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The Ultimate Guide on Link Building for SEO

Link SEO

Building links is one of the most important step that you need to do to improve your site's overall ranking in Google searches.

In fact, Google has come out and said that links to a site is one of its two most important criteria for ranking websites, the other being content.

While Google has not specifically mentioned, which one of the two- content and links, is more important, I personally feel that links outweigh the importance of content.

The reason behind this is that I never found a site with about 18000 words of comprehensive content but minimal to no links outrank a site having several links but minimal content.

There is also the fact that links from authority sites bring a huge number of visitors. That's not all. If done correctly, links can lead to a whopping increase in conversion rates too.

In fact link has undisputed and supreme importance if you want to bring your site to prominence.

Without further ado let's move on and bring to the table some immensely actionable ways by which you can start building links.

#1. Content that goes Viral

Viral Content, SEO, Blog

As the adage goes, content is king. Throughout my blogging career, my belief in this term had several ups and downs before I finally came across a rather convoluted conclusion!

I will discuss that soon enough in this guide.

Content, is the first thing that you should pay attention to, after you create a blog. In fact, publishing great content at a regular basis will help your site go viral and also build links at a regular basis.

The secret to producing great content is not just doing what everybody else is doing but selecting a topic that is hot at the moment and creating such a content that it is the best all over the Internet.

Of course, doing such a work is no joke and will force you to do a lot of research and spend hours in front of the keyboard. 

And, to top it off, make no mistake; just creating great content will not make for your site a boat load of links. On the contrary after making a really amazing piece of content, you need to market it. This guide has it all but let me first bring my conclusion to you too.

You see, content is king. But technically, marketing it is like its army. Just like the fact that without an army a king is useless, your masterpiece content will be useless if the top dogs in your niche or a huge number of your potential customers don't get to see it.

To be honest, awesome content may build links; and it does build links in an awesome and amazing fashion too. But, it is a technique that needs to be used in tandom with the other techniques here too.

Anyhow, there are some points you should keep in mind if you want to create awesome content:

Create a Visually Attractive Post

I don't think, this part is very much hard. Creating a visually attractive post is rather simple actually. You just should adorn your post with pictures, charts, infographics and videos.

This is because, no one really has the mindset to go through pages and pages of letters, even if it is very well written or the content is thought provoking.

To keep your audience's interest, the post needs to be visually attractive.
visually attractive blog post seo
To create visuals, charts and infographics, you can make use of sites like Visual.ly, Befunky and Piktochart, or you can hire a designer at Upwork.

In fact, according to an analysis by Buzzsumo, it has been seen that most highly linked to content on the web are visual posts like infographics.

The secret behind so many links that infographics get is that, you can freely share an infographic at several high authority sites without having to do any extra work.

The Thing about Infographics and Why you Should Try Them

With infographics, you can share the same stuff, helping you bag links without having to spin any articles as you would have to do with guest posting.

Of course, it is easier said than done.

To be really successful with infographics, you need to have a good theme that the visual can be based upon. Also, the infographic's design should be eye-catching as no one likes a lousily designed infographic.

Where to Submit your Infographics

After you create your infographics, be sure to submit your infographics to the following list of visual directories.

Guestographics Submission Directory

Create List Posts

Q: What's the content that brings the greatest amount of links?
Ans: List posts.

To prove my point, open Moz's Open Site Explorer tool and put in famous blogging sites like Shoutmeloud and Famous Bloggers in the search bar.


After it brings the results, click on the "top pages" section and you will find that list posts are probably their most linked to pages excluding the home page and about page.

For example, in the case of Shoutmeloud, their post on 101 Ways to Get Quality Backlinks To Your Blog, is one of the biggest backlink earners of the blog. It has got till date, a total of 872 backlinks from 46 different domains.
List Posts bring Links

As you can see, such posts bring about a huge number of links, even though, usually such posts don't pack much detail and are not actionable most of the time. Try doing the same for any other sites that you know of. Most chances are that they too have list posts as their most linked to content.

