Looking for new strategies to build more relevant high-quality links to your content?
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.
(this has been shown time and time again in pretty much every ranking factors study)
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 walk you through 21 easy-to-follow 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 is such a comprehensive post, I’ve included a table of contents below for your quick reference below (feel free to jump around):
21 Killer Link Building Strategies
Here are 21 actionable link building strategies you can implement today:
- Build high-probability link channels with custom search engines
- The 3-step RLR framework
- Get featured on high-intent tool list posts
- DEEP broken link building (at scale)
- Reverse Engineer Mid-Tier Affiliate Link Prospects
- Get mentioned on industry link roundups
- Building quality links with industry-specific tools
- Convert homepage links to deep "money" page links
- Mine Editorial Keyword Anchors and Turn Them Into Contextual Links
- Set a Link Velocity Target (and Stay Competitive in the SERPs)
- Landing authority links with "alternate content creation"
- Reclaim links from stolen images
- Tenant SEO (a powerful 1-2 Punch)
- The “ranking for links” technique
- Reclaim lost link equity in 404 pages
- 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
- Drive Traffic (and Build Relationships) With “Targeted” Blog Commenting
- Video transcription
Let's get started.
21 Actionable Strategies to Build Quality 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.
My (hypothetical) list of prospects includes Point Blank SEO (by Jon Cooper) and MatthewBarby.com.
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 (note: you can read my complete Ahrefs review here).
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.
Prefer video? Watch the video walk-through below:
#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. Get Featured on Existing High-Intent Tool List Posts
Tools lists are blog posts that contain a curated list of the top tools or products in a specific niche or category. They can also be a list of product alternatives or competitors.
These links have the potential to drive higher intent traffic because they are often placed on articles that are ranking for mid-funnel (investigational) intent keywords.
Time Doctor has a tool list article that ranks for the keyword “best online collaboration tools” and brings in an estimated 1,800 monthly organic visitors:
A link positioned towards the top of this article could be very valuable not only in terms of authority, but also the potential for high intent referral traffic.
This link building strategy works really well in verticals such as SaaS.
My agency, Virayo, recently ran a tool list campaign for a SaaS client that resulted in over a dozen backlinks with an average Domain Rating of ~70:
One of the fastest ways to find these opportunities is to uncover all the tool lists where your competitors are already featured.
Here’s how to do it:
1) Make a list of competitor domains.
2) Enter each domain into the Ahrefs Site Explorer, and go to the Backlinks report:
Next - set the follow filters:
- One link per domain
- Link type >> Dofollow (only interested in the links that pass authority)
- Platform >> Blogs (more likely to update existing content)
- Language (same as your site content)
This will leave you with a list of unique sites linking to your competitors with a dofollow link from a blog asset in your target language.
3) Extract all the list post backlink opportunities.
This is easy to do with Ahrefs. Simply enter one of the following keyword modifiers into the Word filter and select ONLY the “Titles of referring pages”:
Here’s an example where we were to mine 108 potential list post opportunities from Proposify:
This will return a list of URLs linking to your competitors with those modifiers in the title tag.
4) Export the results from Ahrefs and have a VA or team member manually review the results to ensure the posts:
a) Link out to third party tools
b) Have not already linked to you
5) Once the list has been cleaned, find the author name and email address using a tool like Hunter.io.
6) Send the following outreach script to each prospect:
[Your Name] here, from [Company].
I'm reaching out to see if you'd be willing to mention our [Product/Feature Type] in your tools list here: [Insert Article URL]?
A worthy mention
[Company] is [Insert Brief Description] [Insert Credibility Data]. (Eg: BRAND is the #1 rated sales proposal software for small businesses on G2, and is used by XXXX users, including [Notable Brand #1] and [Notable Brand #2].
What's in it for you?
- Promotion of your tools post across our social media properties
I can send across a feature image and product description to fit in with the current style of your article.
Let me know if there is anything else we could do to make this a win-win.
Thanks for your time,
#4. Build Hundreds of Links with DEEP Broken Link Building (at Scale)
Broken link building is nothing new.
It’s been around for years. And it’s a tried and tested link building strategy.
Here’s the basic process:
- Find broken links
- Replicate the content (that used to exist at that link) on your website
- Reach out to the person/website linking to the broken resource and suggest that they change the broken link to the working link (i.e. to the replicated content on your website)
CitationLabs has a huge list of link building resources here.
