Link building is one of the most challenging aspects of SEO.
But it also has a HUGE impact on where your site ranks in the SERPs.
Some people, however, still argue that Google’s reliance on backlinks is diminishing, but let’s be real here:
Backlinks aren’t going anywhere any time soon.
After studying 1 million SERP results, this study found the number of domains linking to a page correlated with rankings more than any other factor:
Don’t take my (or the many, many studies) word for it. Type any keyword into Ahrefs Keyword Explorer and look at the top 10 ranking pages:
I guarantee the top ranking pages will have a ton of links (assuming the keywords have significant search volume, of course).
In this post, I’ll show you how to use 12 killer link building strategies to build a boat load of high quality links to your site…FAST :)
I've used each of these tactics to build white hat backlinks to client websites, and steadily grow the link profile of this blog:
Here's a taste of what you'll learn:
- Actionable tactics to quickly build white hat backlinks
- How to hack links to "money" product/service pages
- How to build channels you can tap for links over and over again
- How to build links that actually drive targeted referral traffic
And much more.
Because this post is a 7,000 word beast, I’ve included a table of contents below for your quick reference below (feel free to jump around):
12 Killer Link Building Strategies (TOC)
- Build high-probability link channels with custom search engines
- The 3-step RLR framework
- The ‘shotgun skyscraper” technique
- Convert homepage links to deep "money" page links
- Reclaim links from stolen images
- Tenant SEO (a powerful 1-2 Punch)
- The “ranking for links” technique
- Build links with blog comments (hint: this isn’t your usual spammy blog commenting strategy!)
- Quora hacking (and scaling referral traffic streams)
- Link reclamation (using Google Alerts)
- Mining roundups for quick link wins
- Video transcription
Let's get started.
12 Actionable Strategies to Build
White Hat Backlinks and
Boost Rankings (Fast)
#1. Build High-Probability Link Channels with
Custom Search Engines
Let’s say I wanted to build links to my recently published on-page SEO checklist.
Both of these are well-known SEO blogs, but who is more likely to link to me?
It’s Matthew Barby.
Why? Because Matthew Barby has linked to me in the past whereas Jon Cooper hasn’t (c’mon Jon…gimme that link :D)
In general, websites that have linked to you in the past are more likely to do so again.
Why? Because they’re already fans of your content and therefore, are more likely to be interested any new content your produce (perhaps even enough to link to it).
(pretty obvious, right?)
Now, imagine for a second that you had a fully searchable database of all the websites who’ve already linked to you and, therefore, are likely to be interested in your new content.
Wouldn’t that be crazy powerful!?
Here’s how to do it:
- Find all websites already linking to you (with ‘natural’ editorial links).
- Load them into a custom search engine.
- Use the search engine to find likely link prospects for future content.
Let me walk you through it from start-to-finish.
First, use the “backlinks” tab in Ahrefs Site Explorer to export a list of all websites currently linking to you:
NOTE: I also recommend adding these filter settings before exporting (this will weed out the junk and make sure most of the remaining links “natural” editorial links from blogs):
Export this file as a csv.
Now, before you do anything else, make a copy of this spreadsheet and import the Ahrefs .csv export into the first tab (i.e. the tab appropriately labelled “IMPORT AHREFS EXPORT HERE”), by selecting cell A1 then going to:
File > Import > Upload > Select a file from your computer (note: choose the Ahrefs export csv file)
NOTE: Make sure your import settings are as follows:
Click “Import” and you should see all of the data from the csv imported into the tab.
IMPORTANT: Don’t close this spreadsheet; you’ll need it again in a sec.
Next, sign up for Google’s CSE tool and create a new search engine.
On this next screen, it’s going to ask you to enter at least one website you want to search + also name your custom search engine.
Go back to the spreadsheet and navigate to the next tab (note: this is labelled “1. First website”); you should see a value in cell A1 (hint: this should be formatted as “domain.com/*”).
Copy/paste this into the “Sites to search” box on your custom search engine; also give your search engine a name.
You now have a custom search engine that will allow you to search one domain from your backlink profile. But that’s not much use, so we need to add the rest of the domains.
To do this, click “edit search engine” from the left-hand menu and select the search engine you just created.
Under the “sites to search” section, click the “add” button to add more sites.
Select the option to “include sites in bulk” then copy the list the big list of domains from the next tab of your spreadsheet into the box (note: this is the tab labelled “2. More websites”):
That’s it – your custom search engine is now set up and ready to go
Now, whenever you have a new piece of content to promote (i.e. build links to), you can use your custom search engine to search for prospects who have written about that topic before.
For example, if I wanted to build links to my on-page SEO checklist, I could search enter the phrase “on page seo” into my custom search engine to search for sites that have written about on-page SEO before:
Tip: This link building tactic becomes more powerful as your link profile grows because you have a larger database of websites to search across.
If you only have a small number of sites linking to you, use semantic keywords to widen the pool of potential link pospects.
