Since the dawn of the World Wide Web, link building was always tied up to SEO and at the same time, an important part of any marketing strategy. Nowadays, it is said that content is king and that you should primarily focus on creating valuable and attractive content should you aim towards online success.
I believe so, I am a huge fan of content but at the same time, I still believe in the power of links. And, I am not alone.
Regardless of the content you create, there are a lot of problems that website links may arise and a lot of benefits that link building may bring if you look at this concept professionally and act based on knowledge and facts. A marketer knows that great content will bring in a lot of external links to your website but what can you d if you concentrate on these aspects without involving the content itself?
What else can you do besides creating and publishing content?
Well, here are some of your best options and the most valuable pieces of advice I could put together.
Broken links can cause serious damage when it comes to website optimization for search engines. Regarding this issue, there are two things you should consider here:
A. External broken links
B. Internal broken links
External inbound broken links are hard to spot and even harder to repair. In some cases, all you can do is to contact the websites that link back to pages that do not exist on your website and ask them to remove those links. Some will comply while others will choose to ignore your request.
However, there are parts of this problem where you have full control over the issue. I am talking about missing or broken internal links and of course, broken or missing outbound links.
We’ll get to the internal links in one of the next chapter. For now, let’s just focus on the outbound broken links.
As you may already know, all websites that are active are at the same time dynamic. They change over time. There are pages on your own website that will sometimes be deleted, repurposed, republished under different names with a different URL.
And, at the same time, there may be pages on other websites, pages you have previously linked back to, that no longer exist. Or, maybe even the whole website has been deleted. What can you do?
How to avoid linking to pages that were deleted since you have published the articles? How can you fix links that point to URLs that have been changed?
You can check for broken links quite easily. There are several tools available for this task and one of them is the free “dead link checker”.
Just input your website address, hit “enter “and get the full list of broken list. Once you have it, you can remove the dead links or repair the broken ones immediately.
2. Unlinked mentions
Remember what we have discussed in the previous chapter? Remember how I have talked about how to fix the internal broken links? Well, there’s still yet another issue related to that above one, an issue that should be also discussed and considered to be solved. I am referring to the broken or the unlinked mentions? Do you wonder about how to fix the unlinked mentions?
Well, here’s what you can do:
First, you need to identify those broken or unlinked mentions. It won’t be easy but still, it won’t be impossible either. Obviously, you cannot check for keywords but instead, you need to check on brand mentions.
Step 1 – Go to Buzzsumo and click on the Monitor feature:
Step 2 – Create an alert using one of these purposes:
Brand Mentions: here you can see every article that is mentioning your brand, even if it is with link or unlinked
Competitors Mentions: here you can see all your competitors mentions
Content from a Website: here you can monitor the content created by a specific website
Keyword Mentions: here you can follow a certain topic or keyword you are interested in
Backlinks: here you can see when a specific website linked to your website
Author: follow a specific author that is creating content
Step 3 – identify the articles where you get non-linked mentions
Step 4 – click on that website and outreach the author
Once you know where to look and who to contact, you may proceed with the next step. At this point, you will need to work on your communication skills and convince the owner of the mention pages to link back to you.
Here are several things you need to take into consideration before actually starting with the job:
Request only links that are worthy. In other words, select the websites or pages that may be able to add value to your SEO efforts, rankings, and audience/brand exposure.
This means that you should focus on high ranking websites and pages and at the same time, sources that are industry related.
Don’t be pushy or aggressive. You might need to ask several webmasters to get a viable link. What you need to understand is that “no” means “no”. As a consequence, if the response is negative, just move on to the next possible link.
Also, if a website already links back to you on other pages, there’s no need to stalk the owner and insist on linking back to you for the nth + one time.
Offer additional value. For instance, you can offer a guest blog post with a relevant backlink. Or, you can write a review, mention them back etc.
At the same time, if you notice problems on their pages, such as broken links or display issues, you can signal them and be genuinely helpful in the process.
3. Link reclamation
Link reclamation is the process you can use in order to fix broken or irrelevant links to your website by contacting other websites that link to yours. When is necessary to carry out a link reclamation?
