Link building isn’t rocket science. There’s no secret club where only an elite few get taught how to build links. Anyone can do it.
But it’s harder than it needs to be without tried and tested tactics to lean on.
Here are 15 proven ways to get backlinks:
- The Skyscraper Technique
- The Reverse Skyscraper Technique
- Resource page link building
- Broken link building
- 301 redirect link building
- Pitch ‘best x in y’ listicles
- Guest blogging
- Podcast interviews
- Unlinked mentions
- Pursue link gaps
- Get stockist links
- Utilize existing memberships
- Pitch link roundups
- Internal backlinks
The Skyscraper Technique is where you find content with lots of backlinks, create something better, then ask everyone linking to the content you improved to link to you instead.
How to do it
You first need to find pages with lots of backlinks. To begin, search for a phrase related to your topic in Ahrefs’ Content Explorer and set the “referring domains” filter to a minimum of 50. This will show you pages with backlinks from 50+ websites.
It’s then simply a case of analyzing the content and thinking about how to improve it.
Here are some of the best ways to improve content:
- Correct inaccurate or misleading claims. This is arguably the best way to improve content as nobody wants to link to something misleading.
- Go deeper. If the content in question is only skimming the topic’s surface, go deeper and explain things in more detail.
- Explain it better. Using graphics, videos, or whatever you need can help the reader understand things easier.
For example, Neil Patel’s page about long-tail keywords has backlinks from 1.1K referring domains:
But its definition of long-tail keywords is inaccurate (and is super hard to read):
Providing a meaningful definition is one easy way we could improve this content.
Recommended reading: How to Execute the Skyscraper Technique
The reverse skyscraper technique is where you choose a great piece of content already on your site, find similar lower-quality pages with lots of backlinks, then ask everyone linking to those pages to link to you instead.
It works for the same reasons as the “regular” skyscraper technique. The benefit is that you don’t have to create new content.
How to do it
To find the best opportunities for this technique, plug a few keywords you’ve published industry-leading content about into Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer, then sort the results by Keyword Difficulty (KD) from high to low.
Keyword Difficulty (KD) is based on the number of referring domains to the current top-ranking pages. This means that pages ranking for keywords with high KD scores will likely have many backlinks.
Next, click the SERP button and look for similar pages with lots of backlinks.
Finally, visit these pages and look for compelling reasons why your content is better than theirs. If you find one, pitch your link as a replacement to those linking to the page. You can find these people using the Backlinks report in Ahrefs’ Site Explorer.
Resource page link building is when you get backlinks from web pages that curate resources on a particular topic. It’s a tried and tested strategy because the sole purpose of these pages is to link to valuable resources.
How to do it
To find resource pages, run one of these searches in Google and add a phrase related to your topic:
For example, if you want to build links to a resource on losing weight, you may search for
intitle:resources inurl:resources.html weight loss.
It’s then simply a case of visiting each page to ensure it’s a resource page and links out to external resources. If it fits the bill, find the email address of the person responsible and pitch your resource.
Recommended reading: Resource Page Link Building: The Only Guide You Need
Broken link building is where you find a dead link on a page, create your own page on the topic, and ask everyone linking to the dead resource to link to your page instead.
It works because people who care about their websites don’t want to send visitors to broken pages.
How to do it
There are many ways to find dead pages with backlinks. One of the easiest is to search for a topic in Ahrefs’ Content Explorer, filter for broken pages then set a referring domains filter with a minimum value of 10. This will show you dead pages with backlinks from at least ten websites.
If you want to investigate a page further, hit the caret and click the link to view it on archive.org. This will show you what was on the dead page before it disappeared.
If it makes sense for you to create something similar, head back to Content Explorer, hit the caret, and click through to the Backlinks report. You’ll see all of the pages and sites linking to the dead page, which you can pitch your replacement link to once your content goes live.
Recommended reading: A Simple (But Complete) Guide to Broken Link Building
301 redirect link building is where you find irrelevant 301 redirects and pitch a suitable replacement to everyone linking to it. It works for the same reason broken link building works; site owners don’t want to send their visitors to what are effectively dead pages.
How to do it
To find irrelevant 301 redirects, go to Site Explorer, change the mode to “https,” enter a niche site, go to the Best by links report, and add a “301 moved permanently” filter.
Eyeball the URLs for irrelevant redirects.
For example, the first URL above looks like a post about the history of search engines that now redirects to one about search engine marketing. We can confirm that’s the case by hitting the caret and clicking to view the page on archive.org.
This is an entirely different topic to the page it now redirects to, so this is an irrelevant redirect with 698 referring domains.
“Best x in y” listicles are posts listing the best businesses in a specific area or industry. Finding and pitching ones where you aren’t already featured can earn more exposure and backlinks.
