Link building is the backbone of SEO. The way we build links has changed quite a lot over the past decade, but links themselves are no less valuable.
Like me, you may remember the early days of online marketing, when generating backlinks to a website was as simple as requesting links from link farms and other sketchy sources.
Google put a stop to that, so generating backlinks for a brand-new website is a bit trickier these days. That doesn’t mean that it’s impossible, though. The sooner your site has a decent number of backlinks from authoritative, high-quality websites, the sooner its performance on the major search engines will improve.
Although this is largely a waiting game, there are things you can do right now to generate first-rate backlinks to your new site. Follow the advice here, and you can easily generate upwards of 100 authoritative and relevant backlinks to your new site in just 30 days.
Forget the old way of building links
First, don’t even think about employing black-hat techniques to generate backlinks to your site. Google’s algorithms are far too savvy to be fooled, so such efforts are bound to backfire.
As frustrating as it may be, quality trumps quantity every time when it comes to building a top-notch link profile.
Link building has long been the most volatile field in SEO. There has been much misinformation and rancor over the best way to build links, how quickly to build links, which links to build, and even whether or not to attempt link building at all.
Google’s algorithm changes are less frequent and impactful than they once were. However, we’re still discussing algorithm changes around the subject of links.
The latest of these was the September 2016 update to the Penguin algorithm:
The most substantial change of the algorithm was that “Penguin doesn’t penalize for bad links.” The conversation among the SEOs suggested as much:
What does this mean for link building?
Link building today: What matters most
First, don’t be afraid of link building. No, you shouldn’t be pulling any old-school link wheels, but neither should you be afraid of creating and unleashing a link-building strategy.
Unlike in the past, when a link was a link was a link, effective backlinks today share a few key characteristics.
First, they occur naturally. Rather than being compelled to add a link to your site for whatever reason, website owners link to yours because your content is too terrific to pass up on.
Effective backlinks come from authority sites relevant to yours. I’ll delve more deeply into what constitutes an authority site later, but suffice it to say that your links shouldn’t come from just anyone.
As for relevance, a hundred links from sites that have nothing to do with yours pale in comparison with a single link from a highly relevant site.
What constitutes an authority site?
Authority sites usually share the following traits:
- They’re credible
- They enjoy a high ranking on major search engines such as Google
- They receive huge amounts of traffic and lots of shares on social media
- They’re influential
Additionally, they lack the characteristics of a bad website, which include blatant keyword stuffing, high link-to-content ratios, excessive numbers of ads, and low-quality content and website design in general.
How to find relevant authority sites
The first step in your plan is to identify authority websites relevant to yours. You can easily use Google for this. Use search operators to zero in on suitable sites more quickly. For example, use site:.gov, .edu, or .org to limit your search to such sites.
Search for the keyword of your choice to find sites that rank highly for it, and go from there.
Another option is to use the Moz SEO toolbar, which is offered as a free extension for Firefox and Chrome.
It displays useful metrics and information about the site you are currently visiting, including its page authority, domain authority, links, and a general analysis of the page itself.
What to offer
Okay…so far, so good. Here’s the rub, though: You can’t approach these authority sites without offering anything in return. Since your website is brand new, what can you possibly offer?
I hate to break it to you, but you should ideally build up a decent content library before attempting to solicit backlinks from authority sites. Luckily, the content doesn’t have to rank well. It just has to be top-tier in terms of the quality of the information it provides. Prior to launching your site, devote a few weeks to developing a small arsenal of content. When the time comes to work on your link-building strategy, you’ll have stuff to offer other website owners. After all, why would they link back to you if you have nothing for them to link to in the first place?
When it comes to approaching website owners for backlinks, you already know what to do. Navigate the site in question to track down contact information. If you can’t snag an email address, use a contact form.
Don’t be blatantly promotional. In fact, you might even hold off broaching the subject until you’ve had a few exchanges. Flattery will get you somewhere, so try breaking the ice by complimenting the site owner on a piece of content. Later, show them some of your stuff, and suggest swapping links.
Tips for getting quality backlinks to your site
Okay, now that you got the gist of tracking down and soliciting relevant authoritative sites for backlinks, it’s time to get down to brass tacks regarding effective link-building strategies.
Blog a lot
According to HubSpot, companies that blog on a consistent basis have up to 97% more backlinks than those that don’t. From day one, commit yourself to posting new posts consistently.
Quality still counts, though; so, create a schedule that allows you to post regularly while offering readers real value.
Offer free resources
Like you, other website owners are always looking for useful, credible sources of information. There’s no reason why you can’t provide it. Create a library of white papers, e-books, and other pieces of content that provide detailed, useful, and well-researched information. Offer these resources free, but make one small request: credit in the form of a link back to your website. Alternatively, offer the content free as long as it’s directly linked to from your site.
