Seo Link Building
A reciprocal link is a mutual link between two objects, commonly between two websites to ensure mutual traffic. For example, Alice and Bob have websites. If Bob’s website links to Alice’s website, and Alice’s website links to Bob’s website, the websites are reciprocally linked. Website owners often submit their sites to reciprocal link exchange directories in order to achieve higher rankings in the search engines. Reciprocal linking between websites is no longer an important part of the search engine optimization process. Google and other search engines now do not give credit to reciprocal linking as it does not indicate genuine link popularity.
Resource links are a category of links, which can be either one-way or two-way, usually referenced as “Resources” or “Information” in navbars, but sometimes, especially in the early, less compartmentalized years of the Web, simply called “links”. Basically, they are hyperlinks to a website or a specific webpage containing content believed to be beneficial, useful and relevant to visitors of the site establishing the link.
In recent years, resource links have grown in importance because most major search engines have made it plain that—in Google’s words– “quantity, quality, and relevance of links count towards your rating.”
Search engines measure a website’s value and relevance by analyzing the links to the site from other websites. The resulting “Link Popularity” is a measure of the number and quality of links to your website. It is an integral part of a website’s ranking in search engines. Search engines examine each of the links to your website to determine its value. Although every link to a website is a vote in its favor, not all votes are counted equally. A website with similar subject matter to the website receiving the inbound link carries more weight than an unrelated site, and a well-regarded site (such as a University) has higher link quality than an unknown or disreputable website.
The text of links helps search engines categorize your website. If your business is a mattress warehouse, a link to it titled “Good Value Mattresses” is helpful, while “Sweet Skateboard Wheels” would be less useful. The engines’ insistence on resource links being relevant and beneficial developed because many artificial link building methods were employed solely to “spam” search-engines, i.e. to “fool” the engines’ algorithms into awarding the sites employing these unethical devices undeservedly high page ranks and/or return positions.
Despite cautioning site developers (again quoting from Google) to avoid “‘free-for-all’ links, link popularity schemes, or submitting your site to thousands of search engines (because) these are typically useless exercises that don’t affect your ranking in the results of the major search engines — at least, not in a way you would likely consider to be positive,” most major engines have deployed technology designed to “red flag” and potentially penalize sites employing such practices.
Forum signature linking
Forum signature linking is a technique used to build backlinks to a website. This is the process of using forum communities that allow outbound hyperlinks in a member’s signature. This can be a fast method to build up inbound links to a website Search Engine Optimization value.
Leaving a comment on a blog can result in a relevant do-follow link to the individual’s website. Most of the time, however, leaving a comment on a blog turns into a no-follow link, which is almost useless in the eyes of search engines, such as Google and Yahoo! Search. On the other hand, most blog comments get clicked on by the readers of the blog if the comment is well-thought-out and pertains to the discussion of the other commenters and the post on the blog.
Directory link building
Website directories are lists of links to websites, which are sorted into categories. Website owners can submit their site to many of these directories. Some directories accept payment for listing in their directory, while others are free.
Social bookmarking is a way of saving and categorizing web pages in a public location, on the web. Because bookmarks have anchor text and are shared and stored publicly, they are scanned by search engine crawlers and have search engine optimization value.
- Backlink: incoming links
- Deep linking: linking directly to a page within another website.
- Inline linking: linking directly to content within another website.
- Link doping: The practice and effects of embedding a large number of hyperlinks on a website in exchange for return links, especially when used to inflate the apparent popularity of the website.
- Page Rank
The point was to demonstrate that link development is only limited by our creativity and resources. While building a backlink to a credit card site may seem impossible, we must remember that we put a man on the moon, which means coming up with new link building methods for the credit card industry is achievable.
When reading through the audience Q&A questions from the Mozinar, I noticed a lot of folks who were still looking for a silver bullet for link building and SEO. This is when my brain got clogged with what I can only describe as an overwhelming pit of sadness. I recognize that SEOmoz is arguably the most recognizable publisher/tool provider in the SEO industry, which means the majority of PRO users range from beginners to seasoned experts. However, being new to the industry (or simply wanting to not listen to it) is no excuse for misinformation, the spread of spammy practices, and poor quality SEO services.
So, I hemmed and hawed about what to do. Should I take this opportunity to hammer the point of my Mozinar into everyone’s consciousness? Ultimately, I decided that it wasn’t fair to the majority of readers, so I took a different approach. This post is an opportunity to expound on some areas of the Mozinar, but more often than not, just general best practices and my philosophical approach to link building. I hope there’s value in here for everyone reading, and feel free to debate my points in the comments or hit me up on Twitter.
Link building and SEO tools
Tools mentioned during the presentation and Q&A:
- Search Metrics
- STAT Search Analytics
- Fresh Web Explorer
- Majestic SEO
- Open Site Explorer
- Screaming Frog (I may not have mentioned this, but should have. It rounds out our list of a few, highly used tools, which was another point of the Mozinar: you don’t need a huge toolset to accomplish big things with link building!)
Image above taken from the Mozinar. Missing the context? Go watch it! I worked hard on that thing.
1. How does Google know if one blog is a sponsored blog vs guest blog? We only do guest blogs, because we don’t want to buy links, but many blogs these days ask for money.