When I perform a keyword search for “seo checklist” there are several results showing for on-page SEO checklist, local SEO checklist, technical SEO checklist, and WordPress SEO checklist:
Google is telling us it sees those variations as semantically similar to the main query, “on-page SEO checklist”.
Try entering some of those other keyword variations into your Google Custom Search Engine to see if any new link prospects surface:
There are a lot of different ways you can find semantic and related keywords. Here are a few:
- Google autosuggest
- Google related searches
- LSI Graph
Make a list of any new related keywords and search across your custom search engine with those terms to uncover additional link prospects.
NOTE: All of these results are solely from the pool of sites entered into your custom search engine (i.e. those already linking to you). This will not search the entire web.
Now you know exactly who to promote your post to.
#2. Steal Competitor Backlinks with the RLR Framework
I’ll let you in on a secret…
You’re not the only person in your niche actively trying to build backlinks.
In fact, I’d be willing to bet that most of your competitors are actively investing in link building, too. They may even have built a ton of links already.
And, believe it or not, this is actually a good thing.
Why? Because they’ve done all the hard work for you; all you need to do is to replicate their link profiles.
I use the RLR technique for this (learn why it’s called this and get access to the competitor link tracking show below, here).
Here’s the general process:
- Research the competition (i.e. find similar websites and/or pages in your niche with a bunch of links)
- Figure out how competitors are building links
- Replicate/steal their tactics
Let’s walk through the basics.
First, go to Google, enter a term you’re trying to rank for (e.g. “link building strategies”), then copy the URL of the no.1 ranking page:
Paste this into Ahrefs Site Explorer and go to the “backlinks” report (on the left-hand menu):
It’s now a case of sifting through these backlinks and trying to figure out how your competitor is attracting these links.
Here are a couple of common link acquisition strategies to look out for:
Guest posts — these can be found quite easily by checking out the page itself as it’ll probably state that it’s a guest post. Most guest posts will also have links with branded anchor text (e.g. “Robbie Richards”):
Simply hit Details >> Referring Domains to verify the source of the links:
Make a note of the strategic guest post placements in this competitor link tracking template.
Recurring backlink sources — if you see the same domain popping up time and time again, it’s likely that your competitor has built a relationship with that website. It’s also likely they’re happy to link to good content, so it may be worth forging a relationship and reaching out when you publish a quality content asset:
NOTE: I dedicated an entire post to this link building strategy, where I go into much more detail regarding a number of tactics for finding and stealing competitor backlinks. I recommend giving it a read!
In essence, once you’ve identified the methods your competitors are using to acquire backlinks, it’s then a case of replicating their tactics.
For example, let’s assume your competitor was acquiring a lot of links from guest posts.
You could simply round up a list of prospects (using Ahrefs) then ask if they’d be interested in a guest post from you, too.
Here’s a sample outreach email:
It’s Robbie here from RobbieRichards.com.
I was just reading a couple of posts on your website and noticed [COMPETITOR NAME] wrote a guest post for you a while back.
I loved his tip about [INSERT PERSONALISE CONTENT HERE TO PROVE YOU READ THE POST].
Are you still accepting guest posts?
If so, I’d love to write something for you, too. I have a ton of ideas, so just let me know and I’ll send them over.
It’s as simple as that! :)
I used this exact strategy to find that one of my competitors was guest posting on Digital Marketer. So, I wrote one for them too:
866 referral visits and 68 new subscribers (7.85% conversion rate).
I've since scaled this strategy, driving thousands of new visitors to the site. But, more on this later...
#3: The “Shotgun Skyscraper” approach (hint: imagine the Skyscraper technique on steroids!)
Shout out to Gael Breton and Mark Webster from over at Authority Hacker PRO for introducing me to this super effective link building tactic.
I’m sure many of you have heard of the “skyscraper technique”.
NOTE: Go here if you’re unfamiliar with it.
Basically, it involves doing the following:
- Finding a piece of highly linked-to content (in your niche).
- Making a better version.
- Convincing those linking to the old, inferior version to link to your new, improved version instead.
It makes perfect sense and it works very well.
But what if you already have the piece of content that you want to promote? Then what?
Enter the “shotgun skyscraper” technique.
The “shotgun skyscraper” technique is similar to the skyscraper technique except for one big difference:
We don’t rely on a single skyscraper for link opportunities. Instead, we rely on many.
Example: let’s say that I wanted to build links to my HUGE list of SEO tools.
I already have my content so if I follow the next step of the skyscraper technique, I’d need to find a similar, yet inferior piece of content to try to steal links from.
This piece by Moz fits the bill:
According to Ahrefs’ Site Explorer, it has 450K+ links from 3,680 referring domains!
Let’s export all backlinks from Site Explorer under the following filters:
600 link opportunities right off the bat!
If you were following the traditional skyscraper technique, this is where you’d move onto the outreach stage.