How to do it
You can find relevant lists by searching in Google with this formula:
Best BUSINESS TYPE in LOCATION -"YOUR BUSINESS NAME".
Here’s a list of the best coffee shops in London:
As per our search, one business that didn’t make the cut is Omotesando Koffee—a top-rated shop according to Google. If you were the founder of this place, it might be worth reaching out to the author to see if they’d be willing to add you.
When doing this, keep two things in mind:
- Your pitch needs to make sense.
- It won’t always make sense to pitch in the first email.
For example, the fact that Omotesando Koffee isn’t already on this list probably means the author has never been to their shop. In which case, they’re unlikely to add them to the list just because they’re asked to. You first need to build a relationship.
Here’s how I would contact the author in this instance:
Just came across your list of the best coffee shops in town and noticed my shop, Omotesando Koffee, wasn’t included. Is that because you didn’t like our coffee or haven’t tasted it?
If it’s the latter, I’d love to invite you down to taste our stuff (don’t worry, it’s on the house).
Are you in the area any time soon?
Let me know.
Notice that this email doesn’t pitch inclusion on the list; it simply invites the author to taste our product. It’ll be much easier to ask for inclusion after we win them over.
HARO (Help A Reporter Out) is a free service connecting journalists to sources and sources to journalists. It’s an easy way to earn high-quality backlinks because journalists are soliciting responses from you, not the other way around.
How to do it
Sign up as a source, and you’ll begin receiving emails with queries from journalists at various publications.
This will include queries from big well-known sites like Business Insider and The New York Times.
The problem is that most queries will be irrelevant, so it’s worth setting up a Gmail filter to save your sanity.
- Click the search options filter
- Set the “From” field to [email protected].
- Set the “Subject” to “[HARO]”
- Set “Has the words” to keywords you want to monitor (you can use the OR operator to list multiple keywords here)
Hit search and check a few emails to ensure you’re getting relevant results. If all looks good, hit the search options caret again and click “Create filter.”
Now it’s time to start responding to relevant queries.
Just know that not all journalists will cite and link to you just because you respond. For the best results, you should respond only to queries only if you have relevant expertise. It’s also worth prioritizing opportunities where the journalist is looking for multiple experts.
For example, the request below from Business Insider clearly states that they’re looking to hear from multiple elite preschools. So if you work for an elite preschool, you probably have a good chance of getting featured by replying to this request.
Guest blogging is where you write a blog post for another website and usually receive attribution and a link back to your site in return.
How to do it
To find websites that are likely to accept guest posts, go to Content Explorer, enter a keyword related to your niche, and change the dropdown to “In title”. This searches billions of pages for matching content.
You can then apply filters to narrow down the results and find websites to pitch.
These filters are a good starting point:
- Domain Rating: 30+. This weeds out super low authority websites.
- Website traffic: 5000+. This weeds out websites with little or no traffic.
- Published: Last 90 days. This weeds out websites that haven’t published content recently, which may be unresponsive to pitches.
You’ll also want to toggle the “One page per domain” box as there’s no point in reaching out to the same website multiple times.
If there are too many websites to pitch, go to the Websites tab to see the top 100 websites by traffic. Pay particular attention to websites with multiple authors, as these are more likely to accept guest posts.
For example, Moz has 182 pages about SEO by 28 different authors, so chances are some of those are guest bloggers.
Podcast interviews are where you’re featured as an expert on a podcast and asked questions by the host.
Each one will only take around an hour of your time, and if you choose them wisely, backlinks are pretty much guaranteed. This is because most podcasts have episode pages on their website, which almost always link to the guest’s website and social profiles.
How to do it
You first need to find podcasts to pitch, which you can do by searching Google for top industry podcasts. Most of the results will be listicles, and Google also tends to show a podcasts carousel in the search results.
Before pitching, check the podcast’s episodes pages to make sure they link to their guests.
If you spot a prolific podcast interviewee (like our very own Tim Soulo) while browsing, paste their homepage into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer, choose the “Exact URL” search mode, head to the Backlinks report, filter for results with “episode” in the referring page title, and sift through the results for relevant podcasts to pitch.
You can be sure that any podcasts you discover using this method link to their guests.
Unlinked mentions are when people cite your brand (or anything related to your brand) online without linking to your website.
They’re low-hanging fruit in link building because you’re already halfway there. The person is already familiar with your brand so asking them to add a link to the mention is often enough to win the link.
How to do it
To find unlinked mentions, search for your brand in Content Explorer and add
to exclude results from your site.
Next, use the “highlight unlinked domains” feature to highlight pages from websites that haven’t linked to you, then export the results (make sure to tick the “Only pages with highlighted domains” box).
Sift through the results in Excel or Google Sheets and reach out where it makes sense.
