Acquiring links to improve your SEO can make up to 80% of the impact for your website to appear on the first page of Google. There are several link building tactics that can be used to improve your rankings. Adopting white hat SEO methods is the best way to get your website’s rankings onto the first page of Google over the long term. To achieve this, you need your website to acquire links naturally. This is where many people engaging in SEO struggle since they are unaware of the tactical methods they can use that will allow them to acquire natural links to their website. This has been voiced several times by Google’s representatives, especially Matt Cutts.
By the time you finish reading this article, we want you to know how and where to acquire these natural links in your industry. So without any further ado, we will dive straight into 60 natural link building methods that you can use to build your link portfolio.
This approach should be your first port of call when doing link building. You can use tools to identify who has linked to similar web content and ask the webmaster if they would also like to link to your content. You can use tools such as Moz’s Open Site Explorer, Majestic SEO or Ahrefs to find out who is linking to the site’s content. Once you have developed a list of websites, you will need to find their contact details either on the website or by finding their public details on WHOIS. The next step will be to follow up with an email (or phone call if you need) to pitch the content that you want them to link to from their website.
Rather than recreate the wheel, take a look at web content that has generated a lot of links for websites. You can do this by reviewing the popular content of some of the top websites in your industry by checking the backlinks to their most popular pages. You can achieve this by reviewing the links pointing to their most popular pages using a tool like Open Site Explorer. You can also do a search using sites such as BuzzSumo to find the content in your industry that has been shared by influencers and also check the backlinks acquired as a result of those shares.
3. Get listed with your local chamber of commerce.
If you are a registered business, you should reach out to your local chamber of commerce. By joining a chamber of commerce, you would usually be automatically added to their business directory. Depending on the relationship the Chamber of Commerce has with local media websites, your business may also feature across other media websites. There are usually annual fees associated with joining. In return, your business would also receive additional benefits, which may include workshops, training and promotional activities.
4. Contribute to charity.
Providing business donations can help your business acquire an authoritative link. Takeshi Young from Keshkesh.com mentioned on the Ahrefs blog how acquiring a link from a reputable site such as school clubs, arts organisations and charities who are actively looking for donations. Saying this, your intention should be to contribute to the intentions of the organisation that you are financially supporting. Gaining a link is a bonus.
5. Get listed on your local business directory.
There are popular local business directories in most geographic regions around the world. Submitting your business’s details to local directories such as the Yellow Pages or your local community directory can generate natural links and traffic for your business.
6. Contribute to web forum discussions.
There are several web forums online that have discussion threads that may be suited to your topic. If you can contribute value to the discussion, it can be a great way to gain a link. Additionally, if the forum topic thread is one that gets a lot of views, you may find that you will start receiving referral traffic from the forum. The exposure on the forum thread may also create opportunities for people to bookmark or share your link naturally on the web.
When seeking a link from web forum discussions, avoid placing links (especially with exact match anchor text) in your signature, as Google has taken action on these types of ‘Unnatural links’ and ensure that you contribute to the forum discussion to avoid the link being flagged up as spam.
7. Contribute to blog comment discussions.
Similar to the forum discussions presented above, engaging in blog comment discussions can help to pass authority through to your website (depending on whether or not the site provides dofollow or nofollow attributes on links). Should you add value to the discussions in the blog commentary section, you can facilitate more discussions and generate referral traffic to your website and may inspire readers to bookmark or publish the link on their own website.
8. Contribute a blog post as a guest.
There are many opportunities to earn a guest blog posting opportunity by contributing content to a website. There are several blogs that are seeking out guest contributors. You can easily find guest blog post opportunities by doing a search on Google or Twitter. Acquiring a link once you have been accepted to develop a guest blog post is achievable. However, to gain much more value from the link that is published on the site, you should provide content that is valuable and that will earn links over the long term.
In which a link could be added to the article or author bio. However, it should only be included if it adds value to the reader. You can see an example of the author bio below.
Source article: How to beat the odds and make your startup succeed.
9. Engage in Question and Answer Networks.
There are question and answer networks that receive a lot of engagement across an array of discussion topics. Popular Q& A websites like Quora, Google Groups, Yahoo Answers & LinkedIn Answers allows you to provide expert answers to the community and the value of your answer will be endorsed by the community. Since you will be seeking to add value, you can use links as a reference to gain a natural link from these sites or encourage readers of the answers to share the links on other sites. You should also see referral traffic coming from the link that you have provided.