Well, you need this when content is removed, some URLs have changed or when a website was redesigned. Also, you may need to engage in link reclamation when there are big numbers of irrelevant backlinks to your website from third-party sources that may be interpreted wrong by the search engines.
You can check the broken links with tools such as Ahrefs and create a spreadsheet with all the issues you can find in this area.
Once you create the list, you can start contacting the websites that link back to pages that do not exist on your website and ask them to remove those links or to repair them, if necessary.
Also, you can check for broken links especially if you redesign your website and adjust your own URLs to match the URLs linked by third-party pages.
4. Image links
Images, graphs and other types of visuals are also a great source for relevant backlinks from third party websites. In order to generate backlinks, however, these visuals should be not only valuable but also of good quality, relevant and informative.
A lot of content creators will steal your images and use them without giving credit to you.
Can you build links based on these images as well?
Yes, you can. Here’s what you need to do:
Check with Google’s reverse image search for any stolen images that do not credit your website or your brand.
Create a list with all these images and contact the website owners that forgot to link back to you and give credit for your visuals. Ask them politely to either remove the visuals or properly acknowledge your contribution. It’s that simple.
All other websites that will display your infographics, on the other hand, will link back to you and give credits for your work.
5. Local links/ Internal links
In terms of SEO and search engine rankings, internal links may also be useful in the long run. They will also add to the overall user experience, allowing your audience to navigate your website way easier.
As of consequence, you might need to work on this part as well. There are two things to be considered here:
Broken links fixing
A. Internal link building should be easy. For starters, I suggest whenever you publish a new piece, consider linking to some of your other pages from inside the content itself. This way, you will not have to do it later, and browse tens, hundreds or even thousands of your pages and blog posts in search of improvements. However, it is important to also check from time to time your website and link pages with authority to pages that need to rank better. Internal link building will pass this authority from one page to another.
Moreover, if you are looking for incentives, examples or merely ideas to start from, you can check up HubSpot’s strategy for building links. They called it Topic Clusters and as this blog post states, it is more than effective.
B. There are several tools you can use in order to check your internal links. Screaming Frog SEO Spider, Dead Link Checker or Ahrefs are all useful tools regarding this issue.
Choose whatever tool seems most handy to you, perform the website check and fix the broken internal links.
6. Run contests
Contests, regardless of the value of the prizes offered, may prove to be quite a gold mine for backlinks.
Most of these backlinks will come from social media with little or no SEO value. However, they generate significant traffic and brand exposure, two of the most important things in marketing.
Also, other blogs and websites may link back to your contest pages, adding SEO value as well.
Another great way to generate backlinks to your pages is via users and customers reviews. You can even mix this option with a contest and ask your audience to mention your brand in order to subscribe to your contest.
You will get more reviews if you are selling original products or, in case you offer specific services, tools or valuable software.
Example: A lot of websites link back to MOZ, for instance, when they mention their tools and offer advice on how to use them. Here’s an example of an informative article from Buffer that links back to a series of websites including MOZ.
Similar to reviews, testimonials can generate backlinks as well. They can be used at the same time for internal links and for external links as well.
Testimonials can generate social media links also. As of consequence, they are great for brand exposure and awareness.
Again, this will be easier if you have some services, tools or products to offer or if you run a contest that requires a written testimonial to take part on.
Here’s an example from Hotjar with some of the most important clients and companies that link back from different sources, to their website, through testimonials and reviews of their services.
9. Roundup links
Links roundups are great for starting new relationships with other websites and blogs and acquire strong and valuable links from them as a reciprocal response.
What are link roundups?
Well, I am quite sure you have already seen several times blog posts that are based on this concept.
In short, you take a topic, write a few words about it and then, you share a list of links and resources that might be of interest for the audience. Or, you can just publish lists with your favorite blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can do it as a weekly gesture, as a monthly gesture or just randomly, whenever you feel like it.
This concept works because from time to time, your links will get noticed by the people responsible for the linked blogs and websites. And, some of them will most certainly return the favor. With some of them, you can even become friends and get invitations to guest post on their websites. Guest posting is also a great source of inbound links from relevant and valuable sources.
Here’s an example that should make it easier for you to understand the link roundup concept.