But, resource #19 on the list no longer exists—it’s a broken link.
Note: You can use LinkMiner (free Chrome extension) to instantly find and highlight all broken links on any webpage. This is how I found this broken link.
If you plug the broken link into the Wayback Machine, you can see this used to be a resource about broken link building…
(yep, totally meta!)
So, how could you capitalize on this?
Simple...create a similar piece of content about broken link building, publish it on your website, then reach out to the folks at Citation Labs with an email like this:
It’s Robbie Richards here. How are things?
I’m reaching out because I just spotted a dead link on your list of 53 link building resources. It’s #19 on the list—basically, it just takes me to a 404 page 🙁
Just thought I’d give you a quick heads-up as you may want to fix it?
PS. If you’re not sure what to replace the link with, I have a huge list of link building strategies (which covers most of the stuff the broken resource used to cover, and more) here: https://www.robbierichards.com/seo/13-killer-link-building-strategies/
BOOM...you just landed a link (probably).
Now, I know what you’re thinking:
“Robbie, this seems like a CRAZY amount of work for just one measly link...”
I hear you.
So, here’s a simple trick you can use to (potentially) turn a single broken link into hundreds of link building opportunities:
Go to Ahrefs Site Explorer and paste in the broken link:
Then, look at the number of backlinks and referring domains pointing to the page:
Because this broken link has 9 referring domains, you can also contact those websites and suggest that they replace the broken link with a link to your website.
Note: Some broken links will have 100’s, sometimes 1000’s, of referring domains.
While this process does work, it is pretty damn slow and inefficient.
So here’s a scalable process:
- Gather a BIG list of resource/links pages in your industry (using Google advanced search operators)
- Find all broken links on those pages in bulk (using Screaming Frog)
- Find the broken links with the most inbound links (using Ahrefs Batch Analysis tool)
- Recreate the content (or create something similar) on your website
- Reach out to all the sites linking to the broken link
Let’s say you were trying to build links to my website, which is about SEO (obviously).
You would start by gathering a BIG list of resources/links pages in the SEO industry.
This can be done using Google search operators, such as:
- SEO intitle:”resources”
- SEO inurl:”resources”
- SEO intitle:”links” inurl:”links”
Here’s an example of the types of results you should see:
You can then scrape these results using LinkClump or a similar extension.
Just remember to change the settings for LinkClump so that it copies the links to your clipboard, instead of opening all the links in new tabs (which can be annoying!)
This can be changed in the extension settings, like so:
I also recommend selecting “URLs only” under the advanced settings, too. Otherwise, it will copy both the URLs and titles.
Now, using LinkClump is as simple as dragging with your left mouse button + Z (or whatever shortcut you chose in the settings) over the links you want to copy.
This will get you a nice neat list of pages.
You can then simply paste them into a spreadsheet.
Note: I also recommend Citation Labs Link Prospector. It isn’t free (it costs around $5 for a scrape) but it is a great tool that makes scraping thousands of results from Google super easy.
Why are we looking for “resource” pages?
Because these types of pages usually link out to tons of external resources.
And, unless people make an effort to keep them up to date, they’re usually full of broken links about a particular topic!
Next, you want to run all of the web pages (extracted from Google) through Screaming Frog, to find any external broken links on the pages.
Just remember to tick the “Check external links” box under Spider Configuration:
And set the crawl limit to 1:
And tick the “Always follow Redirects” box, too!
Then, you can copy/paste your entire list of scraped URLs into Screaming Frog and it’ll work its magic…
Let it run until complete.
Next, go to Bulk Export > Response Codes > Client Error (4xx) Inlinks:
This will export a CSV will all the broken links.
But, you still have no idea how many inbound links are pointing to these pages.
This is where Ahrefs comes in.
Copy/paste the broken links from your CSV file (200 at a time) into Ahrefs’ Batch Analysis tool. Sort by number of referring domains.
Now, it’s simply a case of looking through the list and finding a page that is relevant to your website (i.e. covers a similar topic).
Hint: Wayback Machine is your friend, here.
Once you’ve found a broken page that looks promising, recreate the content on your website.
IMPORTANT: For this technique to succeed, you NEED to be asking people to replace the link with a similar link. If you ask them to replace the link with a completely different link, it ain’t going to work!
