A List of Our Favorite Link Building for SEO Articles
How to Suck Less at Outreach
If you own a site that gets any level of traffic or has any authority to speak of at all, you know this one thing for sure:
People are F-ing terrible at outreach.
This Siege Media post is super smart and takes you many levels deeper than those terrible “I really love your site, especially [super long URL blog post], I want to contribute an article with two do-follow links!” emails everyone receives.
Keeping in-step with what Google says about ranking well (write quality content), this post goes in to what kind of content does well with outreach, and how to niche down and target the right kind of prospects:
Step 1: Choosing the Main Topic
The first step is going to be choosing that main topic that works in your industry. So let’s say we’re a lawn care service or, landscaping service. Our main topic is going to be lawn care.
Step 2: Choosing Your First Linkable Market
Now step two is going to be choosing that first linkable market. So think of it like a math equation. So you got your topic here, which is lawn care, and we’re going to go with our first linkable market, let’s say, the pet bloggers, pet industry. So then come up with the content piece that work there.
A smart post if you’re trying to earn links through relevant outreach. Recommended!
A Study in Anchor Text
Fair warning, this post is filled with a bunch of technical math talk, but also some really interesting takeaways. So, power through…
Long case study with a brief conclusion:
Anchor text plays, at best, a very weak role in ranking sites and a very big potential role in getting penalized so play it safe.
Of course, this study is not perfect–as the author admits:
We studied 3 million random search queries and found that, on average, the top 10 ranking pages also rank for between 400 and 1,300 other queries.
So, clearly, this is a large‐scale happening that our study fails to take into account.
Still, worth your time to read through and understand more fully the takeaways and the way they arrived at that data.
What Content Performs Best for Getting Links: A Study
This is an interesting, but far from scientifically rigorous study on what kind of content gets links. Perhaps the most interesting thing about this is how it could be replicated within the niches that matter most to you, since it is more art than science (but, I would argue, still gives you a solid 80/20 of what content does well in your niche and why).
I manually analysed with my eyes the “top” (as defined by Trust Flow and Citation Flow) 100ish links for 2 random well ranking sites in Insurance, Ecom in an interesting niche, Ecom in a dry niche, Travel and Finance. I only really cared about links that looked, to me, to have been strategically built through the active creation and distribution of a thing. That thing can be as involved as huge scale video production, right to a simple Tweet sharing a quote with a journalist. I ignored links that looked, to me, to have occurred entirely naturally such as genuine forum discussions, certain reviews and so on. I did this because I am interested primarily in understanding what strategies are most effective in order to ensure I am doing the best shit now, and for the future.
This is a long, thoughtful piece that I’d highly recommend reading through. The author goes through what kinds of content were most “paid for,” what kind of content got the best (most authoritative) links, and what content got the flat-out most links:
Get More Backlinks
Looking to get your hands dirty and build some new links?
Though not exactly scalable, this post gives some classic techniques, and walks you through how to use Ahrefs to do the work for each. Even if you’re an old pro, this is a pretty solid post with some neat tricks to try:
To begin, make a list of 3–5 biggest competitors.
Here’s what that might look like for an email marketing service:
Now type this into Google:
(“COMPETITOR1” AND COMPETITOR2) -intext:”YOUR BRAND” -site:competitor1.com -site:competitor2.com -intitle:competitor1 -intitle:competitor2
Click through and check out all 7 link building techniques.
Stock Photography as a Link Building Strategy
Sorry kids, this one is a podcast that you’ll need to listen to in order to get the juicy details, but it’s one that I think is worth your time.
The overview: build up a stock-photo library of high-quality images, and earn links naturally when those photos are used. Like this:
Please enjoy this ridiculous bird:
Sponsorship Link Building: Yay or Nay?
If you’re looking for some place to spend your hard-earned white hat SEO dollars now that scholarship link building seems to have reached its logical conclusion (
marketersSEOs ruin everything), Moz has a guide to local sponsorship link building.
