As an entrepreneur or business owner, you know the importance of building your online presence in today’s business landscape. You’ve probably heard about link building for SEO, or if you already know about it, you might have noticed that it’s getting even more popular these days.
Link building isn’t a magic pill you can take—it’s a PR strategy that may take time to work for your business and requires quite an effort to succeed.
If you agree with that, you’ve come to the right place.
In this post, we touch on the foundations of link building, the best strategies that work, and the tools that you can use to be more efficient and effective in link building for search engine optimization (SEO).
We also included some advanced link building tips, how to get started, and what you should avoid with your link building strategy.
Be warned: link building is not easy! So read without skipping until the end.
What Is Link Building And How Does It Work?
Link building refers to the method of acquiring links from another website to yours with the goal of increasing your search engine visibility.
You can employ different strategies to build links from other websites, which include email outreach, guest blogging, broken link building, and content marketing. (We’ll dive deeper into them later, so stick with us!)
Since it may take time to see the results of your link building efforts, it’s better to begin as soon as you can.
Is Link Building Good For SEO?
Yes, link building is quite important for SEO.
Link building is one of the most important factors that search engines like Google use to rank sites on the search results page.
According to Google, content and links are its top ranking factors.
Links are like the vote of confidence for your page, and they allow search engines to see your site as authoritative.
According to Google, you can improve your site’s ranking when its quality is excellent that others would want to use and share. You’ll be able to attract links more naturally.
So, when other sites link back to you, it means that you have something worth sharing. With high quality links pointing to your page, it is deemed trustworthy and useful. Good links point to your site and are associated with great content.
What Makes A Good Link?
Google uses the links as a measure of the quality of your webpage.
Now, it’s important to note that we’re talking about quality links here, not quantity.
It doesn’t matter how many links you’ve got, if they’re not high-quality, they won’t benefit your page.
So, what makes a good link? Here are some of the key elements of good and relevant links:
Page authority or site authority
Page authority is also called website authority or domain rating, a value assigned to a website, which suggests how your page could be ranking on search engines.
Google used to have PageRank information shared publicly, but it shut its doors in 2016. However, Google still uses PageRank privately as a ranking factor.
One of the most widely used web page authority metrics today is Ahref’s Domain Rating (DR). It has a scale of 0 to 100, and the higher the number, the more authoritative the site is.
Moz also has its Page Authority, which has the same scale as Ahrefs. The higher the number, the better its ranking ability is on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Generally, we can also use these for sitewide authority.
For instance, a link you earned from established publications like The Washington Post that has DR 93 will have more impact on your site than other smaller no-name web pages.
A quality backlink is one that comes from a site relevant to your niche or industry.
For instance, if you run a home improvement website, and you get a link from a medical website, it’s probably not going to count no matter how authoritative that site is.
When looking for linking opportunities, make sure you seek websites that are related to your niche or industry. Your pitch or content must also be relevant.
Dofollow vs. Nofollow
For SEO, you want to get links that are dofollows. When the link has a tag of rel=”nofollow”, it means that the search engine won’t count the link as an endorsement.
Dofollow links are what pass on the authority to your website. Nofollow links don’t because that tag means “Don’t follow this link.”
Nofollow links still have value for websites, though. For example, nofollow links remove association with spammy websites.
Editorial links are links that you earned naturally, so they’re the highest-quality links you can get. They’re tied to the content you produce.
It means that when you create high-quality and useful content, other sites will want to link to it. Since editorial links are given freely by other sites, it’s proof that you have great content.
Good links to your website are those that are embedded within the main body of the page. They’re linked naturally within the content and not buried at the site’s footer or sidebar.
Link anchor text
Anchor text, or the text where the link is attached, is also important because Google uses it as a ranking factor.
For example, if your site is about home improvements, a good link would have an anchor text related to that, like “home improvement” or “renovation”. It suggests relevancy and authority, which help your SEO.
Co-occurrences refer to the texts that surround your link and are important indicators of relevancy.
Google uses them as a ranking signal too because they can indicate what your page is all about.