This is further backed by Buzzsumo's research on one million articles, where they found that list posts produce the highest number of links than any other forms of content whatsoever.

But remember, if you want your articles to bag backlinks, then they must be the best in the niche. 

For example, if you are working on a list of productivity apps. Now say, a site has a list of 40 best productivity apps.

If you want your site to garner backlinks, then a meek article on the top 15 apps will not get you anywhere. If you want links, you need to go above and beyond. Create a highly detailed list on top 100 apps to boost productivity or even more!

List Posts for SEO

Only then, when you successfully create a wow factor, do you get backlinks to your site. For optimum success, try to create list posts on topics that have not been covered much as of yet.

And as it is with content, quality is the most important factor. If your content is to bring you links it must be high quality.

Before you start posting, always ask yourself, "Will this help my audience?". If the answer is yes, then by all means, go ahead.

If the answer is no, find a new topic.

Find Interesting and Hot topics to Write On

A great way to find "hot content" (I had mentioned above that finding hot content to write on is important), is by going to Buzzsumo and searching for some slightly specific search terms. Buzzsumo will bring you results around with posts revolving somewhat closely around that topic and mention the number of links each such posts bring.

Another way to brainstorm trending ideas that your potential customers may love is by visiting Quora. Search for broad topics and look at the questions.

Check the number of people following such questions, to find a brief idea about the popularity of the topic. If you feel that the question is popular, write an in-depth article regarding the topic or question.

Produce Ultimate Guides with In-depth Content

Say, you are looking for a guide on link building for SEO and you stumble across a site that just outlines the basic, without going in deep regarding the why's and how's of the post.

Chances are, you would never return to the site.

With the internet being filled with information, if you don't provide complete comprehensive content, some other site will do so.

Providing extremely detailed and comprehensive content helps your viewers collect all the information they need on the subject from just that one article.

Ultimate Guides for SEO Backlink Build

Guides that reek of highly detailed information help your audience find your site as the one-stop shop on all about the stuff they are searching for.

Plus ask yourself, why should a high authority site link to a site with half assed sloppy content rather than a site that contains all the information, that there is about a subject.

To provide you with an example, top sites like Moz, Backlinko, QuickSprout (in SEO) and Trusted Reviews, TechRadar (in tech), among others get links to their content because the stuff that they produce is top notch and highly detailed.

#2. Guest Posting

I personally quite favour this strategy, the reason being that I am better in writing, than I am in doing research and/or marketing.

If better is not the right word, then I would feel, that writing about something in my niche is far more interesting than trying to find some Webmaster's email address so as to send them personalised pitches to get links.

Before I delve into the details, I should provide a bit of an introduction for the uninitiated. 
Guest Blogging for Building Backlinks

Guest blogging or guest posting is basically posting content at other bloggers' or site owner's site.
But why the heck should you write for other people's sites when you could write for your own?

The answer can be broken into three simple and main reasons:
  1. To build links
  2. To increase your site's and your's branding
  3. To grow your viewers
Of course you need to do a bit of reconnaissance before you start pitching site owner's for guest posting. The fact which may make several bloggers believe that guest posting is harder than other SEO tactics to build links is that- 
  • Most bloggers don't know how to find guest posting opportunities easily
  • Most bloggers don't know how to pitch, that is they don't know the best topic, they should ask other site-owners to let them guest post on.
  • And lastly, a huge chunk of bloggers send sub-standard guest posts hoping that the site owner will accept it with open arms.
Anyhow, I will address some of the common stuff that you should know and do, when you guest blog/ post, so as to make the guest posting campaign, a success.

But before that, let me demystify a very gross mistake most site owners may make.
They send low-quality posts to site owners, hoping that the posts would be accepted. Don't make that mistake. Site owners and top bloggers are under no obligation to you to post your content.
Heck, if you want to be published at their site, you need to come up with a rock solid content, that is at par or even better than the content that you come up with at your site.