When you have the content, export the list of backlinks pointing at the dead page from Ahrefs:
Work your way through the list, find the contact information for each website (here’s a great video on how to do this), and reach out to each site to suggest your broken link replacement.
Very simple, but very effective!
Bonus Tip #1:
You can also sometimes find broken links with a TON of inbound links using Ahrefs.
Just enter a competitors’ website (ideally quite a well-known/big website) into Ahrefs Site Explorer, then go to the “best by links” report and filter for 404s:
Bonus Tip #2:
You can also use the Ahrefs Content Explorer to find broken backlink opportunities.
1. Enter your topic – e.g. “content marketing” – and select “In title” from the dropdown:
2. Filter for “Only broken” and at least 10 referring domains:
3. Toggle the switch to “one page per domain” and then check results:
In this example, the results show sites that wrote about content marketing but now have broken pages with dozens of links pointing to them.
This is a quick non-technical way to find loads of quality link prospects. And then reach out and pitch your content as a replacement.
#5: Reverse Engineer Mid-Tier Affiliate Link Prospects
Building links to affiliate content (similar to product pages) can be much harder than typical informational blog-type content.
Why? Because sites are hesitate to link to promotional assets. (They’re actually helping you generate revenue.) Plus not all affiliate content is high quality.
One way to quickly identify prospects is to find low-mid tier sites that have a proven track record of linking to other affiliate type content in the past.
You can use typical promotional modifiers like “best X for Y”, “top 10 xxx”, “product X review”, and “X vs Y comparison” in the Keyword Explorer Tool.
Look at the pages with the highest number of referring domains and then check all the sites linking to the affiliate content. Start with low-mid tier sites (DR 15-30) because they’re going to be much easier to get in contact with, and more likely to link back to you.
- Enter your search term in Ahrefs Keywords Explorer - e.g. “best keyword research tools”:
2. Check the SERP listing to see who has a high number of referring domains - e.g. Ahrefs has 169 referring domains and 16k backlinks:
3. Click on the links to take you to Site Explorer. Add some filters and sort the list by ascending DR to find low-mid tier sites:
4. Scroll through the results to find a suitable site – e.g. “Marketing Nerd” has a DR 27:
Faveable has tons of linked affiliate content.
1. In Site Explorer, the “Best Pages by links” report shows their top article has 93 referring domains:
2. Click on the referring domains, add some filters, and sort the list by ascending DR to find low-mid tier sites:
3. Scroll through the results to find a suitable DR 15-30 site – e.g. Chris Ryan Fitness has a DR 28:
Some sites may want a small fee for the link. It’s up to you if you pay it. But make sure they do NOT openly advertise the sale of links on their site as this is a big red flag for a manual action. These sites are on Google's radar in a lot of cases.
#6: Get Mentioned in Industry Link Roundups
Link roundups are blog posts that contain a list of an author’s favorite content. These posts are typically curated on a weekly or monthly basis.
Here’s an example from Matt Diggit’s popular SEO News Roundup:
Link roundups provide a great opportunity to land quality niche-relevant backlinks that drive targeted referral traffic.
The best part: they exist in nearly every niche and are relatively easy to find.
Note: success with this link building strategy depends on a few things:
- Roundups are current and consistently published. You don’t want to pitch roundups that haven’t been updated in a long time.
- The content you pitch has to be topically relevant and really high quality. If it doesn’t provide a ton of value, don’t waste your time.
- The content you pitch needs to have been published in the time period that the roundup covers.
Don’t pitch the same roundups too much unless you have a really good relationship with the author and your content meets the criteria above.
Here’s how to do it:
Step #1: Find link roundup prospects
Enter the following Google search operators into Google:
keyword + “link roundup”
keyword + “monthly roundup”
keyword + roundup
keyword + round up
keyword + “weekly roundup”
Keyword + “best blog posts”
Keyword + “favorite posts”
Keyword + “top posts”
Keyword + news roundup
This is what it would look like if I wanted to find link roundups to promote my website traffic analysis guide:
Pay close attention to the title and meta description for each of the search results. The operators aren’t perfect, and will often return a lot of irrelevant results.
You see above that one of the search results is a blog post about being featured in a roundup, another one is more geared towards local search news, while there were loads of others down the page about how to run link roundup campaigns.
This strategy will require manual review to extract the most relevant results.
