Backlinks are the Holy Grail when it comes to SEO – so much so that they almost called it Monty Python and The Backlink!
Backlinks (also known as external links) are links that send a user to a page on another website.
To “have a backlink” means that there is a link somewhere on the internet that leads to your website.
Why are backlinks so coveted?
Because – like the Holy Grail – the backlink can breathe new life into a website and keep it going for eternity.
They do this by acting as a channel to naturally send new users to your website (in other words, boosting your organic traffic), which helps SEO and improves your ranking on search engines.
Backlinks also will improve your ranking directly by merely existing, as search engines factor in the number of backlinks a website has into its algorithm.
So, in summary: the more backlinks a website has, the more optimised that website is.
Now, this would be a pretty lame blog if we ended it here. Like “great, backlinks are important, but how does one acquire them?”
By sitting around and hoping they’ll just appear?
Nope. It didn’t work when your father left for cigarettes when you were five, and it isn’t going to work for this.
You have to be proactive and get backlinks yourself.
Don’t worry, though! It’s not as hard as it sounds. It won’t be like going on an Indian Jones quest for the actual Holy Grail in The Last Crusade (Yes, I had to get one last Holy Grail reference in there).
No. To start getting backlinks, you just have to follow these 11 easy link-building tactics that anyone can do!
A Quick Disclaimer on Linkable Assets
For a majority of the following link-building strategies, you’ll need something called a “linkable asset.”
This is essentially something on your website that people will want to link to.
A linkable asset could be your home page, but more likely will be a:
- Piece of content (blog, article, video, podcast, etc.)
- Image or graphic
- Online tool
- Product page
- Service page
Or something similar.
When it comes to the following link-building tactics, you’ll need something you can use as leverage to get backlinks.
People aren’t just going to give them to you for the heck of it. They’ll only do it if linking to your asset will add value to their website and its visitors.
Before conducting any of the following tactics, make sure you have some linkable assets that you will be able to use.
Ask For Links
Yes – when I said these link-building tactics were going to be easy, I meant easy.
Simply asking people for links actually works.
Remember: if you’re in the early days of your website, links aren’t just going to fall out of the sky.
However, reaching out to people will let them know about your high-quality content and prompt them to give you a link!
The key with this is your content has to add value and be relevant to the websites you reach out to.
You can’t just go around asking everyone to link to your website just to help you out. That’s a quick and easy way to ruin your reputation – making it that much harder to obtain links.
Think of it instead like a mutual exchange. You’re offering up something to improve their content and their visitors’ experience, while they give you a backlink.
Start by hopping on Google and searching for websites, blogs, articles, etc. that are relevant to your niche.
Go through these and create a list of ones where you believe your linkable assets will add value.
Maybe you have a tool that will help with a process described in the blog, or you have a piece of content that expands on points and concepts mentioned.
Whatever it is, make sure there is a good reason you are offering up your asset.
Next, get the emails of the authors/website owners you plan to contact.
Or you can find them on social media (DMing people is fast becoming an acceptable business practice, especially on LinkedIn).
Once you feel like you have the contact info of enough websites (at least 20 but the more, the better), you can start the link-building outreach process.
This pretty much involves sending emails asking for your backlink!
In your email, be sure to:
- Demonstrate the value of linking to your website
- Be specific if you compliment their work
- Not be too pushy. Don’t demand a backlink, but offer it up as an opportunity
- Address the person by name
Yup, that’s pretty much it!
Then you wait for responses and hope you get some backlinks!
You won’t get a backlink out of every email. A majority of the people you reach out to may not even respond. And even if they do, they may not give you a link.
But that’s ok!
If you can get even two backlinks out of 50 emails, it’ll be worth it, because every backlink is crucial.
Be sure to stay in touch with the people who respond, even if they don’t link to you. A big part of link-building is maintaining relationships, and you never know when it could lead to a backlink in the future (or some other business opportunity).
A couple of last things on this topic before moving onto the next tactic:
When you’re picking websites to reach out to, check that they are reputable websites.
This is important because the quality of a backlink matters too. Backlinks on a well-respected website with a lot of visitors will boost your SEO more than a website with low traffic.
You can use a tool like Ahrefs to check the quality of a website by looking at its organic traffic and domain authority metrics.
Lastly, if you want to streamline and make it more efficient, you can use email and LinkedIn automation tools.
A tried and true method, guest posting is one of the oldest methods of getting backlinks.
A guest post is a piece of content that you write for another website where you get to put a backlink in that leads to your website.