With that said, let's move on to-

How to Easily Find Guest Posting Opportunities to Build Links

Guest Posts for Links

To be quite honest with you, you should consider guest posting as a way to build your recognition, rather than just to build links for your site.

Building links should always be your secondary consideration.

So, that means never pitch to site owners who blog about a different niche or have a different audience.

Even if you succeed in getting links from their sites, you have a very high chance of getting your site flagged and penalised by Google. Also, the audience visiting your site through the links will lose interest at your blog.

But anyhow, there are some tactics that you can use to find blogs to guest post at easily and with lesser work.

To find blogs and sites which look for guest posts, you can search Google using the following search strings:
  • Keyword “guest post”
  • Keyword “guest post opportunities”
  • Keyword “write for us”
  • Keyword “submit an article”
  • Keyword “submit guest post”
  • Keyword “become a contributor”
  • Keyword “become guest writer”
While there are in reality several more search strings, to be honest with you, they will just waste your time and not return you quality results.

The best way to find guest posting opportunities is to just leverage posts created by different SEO sites where they scour the internet to find the best sites of different niche where you can guest post in.

To find such posts, simply Google-
best "Your Niche" Blogs Guest Post

How to Pitch Correctly and Whom to Pitch

If guest posting was a three part strategy, pitching site owners would be the strategy #2. Since the success of your guest blogging campaign to build links depend upon this strategy, you shouldn't take this part lightly.

Rather, here's what you should do.

Start from the bottom (not the absolute bottom, though).

While, there are ways to get opportunities to guest post at top-end sites like Forbes and Entrepreneur, it is very unlikely that you will get success at writing for such high-end sites without some part experience.

And for that you may need to start with sites with a Domain Authority of around 20 or higher and Alexa Rank of 500,000 or lower.

Note: To find the Alexa rank of a website simply search for the URL of the website at this link or go to https://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/WebsiteURL.

Try to find the email address of the site owners by viewing their "Contact Us" Page. If their email address is not listed their, you can try to find the email address by going to Hunter.io.
Hunter.io to get emails

Now if you are to send an amazing pitch that can't and won't be rejected, try to find what works in the site you want to guest post in.

Blitz through some articles of the site and get an understanding of what works there. Also, be sure to read through the site's guest posting guidelines, if they have it.

Go to Buzzsumo and put in the homepage URL of the site you want to write for in the search box. Buzzsumo will show you the articles of the site which received the most number of social shares. This will provide you an accurate representation of what type of posts works for the site, where you want to guest post at.

You may want to use this sample pitch, recommended by Neil Patel, who is a millionaire entrepreneur and blogger.


Guest Posting Pitch

Pro Tip: You can also guest post infographics along with a short introduction to go along with it as a guest post.

Leverage Broken Links and Sites which Have Moved

Nobody likes to have broken links on their webpage because it makes their audience's user experience poor. It also adds a bad stain to their authority in that specific niche if their site's viewers land on pages which do not exist anymore.

Now, there are lots of sites, which a site owner may have linked to, and the site may have been working well and fine at that time, but closed down later on for some reason whatsoever.
Broken Links SEO

The site-owner, or the author or editor of the post would really love it, if you happened to drop them a email notifying them of the broken link and suggesting them of a link replacement.

Now, the great thing about this strategy to build backlinks is that you are not straight-up begging for links.

No.

What you are doing is adding value to the site by notifying the person concerned of the broken link and saving them ample amounts of time by offering them a replacement to the broken link.

First off, you need to install tools like Check My Links or LinkMiner in your Chrome browser, which can be used to easily find broken links on any page.

Most resource pages have a lot of outbound links, so you have a good chance of finding broken links at those pages. I have detailed the strategy of getting links from resource pages as a separate link building tactic down below.

Anyhow, after you find the broken links at the sites around your niche, send a personalised email to the site owner about the broken link.

