as you’ll find very few blogs with exactly the same audience size.
If you’re a relatively new blog & would be willing to write a blog post for the sake of getting one solid, contextual link, then blog carnivals are a no brainer. Basically, blog carnivals are a blog community that writes about certain topics as a group. These posts then get linked to from an issue, kind of like a magazine.
So for example, this issue is on homeschooling.
Each carnival has an organizer (who starts & runs it), a host (who volunteers to host that month’s issue), and bloggers (the part we’re concerned about). Each carnival allows submissions from bloggers who are generally experts in their given fields.
To get all the details, check out this FAQ page.
If you're trying to get links from colleges, create content targeted at them that you can use during outreach. Trust me, there's usually something you know that you could write an entire tutorial on that would interest college webmasters.
Instead of tackling the content creation process from a top-down approach (creating content, then finding link opportunities), go at it from a bottom-up approach so you end up creating content on topics that you know for a fact that you can get links to. For more information on this, see this podcast.
Just like educational content, create something that targets a specific community. In this case, it would be the environmental community. They've got hoards of link juice just waiting to be tapped into.
Simply outreaching to green bloggers and letting them know about your content usually does the trick. If the content is good enough, and if it's a complete conversation (i.e. a huge infographic on the environmental impact of drift nets), they'll usually dedicate an entire post to it.
Pro tip: As stated above, an infographic or something similar would work great, because all they have to do is embed it. If there's any community willing to embed an infographic that's relevant & worth sharing, it's the green community.
Something so frequently overlooked is the use of images for links. Bloggers just like me struggle to find relevant images to our content, so why not take advantage?
When people use your images you'll get an attribution link in return (that's if they're honest). A great idea is to always have a camera with you whenever you're at an industry event. Imagine if you took 100 pictures at SXSW of all the different speakers and published them on a certain portion of your site.
You can also use the tactic of creating quote graphics, which are basically just pretty pictures of (you guessed it) quotes (i.e.).
If you do go this route and generate a lot of images, consider setting up a section of your site as a media gallery. From there, do some image SEO to get them ranking for some different image search queries, then bank on people stealing them & placing them on their own sites (which, at this point, is when you reach out to them & ask them to include an attribution link if they already haven’t).
Pro tip: hotlink your images. Make it easy for publishers to copy & paste HTML code right into their posts. This not only makes it easier to use your images, but it also makes it much more likely you'll get a link from each.
As for cinemagraphs, the process is the same; build up a library of them, and try and get other bloggers & webmasters to use & embed them. When they do, make sure you get the attribution link.
This one is HUGE. Right now, list any services or products you've bought recently. As long as it's not a product or service from a massive company (i.e. Walmart), there's a good chance you can get a link in exchange for a testimonial.
For example, this testimonial page has a PR of 5. The best part is that it only costs the customers a few sentences about that specific service.
I love online contests, and so should you. They're not only your chance to win some cash or prizes, but they're also a chance to net a few high quality links. The most popular contests & giveaways you'll see are guest blogging contests.
For instance, I not only got a link from this post I entered, but I also won the $1000 grand prize. Not bad, eh?
Here's a great example of where your great content pays off. I entered an infographic created by Kapil Kale, a friend of mine, into a contest on StumbleUpon, and it got a link from their blog! Talk about high quality links!
Just like you should interview others, seize opportunities to be interviewed, no matter how small the audience is. The 5-600 words that take you 15-20 minutes can turn into a few highly authoritative contextual links.
There’s usually nothing you can do to open up opportunities like this, unless you’re actively pursuing them. For example, see if there are any industry interview series of other people/companies that are on the same level of caliber as you. Reach out to whoever is running them, introduce yourself, and say that you think you or your company might have a story that’s worth telling. It can’t hurt to ask, as long as your polite about it if they say no.
Just like with interviews, if someone reaches out to you to participate in a crowdsourced post, make sure you contribute. The questions usually don't take more than 5-10 minutes of your time, and you'll get a decent link or two from it.
The only way you could actively pursue these opportunities is if you can identify people in your industry that do a lot of these types of posts, and try and build up some favor with them.
One of my personal favorite link building tactics is helping out, or adding value to, webmasters. By doing something for them, they’ll be much, much more likely to give you a link.
Understand that these tactics can be paired with others on this page. So for example, if I was doing some outreach for a new white paper I created, I could help webmasters fix broken links on the page I’m trying to get a link from (more details below on this strategy).
If a site is missing information on a certain topic, whether it's an article entirely or a portion of one that should be better elaborated on, reach out to the webmaster and ask if you could fill that gap. Here's a great post on this strategy.