HOWEVER…it’s important to realise that our skyscraper in this instance (i.e. the Moz post) is likely only one skyscraper in a sea of skyscrapers.
(OK, Robbie, stop it with the analogies…what does this actually mean!?)
It means there are a bunch of other web pages about “SEO tools” that also have a ton of links pointing to them.
If we could find these, we could throw them into Site Explorer and extract even more “skyscraper” link opportunities.
Here’s a simple process for doing this:
Go to Ahrefs Content Explorer and enter your keyword (we’ll use “SEO tools” for this example):
Next, filter to show only English results with 50+ referring domains and then sort by referring domains:
This leaves us with 103 pages.
If we look through this list, we can quickly spot more closely-related pages (i.e. content about SEO tools) that have a ton of backlinks:
Make a note of these then throw them into Site Explorer one by one.
Add the same filters as before and export the backlinks.
BOOM...you’ve now expanded your list of “skyscraper” prospects!
Here’s an outreach message you can use from this point:
I was doing some research today and came across [INSERT DESCRIPTION OF PAGE ON THEIR SITE]
Really cool post!
I couldn’t help but noticed you linked to [INSERT DESCRIPTION OF SKYSCRAPER LINK HERE]
I’ve just put together a more up-to-date version of that post here: [INSERT LINK TO YOUR SKYSCRAPER CONTENT]
Might make a nice addition to the page?
Note: There is one key element that will dictate the level of success you have with this link building strategy.
You need to find a unique link proposition.
(i.e. give people a compelling reason to give a shit about your email)
Here’s an example to illustrate:
Instead of just sending another email telling Bob I stumbled across his article while doing some research on on-page SEO, and ask for a link, I make it clear why my article will provide added value to his audience.
In this case, I provide a free on-page SEO automation template in the article that helps readers scale the most monotonous aspects of onsite optimization:
Since no other competing content does this, it gives me a unique angle to capture the interest of the prospect. I make sure to highlight it early in the outreach email:
I’m seeing a 3-4% conversion rate with this strategy.
That might not sound very impressive, but it starts to add up as you scale these link building campaigns:
This tactic accounts for the majority of the actively built links to the site over the last 3-4 months, and aligns with the inflection point in the link profile growth below:
However, this tactic is very much a numbers game.
As a result, I have now made the shotgun skyscraper an integral part of my link building and content promotion process. It allows me to land quick links, and improves the chances of getting new content onto the first page.
I recently hired a VA to scale up this strategy. He extracts the backlinks from competing assets and finds the author contact information. I use the Gmass chrome extension to run the outreach process.
#4. Boost your blog posts (and “money” pages) by converting homepage links into deep content links
Let’s do a quick experiment.
Go to Ahrefs Site Explorer, paste in your root domain (e.g. robbierichards.com), then click the “best by links” filter from the left-hand menu.
Which page on your site appears at the top of the list?
Let me guess…
Am I right?
If not, then apologies…my experiment backfired.
However, most websites receive the bulk of their links to their homepage. As you can see below, this is true for my blog:
But, for most websites, the homepage isn’t really the page you’ll want to attract visitors to.
It’s much more likely that you want people visit your blog posts, or perhaps your product pages; the homepage is usually just a gateway page for the real meat of the website.
(there are exceptions to this rule, of course)
If this is the case, this “link juice” is wasted pointing at your homepage. I mean, it would be much better if the links went directly to the pages you want to rank, right!?
Well, here’s the good news: it usually isn’t that difficult to get the link changed to a more appropriate page.
How? Just ask.
But first, you need to find out who is actually linking to your homepage.
To do this, go to Ahrefs Site Explorer and paste in your homepage (note: make sure to select “URL” from the drop-down):
Go to the “backlinks” tab and you’ll see a list of all backlinks pointing to your homepage:
It’s only worth making the effort to convert the links to deep pages if the links are dofollow, so it’s worth adding a “dofollow” filter, too.
NOTE: I did this and it left me with 200 links.
It’s now a case of looking through the links and identifying those that make sense to change to deep links.
In general, you’re looking for links that are less than optimum (i.e. they’re linking to your homepage when it would make much more contextual sense to link to an actual blog post or product page).
For example, here’s a post about blog promotion that links to my homepage:
However, right below this link, there’s a screenshot of my blog post about increasing website traffic.
I appreciate the link but personally, I think it would make much more sense to link directly to this post rather than my homepage, as this is clearly what the post is talking about.
Let’s ask if they’d be willing to change it, shall we!?
Here’s an example outreach message:
It’s Robbie here from RobbieRichards.com.
I was just looking through my backlinks and noticed you mentioned me in this post:
However, I noticed that although you mention a particular blog post of mine (the one about how increased website traffic by 272%), you actually linked to my homepage rather than the blog post itself.
Any chance it would be possible swap the link out for a link directly to the blog post instead?
No worries if not, I just think it’d make more sense in the overall context of the post (as people may be interested to read that post).
Either way, have a great week!
