There’s no question that creating great inbound links to your website is hard work. While many website owners resort to spam blog comment sections to get their backlinks, it is not necessary or effective for your SEO efforts.
While there is a lot of talk about generating inbound links, the little ways to actually do it are rarely discussed.
Fortunately, link building strategies aren’t as difficult to implement as many people say. Think of it like social media – if you’re a source of great content and get it in front of the right people, they’ll share it.
With that in mind, we’re going to get you started with tested and effective tricks that can help you create legitimate inbound links. Read on to see how you can use these link building ideas in your SEO strategy.
What is link building?
Link building increases the quantity and quality of inbound links to your website to attract referral traffic, increase domain authority, and increase search engine rankings.
What are backlinks?
Backlinks, also called inbound and inbound links, are a form of off-page search engine optimization where you get links from other websites that direct readers to your own website.
The person who receives the link calls a link a backlink.
Backlinks are different from outbound links (links from your website to another website) and internal links (links from one page of your website to another).
The right backlinks can do two great things for your website:
- They can drive traffic to your website. When someone posts a backlink to your website on their website or blog, their readers might click – and you benefit from that referral traffic.
- They can help you rank higher in the search. Backlinks tell search engines that your website is an authority on a particular topic. The more backlinks you get from good quality, high authority websites, the better your website will rank on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
A good inbound link is from an authoritative website and uses natural anchor text. Anchor text is simply the copy of the text that is hyperlinked. For example, when I refer to our blog post on backlink strategies, the anchor text is “backlink strategies”.
Natural anchor text means that you don’t just link left and right with hyperwords. Google understands the context of a link. Therefore, more general “Learn More” and “Click Here” anchor text can be just as valuable as keyword-optimized anchor text.
Link building strategies
- Maintain a steady blog with great content.
- Link to other blogs on your blog.
- Write guest blog posts.
- Curate and publish helpful resource lists.
- Conduct expert rounds to build relationships.
- Write newsjack posts.
- Create case studies of your most impressive customers.
- Voluntary subject of a case study.
- Manage surveys.
- Write book reviews.
- Conduct free webinars and post archived copies online.
- Create free tools.
- Create shareable templates.
- Create compelling infographics.
- Create other forms of visual content.
- Create SlideShare presentations.
- Do something fun.
- Write press releases about interesting company news.
- Send a joint press release if your news involves another company.
- Get in touch when you have big news or great content.
- Set up press inquiries notifications and look for ways to send offers.
- Write and publish articles.
- Partner with companies in complementary industries.
- Do a little co-marketing.
- Ask for reviews.
- Make friends with other webmasters in real life.
- Find and monitor mentions of your brand.
- Identify broken links using website crawling tools.
- Find and monitor your competitors’ backlinks.
- Include “Tweet This” links in your content.
- Install social sharing widgets.
- Sponsor or speak at an event.
- Help another webmaster fix a bug on their website.
- Give away free trials and insights into your product.
1. Maintain a stable blog with great content.
Consistently creating great blog content that users will naturally want to link to is one of the best practices for generating inbound links organically.
You should post content that is directly related to your industry and that will help your readers. That way, they feel compelled to share it. You can even link to it from your own website if you own one.
Learn how to start a successful blog using our free guide and checklist.
2. Link to other blogs on your blog.
A blog is meant to be a social tool. The more you associate with others – especially if you do so in a consistent, opportunity-driven manner – the more likely it is that one of those bloggers will return the favor.
Also, you can’t cover everything about everything on your blog. It makes sense to take advantage of the abundance of resources on the web to make your blog experience better and more rewarding for your readers.
3. Write guest blog posts.
Write a great blog post and browse blogs that it works well for. If accepted, one should be ready to give you an inbound link in the mail. Guest blogging is a great way to both grow your expertise and earn quality white hat links.