If information is outdated, do webmasters a favor and help update it for them. If you're in a rapidly changing industry such as SEO, look for articles & posts written a few years back that still get traffic (i.e. rank high for a decent keyword). This is because if many people no longer see the content, the webmaster probably won't care enough to have it updated.
Here's a great example. Danny Sullivan even states in the article that he needs to update it! If I knew Danny better, I'd outreach to him with newly updated content, and ask if he could replace it (he'd probably be more than likely to). Unfortunately he's not exactly easy to get in touch with, but in most cases for you, this shouldn't be a problem.
Remember, when you do update the content, make sure you add a link to you in it. We are building links, aren't we?
Pro tip: to save time, use the outdated content finder to find these opportunities.
Take broken link building one step further by recreating the content found at those URLs, then outreaching to not only that specific linking site, but also other sites linking to that broken URL.
For this, use Archive.org to find what content used to be found at that URL.
To find dead content that’s ripe for recreation, start by finding some highly authoritative, niche relevant, & aged resource/links pages. If you check these pages for broken links, you’ll usually find one or two to some kind of highly linked to page of content. To initially find those resource/links pages, start by grabbing a few of the most authoritative, niche relevant sites you know of, and throw them into Ahrefs to find their best links.
If you’re thinking horizontally, you might stop prospecting once you’ve gone through all of the different links to that old page, but if you did, you’d be missing out on a ton of others. Look for other content on the same or similar topics that got links by using the same methods to find the initial dead content (but instead, keep your eyes open for live content as well).
A decent website usually has some sort of logo, graphic, and web design. If you have any experience with any of these, reach out to webmasters and ask if they'd like any of the above services free at no cost.
If you don't know design, you can get someone on Fiverr to create a logo for 5 bucks. No, it's not going to be amazing, but it'll get the job done.
Every webmaster has to fork out a few bucks a month (or more) for hosting. Why not help them out by either providing hosting or paying for it? For those who have a server, this shouldn't cost you a penny. A great thing to ask for would be a link in their blogroll.
Out of all the tactics listed, this is my favorite. The scalability of finding broken links is outright unfair. In a nutshell, you'll be 1) finding pages that could potentially link to you, 2) looking for broken links on the page, and 3) if there are any, you'll let the webmaster know and ask if the broken link could be replaced with a link to you.
You can get really creative with broken links. It's by no means a narrow, straightforward strategy.
Here's a great guide on the entire process.
There’s a huge issue on the Internet that I didn’t realize could be used to build links until recently. Hackers (most notably trying to get links with anchors like “buy cheap viagra”, “online gambling”, etc.) are infiltrating blogs, college sites, and regular html websites in order to get the links they want. A lot of times, the webmasters of these sites have no idea it’s happening.
And yes, creative would be an understatement.
Not all websites are always accessible in different languages, and a lot of web visitors do not use a browser like Chrome that allows the content on those pages to be translated on the fly. Therefore, you can help by translating their content for them.
As an example, see this page, and see the bullet point titled ‘Estonian language translation of this page’.
Find bloggers who produce podcasts & videos on their blogs but don’t transcribe the audio files. Do it for them, then reach out to them letting them know; you can either post the content on your site for them to link to, or (more recommended) have them post it on that blog post, along with a link to you for attribution.
I recommend using SpeechPad if you’re looking for a transcription service.
If you build it, they will come. There are numerous things you can create that webmasters can embed on their site. In return, of course, you’ll get links. Some of these things will also naturally attract links to the page you’re offering on them, so they work both ways.
Note: Web tools aren’t listed here because they aren’t something webmasters can physically put on their site.
They're easy to create, and if they catch on, you'll get a ton of design blogs linking to you.
You don't have to know design to create an icon set & get links to it. Hire someone (on oDesk for example) to create a set for your blog. Then give away the set for free in a new blog post for anyone who wants it, and of course, notify design blogs about your free giveaway (they love free giveaways!).
Note: make sure it’s niche specific to keep it relevant (i.e. for sports, make the icon backgrounds as baseballs, soccer balls, footballs, etc.)
Creating badges, such as the ones for the TopRank BIGLIST, work great if you're giving out awards. In the embed of the badge, include a link back to the awards page.
In terms of who you can give out awards to, it can really be anyone. The easiest one to think of is the top X blogs in your niche, but this has been a little over done by SEOs. You can also do top local venues/restaurants/service providers/etc., which usually work better because these organizations A) probably haven’t been featured in many things (meaning they’ll be pumped & wanting to share with the world) and B) probably haven’t been pitched before to embed a badge on their site.
