Yes, the rumors are true. I’ve put together the most comprehensive list of link building strategies on the Web. If there’s any post on my blog you should bookmark for future reference, this is the one.
Why I created it: The best link building strategies are never found in one place, and the best lists of strategies are completely outdated.
If you don’t want to click on each strategy, you can Expand/Contract All.
You can filter the list of strategies below by time to execute & dependencies.
These are the most basic strategies in the book. Everyone can build links with these strategies, 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 strategies I list below, such as linking out. You absolutely need a blog in today's online environment to survive.
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.
This is something that most people overlook, and I advise you to please not! Make sure to steer your content in the direction of other posts or pages so you can link to them.
Also, if you have multiple sites, interlinking is a must (unless they're completely irrelevant and unrelated).
Other webmasters have created links or resource pages, and these are legitimate opportunities to get links. If the links on that page are relevant, you've got a chance.
Unfortunately, it's not as easy as just asking for a link. I'll go into specific strategies below that help you get webmasters liking you before you ask, because doing that greatly increases your chances of getting a link.
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).
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.
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 SEOmoz’s Open Site Explorer 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 â€“ Excel. Then you can sort them by various link metrics to find the best opportunities.
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 strategies on linking out.
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. Although they don't pass much value, they're still worth submitting at least a couple articles to. In return, you'll get a link or two in your author bio, depending on the site.
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.
Example: Squidoo.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.
Example: PRWeb.com. Sign up here. Packages start at $89.
If you have video content, make sure you're getting links from all that hard work. The best list 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: Business.com, a directory for business websites. Submit here. Cost is $299/year.
If you set up a Webcam, you can get a few high quality links, such as the PR7 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 a blog, you can submit it to various blog directories. Like all other directories, some pass value, while others are crap.
Example: AllTop.com. Find a relevant category, then sign up to submit.
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.
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.
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 strategies 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).
Just like guest posting, 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.
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.
Pro tip: Seek out pages on .edu websites that feature similar content, then do any of the strategies I list further down on this list that get you on the webmaster's good side.
Just like educational content, create something that targets a specific community. In this case, environmentalists. 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 PubCon of all the different speakers and published them on a certain portion of your site.
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.
If you've got a few tidbits of data lying around, make them into charts and graphs. SEOmoz did a fantastic job of this. Just like images, you'll get attribution links.
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 Page Authority of 82. The best part â€“ it only cost 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, one of my friends, 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.
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.
Outreach & submissions only go so far. Sometimes you have to let your content attract links naturally to get the results you want.
If you create content that naturally attracts links, it not only saves you time getting them manually, but it also increases engagement on your blog (if it’s worth linking to, it’s usually worth reading). This is where your content & link building strategies meet.
It's a fact of life: people like to look good. If you're featured as one of the top bloggers in your niche, you're probably going to spread the word.
By appealing to the egos of people, companies, and communities, they'll help spread the word about your content. For example, this post I wrote appealed to some of the authorities in the SEO industry who all helped me spread the word.
If there's controversy in your industry, or if someone has one particular view on a topic, don't be afraid to write up a post on the opposing view. If you do it quick enough, and if the majority agree with you, you could attract links from your supporters like there's no tomorrow.
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 strategies 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 tool, DIY project, or anything else, showing people exactly how to do something is extremely helpful.
This RSS tutorial attracted 8,000+ links from over 600 root domains.
Newbies in your industry probably don't know all the jargon you and other bloggers are using. Do them a favor and create a glossary of industry terms and acronyms.
Here's a fantastic glossary of internet terms that landed 2,600+ links from over 1,200 root domains (imagine if you made an updated version!).
You might be thinking research & white papers are the same, but they're not. Someone writing a research paper doesn't know what the outcome will be; someone writing a white paper has a clear understanding of the objectives and intended results from the beginning.
For example, you could outline an entire sector of an industry from top to bottom.
This one outlined the company and its services and got over 300 links from 100+ root domains. If a boring one like this could get links, imagine what you could do with more exciting content!
Testing your reader's knowledge and letting them share their results with their friends is always a great idea.
OKCupid does a fantastic job with this. Their 2008 politics test attracted 1,600+ links from over 500 root domains.