Recommended reading: A Simple Guide to Turning (Unlinked) Brand Mentions into Links
A link gap analysis reveals the websites linking to multiple competitors, but not you. It’s often easy to replicate these links because if someone’s linking to multiple competitors, it might make sense for them to link to you too.
How to do it
To run a link gap analysis, plug your homepage into Site Explorer (use the “Exact URL” mode), go to the Link Intersect report, and add a few competing homepages in the empty fields (set these to “URL” mode too).
Look through the results for potentially replicable links.
For example, the website below links to two of our competitors. Looking at the links, we see that they’re both thanks to podcast interviews.
Given that this host has interviewed two of our competitors, they might be interested in interviewing us too.
Keep your eyes peeled for common types of linking pages, as this can help you find more link prospects. For example, if your competitors have many links from podcasts, search for more podcasts and pitch them.
Stockist links come from companies whose products you stock and sell. These links are easy to get if you stock products from companies that list stockists on their websites.
How to do it
To find relevant stockists pages, find the websites of all the companies whose products you stock, then run this Google search for each of them:
site:brand.com intitle:"stockists" OR intitle:"where to buy". You should see it in the search results if they have a stockist page.
Here’s what that page looks like:
Then it’s simply a case of reaching out and asking them to add you.
Organizations, communities, and clubs that you’re already a part of are arguably the lowest-hanging fruit in link building. This is because they often have team or advisory board pages where they’ll happily mention and link to you if you ask.
How to do it
To find opportunities, make a list of all organizations, communities, and clubs you’re a part of. This can be anything from a school parent advisory board to a local charity to a law association.
Next, find their websites and run this Google search for each one:
site:theirwebsite.com intitle:team OR advisory.
It should pop up if they have a relevant page.
Reach out and request a link where it makes sense.
Link roundups are curated lists of the best new content in an industry, usually from the past week or month. The authors of these posts are always on the lookout for worthy content to feature in their next roundup, so they’re an easy way to build links to new content.
How to do it
To find roundup posts, search Google for your topic followed by
intitle:2022 intitle:"roundup" OR intitle:"round up".
As there’s no point in pitching discontinued roundups, filter for search results from the past three months (Tools > Any time > Custom range > select the last three months on the calendar).
Finally, check out the roundups and pitch relevant ones.
Internal backlinks are links from other pages on the same website. Many SEOs neglect internal links, which is a big mistake because they’re a powerful way to funnel ‘authority’ to the pages that need it. You also have full control over them—unlike external backlinks.
How to do it
To find pages that would benefit most from a boost, look for those that rank in positions 2–4 for their target keyword. You can do this in Ahrefs’ Site Explorer. Just plug in your site, go to the Organic Keywords report, and filter by position.
Next, go to your project in Site Audit, click the Link Opportunities report, paste your page’s URL into the search box, and switch the dropdown to “Target page.”
You’ll need to set up a project and crawl your site using Site Audit first.
You should now see relevant places on your site to add internal links to your page.
Recommended reading: Internal Links for SEO: An Actionable Guide
Most of these tactics aren’t new or exciting, but they work—and that’s what counts. Just don’t try to do them all at once. Start with one, learn from it, perfect your approach, and build from there. Give me a shout on Twitter if you have any questions.
How To Use Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper
There are a lot of tactics you can and should employ to achieve this, but that’s the goal.
And, as the Google brain has grown more complex, it’s able to display increasingly more detailed and helpful answers.
For example, if you’re looking to book a flight from Chicago O’Hare to LAX, Google can now show you options in rich snippets on search results pages.
Likewise, if you run a concert venue, you can add code known as structured data to your website that will encourage Google to display your events when they’re relevant to web searchers.
If you’re not familiar with the term “structured data,” don’t fret – there are a lot of SEO professionals and web marketers who aren’t.
In this article, we’ll set that right, plus give you tips on using the Structured Data Markup Helper to easily add it to your site.
What Is Structured Data?
As defined in this post, structured data is information (data) that is organized (structured). Organized information is basically what structured data is.
For SEO purposes, structured data is a specific type of formatting that gives Google information about the meaning of a page.
Following a standardized vocabulary outlined by Schema.org, it is used across several search engines, including Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Yandex.
Structured data can use syntax like JSON-LD, RDFa, and Microdata, among others.
Why Is Structured Data Important?
There are several reasons why webpages use structured data.
For one thing, it makes navigation easier for both search engine crawlers and human users.
This is because it provides the information that can then be displayed on search engine results pages (SERPs) in the form of rich snippets, video carousels, and other special search result features and enhancements.
This leads to faster indexing by search spiders and enhances your site’s search visibility. This can also help improve your click-through rate, increase conversions, and grab more voice search traffic.