On the other hand, you can create a badge like this for anyone, and not just an exclusive group. If you run a community that has some size & klout, member badges could be a relatively passive strategy.
If you're thinking about designing CMS themes (i.e. WordPress, Drupal, etc.), know this: the links you get have little value, and that to gain any real value, the anchor text needs to not be spammy (i.e. go for branded) and the theme needs to be used by sites with relevant content.
For example, if you're a sports blog, create a sports theme.
If you're OK with this, here's the best guide on the Web for utilizing WordPress Themes for links. As for other CMSs, the concepts will be the same, but each will have its own set of differences. If you want to create a Drupal theme, the official Drupal theme depository includes only roughly 1,000 themes, meaning a lot less competition for downloads.
By creating embeddable widgets, webmasters can place them on their site, and if you code it correctly, you can easily get a link back.
CMS plugins & extensions, like those for WordPress & Joomla, can get you a few links.
For example, in the Sharebar plugin, the default setting includes a link on the bottom of the floating bar. It can be disabled, but some people don't bother, thus giving the developers a link.
You can also get links from the official websites of the software that your plugins & extensions work in (i.e. the WordPress plugin directory).
If you have a little room in your budget, then consider some of the below paid tactics. Google is against paid links, but there are some out there that are acceptable, such as the ones listed below.
Also keep in mind though that while Google might be against paid links, in a lot of cases, it’s difficult to determine whether or not a link was naturally or unnaturally placed.
If you've got a product or service you want reviewed on a blog, you can pay for one. By using sites like sponsoredreviews.com, ReviewMe.com, and PayperPost.com, you can pay for blogger reviews. Of course, they'll link to you in the review.
It's a paid link that cannot be detected, it increases brand awareness & trust, and best of all, it can be used to get natural embeds.
For example, if I get one of the two bloggers in the industry to embed a badge of "Featured in Top 10 X Blogs in 2012", and I outreach to a few mid level bloggers that I also included (exactly for this reason), they'd be more than happy to embed it, because if the big time blogger did, they'd be honored to.
Honestly, if you're going to pay for a sitewide, this is the way to go. There are so many added bonuses.Note: If you go for spammy anchor text, and not branded or partial, it could send spam signals, so don't play around there.
Blogging contests usually don't cost more than $50-100 to sponsor. Make sure to look for ones that require participants to post about the contest on their blog & link to each of the sponsors in the post.
Most colleges have a wide range of clubs, and if you ask one to sponsor it for a link in return, they'll probably say yes. You can usually sponsor one for $50.
When searching for clubs to sponsor, think general niche instead of specific. For example, if my target site is this blog, looking for marketing clubs rather than SEO clubs will yield a much larger pool of prospects.
It's a bit shady, but sponsoring WordPress themes is a way to build links. They usually don't cost more than $25-50 per sponsorship. If you're thinking about doing it, check out this guide to theme sponsorship.
Moving forward, I wouldn’t recommend this tactic, but if you’re going to go this route, make sure your anchors are branded & not exact.
Use sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo to find projects that need funding and are willing to give links on their websites to those who contribute. So, for example, I might do a site: search on one of those 2 (or any of the others out there) along with the text “link to your website”. You’ll come across dozens of these opportunities that usually cost no more than $10-20, so from here, narrow it down to ones that are relevant & pull the trigger.
I have to give credit to Chris Gilchrist and this post for this one.
Ask webmasters if they'd give you a link on a relevant page in exchange for $10-20 worth of StumbleUpon Paid Discovery traffic. Sometimes they'd be willing to link regardless of the PD traffic, so this just encourages them to link even more.
You can also incentivize other link building opportunities (i.e. guest blogging) with paid stumbles.
Relationship building can be hard. Find people in the industry you can hire that can tap into their list of contacts for links, because they've already built up those connections. This can extremely helpful for those who are just starting to try to make a name for themselves in a new industry.
You can also incentivize other link building opportunities (i.e. guest blogging) with paid stumbles.
Just like industry veterans, experienced link builders have built up little black books of contacts (at least the good ones have). Chances are they've dealt with people in either your vertical or a very similar one. In that case, they can get in touch with those contacts, saving you the time to initially build those relationships.
If you find highly linked to content on sites that are no longer maintained, reach out to the webmaster and ask if you could pay him $100-200 to 301 that page to a page on your site that has the content. Chances are he'd be more than willing to if he doesn't care anymore.
