Here’s the thing: professional SEO services are expensive.
For small bloggers, it’s far more practical to take matters into your own hands and launch your own SEO campaign.
Such a plan often starts with on-page SEO strategies followed up by off-page SEO, which is primarily about link building.
This leads to the question, what are the best strategies on how to get backlinks as an underfunded blogger?
Buckle up and read on for the top link building strategies that I personally use.
Best Link Building Strategies:
- 1. Beginner-Level Link Building Strategies
- 1.1 Writing Roundup Posts
- 1.2 Writing One-on-One Interview Posts
- 1.3 Compile Statistics
- 1.4 Create Infographics
- 1.5 Discuss Advanced Topics
- 1.6 Coin Your Own Term or Concept
- 1.7 Seek Inclusion in Resource Pages
- 1.8. Guest Blogging
- 2. Intermediate Link Building Tips
- 2.1 Do Link Exchanges
- 2.2 Regaining Lost Links
- 2.3 Claim Unlinked Brand Mentions
- 2.4 Hijack Links from Inferior Content
- 3. Advanced Link Building Strategies
- 3.1 HARO Link Building
- 3.2 Broken Link Building
- 3.3 Deep Broken Link Building
- 3.4 Skyscraper Technique
- 3.5 Shotgun Skyscraper Technique
- 4. Bonus Link Building Tips
Beginner-Level Link Building Strategies
Do you feel intimidated when you think of the word “SEO”?
To start off this post, we will cover a bunch of beginner-level link building strategies for one-man bloggers.
1. Writing Roundup Posts
As a blogger, being mentioned in another website’s post feels great.
It can be seen as a vote of confidence from another brand. And in addition to the exposure, it also usually comes with a free, juicy backlink.
What’s your first instinct when you find out that you’re featured in another blogger’s article?
“This post is great — I should share it!”
That’s how link building by writing expert roundups works.
You ask a question to experts in your niche, round up their answers, and let them know when you’re done.
If they like it, they may share your post on social media or link to it on their own blog.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the steps you need to follow:
Creating a list of prospective influencers or experts to ask
A quick and easy way to look for experts to include in your roundup is to use Google.
Just enter any relevant keyword, slap on the term “blog,” and search away.
Google’s first page should be loaded with posts that can point you in the right direction.
When choosing the experts to include, pay attention to the following factors:
- Content Style — Keep in mind that including an expert in your roundup is like endorsing them to your readers. At the same time, you want your brand to be mentioned in a quality post.
- Reach — Ideally, the experts you’ll include in your roundup should have a massive readership. Doing so will help maximize the exposure, traffic, and link quality you can gain.
- Likelihood to Share or Link to Roundups They’re Mentioned In — To finalize your list, check to see which experts typically share or link to content they’ve been featured in. For this, you’ll have to dig into their blogroll and social media accounts.
Looking for questions to ask
The success of your expert roundup post depends on the question that you asked.
To look for ideas, I’d start with online forums and social media groups. In case you’re not familiar with either, you can count on Q&A websites like Quora.
The entire site should be stacked with trending questions in your niche.
All you need now is the right keyword to sieve them out.
Don’t just straight-up copy and paste the question you find through research. Make them more specific and try to align it with your personal brand.
For example, if you want to ask a question on “what is the best link building approach,” consider questions like:
- What is the best link building approach for bloggers on a budget?
- What link building strategy will you recommend in 2020?
- How do you find potential referring domains for link building?
Connecting with experts
You don’t need a fully equipped email marketing platform to send emails to your roundup experts.
You just need to remember the following when writing your outreach email:
- Write each email by hand — An expert in your field probably receives dozens of outreach emails regularly. They only need one look to know that your email is based on a template.
- Get straight to the point — Again, niche experts are already used to outreach emails from marketers who need a favor. If you want them to participate in your roundup post, mention it immediately.
- Use an honest subject line — Don’t overthink your subject line when writing outreach emails. In plain English, describe your proposition and make it short.
- Write a follow-up email — If your prospect failed to respond, give it a few days before you send a follow-up email. You can mention other experts who already responded or contributed to your roundup.
Here’s an outreach email sample you can refer to:
When the roundup post is complete, don’t forget to remind the experts who contributed.
Yes — your email should also be straightforward, personalized, and short.
Also, politely ask them if they can help share the post. Since the post has their name in it, they have every reason to!
CoSchedule published an interesting post on this topic. By compiling data from 14 different studies, they concluded that emails sent at around 9-10 AM had higher open rates.
It’s also worth noting that the days Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were shown to be ideal for sending emails.
Keep all these in mind when managing your outreach campaigns for the strategies in this post.
2. Write One-on-One Interview Posts
Creating interview posts works in the same way as writing expert roundups.
The key difference is, you’ll focus on working with one particular influencer or expert rather than many.
Looking for an example?
I collaborated with BloggersPassion to create an interview post, which helped them gain backlinks from me and other blogs.
To use this strategy, just use the same tips mentioned above when looking for prospective influencers and experts. You should also do your homework and check if your prospect normally links to interview posts they’re featured in.
Better yet, look for influencers or experts who did interviews in the past.
That should increase your chances of securing an interview post by a large margin.
The outreach process, of course, is significantly different from reaching out to experts for a roundup.
Instead of using the template above, write something similar to:
Here are the key pointers you should remember when writing outreach emails to potential interviewees:
- Try introducing yourself first to get the recipient’s attention
- Tell a specific story on how you found their blog
- Feel free to omit mentioning your monthly traffic
It’ll also help to build rapport with your prospect before you even send your outreach email. Do this by commenting on their blog and interacting with their social media posts.
Planning your interview post
For the actual interview, there are a couple of proven themes you can utilize:
- Asking a list of questions relevant to their niche
- Talking about the interviewee’s most recent project — be it a product launch, award, and so on
- Asking the interviewee about their opinion on a trending topic in your niche
- Covering the interviewee’s brand story
Once the theme is settled, you can decide how to conduct your interview. Your options for holding the interview are via Skype, email, or phone call.
If possible, you can also arrange to meet in person. This will give you opportunities to take photos and make the interview as impactful as possible.