Finally, you’ll want to click through to each of the results to ensure that the roundups actually link to external resources. A lot of sites will publish roundups that only link to internal resources.
Here’s how to scale and prioritize this process:
a) Only show results from the last month or year
b) Show 100 results per page
c) Install the Ahrefs SEO Toolbar
Now, you’ll be left with a list of 100 URLs to review that have been published in the last month or year:
Next - click the Ahrefs export button at the top of the SERP to download all the URLs along with their Domain Rating, URL rating, estimated search traffic and referring domain counts:
REPEAT this process for each of the search operators.
Combine all the results into a master prospect tab and then have a VA or team member go through and vet the list down to only the most relevant opportunities that are updated on a regular basis.
You can also use the SERP data - Domain Rating and estimated Search Traffic - from the Ahrefs export to prioritize which Link roundups are pitched first.
A lot of link roundups don’t actually call themselves link roundups. As a result, the search operators that we just walked through will often miss a lot of quality opportunities.
One supplemental prospecting strategy that you can use is to mine highly linked competitor resources for hidden opportunities.
Here’s how it works:
- Make a list of the top websites in your niche
- Identify their top linked content
- Look for roundups
I know that Backlinko’s content gets thousands of backlinks. So, this would be a good place to start the search.
Enter the domain into the Ahrefs Site Explorer and go to the Best By Links report:
Click on the carrot sign for the top linked content and select Backlinks:
Next - set the following filters:
- One link per domain
- Dofollow link type
- Recently indexed
If you don’t have the resources available to scan through hundreds of links for multiple competitor URLs, use the modifiers - “roundup”, “news” etc - in the Titles of referring pages filter:
Step #2: Use hunter.io to quickly find the email address for each author of the link roundups.
Step #3: Send an email like this one to each of the authors:
Subject line: NAME, possible roundup inclusion?
Hey [First Name],
I’m a frequent reader of your [Insert Roundup Name] roundup. Thanks for sharing so many helpful resources each [Week/Month].
I wanted to pitch a new piece of content for consideration in your roundup.
[Insert Resource Description + Value Statement] (Eg: It’s a 3-step guide that shows readers how to quickly analyze competitor website traffic from the channel-level down to the keyword-level. It also has a supporting Google Sheets checklist to make it super actionable and easy to follow).
If interested, you can check it out here: [URL]
Let me know what you think. Happy to promote the roundup to my social media audiences.
Thanks for your time!
#7: Create Free Industry-Related Tools to Attract LOADS of Quality Backlinks (in 3 Different Ways)
Most people stick to infographics, “ultimate guides”, and other similar kinds of content when trying to build backlinks.
Did you know that free tools are just as effective, if not more effective, at attracting links?
And I’m not talking about anything particularly costly or magnificent here…
It could be something as simple as a visualisation of popular keyboard shortcuts:
Or a simple calorie calculator:
Don’t believe me? Try throwing that calorie calculator into Ahrefs.
That’s 5K+ backlinks from 1,270 referring domains!
But, the question is, how do you actually build backlinks to free tools like these?
Here are 3 methods:
- Target resource/links pages (like this one)
- Target how-to guides (i.e. guides for which your tool provides a shortcut—more on this later!)
- Run “shotgun skyscraper” outreach for your tool
Let’s take a look at these one-by-one.
Resource/links pages are web pages that list—and link-out to—resources and tools in your niche.
They’re created with the sole purpose of providing links to useful resources around the web.
This makes them a great link target, as they’re usually responsive to pitches.
Here’s my process for doing this at scale:
- Use google search operators to find TONS of resource pages (e.g. “SEO intitle:resources”, “SEO inurl:”resources”, etc.)
- Scrape the results (using Linkclump)
- Find contact information and pitch your content
Let’s say you were trying to build links to the aforementioned calorie calculator.
It’s a fantastic guide and is well-deserving of a place on any fitness-related resources page.
To start, you would find a bunch of resource/links pages using Google search operators such as:
- Fitness intitle:”resources” inurl:”resources”
- Paleo intitle:”resources”
- Health intitle:”useful links” inurl:”links”
Note: Basically, you just need to add a keyword related to your tool (e.g. health, fitness, paleo, etc.) to the search operators. You can find hundreds more search operators here.
Here’s what the results should look like:
You can then scrape these using LinkClump.