Not everyone will change the link but hey, even if a few people do change it, it may be enough to give that post/page a significant rankings boost!
For anyone who has ever tried to scale link building efforts to a deep product page of any kind, it’s easy to see the potential upside here.
#5. Reclaim links from stolen images
Do you have a lot of high-quality imagery on your website?
I’m talking infographics, photography (that you own the copyright to), diagrams, screenshots, etc.
“Yes, Robbie…I do!”
In that case, I have bad news: you’re probably a target for image theft.
But here’s the good news: you can leverage image theft to quickly build quality links
Here’s how to do it (in 3 simple steps!):
- Roundup any high-quality images on your website (this will generally be infographics, photographs, diagrams, etc)
- Find websites using these images without permission
- Make sure these websites are giving you credit for those images (if not, reach out and reclaim the link)
Let’s go through this step-by-step.
Step #1 - Find high-quality images on your website
It’s important to note that you’re not really looking for any ol’ images here; you’re mainly looking for:
IMPORTANT: You MUST own the copyright to these images; this won’t work if you’re using an infographic/photograph/diagram that isn’t yours.
Let’s assume we were doing this on behalf of Brian Dean (i.e. Backlinko).
I know Brian’s content pretty well, so I know he has a really cool infographic about on-page SEO:
Most of the time, bloggers will link to the original source of the infographic when they embed it on their own website. But because some bloggers won’t remember to do this, there are probably a fair few links we can reclaim.
I’m going to add this link to a Google Sheet (make a copy here) along with any other images/graphics on Brian’s website that I feel are highly-stealable (note: this is just to keep track of the images for the next stage of the process).
Step #2 - Find websites using these images (without permission)
Next, we need to find websites that are embedding these images without giving us credit (i.e. without linking.
There are two tools you can use to do this:
They both work pretty much the same, but let’s use Google images for this example.
Go to Google images, click “search by image” and paste in a URL from your spreadsheet:
Hit “search by image” to get a list of all the sites that have used your image:
Make a note of these pages (use the second tab of the spreadsheet):
Step #3 - Make sure these websites are giving you credit for those images
Finally, you need to sift through these links and check they’re giving you credit for using your image(s).
This can be done by searching for your domain within the source code of each page.
In this example, you can see that the site is, in fact, linking back to Brian:
But if you find a website that isn’t giving you credit, reach out to them and ask them to add a link.
Here’s an email template:
It’s Robbie here from RobbieRichards.com.
I’m reaching out because I noticed you used one of my images in this post: [INSERT POST URL].
Unfortunately, however, you didn’t give me credit for the image.
I’d really appreciate it if you were able to add a source link below the image; could you do this?
#6. Strategic Guest Blogging (and Tenant SEO)
Guest blogging has been met with heavy skepticism recently.
However, when done properly, guest blogging can:
- Generate backlinks from high authority sites in your industry
- Build exposure and credibility for your brand
- Deliver targeted traffic to your site
- Create a powerful relationship-building platform
- Provide a vehicle to rank for insanely competitive keywords (tenant SEO)
I’ve written several guest posts for high authority sites, including this one on Digital Marketer.
It sent 866 people to my site, and added 68 people to my email list:
And, this guest post for Sumo.
It sent 631 people to my site and added 87 subscribers to my email list:
That’s an insane 13.79% conversion rate!
Guest posting also forms the foundation of most tenant SEO strategies.
What am I talking about?
Basically – you use guest posts on high authority websites to rank for competitive keywords you couldn’t realistically target on your own site.
This can be an extremely powerful SEO strategy for new websites, or companies trying to compete in insanely competitive industries.
Here are a couple examples from folks in the SEO space:
Steve Webb wrote this SEO audit article on Moz to rank for the highly competitive search term “SEO audit”.
This article has been king of SERP mountain for over 4 years!
Steve used the Moz domain authority to rank for a keyword he would have otherwise had no chance ranking for on his own site, Web Gnomes.
I bet this guest post is a healthy meal ticket for Steve – drives a boat load of qualified leads to his agency.
Matt Barby used this strategy to get a client in the app development software niche ranking for a massive keyword “app makers” (22,000 monthly searches) by targeting it on the Business News Daily website.
The results were staggering: 74,000 referral visits and close to 4,300 user registrations!
So, we know that guest blogging can be a powerful vehicle to build quality links and drive targeted referral traffic…
But, where do you start?
Basically, we need to find websites that (a) we want to write for, and (b) accept guest posts.
Here are 2 ways we can do this:
- Use Google search operators (this is more powerful than you might think!)
- Reverse engineer prolific guest bloggers (in your industry)
IMPORTANT: Any sites you target should meet the following criteria:
- High domain authority
- Related to your niche
- Post high quality content
- Receives lots of traffic (use Alexa)
- Has an engaged audience
- Provides contextual links
- Active social presence
OK, let’s go over each of these tactics one by one.