If your city project involves any more than two or three sponsorships, you’re in for multiple hours of follow ups, reminders, phone calls, etc. There is the desire from most local organizations to honor their sponsors and keep them happy. That said, we’ve learned that keeping the momentum going serves as an important reminder for the nonprofit. This can involve phone call reminders and emails for links to go live and other benefits to come through. Again, be polite and respectful.
^ white hat link building.
This is probably worth doing if you live in a smaller city where it’ll take less links to rank, and there will be a smaller pool of other businesses trying for the same sponsorship links. In a bigger city like New York or L.A. I’d assume this tactic would have pretty small returns or be insanely expensive, but I’ve never tried a campaign like this, so I’m just guessing.
If you end up trying this for your local rankings, definitely reach out and let me know how it went.
Alternative Link Building Methods
This is a good post on four link building methods using expired domain names (and only one of them is “build a PBN”).
- Find a relevant and high-quality expired domain
- Extract its backlink profile
- Find contact information for all the quality link opportunities
- Reach out and let the linker know that they are linking to a dead resource/website
- If they respond, pitch the idea of them replacing the dead link with a link to your website
Time consuming, but less risky than a regular ‘ole PBN (assuming you won’t do a good job with your PBN). Click through for the other three methods.
Google’s Recent Announcement About Linkbuilding
Google recently published a blog post recently on the (continued) rise of guest posting specifically for links or, as they neatly summed it up, When link building comes first, the quality of the articles can suffer and create a bad experience for users..
Here’s a handy list of things to avoid doing, according to Google:
Below are factors that, when taken to an extreme, can indicate when an article is in violation of these guidelines:
- Stuffing keyword-rich links to your site in your articles
- Having the articles published across many different sites; alternatively, having a large number of articles on a few large, different sites
- Using or hiring article writers that aren’t knowledgeable about the topics they’re writing on
- Using the same or similar content across these articles; alternatively, duplicating the full content of articles found on your own site (in which case use of rel=”canonical”, in addition to rel=”nofollow”, is advised)
Couple things to keep in mind:
1. They’ve posted about this because this link building tactic works.
2. They are not bluffing: if they catch you doing this, your rankings will suffer.
3. This is not an endorsement, I definitely recommend being very strategic about the risk you take, but they probably will not catch you if you DO do this.
Thoughts on Link Building — 2017
I’m a fan of Glen Allsopp. I think he writes, at the very least, very interesting content. Usually, the content goes beyond interesting and is insightful.
In this guest post on SPI, Glen discusses the state of link building in 2017 with some pretty interesting (but, in the manner of SEO at large, speculative) conclusions.
– in studying some popular blogs, it is mostly clear that the number of referring links they earn over time is, fairly consistently, trending downward.
– the context of why a website would (naturally) link to a site matters:
What should be interesting is not where they’re receiving links, but the context of those links. Let’s look at the actual sentences with the underlined text being where the link would be.
- The biggest sources of debt? Housing education
- According to NerdWallet’s 2015 American Household Credit Card Debt Study
- Roughly 40 million Americans owe more than $1.2 trillion in combined student debt
The links don’t stand out. They’re more of an afterthought to a point that the author is trying to make.
There are a lot of other interesting insights in this post–definitely click through and give it a read.
Is There More to Building Links Than Rankings?
Here’s a nice SEO think-piece for you.
Should you only focus on links that drive traffic and revenue, instead of focusing on link building purely to drive rankings?
This sums up Jon’s thoughts on the matter pretty well:
I remember getting a blogroll link a few years back that sent some serious traffic (mid 4 figures a month), which was awesome. But if I spent time only going after links that would send traffic & conversions, I would’ve built significantly less links, and drove significantly less rankings for my clients & my own sites (which, coincidentally, results in less revenue).
Basically, don’t NOT build links just because they won’t send a lot traffic/revenue, because that link will help you rank for keywords where visitors WILL contribute to your site’s revenue.