Sponsored blogs are like advertorials in magazines and should be labeled as such. If someone received compensation for their review/content, this should be disclosed and, according to Google, all outbound links to the purchasing domain should be nofollowed. By comparison, a guest post doesn’t include compensation; it should be based on the merits and relevance of the content, a relationship with the guest poster, or some other qualitative (versus monetary) factor. In other words, I think it’s important that you fully understand FTC and Google Webmaster Guidelines when submitting content through sponsored or guest posts.
2. What do you think about sponsored blogs (sponsored links) vs guest blogs (unpaid links)? Does Google punish you for “link buying”?
Yes. Google will punish sites that are caught selling links, buying links, or paid links agencies/service providers. Manual action usually occurs when it’s done on a substantial scale. Of course, Matt Cutts posted the following today, which might help clear up some confusion about punishment by association (hat tip to Barry over at SERoundtable for sharing this):
3. Why is a mom’s blog post about a product a threat to get you penalized, etc., if there is no mention of a sponsorship?
If there isn’t a sponsored post, the blogger wasn’t paid for the product review, and they weren’t compensated in another form then there shouldn’t be a risk. We often cite mom blogs simply because of the large quantity of them that exist purely for giveaways and sponsored posts. This is also a community that’s heavily solicited by companies and link builders, so they’re more likely to knowingly or not link to questionable sources.
4. How does Google see backlinks from guest posts?
5. Do you think guest blogs will be ignored by Google in the future as they are often fairly thin content-wise?
I’ll answer both questions here. No, I don’t see guest posts as a whole being devalued by Google. The Whitehouse.gov accepts guest posts and so does every craptastic exact-match Blogspot. Google isn’t going to devalue content from the Whitehouse, just like they won’t devalue Blogspot, which also hosts incredibly authoritative communities and blogs like Google’s own Google Webmaster Central blog. Basically, we create spam websites, but that doesn’t mean Google devalues websites. The responsibility lies with search engines to develop an algorithm that determines qualitative sites vs spam. The same is now true of individual content on those sites and if my blog is hosting guest posts from payday loan, online college degree, and shoe retailer sites, it’s probably not a great blog. If the blog hosts guest posts only from wedding planners, bridal stores, and party favor sites, it’s probably still very valuable to that industry.
6. What’s been your biggest hurdle getting things done from an agency side? Any examples from an in-house’s perspective?
Biggest agency hurdle: Let’s actually go with my top two:
- Technical restrictions (often an internal dev team that’s overloaded, poor CMS, or the site is in a code freeze)
- Approval process (difficult to get content or methods past strict legal teams/brand guidelines)
Biggest in-house hurdle:
Politics! It’s tough to get your work prioritized, especially when another department has the ear of so-and-so. At least, that how I felt when I was in-house. There were a lot more political moves than data-driven. That doesn’t mean all organizations function this way; the best companies lose the drama/egos and focus on the data. That’s how everything should be.
7. How long is your typical link building campaign? When can clients start seeing results? Do you ask clients to make a quarterly or annual commitment or other time frame?
We typically need 6-12 months to demonstrate strong results for our clients. We start to see results in 2-3 months, but structure monthly link building retainers for long-term investment in brand development. With that said, no one is trapped in a contract. We have fairly generous cancellation policies, because if it isn’t working or something drastic changes within your organization, it’s important that you/we do what’s right.
8. I work with a client that does not create dynamic content (blog, articles, etc.). Each page of their site is about a product or technology behind a product. How else can I help build links without the ability to create fresh/unique content on a regular basis?
How are these products being used? By who? Like we discussed in the Mozinar, look at those audiences to identify potential partnerships, testimonials, case studies, product reviews, etc. If the company is purely promotional, you could arrange interviews for the founder(s), have them speak locally/nationally, or invest in an online customer service platform for the products that builds up product-specific content and long-tail queries. Those are just a few ideas off of the top of my head, but look to how they’re marketing the business and where and you will find ideas even if you’re unable to place content on the domain itself.
9. What would you advise an SEO do when they are working in a really competitive and traditionally heavily-spammed niche, and they see all of their client’s competitors are ranking consistently by using black hat tactics? Take the squeaky clean path and keep your fingers crossed that Google will smack them?
Yes. It isn’t worth your energy to focus on the competition to the detriment of your own marketing. Trust me, I’ve been there, done that. Just keep moving forward with your business and your approach. While the competitors are busy filing for reconsideration requests, you’ll be ahead of the game. If you’re focused on your mission and make a mistake, you’ll already be so far ahead of everyone else that you can recover from it. It’s part of the theory of OODA loops, which is probably loosely related, but I love to talk about OODA loops.
It’s also important to manage expectations. We work with clients every day who are champions in their business. They’re having to continually and tirelessly communicate the message that low-risk, high-quality link building will protect their brand and build the business. It’s important to reset the expectation that link quantity and anchor text isn’t the metric to measure, but link quality and your own internal performance metrics like conversions and qualified traffic are what truly matter.
10. What is best practice for linking to your own website from a client’s site? (Footer links)
Linking to your client’s sites isn’t something I do, but I know other reputable SEOs who will do this. It’s tough; in any other industry, it makes sense to list your clients. In SEO, I feel like Google looks closer at client sites when they’re affiliated with known SEOs, and more importantly, so do your competitors. I don’t want to make it that easy. If you want to know what our clients are doing, do your homework – we did!
Broken link building
11. Is broken link building still effective? Is broken link building with other relevant websites in your industry still effective?