3. Compile Statistics
We all know that writing data-driven articles require us to find statistics from relevant sources.
And upon citing a statistic, it’s a universal rule to link back to the source post.
Here are a few examples of me linking back to sources when mentioning statistics:
If you’re a finicky blogger, you’ll probably try to dig deep and find the original data source. It can be an original case study, survey, industry report, and so on.
But for the most part, linking to any well-crafted source by a credible blogger should be enough.
You can win links by compiling relevant and up-to-date statistics into a post. The more statistics you can combine in a single post, the more links it can generate over time.
For your reference, I published a compilation of blogging statistics recently.
By compiling updated statistics, you can reach out to bloggers who cited outdated data in their content.
A simple email that notifies them about the outdated statistic and a link to your compilation post should suffice. If your content looks authoritative enough, they should be willing to link to you instead of the outdated source.
4. Create Infographics
Speaking of statistics, you’ll have more chances of enticing bloggers to link to you by turning statistical data into infographics.
You may think that this isn’t a beginner-level link building strategy. After all, don’t you need to have graphic design skills to create infographics?
Not with drag-and-drop graphic design tools, you don’t.
What tools can you use to create infographics?
These tools may have completely different interfaces, but their core features are very similar.
To create an infographic, you can start with pre-made templates to save time.
After choosing a template, you can use the drag-and-drop tools to build your infographic.
Both Visme and Canva lets you add images, graphical elements, data visualizations, and text.
It’s pretty much like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle.
Before completing your infographic, remember to insert your blog’s logo and URL at the bottom.
Just like before, you can also send an outreach email to bloggers who currently link to an outdated statistic. Tell them that they’re welcome to use your infographic in their post as long as they link back to you.
5. Discuss Advanced Topics
When writing long-form content, it’s a common practice to link to external sources rather than discuss everything in one post.
Preferably, I would use an internal link that points to my own post. But if I don’t have an article that explains a process or term in detail, I’d link to an external page.
You may have seen me do this on occasion.
For example, in my post on how to improve your Google Keyword rankings, I used the following external links:
Clearly, I didn’t have any post that has the same information as the ones by Moz and Google. That’s why I decided that it’s best for my readers to find those external pages instead.
By writing posts that explain technical terms, processes, and knowledge, you can passively invite other bloggers to link to you.
This is natural link building at its finest.
You can also use this strategy in combination with broken link building to multiply your results.
Broken link building is an advanced link building strategy that requires the use of SEO tools. You will learn all about it later.
6. Coin Your Own Term or Concept
Compiling statistics, creating infographics, and writing about advanced topics can be considered as strategies for getting natural links.
If you focus on creating a brilliant post and promoting it, some bloggers may eventually link to it by themselves.
Another way to create posts that will naturally receive backlinks over time is to have an original idea.
Not just any original idea — it must be something worthy of its own name.
A perfect example of this is something you’re probably already heard of:
What makes the Skyscraper Technique article incredibly link-worthy isn’t just because it’s an original idea.
Brian Dean also created a masterpiece of an article to fully explain what it’s all about.
No expense was spared when creating the post. He even conducted a case study to prove that the Skyscraper Technique actually helped boost his search traffic.
How exactly does the Skyscraper Technique work for link building?
Don’t worry, it’s actually one of the advanced link building techniques we’ll discuss.
For now, here are the things you should remember when coming up with your own concept:
Your original idea can be derivative
Coining an original term sounds like a monumental task, but it really isn’t.
Take the Skyscraper Technique, for example.
If you look closely, it’s actually built upon borrowed practices that online marketers have been doing for years.
There are only three reasons why the Skyscraper Technique was validated and credited to Brian Dean:
- He combined existing practices into one seamless workflow
- Its effectiveness was proven with a well-documented case study
- Brian Dean gave it the “Skyscraper Technique” name
Do you see where I’m going with this?
To coin your own term, you can combine existing practices, prove their effectiveness, and give it a name.
Of course, I’m not saying that no one is creative enough to develop their own unique concepts from scratch. That’s definitely achievable, but you may need years of experience in your field before you come up with something notable.
Perhaps the most challenging aspect of coining your own term is proving it. And the best way to do so is to publish a case study, which brings us to the next strategy.
7. Publish Your Own Case Study
Publishing a case study isn’t just useful for proving the effectiveness of your own original concepts.
It can also be used to prove or disprove trending strategies.
As a result, you can generate your own set of statistics that other bloggers may end up linking to.
Looking for case study topics
You don’t need a fancy content research tool to look for potential case study topics to write about.
Using Google Trends to search for new trends, products, and guides should do the trick.
Just like the search engine, you can use Google Trends just by entering any keyword or phrase.
Upon entering a key phrase, you should create two lists — one for related queries, and the other for related topics.
The “Related Queries” list should contain relevant trends that you can cover in your case study.
For example, let’s say you’re in the social media marketing niche.
Fifth in the list is the query “social media marketing strategy template.”
That should be your lead.
Let’s plug in this query on Google to see what pops up.
To make sure we discover the latest trends, let’s tell Google to pull up results from the past year.
That immediately led us to this interesting post by the Content Marketing Institute:
As you can see, the post is still fresh.
Content Marketing Institute only published the template four days ago. Chances are, no one has conducted a case study on it yet.
After you find a potential case study topic, do your best to understand how it works.
The next order of business, of course, is to test the strategy yourself and document your results.
Just remember the following rules when conducting your case study:
- Set a Realistic Timeframe — All the strategies published only require a certain amount of time to deliver results. Specifying your case study’s timeframe can give it more interesting titles like “how I doubled my traffic in 30 days.”
- Track Metrics that Matter to Your Audience — To make your case study more believable, track every metric that can pique your audience’s interest. This could be the amount of time saved, dollars earned, traffic gained, and so on.
- Visualize Your Data — Let’s get one thing straight, case studies written in plain text are boring. For an engaging case study, use data visualizations like pie charts, graphs, and timelines to present information.
- Summarize Key Takeaways — By the end of your case study, create a list of the key takeaways that you want your readers to remember. This should include actionable tips that can help them replicate your results.