Going all out and diving deep into a subject is a great way to establish yourself as an industry leader. It's also a great way to attract a few links. If you make any major discoveries, you'll get at least a few citations from scholarly and news websites.
This one, which attracted 7,600+ links from 1,500+ root domains, might look a little familiar.
Creating the right content at the right time can get you a ton of attention. Creating an infographic on the statistics behind this year's super bowl the day after the event is a perfect example.
The same goes for seasonal content. Whether it's Valentine's Day, Christmas, or Halloween, you can create holiday themed content that can get a ton of attention over a short period of time (and every year after). Although yet another infographic, this is a great example.
Everyone loves a good case study. Real results with real numbers can instantly catch people's attention. If you offer a product or service, this is a no-brainer. If you give out advice, find someone who's used it successfully.
Although this particular case study didn't attract more than 200 links, it's still a great example of what one should look like.
Creating a parody, spoof, or industry jokes list is a great way to loosen up your readers. People love sharing things they can laugh at.
The Onion, a fake news network, is built on humor. This story in particular attracted 4,400+ links from 1,200 root domains. No, you're not a major site like The Onion, but making a similarly funny industry news story is something worth thinking about.
People like hard copies of useful guides. By creating a printable resource with an awesome design, you can almost guarantee a few links will come your way.
Check out this case study (see what I did there?) about how Brian Flores created a printable HTML5 cheat sheet that got shared by the Google Developers G+ page.
Entering contests is great, but creating them is even better. By requiring your participants to write about & link to the contest from their blog, you'll not only get links from them, but their posts will increase the exposure of your contest, thus growing your number of contestants at an exponential rate (and thus, the amount of links you get).
Gerald Weber on MySEOCommunity.com did a great job doing exactly this.
Creating evergreen resources that are complete guides on a subject are fantastic. This complete list of link building strategies is my attempt at one.
Why? Because when people need to explain an entire topic, they'd love it if they could refer to just one resource, and not a group of them. For example, Kristi Hines created one on the Google +1 button.
Pro tip: If it's not timeless, curate it and keep it up to date. It might be an awesome resource, but it could become stale in a couple of years, such as a guide to Pinterest.
People love a good personal story. Whether it's crazy, funny, or embarrassing, this is yet another way to strike at your reader's emotion.
James Chartrand managed to attract over 1,000 links from nearly 300 root domains with this interesting one.
This one's tough, but remember to always keep it in mind. If you see someone talking about a new developing story, and no one has covered it yet, start mashing on your keyboard at lightning speed.
A good way to do this is by making sure all of the news sources are in your RSS feed reader. For example, if I wanted to cover the latest development of search engines, the Google, Yahoo, and Bing blogs would all be in my reader.
People love data, but sometimes it's hard to digest. Creating an infographic on it is a popular way to change that. Not only will it naturally attract links, but you'll also get other bloggers embedding it, which means even more links! Not to mention you have control over the anchor text of the embed code.
Here's a fantastic case study on an infographic that not only netted a ton of links, but also some serious traffic and social traction.
Creating free online tools, like calculators, is a fantastic way to attract links. They don't even have to be complex. If it could save me five minutes, then I'll probably use & share it.
A fantastic example of a simple, yet effective free online tool is this one by Solo SEO. I can't count how many times I've seen SEO bloggers such as myself link to it. It's netted almost 500 links from almost 200 root domains.
The next big thing in linkbait is interactive content. The reason: because it's flat out cool and few people are doing it.
A great example is what Thomson.co.uk did with this.
Instead of creating an infographic, why not create a video that displays the same information? It's a lot different than what most are doing, and trust me, that's a good thing. The best part is that it works the same way as infographics; the video can be embedded and can act as a post by itself.
Just like with news, if you're the first to review something, and if it's awesome, your review will get tons of attention.
You can also use this to gain favor with the creators of the product or service you're creating. For example, I reviewed Domain Hunter Plus, a new link checker, and not only did I get a few links to the review, but the creator of the tool worked out a deal with me by linking to the review & my home page from the tool's home page, which is now a PageRank 5.
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 (Update: link currently not working) on the subject. Props to Will O’Hara on taking this idea and really expanding on it.