Yes. However, I think this is a practice that is relied on too heavily. When done as a primary form of link development, I think the bigger issue is why you’ve hit a creative wall and don’t have other methods in rotation. Is this because of a lack of resources, internal/client approval, new ideas, etc.? Do broken link building, but don’t put all your eggs in this basket, because you aren’t investing the development of your brand at all.
12. Do you think outreach is the future of link building? Should SEOs spend more time in this area?
Yes. It’s also the past and present of link building just like content is king, has been, and always will be. This is almost like saying, “Will communicating a message to someone be the best way to market your brand?” YES! Outreach is fundamentally about establishing a relationship with someone. The method and tools you take to achieve that may be different from season to season, but this will never go away.
13. How do you contact bloggers with no contact information?
If you’ve already looked up their domain information and still can’t locate a contact, then I would turn to social media. Do they have a Twitter profile? Are they active on LinkedIn? Do they accept comments? Keep in mind that they’ve limited their contact information for a reason. You’ll have to work hard to build up a relationship. Question whether you have the time and budget to invest in tracking them down, especially if they don’t want to be found.
14. Do you put time into considering the negative possibilities you want to avoid? E.g. how to be careful not to “earn” links from bad places
Yep! We have a lot of internal training and gut checking with our team on sites that don’t meet our quality standards. Those standards sometimes change for different clients and industries, but we have a lot of red flags that we avoid. I would develop your own internal list based on past experiences and industry-specific knowledge.
15. Should the links go to the home page or interior pages? If interior, how many words of text should the interior pages have on average?
16. For a business with a few very specific products, is it a good idea to build links to each product’s subpage, or should links always go to the main domain?
I’ll answer both questions here. I’m all for link diversity when it comes to backlinks to the domain. You should have links to the homepage, the product pages, the categories, your about us page, etc. Think of it from the perspective of a consumer. If they’re mentioning a product online, they might link to the homepage, but they’re more likely to link to the product page if they have direct experience with it; it’s much more natural. When doing outreach for our clients we try not to dictate the location of the backlink, because it’s more natural that they select what makes the most sense for their community.
Also worth noting: do the products expire? If the products aren’t going anywhere, then invest in building links to them. If it’s a product that expires or gets discontinued seasonally, then you’ll have a lot of redirects to deal with and lost value, so building links to the homepage and categories makes more sense. This doesn’t sound like your specific situation, though.
17. Do links to specific product subpages on a site have as much power as links to the main domain?
Where the link points don’t drive “power,” it’s the link pointing to the site that drives that power and the content of the page it’s pointing to, as well as its history and other backlinks. You’ll often find that certain pages of a site that are internal can quickly overpower a homepage if there hasn’t been much link building or brand promotion to the homepage, but a product or article gets really popular. So, the links are what determines the power of a page, not the location of the page itself. However, the majority of backlinks to a site do point to the homepage, which is why 99% of the time the homepage is the most powerful page. But, this truly is a “correlation isn’t causation” lesson.
18. What are your thoughts on the link disavow tool?
The link disavow tool is a last resort. It’s a tool that helps you communicate with the search engines after all of your other efforts to remove a backlink have failed. In the past, when working on a site that had a history of paid links, we’d have to try to do the cleanup and then tell Google what percent we were able to get fixed. That meant a number of the links never got removed, but Google would hopefully devalue those if they hadn’t already.
Now, Google is making it clear that this responsibility rests with the webmaster to fully clear the offending backlinks through their manual efforts and then as a last resort, through the disavow tool. The tool shouldn’t be used to just “get rid of” any backlink that looks questionable. It should really be used only when you have a clear problem that has been communicated to you by the search engines and you need to address a particular domain or page of that domain.
19. How important is the ratio between followed and nofollowed links?
Honestly, I don’t believe there’s a threshold here, but too much of one or the other probably looks unnatural. Regardless, I don’t believe that the search engines use this as an algorithm factor. Simply think of it in terms of diversity and brand factors. If you only have followed links, this means you’ve never posted a blog comment, been featured on a news site or more established directories, received a link from Wikipedia or other high-quality article sites, etc. That wouldn’t be very natural and I’d see it as a sign that the site is overly optimized. I very rarely look at this ratio myself.
20. What would you recommend as the best strategy for a licensee of a brand with multiple licensees targeting the same keywords/keyphrases and sources for backlinks?
This sounds like a situation affiliates and resellers run into all the time. It’s a tough because you’re competing against yourselves. Without knowing more detail, I would look for a unique perspective with the licensees. There has to be something unique if this business model even exists. Is it location, industry, customer service – find what makes you unique from the rest and emphasize that. Sometimes you’ll have to invent the point of difference (POD), but inventing great customer service is the perfect way to do this! Want inspiration? It’s going to sound crazy, but watch “Bar Rescue” on Spike. I love how Jon Taffer takes an overly saturated market (bars) and always finds something special for each owner that will bring in customers. It just takes creativity and research, it doesn’t matter that the product is the same!
Algorithm updates and penalties
*Picture credit: Search Metrics
21. How can you tell if your site has been hit in a negative way by some of the changes Google has made?
Check out the SMX West 2013 Google Dance recap over at Virante. Marcus Tober and Mitul Gandhi both went into great tactics on finding and assessing whether you might have been affected by an algorithm update.