It’s then simply a case of sifting through the pages, plucking out the ones that you feel should add a link to your resource, then contacting the blogger/webmaster with an email like this:
It’s Robbie Richards here. How are things?
I’m reaching out because I recently created a free calorie calculator (here’s a link: http://www.calculator.net/calorie-calculator.html) and I was hoping you might add it to your list of paleo-related resources?
I think it would be super-useful for your visitors, as it’s a useful resource for anyone interested in aligning their caloric intake with personal fitness/diet goals 🙂
Let me know what you think!
Most tools make solving a problem easier.
For example, take a calorie calculator tool—this makes it super-easy to figure out how many calories you need to consume each day:
Without such a tool, you could have to do some pretty complex math yourself!
But...there are still plenty of posts talking about “how to count calories” the hard way.
These are a prime link targets.
Why? Because your tool is genuinely useful for the people reading these posts, as it saves them time and solves their problem.
So, here’s what to do:
- Find “how-to” articles related to the issue your tool solves (e.g. if you have a calorie counter tool, find articles about “how to count calories” or “how to lose weight”)
- See if they’re linking out to any similar tools
- If not, reach out and pitch your tool for inclusion
Ahrefs Content Explorer offers a great way of finding link prospects.
Just enter a “how-to” query in the search bar and select “in title” as the location:
As you can see, there are over 12,000 articles with the phrase “how to lose weight” in the title!
That’s a LOT of link prospects!
I recommended filtering these down to only the best prospects. I usually do this by adding an organic traffic filter so only pages with 500+ organic visits/month are shown.
You can also filter by domain rating. For example, I like to set the filter for sites between 25-45 as this will return a lot mid tier blogs that might be a little more receptive to cold outreach efforts:
It’s then simply a case of sifting through the results and looking for solid link prospects.
This will usually be pages that talk about calorie counting (or whatever your tool is about) but don’t link to a tool that solves the problem.
If you find a page like this, simply reach out to them and saying something like:
It’s Robbie Richards here. How are things?
I’m reaching out because I just read your post about how to lose weight and, well, that is definitely one of the most in-depth guides I’ve ever come across. You really nailed the process!
Also, I noticed you talked about the importance of counting calories (which, I agree, is important). But, as you know, this can be quite difficult to do, as it involves some pretty complex math.
That’s why I wanted to quickly reach out and let you know about a free calorie counter tool that I’ve just created. Basically, you enter your details - height, weight, gender, fitness goals - and it spits out EXACTLY how many calories you should consume each day.
I would love to get your feedback on it and, if you think it’s useful, perhaps you could add it to your guide? I think it would be super-useful for anyone reading that post!
No matter how great your free tool happens to be, it’s likely that similar tools already exist.
For example, a simple Google search for “calorie calculator tool” returns over 600K results!
That’s a LOT of calorie calculators!
But, luckily, competition is a good thing when it comes to link building, especially if your free tool knocks the competition out of the water.
Why? Because this makes it a prime candidate for shotgun skyscraper outreach.
Here’s how this works:
- Find tools that are similar to yours, yet not quite as good
- Reach out to anyone linking to those tools and explain WHY they should link to your tool instead (i.e. because it’s better!)
As mentioned above, I’ve used this strategy to quickly build hundreds of quality links to my client’s content:
Here’s the basic process for doing this at scale:
- Use google to find similar tools (this is as simple as searching for “calorie calculator” or whatever you’re looking for)
- Scrape the results (again, use LinkClump)
- Extract the backlinks for inferior, yet highly linked-to tools (that are similar to yours)
- Reach out to those people with a “skyscraper” outreach email
Let’s go back to the 600K+ results for “calorie calculator tool”.
Most of these are, as you would expect, calorie calculators.
So, let’s use Linkclump to gather these into a nice neat list.
Next, paste this entire list into Ahrefs Batch Analysis tool, then sort by number of referring domains.
This will reveal similar tools that also have a TON of backlinks.
Visit each of the links individually and note down links that are:
- Similar tools to yours
- Not quite as good as yours (note: you should also make a note of the reason—e.g. poor design).
For example, here’s a calorie calculator that is not only super UGLY, but also looks pretty confusing to use:
It also has 338 referring domains!
This is a GREAT shotgun skyscraper prospect!
When you have a list of similar tools that fit the bill (i.e. are not quite as good as your tool AND have a ton of backlinks), export the backlinks for all the links using Ahrefs Site Explorer.