Spending a couple hours every month by doing a webinar is a great idea for attracting links over the long term. Set up a page on your website solely dedicated to webinars, and as you create new ones, the links will roll in each time.
HubSpot has done a great job with this, having over 1000 links from 100 root domains to their Webinars page.
Creating exciting games to keep visitors content is not only a strategy to attract links to the game itself, but if you make it embeddable, other webmasters will put it on their site (if it's good enough), which means even more links.
A great example of this is what Travelpod did with their Traveler IQ Challenge. Better yet, they made it embeddable!
There's generally a two-step process to attracting links with surveys.
The first step is asking people to participate. If it's on a particularly interesting topic, reaching out to bloggers, experts, and industry news sites to ask to spread the word both on their blog and on social media sites is a great way to attract your first wave of links.
The second step is releasing the results. Combine the release with some nice visualization and a bit of controversy, and you've got yourself a fantastic piece of linkbait.
Although it didn't use the above formula, this survey has attracted 250+ links from 100 root domains in only 4 months (published September 2011, last OSE update Jan. 17).
Creating fun, quirky microsites is a great way to attract links. While some people might naturally link to your main site to give credit, they'll most likely link to the microsite, which should have at least one link back to you on it.
Google Maps is a great tool, and you can use it to attract links if you get it in front of the right audience. A great idea would be to map out all the industry events taking place this year.
For example, Mashable linked out to 100 helpful mashups in this post.
If you create rankings or scores of people, companies, or anything else, and if it's decent enough, then trust me, you'll get a few links. The best part â€“ they don't even have to be accurate (of course it would be great if it was).
A few good examples are Klout and this list of Top blogs on Startups. Again, both aren't exactly accurate (Klout isn't the best depiction of your influence on Twitter, and the #1 blog on that list is no longer active), but people care about numbers and rankings, especially the ones that make them look good.
Getting answers from a group of industry experts is another fantastic way to attract links. If the piece is good enough, and if you have the right influencers involved, the amount of links you'll attract can grow exponentially.
For example, SEOmoz did a study on ranking factors, getting input from over 130 different experts. You can probably guess it was a huge success. It's attracted 27,000+ links from 3,300+ root domains. Why? Because the experts did the promotion for them.
If you and your community are passionate about a certain issue, start a petition. If you can gain any traction from an industry news site, it could catch on like wildfire.
This petition received 1,100+ links from over 200 root domains.
Note: Although not recommended, because it isn't hosted on your site, one option is to use change.org to start your petition. It's an easy set up, and because it's hosted on their all ready popular site, you get all the added benefits of professionalism & exposure.
Why? Because the content is super easy to digest.
Don't believe me? Check out this simple list of water conservation tips that received over 1,900 links from 400+ root domains.
If there's a common misconception in your industry, make sure you let everyone know. If it's big enough, and if your statements are bold enough, you could get some serious attention.
This debunking of 9/11 myths, with 4,000+ links from over 200 root domains, is a perfect example of it working flawlessly.
By collecting data on just about anything, you can attract links. Why? Because, like lists, people absolutely love data. One reason is because they like to make conclusions from it that support their arguments.
Take it one step further. Release it as straight data, then release it again that makes it visually appealing with any of the strategies below.
Pro tip: If your data supports a side of an argument (i.e. nature vs. nurture debate), reach out to those that it would support. People love telling the world how right they are.
I love this term. I think Rand Fishkin or Kris Roadruck first said it. Basically, it's a better way to say "create something controversial".
Creating controversy can be a great way to attract links. Godaddy's SOPA fiasco is a fantastic example. They originally supported it (which rose controversy), and then stated they would now oppose it (which rose even more controversy).
Interviewing industry experts will always be a fantastic way to attract links, but getting them to interview is only half the battle. The other half is asking great questions.
A good way to find out what questions you should ask is by holding a Q&A with your blog's community, whether it's on Google+, Twitter, or any other site. Ask what kinds of questions you want your readers to see.
One of my personal favorite link building strategies 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. Here are a few ways to help out webmasters.
Ross Hudgens pointed this one out to me. It's just as simple as it sounds; look for grammar & spelling mistakes, notify the webmaster, and ask for a link on a relevant page.
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 out date, 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?
Take broken links 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.