In an article for Search Engine Journal, Winston Burton, Senior Vice President of SEO at global search and marketing agency Acronym, detailed the results of adding structured data to the client’s website.
With no other optimization strategies employed, the client saw a 400% net growth in rich result organic traffic and a 140% growth in impressions for the company’s answer center.
Even if this is a statistical outlier, it still highlights the massive potential of using structured data.
What Is Structured Data Used For?
Now that we’ve covered what structured data is and why it’s important, let’s look into some of the ways it can be used.
In an April 2022 Google Search Central SEO office-hours hangout, Google Search Advocate John Mueller dove into structured data and its uses.
If you have 30 minutes to spare, it’s well worth the watch. If you’re in a hurry, the part that’s relevant to the current topic begins at 27:19. Or better yet, read Roger Montti’s coverage of it here.
In this hangout, Mueller was asked a question about how to choose the best format for structured data.
His answer was that it’s not so much about what format a page uses, but rather what kind of rich result is available for the page.
Structured data is very versatile and provides a lot of opportunities for businesses to use it to drive clicks. Some of these you may wish to take advantage of include:
Used for things that are part of the Google Knowledge Graph, they provide a quick overview of information about a topic.
As a business, you can use knowledge panels to give users at-a-glance information about your brand name, logo, and phone number, among other things.
Sometimes referred to as rich results, this is the additional data Google shows users in addition to normal search results. This may include things like music, events, or recipes.
For commercial purposes, this is where reviews can be shown. It can also highlight things like products, addresses, and special offers.
Common on mobile devices, this shows multiple “cards” from the same site.
Not to be confused with ordinary carousels, which can include images, video, and other data pulled from multiple sites, hosted carousels use content from only one “host” site.
Google currently supports the following types of hosted carousels:
- Educational Course.
For example, you could use them to provide information about a line of products, included features or services offered.
But, before you go inserting structured snippets into your webpages willy-nilly, you should know these are subject to standard Google Ads policies and must meet a number of requirements, a full list of which can be found here.
Getting Started With Structured Data
By now you should see the benefits structured data can offer, so let’s look at how to add it to your website.
The simplest way to add structured data to your webpage is by using Google’s Data Highlighter tool.
To use this, simply open the tool and highlight data like name, date, location, etc. with your mouse.
Google will note this information the next time it crawls your site and present the data in rich snippets on search results pages.
You can also manually markup elements on HTML webpages. Sound intimidating? It’s not. You just have to have a small working knowledge of coding.
For your convenience, we’ve provided a step-by-step guide to help you through the process:
- Open Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper.
- Click the “Website” tab.
- Select the type of page you’re marking up (e.g., job postings, restaurants, Q&A page, local businesses, etc.)
- Enter the URL of an existing page or raw page HTML.
- Click “Start Tagging.”
- Highlight the parts of the page you want to be included in rich snippets and identify them in the dropdown that appears.
- Fill in the required information. For an event, this includes the event name, location, and date.
- After you have finished tagging, click the “Create HTML” button and choose an output format. JSON-LD is Google’s preferred format, though you can also choose Microdata.
- Copy the code or download it. If you are using JSON-LD, paste the generated code into the body of the existing page. If you choose Microdata, replace your page with the generated HTML.
Some other things to note:
- To test the generated code, copy and paste it into the Rich Result test, which will show you any missing fields you need to fill in.
- You can have multiple items on one page, but Google recommends that they are all the same type, e.g., all movies or all job postings.
- All pages you want to display rich snippets for should be available to the public and not hidden behind login screens.
- It may take a few weeks for Google to crawl your new page, but once it does it can be shown in rich snippets.
Is Structured Data A Ranking Signal?
Now for the $10,000 question: Will structured data markup help your site appear higher in search rankings?
In a deep dive into the topic, Search Engine Journal found that while it offers many benefits, there is no direct evidence schema markup is used by Google to determine search ranking.
That said, because it helps search engines more easily understand the content of your website, it can help you show up in relevant queries you may have been excluded from in the past.
Traffic is always the name of the game in digital marketing. And leveraging structured data on your website is a great way to help attract visitors.
Not only does it enhance the appearance of your content in search results, but it can help your site get indexed faster.
Rich results (particularly positive product reviews) can also significantly improve your click-through rate and average time on the page.
If your page is used in a featured snippet, it will show at the top of SERPs.
In addition to the increase in visibility that provides, featured snippets are used to answer voice search queries. That means you’ll be the only result for anyone who uses Siri or Alexa for a query.
The final reason you should use structured data on your website is that it gives you more control over your information.
You determine how Google understands your brand and allows you to control how your information is defined.
Structured data is a useful tool in your toolbox. It doesn’t work for every site and every type of content, but if you’re in a field where it is useful, it’s something you need to be using.
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