Reach out to these people with an email like this:
It’s Robbie Richards here. How are things?
I’m reaching out because I just read your post about [INSERT LINKING POST TOPIC] and noticed you were linking out to this calorie calculator: [INSERT INFERIOR TOOL LINK]
I just tried to use that tool and, honestly, it was pretty confusing to use. Also, it was very ugly and [INSERT REASON WHY IT’S AN INFERIOR TOOL HERE]
I just thought I’d let you know that this calorie calculator is much better: [INSERT LINK TO YOUR TOOL]... it looks a lot nicer and is generally easier to use.
Might be worth swapping the link out for that tool?
#8. 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.
#9. Mine "Unclaimed" Editorial Anchors and Turn Them Into Contextual Link Placements
Not all sites link to supporting resources in their content. Which means you have an opportunity to suggest your resource!
For example, if I want to reach out to sites that talk specifically about “keyword research tools” in their posts, but don’t link to a supporting resource, then I can mine hundreds of these sites fast and pitch my Keyword Research Tools post.
Ahrefs Content Explorer has a useful search feature to find these types of opportunities.
1. Enter your search term – e.g. “keyword research tools” – and set the drop down filter to “In content”:
2. Next, set more filters – e.g. English Language, Only Live posts, Organic traffic from 10, and DR from 15-50:
3. Toggle the switch to “one page per domain” and then check results:
You’ll see these results are all topically relevant, mid-tier sites that get some traffic to their articles.
If your campaign is geared purely to getting authority links, then you’d set the DR filters higher and possibly remove the traffic filter.
Conversely, maybe you’re only interested in links that will drive referral traffic, then you’d set the organic traffic filters higher, and maybe reduce the maximum Domain Rating threshold.
#10. Establish a Link Velocity Target (and Stay Competitive in the SERPs)
Your competitors are actively building new links to their most valuable content.
Therefore, you need to understand two things:
- The number of links needed to get first page rankings at a point in time
- The rate at which you need to acquire new links in order to stay on the first page
You can quickly get an answer to the first part of the equation by looking at the Ahrefs (affiliate) SERP Overview report:
Here’s how to find a monthly Link Velocity target to remain competitive in the SERPs:
Enter your target keyword into the Ahrefs Keyword Explorer:
Scroll down to the SERP overview report again:
Note: Beardbrand has the highest number of referring domains (96) pointing to it. It also has the highest UR in the top 10 results, which is driving the #1 ranking position.
This is where they are now. We want to understand how quickly they are building new links to create more page-level authority and remain in the #1 position.
Next - click the green drop down arrow next to the competing page URL and select the Overview link:
This will generate an overview report for that specific URL. Click on the “New” link the Referring Domains header:
This report will show the number of links won and lost over different date ranges:
Scroll to the bottom of the report to see the number of new links acquired over the last 7 days:
Two new links - only one looking topically relevant. But, this doesn’t tell us much.
Next - filter the report to the last 30 days:
We can see 6 new referring domains in the past 30 days. Apart from the low DR link from beardshapeup, the quality and relevancy of the links look pretty low.
Important: Pay closer attention to the QUALITY and RELEVANCE of the referring domains. You can have 100 poor quality links pointing to your page and it won’t move the needle. But, if you have 5-10 med-high DR links from industry-specific sites, it’ll have a big impact.
Finally - filter the report to the last 60 days to gauge the consistency of link acquisition:
Looking at the data broken out over the last 60 days, it looks as if beardbrand is only getting a couple new links a week to its beard oil product category page. And, only a small percentage of these are even relevant.
If I was setting up a link building campaign for a beard oil category page, I’d be trying to build 15-20 quality links to the page in the first 60 days, and then acquire new links at a rate of 2-3/month to remain competitive.
#11. Build Links from MASSIVELY Authoritative Resources by Catering to Multiple Learning Methods
People learn in different ways.
There are visual learners…
And so forth!
Nearly all of the content on the web is the same…it’s written blog posts that are made-up of mostly text.
This means if you’re an auditory or visual learner, well, you’re flat out of luck!
There’s no video...
No audio version...
Nope. It’s just written blog posts, and that’s it!
So, how can you get links from these high authority sites to “ultimate guides”?
Simple...convert that content into a different format (aimed at different types of learners) and give it away for free.