Don’t know who to write for? Most media allow people to submit original articles on topics relevant to their readership. However, you should start publishing right in your niche. If you are a branding agency, you can check out Branded Publications.
4. Curate and publish helpful resource lists.
Resource lists are both great link bait and helpful content for your readers. By making a comprehensive list of resources, other bloggers can easily link to it in their own posts instead of reprocessing and curating all of the content themselves. To give you an idea of what one might look like, here is an example of a list of resources we’ve put together for SEO beginners.
5. Hold expert rounds to build relationships.
Expert tours can be a great tool for building relationships with influencers. While these summaries may not lead to many inbound links or leads immediately, building relationships with influencers across the board can help you get solid backlinks from authoritative sources.
After they’ve contributed to your round-up, you can reach out to them later to ask for an opportunity for guest posting or something else – and thank them again for their contribution to the previous expert round-up.
In one of our expert panels, we reached out to successful marketers and asked them to share their top content marketing tips.
6. Write newsjack articles.
Newsjacking is when you use the popularity of a news story to increase your own sales and marketing success. If you are the first blogger to comment on a news event, the “freshness” component of the Google algorithm will move you to the top of the SERPs and others will link to your content in their own reports of the story.
If you’re not sure what newsjacking can look like, check out some newsjacking examples we found on the internet.
7. Create case studies of your most impressive customers.
If you make your customers look good in case studies about their business, you can bet that they will link to your website. But you have to do it well. This means that you are choosing companies that have had the best results, are enthusiastic, and know your product or service well.
It also means asking the right questions and making the case study attractive and comprehensive.
Download three free case study templates to get started.
8. Voluntary subject of a case study.
Why not come to the other side of the Link Love case study? Companies are always looking for customers who are ready to be the subject of a case study. Take your time with one of your top vendors and receive a backlink from the case study as soon as it is published.
9. Manage surveys.
If you do research, you promise to share the data with others. If you do the data collection and processing and then give some high authority websites access to the results, you can bet that they will do advertising and inbound linking for you to ensure you have an excellent sample size.
10. Write book reviews.
If you give a comprehensive rundown of another author’s content, there’s a good chance they (and others) will link to it. Here is an example of a book review from our blog that summarizes The Challenger Sale in five minutes or less.
11. Conduct free webinars and post archived copies online.
If it’s informative, your attendees will absolutely share it. An easy way to do this is to turn your PowerPoint presentation slides into a SlideShare presentation and then embed that presentation in a blog post. You can also embed it in the webinar landing page so anyone who wants to sign up for a webinar that has already been completed can review the presentation.
If you want to get even better backlinks to these archived webinar pages, partner with another company, brand, or influencer for the webinar. Two well-coordinated brands not only ensure a powerful presentation, but also expand the audience – even after the webinar is over. (For tips on creating a webinar, see this blog post.)
12. Create free tools.
Do you remember when I talked about curating and publishing resource lists for your blog? What do you think people are putting on these resource lists and associating with what? Free tools are a big deal. You can get to the other side of these resource lists by creating free tools that are really helpful for your target customers.
Here at HubSpot, for example, we created Website Grader, a tool that has received links from many agencies, partners, and others in our industry.
13. Create shareable templates.
Like free tools, templates are one more thing useful enough for users to link to. Before creating a template, think about which templates would make things easier for users. For example, a designer can create a library of downloadable business card templates that others can link to over and over again. Bookmarked content is often content that has tons of inbound links.
14. Create compelling infographics.
People love to share infographics. If you create an original infographic yourself, users will fall back on you as the original source. Also, to increase the likelihood of an inbound link, you can share your design with the sources you specified and make the embed code for your infographic easily accessible.
Not a designer? Anyone can create professional-looking, high-quality infographics, and quickly using templates like these free infographic templates. Before creating an infographic, create a topic that can actually be visualized and is related to your industry.