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 (or more) a month 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 strategies listed, this is my favorite. The scalability of finding broken links is crazy awesome. In a nutshell, you'll be finding pages that could potentially link to you, looking for broken links on the page, and 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.
Chris Dyson pointed this one out. Use ScrapeBox to find sites with malware, then reach out to webmasters, let them know, and ask for a link.
Remember: don't go to their site! You might get a virus. Use a whois lookup to find contact info.
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”) 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. Here’s an awesome case study on using that to help you build links. And yes, creative would be an understatement.
By no means are social media and link building two disconnected parts of your web marketing strategy. Here are a couple of ways to build links using social media sites.
Sites like Delicious, Digg, and Pinterest offer a bit of link equity through social bookmarks. Because they're so easy to abuse, they don't have much value, but if you're looking to get the ball rolling in the beginning, think about bookmarking all of your posts and pages.
The only ones you should really be using are these 10, Pinterest, and niche specific ones (i.e. Inbound.org for inbound marketing).
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!).
If you're thinking about designing WordPress themes, know this: the links you get have little value, and that to gain any real value, the anchor text needs not to be spammy (i.e. exact match) 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.
Just like WordPress themes, Drupal themes can be developed to build links exponentially.
If you've ever looked into theme development, you know most people are focused on WordPress. Use this to your advantage. Develop a Drupal theme because you'll have far less competition. The official Drupal theme directory includes only 955 themes as I'm writing this.
By creating embeddable widgets, webmasters can place them on their site, and if you coded 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.
If you have a little room in your budget, then consider some of the below paid strategies. Google is against paid links, but there are some out there that are acceptable, such as the ones listed below.
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.
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.
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.
Charities and non-profit organizations usually have a donators page like this one. The amount you need to donate to get the link shouldn't be more than $50-100.
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.
While only some link out to funders, there are a ton of crowdfunding opportunities that you can use to make small investments in various businesses. For link building, make sure you get in touch with the individual business so you make sure that you can get a link in return for funding their project.
I have to give credit to Chris Gilchrist and this post for this one.
There are usually more than a few local animal shelters you can sponsor, and according to Adam Melson in this post, they can be as low as $10.
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.
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.
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.
Note: this isn't white hat.
.Edu links are some of the best, yet toughest links to get. There are a few specific strategies 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.
Most universities announce speakers on their website, and when they do, make sure a link to your site is included.
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.
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.
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 commenters and their URLs with this plugin, 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.
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 Google's reverse image search, 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.
You can easily set up free alerts to find who's talking about your brand.
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.
If you've got too many links with generic or branded anchor text, reach out to those webmasters and ask if they could alter the anchor text to either exact or partial match. I myself haven't tried this, but Cleo Kirkland told me he's gotten a ton of success with this strategy.
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.
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).
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. Use this strategy to scrape your followers, find the influencers, and develop relationships with them for future link opportunities.
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. â€“ 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 .
No, there's no guarantee you'll get a link, but it's a great way to get your stuff in front of a potential linker's eyes by giving something away.
Note: Don't forget to submit those eBooks to eBook directories!
Giving out discounts & coupons is a great way to get mentions in lists like this one. Make sure to reach out to writers who dedicate posts to discounts & coupons so you can get included â€“ usually they'd be more than happy to.
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.
Links and relationships are directly related. The more bloggers & webmasters you know, the more links you’ll get. Here’s a few great ways to build relationships.
Whenever you can, be nice to people. It might just payoff. Always be on the lookout for helping those in need. I know this isn't exactly an actionable strategy, but I'm telling you, you'd be surprised. These random acts can turn into lasting relationships.
Actually care about people. Show them you're not just a bot with a picture, but that you're somewhat human. If they share on Twitter that their daughter just graduated, congratulate them. Something as simple as that can open up your chances to build a relationship in the future.
If someone is conducting a survey or testing something, get involved and participate. Those are great chances to start conversations with new people.
Whether you find one or start one, meetups are a fantastic way to get to know people close by. For example, if you live in a big city (Seattle, NYC, Philly) then meetups are absolutely perfect. Here's the best site to find or start one.
A great way to get to know people who think like you is by finding those who use the same products or services like you. A great example is the Hubspot User Group Summit I attended last year (one of my clients used HubSpot and I got a chance to tag along).