If the case study generated positive results, do tell the strategy’s original publisher about it.
A successful case study is the best way to validate their strategy. That said, they have every reason to help spread your case study and maybe reward you with a backlink.
Below is an example email you can use to reach out to the original publisher:
Here’s another tip: you can use the search operator “intitle:” along with the phrase “how to” to find more topics.
In the example above, we used the search phrase “social media marketing strategy template.”
We can find more potential case study topics by slightly tweaking our search phrase to:
8. Seek Inclusion in Resource Pages
If you have an in-depth, valuable piece of content or tool, you can have it linked to from resource pages.
What’s a resource page, you ask?
As the name implies, it’s a page with a list of resources that are useful to the site’s specific audience. These resources can be eBooks, online courses, in-depth guides, tools, or anything that can help readers achieve a goal.
What makes resource pages perfect for link building is they’re built specifically to contain outbound links.
Below is what a resource page looks like — courtesy of Foxtail Marketing:
Looking for resource page link building opportunities
Unlike interviews and roundups, trying to obtain links from resource pages occurs after the content is already published.
That means searching for link building opportunities involving resource pages is a walk in the park.
You simply need to run a search using any relevant keyword with a footprint like “useful resources” or “additional resources.”
For instance, if your blog is all about social media marketing, you can perform the search below:
This query alone should lead you to dozens of potential resource pages you can target.
When picking a resource page, make sure it has a section for the specific type of content you want to share. It’s also much better if your content is completely unique to the list.
Fortunately, most resource pages clearly label what each resource is all about. That should make it easier to determine if your content deserves a spot.
Here’s an example from Dynamic Yield:
Found a resource page you can add to?
The next step is to pitch your content while politely asking for a link.
You guessed it — you need to nail your outreach email for this to work.
Here are some guidelines to help you with this:
- Make the email as personalized as possible
- Talk about how you found their resource page
- Be direct when talking about the post you wish to add to the resource page
I wrote the email script below to give you an idea of what to write:
Of course, you shouldn’t just flat-out copy every single word of the script. Switch things up and personalize to make it look as natural as possible.
9. Guest Blogging
This is something that every blogger should’ve heard of by now.
In guest blogging, the goal is to write content for other websites and create backlinks to your site yourself.
It’s definitely a time-consuming process, especially for solo bloggers who spend hours producing their own content. However, it’s also a surefire way to earn both a high-quality backlink and referral traffic at the same time.
The first step in this strategy is to look for websites that accept guest posts.
An easy way to do this is to use “guest blogging footprints” when searching on Google. These are phrases in posts indicating that they were submitted by a guest contributor.
“Guest post by” — in that order — is a common guest blogging footprint that works.
For example, if you’re in the senior dating niche, you can use the query below:
Other guest blogging footprints you can use to discover websites that accept contributions are:
- Submit content
- Become a contributor
- Submit an article
- Guest post guidelines
- Articles wanted
- Add blog post
After finding sites that accept guest posts, be sure to check each website’s SEO metrics to know which to prioritize. You then have to contact each site via email or their guest blogging application form, if any.
There’s a lot more to learn about guest blogging that will help you succeed with this link building strategy. For more information, check out my ultimate guest blogging guide.
Intermediate Link Building Strategies
So, you got the hang of beginner-level link building strategies and are looking for ways to up your game.
That’s just the way SEO and marketing, in general, works.
The more dedicated you are, the bigger your results can be.
To keep your SEO campaign’s momentum going, let’s move on over to intermediate-level link building strategies.
10. Do Link Exchanges
Trust me — you’re not the only website owner out there in search of link building tactics.
If you’ve been blogging for a while, chances are you received a few requests from other bloggers to “swap” links.
Just like you, these are bloggers searching high and low for cost-effective link building opportunities.
How link exchanges work
In a link exchange, two website owners agree to provide each other with backlinks as a trust signal. This should, in theory, allow both websites to increase their search engine rankings.
There are a few proven ways to look for link exchange opportunities with other website owners.
The most practical method is to simply use Google.
First, you need to identify a competitor.
You can refer to this post for steps on how to identify competitors using Google or a special tool.
After finding a competitor, head to Google and type in the “site:” operator along with your competitor’s domain. This operator works by looking for pages with links that point to the specified URL.
Other than that, you also need the “minus sign” operator to eliminate pages from your competitor’s own domain. These will appear in the results if your competitor has a robust internal link structure.
For example, if Pinch of Yum is your primary competitor, here’s what you need to enter:
You can also find link exchange partners in SEO forums and private link exchange social media groups. You should, however, be very careful with open link exchange marketplaces.
Avoiding problems with link exchange
Link exchanges have generated split opinions among the SEO community.
Some strongly advise against it, while others actively seek link exchange opportunities through influencer networks.
What everybody can agree on is that swapping links shouldn’t be the bread and butter of your SEO campaign.
According to Google, excessively swapping links is considered a manipulative scheme, which violates their Webmaster Guidelines.
The keyword here is “excessive.”
Whatever you do, doing link exchanges should not be your primary link building strategy. Rather, it should be a supplementary tactic that will allow you to acquire just enough high-quality links from authoritative sources.
In any case, here are the precautionary steps you need to take when doing link exchanges:
- Use the Ahrefs Website Authority Checker to see if the site’s Domain Rating is over 40
- Use analytics tools like SEMrush to see if the site is getting a reasonable amount of monthly traffic
- Always go for domains that are relevant in your own niche
11. Regaining Lost Links
If your blog has been around for a while, you may have earned a handful of backlinks from authority sites.
You may also have lost a few backlinks along the way.
This can happen for a number of reasons:
- The linking post has been removed by the referring domain’s owner
- The referring domain is no longer active
- They simply removed your link
- You updated your post’s URL
- You changed your domain name
- The referring domain changed ownership
- The referring domain is temporarily down
To regain lost links, it’s important to identify the reason why they’re removed in the first place.
But before anything else, you need to know if you do have lost links.
Looking for lost backlinks
First, enter your domain into the main search bar and select ‘Backlinks’ under the “All Reports” drop-down menu.