Here’s the process:
- Identify informational “how-to” articles and “ultimate guides” in your industry with a ton of links
- Create a video or audio version of that post (or at least part of it)
- Contact the website owner and give them the content for free
Let’s say you had an ecommerce website selling rice cookers.
And you wanted to build links to the rice cooker page.
(pretty difficult task, right?...it’s always SUPER HARD to build links to ecommerce pages!)
Here’s how you could do it:
Take a look at the SERPs for the term “how to cook rice”:
Straight away, you can see that the SERPs are showing video content—this shows that the people searching for this term really want to see a video.
And, in fact, a lot of the websites in the top 10 have realised this…
That’s why they have a video showing how to cook rice on their page.
But, some pages don’t have a video…
This means they’re not catering to different learning styles. And in this example, they’re not providing the content in the format that people really want to see!
Here’s how to take advantage of this:
- Identify the pages without videos
- Create a video showing how to cook rice (hint: bonus points if it’s uniquely created for them and features their branding etc.)
- Reach out and offer the video to the websites for free (to include in their content)
Most of them will probably give you a link without you even having to ask.
But, how do you do this at scale?
First, identify some informational terms (e.g. “how to X, ultimate guide to X, beginners guide to X, etc) related to the content/website you’re trying to build links to.
So, if it was the rice cooker page, it would be terms like:
- “How to cook rice”
- “Curry recipe”
- “How to cook risotto”
Next, search Google for these terms and scrape the top 10-100 results (with Linkclump).
This will give you a nice neat list of results.
You can then paste into Ahrefs Batch Analysis tool and sort them by referring domains to find the most authoritative pages.
Next, you’ll want to check each of the pages manually to see if they’re catering to different learning methods—if they aren’t, note them down.
For example, this page IS catering to different learning methods, as it has an embedded video:
BUT, this page IS NOT catering to different learning methods, as there is no video or audio aspect to the post.
This is a GREAT prospect.
Note: There are plenty of other posts like this, too.
Keep running through the results from the batch analysis tool and continue to note down any pages that fit the bill.
Finally, create a video/audio version of each post (or simply create ONE video that would feel perfectly at home embedded in all of the posts) and send it over to the blogger/webmaster.
Here’s a sample outreach email:
It’s Robbie Richards here. How are things?
I’m reaching out as I was reading your “how to” guide for cooking rice (great guide, btw), but noticed that you didn’t include a video of the process 🙁
Like many people, I’m a visual learner so I have to admit, I did struggle to follow your guide. I did crack it eventually, though! 🙂
So, I decided to create a video version of your post. Here’s a link: [INSERT LINK TO VIDEO]
I’m 100% happy for you to add it to your post (if you would like?). I think it would make a really nice addition and help out folks like myself who are visual learners.
PS. Not asking for anything in return; just wanted to help 🙂
Usually, there’s no need to mention links at all. If they do choose to embed your video in their post, 90% of them will add a link without the need to ask.
Note: I did this recently for a client (in the blogging space) and our conversion rate was roughly 5%.
#12. 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?
#13. 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):
Bonus Tip #1:
Using the Ahrefs chrome extension you can quickly export up to 100 SERP results:
Now you can use a VA to check the spreadsheet and vet the sites to:
- Ensure they are topically relevant
- Publish regular related content
- Maintain high-quality standards – i.e. they do NOT openly advertise the sale of links on the site as this is a big red flag to Google.
BONUS TIP 2:
Not all sites advertise that they accept guest posts, so it’s difficult to find them with the tactic above.
But, there could be loads of quality untapped opportunities (sites that are not getting bombarded with pitches every day) that’ll be more responsive to your pitch and suggested topic.
So here’s another technique for finding loads of guest post targets using Ahrefs Content Explorer:
1. Enter a target topic – e.g. “sales techniques” – and select “In title” from the dropdown:
2. Filter the results:
a. First published in the last 12 months (for sites currently writing on the topic)
b. Select language (e.g. English)
c. Set DR 15-50 (as mid-tier sites are much more likely to link out and easier to contact):
3. Toggle the switch to “one page per domain” and then check results:
Repeat the process for 10-20 target topics related to your blog, or product/service, then export the results and reach out for guest posting opportunities.
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.
#14. 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!)