What Are The Best Link Building Strategies?
Building links doesn’t happen overnight and you can just pay or buy your way into it or your page will be penalized by search engines.
It requires strategic ways to earn links that will provide value to your sites, especially when it comes to SEO.
We’ve gathered some of the best link building strategies here that are proven to work.
You may have been using some of them unconsciously while you can also put to work the others today.
1. Use email outreach
Email outreach, as the name suggests, is the process of reaching out to prospective sites or media outlets through email.
The goal is usually to promote content and request a backlink.
The process involves searching for likely linkers, relevant websites, influencers, and journalists.
When you’ve identified them, you can search for their emails and send your email pitch.
Now that’s the long way of doing it. Today, you can take advantage of tools that allow you do outreach more efficiently and effectively.
One example is Help a Reporter Out (HARO), a platform that connects journalists that seek expert insights for the content they’re working on and experts or brands that seek publicity.
Because the journalists or media outlets here actively seek your insights, you’re more likely to get a backlink.
That’s because they’re the first to request contributions and not the other way around where you pitch your content.
How does email outreach work with HARO and help you do successful link building?
Journalists post their queries on HARO. You can choose the relevant queries that you’re qualified to answer and email the journalist (via HARO) your pitch.
When the journalist uses your insights, they’ll give you credit and a link to your site.
Platforms like HARO save you time from looking for publications and journalists manually to get media coverage.
Here are a few tips on how to do email outreach successfully:
Personalize your email
You might think that a canned email that you can send to many publications will save you time. Unfortunately, that yields little results.
A personalized email pitch is the way to go if you want the journalist or publication to notice your message.
Before you send your pitch, make sure that you did your homework. Do some research on the publication and read the journalist’s latest articles.
This will help you demonstrate that you’re familiar with their works and you didn’t just send them a templated email pitch that you’ve probably sent exactly the same way to a dozen other media outlets.
You can comment on a specific piece that you liked. Using a conversational tone also makes your email more personal and human.
Avoid overly promotional pitch
Be warned: journalists hate overly self-promotional pitch emails. Your email will most likely end up in the spam folder or the trash bin, never to be seen again.
While you want to earn a link and promote your content or business, you must avoid writing your pitch in a salesy tone.
Instead, you must keep in mind that you’ll only get links if you provide well-thought-out and insightful contributions.
Choosing the most relevant topic and publications will help you promote your brand and products subtly and naturally.
Make sure you’re qualified to pitch
If you’re using a link building platform like HARO, where journalists make the requests for expert insights, you can’t just send a pitch to every query.
You need to select the relevant topics and queries that you’re qualified for.
So, it’s important that you read the requests carefully and follow the instructions.
If you’re not qualified based on the criteria that the journalist is looking for, don’t waste your time (and the journalist’s) pitching.
Provide informative and actionable insights
Journalists receive dozens, even hundreds of pitches every day. If they’re on HARO, for example, they can receive over 200 pitches per query.
That’s stiff competition for sites linking to other websites. HARO actually has 1 million sources.
So, how do you stand out? By making sure that you provide informative and actionable insights. Aim to include a unique angle on a seemingly common topic.
Try to do second-level thinking, where you go beyond the obvious answers.
Now it doesn’t mean that you can’t use a common point. You can still do so, but you must expound on that point so you can add more value and depth to the topic.
Keep your emails short and concise
Journalists are busy people and with the number of email pitches they receive, they don’t have all the time in the world.
They’d prefer an email pitch that’s short but packed with valuable insights. It means that you should get straight to the point and avoid overly long explanations.
We found that keeping your paragraphs to a maximum of three sentences help. Also, use paragraph breaks and headings, so that it’s easier to scan your pitch.
Pitch as often as you can
With the stiff competition in link building, pitch volume is key in securing links.
You need to reach out to as many people as possible to improve your link building conversion.
With the help of link building tools (which we’ll discuss below), it’s possible to send pitches at scale.
Keep track of your pitches and compare them against the links you get, and you’ll see how many pitches you need to send to get the number of links you want.
