Link Building – The Ultimate Guide (2019)

build links with seo
link building

Link building is hard

It’s also one of the most important parts of an SEO campaign.

Without relevant links pointing at your website the chances of ranking for competitive keyword terms are slim to none.

To build links you have to master many skills including:

  • Content ideation.
  • Content creation.
  • Design.
  • Email outreach.
  • Negotiation.

It’s not easy.

If you’re having trouble acquiring links…

This guide will show you the best ways to build white hat links that improve your domain authority, increase keyword rankings and explode your website traffic.

These are the exact tactics our search engine optimisation consultants use for our clients

Why build backlinks?

According to Andrey Lippattsev of Google, the top 3 ranking signals used to determine where a website places in the search engines are:

  • Content
  • Backlinks
  • Rankbrain (Google’s machine learning algorithm).

Thankfully you don’t have to be a Google engineer to see the importance of inbound links.

A few searches on ahrefs (more on this later) will show you the importance of links for search engine rankings.

link building

The above screenshot shows the top 10 searches for “black leather handbags”, it also shows the number of links from referring domains (other websites to that page).

This screenshot is a good example of how backlinks play a part in ranking a website. You may notice the pages with the most backlinks don’t rank number 1.

This is because website 1 is better optimised for the search query. Look at the URL and title of result 1.

It contains the word black.

on page optimisation

The domain with the most links (result 3 doesn’t contain the word black in title or URL).

search engine ranking page

Website 3, 5 and 8 don’t contain the word black anywhere in the listing, yet they show up for this query, they’re also the websites with the most links for this search.

To me, this shows that websites 3, 5 and 8 are not as optimised for the search query “black leather bags”, but the backlinks they have are enough to get them on the first page of Google.

If you’re still not convinced…

Brian Dean of Backlinko carried out a study where he looked at 1 million Google search results to determine what factors if any correlated with first page rankings.

Backlinks scored pretty high on the ranking factors.

You can see his study here.

How many links do I need to rank?

Convinced by the power of backlinks yet?

Great.

By this point, you may be asking:

“How many backlinks do I need to rank for my keyword?”

Well…

It depends.

According to Brian Dean of Backlinko, Google has at least 200 ranking factors they use to determine where a result should show in the search listings.

Backlinks feature very highly in ranking factors, but you still need a strong technical foundation for your website to rank. Before going on a backlink campaign, I highly recommend carrying out a website audit first.

With that said…

You can use some SEO tools to give you an indication of the time to rank but these tools should only be used as a guide.

With the keyword “Dentists in London”, ahrefs.com tells you that you need around 40 links to rank on the first page of Google for that term.

keyword difficulty

But if we take a closer look at the results you will see there are some high authority domains listed.

The NHS and Yelp have massive domain authorities that helps them rank here (Yelp has 1 referring domain).

referring domain count

The other results though are from smaller domains and have fewer links.

In this instance, I don’t think it would take anywhere near 40 links to replace result 8,9 or 10 as their domain authority is so low.

Looking at their backlink profile confirms this.

Most of the backlinks from websites 8, 9 and 10 are directory links.

A few authority backlinks and you would take their place in the search results.

As a rough guide, you should at least look to match the domains you are competing with in terms of quality links (ideally you will want better ones) and bring your domain authority up to a similar level.

All links are not equal

If links are one of the best ways to rank a website, how come sites with more links are being outranked by smaller sites with fewer links?

Good question.

Not all links are created equal.

Think of a link as a vote of confidence.

A link tells Google and the other search engines, “yeah, this website is good”. If the vote (link) comes from a trusted source the link is going to be worth more.

Think of it this way…

If you were entering a singing competition, whose opinion would carry more weight in terms of how well you can sing? Beyonce Knowles…

Or the chuckle brothers?

https://www.instagram.com/p/BrgeqfbAvAH/

Google works in the same way.

A link from an authoritative and relevant website is worth more to your website than a link from a lower quality and unrelated one.

But how is a website’s quality measured?

Domain rating, page rating & relevance (DR, UR)

Domain rating (DR), page rating (UR) and relevance, ok what?

domain authority metrics

DR and UR are scored from 0 – 100 (The higher the better!)

Both are made up metrics by ahrefs.com

These metrics are allocated to a website and its pages based on the inbound links pointing at it.

Why should you care about UR and DR?

Google has repeatedly denied they take a domains rating or URL rating into consideration when ranking a page or website.

seo myths and lies

Personally, I don’t believe them.

From my own experience…

A website with a high domain rating will rank quicker than a brand new website.

And this makes sense.

Domain rating is calculated on the number of links pointing at a website.