Here's a pitch which you can use.

Subject: There seems to be a problem at [their site]

Hi [Name],

I was looking for some information on [topic], when I stumbled across your post/page - [insert link].


Great stuff, I must say!

Anyhow, I did happen to notice that the post contained some broken links which do not seem to work anymore.


Here's the links-

[Insert the anchor text as mentioned in the site and put the links inside them]

Oh! I recently published an article on [topic]. I feel it can serve as a really good (even better) replacement of the original link!


Here's the link, if you need it - [insert link].


Either way, I hope I could help you out.


Regards,

[Your Name].

If you want to be even more sure that your post matches that of the broken link, if you fail to ascertain it by guessing from the link, you can use online web archives like Internet Archive and Archive It.

Leverage Links to Sites which have Moved or Shut Down

If you are getting a good amount of success with the broken link strategy or just want to ramp it up, this may appeal to you.

broken links

The thing about this tactic is that some sites may have shut down or moved to different names or URLs. The old URLs may still redirect to the old posts.

But, that's your chance!

If you use LinkMiner or Check My Links, you will not find success in getting hold of such links.
  1. You first need to find sites which have shut down or have changed names or URLs
  2. Then you need to find the sites which link to their posts related to your niche
  3. You can then send emails notifying the linkers that their links are old and outdated.
This strategy does not have that high, a success rate as that of broken links but the thing about this, is that it does open up a lot of opportunities that weren't present before.

Some companies when they change their names or URLs tend to announce it, through a press release in press release portals like PRWeb.

To find link opportunities simply search for "your niche keyword rebrands".

For example, if you are in petcare niche, search for petcare rebrands. The search string "Rebrands as" also can bring you several linkable opportunities. Be intuitive. Try to think of keywords which site owners may use to denote their rebrands.

You can also use Google News, to find further domain name changes or domains that have shut down, whose links you can capture.

Here are some search strings you can use to find even more pages that do not exist anymore.
  • “keyword page no longer exists”
  • “keyword this page is no longer updated”
  • “keyword this website is no longer updated”
  • “keyword website closed”

Find the Linkers of those Pages

This step is rather simple. Just open Moz's Open Site Explorer and enter the URL of the page whose backlinks you need to find out.

As soon as you find the backlinks, export the data to a Microsoft Excel document or Google Spreadsheet. Now that you are armed with a huge chest of potential backlinkers, reach out to the site owners with the pitch below and gently ask them to replace those outdated links with the link at your site.

Hi [Name],

I was researching for some SEO tips for my post on [topic], when I stumbled across your excellent article - [link inside article title].

Anyhow, I did happen to notice that you mentioned [site name] on your page.

You may know, that [site name] recently has (shut down or moved to new URL).

As such, you may want to remove their URL from your article.

Here's a screenshot of where the link is located-
[Google Drive link]

Oh! I recently published a guide on [topic], which I feel can serve as a noteworthy (or even better!) alternative to it.

Either ways, do keep up the amazing work at [site name].

Best Wishes,
[Your Name].

You can also use Yelp to find closed local businesses. When businesses close down, Yelpers report the closure to the page. What you want is businesses with websites, which have closed down.

Use this search string "site:yelp.com intitle:closed city + niche" to find the appropriate businesses around whichever city. Replace the word niche with the niche of your website.

And you are done!

Feature, Interview and Take Opinions from Top Bloggers and from People at the Top in your Niche

Yet, another one of my favourites, if done correctly this strategy can bring you a great number of links, without having to do any more tedious work than just writing your post for your blog and reaching out to top influencers in your niche to ask them for their opinion.

A easy way to just sit tight while other people send you information on the beat is by using HARO, acronym for Help A Reporter Out.

You can use HARO to send out a query and receive opinions and pitches from hundreds of bloggers and influencers around the web.