Finding existing domains for sale through Flippa is great if you're looking to build up a few link assets. It's costly, but nonetheless, it's a strategy.
.Edu links are some of the best, yet toughest links to get. There are a few specific tactics I listed below that work great if you’re willing to try them out.
Reach out to universities and let them know about your expertise. By writing curriculum for courses (the more basic, the easier it is to get involved), you can get a few citation links from their site.
If you have any job or internship opportunities, you can get a few easy .edu links. For example, if you work in anthropology and you're looking for an intern, here's an easy link.
For agencies, try and compile as many of these opportunities as you can in a spreadsheet, and categorize each of them (i.e. travel, hospitality, etc.).
By offering discounts to faculty, teachers, and students, you can easily get links from pages like this.
If you’re an ecommerce shop and your products are something that students might be interested in, then these links are a no-brainer.
If you’re a local shop of any kind, then usually there’s a college or two within 100 miles that have a discount program, and if so, then these links would not only be fantastic from an authoritative standpoint, but also a relevance standpoint. For example, if you’re located in Chicago, you should get a listing here.
Scholarships can become the bread and butter of your .edu link strategy if it's in the budget. Give out a decent sized scholarship, such as $500-1000, and reach out to multiple colleges & high schools. You don't have to settle for just a couple here; usually there's not a limit on this one.
You could take it one step further and set it up as a contest; the finalists have to write blog posts on your blog on why they deserve it, and half the voting is done socially (i.e. tweets, +1s, FB likes). Heck, I bet you could get even more creative at that point.
When prospecting for scholarship opportunities, make sure you follow the paper trail rather than trying to find ones from scratch via Google. Start off by finding a few pages (i.e. search “external scholarships site:.edu”), and from there, plug all the scholarships listed into Ahrefs, go to town on those, and then do the same with other scholarships featured on those pages.
Most colleges dedicate a part of their site to their alumni, and some of them link out to their alumni's websites.
For example, one of my client's competitors had a link from one of the Harvard Business School's most authoritative pages, only because they got listed under "HBS Entrepreneurs".
This is very similar to your Alumni Directories but it’s more valuable (albeit admittedly a bit more difficult to secure) based on the fact that your link has contextual relevance rather than simply a directory. Many colleges and universities love to share stories about notable alumni with links back out to the associated websites (here’s an example). Ask your clients for a list of the alma maters for their high profile employees and pitch their stories to these universities.
Pro tip: You should also see if there are any Awards (such as Drexel’s 40 under 40) that might provide additional opportunities for links.
Students are allowed to create blogs on their respective college websites, so get in touch with them. They're a lot easier to get links from then a regular college webmaster. Whether it's buying them lunch or making sure you get a link from a college intern, you can always get links through students.
For agencies, this can be scaled. Create incentive programs for students to recruit more student bloggers, and so on.
I’m not saying you should hire a recent grad for the sole purpose of getting a link, but if you’ve hired any recently, check to see if there’s any career sections of their school’s website that talk about any job search success examples of their recent grads. If you do find these opportunities with your grad, make sure they do the outreach for the link. It usually just takes a quick call or email.
For example, the University of Oregon’s career center has a category of their blog dedicated to solely this.
By interacting in communities, you can not only build links, but also relationships (remember how I said how important they are at the top?). This is a great way to get to know people in your industry while snagging a few links at the same time.
There are a number of online newspapers that are run by the people, for the people. By contributing, curating, and adding your insight, you can get links from these sites on a regular basis (you get the chance to promote yourself in your bio on most of them).
Here are a few for example:
Chances are there are links out there that are already yours that you just haven’t gotten yet. For example, if someone uses your content, you should be able to get a link back. Here are a few existing opportunities for you to snag a link or two.
If someone just bought something from you, then this is the perfect time to ask for a link if they have any influence online. Ask them to write a review of your product or service, and then offer to help promote it to spread the word. It's a win-win!
By scraping your commentators and their URLs with this plugin (only for WordPress though), you can find influencers that have commented on your blog in the past. Just like with Twitter followers, use this to build relationships with them to use for future link opportunities.
If your content gets scraped, and the scraped piece of content doesn't have a link back, then make sure you contact the webmaster and get one. Just like images & infographics, it's copyright infringement, so they're not going to say no if you get a response.
Here's a fantastic post on this concept.
Pro tip: if you make the "More from" text something like "Cited from", it'll look more scholarly & professional. This usually gets a much higher success rate.
By using a reverse image search tool, you can easily find other websites using your images or infographics. Politely outreach to each and ask you could a link back for using them. If they don't, make sure to let them know it's copyright infringement.