On the backlinks report page, click on the ‘Backlinks’ tab for a complete view of your site’s backlink profile.
You should also see backlink filters on the main toolbar, including the toggle to show “New” and “Lost” links.
Go ahead and tick the “Lost” checkbox.
By default, SEMrush sorts all link sources according to “Authority Score.” This is a proprietary metric used to gauge the SEO influence of the link source.
In other words, you should start from top to bottom when trying to reclaim your lost backlinks.
Doing so will ensure that you prioritize the most important lost backlinks first. Unless, of course, the referring pages that contain those lost links are:
- Business directory websites
- Forum posts and replies
- Comparison websites
- Crowd-sourced customer review websites
Go right ahead and check each referring page to determine its type.
Checking the linking page will let you know why your link was deleted and how to reclaim your spot.
For example, if the link now points to a different post, you’ll need to create something even better. If the link was removed due to an error when the link source was revamped, notifying the owner should work.
Once you determine the cause, you can send a formal request to the website owner to reinstate your link.
Here’s a sample email you can base your own message on:
Impressed with the features of SEMrush?
Then I suggest checking out my full SEMrush review right here.
Now, back on topic.
Regaining lost backlinks often guarantees quick and easy wins.
Nobody likes to have broken outbound links in their content.
What you should worry about are website owners who would rather remove the link altogether.
That reminds me…
12. Claim Unlinked Brand Mentions
Regaining lost backlinks isn’t the only link building strategy with assured results.
You can also look for posts that mention your brand, but don’t provide a backlink.
In the SEO space, these are simply referred to as “unlinked brand mentions.”
I know — it’s widely accepted that linking to any brand you mention in your content is common courtesy. But you have to remember that content writers are human.
Sometimes, an article just gets too long that they forget stuff like adding backlinks to citations.
The good news is, you can always look for unlinked brand mentions and request website owners for the link.
There are two ways to do this: accidentally and intentionally.
By accidentally, I mean finding unlinked mentions while you’re doing something else — be it influencer marketing or content promotions.
To look for unlinked brand mentions intentionally, there are a couple of tools you can use.
Setting up Google Alerts to proactively monitor the web for brand mentions
Setting up Google Alerts to monitor the web for mentions of your brand is a great first step.
To use Google Alerts, enter your brand into the main field.
If your website’s name contains two or more words, don’t forget to wrap them inside quotation marks.
You can also create alerts using your own name to find even more content that mentions you. However, you’ll need to start over from scratch and create a new alert for that.
Google Alerts should immediately generate a preview of recently published results using that keyword.
If no recent content is available, existing results will be displayed instead.
Happy with the results you got from the preview?
It’s time to seal the deal and create your automatic alert.
Next to the blue ‘Create Alert’ button, click ‘Show options’ for your alert’s settings. Here, you can specify your preferred mention sources, language, region, alert frequency, and so on.
What you shouldn’t forget is to set the “Deliver to” option to your email. This will let you change the frequency of alerts to real-time, once a day, and once a week.
When you’re happy with your settings, click ‘Create Alert’ and you’re good to go.
Google Alerts should now promptly send you notifications about mentions of your brand. You just have to wait when
Cool — but what if you need to look for unlinked brand mentions now?
If you have a spare $7, you can make this happen with a tool like Ahrefs.
Looking for unlinked mentions with Ahrefs
Ahrefs offer a full, 7-day trial for only $7.
That’s more than enough time for you to look for dozens of unlinked brand mentions.
To look for unlinked brand mentions, fire up the Ahrefs “Content Explorer” feature.
This is a specialized content research tool that can sweep the web for the specified topic or keyword.
Just enter your brand into the “Enter topic” field and click the ‘Search’ button.
Again, if your brand’s name has two or more words in it, enclose it in quotation marks. This will tell the content explorer to look for exact match mentions.
The content explorer’s report page should provide you a list of all pages that mention your brand.
Naturally, you should find a handful of pages coming from your own domain at first.
What Ahrefs has that most alternatives don’t, however, is the “Highlight unlinked domains” feature.
You can use it by clicking on the drop-down menu, entering your domain, and clicking ‘Highlight.’
This should refine the results to only show pages from websites that don’t link to your domain.
Once these posts are identified, give them a quick read to figure out how they mentioned you.
They may have shared an original graphic, cited a quote, mentioned a post, or used your brand as an example.
That’s it — you now have a list of pages that mention your brand but don’t provide the link you deserve.
You should already know what comes next.
It’s time to reach out to these websites and request for your link.
Here’s the email template you’re waiting for:
Remember to re-word the email template above to fit the way the post mentioned your brand.
By finding unlinked mentions of your brand, you could be looking at a few free backlinks generated quickly and effortlessly.
There are only three drawbacks to this strategy:
- Mentioning a Similar Word or Phrase — If your brand’s name uses common words or expressions, you may find pages that mention it out of context. “Master Blogging,” for example, could mean the act of mastering the art of blogging — not a mention of my blog.
- Not Scalable — Looking for unlinked brand mentions isn’t really a long-term link building strategy. With SEO in front of every content writer’s mind, it’s rare to find content that mentions you without a link.
- Not All Mentions are Positive — In certain cases, the content writer may have excluded a link to your website on purpose. This may occur if they mentioned your brand in a negative way.
13. Hijack Links from Inferior Content
Got a few pieces of content you’re particularly proud of?
Do you genuinely believe that other bloggers would be willing to link to it?
If you answered “yes” to both questions, this next link building strategy is for you.
It’s not rocket science: any self-respecting blogger will always choose the more authoritative content when dishing out links.
By “more authoritative,” I don’t just mean content that looks better on paper. It must also be objectively better in terms of SEO value.
To ensure this, use a tool like Google Analytics to round up your top posts.
If you still haven’t configured your Google Analytics account yet, you’ll find everything you need to know right here.
Already got Google Analytics set up?
From your dashboard, expand the ‘Behavior’ sub-menu and click ‘Site Content.’ From there, choose ‘All Pages’ to view your top 10 pages in terms of page views.
