Link building and digital marketing professionals who have been honing their craft for a while have come up with some very inventive ways to get quality backlinks from high domain authority websites.
As a link building service, it’s always nice to know which link building techniques our competitors are using and having success with. The below article is a collection of some of the more innovative and thought-provoking techniques currently being used.
We hope reading these will help you improve your own marketing and link building efforts, your understanding of how and where backlinks can be found, and set you on the path to becoming a link building expert.
Finding Broken Link Opportunities on Repurposed Websites
This is basically a version of broken link building, except it involves finding broken link opportunities on sites that aren’t broken.
There are a lot of fantastic link opportunities out there that aren’t on broken pages per se, but on pages that don’t exist anymore, they just aren’t serving a 404.
This means you aren’t going to discover them using a traditional broken link tool.
Take this site, for instance: https://www.meldium.com/
At one point it was a password manager, but the domain likely expired and now it’s just home to a basic blog.
Finding the opportunities
To uncover these opportunities, here’s what link building experts do.
The first step is to search for list pages that feature whatever tool you’re trying to target. For Meldium, you might use something like https://kickofflabs.com/blog/30-tools-for-managing-a-remote-team/.
The second step is to then go through and manually open each of the tools on the list and give them a cursory once-over. It sounds tedious, but you can actually find good opportunities doing this.
You can do this in a wide range of industries, and there are great link opportunities to be had.
Another creative way experienced link builders find backlink opportunities is to target adjacent niches and industries.
Here’s a step-by-step of one way to go about doing this:
- Select the top 3-4 competitors in the niche
- Create a backlink report on Ahrefs for each one (filtering by nofollow and dofollow) and then remove all the spammy-looking, low authority, low relevance ones.
- Now you have a final list of quality URLs. Create a list of the industries or niches that each of these sites would fall under and categorize them accordingly.
- Create a list of keywords for each industry or niche category
- You can then use those keywords while doing prospecting and expand your list of targets.
This is a great way find adjacent niches that may not have been obvious, while still accounting for relevance–so long as you have the right piece of content.
Don’t Think Like a Link Builder
Often the most innovative link building specialists are those who are able to step outside of the link builder’s mindset.
When everyone does link building by the same book, what you end up with is a bunch of repetitive, uninteresting, robotic outreach, all chasing the same opportunities in the same ways.
As soon as you sound and act like a link builder, people very quickly ignore your email. The workaround? Don’t sound and act like a link builder.
Don’t do this.
You can buck expectations by doing outside-the-box outreach that actually gets people’s attention and lets them know you’re not a link building automaton.
Another related approach is to redefine who the stakeholders are in a client’s company and then bring them into the fold.
There are link opportunities everywhere, especially for bigger clients with a lot of experience and high-authority websites.
The problem is that very few people at these companies are aware of the link opportunities and willing to take action. If PR is getting the company a mention somewhere, they might as well try to secure them a dofollow backlink as well.
Link building experts need to shake off the shackles of link building orthodoxy and stop thinking like link builders if they really want to build better relationships and find great opportunities that not everyone has access to.
Image-Based Link Building/Flickr
Image link building can work wonders if you know what you’re doing.
You can absolutely build links via Creative Commons Images on Flickr. The way it works is, you have a Flickr account and you upload some of your own custom free stock photos every month, making sure to set the default permissions to “some rights reserved.”
Blogs and newspapers regularly use Creative Commons searches for images that they can add to their articles.
Using your own images
Make sure you have your Flickr account synced up to the Pixsy platform–a tool that automates your reserve image lookups. Every month, go into Pixy and look through the image matches from sites across the web.
If any of those sites haven’t included proper link attribution with the image, you can send out a friendly email requesting them to add the link. You would be surprised how many links you can get doing this.
After looking at which images are getting reposted the most, you can then replicate the process (and success) and do some serious link building (and brand marketing). It’s possible to get dofollow links from really high domain authority sites.
Be More Creative With Your Guest Posts
If you don’t have the time or inclination to create big linkable assets on your site, guest posting is always an option.
The issue: because guest posting is so heavily exploited by so many link builders, a lot (maybe even most) of sites that offer guest posting opportunities (“write for us,” “contributors,” etc.) tend to ask for money.
A better approach to guest posting is to look for marketing opportunities in adjacent industries and niches. Since the industries are adjacent, you can provide better, or at least unique insight into a lot of issues.
For example, a real estate agent might reach out to an architect to offer insight into how renovations can increase the resale value of a home.
Create a Useful Tool for Your Website
If you are able to create an inventive tool that adds value for users, you can often generate a lot of backlinks with it.
Building a calculator, for example, is one such way to get people talking about and linking to your or a client’s site.
For example, a family law firm by building a child support calculator that visitors can use to determine how much money child support they may have to pay. A tax accountant might have a tax calculator on their site.
Creating this type of tool obviously is not for marketing beginners (you need the coding experience to be able to put something like this together–or be willing to outsource it).
Once you’ve created one of these free tools, you can then let put out a marketing press release letting the industry know that it exists.