Internal link building
22. You talked a lot about inbound link building, but is there a good formula for how many internal links you use and the placement of the links?
23. What about internal links? Are keyword-targeted links ok, or do you still need to be concerned about anchor text diversity there?
24. I am wondering how Google sees internal linking of the content? Does it make any difference if it is over optimized?
These three questions could be their own blog post, but my hands are thankful that John Doherty already did a great write-up that addresses many of these internal linking questions on the SEOmoz blog.
25. In your opinion, are press releases a great way to build SEO? How does your company charge?
No. I hate press releases for SEO. They’re over-saturated, and it’s rare that a press release attracts any press attention. Let me clarify: I’m speaking to press release distribution services (not the press release itself). I think that press releases as a public relations tool are incredibly important, but you should have a list of media outlets that you’re personally sending these to. Many of the distribution and wire services have been gamed so heavily that they’re virtually worthless and the press release will get buried after a few days of freshness in the SERPs.
On the second question, from my philosophy on press releases, you can probably tell that we don’t charge for this specific service, but we will work with clients to optimize strategic press releases and PR campaigns. We love coordinating with qualified PR teams! What you won’t find is Outspoken Media listed on a directory of SEO companies by a press release distribution site in their footer. That’s probably a good sign that you should run far, far away.
Social bookmarking and directories
26. Are traditional link building methods such as social bookmarks and directories no longer effective? What is your take on this?
27. Besides themed guest posting, does social bookmarking still help vary your link profile?
I’ll answer both questions here. There are still a lot of active social bookmarking sites that range from generic to special interests. Many have nofollowed backlinks at this point, but some remain followed. My recommendation isn’t to find those followed social bookmarking sites and spam them, but to recognize that if the community is active, you’re spreading your visibility and reach and that’s a good thing. This will often result in the discovery of your content that may lead to a backlink.
Personally, I don’t encourage my team to go after social bookmarks as a backlink for client work because we’re being held to a higher standard for link quality. Unless we know that link has the potential to get picked up by the community, seeding it through social channels doesn’t make a lot of sense.
When it comes to directories, these are still effective, but yes, they’re over-saturated. This means that your competitors will probably be able to easily acquire the same backlinks and the directory may have been devalued for linking out to an unusually high number of questionable domains. There are still many great directories out there though, especially industry-specific directories, so don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. When I talk to my team I look at directories in this way:
- Get good web directories.
- Get good social media and blog directories.
- Get good local directories.
Directories are still a great way to find reputable websites, social profiles, blogs, and local business listings. Not being included in them is just silly and a bad business practice. You should determine your own metrics for assigning value and authority to the directories. I’m probably more picky than most would be!
28. Scenario: site A has loads of backlinks and is 301 redirected to site B. If site A has been penalized by Google’s updates, does the penalty get carried over? What solutions can we consider to implement?
Does the penalty get carried over… honestly, there isn’t a straight answer for this. I’ve seen and read accounts of both situations: a penalty gets passed and it doesn’t. It often appears to be a matter of severity. I’d also be worried about the quantity of redirects (e.g. redirecting a network of several dozen penalized domains wouldn’t be a good idea). Doing a test with one would be less of an issue. Test it, but try to test with a domain that isn’t your bread and butter.
What I’d personally try to do: get site A unpenalized and then redirect it. Or reclaim the backlinks from site A and have those instead point to site B through outreach efforts.
29. Is it ok to buy lots of domains and do a 301 redirect to your main one?
See above! Be careful about what you purchase. I’ve seen companies invest millions into a domain just to have it turn out penalized from the prior webmaster’s questionable practices. You don’t want to wind up in that situation and have the penalty get passed. Also, simply buying up domains and redirecting them can be effective, but quantity can become a concern. I’d focus the budget on building up your brand and I know that sounds terribly naïve, but it’s worth more than the time, budget, and risk associated with just buying up domains.
30. How do we do a backlink audit? Is it by using Fresh Web Explorer, or something else?
The backlink audit is something I first mentioned in this post on, “Does Your Board of Directors Get SEO?,” but I didn’t go into the actual process. We usually start Google Webmaster Tools, the client’s analytics solution, Majestic SEO/Open Site Explorer, and a crawler like Screaming Frog. Most important: Excel. You don’t need a whole lot more than that!
31. Any resources for link building noobs that are a must read?
- Chapter 7 of the SEOmoz Beginner’s Guide to SEO
- Link building archives on sites like the SEOmoz blog
- Link Building Strategies by Point Blank SEO
32. I live a couple of blocks from the Brownes & Co. and passed Tabatha when they were filming that show. Brown’s finally closed. That woman was awful wasn’t she?
I referenced the Online Reputation Management Case Study post during the Mozinar, and yes, it’s “reality TV” but it’s difficult to make some appear that clueless about their business without plenty of material to work with!
33. Recently we had a duplicate content because someone create a fake website and he paste some of our information. I didn’t saw anything until that one of my friend tell me this. Except Google Webmaster Tool Which tools or websites can I use for find this duplicate content?
Link Building Strategies – The Complete List
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 .
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.
Create a blog
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.
Create an RSS feed
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.
Ask people you know for a link
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.
Make it easy to link to you
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.
Get people to see your content
People won’t link to your content unless they see it. At the same time, you need the rightpeople in front of your content â€“ not everyone is a potential linker.