If your brand gets mentioned, then make sure you ask for a link. For example, if someone mentioned "Point Blank SEO" on their blog, I might ask if they could include a link so the reader would know where Point Blank SEO is located on the Web.
Once again, I recommend using Mention to find these as they happen. I also recommend checking out this guide to using Link Prospector for finding previous mentions at scale.
If you're a part of an association or organization, chances are they have a website. If they do, find out if they link out to their members. Get included if they do.
Some might also do spotlights on their members just like with Alumni associations (which were mentioned in the .edu section). Reach out to try & get featured, and if you do, get the link.
People will sometimes link to profile pages of yours on external sites, so take advantage. This could be social profiles, business profiles, member profiles, or really anything else. As long as the page itself doesn’t have any real value add that you can’t replicate (i.e. you wouldn’t want to do this for a ResellerRatings profile page), such as your Twitter page or Crunchbase profile, then you can reclaim these links.
For example, for your Twitter page that has links to it, do what I did here by going to the Twitter widget page and grabbing a full-page widget. Then ask webmasters to link to your Twitter page on your site rather than directly to Twitter.
If someone has linked to you in the past, chances are they might be willing to in the future. Get to know them, and make sure they're up to date with your content, because that only leads to more links.
I like using Linkstant to instantly see who's linked to me. I always make sure to stop by and leave a thank you comment.
An action plan for this strategy is to make a continuous list of bloggers/webmasters who’ve naturally linked to you in the past. Make sure you touch base with them saying just how thankful you are for the mention, and after that, if they’re OK with it, could you notify them of any future content you put out? What you’re basically doing is building up an email list strictly for potential linkers that you can push big creatives to.
If you've built up influence, you can definitely use this to build links. If I got an email from Aaron Wall asking to review his toolset on my blog, I'd be more than willing to.
Outside of outreach, you can use your influence for a ton of things. For example, Ann Smarty used her influence to get a chance to write posts for Mashable (no lack of quality links there). Tim Ferriss landed an insane amount of features on news outlets and blogs when promoting his newest book because, well, he’s Tim Ferriss.
In general, you can use your influence to get a much higher success rate with every other strategy I talk about, but remember: if the person you're contacting doesn't know who you are, then your influence is worthless (ex. a .gov webmaster could care less if you're a big shot travel blogger).
Sometimes links to your website break over time, whether it's because you've moved the intended page, or because the webmaster messed up your URL. Go into Google Webmaster Tools to see which pages are getting 404 errors, then redirect those pages to either the homepage or the implied intended page.
Someone who follows you on Twitter is much more likely to link to you than those who don't, so scrape your followers & the URLs associated with their profiles, find their link metrics, and prioritize your outreach efforts accordingly to get links from these people. For more info, check out this post.
To download all of your Twitter followers and if information about each (including their URL), I recommend using Simply Measured.
As defined by Ross Hudgens, “short form text… is a small chunk of content that you have created that is deemed worth enough to mention, that my be plagiarized or referred to with or without a link.” This is similar to a new term you coined, but instead, it’s usually phrase-length or a sentence or two.
Some examples of short form text are:
With each of these, people won’t always quote them exactly, so using Google search to type them in as quotes will not show you all the opportunities present. Therefore, also search them without quotes, and in the meta descriptions, look for near matches that dictate they’re from the same source.
To make this an on-going strategy, set up web alerts accordingly for these. For a more detailed look at this (and a cool example), once again see this post by Ross Hudgens.
Whether you’re creating them or attending them, there are a variety of ways you can utilize events to build links.
Hosting local meetups or even paid events are excellent ways to get links from a variety of websites dedicated to events in general, as well as niche sites in your area that likely have a decent audience that you're looking to tap into. This article by Kane Jamison goes into more depth on footprints for finding event listing websites and conducting outreach to people likely to talk about your event.
You don't necessarily need to host your own websites in order to benefit from events. If you have space suitable for events you can offer it to other organizations on a paid or free basis, which is an easy way to earn links to a directions or "event info" page of your own website. This is especially powerful for businesses like hotels, retirement communities, restaurant/bars, and other similar potential event spaces. Once your venue is established, you can go also back to event listing sites that allow you to "Add A Venue" in their database.
If you're at an industry event, blog about everything that's taking place. If you're the only one, you'll get loads of links. If you're not, you'll still get A LOT of attention.
I know it's Wired, so it's a little unfair, but hopefully you can learn how it's done from this example (451 links from 140 root domains in 3 months).