10. Mentioning and citing experts.
Mentioning and citing experts is a great way of adding value to your content. It is also a great way to incentivise experts to bookmark and share your content. It is a win-win for both parties and can earn you reference links from their own and their follower’s websites. Below are some bloggers that endorse this strategy.
11. Encourage user generated content on your website.
A great way to gain more natural links to your site is by allowing visitors to post their own content on your site. While this solution isn’t applicable for every type of web business, should the opportunity present itself, you may find that the content people generate will allow them to share and acquire links for you on your website’s behalf. Some methods that website’s have used to accomplish this include:
- Installing a forum on their website
- Creating a user portal for contributors
- Adding a Wiki module for people to contribute content.
12. Encourage guest submissions on your own website.
Ask content creators to provide content on your website in the form of a guest blog contribution. You can gain valuable content on your website for free, exposure to their web audience and the opportunity to acquire natural links to your website from their promotional activities.
Leveraging the power of social media can allow your website to gain exposure quickly and vastly for your content. Your content will be shared via the links in social media, whether it is in the form of a direct link or a URL shortener such as TinyURL or Bit.ly. Google have said that the social media signals aren’t factored into the algorithm. However, there is a correlation between the amount of social media shares and the amount of earned links on other websites.
Ultimately, link building will come down to the relationship and trust that you have with the web publisher. If the web publisher has confidence in the content that you are developing, they won’t hesitate to link to your website. Secondly, since links are earned, you need to earn the interest of the web publisher for them to publish a link on their site. This means that you are going to them and offering them value to enhance their web content, their lifestyle, their ego, their credibility, their following or endorsement, rather than asking them for something and providing nothing in return. Seek to build and foster relationships in your industry and you will start to notice your site acquiring natural links from influential people.
15. Submit your intent to interview with web magazines, newspapers & blogs.
If you have the ability to collaborate with web media publications by providing an interview and releasing first-hand information and points of views, you will be adding to the credibility of the publication and can earn yourself a link to your site.
16. Conduct an interview.
Alternatively, you can conduct your own interview and invite experts to contribute their thoughts and points of view on the discussion topic. Following the publication with their feature, you will be likely to earn a link on the contributor’s websites. This is a form of ego-bait link building.
17. Launch a contest (Sweepstakes and competitions).
The traction of natural links that you can acquire from promoting competitions can positively impact your website’s traffic and the growth of organic links to your website. Seek to promote a competition such as a prize giveaway where conditions of the competition involves the contestant to publish your link on a web platform such as their personal blog, website or social media platforms. These competitions can also open the door to interest from other website platforms or web communities that will want to engage in the competition. Off the back of this activity, you will gain natural links, added web traffic and new customers for your business. You can also choose to launch the competition directly on your website or to work with influencers who can promote the competition to their audience.
*Note – Depending on where you are running this competition in the world, you may be subject to advertising disclaimers. Ensure that you check with your country’s advertising policies.
This is a great method that has been promoted widely by SEO guru Brian Dean. You will need to find websites in your industry and look for links from resources pages or other areas of their site where the link may be broken or the content is outdated. You can achieve this by doing the following search on Google.
Alternatively, you can use software to identify sites that have these broken links or outdated content.
Next, you can contact the Webmaster and advise them of the issue and suggest a replacement with your website. You can use the example template email provided below.
Once you have sent them the email, you will need to wait for the responses to measure your success rate. A few examples Brian Dean mentioned on his blog saw success rates in excess of 20%. (For experienced link builders, you will know that is a lot) Furthermore, the improvement in the website’s SEO rankings skyrocketed since the relevancy and authority of these links from the page and website contributed to increasing rankings and web traffic.
19. Pitch to media journalists.
SEO has evolved to become a form of digital PR. Businesses should pitch their offerings to media journalists to gain coverage and natural links from authoritative media sources. If you would like to gain a link in your country’s national newspaper or television news website, you will need to pitch story ideas to the media journalists.
The difficulty with attracting the interest and publication in these media portals varies. The better you become with your story pitch, the better chance you have with gaining a link and exposure for your website and business. There is an excellent resource provided by Copyblogger – “109 Ways to make your business irresistible to the media”. In short, there are a few things that you should consider to improve your success when implementing this strategy.
- Reach out to reporters and journalists with the intention of building a relationship.
- Respond to posts that they have written.
- Highlight topics that may incentivise them to do a story.
- Ask them if you can add them to your email list to sell them on the doing a story for your business.
- Have an awesome press release ready in the form of a story, so they can hit the ground running.