This is where social media, content marketing, and brand awareness comes into the link building realm. Getting people to see and know your content & brand is a massively important strategy to build links. Below I’ll go into specific strategies to make this happen.
This is the #1 link building strategy in the world. Get to know people! Build relationships with them, because it’ll come back to you in the form of links (that is if they’re the RIGHT people).
I’ll go more into depth below on different ways to build relationships, but the best part about this is that it’s just like real life. Remember how people say, “it’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know”?
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 submission
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.
Press release submission
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.
Niche specific directories
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.
Web cam directories
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.
Logo design directories
Most of you have logos for your website or company, so get a few links in return for them.
Example: TheLogoMix.com. Info to submit here.
Free web directories
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 have a podcast, you can snag a few free, easy links by submitting to podcast directories.
Example: PodcastDirectory.com. Submit here.
Iphone app directories
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.
Web app directories
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.
Entering contests & giveaways
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.
Contribute to crowdsourced posts
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.
How to’s and tutorials
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.
Glossary of terms
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.
Covering News first
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.
Review something new
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.
Utilize National Days & Events
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 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 mashup
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.
Filling gaps in content
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.
Update old content
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?
Dead content recreation
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.
Give them hosting
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.
Fight Viagra Hackers
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).
Create Useful Things
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.
Plugins & extensions
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.
Pay authorities to embed your badges
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.
Donate to charities & non profits
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.
Sponsor animal shelters
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.
Buying StumbleUpon Traffic for the webmaster
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.
Hire industry veterans
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.
Hire veteran link builders
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.
By offering discounts to faculty, teachers, and students, you can easily get links from pages like this.
Speak at universities
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”.
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:
It’s definitely classified as low hanging fruit, but you can still get value from commenting on blogs.
To get the most value, comment on relevant blogs, dofollow blogs (blogs that offer followed links to their commenters), and CommentLuv blogs (blogs that have the CommentLuv plugin installed).
If you do it right, you’ll build rapport with bloggers and links at the same time.
Forum posting is a great way to find the people in your industry that are really passionate about your niche. Again, you’ll get links when you post in the right forums.
Using sites like Yahoo! Answers, you can build a few nofollow links that should also send a bit of traffic. Make sure to cite pages on your site when answering questions in order to guarantee a link.
Leverage Existing Opportunities
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.
Getting links from scraped content
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.
Leverage copy & pasting
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.
Contacting people using your images/infographics
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.
Associations/organizations you’re a part of
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.
Reclaiming Twitter links
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).
Reclaim links pointing to 404s
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.
Your Twitter followers
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.
Products to bloggers
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 .
Free ebooks/products using social payment systems
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.
Random acts of kindness
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.
Give a crap
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.
User group meetups
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.
Yep, I said it. Get them on the phone. Make them hear your voice and know that you’re a real person.
Ben Wills was the first to do this with me. I now know a lot more about him & Ontolo, something I’m extremely grateful for.
Be the first person to use a Google+ hangout! But seriously, that or Skype is a great way to meet face to face with someone without actually meeting face to face (if that makes any sense!).
Twitter RTs, Responses, and DMs
If you want to get to know someone on Twitter, first retweet them a few times. Then respond a couple times to a few of their tweets, then continue the conversation as direct messages. Finally, ask to email (because 140 characters is never enough), and now you’ve got the ball rolling.
Answer questions on Twitter, Quora, and anywhere else people hang out. People ask questions all the time. These external opportunities are a great way to put you on their radar.
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.
Including links back to your site in newsletters is a great way to get traffic, but take it one step further. Find influential newsletters in your niche and try to get a link included.
For example, I’ve gotten a link in Eric Ward’s Link Moses Private. An even bigger target (that could potentially crash my site) is the Moz Top 10 newsletter, which has 220,000 subscribers. Yeah. I know.
Pro tip: Find out who’s sending out the newsletters, and get to know them.
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.
Scoop.it is an awesome way to drive traffic and to build a few nofollow links at the same time. This site is a content curation site; users get to curate what content they want to share. It’s hard to explain, so watch this video.
For us, we’ll be suggesting content to users that get traffic to their pages. For example, look at this one. It’s received 21.6k views, so I know it will give me a bit of traffic if I can get my content here. All I have to do is hit the “suggest” button at the top, and wa-la, they can accept or deny my content.
Note: If your content sucks, this won’t work for you. If it’s great, this is a reward.
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.
New online community
Whether it’s a niche forum, Q&A site, or social network, you can probably create it without much trouble.
If you want to above and beyond, create a community from scratch. Inbound.org, created by Rand Fishkin and Dharmesh Shah, is exactly that.
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.
Industry specific directory
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.
Better Business Bureau
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.
Chamber of Commerce
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.
To active medium level bloggers
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.
Mention specific people whenever possible
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.
To spark conversation
Try turning off your comments and asking other bloggers to continue the conversation over a particular issue or topic on their blog. Promise that you’ll link to them at the end of the post if they do. When they do this, they almost always link back to the original post.
This works best with controversial posts.
Getting people to see and read your content
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.
Segment 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.
Minimal grammar & spelling mistakes
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.
Offering your content in multiple languages
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!
High Flesch-Kincaid readability score
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.
Social platform optimization
Your linkeraiti and my linkeraiti are two entirely separate groups that find content on two entirely different platforms. Whether it’s Twitter, LinkedIn, or a niche news site (ex. Inbound.org), you need to find the right place that gets your content in front of the right people.