We know that one of Google’s top 3 ranking factors are links, so it’s not that much of a leap to put the two together.

But that’s not to say you can’t outrank a domain with a better rating.

I do it all the time.

My SEO agency Cardiff page for example outranks websites with much higher domain ratings.

domain authority
Domain Rating 28 vs 57, 49 and 91

A website with a better domain or page rating in my opinion has an advantage, but by building white hat backlinks and having good on page optimisation, you can outrank them.

If you want to do this…

Links from quality websites in your industry or a supporting industry are a must!

Read that again.

If you own a dental practice and you receive links from lifestyle or health websites they are more beneficial to you than if you were receiving links from a sports or marketing blog.

A link from another dental practice would be even better, but these links are hard to come by.

Unless you get creative.

Most of the time these websites would be your competitors.

But… there are ways around this.

A dental practice in the UK and a dental practice in the USA won’t be competing against each other.

Take advantage of this and reach out to them and ask to write a post on their blog which links back to something on your website.

Both parties are happy.

They get quality content on their website, and you get a highly relevant link back to your website.

The above is known as a guest post.

I will talk about guest posting and 16 other link building strategies in more detail later in this post.

There are a few more topics you need to know first…

What are do follow and no follow links and why should you care?

do follow and no follow backlinks
No follow links and do follow links

Do follow links are the default link type unless they have been modified.

If this makes no sense, let me explain in more detail.

If I were to link to Neil Patel’s website (NeilPatel.com) with a do follow link the search engine spiders would land on this page and crawl to Neil’s website passing along any “link juice” this site has (remember we talked about votes above)

If you’re used to seeing code, a do follow link looks like the following:

do follow links
A standard do follow backlink.

No follow links tell the search engine spiders not to follow the other page and not to pass any link juice to the website that is being linked to.

A no follow link looks like the following:

no follow links
Notice the rel=”nofollow”

When building links to your website it’s always good to have a variety of do follow and no follow links. This will make the link profile of your site look natural.

When putting the effort into building white hat links you will want them to be “do follow”.

The effort you will go through to build links is high.

If a webmaster gives you a no follow link, you can be cheeky and ask them to change it!

Sometimes sites like Forbes or Huffington post will give you a no follow link and wont change it. In this case don’t worry, those sites should send you enough referral traffic to make it worth your while.

To wrap it up:

Do follow = passes link juice, increases your domain authority.

No follow = no link juice, but can be ok for sending referral traffic.

Got it? Let’s move on!

How to avoid black hat link building and useless links.

In this day and age, I can’t think of many industries with as many scammers as the SEO industry.

spam links

There are great SEO consultants and agencies out there, but many SEOs are cowboys.

I’ve heard of companies paying for SEO services for a few months and they haven’t received any reports, no KPI’s have been set and no results have been seen.

Others build spammy backlinks that cause their clients to be penalised.

The above happens more than it should.

If you build white hat backlinks as described in this post…

And do the work you are being paid to do, you will be ahead of 90% of the “SEO experts” out there.

Rant over.

If you do decide to be an honest link builder and you should, it may seem easy to go to the dark side and build black hat links.

They’re easier to create and can get you results quicker.

But…

When Google catches on to your shortcuts, Good night sweet prince.

If you don’t want to risk your website or your clients (or don’t want to waste your time) try an avoid the following link types, or spending too much time on some of them.

Forum Links – Don’t spend to much time on these

forum links
Typical example of a forum backlink

Forum links aren’t black hat and probably won’t harm your website and can send relevant traffic to your website, but…

The reason why I say to ignore building these links is they simply don’t move your rankings enough for the effort you put into building them.

I don’t like building forum links because:

  • Forums are usually spammed if not maintained (putting your link in the same place as people selling pills or gambling websites)
  • Forum links pass little to no link juice
  • Forum admins usually end up deleting posts or removing your signature if its to “salesy

Your time is better spent elsewhere.

Footer Links – Don’t spam.

Also known as sitewide links.

Coming from a web development background I know all about footer/sitewide links. You have more than likely seen them too.

These usually look like:

  • Website designed by…
  • Website made by…
  • Theme created by…

When I build a website I like to let people know that I built it, it helps me get my name out there and brings me additional business from others looking to get a website made in the same niche.

But Google is not a fan of these links and can penalise you for it.

Not too long ago, this very site was ranking for a design related term on the first page around the 7th or 8th result.

I decided to run an experiment with sitewide links and changed the normal “web designed by Weeare.co.uk” to an “Exact Match Keyword” (for example web design in wales) and within a week…

The site was no longer 7th or 8th on the first page it was 63rd.

seo rankings drop

I expected this to happen, but I wanted to test it.