The reason this strategy is so effective, is because 
  1. Most people like to brag where they have been featured on.
  2. Big influencers will like to share content where their opinion has been published. Now, because these influencers have so many social following, you are very likely to get links.
But, don't take my word for it.

Let's look at some case studies.

Richard Marriot of Clambr successfully used this strategy in his post on "How to Promote Your Blog with Just 3 Tools" whereby he reached out to 53 experts on SEO and asked them to share with him their three favorite SEO tools, that they personally used.
Interviewing to Get Links

And, with that, the post generated 88 links from 23 unique domains, which is quite awesome, considering he had to do very little work apart from the usual writing up the post.

And that's not all.

The post also garnered a total of about 1600 shares all over social media till date, as shown by the data at Buzzsumo.
Shares received by Clambr

While it is quite evident that the post got a huge number of links, what is worth mentioning even more than that is how one gets so many links through roundups. 

On a one on one basis, Richard Marriot also reached out to Neil Patel. And when Neil learnt that the post was so successful, he linked to it in his article on 12 essential tactics to build links. And this is also the same way his post served as an example for other SEO experts on roundups too!

John Cooper also used the same strategy at Point Blank SEO, when he created a post on the most creative link building strategies used by experts in the SEO field.

Yet again, this strategy got him over 650 links from about 158 different and unique domains. And as usual with such highly linked-to pieces of content, he received a good number of social shares.

The thing about doing this strategy through HARO is that the success rate is not as much as you get when and if you do it by pitching top bloggers and influencers.

For example, Minuca Elena created an expert roundup at Trusted Beasts, encompassing about 85 bloggers, who shared their three favorite laptop accessories.

While the post generated 33 total links from 5 root domains, which is still quite appreciable considering the post frequency and the domain authority of Trusted Beasts, it is, as you can see, much less than the other mentions in this list.

Expert Roundups bring Links

Still, filling out a couple of forms and having to do nothing but just compile the information is quite amazing, when you get backlinks handed out to you.

Apart from HARO, another way to do this thing is just contact top SEO experts by email and send them straight forward and short questions, they can answer to.

This isn't as easy as HARO, but as I had said in the link building introductory post, one link from a top end blog is far more valuable than ten links from low quality blogs.

To employ this strategy, first you need to find the email address of the blogger whom you wish to interview, either by going to hunter.io or checking their twitter accounts.

After you get the email addresses, send a well crafted and personalised pitch. Send them the question you want to ask, after a brief introduction and a short praise regarding their site in the same email.

Don't however beat around the bush. The people whom you pitch to are quite important people.

Just give a brief introduction, followed by a word of praise. Tell them briefly what the roundup is about and ask them for their opinion or tell them your question.

Be sure to follow up at least once but not more than twice, if you don't get a reply of the first email. But if you do get a reply, you should put in their headshot and link to their site, with their response below it.

And don't forget to email the contrbutors, a gentle reminder about your round-up after the post is live.

Nothing else! Just sit back and chill while the links and social shares pour in!

Build Links at Resource Pages

It is quite well established, if not definitively provcd that Google gives a lot of value to .edu and .gov links. And what is a better strategy to grab such links than to target resource pages?

Building backlinks from resource pages is quite easy if done right.

To break it into simple bits, there are three parts of resource page link building-

  1. Find resource pages with high (respectable) domain authority at and around your site's niche.
  2. Find their email addresses, or email addresses of the authors or the persons who manages the resource page.
  3. Reach out with a pitch and a link to the resource at your site.
Now I will elaborate on these strategies, but before I do, you should know that this page has a success rate of around 2%.

The success percentage may look low and dismal, but you are not having to do any work apart from sending personalised pitches through your emails.

To find resource pages, you can use the following search strings
  • ”keyword” + inURL:links
  • ”keyword” again, + useful resources
  • “site:.edu” keyword
  • “site:.gov” keyword
Here's some other search strings that you can also try.