If you’re looking for someone to take over your link building for you, find out how RankBOSS can help.
Rapid-Fire SEO Insights
I’m a WordPress guy, so Shopify seems complicated. It’s not obvious how to create a 301 redirect in Shopify, but this post helps. Basically:
You cannot do anything with the default pages (/cart, /orders, /shop, etc.), and the old path has to no longer exist.
Google is retiring “phone-tools” in Search Console.
“I think we will continue to see Google continue to make the GMB API open to as many of these common business objects as possible.”
Crush Link Building With Fake News
Or, you know, don’t.
Fake news has been in the… news… lately as part of the 2016 Dumpster-fire Election Tour.
But how does this relate to SEO?
Check it out. Someone registered the domain name Alive2017.com and made a cryptic reference to a Daft Punk tour in 2017. For music fans (and websites), that’s a big deal, because (history lesson Daft Punk has only gone on two tours ever.
So, the cryptic site gets posted to Reddit with the speculation that there will be a new tour. And since most news sites just copy/paste from reddit, it got linked to from EVERYWHERE.
Check out these referring domains:
I wouldn’t recommend this technique (lord help us, but this world does not need more fake news). Similar results can be had with secondary site or microsites.
Interesting stuff! Definitely can help to think outside the box, sometimes…
What Not to Do
Once upon a time I went to school to get my teaching degree. One of the most impactful things I learned was the value in showing someone what NOT to do, and how that was sometimes even more effective than showing someone what to do.
As such, this post (which targets black hat SEO specifically, which I don’t agree with, as these are typically mistakes made by beginners or people who don’t know any better) is a valuable resource.
Here’s an example:
It [Link exchange] refers to an agreement between 2 sites to rank in Google. I will spoil the moment so you won’t get tempted by this method because it’s considered a link scheme and it won’t let your site appear in SERP anymore. The good guys run with the speed of the light when they hear about this black hat SEO technique.
At a quick search on the internet you’ll find lots of sites and directories that offer links in exchange. They even make big promises such as free links, quality links for your niche, no footprints and you can even make money through their affiliate program. It is easy to do link exchange and rank afterward, but you will get penalized just as easily.
Yes, don’t do a link exchange. Check out the site for 43 more things you should not do.
Managing Your SEO Expectations
This is a great post that I think everyone doing/having SEO done should read and consider.
The author got a sweeeeet link from BU.edu (Boston University)–an image link, with no “dofollow” in site.
So what happened next–instant #1 rankings? A burst of traffic?
One link to one website does not a robust case study make. But it’s a great takeaway to help manage your expectations of link building.
Our philosophy: consistent links over many months (plus a bunch of other important stuff like good content and on-page SEO) is what makes an impact on rankings.
Not one link (however awesome that link happens to be).
Grey Hat Technique: Canonical Link Building
This is some dirrrrrrrrrty stuff, ya’ll.
Basically, no one wants to link to your super shady online poker site.
What’s an SEO to do?
This technique involves creating super shareable content on a secondary domain–say… some super pandering content on a mommy-blog site. After you get hella links from your infographic, set the “rel=canonical” to point to your online poker site, and GET THAT LINK JUICE.
You might feel like this:
But your rankings will be like this:
Until Google does you like this:
Please–do me a favor and don’t try this technique unless you know exactly WTF you are doing.
Google Reminds You About Your Dodgy Widget Links
Google’s webspam team may take manual actions on unnatural links. When a manual action is taken, Google will notify the site owners through Search Console. If you receive such a warning for unnatural links to your site and you use links in widgets to promote your site, we recommend resolving these issues and requesting reconsideration.
Allow me to translate: We can’t take a manual action against every person doing this, so we want to make a big deal and remind you that we MAY take action so you talk about it and get too scared to do it.
…which is good! Cuz that sh*t is like, really effective, LOL. So knock it off! Or spooooky ghost of SEO penalties will get you!
