Best Link building Strategies
There are lots and lots of ways to get links. The right tactics for you depend on the resources you have at your disposal as well as the industry that you’re in. Industries that are more established and competitive often require you to be quite aggressive with link building, and you might find earning those links more difficult. Other industries, often the newer industries that are quickly growing, are full of opportunities to engage with bloggers and build a community. With that in mind, this section reveals a few link building tactics that can be applied to most all types of websites.
1. Pursuing competitor’s links
Competitor link research is one of the most fundamental activities in link building. Think about it, the top-ranking page for your desired search query has all the right links which persuaded Google of its superiority. By studying its links you can figure out which tactics to use so that you can get similar links and outrank that page.
And this is where an SEO tool like Ahrefs is indispensable.
Just put the keyword that you want to rank for in Keywords Explorer and scroll down to the “SERP Overview”. It will show you how many backlinks (and linking websites) each of the top-ranking pages has.
2. Creating linkable assets
It’s possible to build links to any page with enough willpower and determination, but life is easier when you have something that people actually want to link to.
When talking about linkable assets people tend to think of very specific things like:
- Online tools & calculators;
- Infographics, GIFographics & “Map-o-graphics;”
- Awards & rankings;
- Studies & research;
- “How to” guides & tutorials;
- Definitions & coined terms;
But I’d argue that the concept of “linkable assets” should be made more flexible in regards to what can be qualified as such. I mean, a single idea from your article can motivate people to link to it, as well as the mere existence of your company or its products.
3. Content promotion
No matter how “linkable” your pages are, people can’t link to them without first discovering them. In other words, even the best linkable assets have to be promoted in order to attract links.
Generally speaking, there are just three ways to promote content:
This sounds rather straightforward, right? You can pay money to the likes of Google, Facebook, and Twitter to get visitors to your page. You can also reach out to pretty much any website where your audience is hanging out and strike an advertising deal with them.
The more people you advertise your content to, the higher the chances of someone linking to it.
There’s one problem, though. It’s nearly impossible to attribute the acquired links to the advertising dollars that you have invested (even though we tried).
So it’s not like you can promise your boss ten high-quality links to a page if they agree to invest $1,000 in Facebook Ads.
But the page that you’re looking to get links to likely has some business purpose too, right?
Here are three common reasons why businesses invest in creating content:
- To get leads & grow their audience;
- To get customers & make sales;
- To grow brand awareness & improve customer loyalty.
If your piece of content helps you with any of these three objectives, then you shouldn’t have problems justifying an ad budget for it.
And if a given page doesn’t help you with any of these, then you need to ask yourself how you justified spending time and resources to create it in the first place.
In other words, links should be a byproduct of advertising your content, not the goal.
Outreach is probably the best way to put your content in front of the “linkarati”—people who have websites and are able to link to you.
Yes, those same people can likely be reached with advertising, but a well-crafted personal email would be way more effective if you want to increase your chances of getting a link from them.
There’s no shortage of articles teaching you how to write proper outreach emails. I too shared my thoughts on that matter here at Ahrefs Blog. But if I could only give you a single outreach tip, it would be this:
Rather than blatantly asking someone to link to you right then and there, try to impress them with your content and make them want to check it out.
Communities can be great for promoting your content to relevant audiences. Whatever industry you’re in, there’s likely a subreddit where like-minded people hangout, or perhaps some groups on Facebook, Slack, or Discord. You might also find a standalone community site in certain niches.
But promoting your content in these communities is not as easy as it might seem. You can’t simply join a community, drop your link there and be gone. You’ll be banned in a heartbeat.
You have to become an active member of that community and gain some respect from it’s residents before you’re allowed to promote your content there. And even then, you shouldn’t post every new piece of content you produce to this community for fear of annoying its members and squandering your reputation. So make sure you reserve that only for your best work.
One other strategy is to build your own community that would actually be happy to get notified of every new piece of content that you publish. Here at Ahrefs we give people three options to connect with us:
Those three “channels” give our newly published articles quite a bit of initial traction. But it took us quite a few years to build them up.
4. Guest blogging
Every blogger wants to publish high-quality content that brings value to their audience, right? But doing that consistently is a hell of a challenge. Which is part of the reason why many blog owners accept guest articles on their blogs.
Guest blogging has become so popular in the SEO world and has been exploited to such a ludicrous extent that Matt Cutts, former head of Google’s webspam team, famously declared it’s impending demise back in 2014.
And yet, here we are in 2021 and all the link building practitioners that I’ve talked to still consider guest blogging to be one of the most effective ways to build links.
All you need to do to stay in Google’s good graces is to pick legit blogs and offer them content that you would be happy to publish on your own website. Paying someone $10 for a 500-word article and submitting it to a third-rate blog with zero traffic and followers no longer cuts it.
But here’s the problem: legit blogs don’t need your guest articles. They’re doing pretty well on their own, which is exactly what makes them “legit.”
So how do you persuade them to publish your content?
Well, apart from actually having something meaningful to say, paired with some copywriting skill and experience, I have two good tips that should help you.
1. Build your way up
The top blogs in your industry are unlikely to take your pitch seriously unless you have a solid track record of published articles on similar blogs.
So before you pitch the #1 blog in your niche, try to get published at #2 first. And before you pitch #2, try to get published at #3.
See where I’m going with that? You have to start from some lesser-known blogs in your industry and gradually build your way up.
And if you struggle to find those lesser known blogs, we have a powerful tool to help you: Content Explorer.
Just follow three simple steps:
- Search for a word or phrase that blogs in your industry are likely to mention in their article titles;
- Set the “Domain Rating” filter to a 30–40 range;
- Use the “One page per domain” setting to see just one article from each blog.
2. Make an irresistible offer
As I previously mentioned, every blogger wants to publish high-quality content that’s useful to their audience. So the better your content is, the higher your chances of getting it published.
And yet, most of the popular bloggers get dozens of similar guest post pitches every week offering them “high quality, unique and valuable content” (which in reality isn’t any good at all). So how do you stand out in all that noise and grab popular blogger’s attention with your guest post pitch?
Well, one of the best ways to do that is by finding a “content gap”—a popular topic that is bringing lots of search traffic to one of their competitors, but isn’t covered on their own blog.
Here at Ahrefs we have a handy tool that helps you find content gaps between websites which has a very straightforward name: Content gap.
Let’s say you decided to pitch a guest article to Brian Dean. You could use this tool to find which topics send lots of search traffic to the Ahrefs blog that Brian hasn’t covered.
- Enter Brian’s site into Site Explorer;
- Go to the Content Gap tool;
- Enter the Ahrefs Blog as a competitor;
- Hit “Show keywords”;
- Look for keywords that pique your interest;
- Hit the caret on the page to check organic traffic