How to find guest post opportunities using Google Search Operators
Head over to Google and start entering the following search queries (one by one):
- Keyword “guest post”
- Keyword intitle:“write for us”
- Keyword inurl:”write for us”
- Keyword “submit a guest post”
- Keyword “submit” AROUND(4) “guest post”
- Keyword “guest post by”
- Keyword “accepting guest posts”
- Keyword “guest post guidelines”
- Keyword “submit blog post”
- Keyword “contribute to our site”
- Keyword “submit article”
- Keyword “guest author”
- Keyword inurl:“guest post”
- Inpostauthor: “guest + post” Keyword
- Inpostauthor: “guest + blog” Keyword
You can also use the wildcard operator (*) to expand your results. The previous search strings included quotation marks which returned phrase matches (all keywords had to appear in exactly that order):
The wildcard operator will help returned slightly different search results, without sacrificing relevancy. For example, if your write “submit * guest post”, search results will include:
- “submit a guest post”
- “submit your guest post”
- “submit a new guest post”
We can take this a step further using the tild (~) sign. This will help us return guest blog opportunities for sites using synonyms of of our target keywords.
For example, “~SEO” might return the following synonyms, “SEM”, “online marketing”, “link building”:
Make a note of any websites that look good in a Google Sheet (here’s a template):
Reverse engineer prolific guest bloggers
If you read popular blogs in your industry you will have a good idea who the prolific guest bloggers are.
For online marketing, these names include Brian Dean, Neil Patel, Kristi Hines, Marcus Sheridan, to name a few.
Head over to Google and enter NAME “guest post by”. This will show you all the sites where these influencers have written guest posts:
Add these sites to your list of guest blog targets.
Another way to uncover where influencers are guest posting is by using this Google search operator:
link:COMPETITORWEBSITE.com “guest post by COMPETITOR NAME” -COMPETITORWEBSITE.com
This will show you pages that link to your competitors website + also contain the phrase “guest post” – these pages are usually places your competitor has submitted a guest contribution.
You can also search this term in Ahrefs Content Explorer to supercharge this tactic:
author:”COMPETITOR NAME” -COMPETITORWEBSITE.com
Add any worthwhile sites (like the one below) to your spreadsheet:
Note: Pay attention to the keywords and topics your competitors are targeting in their guest posts. Are they using tenant SEO as part of their broader search strategy?
It’s time to pitch your targets
Now that you have an extensive list of guest post targets, it’s time to reach out and pitch to them.
Before you email the site, try to build a relationship with the guest post target. There are a number of ways to do this –
- Engage them on Twitter
- Connect on LinkedIn
- Actively participate in forums and comment on their post
- Email them and let them know how much you love a particular post they have written
After you have engaged the prospect it’s time to reach out and request a guest post opportunity.
Here’s a template:
Subject: You should blog about [insert your guest post topic]
First, I just want to say I’m a big fan of [INSERT BLOG NAME].
Anyways, I’m writing to you today because I’d love the opportunity to contribute a guest post to [insert blog name].
I’ve been reading through some of the content on the blog and have put together a short list of topics that I think would provide a ton of value to your readers –
I have a personal SEM blog that will give you an idea of the style and quality of my writing. You can view some of my recent posts here [insert blog URL].
Let me know if you’re interested.
Keep up the great work!
Instead of simply listing guest post ideas, you can take it a step further and include a link to the complete article you’ve written. Some bloggers prefer this because they don’t have the time to communicate back and forth with everyone pitching to them.
The definitive guide to guest blogging written by Brian Dean over Backlinko is one of the best posts I’ve read that covers this link building tactic, and has heavily influenced my guest posting strategy.
#7. Compounding Growth with the "Ranking for Links" Technique
According to Worldometers, millions of blog posts are published every single day:
In many of these blog posts, you’ll see bloggers/journalists referencing pieces of data from other sources in order to backup their point(s), like so:
(if you look a couple of sentences back, you’ll see that I did this exact thing in this post when talking about how many blog posts are published each day :D)
But how do bloggers find these sources?
They Google them.
When I wanted to know how many blog posts are published each day, I did this Google search:
I looked at the first 2-3 results and decided that the Worldometers page was the best resource – this is the one I referenced (and linked to) above.
Here’s my point:
If you can rank for these kinds of “reference” terms, chances are that you’ll attract backlinks on a consistent basis from journalists and bloggers seeking references for their own content.
Here’s the basic process for doing this:
- Build a list of keywords/topics that are likely to get cited a lot
- Create a piece of content around that topic/keyword (and, hopefully, rank for it!)
In general, these kinds of topics/keywords will be informational terms and will predominantly be these kinds of queries:
- “How to” / “What is” queries (e.g. “how to screenshot on a Mac”, “what is yeast”, etc.)
So, the first step is to build a list of these types of queries for your niche – I recommend doing this in a spreadsheet (or text doc) for simplicity.
If I was doing this for my website (i.e. an SEO blog), my keywords may look like this:
Next, throw your list of keywords into Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer.