The Future of Your Freedom to Build Links
This story is… weird. Basically, a European court has set a precedent for what you can and cannot link to.
The top EU court just decided in favor of Playboy, stating that posting hyperlinks to unowned content provides tangible profits, which is grounds enough for copyright infringement.
This is why that’s bad:
As Fortune points out, this is a victory for content copyright holders wishing to annihilate links to pirated versions of their material. But for newsgatherers, this is a worrisome precedent. Linking to material for context is part of journalistic practice, and putting the onus on publications to ensure referenced items have been uploaded legally opens them up to semantic interpretations of permission and profit. Plus, it could inhibit reporting on sensitive goods leaked in the public interest.
Local Link Building — Not Just For Local Sites
Theory: local link building not only helps local sites, but non-local sites as well.
Recently, Fishkin did a whiteboard Friday talking about this topic, and some local SEO experts chimed in to back up what he said–with data!
The only tactic performed on this URL over the time period was local link building. You can see how big of an impact this has had for them, on some pretty high volume (and competitive terms), for a single URL.
^ Good stuff.
I’ll admit to my bias and say that Moz products aren’t among my favorite SEO tools, and I don’t always agree with their content (user generated or otherwise).
That said, I liked the way this article simplified one of my core SEO beliefs with this image:
Unless you’ve got decent content and good backlinks, you don’t need to worry about site speed, image alt text, or an HTTPS boost.
Though this article is a bit heavy-handed on the content side of things, overall it’s a good thought piece on what helps a site rank:
Strong Backlinks. Good Content.
Links Are Important in Ranking Well
Everyone, make sure you do some warm-ups before rolling your eyes here…
Yes, links are important.
The next time your clients/team/CMO starts talking about prioritizing whatever new “ranking signal” some SEO-famous blogger starts going on about, you can send them a link to this post + a picture of this dunce cap:
Here’s the big finale:
As a result, there are fewer than ten results on the first page of the SERPs which are driven by factors other than links. That doesn’t mean that links aren’t involved at all in rankings for those pages just that they matter less.
But, our study data strongly suggests that links continue to play a major role in rankings. In addition, our case study data makes the whole thing a slam dunk. When you aren’t facing page relevance or quality issues, links can, and do, continue to significantly impact rankings.
How to Earn Links from Writers
Going after those sweet, sweet editorial backlinks? Better be at the top of your content game…
This posts asks writers at SEO-holy-grail publications what they look for when linking to a piece of content within an article they’re writing, and what they say next will shock you…
…just kidding. It’s pretty obvious stuff like “write evergreen content” and “stop pulling statistics out of your ass and link to actual data/sources,” etc.
Still, as obvious as it seems, it could be worthwhile to read through and get a sense of what writers in general look for so you can at least try to be as relevant as possible when you Skyscraper-spam them, amirite?
When I look for links that serve this purpose (expounding on a point that isn’t the primary focus of my post), I’m looking for something that gives the fullest version of the story possible. Your 500-word post that brushes the surface won’t cut it. You have to go deeper than that.
So yeah, make a checklist and then hand it off to your content team. You never know…
A Guide on Blogger Outreach
Here’s how the majority of blogger outreach (for links) works. This is an email received (and published by–ouch!) CognitiveSEO.com
Yes, outreach for links works. It can work super well, if done right.
Don’t be like poor Irvin. This is how you’ll come across:
I came across your blog when I searched “keyword” inurl:”resources” and thought you had some really posts.
Completely unrelated, I recently published a post and I thought you might want to share it with your audience.
You can share it on your blog just gimme a link. K?
I mean, it’s a marginally related piece of content to your site and I’m trying to rank well in Google, so gimme a link. Link. Give me a link. DoFollow.
Don’t be like that. It takes some time, but it’s worth doing right.
This post from GotchSEO isn’t an actual guide on how to do blogger outreach, rather, it is a list of the best resources if you’re looking to do this yourself.