Seriously, go to them. At the time I'm writing this, I've only gone to one, but it was awesome and I highly recommend it. Here's a fantastic testimonial to why conference events are such great investments.
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.
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 day to your website. It's not much, but it requires zero effort.
Creating a new project in your niche can not 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.
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 6. At the time I'm writing this I haven't gotten a link from them, but it's only a matter of time .
Linking out is a great way to build links, because when bloggers see they’ve been linked to by your blog (along with 50 visitors coming over from that post), they’ll at the very least check out your content, if not tweet & link to it.
Why? Because people are much more likely to help out others that have helped out them. This is the exact same idea as helping out webmasters in the strategies I listed above.
Actually, you can rank by linking out alone. Don’t take my word for it; take Tad’s from SEOptimise.
As opposed to giving trackbacks, find blogs that allow you to get trackback links.
For example, the Google blog gives out trackback links, and even though they’re nofollow, they’re still worth something.
Whether they're monthly, weekly, or even daily, doing roundups of great posts in your niche is a fantastic way to put you on the map. Mid-level, and even some high-level, bloggers take notice when they get links from these.
Pro tip: Make sure you add a little insight to why you listed the post. It helps the bloggers being linked to know that someone is actually taking the time to read their posts.
Reward people who link to you by giving trackback links. Take it one step further and make them dofollow. When they sort through there backlinks and see these, they'll be a lot more likely to link out to you in the future.
Medium level bloggers are the best audiences to target. When they get linked to, they go bananas. I did when I got my first few links; I actually told my friends about this particular mention I got because of how excited I was.
Linking out & letting them know you did so is a great strategy for this large group. Usually the best natural link profiles come from blogs that have control over this middle group.
Whenever possible, and I mean whenever possible!, mention specific people. People LOVE getting mentioned. Link to their site (so they know they got mentioned), and when they find out, they're usually more than willing to share the post at the very least (if not link to it!).
Again, this is a great way to put yourself on their map.
People won’t link to your content if they don’t find it in the first place. At the same time, they might come across it, but skim it at best. This means you need to get your content in front of more people, and you need to get them to actually read your content.
If you catch yourself writing a few monster paragraphs, cut them up into smaller, bight sized pieces. Make sure you use headers, lists, and bullets when ever possible. Don't forget to add appropriate spacing. This strategy directly correlates with increased readability, and thus, linkability.
It just looks bad when you link to content that's full of spelling & grammar errors. Do your potential linkers a favor and make sure your content is free of them.
Timeless content can not only be used for manual outreach, but it can also give your content the ability to be rediscovered, and thus, a second chance to be linked to.
Your potential linkers might not all speak English, so get your content translated as soon as possible.
When you do this, remember to submit to non-English directories as mentioned above!
If your content needs a Literature major to be deciphered, then you're probably not going to get a lot of links. Why? Because if they don't understand it, they have no reason to link to it.
There are a lot of fantastic strategies 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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Some outdated sites still offer guest books you can sign in. If you come across one, include a link.
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.
Find people on delicious or other social sharing sites that have saved similar content to yours, outreach to them letting them know about your content (i.e. an upcoming infographic), and let them do the rest; they'll share it or link to it if they like it.
I have to give credit to this post by Jason Acidre for this strategy.
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.
Google Alerts is one of the best, free prospecting tools on the Web. What better way to get prospects than from Google themselves?
Here's a fantastic guide written by Ross Hudgens on using this tool.
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.
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.
Groups, organizations, and associations, both local and niche specific, sometimes offer links to their members.
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.
Tom Critchlow gave an awesome tip in this video – take things one-step further. If you write something up for a news publication, ask if you could regularly contribute by creating a weekly column. If they say yes, then you've just landed yourself a fantastic long-term link opportunity.
Once again, you can Expand/Contract All.
If you read the descriptions for each, I applaud you. You’re a serious trooper.
Now, here’s the fun part. I just made this the most comprehensive list of strategies on the Web, and I want to keep it that way.
If you come up with 3 link building strategies not on this list, I’ll send you a Point Blank SEO t-shirt. They’re really snazzy! Just email me with them & a few short descriptions of each.
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 left 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!