In my case, I noticed that my SEMrush alternatives comparison post currently ranks at 4th.
To look for inferior content, sieve out a primary keyword for your top post and look for it on Google.
For example, I can go with the keyword “SEMrush alternatives” for the example post above.
Excluding the ad, my post appears second on Google’s first page for that search query.
It’s safe to assume that my post is superior to all pages from position three and higher.
Of course, relying on rankings alone to determine the quality of content isn’t really a reliable strategy.
That’s why you should manually inspect every page and see for yourself if your content is, indeed, superior.
Remember, a website owner will only be bothered to replace a link if there are noticeable differences between two posts.
If your content is visibly and unequivocally better in terms of:
- Word count
- Visual content
- Data-driven information
- Inbound links
- User engagement in terms of shares and comments
Then you can confidently reach out to those posts’ linking domains and mention your superior post.
To do this, let me introduce you to Serpstat — one of the most cost-effective SEMrush alternatives out there.
You can use its backlink analysis feature to identify domains that link to the inferior content.
To start, insert the content’s URL into the main start page and click ‘Search.’
Since you entered a specific page’s URL, Serpstat will take you directly to an overview page.
This offers a good view of the content’s SEO performance, but we’re here for something else.
What we want is to peek at the content’s link sources to contact them and claim the links for ourselves.
For that, expand the ‘Backlink Analysis’ and click ‘Referring Domains.’
Here is an email template you can use when reaching out to these domains:
Rinse and repeat for every referring domain that links to the inferior content.
If they liked your proposal, you should receive a response within a few hours to a couple of days.
Advanced Link Building Strategies
Congratulations — you’ve now learned a handful of intermediate link building strategies that not all bloggers know.
Why stop there?
With the advanced link building strategies below, you can step up your game and handily outrank the competition.
14. HARO Link Building
When building backlinks for SEO, authority means everything.
No — the top blogs in your niche aren’t the only authoritative link sources out there.
There are also big media websites like The Wall Street Journal, Mashable, and INC.
Of course, I’m not suggesting you should consider a career in journalism in order to build links on those sites.
What you should do is employ the HARO method and be an information source for journalists already contributing there.
What is the HARO link building method
HARO, short for “Help a Reporter Out,” is an online service that connects journalists with information sources.
It’s specifically designed to help journalists with authorships in big media outlets crowdsource information.
Here’s how the HARO link building method works.
First, you need to sign up as a source on the site.
You can “feel things out” with a free account for now. After your registration, you should begin receiving three emails per day with a list of requests from journalists.
Yes — these requests represent opportunities from journalists for contributions.
Thankfully, all requests are sorted under categories. This includes healthcare, business, tech, education, lifestyle, and so on.
If you find an opportunity that matches your expertise, click on the link to jump to the query’s details.
For example, one opportunity is from a journalist from USA Today — a big media outlet.
Other than the journalist’s name, the HARO query should also include an email address and the deadline for contributions.
The important details of the query should come next.
Read this carefully in order to determine if you can deliver an insightful contribution or not.
In the example from USA Today, sources will know immediately that the content will be about travel scams. If you consider yourself a travel expert, take the next step.
Some queries also include a specific set of requirements from the journalist. These can be anything — from having a specific profession to answering a short questionnaire.
Since USA Today is a big publication, the journalist’s elaborate requirements are more than justified.
Just be mindful of the media outlet mentioned in the HARO query.
Sure, we all know that USA Today is a big media outlet. But what if you stumble upon opportunities involving websites you haven’t heard of before?
In this case, you need to pull up your go-to SEO analytics software and check the site’s authority.
On SEMrush, this can be done in less than a minute.
Checking a website’s authority with SEMrush
Determining the authority of a media outlet is a walk in the park with SEMrush.
Just head to the “Domain Overview” tool, enter the domain address of the outlet, and click ‘Search.’
After scanning the HARO email, I stumbled upon a query for the website The Simple Dollar.
With SEMrush, I could verify that they can provide some really valuable backlinks.
You should also jump to the “Backlink Analytics” report for the domain to view its Authority Score.
Remember, the higher the site’s Authority Score, the more beneficial their backlinks are going to be.
I’ve also acquired a handful of quality backlinks using the HARO method.
Off the top of my head, I remember this post published on Blerrp about relationship building and networking tips.
Sending pitches to HARO prospects
There’s something you need to know when utilizing the HARO method for link building:
Template-based outreach emails won’t work here.
By publicizing their queries through HARO, journalists probably get truckloads of pitches in their inbox in a day.
What you need to send them is a unique, handcrafted email written specifically for them.
I only have five tips to share when writing your pitch:
- Provide Detailed Answers to All Questions — A HARO query oftentimes contain a few questions from the journalist. As such, write your pitch as an actual “mini guide” that answers each of them in detail.
- Write Quotable Paragraphs — Not only should your answers insightful, they should also be quotable. Write answers that make, prove, and enforce a point in one paragraph.
- Use a Subject Line that Directly Addresses Their HARO Query — There’s no need to come up with a clever subject line when writing emails to HARO prospects. Just use something plain and simple, like “Response to: [HARO query title].”
- Remember that You’re Not Cold Emailing — Introductions and flattery don’t have room in messages to HARO prospects. As soon as they get your email, they already know what you’re after — get to the good stuff right away.
- Add a Short Bio with a Link to Your Website — Finally, don’t forget to add a short introduction of you and your blog. A one-liner should be enough to let the journalist know who to credit when writing the article.
15. Broken Link Building
Lost backlinks that point to your site aren’t the only broken links worth fixing.
Let me explain.
In the strategy called “broken link building,” you begin by looking for broken links in another website’s content.
Broken links normally happen if the content being linked to goes offline — sometimes temporarily, sometimes for good.
They’re your cue to step in, alert the website, and offer your own content as a replacement linkable asset.
Sounds easy, right?
It actually is — as long as you’re properly equipped for the job.
If possible, invest in a premium tool like SEMrush to access their in-depth “Site Audit” tool. This will allow you to find broken links in an entire site within minutes.
But if you’re a little short on funds, you can use a free Google Chrome extension instead.
