A few days ago, I published this article here about how backlinks are eventually going to matter less as a ranking signal within Google’s algorithm. Whilst I believe this to be true, (and it may be likely that backlinks will eventually become a thing of the past in terms of SEO altogether), there’s certainly no doubting that for the time being, backlinks still matter – and they matter a lot.
This of course means that for anyone wanting more traffic from Google, they need to be thinking about backlinks. More (quality) backlinks, equals better rankings, which equals more traffic.
Sounds easy enough, right?
Problem is, getting links to your site isn’t always easy. Infact for many, it can be considered quite hard.
Below, I’m going to share with you, 10 techniques and strategies that I have learnt and implemented over the past few years, to get good, high quality, relevant, low risk backlinks. These are, backlinks that will help strengthen your sites link profile, drive traffic and over time, increase the performance of your site within Google.
Let’s jump right in…
1. Participate within industry specific forums
Also known as “forum marketing”, interacting on forums are a great way to engage with your audience, help people, answer questions, provide assistance and drive traffic. Forums are also a great way to get backlinks.
What I need to emphasize here are 3 things –
- Take note that I said “industry specific”. This is vital to ensure relevance.
- Notice that I also said “participate” – not spam. Don’t simply register at several forums in hope that you can drop links all over the place.
- “Engage with your audience” – this is super important. For best results in any form of online marketing, you need to be where your audience already is.
Having said that, here’s an example below from a popular small business forum known as “Flying Solo” that I hang out quite a bit. Amongst other things business related, they have a dedicated “SEO” sub forum, where soloists and small business owners ask ongoing questions about search engine optimisation. It’s a great community and I enjoy helping people over there as much as I can.
Now you might be thinking “Whoopdee do – one link, that’s not going to make any real difference”. But I have quite a few links (both naked urls and keyword rich) over at Flying Solo just like this where I have provided additional resources or information in order to help someone. Be mindful that links like these are extremely easy to get, and over time, they do make a difference.
2. Reverse guest blogging (and shout outs)
Guest blogging has gotten a really bad reputation over the past 12 months, with many people such as Matt Cutts telling everyone to ‘stick a fork in it‘ and that “guest blogging was done”. Needless to say, this is total BS and nothing more than SEO propaganda. Guest blogging done right is still powerful.
The main reason the whole “guest blogging is dead” message came about is because it got way out of hand. It became spammy as hell. I’m sure you’ve received an email like this in your inbox at some point or another .
“Dear Sir/Madam, my name is Alborz and I am writing to you on this lovely day to offer a guest article.
Our articles are 100% original and unique and well researched. We can write on any topic of your choose.
In exchange, we ask you for one dofollow link. Please consider us as we have many teams standing by.”
Piss off …delete.
Here’s a tip – don’t be stupid. Don’t do that. Instead, consider ‘reverse guest blogging’, and ensure there’s a level of quality.
So what is reverse guest blogging?
Reverse guest blogging is simply the opposite of traditional guest blogging, whereby instead of you reaching out to another site owner to share content on their site, you’re reaching out to ask someone in an effort to have them share content on your site. In other words, you’re reaching out to experts in the field (ones that you know can add huge value) and asking them to contribute to your site in some way.
This might sound odd, but if you reach out to someone significant in your field, then its likely that that person will have a huge audience. This is great because it puts you in front of their already established followers. In can be amplified again if that person broadcasts the engagement to their list.
An example of this would be –
- I reach out to a big name, like Rand Fishkin of Moz, and organise an interview
- He agrees. I then record, transcribe and publish the interview on my site
- I inform him that the interview is live, he then tweets it out to his massive audience
This can be much more effective than me sending Rand an email asking to publish a piece of content on Moz, which would probably go unanswered.
3. Give people links
There’s a great book that I’ve just finished reading called “The Go Giver“. This book was recommended to me via Justin Brookes of IMScalable, and it really was an eye opener (thanks Justin) It made me realize just how much emphasis I was continually placing on “me, me, me”. And the same can be said about getting backlinks.
It’s easy to invest all of your time, energy and effort, thinking about how you can GET backlinks as opposed to how you can GIVE backlinks (especially where they are rightly deserved).
One of the biggest messages in the book is how RECEIVING is really about GIVING.
So perhaps just stop for just a moment and have a think about how YOU can help someone else, by giving them a link. Of course you don’t want to spend all day every day, giving away links – but let me tell you something – when you link out to someone and say, “Hey, I think you’re doing a really fantastic job, here’s a link that I placed on my site as kudos”, that SERIOUSLY puts you on their radar.
Chances are they’ll remember that and either link back to you, or other opportunities might come about as a result. It’s all about raising brand awareness.