Become a PR whiz
When they’re done properly, press releases can effectively plant seeds for new backlinks to your site. By “properly,” I mean that they provide newsworthy information and that they include a non-promotional link back to your site.
Reserve press releases for truly newsworthy events. You should have plenty to go on with a new site since so many things are in the hopper.
Create and share infographics
Breaking up text with high-quality images is smart. Not surprisingly, there’s a strong demand for top-notch images online, and infographics are especially popular. Build a library of infographics that relate to your industry or niche.
Whenever possible, create an infographic for an important trending topic that affects your industry or business. Readers love to share newsworthy graphics and use them as a form of social currency on social media.
Sprinkle in a bit of SEO to ensure your infographics are easily found through the search engines.
People will want to share and use your infographics. When they do, organic, high quality backlinks to your site will ensue.
Develop charts and tables
Humans are visual by nature, so charts, tables, and other visual representations of data tend to go over very well. Load your site with tables and charts pertaining to your niche to plant the seeds for more backlinks. You don’t have to be a data scientist to make this happen. Find reliable sources of information, and put their data into graph or table form. Use a site such as OnlineChartTool.com to quickly and easily create eye-catching charts and graphs others will gladly link to.
Build an image library
Website owners are always looking for images in general—especially if they are offered free. Make sure the images are of high quality. If you don’t possess the skills to take excellent photos yourself, you need to be willing to hire someone who does.
Post each image on its own page. Include a detailed description, and use SEO best practices to increase the odds of it ranking well in Google Image Search. Include a form for quickly grabbing the file and link code to ensure you get your links.
Re-purpose effective content
There is nothing wrong with identifying useful pieces of high-ranking content from other sites and re-purposing them to suit your needs. But make them truly your own by optimizing them to be relevant to your website.
And don’t just re-purpose text-based content as text-based content. Take a text-based piece and turn it into an e-book, an infographic, a video, or some other form of media.
Fill a gap
Yes, the Internet is jam-packed with content. Chances are, much of what needs to be said regarding your niche or industry has been said. Still, others have surely overlooked important topics. Identify those gaps, and fill them with high-quality content of your own.
Similarly, look for gaps in the types of available content. For example, perhaps there’s an overload of posts and articles about a subject but no in-depth pieces or e-books.
Be the first to provide them, and you will reap all kinds of great link karma.
Seek out influencers within your niche, and create a roundup post. Such a post essentially includes several links to several different influencers while covering a specific subject.
A great way to round out this type of content is by interviewing the influencers in question. After finding key influencers, follow them on social media. Interact with them to establish a relationship, and then approach them about interviewing them.
Even very busy influencers can usually take time to answer a question or two via Twitter or another social media site, so this is a worthwhile option to consider.
Scope out the competition
Find out what kinds of backlinks your competitors have. Chances are, you could benefit from receiving links from similar sources too. Do a little sleuthing to discover who’s giving them link love.
Use a site like SEMrush to track down your top competitors based on relevant keywords. Next, input each competitor’s URL into a site like AHREFS.
You’ll get a list of links to your competitors’ sites, and you can follow them to see where you might want to concentrate your efforts.
Try broken link building
This technique is especially valuable for new websites. Put simply, you seek out broken links on relevant websites and approach site owners with replacement content they can link to instead.
Since 404 pages can negatively impact a site’s ranking, website owners usually appreciate being alerted to the issue. Use something like the Web Tool Broken Link Checker to search a specific URL for dead links. Contact the owner, but make sure you have something for them to link to instead.
Make useful comments
In the old days, conventional wisdom said to post links back to your site in comments sections to boost your link profile. These days, that comes across as spam, so you need to take a subtler approach.
You need to keep up on industry news anyway, so get into the habit of regularly reading relevant blogs and websites. When you have a useful comment to contribute, do so.
When someone comments on your site, acknowledge the comment! Chances are, they’ll remember the gesture and reciprocate in the future. Even if they don’t, it’s good karma.
Write guest posts
As you already know, generating enough content for a business isn’t easy. Site owners are often happy to be offered free content for their sites, and you can do so by offering to create guest posts and articles for them.
Get to know a website or blog before approaching the owner. Make sure your content complements theirs. Have a unique angle or insight to offer, and then make your pitch.
One more thing: reciprocate by offering to let them guest-post on your site too.
Solicit backlinks in person
If it’s feasible, attend trade shows and other events within your niche to meet influencers in person. Face-to-face interactions go a long way.
When interacting with an influencer in person, make sure you know who they are and why you want a link from them. If the opportunity presents itself, ask about getting a link.
At the very least, you can forge a new connection that could pay off well in the future.
Harness the power of social media
Your site is new, so your social media game has to be strong. Whenever you create new content, promote it across all social media channels. Even if each post generates only a few shares, the odds of backlinks being generated increase.
Later, don’t be afraid to promote old content on social media again. You may have new followers now, so it certainly doesn’t hurt.