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.
Set up free blogs
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.
Get your own Wikipedia page
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.
Reverse engineering assets
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.
Contribute to Wikipedia pages
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.
Non-college job/intern postings (get picked up by job boards)
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.
Get on the news by crashing cars
Yep, you heard right. I saw this comment, and I couldn’t resist not dedicating an entire strategy to it.
Luckily, there’s a point to be made. Get creative! Creativity is the key to pioneering new link opportunities, and usually ones your competitors can’t get.
Some outdated sites still offer guest books you can sign in. If you come across one, include a link.
Expired Blogspot blogs
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 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.
Relevant reciprocal links
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.
Second tier link building
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. [email protected][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.
Abandoned domains (auctions too)
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.
Buy existing domains
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.
Join associations/organizations, both local & niche specific
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.
Help A Reporter Out (HARO)
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.
Top commentators widget
Some blogs have a top commentators widget that displays the top commentators in the sidebar of their blog. All you have to do is make it up on that leaderboard and you’ll get a sitewide link. Granted it might take 10-15 comments, it’s still worth it.
Make sure you don’t drop all of the comments on the same day; you’d look like an idiot. Do one or two a day for a couple weeks until you get that link.
Coin a new term
Link Building Resources – A Curated List
Never again will you have to point an SEO newbie to multiple pages on the Web to learn link building. Just point them here, tell them to read up, and they’ll be an expert in no time (OK, maybe not an expert, but they’ll know a ton more).
Like my link building strategies post, this is a work in progress, and the reason I made it is because there isn’t any definitive list of link building resources on the Web that can stand the test of time. I’m here to change that.
Link Building Blogs
There are a few outstanding link building blogs that regularly publish great content. Here’s each of them & their RSS feeds.
- Point Blank SEO – feed
- Kaiserthesage – feed
- Ross Hudgens – feed
- SEER Interactive – feed
- Linkspiel – feed
- Vertical Measures – feed
- SEOmoz – feed
- Hugo Guzman – feed
- Paddy Moogan – feed
- Justin Briggs – feed
- Wiep – feed
- Ontolo – feed
- Linkbuildr – feed
- Skyrocket SEO – feed
- TLC SEO – feed
- Triple SEO – feed
- Cucumber Nebula – feed
- Buzzstream – feed
Link Building for Beginners
After spending hours upon hours searching for the best link building content for beginners, I only feel comfortable recommending these three.
What Is Link Building? Strategies & Examples – This is Chapter 7 in the SEOmoz beginner’s guide to SEO. This is a must read for anyone new to link building.
Clockwork Pirate – This is a free ebook by Kelvin Newman that completely covers every aspect of link building. Even if you’re an experienced link builder, I highly recommend getting yourself a copy.
Note: Since this post was published, I released my link building training course. I created it so I could point all beginners (and even experts) to one place!
Link Building Strategies
There are many strategies out there that are used to acquire links. Here are a couple evergreen lists that you can constantly reference.
Link Building Strategies – The Complete List – I created this because I wanted every single link building strategy ever thought of in one place. I highly suggest bookmarking this for future reference.
101 Ways to Build Link Popularity – Created in 2006, this post has stood the test of time. Although I encompass just about all of the strategies listed here in the above post, it’s still worth mentioning because of how much this list has contributed to the SEO community.
131 (Legitimate) Link Building Strategies – This is the original link building strategies list. Although severely outdated, this is a landmark post you’ll come across regardless if I listed it here or not.
Link Building Strategies for Smaller Brands in a Competitive Space – Although this isn’t a comprehensive list like any of the ones above, I listed this hear because chances are you’re having trouble competing with some of the bigger brands in your industry, and that’s where this post by Jason Acidre can help.
Link Building Tools
Here’s a list of link building tools for every step of the process. I know there are a ton out there, but these are the ones I’ve found to be the most helpful.
Backlink data providers
Open Site Explorer – This is my favorite provider because of the metrics that go along with each link. As a word of caution, this post shows that OSE only indexes in some cases about 2-3% of the inbound links a website has.
Majestic SEO – This is another backlink data provider that’s quite reliable. Majestic has both a fresh & historic index, as well as many other cool features. Also as a word of caution, the afore mentioned post on backlink data providers show that up to 80% of Majestic’s data is link rot.
Link Research Tools – Although it does a lot more than just backlink data, this is another tool that’s gotten streaming reviews in the past few months. Since I haven’t really used it, here’s a relatively recent review.
Ahrefs – This is the next kid on the block for backlink data. It’s fairly promising, but it still has some work to do. Once again, see how it matched up with the others in the afore mentioned comparison post.
Blekko – There’s no way I wasn’t going to mention Blekko, which is by far my favorite search engine (I even have a Blekko t-shirt!). By clicking “seo” under a result, you can see the backlinks to it & how it matches up with the competition. If only Google did this… Also – here’s a cool use of this tool to analyze directories.
Buzzstream – This is my favorite CRM when it comes to building links. I don’t recommend it for one-off campaigns like broken link building, but if you’re an in-house or if you spend a lot of time with fewer clients, Buzzstream is essential. You can also use it to prospect.
Tout App – This email productivity tool integrates right into Gmail, and you can also sync it with whatever CRM you’re using. In a nutshell, it saves you a lot of time during the outreach process, and it lets you see a lot of awesome analytics such as your open rates.