#15. Reclaim Lost Link Equity from 404 Pages
When it comes to link building, a lot of businesses jump straight into creating new campaigns with the single goal of landing BIG wins. (i.e. backlinks from massive sites like Washington Post and NBC).
While these links are incredibly valuable, they require a lot of resources - time and hard work - and the success rate is very low.
Before you go after the big fish, make sure you’ve first collected all the “quick-win” link opportunities. This will help generate faster results, and build trust with new clients.
One of the fastest ways to do this is recover lost link equity from 404 pages.
Think about it:
Websites change all the time. Products come and go. Information is pruned. URL structures get updated. Content is moved around.
All this movement can have a big impact on all the existing backlinks pointing to your website.
If you created a piece of content that acquired a bunch of quality links, and then made a minor update to the post/page URL without properly implementing a 301 redirect, you’d waste valuable link equity.
Therefore, one of the best ways to land quick link wins is to ensure you don’t have backlinks pointing to dead pages.
Here’s how to do it:
Head over to the Ahrefs “Best by Links” report. Filter by “404”, and sort referring domains (RD) in descending order:
The first 404 page in the list has 6 referring domains pointing to it.
Not a huge number. But, check out what happens when you click on the Referring Domains link:
The 404 page has two solid links pointing to it:
Search Engine Watch (DR 71)
ReputationX (DR 48)
High authority backlinks like these are very hard to get even with great content and a dialed in outreach campaign. But, we managed to find them in a matter of seconds.
Important: Scan down the list and only attempt to reclaim links from quality sites relevant to your industry:
Only the first two opportunities in this report are worth looking at closer. The others are low DR, and look completely irrelevant. Redirecting these types of links into other important assets on your site would do more harm than good.
Once you’ve gathered a shortlist of “safe” backlinks to reclaim, you can either:
- 301 redirect the 404 page into a relevant asset on your site. Ideally, a page/ post with some type of search traffic potential.
- Reach out to the owner/ author of the site linking to your 404 page. Ask them to update the link.
Since 301 redirects leak little-to-no link equity, option #1 is my preferred course of action.
#16. 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:
#17. 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.
#18. 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 🙂
#19. 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:
#20. Drive Traffic (and Build Relationships) With “Targeted” Blog Commenting
I can already hear the trolls coming out on this one 🙂
Blog commenting is a spam tactic.
Blog comments are no follow.
Blog comments don’t boost rankings.
All of these arguments hold merit if you’re just dropping hundreds of blog comments to boost rankings.
But, that’s not the basis of what we’re doing here.
We’re going to use blog commenting to accomplish the following objectives:
#1: Pillow your link profile to make it look more natural
#2: Get your content (and brand) in front of more people
#3: Drive targeted referral traffic to important content on your site
#4: Build relationships with influential content creators in your industry
The process is simple: Identify high-traffic blog posts, and leave value-add comments that drive people back to your most relevant content.
This is the exact strategy Twoodoo used to grow their user base without spending money on ads:
After two weeks the startup saw the following results:
Total blog comments: 40
Unique referral visitors: 452
Visitors Per Comment: 11.25
Number of sign ups: 72 (16% conversion rate!)
Total time invested: 6.5hrs
ROI: 11 sign ups/ hour spent
While this strategy might not open the traffic floodgates, it does provide a low-cost opportunity to get your content (and brand) in front of a very targeted audience.
Here’s how to scale finding relevant blogs with high traffic potential:
Open the Ahrefs Content Explorer (affiliate) and search for a relevant phrase. Filter out the pages that get a lot of organic traffic and are written in the same language as your site:
Note: the volume threshold will depend on the niche you are in. For a larger topic like “content marketing”, we could ramp up the volume threshold to 1,000+ and still get a long list of blogs to look at:
Scan through the list of results and see which ones have an active comment thread. If it does, put together a comment that adds value and insert a link to a relevant piece of content on your site.
Tip: Focus more on the blog comment sections where the moderator is (1) actively responding to commenters, and (2) allows relevant link placements in the comments.
This will not only improve the chances of your link being approved, but will also provide an opportunity to form relationships with industry influencers. This opens the door to guest post opportunities, and an increased likelihood they drop an editorial link to your content in the future.
#21. 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.
Which Link Building Strategies Are You Going to Try?
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 21 link building strategies 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 strategies not mentioned in this post, please leave a comment below so other readers can benefit from your feedback.