Also, check out this fantastic guide on live blogging.
Along the same lines as Live Blogging, writing recaps of events can help secure some additional links simply using the notes you're already taking. There is always a surge of content that comes out after a conference talking about ways to apply the tactics you learned, so getting your notes out there gives people a resource to reference as they’re writing this content. Make sure you promote these recaps using the conference hashtag so that it gets in front of the conference audience.
A great example of this is John Doherty’s recap of LinkLove last year (55 links from 8 root domains).
Sticking with events, providing the event audience with some resource to help improve their experience is another quality way to generate links. For example, Mack Fogelson put together a cheat sheet for MozCon last year that acquired 18 links from 6 domains, but more importantly I’m sure it helped with initiate or reinforce relationships with other industry veterans/speakers.
Whether it’s a national day, week, month, or event, they can all be used to build links. You could create your own, or you could help promote an existing one. If this sounds like something you think you could do, check out this entire post on the subject (props to Will O’Hara on taking this idea and really expanding on it).
Whether it's a local meet-up, industry conference, or anything in between, event groups are always looking for sponsors, and you can usually get a link in return for a $100-200 sponsorship.
Wil Reynolds brought up a good point in this post. The moment an event is over, ask if you could sponsor next years. The event committee will be so excited that they'd instantly say yes, and in the end you get the link for close to two years instead of one.
Pro Tip: (h/t to Phil Rozek) On Meetup.com, you can quickly find meetups that don’t have any sponsors yet by using this search phrase & appending your niche keywords: site:meetup.com “this group does not have sponsors right now”
You talked a good deal about sponsoring events, but you can also secure links from sponsoring venues where these events take place. I’ve seen this most successful for outdoor/sporting venues (such as my local Georgia Soccer Park) but I’ve also seen it be successful for indoor/conference-type venues as well.
You have something that people want, so give it away. Here’s a list of things you can give to get links.
There's no better way to connect with bloggers than by giving them your product or service in exchange for a review. Usually there are a lot of mid level bloggers in big industries more than willing to, so this can be quite scalable.
P.S. if you have a link building related product or service (please, no black hat software) reach out to me using this tactic. I might just review it and give you a link :).
Sites like Living Social & Groupon allow you to include anchor text links in the description of your coupons. If you're wondering, Google does cache the pages, so I'm 99% sure these links are indexed.
If you have a product or service, and if there's a relevant blogging contest taking place, reach out to the blogger running it and ask if you could give your product or service to the winner. They'd be more than happy to, and they'll give you a link on the contest page if you ask.
Not all links that we build are for search rankings. Some are for traffic. We are getting high rankings so we get more traffic, right? Besides, having all of your eggs (links) in one basket (Google) is never a good idea. Here are a few examples of links for traffic.
Including links back to your site in newsletters is a great way to get traffic, but take it one step further. Find influential newsletters in your niche and try to get a link included.
For example, I've gotten a link in Eric Ward's Link Moses Private. An even bigger target (that could potentially crash my site) is the Moz Top 10 newsletter, which has 220,000 subscribers. Yeah. I know.
Pro tip: Find out who's sending out the newsletters, and get to know them.
Craigslist and other classified sites are great places to drive a bit of traffic. Make sure you're not spamming, and make sure it's relevant to that category.
If you send out 100 emails a day, having an email signature with a link back can drive an extra 50+ people a month to your website. It's not much, but it requires zero effort.
Creating a new project in your niche cannot only help build your authority and trust, but it can also get you a few links if you know where to put them. Here are a few examples of what you could create.
Whether it's a niche forum, Q&A site, or social network, you can probably create it without much trouble.
If you want to above and beyond, create a community from scratch. Inbound.org, created by Rand Fishkin and Dharmesh Shah, is exactly that.
Wikis are great, but only if you get people involved. Having a little influence to begin with helps a ton. By outreaching to influencers to contribute and by incentivizing contributions, you can build it up as an authority. Again, make sure to link to yourself with it.
Creating a human curated, quality niche directory is something worth looking into if there isn't one in your industry. If the design sucks (i.e. it looks like every other one) and the submissions you're accepting are subpar, you'll have little success, but if you're accepting only quality sites, it could get listed often on resource lists.
I suggest starting with directory software, then customizing from there. Just Google "directory software" if you're looking for one; most don't cost more than $100.
Obviously, since this is a link building strategy, link to your main site.
Based on where you’re located, you can get a few links from local websites. Here are a few ways to use your location to build links.
I don't always suggest an individual site, but when I do, it’s the Better Business Bureau. This link will pass more trust than almost any other link in your profile.