In general, you’re looking for terms with high search volumes and a low KD score:
It’s then simply a case of putting together a piece of content around this topic and ranking for it.
Journalists/bloggers will then, hopefully, reference (and link to) your post on a regular basis without the need for any additional work.
Brian Dean’s list of Google ranking factors is the perfect example of this technique in action.
It currently has an insane 14,000+ backlinks from almost 2,750 referring domains!
This is because bloggers/journalists are constantly referencing this page when writing about SEO:
Note: This is a strategy/term was coined by Matthew Barby (he’s a super smart guy; I highly recommend following his blog!)
#8. Build links with blog comments (hint: this isn’t your usual spammy blog commenting strategy!)
I know what you’re thinking…
“Building links with blog comments, Robbie!? You know it’s not 1995, right!?”
I feel you, but hear me out….
I’m absolutely not talking about spammy mass blog commenting here. In fact, this technique doesn’t involve leaving any blog comments at all, but rather utilising existing blog comments (on your own blog) to create a list of link prospects.
Let me explain…
Most blogging systems ask commenters for their name, email address, and website (if they have one) when submitting a comment. This is even true of my blog:
And those who choose to enter their website URL in this box will see their name hyperlinked to their website when the comment goes live:
“Where are you going with this, Robbie?”
Well, these people are clearly interested in what you have to say, meaning it’s highly likely that their blog (i.e. the site they linked to when commenting) is in the same niche.
Let’s click through to Jeff’s website to see if this is true…
BOOM. Jeff also runs an SEO-related website.
With this in mind, here’s my 3-step process for building links with blog comments:
- Scrape the websites of everyone who left a blog comment in the last 30 days.
- Check if they have any content on their website related to your niche (e.g. in my case, this would be SEO/marketing-related content).
- If so, reach out, thank them for the comment and ask if they’d consider linking to your post.
I’ll use this blog post of mine (with 220+ comments) to walk you through the process.
To get started, we need to scrape the websites for those who’ve left comments in (roughly) the past 30 days. This can be done manually but life is much easier with this Google Chrome add-on.
Simply right-click on commenter’s name (hint: make sure it’s a linked comment!) and select “scrape similar”:
This will “automagically” scrape a list commenters name + URLs from the page:
Click “Export to Google Docs...”
You should now have a list of websites + names in a Google Sheet, like this:
It’s now a case of using the “site:” search operator (combined with a keyword related to the topic of your website/content) to find sites with content related to your niche.
Here’s an example (for the SEO niche):
No results for this site; let’s try another:
BINGO. Looks like these guys have a few SEO/marketing related posts, one of which is this post about generating more blog traffic:
Definitely a great post, but it doesn't even touch on many of the blog promotion strategies mentioned in my post. I’m, therefore, pretty sure his readers would also get a lot of value from my post.
Stuart clearly enjoyed my post (see his comment below) so let’s reach out and kindly ask if he’d be willing to add a link to my post in that article:
Here’s our message:
It’s Robbie (Richards) from RobbieRichards.com.
I was just reading through the comments on my blog and noticed you commented a while back (on this post) – thanks for that! It’s always good to know my posts are of value to other bloggers
Also, I ended up reading your blog promotion case study on your blog. Really cool stuff…loved the tip about not focusing on vanity metrics. I, too, see so many people doing that!
Don’t mean to sound cheeky, but is there any chance you’d consider adding a link to my post at the end of that article? I think it follows on nicely from what you had to say, so I’m pretty sure your visitors would find it interesting, too.
Either way, have a great weekend. Keep in touch!
Do this for every prospect that fits the bill (note: make sure to personalise the email as much as possible first, of course!)
This is not only a great way to build links but also, a great way to forge relationships with other bloggers.
Pro tip: You can scale this strategy by creating a Custom Google Search engine similar to the one we created in the first link building strategy mentioned in this post.
The only difference is instead of uploading the domains already linking to your site, you will add the domains of the people commenting on your site:
#9. Quora hacking (and scaling referral traffic streams)
Quora links may be nofollow, but that doesn’t mean they’re worthless.
In fact, Quora links can be an amazing source of referral traffic. They’re also great for diversifying your link profile (a link profile consisting solely of dofollow links won’t look natural at all!)
Here’s a three-step process for getting a ton of referral traffic (and links) from Quora:
- Plug Quora into Ahrefs (to find the highest traffic threads).
- Search for a keyword related to your content (this will filter out relevant threads that have rankings and ongoing passive traffic).
- Write a top notch answer on the threads with lots of traffic.
OK, so the first step is super simple; just paste “quora.com” into Ahrefs Site Explorer, then go to the “top pages” tab (under “organic search” on the left-hand menu).
This will list all URLs on the domain in order of search traffic:
Next, enter a keyword related to your niche in the search box (note: the aim here is to search quora for high-traffic threads related to your industry).
Let’s use “fitness” for this example:
We now see a list of URLs (i.e. threads) on the site related to fitness — some of them have a ton of traffic!