4. Create Infographics
I’ll be honest, this is one that I haven’t done a lot of myself, but I intend on getting on top of this as soon as possible. If you had of asked me 6 months ago what my thoughts were on “info-graphics”, I would’ve shaken my head and said “Forget about it, every man and his dog are spamming that strategy at the moment and it’s just nonsense”. No doubt thinking like that has probably cost me quite a lot of backlinks and traffic myself.
What really got my interest was something that Neil Patel said over at Quicksprout in this article, where he said “Infographics generate 37.5% more backlinks than a standard blog post.”
That’s quite a significant difference, and one that I can only put down to the content being more visual than anything else. In any case, according to his findings, info-graphics are link magnets, and I want some of that action.
What’s also a very smart strategy is the “share this infographic” option that you’ll see on a lot of sites, whereby you can copy a selection of html code, then paste it onto your own site in a way of sharing the content, which in turn results in a backlink for the original publisher.
I think what you need to be mindful of when it comes to info-graphics is quality. I’ve seen a lot of shitty info-graphic services floating around and most of them are total junk. If you have an info-graphic service that you’d like to mention below, I’d love to know about it. Oh, and as always there are online tools that you can use for this, such as this one, or this one – but as I haven’t used either of them, I don’t know what they’re like.
PS – Don’t forget there are plenty of sites that you can upload and share your info-graphic to, such as Infographics Archive, which of course links back to you.
Original image found here
5. Get active on social
A lot of business owners that I speak with will often say, “John, there’s just too much. I can’t keep on top of it all, with Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Linkedin I just don’t have time”. I understand that many business owners (especially soloists) are time poor, I get that, but if you’re doing business on the web, then it’s not only your job, but it’s your responsibility to make time. Otherwise you’re missing out on huge opportunities.
The other thing I often hear is “Social media doesn’t help SEO”, or “You don’t get backlinks through social media”.
Neither of these are true. Social media IS part of SEO. Its all about sending Google the right signals.
Without going off topic, let’s focus on how you can generate backlinks through social media. There are 2 ways that come to mind. These are both ways that I have used effectively.
- Content syndication. It goes without saying, each and every time you publish content on your site, you should be syndicating that content across as many social media channels as possible. This not only gets you immediate backlinks, but it helps spread your message, and raise awareness of your brand. You should also be repurposing your content to give it extra reach too (converting a podcast to video, sharing on Youtube, converting a Youtube video to audio, sharing on iTunes, converting blog posts to PDF and sharing on Slideshare etc) Then of course linking back to your site. (use trackable links!)
- Social communities. Social communities absolutely kick ass. Promoting your content within highly targeted social communities is an extremely effective way of getting more engagement and as a result, more traffic and backlinks. Think about it, members of a community that share the same interest, are much more likely to link to it, or reshare it across social media. Much like forums, they’re extremely targeted. I wont give out the specifics of every group that I share my content through, but have a look on Facebook, Linkedin, Google+, Reddit and elsewhere on the web for targeted communities where you can share your content.
You can see how easy it was for me to find highly targeted SEO groups on Linkedin.
6. Use search query operators
Here’s an old school method that I really love – search query operators. Search query operators are advanced search methods that you can use within Google to get a specific set of results. Here’s what Google says about them.
What I really like about using search query operators, is that you can find really powerful backlinking opportunities from highly relevant websites. Using software such as ahrefs is great, but the problem comes about when using software like that is – you’ll only find what everyone else is finding. Because you’re all looking a the same set of results. This is certainly true when using the Keyword Planner to do keyword research.
Search query operators allow you to find link building opportunities that would have otherwise been overlooked or completely missed altogether.
So how can we get backlinks using search query operators? See below…
Let’s say that I’m interested in having my own site “SEO Point” listed on a site that shows other sites related to SEO. I would try variations such as –
- seo + “recommended sites”
- seo + “resources”
- seo + inurl:”links”
It really is endless as to how many variations you can try.
Here are just a few that you can try in Google right now. Go on, type them in – just be sure to swap out <keyword> with a term of phrase you’re interested in targeting.