Test takeaways = listen to Google!

If you must use sitewide links (I still use them as it sends clients to me) either add a no follow tag or just add a branded anchor text, in my instance weeare or weeare.co.uk

Directories – Useful for local SEO

Directories are large databases of websites (usually businesses) split up into different categories.

Think Yell or Thomson local (UK).

Submitting to directories can help with geographical searches

Submitting to directories can help with geographical searches but the “link juice” they pass is very small.

Don’t expect to rank only with directory links.

That said, directories help with something called NAP.

nap seo
NAP for Local SEO

NAP stands for Name, Address, Phone number and getting NAP citations is good for local SEO.

Google and the other search engines use this NAP data to decide what companies to show when someone uses a geographical search query like “barber shops near me”.

NAP citations are also important for spam reasons.

A spam website/fake business is far less likely to have NAP citations because they are not going to have an office location or phone number linked up.

My advice to you would be to not go overboard with building directory links. Just use moderated directories and you get the benefits above.

PBN – (Black Hat, Avoid!)

PBNs are one of the biggest link building strategies used in the last few years by grey/black hat SEOs.

But what exactly is a PBN?

A private blog network

PBNs or private blog networks are networks of sites built up for the sole purpose of linking back to a “money site” (yours or your client’s site)

The reason why PBNs are effective is the domains these links come from are from domains with authority (lots of links pointing at them), these domains for whatever reason have been left to expire by their original owners.

A new owner then comes in, builds a new site on top of that domain and links it back to the site they want to rank.

This is all done without having to earn links, as the previous owner has done it for you.

Sounds good right?

That is until Google nails you!

A site penalised for using PBNs

Recently I was contacted by another business who had hired an SEO marketing company whose primary tactic for ranking websites was using PBNs.

They had seen steady growth for justover a year, then…

They lost over 50% of their website traffic overnight and are now struggling to keep the lights on.

PBNs are risky, but there are other reasons I wouldn’t bother using them.

They’re expensive

To set up a private blog network you are going to need a lot of website domain names.

Typical domains sell for £10 to £2000 depending on the metrics and domain name.

600,000 backlinks at $2000

Look at the price on the domains above.

Let’s go back to the example we used earlier for the “dentists in London” keyword.

Although I don’t think it would take 40 websites to rank for this keyword lets just roll with it.

  • 40 domain names x $100 = $4000
  • Private Whois (to trick Google) 40 x $5 = $200
  • Hosting 40 x $12pm = $480pm
  • Content for website, 3-5 articles each at $50-$70 = $250 x 40 = $10,000

To rank for that one keyword, with a PBN you could be looking at a $15,000 investment upfront with a recurring fee of $480 a month for hosting.

For the term “dentist in London” it may be worth the investment as an extra 3 to 5 clients a month would likely cover it.

The above doesn’t take into account the amount of time you would have to invest either to build 40 websites.

It also doesn’t take into account the time it takes to find good domains to use.

backlinks

Remember the expired domain above with 600k backlinks?

Turns out it only has 200k and they’re all junk!

If you check that domain out on ahrefs you can see that the majority of those backlinks are from an Arabic website with images of dead people all over it.

How trustworthy will Google think your website is when its linked to from a site like that?

Not very, trust me.

Looking for non-spammy domains to link to your own website can take hours.

You’re better off putting that time into white hat link building, the results may take a little longer, but there’s no worrying if you are going to lose your website traffic overnight.

Paid Links – (Avoid!)

There’s a good chance you have seen these types of companies already if you have been looking at link building packages.

Companies that offer individual links on a one off fee basis.

paying for links, good or bad for seo
Links for sale – bad for SEO!

Right off the bat, paying for links is against Googles guidelines.

But the main problem I have with companies like these is they promise 100% manual outreach to real blogs and websites.

But that’s not usually what happens…

A link to your website usually turns up on some spammy site with no real traffic, or as we have discussed above also known as a PBN.

Authority Hacker did a great article on these types of companies: 5 popular link building services which explain this process in more detail.

Authority Hacker found most of their links ended up on spammy sites, PBNs and sites with no traffic or users.

Blog Comments

Blog comments, in my opinion, should be used to drive relevant visitors to your site and not for SEO benefits.

The time taken to craft a well thought out blog comment that could drive traffic may not be worth it.

With that said, blog commenting does have its advantages.

To build links you need to build relationships. And what better way to build a relationship than to comment on a person’s website.

Take a look at the following screenshot:

Well thought out post

On Brian Dean’s SEO strategy post, a user by the name of Chintan left a well thought out comment and Brian responded.