2. Create useful content pillars
Another proven method for link building is content marketing, and it starts with creating your content pillars. These are content that you write and publish on your own site.
Content pillars help build your authority and credibility, so others would want to publicize you.
What’s pillar content, you ask?
It’s a piece that aims to educate your target audience about your niche and expertise.
It’s usually evergreen and contains practical tips that help readers do something or provide information that answers your target audience’s questions.
You can use the how-to or the list format.
For example, if you own an eCommerce site, your pillar content can include “How to start an online business” or “8 most effective ways to optimize your product page.”
3. Create visual assets
Visual assets are perhaps the easiest to share and link to, so they’ve been effective parts of common link building strategies.
You can create visuals, such as infographics, graphs, diagrams, and images.
They’re quite powerful that even when you’ve created those visual assets a long time ago, they can still be shared over and over and attributed to you.
However, not all who use your visual assets give links.
What you can do is to use Google images search and find websites that use your visuals in their content and ask for a proper link. Most will be happy to give you the credit and link.
4. Conduct original research
Original research with data and statistics is also linkable. You can create research papers, case studies, and reviews.
Because they provide new data about your industry or niche, like trends and emerging issues, others will find them useful.
Every time they use your data, they will cite you, so the links can add up quickly.
Journalists can use your research to add value and depth to their content. They need data to support their opinion or add credibility to their piece.
You can use email outreach too to promote your original research. It’s legit original content that can help you stand out in a sea of content constantly rehashed in different ways.
Here’s an example from Sourcery: HARO Backlink Decay.
It’s a two-year case study that looked into how backlinks age over time, whether big publications delete their old posts, and if webmasters change dofollow links to nofollow after some time.
Journalists writing about SEO, link building, and marketing can use this case study to back up their content. It also contains visual assets like graphs and charts that are easily shareable.
5. Be active on social media
Can social media help your link building strategy? Of course.
When you’re active on social media, you can bring your brand and site in front of more people.
So, it’s important to share your posts and other visual assets on social media so that your target audience can find what they want and need to see.
Being active on social media can increase brand awareness, drive traffic to your website, and boost your brand credibility.
The more people who see your content on social media, the more people who can visit your site, and more links will come naturally as they find shareable content from you.
6. Publish list posts
List posts contain numbered lists of information, tips, instructions, reasons, and so on. They tend to get more links than other content formats.
Our brain loves lists because they’re easy to digest and more appealing to share.
That’s why they also get shared the most on social media and drive higher organic traffic.
Here are some tips on how to write compelling list posts:
Use a number in the headline, which can generate more clicks than other title formats.
Use images that make your content more appealing. Make sure that they’re formatted correctly so they won’t take long to load.
Keep your content readable by using shorter paragraphs and concise text. It should be easy to scan and read.
Make the social share buttons visible so that readers can easily share them with their network.
7. Create ultimate guides
In-depth guides pack a significant amount of valuable information in one piece, so they become a go-to resource.
You can create a comprehensive guide based on your expertise, covering everything there is to know about an important topic. It becomes link-worthy that others will want to cite and link to.
It can also serve as a content pillar that you can promote through email outreach.
Here’s a sample script that you can use:
I was reading about [topic] today and found your article, [article title and link]. It’s a great read!
The [something specific about the article] really resonated with me.
I recently published a comprehensive guide on [topic and url].
As someone writing about [topic], I think you’ll find it useful and a nice addition to your page.
Keep up the good work!
8. Use resource pages
Resource pages are pages that list some of the best content resources and provide links to them.
They’re ideal link building targets because these pages are created primarily for that—to link out to helpful resource sites. So, your goal is to be part of that list.
You can find resource pages through Google search by using search terms like:
“keyword” + “useful resources”
“keyword” + “useful links”
“list of * blogs” “keyword”
“list of [topic] blogs inurl:resources
Assess the page if it’s relevant to your niche and industry, so it will be valuable and helpful to you.
