backlinking ann smarty

5 Honest Link Building Methods

Links remain key to search engine rankings.

Without other sites linking to your page, it has 0 chance to rank.

But there’s more to that.

Links generate referral traffic and build your brand.

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that links are essential for all digital marketing tactics.

But with that, it is also the most challenging one.

How are you earning backlinks for your website?

I hope you’re not still submitting your site to hundreds of article sites or lame directories. You’re not spamming blog comments are you?

You shouldn’t rely on one single tactic to get links to your site. You’re so much better off building a diverse link profile by getting links from various legitimate sources.

Here are four honest ways you can earn high quality inbound links for your site–the types of links that Honest Abe would be proud of.

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1. Create Content That Is Highly Shareworthy (Here’s How)

One of the best ways to earn inbound links is by creating content that is highly shareworthy. This tactic outranks the others because with one piece of content you can earn hundreds or thousands of backlinks.

This is also an audience research tactic, so much so as a link building tactic. You get to understand what goes well in your niche and what your target audience seems to relate to.

So, how do you create content that is highly shareworthy?

We tend to think about share-worthy content in the context of viral content, like infographics or videos that have generated thousands of views and shares.

In reality, it doesn’t have to be that huge.

You don’t need to create expensive infographics or videos to earn inbound links. You can write a blog post, publish a guide or create any other kind of content you want.

The important thing to remember is that you should have some kind of hook in the content. Something that grabs the reader, applies to a wide audience and makes viewers want to pass it on.

Remember that the best way to create such content is by including:

  • A hero
  • A villain
  • An emotional story arc
  • A super inspiring meaningful message
  • A downloadable asset like a lead magnet
  • The right time and the right place (seasonality)

Use Visualping to be alerted of something relevant being discussed on Reddit or a big media outlet, like Mashable. This way you will instantly know when your topic is going hot, and you can join that trend by creating your content. That’s a good way to keep those links coming.

When you create content that includes one or more of these elements, not only do you increase the likelihood that people will share it via social networks, but also that media outlets will want to publish it earning you high quality backlinks.

This could also be longer-term projects, like hosting a podcast or a Youtube series.

2. Respond to Press Inquiries

One really simple way to obtain new inbound links is to respond to press inquiries.

You can sign up for a free service like Help a Reporter Out (HARO) that will send you a list of inquiries from reporters/bloggers looking for sources.

Once you receive your first HARO email scan it for any topics that fit your industry and/or your (brand’s) story. Make sure to provide answers right away.

If I wanted to obtain an inbound link for my site I would reply to the email address listed and provide my credentials + a quick quote that can be used in the article.

Reporters are often working on tight deadlines and may not have the time to reply to your email if it only says, “Hi, I’m a XX expert, let me know what questions you have.”

You need to make it easier for them to include your quote after just one email. Be factual, detailed, yet concise.

You may not be selected for each inquiry you respond to, but in my experience if you include a well thought out quote in your response to the inquiry you will have a high acceptance rate.

Remember to start your reply with a credibility statement, then write a short but detailed quote that could be easily used in an article (no one likes generic, fluff quotes), and make yourself available for a follow up.

Oh, and of course include your URL if you hope to get a link!

Twitter is another great place to look for link opportunities. Reporters and bloggers are posting their story requests on Twitter using hashtags like #journorequest, #PRrequests, #writingcommunity and #bloggerrequest.

Keep an eye on those hashtags and tweet back when you have something to say! 

3. Leverage Already Popular Content

Someone has already found something that has gone viral. You can take advantage of that success in two ways:

  • Learn from it
  • Curate it to create your own sharable content

You can search Facebook, Reddit and Tumblr for content (related to your industry) that is getting a lot of likes/comments/shares. Then find a way to make your own content based on what you have found:

  • Create a listicle (Think Buzzfeed for a format)
  • Write a “reaction” article and embed third-party content in there

I would add that if you don’t want to copy/paste directly from other people’s updates, then you should look for viral videos, infographics or images related to your industry.

You can then embed the video/image into your blog post and write up your own story to go around it.

Just make sure that you receive the author’s permission to cross-publish this content.

When using content to build links, focus on community building for long-term success.

4. Create Educational Content

You’d be surprised how high the demand is for truly helpful educational content.

There is a huge community of teachers and homeschooling parents who will gladly link to your content if it provides a good instruction that’s helpful to their users.

Think about content on teaching students to create their own PDF files (ebooks) or to organize their reading lists. Educators are still hungry for useful tutorials teaching their kids something new.

And those links are priceless because educators would never give you links unless it’s well deserved, and Google knows that.

To make this tactic work you need two steps though:

  • Create content that’s truly useful
  • Reach out to your target educators to invite them to check it out and link

Text Optimizer is the tool that will help you create content that really solves problems. It determines niche questions that need to be addressed on a site:

For outreach, make sure to create tools like Pitchbox which will find those prospects, organize them by status (whether you got in touch and whether they responded), and automate follow-ups.

You may want to set up a dedicated email address to run your outreach and I think using your primary email address or a free email address (like Gmail or Yahoo) – these both are not good strategies in the long run.

You can grab a cheap domain using tools like Namify to have a well-branded email address for your outreach. And here’s a good guide on setting up your branded email address for free.

5. Check out the Competition

One easy way to identify some websites you can get a link from is by checking out who is linking to your competitors.

You can quickly and easily conduct this spy work using SE Ranking’s competitor research tool.

Simply type in the URL for your competitor’s website and the tool will show you a list of sites that link to them along with the pagerank for those inbound links.

Once you have a list of inbound links you can filter down the list to the sites that you would love to also get a link from and then reach out to each site to start that discussion.

You can repeat this same process for all of your competitors thus increasing your chances to not only gain some visibility on sites that had previously only written about the competition – but also to earn those all-important backlinks.

Buzzsumo is another great way to analyze your competitors’ links. A great thing about using this tool is that it combines link building research and social media research, i.e. for every linking page it would show you social media numbers like Facebook likes and Reddit Engagement:

Monitor and Organize Your Links

Good links are hard to get! It’s only natural that you’d want to keep a close eye on the best on those you earn. Link Checker is a cool tool that will monitor your links and alert you if there’s any red flag, like an error status. You can also label your links to organize them better.

How Are You Building Links?

Hopefully this list of link-building strategies gave you some new ideas for earning inbound links in an honest, sustainable way.

Build a solid foundation with these honest link building strategies rooted in best practice.

Ann Smarty

Ann Smarty

Ann Smarty is the Brand manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas as well as the founder of Viral Content Bee. Ann has been into Internet Marketing for over a decade, she is the former Editor-in-Chief of Search Engine Journal and contributor to prominent search and social blogs including Small Biz Trends and Mashable. Ann is also the frequent speaker at Pubcon and the host of a weekly Twitter chat #vcbuzz.

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