The calculator/press release approach often garners a lot of interest from related websites and industry influencers, which can result in a lot of great backlinks and a big bump in the search results.
Not a novel approach, but HARO is probably the best way to secure the highest quality backlinks out there.
Link building and digital marketing pros have long known about the power of HARO and if you know what you’re doing, you can get links from places like Bloomberg, Inc., the Economist and a ton of other leading websites.
HARO is a great platform for link building if you have legitimate credibility and authority in your industry/authority, are willing to take the time to understand the service, how it works and what journalists are looking for and, importantly, some writing ability.
You need to be able to write quotable copy in a way that is concise in order for HARO to work out. You also need to know how HARO functions as a marketing ecosystem.
When you get it right, however, you can land links from places like the sites mentioned above and see big increases in rank and even brand growth.
HARO is amazing for SEO if you understand the HARO ecosystem.
Local, Niche-Specific Websites: Better Links, Better SEO
For any link building expert doing local link building, this has to be one of the highest ROIs out there.
What you do is research as many of your competitors as you can and enter them into an SEO tool like Ahrefs or SEMrush and then go through their backlinks, trying to spot potential dofollow link opportunities you can also exploit.
There are very often websites where you are able to register your business and then link back to your website.
For example, if you’re a video production company in Oregon, there are plenty of websites meant for Oregon-based filmmakers and videographers where you can register your site, as well as potentially something like a Portland metro business website that will give you dofollow backlinks.
You can easily make a dozen-plus of these profiles and links in a single day, and these links can absolutely help you rank, just take care to avoid any sites that look spammy.
For Link Building Experts With Large Networks: Journo Requests on Twitter
This is a straightforward, but difficult link building tactic that experienced link builders with deep networks and a lot of credibility/authority like to use.
The strategy is to reach out to bloggers, content creators and journalists on Twitter who are looking for expert opinion for their articles.
You can use the #journorequests and #journorequest hashtags to find opportunities and then just scan through them to see what you are able to respond to. It’s like HARO, but there is less competition, which can make getting featured easier.
The catch is that, for this to be an effective link building strategy, you kind of have to have a social media following in order for people to pay attention to you.
When it works, it’s one of the best link building payoffs out there in terms of both brand growth and pure links.
Creating a Link Building and Content Marketing Campaign Around Numbers-Heavy Content
A great marketing strategy for companies and link building and digital marketing pros with an ability to collect and synthesize data is to construct data-rich long-form content with shareable graphics.
These are essentially content marketing campaigns but heavily data-oriented.
One great way to do this is to make a survey, collect the responses and then build infographics and other visual assets around the numbers, all structured around a long-form blog post.
The reason this is one of the best link building tactics is that content publishers are always looking for new ways to cover topics.
When you have proprietary data, you provide a unique angle, and the inclusion of graphics and other visualizations makes it that much more shareable.
Once you have these linkable assets, you can then reach out to writers and publications that cover and have covered the topic in the past and frame the asset as new research.
Writers marketing influencers with engaged audiences don’t need a lot of pushing to share something interesting (they want the engagement) and they will likely happily link back to you (the source).
If you are doing good research, visualizing it well and contextualizing it with well-written long-form content, you can get hundreds (if not thousands) of backlinks this way if you are reaching out to the right people and something really takes off.
Talk to most long-time marketing pros and link builders, and there tends to be a consensus that certain types of content marketing are almost guaranteed to bring in links and improved search results, given enough time.
Statistic-roundup posts are one of these and they can be such an effective link building growth hack because writers are always looking for new stats to reference in their work.
Even if you didn’t run the surveys and collect the data, people would still reference your roundup because you combined it all in a way that they find compelling.
Do Digital Marketing Differently: Pinpoint Target Your Outreach
If you read and watch a lot of the link building experts out there, what you’re often told to do is mechanize your outreach as much as possible. Most advise using some combination of tools like Hunter and Snov.io to do mass outreach.
The problem is that most webmasters and website owners (hell, most people) nowadays are adept at spotting email templates from a marketing agency and automated outreach and they don’t like it.
Instead of sending a general article to 500 people and hoping 0.5% of them actually take you up on your link insertion or whatever it is you’re looking for, a better tactic is often to hyper-personalize your pitch.
Keep it conversational and specific to a website or individual. Do some research and mention specific things you like about a site, their work, etc. From there, you can then transition into talking about your own content and why it would be a good fit for them.
Point to something specific in one of their existing articles when suggesting why your content might be helpful.
This obviously takes much more time than automating your outreach with the big email tools, but if you make the effort to personalize your offer (and that doens’t just mean including a person’s first name), avoid coming off like a marketing agency and are actually offering up great content, you could end up getting not only more links but better ones.
Modernize Your Digital Marketing by Creating Infographics
One of the best things link builders can do this year (and likely well into the future) is create infographics.
You don’t need to spend a ton of money on building compelling infographics that will generate backlinks. A simple graphic created with something like Canva or Venngage, that features useful information and visualizations and then hosting them alongside a well-written, SEO-optimized blog article can get you great editorial links.