In this scenario, a backlink is like currency.
Instead of getting paid in cash to write a blog post for someone, you get a backlink and all of the honours and benefits that come with it.
For an in-depth explanation on writing guest posts, check out our Ultimate Guide To Pitching, Landing and Writing Guest Posts For High-Quality Websites.
Essentially, what you’ll be doing is reaching out to websites and pitching guest posts topics to write.
Many websites will have a guest posting program where you can submit pitches, or you can reach out to websites and ask for opportunities (with a similar outreach process as the previous section).
If you create a profile on it, you’ll be able to answer questions while including backlinks to your website (you can also do this on other forums websites like Reddit, but our favourite is Quora).
The best part about using Quora to build links is that the nature of the platform allows you to easily demonstrate your value to people by answering their questions.
But does this actually work? I mean, do people even use Quora?
You may have even noticed Quora answers pop up in Google results when you ask a question as a search enquiry.
The point is, Quora is an extremely popular platform where gaining thousands of views on it is super doable.
And if you can find questions on the platform where answers naturally lead to you linking to your site, that means those thousands of views can turn into website visitors.
It’s as simple as putting in some relevant search terms in Quora and finding questions you can answer.
When trying to link to your website, though, you have to do so in a way that seems natural and organic. If you’re too promotional, Quora may flag your post and take it down.
A few ways to do this are:
- Using your content as a source
- Offering your content as a place to go learn more
- Offer your product/tool/service as a solution to a problem
Other things you should do to keep your profile from getting flagged:
- Answer questions in other fields, so you aren’t linking to your website every time
- Make sure if you promote your website that you disclaim any affiliations
- Link to other websites in your answers too
If you ever get a question taken down, be sure to reach out to Quora customer support to see why. I’ve had posts accidentally taken down, and after reaching out, Quora kindly put them back up.
One last thing: you may have heard of a “nofollow” link, which is a tag on the HTML code that tells search engines a link should not be factored into a website’s ranking.
Quora links are all nofollowed, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have value. They can still send users to your site, which increases your organic traffic.
And as mentioned, you can still get thousands of impressions on Quora.
Add Links In Your Other Blogs
Do you have multiple websites – maybe for other businesses or a personal blog/website?
If you do, linking to your other websites is a really easy way to build backlinks and one that you have complete control over.
Doing so will allow you to create your own little network where you can spread your visitors across your websites.
This will work especially well if you have an already established website, as you can place links within it to send users to new or lesser-performing websites.
As always, your links still need to be useful to the reader and appear organic. You don’t want it to look like you created a website JUST to place links (a big no-no in Google’s eyes).
If you don’t have a second website, consider creating one.
Again, not as a place solely for links, but rather for your personal brand separate from your business, where you can create original content (like a personal blog, video diary, free courses, etc.) in addition to linking to your other websites.
Another great way to do this is to start a personal blog on Medium (or some other blogging platform).
Point is, the more online entities you control, the more your audience will expand. You’ll be able to spread them throughout your network of websites through links, increasing your traffic and SEO.
The Skyscraper Method
The skyscraper method was originally created by Brian Dean of Backlinko.
It’s very similar to asking for links, but it has an extra spin on it.
With the skyscraper method of link-building, you’re creating content with the sole purpose of getting a link by building off of what already exists.
What this means is: you find a piece of content in your field with a lot of backlinks.
Then, you write something that is better than that original piece of content by:
- Making it longer (works especially well with lists)
- Go more in-depth with explanations
- Add a new idea/concept/opinion
- Bring new information statistics
After you’ve created your brand new and better content, you reach out to the websites linking to the original content and say:
“Hey, mine’s better. Link to me instead.”
Obviously, you’ll say it a little more elegantly than that, but you get the idea.
So, to sum up, write the best and tell people that it’s better than everything else and hopeful they’ll give you a link.
You can learn more about the Skyscraper Method in Brian Dean’s blog on the topic.
Create Original Images
High quality and free images are a hot commodity on the internet.
And if you can be a provider of images, then you’re in store for quite a few backlinks, my friend.
This is because it is proper internet etiquette to include a link to the original source of an image.
If you have a good camera, Adobe Photoshop skills or know how to make some sick infographics/charts, you can use them as leverage to get backlinks.
Reach out to websites, blogs and/or articles you believe could benefit from using your image in exchange for a backlink.
Maybe you have a specific image in mind, or you can simply let them know you have a great selection of pictures ready to be used at any time.
Another trick you can do to get backlinks for your pictures is something called reverse image search.