You can find web pages that mention your business but doesn’t link through to your website. You can use a tool like BuzzSumo or Mention.net to find mentions of your website across the web. If they linked to your website, that is great! If they haven’t, then you will need to send them a polite email asking if they can create a hyperlink to your website where they have mentioned you. The acquisitions of these links tend to be easier to acquire and are usually from high authority websites.
21. Reach out to content curators.
Find content creators that do content or link roundups each week or month of the best content. You can pitch them your website’s content and earn a link on their website. You can find them by searching for “keyword + Roundups”. In the example below, there is a roundup link to an article I wrote called “16 fun, but different ways to explore Jamaica” on my personal blog Lollivia.com.
If you have developed an eBook, you can get it in front of hundreds or thousands of readers by submitting to eBook promotional websites. While there isn’t a guarantee that you can get a link directly from the platforms, you can gain relevant links across relevant websites should the reader choose to share or recommend your book. Just be sure to make the reader aware of your website in the book so you can facilitate those natural links.
Ann Smarty published a post on Search Engine Journal where eBook publishers can submit their eBook.
23. Educational institution outreach.
Assess your content to see if it can benefit educational institutions. This includes schools, colleges, universities and private educational institutions. For example, if you provide accounting tips and advice, you may want to reach out to the financial department in the educational institution to offer your content as a resource to their students. This may result in a link to your website being published on the university’s website and shared across other web platforms that are affiliated with the university or students.
24. Job boards postings.
The ability to link out from job boards will vary, as well as the amount of time the job posting will stay live on the website. If you are looking for staff members for your organisation, compliment your job listing with a natural link back to your website. Some job boards also offer a dedicated page for your organisation. The authority across many credible job boards is usually high. Should the job or business profile stay permanently on the website, you can gain an aged link that will increase in authority over time. You will also have the flexibility to add different types of jobs, whether they you are offering internships, part-time or full-time work. To further compliment this, you can provide a more detailed job spec and application form on your website.
25. Encourage online reviews.
If your customers are happy with the services and products that you provide, encourage them to leave reviews on review websites. The types of review websites will differ among the industries. These reviews will also enhance your online credibility.
26. Submit your online review.
Submit online reviews to review websites where you can also share a URL or link back to your site. Ensure that you provide genuine reviews and aim to deliver quality, not quantity.
27. Submit testimonials.
This is a method that is often overlooked. You can actually submit testimonials to your suppliers. These testimonials may end up being used on the suppliers website. In some cases, you may even gain a feature on one of their main pages!
28. Leverage your personal and working relationships.
Get momentum on your link building activities by asking people in your personal and working network to link through to your website if they have a personal or business website. You may find that you can a few quick links.
By getting your website in front of more people, you will have a better chance of gaining more traffic and more links. That being said, the traffic needs to be relevant otherwise people aren’t going to share the link to your site. Conduct a search in your industry to see which high-traffic websites could work for you in your industry.
30. Pitch your local library.
You may be able to acquire a website link from your local library. This may involve submitting reference content such as an eBook. Speak to a member from your local library to find out the submission process and to see if you can submit a reference link to be featured on their website.
If you are good with analysing websites or different areas of business, you can make the website owner aware of a problem that they are having and suggest how to fix the issue. Should the issue be resolved, you can kindly ask for a link from that site.
32. Promote a scholarship, award or reward.
Create a scholarship, award or reward for excellence in a field and award it to a person or business. Furthermore, you can nominate several businesses to be a part of the award. You will find that the nominees and even the recipient may publish a link to your site.
33. Nominate your business or website for awards.
By nominating your business or website for an award, you may gain a feature on the awards website as a nominee, finalist or winner. In addition to acquiring a natural link, the award will enhance the credibility of your business or website.
34. Join trade associations.
If there are relevant trade associations in your industry, join them to allow your business to engage in networking events, information and best practices as well as creating an opportunity to facilitate your website promotion with the trade association and its members.
Reddit is a highly engaged social network on the Internet with sub-communities (called sub-Reddits). Submit your valuable content to the most relevant sub-Reddit to gain a link from the social media platform, but more importantly, to facilitate traffic and link sharing within the community.
Email marketing will be the blood of your content and link building success. If you have a database of targeted people that would be interested in your website’s content, you can forward an email with your content and ask them to share the link on social media and on their websites, if they found it valuable.
You can apply on web publications to become an author on their website. This should allow you to receive an author bio and allow you to post relevant links to websites. The links that you place should be relevant and contribute value. Failure to do so may see your author status for the site being revoked. There is a great post from Molly Borchers on Noobpreneur.com where she explains how you can gain an author profile on sites like the Huffington Post and Forbes magazine.