As someone who’s spent many hours hunting down resources in the past, having a curated list of good content can be super valuable. THAT’s why I’m including this post.
Thought this would also be a good time to remind you about our ass-kicking link building service, RankBOSS. 😉
The Longevity of Links
Is it wise to start a new project and invest time, energy, and resources in building quality links, when we don’t know if links will even matter in 3.. 5… 10 years?
That’s the central question posed here by Jon of Point Blank SEO. A wonderful post of SEO theory backed up by some solid examples and true experts weighing in on the topic.
A highly recommended read.
So let’s now focus on figuring out how to make an accurate prediction. Predictions are based off a set of factors. The “secret sauce” of machine learning is figuring out which factors are more important than others in determining what you’re predicting. As Will put it in his article, it won’t be humans doing this manually in the future, but rather “the machine tweaking the dials.”
That explanation helps to explain why links and the concept of RankBrain are not at odds with each other. They’re apples and oranges. It’s like saying historical forecast data and a weatherman are at odds with each other over predicting the weather. One is information and the other is an interpreter. They are two separate types of things.
How to Find Local Link Building Opportunities
Must have been something in the air. Both Whitespark and Nifty Marketing published some solid, actionable content on building links (specifically to local sites).
The Whitespark article is, unsurprisingly, heavily focused on using their local citation tool. But still, there’s a ton of good advice here if you’re looking for links and don’t know where to start.
The local pack algorithm is tied to the organic algorithm which makes Link Building one of the few tactics that can help you rank higher organically, and in maps. While many people focus only on citations, reviews, or content, you can get a double benefit with links pointing to your local landing page.
These two posts are very straightforward, and easy to understand. If you’re trying to rank a local site (or, really, any sort of site where some of these would be relevant), click on through and get to work.
Increase Rankings by Building Grey-hat Links
At Smash Digital we generally stick to white hat link building — especially as our clients are concerned. However, ignoring all sides of link building can lead to having an incomplete understanding of SEO. Suffice to say that highlighting this SEO article is not an endorsement, and grey hat works best when all parties understand the risk (and potential reward).
This tactic involves getting an article written in Russian, and then putting that article on a site that serves up articles to news organizations in Russia (with some even appearing on Google News).
In this case study I will be talking about the Russian article marketing system called Miralinks.
Miralinks is very easy to use and a very good tool where you may find thousands of websites. But what is the most important is that you can find very trusted news sites there.
In addition, some of them broadcast articles directly into Google News…
The main problem is that Miralinks is available only in Russian and there are no tutorials or case studies about Miralinks or how to use it in English.
So I’m going to show you how to get around all of those problems without learning any Russian at all!
Interesting, and if nothing else, a lesson in thinking outside the box when it comes to SEO.
One final thing to keep in mind: the more public an SEO tactic becomes the less effective or riskier it can be to implement.
On Viral Link Building
This Ahrefs piece is basically “how to get killer links using infographics + outreach.” Not exactly a novel take on link building, but it’s a solid step-by-step framework on how to do it, so you might as well check it out and give it a try.
Fortunately, when it comes to SEO, things are not quite so secret, and we can use the power of Ahrefs to reverse engineer the formula for this particular link explosion.
And as it happens, the ingredients are actually quite simple.
Here they are: –
- 1 x decent quality infographic
- 1 x share in the right place
- 1 x emotive topic
- A dash of controversy
- Incur the Wrath of a Big Brand
How to Assess the Risks of Highly Scalable White Hat Link Building
Let’s call this one the “Shut Up and Read It” post of the week. Michael Martinez gets into a serious discussion on all the risks and rewards of *white hat* link building, a part of SEO that doesn’t see much discussion on the “risks” side of things.
After laying some ground work, he tackles various white hat SEO strategies one by one, giving his opinion of the risk/reward. This is some solid SEO education, so definitely check it out.