Raven Tools – Although I personally don’t use it very often, most of the link builders I talk with only have good things to say about Raven’s toolset. You can use it to find contacts, manage existing links, and a whole lot more.
Ontolo – Hands down, this is in my opinion the best tool for prospecting. There’s so much you can do with this toolset it’s insane. You won’t instantly find prospects (plugin your queries and come back tomorrow), but it’s still quite an awesome tool.
Solo SEO’s Link Search Tool – Just type in a keyword any you’ll have a massive list of prospecting queries.
Domain Hunter Plus – I like to call this one the broken link checker of the future. Although it doesn’t check links as fast as CML, you can quickly see how many links that broken URL has, download those links as a CSV, and you can check to see if those domains are abandoned. I did an in depth review here.
Wayback Machine – Just drag that link to your bookmark section, and when ever you get to a broken URL, hit that bookmarklet so you can see what used to be there.
Mechanical Turk – Outsourcing some of the tedious process of link building is also another time saver. Mechanical Turk is Amazon’s cheap labor force that’s great for this. Here’s a great post on using it for link building.
Elance – I personally don’t use Elance, but I know a few link builders who use it a lot.
Excel – It’s not exclusively a link building tool, but I can guarantee you you’ll spend more time with Excel than a lot of the tools listed here.
Screaming Frog – This is a link audit tool that you can use to quickly spider a site. For link builders, you can see broken links on all pages of a site, and not only just one page if you were to use CML or DHP.
SEER’s SEO Toolbox – This is a mashup of APIs in Google Docs that allows you to get data on pretty much anything you need. Hat tip to Chris Le for this.
In order to build links, you have to find the opportunities in the first place. Here are some of the top link prospecting posts from around the Web.
9 Actionable Tips for Link Prospecting – If you’re new to prospecting, this post written by Paul Rogers is a great place to start.
Beginner’s Guide to Link Prospecting Using Google Search – One of the most used tools for link prospecting is Google itself. Here’s a great guide to Google prospecting written by Garrett French.
21 Link Builders Share Advanced Link Building Queries – Once you’ve got the basics down, here’s a great list of link building queries from some of the best link builders out there.
Using Blogrolls to Expand your Link Prospecting Lists – Before you dive into some hardcore link prospecting, know that someone has already done a lot of the work for you. Paul May writes about taking advantage of blogrolls for prospecting.
Link Prospecting with Twitter Tools & APIs – Twitter is a fantastic place to do some social prospecting. In this post John Doherty lays out the entire process from start to finish.
Link Building Query Theory: 7 Crucial Keyword Types – This is a great reference for queries if you ever get stuck.
Link Building Outreach
Outreach is the process that separates the boys from the men. These posts will help you with scale the process, build relationships, and obtain a high success rate.
Content-based Outreach for Link Building – This goes down in my book as one of the greatest link building posts of all time. Justin Briggs lays out the entire process of doing manual outreach with your content.
Throw Away Your Form Letters (or Five Principles to Better Outreach Link Building) – This should be your head to toe guide you reference whenever you’re doing outreach. If you implement the 5 principles outlined here by Michael King, I guarantee your success rates will go up.
A Linkbuilder’s Gmail Productivity Setup (with Outreach Emails from 4 Industry Linkbuilders) – Gmail is one of the most scalable email platforms to conduct outreach from. John Doherty kills it with this one, and he even got example emails from 4 top-notch link builders.
Linker Outreach: A Method for Social and Editorial Link Building – By using social sites like Delicious, StumbleUpon, and Google+ you can conduct outreach in an entirely new way. Jason Acidre tells you how to identify who’s shared similar content so you can let them know about yours.
Putting Guest Post Outreach Theories to the Test [With Some Real World Data] – All link builders aside, data is the best teacher. James Agate, who sampled 400 guest posts, shows us what works & what doesn’t when conducting guest blog outreach.
Everything I Know About Effective Blogger Outreach – This post, written by Marcus Taylor, does a great job of summing up some of the most essential factors to success during the outreach process.
Infographic Clean-up as Link Building Outreach – Creating infographics for outreach is a popular strategy that can be highly successful – if you do it right. Oliver Mason walks us through the process from start to finish.
Other Link Building Posts
There are a lot more awesome link building resources than those that fit into the categories above. Here are some posts from around the Web that are just outright awesome.
Please Exit the Link Building – So much link awesomeness (yeah, I just used that word) in one post. If you want to be great at link building, you absolutely need to read this post by Ross Hudgens.
60 free press release sites tested – a detailed review – This is an awesome in-depth review of free press release sites and their effectiveness. This is definitely worth bookmarking.
Guide to Link Building for Ecommerce – If you build links for an ecommerce site, you should print this out and tape it on your wall.
24 SEO Experts Discuss Links vs. Tweets – This is an awesome discussion with some of the top industry experts about the future of links & social signals.
Link Building with the Experts – 2012 Edition – Every year Rae Hoffman does a “with the experts” post on link building. This is the latest edition.
10 Super Easy SEO Copywriting Tips for Improved Link Building – Whether you realize it or not, copywriting plays a huge role in attracting links from other blogs. If you put out content on a weekly basis, make sure you memorize each of these 10 tips by Cyrus Shepard.
15 Sites That Help You Use Your Twitter Profile for Link Building – Kristi Hines does a great job showing us how to get 15 easy links with Twitter.