Otherwise, no matter how good your content is, if it’s not the right fit, it’s going to be a waste of time because you’re not going to get a link.
Also, look into the domain authority to know whether it’s worth your time and effort.
When you’ve found the right fit, here’s a pitch script you can personalize:
I was looking for a few resources on [topic], and I came across your handy resource page: [URL].
You’ve got an excellent list there that has helped me a lot today!
Coincidentally, I wrote a guide on [topic] recently. It’s about [description].
I think it will make a nice addition to your resource list.
You can check it out here: [URL].
Thanks again for putting together an excellent list. Keep it up!
9. Find broken links
Broken link building is the process of finding broken links on any page relevant to your niche or industry.
When you found them, you can contact the site owner and propose to replace those broken URLs with your content.
Link building can sometimes feel like you’re begging to get a backlink, especially if you’re using cold outreach.
That’s why the broken link building strategy is one of marketers’ and SEO pros’ favorites.
Why? Because you’re providing value to the publication or website. A broken link can impact a site’s SEO negatively.
Here’s a sample email you can send to the site owner for link reclamation:
Subject: [Site name] link not working
I was looking for some resources on [topic] and found your excellent piece: [Article link].
However, I noticed that some of the links aren’t working.
[list of broken links]
I recently published an in-depth guide on [topic], which may be a good replacement for [specific broken link].
I hope that helps.
10. Use guest blogging
Contrary to the popular belief, guest blogging isn’t dead. It has only changed over the years and left the outdated ways of using a blog post in a link building campaign.
Instead of mass guest blogging just to get links, guest blogging today should be done strategically with the intention of providing value to the publication. Y
our guest post content must be unique and specially tailored to the publication.
Like the strategies we’ve discussed so far, you must also choose a site that’s authoritative and relevant to your niche and industry to pitch a guest post.
That way, you don’t only get high-quality links but you also reach your target audience, increase traffic to your site, and generate leads with your blog post.
Remember, it’s about the guest post quality and not the quantity.
11. Turn mentions to links
If you’ve built your presence online and established your brand authority, credibility, and expertise, it’s highly likely that somebody has already written something about you.
However, they may not have linked back to your site when they mentioned your brand or product.
Many marketers found this strategy easier than others because you’ve already got a mention.
All you have to do now is to reach out to the website owner or the author to request a link to your site or content. Most would be happy to do so; they just need a little nudge.
However, not all mentions are worth chasing after. Relevancy and site authority are still essential considerations for you to get real benefits from them.
12. Look at your competitor’s links
If your competitor is ranking higher than you on search engines, they must be doing the right things, and that’s what you need to learn.
You can take a look at your competitor’s links, where they’re getting links, what keywords they’re ranking for, and any other strategies they’re doing successfully right now.
This competitive analysis will help you streamline your strategies by focusing on what’s already working instead of reinventing the wheel and doing a trial and error. Your link building tactics can be more efficient and effective.
13. Repurpose content
Sometimes the challenge for marketers is the time needed to produce content that you can promote and pitch to publications. This is where content repurposing comes in handy.
Instead of creating new content from scratch every time, you can leverage your existing content but turning them into new formats.
For example, if you’ve written a blog about how to create an eCommerce business, you can turn it into an instructional video, infographic, or even a podcast episode.
Then, you can look for appropriate sites for that content format, like video-sharing websites.
Like sharing your content on social media, this content repurposing allows you to reach more audiences. The more people who see your content, the more chances you’ll get more backlinks.
14. Leverage community sites
Generally, we want to have the highest quality backlinks. Who doesn’t? Yet, the reality is that we don’t always get followed links from high DR sites.
But that’s not always a bad thing. Getting links from other sources, like community sites, can also bring value.
For instance, you can establish your presence in forums and message boards, including blog posts, Reddit and Quora, and get links to your site.
Yes, most of them are nofollows. But sometimes, when you provide valuable and thoughtful comments and the thread was popular, they remove the nofollow tags.
Another value is that you can put your content in front of more people, which can help you earn a few more links naturally.
What are the best tools for link building?