The price is determined by state/region/city and by number of employees. The St. Louis BBB ranges from $370 for 1-3 employees all the way to $865+ for 100-200 employees. Anything over that, as well as additional websites, constitutes as additional charges.
That being said, you are SUPPOSED to get a “dofollow” link out of all of this. You need to check on your listing once it is published as each region has their own rules regarding their directory of businesses. There have been some instances where your businesses website URL in the directory listing was NOT a live link, only text. All you have to do is contact your BBB representative and ask for that to be changed.
Getting a link from your Chamber of Commerce is a guaranteed link just waiting for you to get. In some cases, though, it takes a little bit of time to find the right person to get in touch with.
Most local libraries have a website, and most of them have somewhat of a link profile. Nonetheless, get in touch, and do what you can to get a link; it's going to be a link from one of the most white hat sites in your profile.
For example, my local library has a Page Rank of 5. At the time I'm writing this I haven't gotten a link from them, but it's only a matter of time :).
Send press releases to your local newspapers. They like to feature news from local businesses, and if your press release is newsworthy, they’re usually happy to syndicate it (so have a link or two in the original press release).
If you’re located in a shopping plaza or a mall, chances are they have a website, and if they do, a fair amount of them list off each of the businesses located in them along with a link to a website.
Here’s an example of a mall located near me.
There are a lot of fantastic tactics that don’t quite fit in one specific category, so here is a miscellaneous group you should check out.
Setting up free blogs for others is fantastic, because doing it might be complex for others, but easy for you. Make sure you get a link from their blogroll in return.
I hate to bring it up again & again, but keep relevance in mind. If your target site is about insurance, and you’re helping a friend setup a blog about fashion, the link is going to look a bit weird to both users & search engines. So in that case, it might not be worth your time.
As opposed to contributing, having a Wikipedia page about you or your company is something to look into if you've already built up authority. If you're well known, this is a great option & a huge way to build trust.
Make sure you're not the one writing it; have someone else write it, because it needs to be as unbiased as possible.
By finding assets that have worked in the past for competitors, such as awards & infographics, you can steal their success with little work. Basically, you're taking advantage of them not keeping up with the times.
Overall, your best bet is to find either A) outdated assets or B) incomplete assets (ones that have information gaps). So in general, if you have no way of actually improving upon what they’ve created, then it’s not worth making just another carbon copy.
It's a lot to explain, so here's a great guide to reverse link building.
By citing your own content on relevant Wikipedia pages, you can get a link under the "References" tab. It's nofollow, but it's very trustworthy & can send a lot of highly relevant traffic.
OveWhen doing this, make sure you don’t signup with a company email address, otherwise people will disregard any edits you make with a link to you as spam. Also, if the link doesn’t make sense (you’re just adding it for the sake of getting a link), then it’s a waste of time & will be taken out.
Job & intern postings outside of colleges can be a huge win. When one major job site, such as Monster.com, picks up your postings, it gets distributed to a ton of others. Most of the links don't last long (until the vacancy is filled), but some do stick.
Whether it's meeting your customers, handing out business cards, or even putting a sticker of your URL on your car, getting the word out away from your computer can help increase brand awareness, traffic, and in the end, links.
It's a strategy past its prime, but by starting an affiliate program, you can not only get links through affiliate links, but you can also get links to the affiliate program page itself (affiliate bloggers will link out if they like it).
Make sure whatever software/vendor you use is SEO friendly, meaning that the affiliate links are direct links to pages on your site with referral strings at the end.
By including links in the embed code of videos, and reaching out to bloggers to host them (i.e. as part of an upcoming post), you can get a link for each embed.
Yep, you heard right. I saw this comment, and I couldn't resist not dedicating an entire strategy to it.
Luckily, there's a point to be made. Get creative! Creativity is the key to pioneering new link opportunities, and usually ones your competitors can't get.
This is a little something I came up with myself. Some blogspot blogs become expired and allow anyone to register it, so by finding these blogs that have a few links pointing to it, you can gain control, put up some content, and link back to your site.
For example, I picked up this PR3 blog (Update April 2013: Google has taken it down) and added a link back to Point Blank SEO. I did this awhile go, and I agree that it's a little grey hat. I wouldn't do it again, but it's something I thought I should at least mention.
The easiest way to find them is to do is to check for broken links on pages that link out to a ton of blogs. This could be blogrolls, links pages, or blog directories. If a link is broken, and if it's to a blogspot blog, check to make sure you can register it. Most you can't. If you can, then go to OSE and check out its link profile to see if it's worth registering.
