Building backlinks is the cornerstone of any successful SEO strategy. How many links your site has often determines its position in search engines.
Getting backlinks is also one of the hardest parts of SEO. Most link building techniques used by marketers either don’t work, or result in search engine penalties. This is why you need to focus on white-hat link building tactics that not only result in quality backlinks, but will also keep you in Google’s good books.
In this post, you’ll learn about five white-hat link building SEO techniques that still yield results in 2015:
1. THE SKYSCRAPER TECHNIQUE
This popular technique was first described by Brian Dean of Backlinko. It is a content-focused technique that can be broken down into three steps:
- Find a well-loved, heavily backlinked article.
- Make a better version of said article.
- Email everyone who linked to the original article about your new, improved version.
According to Brian, a well written article backed by quality outreach can see a success rate of up to 15-20% for all outreach emails. Which is to say, if you send out 100 outreach emails, you can end up with 15-20 backlinks.
The Skyscraper SEO technique works for three reasons:
- Content Marketing is King and The Skyscraper Technique improves content quality on your website – something Google wants to see.
- Since the search term for the article is already popular, your content has a better chance of getting search engine traffic, especially due to your content quality.
- It gives people a reason to link back to your site. Webmasters who care about their readers will be happy to add a superior source to their pages.
2. REACH OUT TO JOURNALISTS
One of the best way to get high quality backlinks is to help out journalists. Journalists are always in need of sources for their stories. If you can provide them the information they need, you can land a mention in respected news publications.
The easy way to do this is through HARO.
HARO, or Help a Reporter Out, is a website that connects reporters with sources. A reporter can put up a request to find leads for a story. If you have any relevant information, you can jump in and help. The reporter can then credit your website in the news story.
This works wonderfully well for all parties. The reporter gets access to a source quickly, while others get free publicity on a high value news site.
3. GUEST BLOGGING
You might have heard that guest blogging is “done” after Google’s Matt Cutts’ publicly stated so in January, 2014. The truth is that Cutts was talking about low value guest posts on blogs of questionable quality. Guest blogging on top-tier websites where the aim is to establish authority is still alive and kicking.
Guest blogging that works in 2015 is less about backlinks, and more about building up an audience. The target blog’s DA, PR and other SEO indicators are low priority. Instead, the focus is on things like the blog’s audience size, reputation in the industry, readership quality, etc. Whatever backlinks you do get are just the cherry on top.
Follow these steps to guest blog effectively in 2015:
- Create a list of target blogs. Use searches like “best [industry_name] blogs” to find a list of blogs. Example: “best SEO blogs”. Alternatively, find popular blogs on niche platforms such as Inbound.org, GrowthHackers.com, etc.
- Identify key audience indicators. Look up the blog’s social media followers, total comments per post, and traffic figures. A guest post on a smaller blog with a hyper targeted audience can often yield better results than one on a bigger blog with a more scattered audience.
- Pitch your guest post ideas. Most quality blogs are very selective about who they accept guest posts from. Before creating your post, pitch some ideas to the blog’s editor. Follow the editor on social media and share/comment on their updates to register yourself on their radar.
- Write your guest post. Once the editor approves your idea, start writing your guest post. Your aim should be to deliver value to the blog’s readers. SEO concerns – keyword density, backlinks, etc. – should be a low priority.
- Add a backlink. Nearly every blog will allow one or two backlinks to your website in the author byline. For even better results, create a landing page specifically for the blog’s audience and divert traffic to it.
4. FIND A PLACE IN LINK ROUNDUPS
You’ve probably seen “best of” and “weekly roundup” link collections on your favorite websites, such as this:
These link roundups are a great source of quality backlinks. Follow the steps below to land your site on such roundups.
Step 1: Identify and connect with target sites
The best way to get featured in link roundups is to first identify and connect with a bunch of target sites.
To do this, follow these steps:
- Find sites that regularly do link roundups. Use searches like “[industry] link roundup”, “[industry] top posts of the week”, “best posts this week/month”, etc.
- Take careful note of the kind of content they regularly link out to – lists, interviews, podcasts, etc.
- Connect with the target site on social media and email. Your objective should be to register on their radar, so that when you send your link request, they don’t dismiss it as spam.
Step 2: Create content that meets target site requirements
Most blogs are very selective in who they link out to. You can increase your chances of success by creating content that meets their requirements.
To do this, go through their previous few link roundups. Take note of content-types and topics that frequently get links. Use this knowledge to create content tailored to their requirements.
Step 3: Reach out to target sites
The next step is straightforward: send an email telling the target blog about your new post. Ask them if they think it would be a good fit for their link roundup.
Since you’ve already reached out to them a few times on social media, they should recognize you/your site by name. This alone will dramatically increase your success rate with this tactic.
5. ASK FOR LINKS
Sometimes, the best link building SEO techniques are also the simplest: just ask for links from web directories, bloggers and your fellow marketers.
Don’t grovel, beg, or trade links. Instead, every time you publish a post that mentions another business or blogger, send them an email saying something like:
I just mentioned you in my recent blog post ____.
Thought you’d like to know.
It’s simple, takes 5 seconds to read, and doesn’t ask for backlinks. If your content is good enough, the target blogger might very well share or link to it later.
However, there is one way to dramatically increase the impact of this tactic. Instead of creating a new blog post, you can respond to an existing post and start a dialog with the blogger.
Here’s how this works:
- Find a post from your target blogger where he/she makes an assertion (say, something like “SEO is dead”).
- Write a response to this post on your own blog. Quote the target blogger’s original post, and write a rebuttal. Be polite, respectful, and always back up your counter argument with facts.
- Send the target blogger an email. Tell them about your blog post and mention your disagreement.
In most cases, this can kickstart a dialog with the blogger. Not only will this earn you backlinks, but also get you social shares and help build relationships.
Getting backlinks through white-hat techniques is harder than ever in 2015. However, if you follow the five tactics listed above – creating quality content, getting into link roundups, and responding to existing posts – you can dramatically increase your chances of getting high-value links, no matter your niche.
What are your go-to tactics for building backlinks? Share with us in the comments below!