You can acquire natural links by networking and contacting businesses and people offline. You can build relationships by contacting people via phone or by meeting them in person. Build the relationship with the person and the organisation to gain a natural link from them, while forging a good relationship bond with the person.
39. Release press announcements.
Press releases and announcements have been a good way to gain exposure and to acquire links for websites. Unfortunately, people have focused on the actual press release to acquire links rather than an opportunity to connect with web publishers to publish stories and web publications that reference their site. Businesses should release a press release with the intention of promoting a story that involves their business. Should the story make it to publication, you will increase your opportunity to gain a valuable link on authoritative media pieces. Sending out quality is more important than quantity. You can follow a couple of guides provided below.
If you develop content in the form of case studies, you could share it across social media or with other web publishers to gain a reference link to your website. You can also conduct a search for sites and institutions that accept case studies by doing a Google search for “ Keyword + submit case study”.
41. Become a contributor to a podcast.
In a similar way where there are blogs seeking content contributors, podcast channels are often looking for contributors as well. Look out for interview or collaboration opportunities that can further your exposure to their audience and earn a reference link on the podcast owner’s website.
42. Contribute to a story for a local television or radio station.
Television and radio stations are always looking for story submissions. If you know television or radio shows that cover your industry, send them a story submission to see if you can receive a feature. The stories are usually published on their website, so if you feature on their show, you will also earn an authoritative link to your site. There is a great guide from Peter Shankman where he explains how to become a guest expert on any news program.
43. Invite journalists to an event that you are hosting.
If you are hosting an event, invite a journalist to attend. The journalist may be inspired to share a story from the event, which may earn you an editorial publication that will feature your website’s link.
If you create image content in the form of photos or illustrations, you can allow people to use your content on the web in exchange for a link to the source of your link. If the image becomes popular and widely used, you can earn loads of natural ‘credit’ links to your image source and our website.
There are several website where you can submit your whitepaper and increase your website’s exposure. The whitepaper submission site may grant you links to your business’s website and you can also facilitate your link growth through the exposure provided by the whitepaper submission. Conduct a search on Google for “Submit whitepaper” to find a list of websites that you can submit your whitepaper to. If you choose to host the whitepaper on your website, share the links with relevant audiences that will link through to the whitepaper.
These are becoming popular amongst bloggers on the web and are earning them natural links and traffic to their site. It is similar to public companies that share their earnings reports with the financial market. It provides interest and is also newsworthy content that can naturally earn you links from media publications on the web. Examples of interest from media websites into website’s earnings can be seen in a report on Johnny Ward after he posted on his site how he made $1 million after blogging for 3 years while travelling and was featured on Forbes.
47. Offer accreditation badges to people that work with your business.
You can offer the opportunity for suppliers and customers to show their affiliation with your business by offering them badges to place on their website. You can offer this in the form of an embeddable image. You will find that you will gain natural links from websites that are relevant to your site.
48. Submit your infographic to interested websites.
If you publish infographics, you have an opportunity to get featured on relevant websites. You will be able to share your infographic on infographic directories and to pitch it to relevant websites in your industry with a customised introduction.For a more extensive guide on how to develop an Infographic for link building, read the collaborative article between Niel Patel and Brian Dean on QuickSprout.
If you have valuable content on your website, be sure to share it with your target audience regularly. Especially if the content is evergreen. You will find that you will earn new links and traffic that should compound positively with each new share.
50. Engage in traditional advertising media.
This refers to engaging in trigger marketing tactics that use traditional above the line and below the line marketing tactics. Promoting through television ads or infomercials (which can also be achieved through web video platforms such as YouTube), print advertising media and radio broadcasting through branded and direct response campaigns can facilitate natural link growth for your website. Below the line marketing activities such as in-store sales pitches or guerrilla marketing tactics can be tailored to further incentivise consumers to link to your business.While this is traditionally used to create brand awareness or education for a market, businesses that are implementing these tactics as a part of their broader marketing campaign can facilitate links that will allow search engines to view them as a ‘brand’.If you implement the tactics provided, you should see the links to your website grow organically, as well as abide within Google’s terms of service and compliment your business’s marketing plans.
51. Exhibit your business at a trade or industry event.
Attending conferences and industry events to exhibit is a great way to create exposure for your business. Furthermore, if attend these events as a speaker, you will raise your perceived expertise with the audience you are presenting to. You can easily promote your website through your presentation, business cards and brochure and incentivise your audience to save or share links to your content.