Does this help Chintan’s SEO? No, but it got a reply.

If Chintan, kept posting well thought out comments on Backlinko, there’s a good chance that he would be remembered if he dropped Brian an email asking for a favour.

If I were to use blog comments in an SEO strategy I would use them for building relationships. Don’t use them for SEO purposes.

Automated link building tools

black hat seo tools

By now you should know that link building is hard.

Any tool that spams your website link anywhere isn’t worth your time.

Don’t use automated link building tools in 2019.

It’s the quickest way to get slapped by Google.

Web 2.0 – Don’t spam these

twitter web 2.0
Web 2.0, Set up your account, but don’t spam.

Web 2.0 is the process of building accounts on popular websites such as Youtube, Tumblr, Squido, Twitter, Facebook etc.

All big brand should have accounts on most of these websites, but where I see most SEO’s go wrong is by spamming their links all over them and relying fully on them for their SEO strategy.

This won’t work…

These links are not powerful enough to improve your search engine rankings.

Set up your accounts on the relevant websites, add your profile information and move on.

At best this shows that you’re a real business.

Link building strategies – That work

You have seen how to build bad links, now I’ll discuss how to build white hat backlinks that move the needle!

Get a cup of tea and we can dive into these link building strategies.

Link roundups

I will start with link roundups as these are one of the easiest links to score.

Link roundups are blog posts curated by other web masters in your industry rounding up the best posts of that month/week/day.

For link roundups to work you have to have something worth sharing.

A homepage or service page won’t work. Neither will a product page.

To be considered for a link roundup you will need to create a page that is not over salesy and informative.

An example of a link roundup can be seen on the snapagency blog

ecommerce link roundups

They have curated a blog post on the best articles on Ecommerce SEO.

These roundups can be found in nearly all industries.

If you can’t find one, look in a shoulder industry. Then pitch the owner of that website to consider your content for the next roundup.

In the example above if you managed to get your roundup included on this post you would be getting a highly relevant link from a DA60 website.

link roundups link building

If you wanted to buy a link like this from one of those link sellers mentioned above look how much it would cost: (Swap DA with DR)

backlinks for sale

or

backlinks

With the right content and a single email, you could land a DA60 link worth £360/$500+

Not bad at all.

How can I find link roundups?

All industries have link roundups, unfortunately, they are not always called link roundups, but with a bit of imagination, you should be able to find a few of them.

If I were looking for roundups suitable for this post, I may type the following into the search engines:

  • SEO “best blog posts”
  • SEO “best pieces of content”
  • SEO “best posts this week”
  • SEO “weekly roundup”
  • SEO “best posts this month”
  • SEO “roundup”
  • SEO “round up”
  • SEO “link roundup”

Replace the word SEO with your industry or topic.

Record all the websites you find in Google in an Excel or Google docs file and save.

You can go back to this later to check the metrics on each site to make sure its a website you want to get a link from.

recording roundup opportunities

At a later time, you will also fill in this excel sheet with the blog owners name and email address (more on this later)

This is done so when you reach out you have all the details needed.

Finding roundups on twitter

You can also get creative with hashtags on twitter to find roundups.

Use the search function and type the following:

  • SEO #roundup
  • SEO roundup
  • SEO link roundup
seo link roundup

Things to look out for

Not all roundups are actual roundups.

seo roundups

Some blogs create roundups and link to only blogs on their website. Don’t reach out to these people.

SEO hacker’s roundup for example, is a roundup off all the posts they wrote about that year.

While Lillach Bullock’s SEO roundup links to other websites, this is the type of website you wan’t to reach out to.

Getting the link – Roundup outreach template

With all of the “templates” in this post, they are just a rough guide.

Templates are a starting point. I don’t recomend using them as is, adjust them to your audience.

The software I use for outreach lets me use a template and then edit each email to personalise it to the end user.

With that said you will want to outreach for a roundup post with something like the following:

Subject: Your Roundup

Hey [Person Name],

I came across your blog and noticed you publish roundups on [Your Topic] and I think I got something your audience may like.

[Tell them about your post, keep it brief] It’s a 20,000 in-depth guide on how to build white hat backlinks that increase search rankings and website traffic.

If you’re interested you can see the post here: [link to your post]

Let me know what you think,

Thanks,

[Your Name]

This template does a few things.

Firstly it’s truthful. We’re not telling the person we love their website or we are a massive fan (unless we are, then tell them).

Keep it real.

Blogs get BS’d on the daily, by pretending to be their biggest fan you already put them on the defensive.

If you have never been to their website before don’t lie to them.