Canva even has a free plan.
Once you have your infographic, in the same vein the original data and statistics-heavy content, you can then reach out to writers and outlets that cover related topics and ask if they’d be willing to share your graphic.
Infographics are such good link generators because they are easy to digest and highly shareable. If you make a good pitch and explain why your infographic would add value to an existing (or even upcoming) blog article, you often find people are willing to include it.
They can also be good for search engine optimization because this kind of content often means better UX and more engagement–which Google loves.
Topics-based prospecting is a more sophisticated alternative plugging advanced search operators + “write or us” or “become a contributor” into search engines.
When you’re using keyword/search intent tools like Keyword Keg and Answer the Public, you get to see precisely what people are looking for in search engines and a list of sites that create content to answer those queries.
Once you have that information, you can contact those sites and pitch them topics similar to the stuff already hosted on their site. You can also use the prospected page as part of your outreach.
Boost Your Digital Marketing by Targeting Less Competitive Areas
Link building and SEO pros know that trying to build links in highly competitive niches is very often a tedious uphill battle and tends to involve a lot of paying.
A workaround here is to research and create content that you can promote in less competitive areas.
For instance, let's say you run a personal finance website. Trying to pique people’s interest with an “X Ways to Save Money” as part of a skyscraper campaign is going to be next to impossible.
However, if you create a much more specific with great cross-over potential–i.e., “X Budgeting Tips for Reptile Breeders”--people who spend most of their time and money on their hobby–then you could have a lot of success outside of the immediate personal finance niche.
Another upside of this tactic is that the article might even end up ranking well in the search results, getting you organic traffic, even if your link building campaign isn’t a huge success.
Create Different Campaigns for Different Pages
Successful link building requires that you know which tactics work well on different parts of your website and what kind of links search engines like.
HARO, for example, is usually the best way to get great homepage links. Getting links to your deeper pages usually requires a combination of broken link, guest posting, skyscraper and other outreach methods like creating linkable assets.
Guestpost outreach and search engine optimization
When it comes to guest posts, you have to work hard to break the mould and get people’s attention.
Good link-building services know that if you want your pitches to stand out, resist the urge to send templates and instead spend time researching a website, understanding what their competitors rank for and then pitching them ideas for articles that will have SEO value for them that is also something you can write authoritatively about.
Get Better at Outreach
Outreach is the foundation of most link building success. It’s unlikely that the bulk of your links (at least at the beginning) will come from people organically finding or seeing your content.
Yes, you can promote your content on social media and elsewhere, but a large part of link building success is reaching out to people and convincing them to give you the time of day.
Link building services and digital marketing professionals who have been at this for a while all agree that a compelling subject line is the most important part of outreach.
You can personalize the actual content of your email until the cows come home, but if the subject line doesn’t grab the recipient’s attention, all that research is wasted effort.
Even something simple like including the recipient’s first name (in all lowercase) in the subject line can work wonders.
Leverage Other People’s Reputations
Some of the best links you can get come from just speaking to other industry experts. If you can get other people in your niche to spare some time to answer a few questions, and then incorporate the interview into a long-form piece, you can garner a lot of attention for your brand.
Even if you and your brand aren’t the focal points of the piece, you can use someone else’s credibility and reputation to drive organic traffic and get people looking at your content.
If you want to utilize this method, you need to network and build relationships. Linkedin, professional groups on slack and social media and industry-specific network events, are all great places to start cultivating these sorts of partnerships.
Foster Relationships With Bloggers and Digital Marketing Agencies
It’s important to remember that people rarely do it all on their own and that reaching out to other bloggers and online marketing/SEO agencies with the aim of developing long-term relationships can do a lot for your link building efforts.
Usually, digital marketing agencies and bloggers are writing for a range of websites, which present link exchange opportunities. Within your network, you might know someone who writes regularly for a website you would like a link on and you might write for one they would like one from. Win-win.
Listen to the Experts and Don’t be Afraid to Experiment
Anyone who considers themselves a digital marketing or link building expert is someone willing to learn from others and then run with what they’ve gleaned.
Even if you already consider yourself a link building specialist and have tried some of the tactics covered on the above list, you likely haven’t used them all–and hopefully have come away with some ideas on how to put a new twist on an old favourite.
If you are serious about building high quality backlinks and don’t have the time or experience to put the above methods into practice, reach out to dofollow.io and let's discuss our transparent, performance-based pricing.
Why Trust Us On SEO
Eric Carrell & Sebastian Schaffer have been working in SEO for over a decade, building their own projects - understanding and testing SEO strategy, along with building hundreds of white hat links per month for our projects. They take their learnings and experience and apply them to the strategy that drives our link building strategy for our clients.
Eric & Seb have always believed in quality over quantity, doing things the right way so we future proof our client’s websites against future Google updates and the evolving industry of search.
While Seb handles the company strategy around culture, processes and structure, Eric is constantly working to improve our service offering, customer experience, and following the industry in parallel with Google’s Quality Guidelines so that we are always one step ahead of our competition and aligned with what Google wants to see for your site to rank higher.