Looking for broken links with the Check My Links extension
Check My Links is a free but super useful extension that can detect broken links on any website.
After installing the extension, you’ll have to go through some pages in the domain you want to get links from.
Listicles and statistics compilations are probably the best types of content to look for broken links.
These posts, after all, are loaded with outbound links.
Suppose you’re in the digital marketing niche and would very much like a link from Siege Media.
We can run a search on Google using the “inurl:” operator and the keyword “statistics.”
Right off the bat, we can see this 2020 collection of 100 content marketing statistics.
After loading the page, click the ‘Check My Links’ extension button on the Chrome toolbar.
Give the tool a few seconds to scan all the links found on the page.
A small window should pop up with the real-time count of valid links, redirected links, warnings, and invalid links.
Bingo — the extension reports that one link on the page is broken.
Sadly, there’s currently no way to jump straight to the invalid link with Check My Links. You’ll have to manually scroll through the post to find the link highlighted in red.
For Siege Media’s post, it’s this link pointing to Animoto.
You can easily confirm this by clicking on the link itself.
If the link is indeed broken, it should return an error.
Anyway, you’ve now found a broken link.
Your job now is to either create a replacement post or find an existing one.
Since Animoto’s post is cited as a statistic source, we should first check if they originally came up with the data.
With a quick Google search, we can verify that the original source of the data is actually a HubSpot study.
That means Siege Media should be open to linking to a replacement post.
If the broken page, however, published the original study, you’ll have to find similar data from a different source.
In relation to the example above, you can find similar data from other reliable sources with the following search query:
Have a look at the search results below:
To create the replacement post, remember the following tips:
- Check for the updated data
- Try to present the new data in visual form
- You don’t have to write a post from scratch for this — just add the statistic to an existing post
Of course, not all pages with broken links are listicles and compilations of statistics.
A lot of them are just regular blog posts with contextual links.
In such cases, you’ll need to create a more thorough replacement post from a clean slate. But since this requires a lot of effort, you should only do
In such cases, you’ll need to create a more comprehensive replacement post from a clean slate. But since this requires a lot of effort, only do this if the potential link is from a high-authority site.
Now — to wrap up this link building strategy, let’s get to your outreach email.
Something as simple as the email template below should work:
Broken link building is a fun little strategy, but it’s not really a sustainable one.
For one, manually combing through websites to find broken links can be incredibly tedious.
Unless you have a premium backlink analysis tool, you could spend hours looking for a single broken link to target.
Furthermore, remember that most high-authority websites now are equipped with capable SEO analytics software. If they have broken links, it won’t be long before they fix those up themselves.
The worst-case scenario is, you find out that the broken link is already fixed right after finishing the replacement post.
Don’t fret — if your broken link building efforts hit a rough patch, there’s always plan B: deep broken link building.
16. Deep Broken Link Building
Think about it for a second.
If one website has a link that points to a broken page, there are bound to be others.
Let me show you how it’s done.
Using SEMrush to unveil more pages with broken links
You can use the backlinks analysis tool baked into SEMrush to find other pages that point to the broken page.
The next step is to check the broken link’s destination and copy the URL.
On SEMrush, click ‘Backlink Analytics’ below “Link Building” from the dashboard.
Once loaded, enter the broken page’s URL into the main field and click ‘Check it.’
Upon checking the broken link from IBM Watson, SEMrush verifies that there are still lots of pages linking to it.
Yes — all those links are most likely broken.
Finally, we can reveal where these broken links are by switching to the ‘Backlinks’ tab.
The complete list can be found at the bottom of the page. You should be able to export it through the ‘Export’ button on the upper-right corner.
Looking at the screenshot above, we can say that there are 257 potential backlink opportunities waiting for us.
You just need to create the replacement post, find the contact information of the linking sites, and do your outreach.
Yeah — the email template I mentioned earlier for broken link building can be used here as well.
And yes — deep broken link building is that easy.
The catch is, you’ll need a capable backlink analysis tool like SEMrush to do it.
17. Skyscraper Technique
The Skyscraper Technique is an elaborate link building strategy popularized by Brian Dean of Backlinko.
Yes — I’ve mentioned this before when I talked about coining your own unique concept.
Before we delve any further, you should know that the Skyscraper Technique is by no means a shortcut.
Brian Dean highlights that it only involves three simple steps:
- Look for high-quality, link-magnet content
- Create something measurably better
- Reach out to website owners who linked to the original
However, performing each step requires hours of research and grunt work.
You also need to invest in certain tools to complete each step more efficiently.
On the plus side, the Skyscraper Technique is almost guaranteed to yield positive results. That is, if you do it right.
With that all that out of the way, let’s get started.
Looking for link-magnet content
The first step of the Skyscraper Technique is to find link-magnet, high-value content pieces.
Brian Dean defines these “linkable assets” as content that already generated a lot of links.
A tool like Serpstat can help you locate linkable assets published by your competitors.
To use it, start by entering the domain of a top competitor.
For the sake of this guide, let’s pretend that Neil Patel is your top rival.
After entering his domain address, you will be taken to an overview page with a bunch of interesting metrics.
Cool — but we aren’t after those numbers.
What we need to do here is expand the ‘Backlinks Analysis’ sub-menu and click ‘Top Pages.’
This should reveal the pages on Neil Patel’s website with the highest number of backlinks.
Okay — there’s a good chance that your competitor doesn’t have thousands of domains linking to their content.
Any piece of content with at least 25 different domains linking to it already qualifies as linkable.
When you find a blog post that catches your attention, give it a thorough read and ask yourself:
Can I make something undeniably better than this?
If the answer is yes, then you’re ready to move on to the next step.
Writing something significantly better
Next comes the fun part of the Skyscraper Technique.
You see, every piece of content can be improved upon if you know what to look for.
For example, there is always room for more visuals in any article.
Be it in the form of an animated GIF, infographic, screenshot, or video, most information can be conveyed better visually.
Here’s an example from one of my most visual-heavy posts:
If the linkable content you’re trying to outperform is old, you should also keep an eye out for outdated information.