Now that you know what you need to do to get high quality links through the strategies above, you need some tools to help you in the process.
We gathered some of the best and most useful link building tools that will help you save time and increase your success at link building for SEO.
Let’s dive in!
Ahrefs is a software company that provides materials for marketers, entrepreneurs, and businesses, including SEO tools. It’s one of the best backlink analysis tools.
You can use Ahrefs in several ways:
Know a site’s domain rating (DR)
Ahrefs has developed metrics that measure a website’s authority you’re eyeing for SEO link building. On a scale of 0 to 100, you can gauge the ranking ability of a publication on search engine results pages.
Find broken links
Ahrefs also has a broken link checker that you can use to see every broken outbound link on a site. You can see which ones are the most linked to then prioritize them.
Monitor your backlink profile
Link building strategies require regular monitoring to see the growth or decline of your backlink profile.
You can use Ahrefs’ backlink checker and see the number of referring domains, number of backlinks, the DR and URL rating (UR), and Ahrefs Rank (AR), which can help you gauge your backlink popularity on a domain or page level.
These tools are free, but to utilize them fully, you may want to sign up for the Ahrefs’ paid subscription that starts at $99 a month.
Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is another widely used link building tool. It’s where you can find the most media opportunities today, with over 75,000 journalists and bloggers using the platform to seek expertise for their content.
As a business looking for publicity, you can earn backlinks by signing up as a source on HARO. Every weekday, you’ll receive three newsletters that contain queries from journalists.
You can sift through the requests and find the ones that align with your niche, expertise, and experience. When you meet the criteria and requirements, you can send a pitch email to provide your insights.
When journalists quote you in their content, they usually give credits and a link to your site.
Sourcery is a link building platform that helps you identify the best opportunities to get media coverage and links. It gathers the most recent opportunities from different sources like HARO and makes them a lot more usable by providing you with useful data like DR, monthly traffic, link type, and opportunity value.
Without tools, earning backlinks is hard. It’s time-consuming, especially when you’re just starting to build your name as a creditable source, and requires constant monitoring of your activities.
Sourcery helps you save time from manually searching for opportunities, checking their relevance and authority, and figuring out whether they provide dofollow, nofollow, or unlinked mentions.
It also provides coaching and strategy tips for pitching journalists, coming from over a decade of experience in SEO, outreach, and link building.
Sourcery subscription starts at $29 a month.
4. Muck Rack
Muck Rack is a public relations software that you can use to search for verified journalists, keep track of the latest news, and create link building outreach coverage reports.
With Muck Rack, you can also find the best media outlets to give you the links and media coverage that you need.
Muck Rack keeps an updated media list that is maintained by its editorial team. This saves you time from searching for their contact information and helps you ensure that your pitches reach the journalists.
This online service also has monitoring features that allow you to keep track of your pitching performance, including how much opened your pitches and which journalists engaged with them. You can also schedule follow-up emails later if you don’t receive a response from the journalist.
5. Google Alerts
Again, link building requires regular monitoring of your activities. Google Alerts comes in handy so you’ll know when you’ve been mentioned in any published content online.
Unfortunately, journalists and site owners can’t get back to you all the time to let you know that you’ve been quoted or linked to. They’re busy people who have short deadlines to meet.
Setting up alerts keeps you up to date. You can use variations of keywords that mention your name, brand, and domain name to make sure that you’ll find every mention of them.
Link building techniques also involve building your media contact list. Hunter is a helpful tool for finding journalists’ email addresses.
When you use HARO, for instance, you’re sending your pitches to a HARO email that expires when the query is past its deadline. It’s seldom that the pitch indicates the journalist’s direct email.
So, when you need to follow up on a pitch, you’d have to search for the journalist’s contact information. Unfortunately, most publications today don’t include their emails on the website, and many journalists are freelancers who write for multiple publications.
Hunter saves you time from manually searching for email addresses on Google or publications. So, you can focus more on doing your outreach and link building tasks.
It’s free to sign up on Hunter, and you’ll get 25 free searches every month. If you need more than that, you can sign up for a paid subscription that starts at $49 per month.
