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How to Engage in Link Building Without Focusing on Creating New Content

Content Marketing
Content Marketing

Since the dawn of the World Wide Web, backlinks 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 backlinks. 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 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.


Summary

  1. Broken link building
  2. Unlinked mentions
  3. Link reclamation
  4. Image links
  5. Local links/ Internal links
  6. Run contests
  7. Reviews
  8. Testimonial
  9. Roundup links
  10. HARO
  11. Build Relationships
  12. Examples of tools that are getting backlinks without creating new content
  13. Backlinks tactics to use in 2019

1. Broken link building

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”.

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.

A great tool to help you assess the level of missing links is MOZ’s “Fresh Web Explorer”.

moz explorer link building tool

This is not a free tool but it may prove to be essential for your efforts and as a consequence, you might find it quite worth it.

Or you can try out Buzzsumo’s Monitor feature.

Step 1 – Go to Buzzsumo and click on the Monitor feature:

buzzsumo 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
buzzsumo monitor feature

Step 3 – identify the articles where you get non-linked mentions

buzzsumo monitor feature

Step 4 – click on that website and outreach the author

buzzsumo monitor feature

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.

Ahrefs link reclamation

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.

google image link

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.

At the same time, you can engage in indirect link building via images by designing professional and informative infographics. They are incredibly popular these days and they can become at least popular if not viral. 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:

  1. Link building
  2. 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.

topic cluster model HubSpot

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.

Here’s an example and a case study that demonstrates the use and the effectiveness of this type of strategy.

7. Reviews

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.

Moz local listing Score

8. Testimonials

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.

Hotjar Testimonial

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.

Link Round Up

10. HARO

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.

haro link building

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.

Take for example the success story of MarTechExec.com, a website that managed to get over 100k page views in just two weeks via a HARO campaign.

11. Build Relationships

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.

Here are my best picks:

1. CoSchedule Headline Analyzer

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.

CoSchedule headline analyzer

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.

coschedule headline analyzer

According to Buzzsumo, here are the backlinks and social shares this tool from CoSchedule gained during the past year. Also, here is my article on how I see CoSchedule is gaining backlinks with this free feature.

CoSchedule backlinks

2. SparkToro’s Trending Topics

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.

Sparktoro Trending

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.

Sparktoro backlinks

3. Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator

This tool will allow you to add a keyword or a selection of keywords based on which it will generate 5 free content ideas to start from.

Hubspot blog ideas generator

All in all, the tool is very easy to understand and work with. Fill in the form with your selected topic, hit the “Add” button and get the results.

According to Buzzsumo, here are the backlinks and social share this tool from HubSpot Ideas Generator gained in the past year.

HubSpot backlinks

4. Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest

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.

Ubersuggest

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.

Ubersuggest backlinks

11. Backlinks tactics to use in 2019

Some marketers say that backlinks are no longer essential for SEO while others continue to invest a lot of time in gathering valuable and relevant backlinks from various sources.

The truth is they matter but they are not the only thing a website needs in order to rank good on search engines.

The secret is to find a balance between the amounts of time spent searching for backlinks and creating your content.

In order to get that balance, however, you need to know on what to focus your attention and how to get the most valuable backlinks in as little time as possible and with the best results.

Assuming that you already know how to produce valuable content and how to make it appealing for the community, you can learn as much as possible about the SEO aspects of your marketing job.

To this end, I have compiled a list comprising of the most important tactics you can use in order to acquire the dreaded backlinks.

Here are some great pieces of advice:

A. The Skyscraper Technique 2.0

I read about this technique for the first time back in 2016, from Brian Dean who published an extensive article on the topic, choosing one of his pages as a study case for his theories.

In short, he managed to get a spike in traffic, shares, and backlinks by following three basic principles he calls the “Skyscraper Technique”.

These principles are as follows: The Skyscraper Technique 2.0 (image source: Backlinko.com)

1. Find something good to write about. Find link-worthy content people will like to read and share.

And, I am not talking about click bait ideas and titles but about real and interesting topics, designed to help the people not fooling them to click and bounce. A high bounce rate wouldn’t do you any good and this is why you need your visitors to stick, read and return.

2. Study your sources well and try to come up with even better content than what you’ve just studied.

Once you find your topics, study them thoroughly. Read as much as you can on the subject and make notes on good and bad points concerning the existing articles on the same subjects. Try to come up with something new, something different and at the same time informative so that you’ll be able to cover all the subject while improving the content that already exists out there.