In the blogging niche, for example, plenty of guides and tutorials cover outdated versions of tools. There are also countless statistics that regularly get updated.
Lastly, you can always improve content by making it bigger.
I’m not just talking about the content’s length.
When I mentioned “bigger,” I meant more valuable and actionable information.
There are a lot of blog post components that even top-notch articles are missing:
- Frequently Asked Questions Section — A FAQs section not only lengthens any post; it also makes the experience of readers more enriching. Writing FAQ sections also gives you the opportunity to appear in search engines via FAQ rich snippets.
- More Instructions — No matter how comprehensive they are, most guides and tutorials don’t cover everything. Figure out what they’re missing and write about them in your new piece.
- More Examples — Mentioning examples is always a great way to explain how something works or is done. The best part of it is, sharing examples often creates room for screenshots, photos, or any other visual.
- Additional Items — If the content you’re trying to outperform includes a list, add an even bigger list to yours. This can be a list of tools, expert quotes, websites, products, and other resources.
Promoting your new content to website owners who linked to the original
The third and final step in the Skyscraper Technique is to reach website owners who linked to the original post.
In principle, it’s the same as stealing links from inferior content.
But this time, you’re sharing content that’s built from the ground up to outshine the old post.
If you did your job, every blogger worth their salt should be more than willing to link to you.
Unless, the website owner:
- Received payment from the original content creator for a backlink
- Was directly involved in the creation of the original linked article
- Doesn’t care about SEO or the experience of their readers
A tool with a backlink analysis feature can help you identify your targets.
With Serpstat, you can do this by navigating to the backlink analysis dashboard. Just click ‘Referring Domains’ from the ‘Backlink Analysis’ sub-menu and enter the URL of the linkable asset you found.
Remember when we tried to steal links from inferior content?
Serpstat should show you a list of all the sites that link to that page.
To make your list more compact and accessible, you can export the list as a CSV document. All you have to do is select the option you want from the drop-down menu on the upper-right corner.
Just a word of advice: you don’t have to reach out to every domain in the list.
You can skip all links from forums, directory websites, comparison sites, and sites that “scrape” or steal content.
Once you have a list of the top referring domains, it’s time to send some cold emails.
You know the drill — keep it short, personalized, straightforward, and natural.
Here’s an example email you can use as reference:
18. Shotgun Skyscraper Technique
The Skyscraper Technique relies on many things, but “chance” isn’t one of them.
In that link building strategy, you need to carefully handpick both the linkable asset and authoritative link sources. Additionally, you need to write unique and personalized outreach emails once your upgraded content is up.
Sure, following these steps yields high response rates, but it’s also painfully time-consuming.
The “Shotgun” approach to the Skyscraper Technique solves this, but with a catch.
What is the Shotgun Skyscraper Technique?
While the Skyscraper Technique focuses on sending hyper-personalized emails to link prospects, the Shotgun approach is all about quantity.
With the effort you put into emails when doing the Skyscraper Technique, you can probably send 20-40 a day tops. The Shotgun approach, on the other hand, uses software to blast out 200 or more emails in a day.
After all, 5 percent of 1,000 is better than 11 percent of 100, right?
If the math makes sense to you, then let’s dive into it.
Doing keyword research
When the Shotgun approach was first mentioned by the guys at Authority Hacker, they made one thing clear:
While conducting keyword research, go for highly competitive keyword opportunities.
That means shooting for keyword ideas with a high “keyword difficulty” score in keyword research tools.
SEMrush has a dedicated “Keyword Difficulty” tool specifically built to reveal this metric.
Why is targeting high-difficulty keywords important?
There are two reasons:
First, ranking your new content isn’t the goal of the Shotgun approach.
The focus is getting as many backlinks as possible and funneling link juice to money pages.
Secondly, the Shotgun approach will only work if you have tons of link prospects to contact.
By targeting high-difficulty keywords, posts that rank for them are bound to have a large number of backlinks. And that equates to more link prospects.
This leads us to the next step…
Getting your list of contacts
Let’s say you started with the keyword “paleo diet.”
Your next move is to dissect the organic results for that keyword and build up your list of link prospects.
Authority Hacker recommends Ahrefs for the job since it aggregates the organic results and backlink count in one report.
On Ahrefs, launch the “Keywords Explorer” tool to get things going.
The overview page shall then reveal the keyword’s difficulty score, search volume, CPC, and so on.
It looks like the keyword “paleo diet” is exactly the kind of keyword we want for the Shotgun approach.
However, there’s a way to find an even better keyword for the Shotgun Skyscraper Technique.
Under the “Keyword Ideas” section on the left menu, click ‘Questions.’
This will reveal a list of highly competitive keyword ideas that point to informative content pieces.
Let’s just go for gold and choose “what is paleo diet,” which is at the very top of the list.
Clicking on the keyword will take you to an all-new overview page. Scroll down to the “SERP overview” section for a quick look at what you’ll be working with.
Next up, we need to run each page through the “Site Explorer” for a closer look at their backlink profile.
Simply copy the URL of each page, click ‘Site Explorer’ on the top Ahrefs bar, and paste it there.
When the search completes, click ‘Backlinks’ under the “Backlink profile” menu section. This will show you a list of all pages that contain a link to the competitor’s content.
As you can see in the screenshot above, the content has a total of 443 backlinks from unique referring domains.
Does that mean we can add all 443 referring domains into our link prospects list?
Since we want to obtain links for SEO purposes, let’s weed out “nofollow” links from the bunch.
You can do this by selecting ‘Dofollow’ from the “Link type” drop-down menu.
Upon applying this filter, our list of 443 backlinks sources is down to just 370.
Done — you now have your first batch of link prospects for your Shotgun Skyscraper Technique campaign.
Export the list so you can move on to the next top organic result. There should be a conveniently placed ‘Export’ button at the upper-right corner of the list.
Remember, the Shotgun approach to the Skyscraper Technique is all about numbers.
Targeting 370 contacts in your outreach may already seem like a lot, but you will definitely need more.
As a matter of fact, Authority Hacker mentioned exporting the top 100 organic results and individually checking their backlinks.