15. Create other forms of visual content.
Cartoons, content visualizations, charts and graphs, and the like are an important part of a visual content marketing strategy and a great way to attract inbound links. Since it takes time and money, others will likely skip the excitement of creating their own visual content and linking to yours instead.
You can use free online design tools to create your own graphics, regardless of how tech-savvy you are.
16. Create SlideShare presentations.
Cut one of your infographics into pieces or use one from your last talk. You can post these on your blog, your website’s Resource Center, or even a SlideShare account for more links.
Remember that the most shareable presentations are the most compelling. That means great content and great design. This blog post provides detailed instructions on how to plan your next PowerPoint presentation.
17. Do something fun.
Funny things spread like wildfire. Think of the funny inside jokes in your industry and use them with humorous content that can be linked. You can create a meme, short video, or tweet to capture the joke. Just make sure you understand your audience and how they are likely to react so that nothing is taken aggressively.
18. Write press releases about interesting company news.
By turning your PR strategy into an inbound strategy, you create opportunities that didn’t exist before and create a space for your business, thereby building meaningful mindshare with your target audiences.
Once you’ve written a great press release, post it on your website and submit your publications to one of the major newswires for more coverage.
Download our inbound press release templates for free.
19. Send a joint press release if your news involves another company.
This can help reach thousands of other related websites that may not be linked to your website in a press release about your company. This gives you the opportunity to reach a larger number of people – and thereby get more backlinks.
20. Get in touch when you have big news or great content.
Getting press attention and getting featured in industry publications can help you build your brand, improve your visible expertise, improve your credibility and, of course, get backlinks from authoritative sources.
First, create your own story page on your website to link to. Then reach out to a handful of journalists and / or publications who you can see really appreciate your story. Make sure you give your request context, follow the rules, include a compelling subject line in your pitch email, and be helpful rather than boastful.
21. Set up press request notifications and look for ways to send offers.
Press request notifications are requests for information sources from journalists. These journalists are constantly looking for quotes from specific people to include in their article and there are various mediums that they use to send inquiries and find those quotes.
Here is a list from HubSpot’s Vice President of Marketing Matthew Barby with the services you can sign up for to receive notifications from journalists in your inbox:
Also, due to the large number of inquiries you will receive, Barby recommends creating email filters or folders to help organize yourself.
22. Write and publish articles.
If you have an interesting opinion to share and can express it clearly and convincingly in one article, you may have the opportunity to reach a lot of people, gain recognition for yourself and your organization, and get authoritative backlinks to your website. I find that the most effective articles highlight a single point, take into account the personal voice of the author, and then give specific recommendations.
Once you’ve written the article, target online versions of publications from industry newspapers and magazines for an extremely valuable inbound link.
23. Partnership with companies in complementary industries.
It is common practice for corporate channel partners to link to each other’s great content because they have a vested interest in each other’s success.
You can consider assessing how much traffic an affiliate can bring to your website by looking at their entire web presence on Alexa and SimilarWeb. These websites can help you get a rough idea of the traffic, bounce rates, keywords, and sources people are using to find this website, and what to do next after they visit.
24. Do co-marketing.
You can also go a step further and create co-marketing partnerships. This means that you are partnering with another company to promote some content or product and then share the results of that promotion. When you leverage a partner’s relationship and reach, you get more links and more excitement with less work.
Effective co-marketing doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive either. You can reach a similarly sized brand elsewhere and introduce them to the project. You can start with something as simple as a few tweets and then prepare to create marketing collateral.
25. Ask for reviews.
You can ask users of your product and industry experts or analysts to review, for example, the new features you are introducing. Not only will you get an inbound link, but you’ll also get great feedback and strengthen your relationship with those who asked you to leave reviews.
Not sure where to ask for reviews? Check out our list of the best product review websites for B2B and B2C businesses.
26. Make friends with other webmasters in real life.
Strengthening your relationship with other webmasters will open the door to relevant inbound link requests when future opportunities arise, and make those requests more likely not to be ignored.