Search strings for Resource Page Link Building

Now that you have got a handful of resource pages, you need to size up the page and see if they are specific to your site.

Most resource pages don't link out to home pages of other site unless it is a high authority site. So, the pitch that you send must have links which is/are specific to the resource page.

Now check the domain and page authority of the resource page. Having the Mozbar add-on / extension in your browser can help you view that directly from the search results. If you don't have that, you can also use Open Site Explorer.

To get the email addresscheck for the author or editor of the resource page. If the site has an author bio, or a editor column, you can try to find the email address of the person concerned from there.

You can also leverage a simple Google search using the editor's name and his credentials to find details about him. LinkedIn works great too!

Now for the pitch

Just personalise this template and send it to the site-owner if it is a single author site or pitch it to the author or editor of the page.

Subject: Question regarding (their site)

Hey there [Name],

I was searching for some stuff on [topic], when I found your amazing resource page - [insert link].

It's so funny; I too have an excellent piece of content on the [topic].

Here's the link, if you would like to check it out! [Insert link in the topic name].

I feel my article would serve a great addition to the already amazing resource page that you got!

Either ways, I would like to thank you for putting up such amazing resource page. It really helped me with my research!

Cheers,
[Your Name]

If you would want to increase the success rate of this strategy, also follow up through their social profiles like Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook.

Tip: Your post may be the best post it is all over the internet, but if it is not specific to the resource page, you won't get links. Make sure your article is a perfect fit for the resource page.

Another great thing about building links from resource page is that you can use the broken link strategy to get links. Sites which have moved to different URLs or closed down also serve as easy replaceable targets for you to get links.

Side Strategy from Resource Page Link Building

Building links from resource pages is quite an amazing feat. 

But, do you know that you can apply what you learnt above for sites that are not even resource pages?

Yeah, it is possible to get links from sites that are of the same or related niche through email outreach.

In fact, Matt Lawry, who runs an ecommerce website, was having trouble getting visitors, when he decided to give this strategy a try. He published an amazing guide on Australian Gin.

Since his website is an Australian site that sells gift items, his post had quite a good relation to his site's overall content.

Anyhow, after publishing the superb piece on Australian Gin, he reached out to people related to the niche with personalised emails asking for links to his content.

Email Outreach for Link Building

Sure enough, he did get several links, which resulted in his site rank number 2 of Google search results for the search string "Australian Gin".

Claim Links from Mentions

You may need to have a medium sized blog with a steady stream of visitors to use this strategy.

The reason behind that is, to employ this strategy, your site or blog needs to be mentioned at other sites in the first place.

Anyhow at times, you may have pitched editors or authors at other sites through HARO and may not have got linked to. They may have mentioned your site but may not have linked to you.

This is entirely possible and that's where you can get links just by sending a gentle nudge to the writer. To first find such unlinked mentions of you and your site, you can use Google Alerts or Buzzsumo.

These tell you whenever there is a mention of you and/or your site over the internet. When you find such websites, just send an email asking them of the favour in a very non-needy way.

After all, you don't want to come of as begging for a link.

Conclusion

Building links is a multifarious process. With time and practise, you too can start building links like a pro. The reason why most people suck at building links is that they do not follow the steps as it is, or because guides do not have honestly written stuff as to how one should go through link building.

Also, link building may be a bit different for different niches. For example, I faced quite a bit of difficulty with the "Leveraging Outdated/Broken Link strategy" in the technology niche. Honestly, it wasted a lot of my time, with a very poor ROI but, when I used the same strategy in the SEO niche, the success was stunning! Brian Dean of Backlinko finds broken link building as one of his most favorite link building strategies!

Also, what appeals to one may not appeal to you. If you are good at writing, then you should guest post. If you are great at designing, then infographics is the first thing you should try.

But do try them all, in the manner that I have listed. You are sure to get an appreciable amount of success!

Now, over to you. Which strategy will you try first? And, what's the most important takeaway that you are going to use for your own blog?

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