“Backlinks,” meaning sites that link to your site, are, for most search engines, the supreme ranking factor. So is getting more organic traffic.
Related: Don’t Trust Your SEO Company Until You Can Verify Everything They Tell You
Because that traffic is directly related to the quality of the backlinks your website has, the more authoritative websites that link to you, the better rankings and traffic you’ll get.
And of course you want to keep an eye on your Google rankings. When crawling the web, Google looks in particular for your website’s backlinks, to understand how your pages are connected to one other and in what ways. Certainly there are hundreds of ranking factors. But backlinks represent the most important metric for SEO.
Now, needless to say, quality backlinks are hard to get, but they shouldn’t be. In fact there are smart ways to build or earn backlinks, to get authoritative websites to link to your online business. Here are ten:
1. The broken-link building method
I love the broken-link building method because it works perfectly to create one-way backlinks. The technique involves contacting a webmaster to report broken links on his/her website. At the same time, you recommend other websites to replace that link. And here, of course, you mention your own website. Because you are doing the webmaster a favor by reporting the broken links, the chances of a backlink back to your website are high.
So, to use the broken-link method, first find relevant websites in your niche that have resources pages. Find them by using these search queries in Google:
your keyword + links
your keywords + resources
For example, if I have a parenting website, I’ll search for parenting + links.
To easily find broken links on those pages, download and install the Google Chrome plugin called Check my Links. Using this plugin, I quickly discovered all 404 links from this page:
Now, back to that webmaster: When reaching out, be friendly and introduce yourself. Tell this individual that he or she is linking to some resources that are no longer available. Always provide the exact location of the broken links, so they can be easily found. Give some alternatives to replace those links, including your own website. Try to be helpful, not greedy to get a backlink. Often, this method will work, but there will be cases when the webmaster will refuse to link back to you.
2. Backlinks through infographics
Infographics are one of the most popular methods for bringing traffic to your website and gaining valuable backlinks. They’re also great because they’re easy to understand and share. Everyone loves visual data, right? That’s why the demand for infographics has increased considerably. Consider that influential online publications like Mashable publish numerous infographics from all over the Internet.
Now, choose your infographics carefully: Each one should include a unique and interesting story for your audience. To make your selection, follow currently trending topics and see what people are looking for, then create your infographic using statistical data.
To get started, research and gather data for the content. Then find someone to make your content visual.
There’s a misconception that creating an infographic is expensive; that’s not always the case. Figure on an average price between $150 and $300. Assuming you may earn 10 backlinks per infographic, you’ll be paying $15 per link. For five backlinks, the price will be $30 per link. That’s very cheap for backlinks earned through webmaster moderation. And if your infographic goes viral. you win even more.
Try using Dribble to find designers with good portfolios. Contact them directly by upgrading your account to PRO status, for just $20 a year. Then simply use the search filter and type “infographics.” After finding someone you like, click on “hire me” and send a message detailing your needs and requesting a price. Fiver is another place to find great designers willing to create inexpensive infographics.
Next, once the infographic is ready, you need to make it easy for others to share it. To do this, create your own embed code using Siege Media generator.
Once everything is in place, and your infographic shines on your website, it’s time to distribute it. There are numerous infographic directories where you can submit yours. For example, here is a list with more than than 100 places to submit your infographic.
Last but not least, do email outreach to people who have previously linked to similar infographics or have shared them on social media. Ask for feedback on your infographic, but never ask for a link directly. If they like your infographic, they’ll know what to do.
Related: 17 Safe Places to Build Links for SEO
3. The advantage of guest articles
Guest blogging is the most effective way to reach new audiences. By publishing articles on other popular websites, you’ll get your content in front of new readers and win more exposure. Sometimes, it’s not just about the backlink, but about increasing your online reputation or your social media followers.
Guest blogging helps you leverage your relationships and expand your audience. In case you have doubts about guest posting, consider that even Google accepts guest contributors on its Google Analytics blog. Here’s a tweet from Google showing this:
Guest post on our blog from @johnpkoenig – Storytelling with data using @Measureful and Google Analytics: http://t.co/Wb8oZP5WQu
— Google Analytics (@googleanalytics) March 10, 2014
Numerous ways exist to find websites that accept guest articles. Here are three::
Use Google search queries to find blogs accepting guest contributors:
your keyword + inurl:write-for-us
your keyword + guest-posts
your keyword + inurl:guest-post-guidelines
your keyword + become a contributor
your keyword + bloggers wanted
your keyword + submit an article
your keyword + want to write for
your keyword + contribute
your keyword + become an author
your keyword + guest post by
your keyword + now accepting guest posts
Find influencers publishing guest posts on a regular basis and try to contribute on the same websites they’ve had in the past.
Consider the example of a profile by freelance writer Kristi Hines. From her Google Plus profile, click on “About,” then scroll to the contributor section, where you can see a list of all the websites she has contributed articles to.