In short, you need content that covers a lot more on the topic, that is better designed and structured that other similar pieces and that is up to date with the industry’s standards and general information.

3. Rich out to the right people, people who may be interested in your content and value it at its full potential.

Research the competition and find out who links back to them. Out of this big list, select the most relevant links, links from a website from the same niche or industry and of course, links from influential sources. Create a draft email, explaining your motifs and reasons and try to reach out to the respective back linkers. Brian’s draft looks great in this context. You can start with something similar and adapt it to your own content: outreach email template

B. The Grapevine Protocol

The Grapevine Protocol is a new and interesting idea made popular by Perrin Carrell. I came across the concept a few days ago and felt that it should make it to my present list due to its simplicity and effectiveness.

In short, the method is very similar to what we’ve already discussed during the first chapter.

  • You will still have to conduct research and find out what pages link to your competition or to pages that belong to the same niche as your blog posts.
  • You will still have to outreach, contact those publications/websites and ask them nicely to link back to you.

There are some differences, however, and the main one has a lot to do with the approach. The Grapevine method seeks media pages. These are the pages that some websites and publications use in order to brag about who and when mentioned and linked back to them.

By bragging, however, they create link lists that send the readers back to the original sources thus, giving something in return. grapevine protocol This method may not be as good as the previous one in terms of quality but nevertheless, it’s great if you consider the huge amounts of backlinks it can generate. It’s still white hat SEO and if you are not sure about it, I suggest using it in combination with all the other methods described in this article. What do you need to do? Here are some of the main steps, according to Perrin:

  1. Blog and mention relevant sources or,
  2. Do a big roundup post.

User valuable information and cite as many relevant sources as you can.

Link back to those sources and then reach out to them.

The approach is similar to what we already know.

All you need is a template for email outreach, something like the following:

grapevine protocol (Image Source: AuthorityHacker.com)

C. Original Online Research

Research, sometimes, means more than gathering relevant information from relevant sources and compiling it all together in a patchwork post-modernist-styled article.

You can conduct real research and come up with new and original statistics and data and use them to attract valuable backlinks. The best example that comes to me at this point is Bannersnack’s Blog which stays fresh in my mind since I am also a part of it.

What do they do is to reach out to the design, marketing and blogging communities and conduct extensive studies on relevant topics to the industry like this one: type of static ad Once the research is completed, a post is created in order to compile and publish the data and links start coming. As long as your data is relevant to a specific niche, people active in that said niche will cite you and link back to you in order to validate their own arguments and ideas.

Promotion is also important.

Organic search may lead visitors to your well researched and well-written content but if you want to be effective, you need some marketing as well.

I have already discussed this part and, if you want to be the most effective, you can follow these main steps for promoting original research:

  • Start with your own established audience
  • Promote your content on your main social media channels
  • Use as many forums and communities as possible
  • Write guest posts on third-party blogs
  • Use automatic promotion tools and,
  • Engage in co-marketing projects

D. Guest Post

Guest posting is one of the most effective ways of acquiring backlinks.

I am talking about valuable ones, backlinks you get to choose yourself where they come from and when. It’s time-consuming, since you need to research for and write great articles that comply with all the demands of the webmasters you get to contact for your guest posts.

However, it’s time spent very well since every post which falls into this category will get you at least one backlink. Moreover, they will give you exposure, influence and a great personal portfolio.

My advice? Do guest posts, do more guest posts, link to one another and start again every time you made it through and get published.

E. Resource page link builders

A lot of websites provide curated pages with links to other similar or relevant websites/blog posts from their niche.

These are the so-called resource pages and as you may have already guessed, they are great for acquiring valuable backlinks to your own pages and articles. These pages are a win-win situation for both, you and the website that links back to you.

They get a new resource to add to their page and increase its value. You get a relevant backlink that counts in your online influence and search engine ranking.

Here’s a good example from The Baking Pan, a cooking advice website: backlink strategy

It may not be relevant for you but it is relevant for other similar websites.

And, if they get a link on this resource page, they might benefit from it. So, how do you proceed? Research all the relevant websites from your niche or the adjacent niches. Find out who has a similar resource page and try to outreach.

Contact the owners or the webmasters and, as you have already done previously, contact them and ask nicely to be included as well.

They will not all accept your request but those who do will make a great addition to your link building strategy.

Conclusion

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?

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Robert Katai

Content Marketing Strategist

"Content isn’t king. Usefulness is. Robert does this in the online marketing and social media space with ease."

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