Yep, I included it. If you're going to exchange (reciprocate) links with a website, don't do it as if you're living in 1998. Make sure they're the most relevant, trustworthy websites you've ever come across. If they're not, don't do it.
Building links to pages that link to you can be awesome if you do it right. You not only can pass more juice back to your site, but you can also use it for reputation management and to drive sales.
Pro tip: Do second tier link building to trustworthy sites linking to you, such as a guest post on a highly authoritative blog. For example, if you're utilizing broken links, asking for the replacement link to be to a highly trustworthy site over a link to you will get you accepted a lot more often than if you asked for a link to you.
This is because the site is more trustworthy (webmaster more willing to link) and because you're not asking for a link to the domain that hosts your email (i.e. jcooper@pointblankseo[dot]com asking for a link to pointblankseo.com), meaning it looks more natural in the eyes of the webmaster.
Outside of looking for brand mentions for link reclamation, there are numerous ways to utilize web mention monitoring for link building purposes.
The first is for product mention monitoring. You can setup queries for your products or your competitors products, and see where they’re getting mentioned. For example, if they’re in forums, join the conversation, answer some questions, and where appropriate, include a link. You can also setup review based queries such as:
The second is competitor queries. You can setup queries to find where your competitors are getting mentioned, and in some cases, you can contact the authors who wrote about them to let them know more about you & if it’s possible if you get written about as well (see: drafting technique).
For a more in-depth article, see this fantastic guide written by Ross Hudgens on using Google Alerts (although I recommend using Mention.net instead which works the same way).
Finding and taking over abandoned domains is definitely a strategy on the black hat side if you're doing something like a 301 or using its expired content outside of the site.
One strategy is to find abandoned domains that have link equity, then use archive.org to repopulate the content on some of the pages that got the most links. Obviously, include a few links in the content back to you.
I recommend using Domain Hunter Plus and Godaddy auctions for finding them in the first place.
Use some of the relationships you've built to create a network of similar non-competing blogs. Link out to them, and ask for them to do the same. A good number to have in your network is 5; it's not too much, but it's not too little.
For example, make sure everyone links out to each different blog in the network once a month. Heck, make it once a week.
It's like reciprocal linking, but way better, because the links are relevant, contextual, and natural in Google's eyes.
HARO, or Help A Reporter Out, connects journalists with bloggers & industry experts. By becoming a source, you can get big time links from news sites.
Good ole' fashioned PR outreach is always a great idea if you're buzzworthy. If you're not up for hiring a PR company for this, make sure you research who you're pitching, and make sure to keep it short and to the point.
If you do it right, you'll build up a relationship with the person you're pitching long before you pitch them. This will also result in you being able to tap into that relationship multiple times, and not for just a one-off pitch.
If you’re a retail or eCommerce shop, look for manufacturer & supplier websites of the products you carry and see if they list off any of their retailer locations (usually a mix of offline & online). If they do list online ones, then it’s an easy link. For example, pages like this:
Note: for local businesses looking for citations, this is a great tactic to get them (i.e. this page).
In a nutshell, you’ll be finding other ecommerce sites that sell complimentary, but non-competing, products, and partnering with them to get links from their category & product pages.
So for example, if you sell high powered flashlights, find retailers who sell the specialized batteries for those flashlights. Getting links on those category & product pages would be highly relevant & would earn direct revenue. In exchange, you can do the same, offer them payment, or you can give them some other form of value (i.e. including a mention of them in your purchase confirmation emails to customers).
Although they both aren’t eCommerce, StubHub & ESPN did a similar partnership where on schedule pages on ESPN, links are included in each row of the table to StubHub to purchase tickets. Likewise, on StubHub, on each team ticket page, the standings of that team are displayed with a link to ESPN.
Try & get influential authors to write a guest post or two for your blog. Not only will they share it with their audiences, but the thing is, people love linking to stuff they’ve written in the past, so having it hosted on your blog is a way to get those links.
Instead of creating them as a linking out strategy, find bloggers who produce these, and get on their radar. These are the kinds of people you want to build relationships with, because when you produce something share worthy, you want to be able to send it to a person like this who has the ability to link to it, no questions asked.
If you read the descriptions for each, I applaud you. You’re a serious trooper.
Thanks guys! Having spent more than 15 hours putting this together, this is one of the few posts I’ll legitimately ask you to share. Please, those buttons on the right look really attractive (you know you wanna!).
If you want even more link building fun, follow me on Twitter @pointblankseo. You won’t regret it!