But the greatest danger to effective link building remains your willingness to share your ideas. The more you share, the less effective these techniques will become. You may think that all these “X link building experts share tips” articles are a great idea, but you are a crowd of Once-lers cutting down Truffula Trees so that you can make an endless supply of Thneeds.
Trust me: once you burn all the great link building techniques you will go back to writing an endless stream of “SEO is dead”, “link building is dead”, and “Google hates me” articles. Sharing is not caring in Web marketing. If you want to reduce the risks associated with your link building, stop participating in all the Expert Roundup Articles. Stop writing ERAs about link building. What is coming down the road is easily preventable, but the Web marketing community acts like it doesn’t care at all about the consequences of all these “great articles”.
1000 Search Engine Queries for Your Link Building Campaign
Bookmark this post and use it over and over again. This collection of search operators will help you find websites to reach out to when conducting a link building campaign. Here’s a sample of the action:
Keyword + “top 10 resources”/”top resources”
Keyword + “top 10 sites/”top sites”
Keyword + “top 10 websites”/”top websites”
Keyword + “top 10 articles”/ “top articles”
Keyword + “top 10 tools”/”top tools”
Keyword + “top 10 web resources”/”top web resources”
Keyword + “top 10 internet resources”/”top internet resources”
Keyword + “top 10 online resources”/”top online resources”
Why “No Follow” Links DO Matter in SEO
One often repeated, but increasingly shitty inaccurate piece of SEO advice is that NoFollow links don’t matter. This article, by Paul Marino
The Benefits of Nofollow Links
As I mentioned above, nofollow links do have value in many of their own ways and should not be shied away from. We all know how hard good, white-hat link building has become over the last 5-10 years, and rightfully so. So passing up a good, quality, RELEVANT link just because it’s nofollowed doesn’t make much sense and here are some of the reasons why:
- Organic Growth: This one could be up for debate, but that all depends what side of the argument you’re on. I firmly believe that Google does follow nofollow links, at least somewhat. This would make them one of their MANY ranking factors for organic growth. There isn’t ONE golden ranking factor that will shoot you to the top of page 1, but when you put all of them together is when you really start seeing some great improvements. If you were wondering about any of these ranking factors that Google looks at, here’s an amazing list of all 200 of them that Brian Dean @ Backlinko put together, kudos on all of that work Brian!
- Diversify Your Backlink Portfolio: Adding a little diversification is only going to help you in the long run. You don’t want to have a backlink profile with all of the same kind of dofollow links from only a few domains. If you do, chances are Google will notice and might think it’s a bit unnatural, and you don’t want to get on their bad side. Just like your financial portfolio, diversification is key.
Some really good points in this article, especially that a diverse backlink profile will always be better than a profile filled with only one kind of link. Plus, if you can get people linking your brand, dofollow/nofollow/whatever, that’s going to help immensely.
So the next time you’re crafting a plan to build some links, remember this article and DIVERSIFY.
White Hat Link Building Techniques (that go beyond link building)
Ryan Stewart, a “recovering black hat,” has some things to share about white has SEO.
1. White hat SEO is a ton of work. There are no shortcuts.
2. White hat SEO works. Really, really well.
Yes, he takes you through such favorites as “leave good blog comments,” which you might roll your eyes at, but give this a read. He shows how dropping a big, well thought-out comment not only got him an ‘in comment’ link, but the author of the post went on to tweet the guide he linked to, and later invited him in an ‘authority opinion round-up’ post (worth a homepage link).
So yeah, there’s some obvious tactics here, but each is an in-depth look at the technique included examples and successes the author had. Recommended.
Side Tangent: I’m a pretty big fan of high quality blog comments believe it or not. Screw the link, focus on traffic from the link. If you have the goal of all of your links bringing in quality traffic then you will be seriously rewarded in the search engines and have qualified visitors all at the same time.
If you’re interested in seeing how the professionals (that’s us) do it, feel free to check out OUR link building service, where we incorporate everything we’ve learned over a decade of link building.