That may sound like an overwhelming amount of work, but with Ahrefs, you should be done within a day.
The next step, of course, is to create content that’s unquestionably better than the ones you’ve analyzed. For this task, refer to the tips mentioned above about creating Skyscraper content.
Scraping off email addresses from your target link prospects
Finding the contact information of a domain isn’t difficult per se.
But if you have to do it to over 1,000 domains, you’re looking at days of exhausting, repetitive work.
Luckily, there are tools like Hunter that automatically pull out contact information from any domain.
What makes Hunter important in the Shotgun Skyscraper Technique is the “Bulk tasks” feature. This allows you to scrape off email addresses from a long list of domains or a downloaded file.
The downside is, Hunter may not be able to collect all email addresses from your list of domains.
Based on my tests, the tool can only consistently acquire roughly half of all domains you enter.
That’s still nothing short of impressive.
Remember, you can still manually dig up the contact information of high-authority domains if you want to. At the end of the day, Hunter can complete half of the grunt work in less than a minute.
Performing outreach with an email marketing tool
The last phase of the Shotgun approach is to send outreach emails.
Lots and lots of outreach emails.
This is downright impossible without the help of an email marketing tool.
I have tried different email marketing platforms over the past few years. Eventually, I settled with Lemlist for the sole reason that I love the usability factor.
You’re free to use an email marketing platform of your choice.
What’s important is that it can import email addresses, mass send emails using templates, and automate follow-up emails.
Lemlist can walk you through each and every step with the streamlined campaign builder. You can upload your list of contacts, build template-based emails, and set your sending schedule — all in one go.
Sounds easy enough.
The only challenging aspect in this phase is preparing the template you’ll use for your outreach emails.
With an email marketing platform like Lemlist, you’ll need to define custom variables from a column in your CSV file.
It sounds technical to those who haven’t worked with CSV files before, but it only takes a few simple steps. For a quick tutorial on this subject, check out this video from Lemlist.
Anyhow, you probably still need a reference to prepare your template with.
Below, I used the email builder of Lemlist so you’ll have an idea of how template-based emails are constructed.
Take note, the links are already filled in because:
- You already know the content you want to steal links from
- You already know the content you want to offer as a replacement
There’s no need to replace these links when sending outreach emails to websites that link to the same content.
You should only worry about replacing the link if you’re reaching out to the referring domains of another post.
Since this is the Shotgun approach, a single template should be good for a couple hundred contacts. That’s still far less work than writing tailored emails for a regular Skyscraper campaign.
Disadvantages of the Shotgun approach
When I first heard about the Shotgun approach to the Skyscraper Technique, I immediately knew there will be disadvantages.
It really works — that’s the surprise.
But you can’t ignore that blasting hundreds of emails in a day is borderline spammy.
To make sure you understand the risks fully, let me reiterate the disadvantages of the Shotgun Skyscraper Technique.
- Low response rate due to less-personalized emails
- Other website owners may permanently put your email on their spam list
- Unless you spend more time preparing your lists, it may be difficult to ensure the quality of links you get
Bonus Link Building Tips
The strategies above make up my top 18 link building tactics of all time.
Granted, most — if not all — of these link building strategies take time before they generate measurable results. And to a new blogger, it can feel like forever before you secure your first-ever backlink.
Waiting for someone to reply to your outreach emails alone may take days or even weeks.
While you wait, here are 13 bonus link building strategies that can help bolster your blog’s backlink profile:
- Newsjacking — Publish content about the latest news and trends in your industry. Pitch it to journalists or fellow bloggers to be linked as a trustworthy source.
- Debunk Myths — Similar to writing your own case study, debunking myths and publishing your results will earn you some backlinks. The key here is to be the first to find trending, unproven myths in your niche and test them yourself.
- Connect with Popular Blog Commenters — If your blog itself is pretty big, you may occasionally receive comments from other influencers in your niche. Connect with them by replying to their comments and promoting new content to them.
- Send Free Products to Influential Reviewers — For bloggers who sell their own products or services, send them for free to influencers. In return, request that they publish an honest review on their website.
- Curate Motivational Quotes — Looking for a new outline for another link-worthy post? Try curating motivational quotes from famous influencers and thought leaders in your niche.
- Tier-Two Link Building — Tier-two link building refers to the practice of building links to pages that link back to you. This isn’t exactly a link building technique, but it will definitely maximize the value of links you already have.
- Run Your Own Survey — If you have a sizeable social media community, use your reach to conduct your own surveys. Publish the results in the form of a link-worthy blog post.
- Reverse Guest Blogging — Forget about guest blogging — if you have a decent readership, you can invite influencers to write content for you instead. Once their submissions are published, let them know so they can link to it or share it on social media.
- Look for Link Prospects on Twitter — If an influencer follows you on Twitter, that means they’re very interested in what your brand has to offer. Find and reach out to them — they should be more receptive to whatever link building proposal you have in mind.
- Write a Testimonial of a Top Brand — Every brand loves positive testimonials, especially if they’re coming from popular influencers and bloggers. If you’re influential yourself, pitch a positive testimonial to a top brand in your niche via email.
- Host an Event and Invite Bloggers — Organizing local events can help you earn links as well as build relationships with influencers in your niche. The whole planning phase can be extra tricky, so I recommend checking out this guide from Moz.
- Build Your Own Resource Page — Resource pages aren’t only a good source of backlinks — they can also attract tons of links themselves. It works for link building in the same way as compiling statistics into a single page.
- Help Other Websites Update Their Old Content — Updating old content is a must-have practice to generate evergreen value and maintain relevance. If you can, help other websites update their old content and earn a link via your author bio.
Learning how to build backlinks is one of the biggest challenges every blogger needs to overcome.
On the flip side, the rewards of getting links and ranking high in search engine results can be astronomical.
When done right, link building can be your ticket to amassing tons of recurring traffic and building a recognizable brand.
Did I miss a proven link building method you’ve personally tried? What are your experiences with the strategies I’ve listed above?
Always remember that the comments section is at your disposal.
And on that note, here’s to you getting success in link building!