Networking is an unparalleled skill. The wider and more open your network, the more opportunities that can be unlocked that you didn’t even know existed. Here are helpful tips on networking like a pro to get you started.
27. Find and monitor mentions of your brand.
Contact webmasters to convert these mentions into inbound links, but only when it is warranted – such as when they cite your data. This is a tactic known as “link complaint”.
Monitor brand names by setting up alerts and adding keywords to your brand or products using tools like Mention or BuzzSumo. Just make sure to exclude all mentions of your own website in the warning, which you can do in the settings of these tools.
Here is an email template you can use to ask our VP of Marketing for a link:
28. Identify broken links using website crawling tools.
Similar to the step above, some webmasters may link to your website but use old or broken links. This, of course, is as you change and update your website over time. However, those inbound links are still valuable – and you can update them.
Use tools like Dead Link Checker, Link Juice Recovery Tool, and Screaming Frog to check for broken links on other websites. Then use the template above as inspiration to reach out to webmasters with a correct link to replace.
29. Find and monitor your competitors’ backlinks.
Find ways where you can get similar links. This is a great way to find high quality link opportunities with relative ease. Do weekly or monthly competitor research to find new opportunities that you can take advantage of while they’re fresh.
Use a link analysis tool like Arel = “noopener” target = “_ blank” hrefs, Majestic, or Moz’s Link Explorer to get a list of backlinks for one of your competitors. Then check out what types of posts are earning backlinks and benefiting from this off-page SEO.
For example, if one of your competitors is guest contributing to certain publications, there is a good chance that those publications will be interested in guest contributing to similar topics from you.
30. Include “Tweet This” links in your content.
Part of getting inbound links is getting your content to the masses. Including “Tweet This” or “Click to Tweet!” Links for tweetable nuggets in your content will get people to socialize your content more often.
The result? Higher visibility in search engines, newsfeeds and Twitter streams – and thus more opportunity for your data to be referenced in other people’s content.
One of these links can look like this:
The researchers found that colored graphics increased people’s willingness to read content by 80%. [Tweet this stat!]
The ClickToTweet service makes it easy to create tweetable links – without having to learn custom code.
31. Install social sharing widgets.
Just like “Tweet This” links, bring your content to market, as do social sharing buttons and widgets. Include them in your marketing content such as case studies, white papers, e-books, and blog posts. The more often your website appears on other social media sites, the more likely it is that someone will see, share, and link to it from their website.
32. Sponsor or speak at an event.
Events usually provide great website exposure for their speakers and sponsors. You will either be listed on the sponsors page or featured as a speaker in a blog post. You can also negotiate inbound links into your terms to ensure that your time and resources result in a beneficial inbound link.
When you’re speaking at an event, you’re making a really great shareable presentation that people will want to find, share, and even link to later.
33. Help another webmaster fix a bug on their website.
Do you remember when I said you should meet other webmasters? This is one more time when these connections will come in handy. If you find broken links on other users’ websites, please let them know (politely, of course) and provide them with a portion of your own content that would be a suitable replacement for that broken link. Be personal, kind, and helpful, and this could also be an opportunity to develop a relationship with this webmaster.
34. Give away free trials and insights into your product.
When people preview your product, they want the world to know they are part of the VIP crowd and may write a review about it with a link back to your website.
There are several ways to give away free trials. You can create some call-to-action buttons for your website or blog. (Download these free, customizable CTA templates to help you out.)
You can also send an email with new product announcements to people you think might be interested, such as: B. current customers. If you’re unsure how to advertise your product, check out our guide to creating a great product launch email.
White hat inbound links and increase rankings
Gone are the days of spam commenting and paying for link building services. Using the tips and methods I’ve shared, you’ll be well on your way to creating high quality, white hat backlinks. As more links point to your website, you rank much higher in the SERPs, which increases organic traffic and attracts more potential leads and customers.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2012 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and completeness.