4 Steps to Executing A CRO Approved Link Building Campaign – If you’re having trouble with outreach success rates, you might want to check out the process I go through to make sure they’re as high as possible.
Utilizing Second Tier Link Building for Massive ROI – Building links to your links is not only advantageous for link building, but it’s also a reputation management & sales strategy.
A #winning 12 Stage Hustle Process for Link Building – The difference between a low success rate & a high success rate in outreach is determined by your hustle. Here’s how it’s done.
Which Type of Link Anchor Text is the Most Effective? [An Experiment] – I wish we saw more experiments like this. James Agate tested 3 sites by building links with exact, partial, and non-keyword anchor texts. You better check out the results yourself.
What Happens When You Build 10,000 Dodgy Links to a New Domain in 24 Hours? – This is a really cool experiment (two awesome experiments in a row?!) on spammy link building to brand new sites. It’s quite interesting what Marcus Taylor found.
What Makes an Effective Link Builder – Even though I include a presentation below with the same title and by the same person (Justin Briggs), this is still definitely worth noting. These are the characteristics of an effective link builder.
Screaming Frog Guide to Doing Almost Anything – Screaming Frog is a massively powerful tool, which is why this detailed review of just about everything you can do with Screaming Frog (including for link building purposes!) is extremely helpful.
The Broken Link Building Bible – broken link building is one of the best tactics in the game right now, and luckily for us, Russ Jones walks us through every step of the process.
The Most Creative Link Building Post Ever – I had a chance to ask over 50 SEOs one question, “What was the most creative way you, or someone you know, got a link?” The responses are well worth your time reading.
Forum Participation Rubric for Ecommerce Link Building – Getting links in forums goes beyond rankings; we’re talking revenue now. Don Rhoades walks us through how to properly participate in forums to get links to money pages as well as generate passive revenue.
Creative Link Building for Ecommerce Sites – Having trouble figuring out how to use your products & content to get links? Well, Stephanie Chang has you covered. See how others are building links in really creative ways.
Unmissable Local Link Building Opportunities – James Agate breaks down some head smacking local link opportunities, making life for local businesses quite easy.
The Complete Guide to Link Building with Local Events – Who knew local events could score you such great links? Kane Jamison knew, and he talks about each & everything you need to know when creating local events for links.
33 Links & How to Get Them – Justin Briggs and his team at Big Fish are killing it, and he was willing to show exactly how they got these particular 33 awesome links.
92 Ways to Get (And Maximize) Press Coverage – PR can be awesome for link building; who wouldn’t want a link from the Wall Street Journal? Chris Winfield walks us through each & every thing you need to know when trying to get covered by the press.
How to Get Major Media Coverage for Your Business with No Connections – Derek Halpern walks us through what he calls the ‘drafting technique’, in which you get coverage from those journalists who’ve already covered (and shown interest in) your competition.
Link Building Videos
Here are some of the top link building videos from around the Web.
Wil Reynolds’ Youtube Channel – At the time I’m writing this Wil has over 60 videos uploaded on YouTube. I’ve watched every single one of them (yes, they’re that good), and I suggest you do the same.
Scalable Link Building Using Social Media – One of my all time favorite Whiteboard Friday’s, this video by Mike King takes us through using social media to scale your link building efforts.
Outreach for Linkbuilding – Tom Critchlow walks us through some of the steps he takes when conducting outreach.
Scaling Link Building – Ross Hudgens & Tom Critchlow talk about scaling link building & getting the right team working underneath you.
Link building strategies: Video from SEMPDX – Ian Lurie walks us through some link opportunities you already have. You’ll also get a few laughs while watching.
Using Email to Build Links – It was inevitable that Rand was going to appear in a video on this list. Find out how to build links through email (if you’re wondering, this isn’t the traditional outreach we usually talk about).
Link Building Presentations
If you missed one of these presentations in person, you can always check them out on Slideshare.
Creating A Link Building Machine – If you have each of the characteristics listed here by Ross Hudgens, you win at link building.
Past, Present & Future of Personas in Search – Personas are essential to understanding your audience. That’s why Mike King broke down the process to finding them with this presentation.
Key Linkbuilding Strategies for 2012 – Patrick Altoft outlines some of the important aspects of link building we need to be focusing on this year.
Link building mistakes 2011 – Learning from mistakes is the most valuable thing you can do. When someone else makes them before you, though, it saves you the pain. Wil Reynolds shows us some mistakes that he’s made and possibly we’re making right now.
Effective Link Building – This is one of my favorite presentations because it preaches hustle. Justin Briggs kills it with this one.
LinkMoses Private – This is Eric Ward’s link building newsletter. It’s $8/month, but there’s enough value in there to make it well worth it.
Point Blank SEO newsletter – I’m only including this because of Sean’s testimonial on my Build Links, Fight Cancer post. I send out new strategies, tips, and opportunities each month. You can use the form below my author box to signup.
94 Easy Ways to Learn SEO – Although it’s not exclusively link building, I recommend everyone to take a look at this.
Paddy Moogan’s Link Building Book – this is a super comprehensive resource to building links, and Paddy is currently only selling it for $37. My favorite part is the case studies section.
Ultimate Guide to Link Building – Eric Ward, Garrett French, and yes, even me! (but mostly them two) put together the first book in print on the topic.