It’s now simply a case of combing through the threads for those with the following criteria:
- Niche-related (e.g. fitness related).
- Plenty of search traffic (note: the ones near the top of the list in Site Explorer have the most search traffic).
- No good answer currently (this is super important!)
If you find a thread that fits the bill, answer the question yourself (note: make sure to answer with a well-crafted, useful response – this will increase the chances of your answer being upvoted and, in turn, the chances of you receiving referral traffic from the thread).
Here’s a thread that fits the bill:
It has 500+ visitors per month from search (from the US alone), only has 2 answers (none of which are particularly in-depth), and is clearly niche-related.
Because Quora allows you to reference sources when writing your answer, it’s easy to link back to relevant websites when writing.
This means that should we have a page on our website listing some great fitness-related subreddits, we could simply answer with a condensed version of that list and quote our website as the source.
Here’s an example of this logic in action (from Rand Fishkin):
The question was: “What are some simple things companies can do to create a stronger Internet presence?”
You can see that Rand’s answer is extremely thorough, useful and helpful, yet it isn’t overly promotional. He includes a link to a Moz blog post where appropriate, but also mentions other notable tools/sources, too.
I’d be willing to bet that this drives a couple hundred visits per month to that blog post (if not more).
He also gets a nice juicy link (albeit a nofollow one).
Quora is the second highest source of referral traffic for Wishpond:
Use the technique above to identify relevant high-traffic threads, engage in the conversation, and start driving targeted referral traffic to your site.
#10. Using Google Alerts for Link Reclamation
Google Alerts is one of the most powerful, and often overlooked, link building tools you have at your disposal.
If someone mentions your business name or website online, you likely want them to link to you.
Google Alerts allows you to keep track of brand mention across the web (the idea being that you can reach out to them and request they add a link if they haven’t already done so).
Here’s how to do it:
- Set up your Google Alerts
- Monitor them (and reach out to reclaim links, where appropriate)
I’ll show you how to do this below.
How to setup your Google Alerts
It’s pretty straightforward to set up Google Alerts; you simply enter phrases you want to be alerted about and, well, that’s it.
If I was doing this for my blog, some example queries might include:
- robbie richards
- [article name] “100 link building tactics from 50 SEO experts”
Anyway, here’s how to do it…
First, head over to Google Alerts and enter the term(s) you want to be alerted for:
In the Result Type box, select to receive alerts for everything.
Next, choose how often you want to receive alerts. For me, the frequency depends on what I am monitoring.
I usually selec once a day in the how often box.
The Deliver To box lets you choose if you want alerts sent to you via email or RSS feed. For brand mentions, I prefer to have them delivered via email.
NOTE: Ahrefs Alerts can also help you with this – it gives a few extra options compared to Google Alerts, such as specifying alerts where the keyword must be in the title tag, etc.
How to reclaim links from brand mentions
Each time you brand or website is mentioned on the web check the source and make sure the site is linking to you.
If they don’t provide a link reach with a friendly email to the webmaster requesting you link.
You can use this email template for you outreach:
I was checking out your site today and noticed that you mentioned my brand/post in [insert post name].
I appreciate the call out and wanted to ask if you wouldn’t mind linking back to my site [insert URL].
Keep up the great work
#11. Mining Expert Roundups for Quick Link Wins
Expert roundups are one of the easiest (and quickest) ways to build backlinks and generate serious traffic to your site.
Here’s the basic process:
- Think of a question to ask influencers/experts in your niche (e.g. “what are your top 3 keyword research tools?”)
- Gather a list of influencers/experts in your niche
- Consolidate responses into a blog post
- Tell the influencers about the live post (and ask them to link to it)
Because you are featuring insights of influencers in your industry, those people (and many of their followers) are very likely to link to, or at least share your blog post across their social channels.
Let’s walk through the process from start-to-finish.
First, think about a topic related to your industry that people will be interested in. For example, SEOs will likely be interested in the following topics:
- Best link building tools?
- Link building tactics to focus on 2014?
- Are black hat link building tactics dead?
- How do you measure the success of an SEO campaign?
- If you could only use three link building tools, which three would you choose? (Richard Marriott put together a fantastic roundup for this topic)
These are all topics people in the SEO field would be interested in.
Once you have a solid topic, the next step is finding experts to pitch.
The easiest way to build a list of influencers is to identify the round ups already out there in your niche. Influencers that have already taken part in an expert round up will be more likely to respond to your pitch.
Go to Google and search for roundups in your niche:
“link building experts” + roundup
As you can see, the roundup “55 SEO Experts Reveal 3 Favorite Link Building Tools” attracted 155 backlinks from 77 domains:
Now, scroll through the post and add all the featured influencers to a spreadsheet.
Check their Twitter profiles to see if they have a website listed:
Go to website and collect their email address or contact page URL:
Tip: I use Voilanorbert to scale the gather of contact information.