Keyword + “add a site”/”submit site”/”suggest site”/”post site”/”recommend site”
Keyword + “add URL”/”submit URL”/”suggest URL”/”post URL”/”recommend URL”
Keyword + “add listing”/”submit listing”/”suggest listing”/”post listing”/”recommend listing”
Keyword + add/submit/suggest/post/list/recommend article
Keyword + add/submit/suggest/post/list/recommend video
Keyword + add/submit/suggest/post/list/recommend podcast
Keyword + add/submit/suggest/post/list/recommend whitepaper
Keyword + add/submit/suggest/post/list/recommend webinars
Keyword + add/submit/suggest/post/list/recommend event
Keyword + add/submit/suggest/post/list job
Keyword + add/submit/suggest/post/list contest
Keyword + add/submit/post/list coupons
Keyword + intitle:add/submit/suggest/post/list/recommend article
Keyword + intitle:add/submit/suggest/post/list/recommend video
Keyword + intitle:add/submit/suggest/post/list/recommend podcast
Keyword + intitle:add/submit/suggest/post/list/recommend whitepaper
Keyword + intitle:add/submit/suggest/post/list/recommend webinars
Keyword + intitle:add/submit/suggest/post/list/recommend event
Keyword + intitle:add/submit/suggest/post/list job
Keyword + intitle:add/submit/suggest/post/list contest
Keyword + intitle:add/submit/post/list coupons
Keyword +”add your business”/”list your business”
Keyword + directory
Keyword + directory + add/submit/suggest/post
Keyword + intitle:”directory”
Keyword + Listings
IndustryKeyword + “sign up”/join/register/”create an account”
keyword + coupons + intitle:list
keyword + coupons + intitle:submit/add
keyword + deals + intitle:submit/add
“deals for” + “keyword *” + intitle:submit/add
“coupons for” + “Keyword *” + intitle:submit/add
keyword + sweeps* + intitle:submit
keyword + giveaways + intitle:submit
7. Reverse engineering
My personal favourite – reverse engineering. This is hands down, THE most powerful way of getting highly targeted, relevant, white hat links. Forget about link building services or PBN’s – this method blows them all out of the water. Seriously, if you’re not doing this, you’re missing out.
So what makes reverse engineering so great?
Reverse engineering makes total sense because the sites that are outranking your site (or a clients site) are outranking it most likely because of the backlinks they have. So why not just replicate what’s already working? Here’s what I do (just between us of course)
- Gather up a list of competitor sites.
- Export their link profile using Ahrefs (only gather 1 link per domain, not ALL links, otherwise the list will be too long to go through)
- Crunch all of that data into one spreadsheet
- Order by DR (domain rank) descending
- Start replicating
Here’s a screenshot of how my spreadsheet looks as I’m working my way through reverse engineering competitors.
8. Ask For Links
It sounds so ridiculous doesn’t it?
Joe – “How do I get backlinks?”
Anne – “Ask for them”
LOL. Why didn’t I think of that?
It seems so stupidly obvious, but it’s funny how often you can actually get good quality links, just by asking for them. Infact, I’ve gotten Wikipedia links, Government links and a whole bunch of other links on high authoritaty sites, just by sending an email and asking for them. This is known in the industry as “outreach”. Sure it’s not sexy and it’s time consuming, but it’s worth it.
Want a tip to getting kick ass backlinks, simply by asking for them?
Use my reverse engineering method above to firstly find the opportunities then send this email below…
My name is John Romaine, I’m contacting you on behalf of Bob Smith, director of Marshmallows Inc. We are (give details about the business or company here – what you do etc)
We are interested in having our website listed on the following page of your website. (along with Chocolates Inc and Yummy Biscuits Inc, as these business are very similar to ours, and we feel our company fits perfectly under this particular category)
(insert the target page here)
We would very much appreciate some guidance as to how we may submit our site for consideration.
For more information about us and what we do, you can view our website here http://www.marshmallows.com.au
Now, wasn’t that easy?
9. Publish online tools, interactive software or resources – not just articles
One great way to stand out above your competitors is to create online tools, or resources. These are fantastic ways of attracting backlinks.
One common trend I’ve found when working with business owners is that they often limit themselves into thinking that they can only publish “articles”. That is, written content outlining perhaps their products, services or general subject matter. Whilst there’s nothing really wrong with this approach, it never really gets that level of interest that resources do.
Here’s an excellent example of how Aaron Wall at SEOBook has created some really fantastic tools and resources for the SEO industry.
You can see that Aaron has acquired over 8,500 backlinks just to that one page alone. That’s massive.
10. Niche specific directories
Now I know what you might be thinking, “Directories, that’s spammy link building crap from 2004!” ….but hear me out.
What I’m talking about here are “niche specific directories”, not easylinksdirectory.com or wearethebestdirectoryforlinks.com – I’m talking about highly targeted, niche specific directories that relate to your sites theme or subject matter. For instance, I have a client at the moment, and through using search query operators and reverse engineering, found this particular directory here – needless to say, this is highly targeted and exactly where my client wants to be, because shes a voice over talent.
Infact, you might be surprised just how many high authority, niche specific directories there are out there. Oh, and of course, while were on the subject of directories, you should always be sure to add your site to all the big brands like yellowpages, whereis, start local and so on. Of course the big brands might differ depending upon where you are in the world.
So there you have it.
10 highly actionable ways to get solid, highly relevant, safe, long term backlinks – without having to muck around with PBN’s, or worry about your site being penalized because of bad links.
Got something to say? Perhaps you have another method you’d like to share?
Be sure to post your comment below, and I’ll respond personally.