52. If you operate in other country or language regions, seek out listings on those geographic or language websites.
Large websites that operate across several geographic areas tend to implement a geo-centric link building strategy to build authority and relevancy to those specialised areas of their website. If you have language or regional specific content on your website, reach out to local websites that may be interested in linking to your local language content.
53. Partner or collaborate with local businesses to feature on their website.
You may do a cross promotion or collaboration with another business. When doing so, encourage the audience that is engaging in the campaign to share links to your website.
54. Promote a webinars page on your website.
If your website promotes webinars, share the event description or registration page with prospective attendees in your industry. You can easily achieve this by sharing the event on social media, in relevant web community groups and via email. Make sure you tell them to bookmark or share the event.
This is an easy quick win. If you own more than one website, you can implement crosslinking between the sites to pass the authority between your web pages. You should avoid overoptimising the links with exact match anchor text and extensive amounts of links. Consider placing the links on the site to enhance the users experience. This way, they will remain natural and you will still gain the benefits from the crosslinking.
56. Leverage funding sites.
If a part of your business plan is to raise finance, then you can consider sharing your link on the vendor platforms. Whether you are seeking crowdfunding, angel investment or venture capitalists, you can find sites and share your website’s link on their website.
57. Expand your business to online retail shop portals.
If you provide retail services, you can create retail shops on other platforms. (E.g. EBay, Amazon, Etsy). You will need to check with each website to find out their linking policy. It is possible that you may be able to earn a link from the platform. If not, you may be able to earn a link from your customer that’s been referred from the platform.
58. Submit your business to relevant small business, SME or enterprise websites.
There are website portals where you can submit your registered business. Check the quality and relevancy of the websites prior to submitting your link. You can check the following link to find a list of websites.
59. Engage in research activities by conducting surveys and publishing the findings on your own site and submitting the results to other websites.
You can conduct a survey using sites like Survey Monkey to collect data for your business’s marketing. You can leverage the data from surveys into different forms of content (you can view ideas here from Ken McGaffin) to submit your findings to earn links from news sites, blogs and other web publications.
60. Create an affiliate program.
Many web businesses have grown their business quickly and have become the dominant forces in their industry from affiliates heavily promoting their website. This allowed both affiliates and customer prospects to build a strong link portfolio for the business. (As was the case with Amazon). Businesses that engage in affiliate marketing programs can gain exposure and depending on the link availability (Affiliate network tracking links or your own website’s affiliate link with the affiliate’s tracking id) The exposure from the affiliate marketing should also stimulate the organic sharing of your website’s link.
Below are some more links to websites that can also help you with your natural link building initiatives.
Resource: Natural Link Building 101
Published by Kristi Hines on Kissmetrics, she highlights alternative link building tactics that can be implemented to your link building campaign.
Pat Flynn and Brian Dean collaborate on a post that details a natural link building approach that works when doing SEO.
Web author Franklin Hatchett details his methods when developing a high quality backlink profile.
Resource: SEO Strategy Case Study: 963% More Organic Traffic
A detailed case study from Brian Dean on SEO strategies that catapulted organic search traffic as a result of clever link acquisition strategies.
Another incredible post from Kristi Hines that covers how experts share their blog posts and earn links to their sites.
Resource: 101 Ways to Promote Your Next Blog Post
The team from Buzz Blogger have compiled a thorough list that covers all aspects of how to promote your blog. Many of the tips shared in here can also be adopted in a link building strategy.
This is a nice post on Ahrefs from Ryan Steward discussing how white hat techniques can work well when applied correctly.
Resource: 11 Ways Local Businesses Can Get Links
A great publication on Moz from Casey Meraz where he discusses ways to gain natural authoritative business links.
Resource: The Local Link Building Guide of 2014
A great article by Greg Smith that also has a roundup of other handy link posts.
Resource: The Linkbuilder.io link building blog
There are excellent posts published by Stewart and his team from Linkbuilder.io
Dmitry Dragilev is an expert at PR and shares essential PR tips that every SEO specialist should master.
There are many tools that you can use to assist you with your natural link building activities. I have listed a few of them below.
If you can develop this with your website’s profile, you will build a white-hat SEO friendly profile to your website. I ask that the tactics that have been presented to you should be used to contribute value, not to engage in spam.
To conclude, I want to leave you with the wise words of Neil Patel who is an expert on natural link building and is well known in the SEO industry.
I hope that this list has been helpful and that you will be able to build a natural link portfolio that will allow you to achieve your desired SEO success!
Thank you for reading!
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