Add the name and domain of your roundup targets into a spreadsheet and save it as a .csv file.
Next, run a bulk upload inside Voilanorbert:
Let the tool run for 5-10 minutes and it'll go through and scrape the emails for you. Huge time saver!
Still short of influencers? Here are a few other tools/ways you can find them:
Pre-curated lists: Head over to Google and do a search for “top [kw] bloggers” and find pre-curated lists of influencers.
Other bloggers have already done the heavy lifting for you:
Ahrefs Content Explorer: enter a keyword, then click the “who tweeted” button. It’ll then show you everyone who tweeted that post and also, tell you exactly how many followers they have on Twitter.
Buzzsumo: Head over to Buzzsumo, select past year and the “influencers” tab. Enter a broad search term related to your niche or the topic of your question.
You’ll notice many of these people have tens of thousands of followers and a lot of authority. These are the type of people you want sharing and amplifying your content:
I have put together a number of expert roundups for clients in different industries here and here.
In a lot of these cases, I'm looking for specialists in very specific occupations. So, I'll use LinkedIn Sales Navigator to get laser focused with my roundup prospecting:
And extract contact information using the SellHack chrome extension:
This process allows me to work faster and build a very specific list of outreach targets.
It’s then simply a case of reaching out to everyone on your list and ask them the question you decided upon.
The key here is to make sure that your outreach email is short, to the point and personal.
Here is a template you can use:
Robbie Richards here, from robbierichards.com. I came across your LinkedIn profile today and thought I’d reach out regarding an expert roundup I’m putting together.
Here’s the question:
Please leave your response on this form: [URL]
I’ll include a link to your website and promote the article to my 35,000+ audience.
Deadline for contribution is [DATE].
P.S. Here is an example of similar article I published (shared over 10,000 times).
Thanks to Richard Marriott for the advice in his expert roundup post.
In your spreadsheet, keep track of who you have reached out to and when you contacted them.
It’s always a good idea to send a follow up email 1-2 weeks after your initial outreach.
If there is still no response, reach out to them on Twitter.
When you have your list of responses, it’s time to create your roundup post.
This should include a short description about the topic being covered with a brief introduction to the featured experts:
Then, name the expert and include their response with a link back to their site:
IMPORTANT! When the post is published, follow this 1-2 punch strategy...
Part 1: reach out to contributors, let them know the post has gone live, and ask them to share/upvote.
Here’s a template you can use:
NOTE: Also, make sure you mention the experts when you are promoting the roundup on social media.
Part 2: after you do the initial outreach letting people know the article is live and ask them to share it, follow up again to all people who meet the following criteria:
- They respond to your email and engage with the content
- They have written a piece of content related to the topic of your roundup on their site
Say something like this:
Hey [blogger name],
Thanks for sharing the post
I noticed you also talk about [roundup topic] in this post [insert URL on their site]. Any chance you could drop a link to the roundup?
I’m trying to get it to rank so everyone gets more exposure
This is another tactic where you can use Custom Search Engines to quickly build a database of experts who contributed to your roundups, and search across their sites for related articles.
Here's how to do it:
First, grab the domains of all the people who contributed to your roundup. You should already have a list of these in a spreadsheet:
Create a Custom Search Engine and upload the domains of the contributors:
Now, enter search terms related to the topic of the roundup to find any contributor sites that have already written about the post and reach out to them with the template above.
This should give you a handful of quick link wins:
#12. Transcribe Videos From Industry Influencers (and outreach)
Video transcription can used as a scalable link building strategy.
Experts and influencers in virtually every industry used video as medium to communicate their expertise.
Today, video can be used in a number of formats:
- Webinars, Hangouts, Q&A’s
- Vlogs (video blogs)
- Industry updates
Transcribing the video content of influencers in your industry and publishing the content to your site is a great way to get links from authoritative sites that get a lot of traffic.
Here are some additional benefits of video transcription:
- It is a fast way to build linkable content as it comes directly from influencer/ expert in your industry
- You can get links through attribution (experts use transcription with their video)
- It helps you get in front of influencers and stand out (you are helping them out). This makes it easier to build relationships.
- You can leverage their large social audience. If they share your transcription, you get more (targeted) eyeballs on your site.
Here’s how to do it:
First, head over to YouTube and type the name of influencer in your industry. We’ll use Matt Cutts in this example.
Set the filter to the “this month”:
This looks like a good topic:
Matt Cutts has 352,000 followers, so any link promoted in one of his posts has the potential to send a ton of traffic to your site.
Thanks again to Jason Acidre over at Kasier The Sage for introducing me to this tactic.
Link building is definitely one of the most challenging aspects of SEO, but it’s also one of the most crucial if you want your website to rank highly in the SERPs.
Each of the 12 link building techniques mentioned in this article will help you build quality links to your site. Let me know how it goes
If you have had success with any link building strategies not mentioned in this post, please leave a comment below so other readers can benefit from your feedback.