GroupHigh has the largest database of bloggers and influencers, which you can tap to promote your content. More eyeballs equal better chances of getting natural links.
GroupHigh’s platform allows you to create an outreach list based on relevant sites that you need. It provides details like SEO authority, traffic, social following, audience size, latest posts, and more.
With GroupHigh’s data on blogs and influencers, you can get the best possible coverage for your brand, product, or content. It’s also useful in finding blogs that have linked to your competitors, which means that it’s also likely to link to you.
8. Google Sheets
When building links, you need a place to organize your data. It’s not a link building tool per se, but it’s quite useful in gathering your media contact list, recording your earned links, tracking your pitches, and analyzing your link-building performance.
How Do You Start With Link Building?
Before you dive into link building strategies, it’s essential to prepare everything that you need first. Here are some tips to help you get started and make link building work:
Prepare your professional profile
If you’re doing link building yourself, you will use your name as the figurehead of your brand or company. Make sure that your public profiles are properly set up before you even send your first pitch.
For instance, it helps to have a LinkedIn profile where you can showcase your professional background and expertise. Some journalists and publications will validate your identity first before they link to you in their articles.
You should also clean up your social media profiles and keep them updated. Without social media presence, some may question your business’s existence.
Your profiles must have a decent, professional-looking photo. Include your position or role and indicate the name of your company.
Build your personal brand
Growing your personal brand can help your link building strategies immensely. You represent your brand and that helps people to recognize you and link to you naturally.
Building your personal brand requires consistent activities, such as blogging, where you express your thoughts and demonstrate your expertise. These efforts allow you to build your authority in your field.
Update your website
Aside from your professional profile, you need to prepare your website. It’s where you want the links to lead to, after all.
Keep your site updated with fresh content and make sure you have an About Us page.
Set up a dedicated contact information
Create an email that you can use exclusively for link building. While you can use your main professional email, your inbox can get crowded once you start your link building campaigns.
A dedicated email helps you organize your link building emails in one place, so you won’t miss important emails from journalists and media outlets.
They may need to reach out to you for follow-up questions, clarifications, and additional requests. If they can’t reach you, you’re going to lose media opportunities.
Set up your link building tool
While you can start your link building strategies manually, it’s better to start with a tool. Choose a few from our list above and familiarize yourself with how they work.
Look for tools that will help you identify media prospects and linking opportunities, analyze your competitors with backlink profiles that you want to replicate, and help you get started with monitoring as early as possible.
What Should Not Do in Link Building?
Now that you know what you should do to succeed in link building, there are also a few things you should avoid.
Don’t buy links
Some agencies might approach you and tell you that they can provide you with a bulk of links and help you rank faster. Don’t fall for such spammy link building techniques.
Buying links is a big no-no in a proper link building for SEO strategy. If a website sells you a link, it can also sell to others, and you’ll never know when those links from them become questionable.
It might hurt your site in the long run, especially when you get hit by Google’s algorithm updates.
Links that will truly be beneficial to you are earned and natural.
Don’t promote your homepage only
You should aim to get links to different pages on your site, particularly specific content. When you get links to your homepage only, it may look spammy, and that’s not going to work in your favor.
That’s why it’s important to create content pillars, which we discussed above, along with other visual assets and link-worthy content.
Don’t reuse your content on different sites
Creating new content can be challenging, so it might be tempting to reuse and recycle content on different sites when you pitch guest posts. Don’t do this because they’ll be duplicate content even if you switch some paragraphs and rephrase some sentences.
Link building is a crucial strategy for any brand, business, or entrepreneur today. It’s one of the most important factors that search engines use to determine your page’s rank.
The links you earn can tell the authority of your page and the quality of your content, which help you rank higher on SEPRs.
Link building is not an easy task—it requires hard work, a combination of different link building tactics, consistent activities, and regular monitoring.
Earning links is hard, but tools can help you streamline the process and be more effective. And always remember that it’s about the quality of links you get that matters more than the quantity.