This is the process of finding people who have already used your images and asking them to give you the proper source and backlink.
For an in-depth tutorial on reverse image searching, check out this article here.
Lastly, to increase the likelihood of your images being discovered and used for backlinks, you’ll want to properly optimise them.
You can learn more about optimising images here in our blog titled Overlooked SEO Boosters Part 2: Image & Video Optimisation.
Most of the time, 404 errors are annoying little boggards who pop up at the worst possible time.
But for building backlinks, a 404 error can be a godsend.
A 404 error is what pops up when a link sends you to a page that doesn’t or no longer exists.
This is also called a broken link.
And broken link-building is when you find broken links on relevant websites, and offer up your content as a replacement (or create new content if you don’t have anything readily available).
You can do this by simply reaching out to the owner, informing them of the broken link and then letting them know about the existence of your content.
This works really well because broken links are bad for the user experience. Website owners will be appreciative of being offered a quick and easy fix for one.
You don’t have to stop there though, because you can take the 404 error page and put it into Ahrefs to get a list of all of the other websites that are linking to it.
Now you have a full list of websites to add to your broken link-building outreach!
Similar to previous sections that involve outreach, you’re not going to get a response about every backlink – but the more you find, the more links you’ll get!
Definitely keep this strategy in mind whenever you come across a broken link. However, you also don’t have to sit around and wait around for a broken link to come along.
To proactively find broken links, create a list of high ranking websites in your field. Then run them through Ahrefs broken link checker. Find all of their pages with 404 errors to see if there are any websites linking to them.
For more on how you can use Ahrefs to your SEO and link-building benefit, check out our Ultimate Guide On How To Use Ahrefs.
Feature As A Guest On Other Types Of Content
Backlinks don’t always have to come from blogs and articles.
You can get backlinks from other types of content, like YouTube videos, live streams and podcasts by featuring as a guest.
You’ll often get links to your website in the link descriptions of the above, as well as on any promotions for your appearance by you and the host on social media and their website.
To learn about how to get featured as a guest on other people’s content, check out Pearl Lemon Lead’s Complete Guide On How To Generate Leads Through Podcast Appearance.
The guide focuses on podcasts, but it’s applicable to other forms of content. It also centres on lead generation but dives into how to get backlinks.
Build, Maintain And Use Professional Relationships For link-building
At the core of link-building is forming relationships.
If you have professional relationships, it will make getting links so much easier.
I mean, it’s easier to ask people you already know for favours than random people, right?
Building links are no different.
I know that a lot of the above tactics involve cold outreach, but think of them as the beginning of professional relationships.
Be willing to work with people and offer help, whether by giving them linking and guest-posting opportunities in return (if it makes sense and isn’t a “scheme”) or something else.
People will be much more likely to give you a link if you’re there for them as well. And if you maintain a relationship with them, you may be able to get more backlinks in the future (or other businesses opportunities).
So don’t think about link-building as, “how can I get a bunch of links out of people?” but rather, “how can I build long-term, mutually-beneficial relationships with people that will also get me backlinks?”
Look For Unlinked Mentions
Remember how previously, I talked about reverse image searching to find unlinked uses of your pictures?
Well, what if I told you that you could do the same thing with your brand name mentions?
Because sometimes people will mention your brand name without giving you a link. I know! How Rude?!
To do this the free way, you can use Google by searching your brand name using Google’s Advanced Search to exclude your website and social media.
You can then go through all of the results and find the places that have your brand name but don’t include a backlink.
This would obviously take quite a bit of time, but you can use a tool like BrandMentions to speed up the process.
Help A Reporter Out is an online platform that journalists use to find sources and one you should definitely add to your link-building toolbox.
Here’s how it works:
Journalists will post queries on the platform, looking for experts that they can quote in their publications.
You sign up as a source and look for requests about topics within your field of expertise from journalists.
When you find queries you believe you can answer, you’ll send a pitch to the journalist. If they like what you have to say, they’ll include your quote along with a link to your website!
Another similar website you can check out is called Muck Rack.
Platforms like these fall under the Public Relations or PR umbrella. To earn more about this, you can read our PR And Content For Growth Strategy Guide.
And there you have it – 11 easy link-building tactics that you can start doing today!
For more on link-building and general SEO improvement tips, go check out our blog!
We have tons of great SEO advice waiting just for you.
And if you want professional help, don’t hesitate to book a call with us!
We at Pearl Lemon are an award-winning SEO agency and would love to help with your link-building and SEO process.