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How To Build Links That You Didn’t Ask For



How To Build Links That You Didn’t Ask For

A huge part of the link building process is outreach.

This is the step where you approach other websites and see if they will link to you.

They may link to you for a range of reasons such as you’ve created a great piece of content or you’ve told them about a broken link and have a new resource to replace it.

The thing is, when many of us think about link building, our default mindset usually goes toward proactively building links using outreach techniques.

We tend to think of link building as something that we do, not something that just happens.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing and of course, many of us spend a lot of time adding value to businesses by proactively building links via techniques such as content marketing, digital PR, or broken link building.

For many businesses, this is a good use of budget and helps to improve organic traffic faster than they may otherwise get.


The thing is, you shouldn’t need to ask for every single link that a website gets.

Proactive outreach and campaigns are important, but to make link building drive the absolute best return on investment possible, focus on how a website can be link-worthy naturally.

A link-worthy website gets links you didn’t ask for and even if you stop doing outreach, you’ll still get links.

Sounds pretty good, right?

For most of us, it takes work to make a website link-worthy enough to generate links at a good scale and over a long period of time.

For others, it’s not so hard.

For example, when Apple launches a new iPhone, pretty much every technology publication on the internet will link to it!

The same can be said for other huge brands such as Samsung or Amazon.


The sheer brand awareness that they have, often combined with truly unique and innovative products, means they don’t need to worry about getting links.

The same can’t be said for the majority of other websites online which, across the UK and US, are made up of over 90% small businesses.

For many of us, we need to put a lot more effort into making a website link-worthy.

Let’s look at a few ways that you can do this.

The Role That Brand Building Plays In Link Building

While brand teams and above-the-line campaigns often sit in teams away from SEO, it’s important to understand the role that brand building plays in link building.

If you are working with a brand that is reasonably well known, either within your industry or generally, then you are in a much better position to generate links without asking.

A strong element of brand awareness and affiliation can add credibility to your link-building campaigns.

Brand awareness can also mean that writers, bloggers, and journalists naturally seek out your content, data, information, and opinions when writing stories which can lead to links too.


Smaller, less-known businesses are not as likely to have this happen and as a link builder, you probably need to work a lot harder to get links.

This is an important distinction to understand because depending on the type of business you work with, your link-building approach and strategy may be different.

For well-known brands, you may be able to generate links you didn’t ask for simply by adding linkable assets to the website or providing PR teams with content assets.

These assets may then generate links naturally without any direct outreach.

For lesser-known brands, you may need to put more work into content that ranks well for research-led keywords and try to establish them as an authority in their niche.

How To Create Content That Ranks Well And Is Linked To Naturally

One of the key ways that a piece of content can generate links naturally over time is to rank well in search results.

By doing this, more people will find the content and in some cases, people who find it will link to it from their own content.

This works particularly well if you create content that can rank for keywords that indicate that someone is doing research for something.


Some of the people who carry out this kind of research will be writers, bloggers, and journalists who are looking for information for their own articles.

If they find your content and reference it, they are likely to link to it too.

For example, if a journalist is writing a story about dogs, they may want to include some information about dog names.

If they Google [dog name statistics], this article from Rover ranks well and is updated regularly with new trends and content.

If this article didn’t rank well and wasn’t regularly updated each year with new trends, then it wouldn’t get anywhere near as many links as it does.

You can also look for opportunities to optimize this type of content for keywords that may indicate that someone is looking for data, trends, or statistics.

You can use basic on-page SEO to optimize for keywords including:

  • [topic] datasets.
  • [topic] statistics 2022.
  • Latest [topic] trends.
  • [topic] quotes.

Anyone searching for these kinds of keywords may not only visit your content but also reference and link to it if they write an article or blog post on the topic.

How To Build Linkable Assets Into Link Building Campaigns

One of the classic challenges with link-building campaigns is when you get lots of coverage but no links.


Someone may write about the campaign and mention the brand and campaign, but for some reason, they didn’t include a link to your campaign.

Some publications have no link policies but putting that to one side, you should spend time with each campaign thinking about how you can increase the likelihood of someone linking to you.

One of the best ways is to think about what makes your campaign link-worthy and to carve out time during the production process to create assets that may encourage someone to link to your campaign.

A strong, relevant story may be enough for a journalist to cover it and mention your brand, but to encourage a link, you may need something else such as:

  • Unique imagery that adds or illustrates the story, allowing you to ask for a credit link for the image.
  • A larger dataset behind the story that allows someone to click through and read more about the story and data.
  • A profile page on your website for someone from your company who has been quoted in the story.

Even if someone doesn’t link to you the first time, building these assets will make it easier for you to reach out to them and ask for a mention of your brand or a person to be turned into a clickable link.

The Importance Of Building Relationships Within Your Industry

Building relationships is an often overlooked part of link building.

We tend to think of building a relationship at the point at which we need a link from someone, not before this point and not maintaining it afterward.

It really pays off to use an approach where you genuinely try to build relationships with key industry contacts outside of your campaigns.

For example, sending them random feedback, tips, or information that they may find useful for their stories that have nothing to do with the brand that you work on.


This is not only useful for them, but it shows that you want to help them outside of times when you’d like something in return – this is what strong relationships are all about.

Bringing this back to link building, having strong relationships with key contacts in your industry can mean that you get links naturally because they are already aware of your brand and the content that you produce.

If they come across your content themselves, they may pay more attention to it and cover it, even if you haven’t explicitly been told about it yet.

Another possibility is that they search for content to link to which you may have produced in the past. If it’s still useful and relevant, they may be more likely to link to it because of their existing relationship with you.

To wrap up, it’s perfectly possible to generate links that you didn’t ask for.

