While many people can understand that a website needs to be technically sound and that on-page content has to be high quality, off-site SEO remains a bit of a mystery. Link building, in particular, is something that is often misunderstood. Furthermore, link building is the one area of SEO that is most spammy (or, at least, certainly has been in the past). In fact, “link building” is now better seen in terms of digital PR and content promotion – creating useful content and resources and promoting them, rather than ‘building’ links to a website.
But “white hat” approaches to gain quality links can be very resource and time intensive. So, what are some easy-to-use link building ideas? We’ve collected six below so that you can start to make progress with just a little investment of time.
Submitting to directories is a well-worn SEO strategy – but this also means that it can be spammy and manipulative. When SEO practitioners realised the importance of getting links, numerous directories started to pop up promising increases in rankings simply by adding a site. These directories – with names like ‘SEO Link Directory’ or ‘PR5 Website Directory’ – have slowly started to die out, largely because websites with links from such sites began to be penalised by Google. However, we still come across sites with links like this when conducting backlink audits for new clients; luckily, these can be disavowed.
But this doesn’t mean that all directories are bad. Firstly, there are local directories – like Yell, Yelp, Scoot and so on – that continue to rank well for certain terms and continue to drive traffic to sites featured on them; this is particularly the case for businesses providing local services or with a physical location (such as a shop). Secondly, in many sectors, there are industry-specific directories that remain highly-quality reference points for potential prospects. In the marketing sphere, the directory curated by RAR would be such an example. Acquiring a link from such places is often as simple as finding them and submitting your business information.
2. Unlinked Brand Mentions
If your business is an already-established brand or a startup with lots of PR activity, then acquiring links from existing mentions of your brand can also be a really valuable strategy. There may be many mentions of your company across the web, and many of these will link back to your website. But there will be other articles, press releases and case study pages where your brand is mentioned but there is no link back to your website.
The basic idea behind unlinked brand mentions is to search for your brand (and other branded search terms), find the pages on which you’re mentioned and – if there is no link back to your website – ask the website owner to add one. More often than not, because they will already have some awareness of you, they’ll be happy to oblige.
Aside from simply searching for your brand, you can use a service like Google Alerts or Talkwalker that will send you an email alert whenever your business search terms are mentioned across the internet.
3. Reverse Image Search
A similar strategy to getting links from brand mentions is getting (or reclaiming) links from visual ‘mentions’. Just like your brand can be mentioned on many other sites, so too can your logo be used. This can happen quite regularly when businesses you partner with the feature you in a case study (or on a ‘people we work with’ page) – they’ll often include your logo but this won’t link back to your site.
To pursue these opportunities, all you need to do is drag-and-drop your logo into Google image search:
This will then give you a list of pages on which your logo is featured. You can then target these in a similar way you would with unlinked brand mentions. One further idea is to try uploading any of your visual assets to image search, like infographics and product imagery. As with logos, these can be featured on other sites without an explicit link back to yours (and often without your permission).
4. Link and resource lists
One really straightforward way to acquire links – particularly if you have high-quality content already – is to look for pages that list useful resources. Many websites list links to useful pieces of content on specific topics, while many bloggers will create curated posts with link roundups.
The trickiest thing is finding these opportunities. A good starting point is to search for a broad version of your target keyword combined with the term “links”. You’ll need to use a specific Google search operator:
This will return results that mention “investment” on pages with “links” in their URL (in the first example) or that mention “revision” on pages with “resources” in the page title (in the second example). If you have a resource that would be a good fit on a page like this, then it’s just a case of reaching out to the author of the page and letting them know about your content.
5. Guest posting
As with directory submissions, guest posting has become a bit overused and is open to abuse. However, in some sectors, it is still a beneficial link building tactic. It involves writing a piece of content for an external site – such as a popular industry-relevant blog – in order to increase brand awareness and gain a link back to your site. Sometimes this can be in the content of the article itself, other times it will be in the form of an ‘author bio’ at the beginning or end of the post.
The process involves a few stages – you’ll need to find a relevant opportunity, produce the content, and then reach out the publication in question (although these two stages may potentially be reversed).
Finding guest post opportunities is similar to finding resource lists – you can try searching for your specific niche and sector plus a term like “write for us”. Then you’ll need to produce the content, either by repurposing an existing article or writing a brand new piece – this is usually recommended, as this tactic works best when the content you’re producing fits with the publication you’re targeting. Finally, you’ll need to reach out to the relevant individual at the website in question.
6. Digital PR
The final link building and outreach strategy on this list is, admittedly, the most difficult. It involves taking a PR approach to links – producing a newsworthy story, creating a press release and getting in featured in major online newspapers and websites. Like guest posting, this is great for brand awareness.
Creating a newsworthy story that isn’t just solely on self-promotion can be difficult. One really great digital PR strategy is to find a trending topic within your industry and commission a third-party survey of people asking a question about this topic. After this data has been gathered, you would then “spin” it into a story likely to be picked up by the press; this stage involves creating a press release that makes it easy for journalists to turn into an article.
If you need support with content creation, link building and digital PR, get in touch to find out how we can help.