HARO or “Help A Reporter Out” is an online system designed for journalists that allows them to post links and get feedback from the public. It also enables journalists to connect with sources and specialists from various domains, exchange information or collect data that may be useful to their creative process.
If your domain of interest, writing style and industry applies to this type of service, I suggest checking it out. It is a great source of inspiration and at the same time, a great source of inbound links to your own website or blog.
If you are chosen as a source, you can even ask the reporter or the author to give you not only a backlink to the source material but also to include some details about you or your blog. On the long run, this strategy can be incredibly helpful. And, there’s solid proof that HARO can drive in serious traffic increase, besides that link building process.
Last, but not least, building links is about building relationships.
As the saying goes, “you get what you pay for”. This is completely true in link building.
Instead of emailing 10s of people, build relations with a close network of content marketers somewhat related to your niche. Help them, give them feedback and advice, include them in your article, chat with them.
When they will write their next article, they will think about including you. Baptiste Debever’s mention of Feedier in this Zest roundup article is a great example of building relations. “I have been in touch with the Zest team for a while, suggesting great content, helping them and getting help from them as well. They asked me to contribute to this big yearly roundup.”, recalls Baptiste.
Examples of tools that are getting backlinks without creating new content
If you are willing to engage in link building, apart from the actual content creation, there are still a lot of things you can do in order to make sure you are successful.
For instance, you can invest in developing your own professional tools for marketing purposes. A headline analyzer or an internal link checker may work miracles as they will most likely get picked up and talked about by a series of other marketers and webmasters. They will all link back to you and your tools and as a consequence, give you relevant backlinks.
The second option is to pick some of the existing tools and use them should they meet your needs and expectations. The following examples will give you a hint about what other companies have developed and at the same time, provide you with some interesting tools to check out.
As you may already know, the structure of the link is also important for the search engines. And, since the link is based on a Headline, it is important to come up with a Title that contains your main keywords and attracts the audience at the same time.
To this end, I recommend using CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer, a tool that will help you create the Header Tags you need for an attractive article/blog post.
In order to use the tool, you need to register with name and email, select your plan (there is a free plan for solopreneurs included in the registration process) and use their form to test your Headlines.
You will get a detailed list of all the data required to analyze and better your texts based on keywords, emotional responses, and search engine recommendations.
What happens if you cannot think about a valid headline or some valuable keywords? Well, you can study the market and see which topics are more likely to generate income traffic and maximum exposure.
What do you need to know?
You need to know what is trendy to talk/write about at that specific moment.
And, this tool will help you do that. How does it work? It crawls the Internet, finds out the trendy topics and generates a list based on them. It’s that simple.
The tool was launched by Rand Fishkin, formerly a co-founder and ceo at MOZ and Inbound.org, two of the most important companies in today’s marketing context. According to the official description, SparkToro aims at “assisting organizations of all kinds to quickly and accurately identify where their audience spends time and pays attention, so marketing efforts can be better targeted and more effective”.
According to Buzzsumo, here are the backlinks and social share this tool from Sparktoro gained in the past year.
Uber Suggest is one of the best free tools that you can use for keywords research. It gives you everything you need to know about the keywords you get to use: the volume, the competition, the seasonality and the popularity. It may help you alot and so it did for Neil Patel, who after buying this app managed to ease his link building process. Even now, we’re giving him a backlink by just mentioning the tool.
Moreover, the tool will give you suggestions as well, and of course, the negative keywords that will help you make the best-informed decision.
According to Buzzsumo, here are the backlinks and social share this tool from Ubersuggest gained in the past year.
While content is king in marketing, an SEO strategy means more than finding the right topic and writing your best pieces. Apart from the content itself, it depends mostly on how you manage to promote that content and at the same time, on how people perceive it. Your overall ranking and trust depend mostly on the relevant and valuable backlinks you are able to get to your content.
With this short guide, I tried to pinpoint some of the best strategies in link building and focus on them as a side strategy that goes beyond creative writing. To wrap up, you need to focus on quality, relevance and popularity.
You need quality content and pages to link back to you, relevant content to build up your overall search engine rank and popular sources to make sure the links are followed by a fluent and constant stream of people who can become your own audience/pool of fans.
What other tools and strategies do you use and how successful were they on the long run?