It does take some thought and planning, particularly if you aren’t a well-known brand and don’t have the natural credibility that this can bring.

But even if you’re not a well-known brand, you should put some of your time and resources into some of the activities above that may start to move you in the right direction of generating links that you haven’t asked for.

More resources:


Featured Image: fizkes/Shutterstock

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In-house SEO vs outsourced agency talent: Who wins the debate?



In-house SEO vs outsourced agency talent Who wins the debate

30-second summary:

  • SEO involves a lot of tasks, processes, and technicalities that are hard to master and manage
  • Investing in an in-house team can have lots of advantages, like building specialized talent, greater control over performance, productivity, brand and process alignment
  • However, outsourcing to an SEO agency may not deliver the above-mentioned benefits but can be easier on your marketing budget and overheads
  • So, how do you identify the right fit for your business?

There are too many parts of SEO and many of those parts are constantly moving and changing. The more a site grows, the more challenging SEO is going to be. So what’s a better approach: to start building your own in-house SEO team or rely on an agency or freelancers?

Let’s see…

Pros and cons of building your own team

Pro #1: You build your own internal talent and knowledge

Your team is your biggest asset. Your company is only as good as the people behind it. These are all cliches but they hold true.

Having an in-house team to rely on makes your SEO strategy more consistent and aligned with your company’s culture and your product positioning strategy. Plus, there is a smoother flow of ideas and communication that leads to better results. You also stand to gain from the cross-pollination of talent that feeds into innovation and greater problem-solving.

Con #1: Talents tend to move on

There’s one huge issue with talented people: They tend to overgrow their employing businesses, and they do that pretty quickly.

It often becomes hard (and expensive) to keep the talent, even if your organization was the one that grew it.


Pro #2: You hold someone responsible

If you are good at hiring, you will likely find someone responsible who will take their training and tasks seriously. The person will have clear ownership which makes everyone’s lives easier and your business more effective. 

Any business initiative is going to be successful only if there’s someone inside the company to “own” it.

In-house teams are easier to control, you can ask for and obtain reports within a day. You can ask for clarifications without running out of your billable hours.

Con #2: It is expensive

Not many businesses can afford to have an internal SEO that has nothing but SEO… Apart from regular and inevitable payroll, there are also HR processes that contribute to the overall expenses. And let’s not forget about employee insurance and other benefits.

Yes, growing your own team is generally a great investment but only if your budget allows it. Plus, there’s always a risk your investment will simply leave your company one day (see above).

Pro #3: You own your data

Privacy is a big issue when it comes to letting anyone do marketing for you. On the other hand, you can also control the technology and privacy much more efficiently ensuring that your data is accessible to your internal team only.

Additionally, when you outsource anything, you will inevitably miss lots of data, like contacts that were acquired, templates that worked better, and other assets.

When you have the work done internally, you end up accumulating contacts you can rely on going forward. You also eventually build your own data and find innovative ways to build it into your search marketing strategy.


Con #4: It is slower

Unless you have a huge team, SEO tasks will pile up. They are very hard to organize and scale without outside help because there are too many variables and most of them are done on a continuous and regular basis.

Relying on freelancers to outsource SEO tasks is often the only way to get things done and free some time for looking into analytics to align your SEO strategy better.

Pro #5: The process can be better integrated

SEO is no longer an island. It can only be really effective if it is well-integrated into all processes within an organization, including product development, IT, sales, and customer support.

The intersection of digital and physical consumer experiences is also a strong reason as to why SEO needs to have strong integration with digital marketing, martech, and sales. Your business can achieve its goals only if it has a unified footprint.

Con #5: You cannot build a team that is good at everything

The biggest problem with SEO is that there are several moving parts that require absolutely different training and skill sets.

Remember the graph?

SEO graph and relativitySource: Anthony Palomarez

SEO always includes content creation and optimization, technical support, and link building (which normally includes email outreach, relationship building, and linkable asset creation which, in turn, involves graphic design or video production tasks).

If you need to understand all of these moving parts better, I have a simplified flow chart for you:

the scope of SEO

Let’s not forget that many of those parts will have to evolve based on ever-changing Google guidelines and ever-developing search algorithms that are hard to keep up with.


With such a variety of skills required, building a team that would handle almost everything is next to impossible, even for corporate entities.

Of course, today’s technology makes it much easier. You don’t have a web developer to build a landing page, or handle on-page SEO essentials. You don’t have to be a graphic designer to create visuals, or even put together an effective lead magnet.

But even with smart technology, to handle all the parts of an SEO strategy you will need a pretty huge team, which is – again – expensive.

The truth is somewhere in the middle

The takeaway from the above is somewhat of a dilemma: You want a team to control something that you may never be able to control.

The best solution is usually in the middle:

  • Hire an SEO manager who has thorough SEO knowledge
  • Let that SEO manager find companies and freelancers to outsource different moving parts to

This means having an SEO manager who is brilliant at both SEO and project management.

Yes, it will take time to find the right person but finding the right person is never easy. 

It is well worth your time though:

  • Your in-house person will be able to “translate” any SEO jargon to you whenever you need to understand what is going on
  • You will have someone owning the strategy and process 
  • There will be a person who will be inside your company to ensure your SEO strategy is aligned with your overall product positioning strategy and include other teams in the SEO processes

In reality, if you want your SEO strategy to deliver results, you need both: An internal person (or a team) and someone outside your company to rely on. This is not a question of choosing one.


Managing SEO is hard. Don’t feel discouraged. There’s no valid alternative to organic search traffic. Find the right person who will be able to manage the process for you and find reliable partners to outsource different SEO tasks to. This way you will keep the strategy under control while still being able to afford it. Good luck!


Ann Smarty is the Founder of Viral Content Bee, Brand and Community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. She can be found on Twitter @seosmarty.

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