Repeat the process with other influencers, and you’ll find endless opportunities to publish content on third-party websites.
Use social media to discover other options.
On Twitter, search for “guest post,” “guest article” or “guest author.” To automate the process, use Topsy to set alerts for the keywords you want to track.
When publishing a guest article, always make sure you are linking to your social media profiles. If someone enjoys your post, he or she can easily follow you for similar future articles.
4. Spy on your competitors.
If you are serious about getting more organic traffic, staying up to date with your main competitors’ online marketing strategies is mandatory. You have to spy on your competitors on social media and look for their link-building or earning techniques, as well as their content-marketing methods. Here are some tips:
Set yourself up for alerts when competitors are publishing new content on their websites.
Subscribe to their email newsletters or follow them on social media. Another smart way to catch up with their new content is to create a Google alert for the keyword “site:yourcompetitor.com.” For example, if my competitor is TechCrunch, I can set a Google alert using the keyword: site:techcrunch.com
Know when and what backlinks your competitors are building or earning.
This will help you replicate their best backlinks and better understand what methods they are using to promote their website. If they are getting links through guest blogging, try to become a guest author on the same websites. If most of their links come from blog reviews, get in touch with those bloggers and offer them a trial to test your tool. Eventually, they might write a review about it.
My favorite tool to spy on my competitors’ backlinks is called Monitor Backlinks. It allows you to add your four most important competitors. From then on, you get a weekly report containing all the new links they have earned. Inside the tool, you get more insights about these links and can sort them by their value and other SEO metrics. A useful feature is that all the links my own website already has are highlighted in green, as in the screenshot below.
Using this technique, I can easily determine new link-building opportunities. With Monitor Backlinks, I can keep track of all the backlinks my website is earning. Each time my link building campaigns are successful, I can see all the new backlinks I’m getting in my dashboard.
5. Build internal links.
Internal links are a key factor for running a successful blog. They are passing link juice, and you can use your anchor texts. With a good internal linking structure, you can help users easily navigate through your website and increase the overall user experience.
There are tools that can automatically create internal links on your blog, especially if you are running WordPress, but you should do this manually. Microsoft’s Matt Cutts has recommended that webmasters keep their number of internal links per page below 100, for both usability and SEO.
6. Promote your content.
Great content won’t get you backlinks unless you know how to promote it right. You have to get out in the world and do email outreach to promote your best articles.
One of the best strategies to do this is to contact bloggers or websites running weekly or monthly roundups. Again, you can use Google and search for queries like “keyword + roundup.” Make sure you choose, in order to see results only from the past week or month.
Then contact the webmasters and give them a quick introduction to your website. With your message, send a link to one of your best tutorials or guides. If they find your resource useful, they may link back to you in their next weekly roundup.These bloggers are constantly looking for great content, so they definitely want to hear from you.
As with the other techniques, make sure you do not abuse your relationship with any webmaster by asking for a link directly.
7. Write testimonials.
An easy method to earn quality backlinks is to write testimonials for websites you are using. You’ll spend only a few minutes, and you can earn a link from the homepage of an authoritative website. As long as you are a customer of that product, there’s a high possibility you can get a link in exchange for a testimonial.
List all the tools you are currently using and reach out to discuss the likelihood of featuring your testimonial on a desired website.
8. Contact journalists and important bloggers.
To get links to your website, you have to spread the word about your business. And what better way to do this than email outreach to journalists and influencers from your niche? Fnding someone’s email address can be challenging, but there’s no reason to be discouraged. Here’s how to find anyone’s email address:
Over 90 percent of the email addresses at publications and websites are formatted like this: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. So, try sending your pitch to these emails directly.
If the above formats don’t work, use tools like Voilanorbert, Thrust.io or Emailfinder.io. Just enter the name of the person you are trying to contact and the website he or she works for.
Alternately, you can send your message using social media, with Google Plus or Linkedin.
Also consider that every pitch should be short and to the point. No one has time for long and boring emails from strangers.
Yes, you can earn backlinks by donating to nonprofit organizations. This method is quick and straightforward. All you have to do is find websites in your niche that accept donations and link back to sites that have donated. Simply submit the amount of the donation you want to make and write your website URL.
Finding these websites requires some searches in Google. These are some queries that usually give good results:
contributors page + donate + your keyword
donation + contributors + your keyword
contributors page + your keyword
10. Get interviewed.
Online interviews are hot right now, and a great and easy way to earn backlinks to your website. Once you become the authority in your niche, you’ll get lots of interview invitations, but until then, to get started, you have to make the first step. Look for websites that are running interviews and tell them you would like to participate and what knowledge you can contribute.
Earning quality backlinks can sometimes be challenging, but you can easily find link-building opportunities by using the right resources and methods. Finally, remember that keeping your backlinks is as important as building them. So, keep track of the backlinks your website is getting, by using tools like Monitor Backlinks, Ahrefs or Majestic.