You should have done your research by this point so just tell them, the content is a good fit and your audience may like it.

Tell them a little bit about your post and ask them to let you know what they think about it.

This isn’t a pushy email, and the ones that reply letting you know what they think will usually give you a link in their next roundup.

Simple!

Resource pages

Resource page link building is quite similar to a roundup but not as time sensitive.

I’ve had links given to me from 4-year-old posts using this method, whereas getting a link from a weekly roundup in 2016 is going to be a hard sell if you wrote a post in 2019.

resource link building

The above screenshot from Ricochets Science is an example of a good resource page.

It’s a high-quality site, and the resources link to other websites.

Unlike:

Pen State Extension, where the links only go to internal pages.

resource link building

Finding resource pages

Once again nearly every industry will have resource pages. It can take time to find them but the following queries are a good start:

  • SEO “resource pages”
  • SEO “related sites”
  • SEO “helpful links”
  • SEO “best links”
  • SEO “useful links”
  • SEO intitle:resources
  • SEO intitle:links

Getting a resource page link

To outreach for a resource page link you can use something like this:

Subject: Your Resource Page

Hey [Person Name]

I just came across your resource page [page link],

Some great resources on there, thanks for putting them together, I really liked the [one of the resource pages linked to] for [x reason].

I did notice that you didn’t have a resource which talked about [your subject] and was wondering if you would like to read a post I just put together.

It’s a 5,000-word in-depth guide on [subject] and would love to get your thoughts on it.

Let me know if you want me to send it over.

Thanks

[Your Name]

This template is different from what I see many SEO’s do.

Firstly it’s a different point of view on a subject (It doesn’t have to be, but I‘ve found something different usually gets the webmaster to respond) If you don’t have something different change this line to:

I did notice you had a link on [subject] but I’ve put a more in-depth guide together.

Not everyone is going to respond, but the ones that do will usually link to you.

When the webmaster responds follow up with:

Hey [Person Name],

Great, here’s the link [link to your article].

Let me know your thoughts on it.

If you think it’s something your readers would like to know about i’d love it if you could add it to your resource page.

If not, thanks for taking the time to look at it.

Thanks,

[Your Name]

The above template thanks the person for getting back to you, shows them where your content lives, and it tells them you’d love a link back if they think it would be a good fit for the resource page.

Once again it’s not too pushy.

And because you’re asking for an opinion from people who read and write about the topic, they sometimes give you additional feedback that will improve the article.

link resource building email outreach

Great feedback and a good link.

Guest posts

Guest posts are a great way of building backlinks, getting your name out there and driving referral traffic back to your website.

Guest posts although time-consuming, allow you to tap directly into an established websites audience, build brand exposure and forge great relationships with others in your industry.

I must admit, I’ve only done a few guest posts for this blog, one on Millo.co can be seen below:

guest posting link building

As you can see I started this site off with the intention of going into web development, but over the years I’ve slowly transitioned into an SEO consultant.

The beauty of guest posting is it allows you to post on semi-relevant sites in your industry and you still get the link benefit.

Millo generally covers freelancing topics.

I pitched an idea of how to get more clients as a freelancer using SEO and they accepted.

Here’s how you can find guest posts in your industry:

Finding guest post opportunities

guest post link building

You will need to use some of the following search operators to find guest posting opportunities:

  • SEO “Become a Contributor”
  • SEO “Become an Author”
  • SEO “Guest Post Guidelines”
  • SEO “Contribute to our Site”
  • SEO “Submit Article”
  • SEO “Write for Us”
  • SEO inurl:guest-post-guidelines
  • SEO inurl:guest-posts
  • SEO intitle:”write for us”

If you’re finding it difficult to find guest posting opportunities in your industry think of a shoulder industry.

I don’t imagine there are many emergency plumbing blogs out there, so you could look at interior design blogs and DIY blogs.

Guest posting outreach template

If you have put a list of the blogs you would like to write for, I’d recommend contacting these blog owners in batches of 10.

In my experience guest posting has a high response rate and you don’t want to waste an opportunity because you have too many people wanting content from you.

I’d also recommend replying as quickly as possible to these blog owners when they reply to get the ball moving.

guest post email outreach

With that said here’s an outreach template for scoring guest posts.

Subject: Submit a guest post

Hey [Person Name],

I see that you accept guest posts on your website, and i’d like to throw my hat into the ring for consideration.

My Names [Your name] and I’m a [job title] and i’d love to write for your website.

You can see some of my most recent work below:

[Link to blog 1]

[Link to blog 2]

[Link to blog 3]

I have some ideas that I think would work well for your website, let me know if you want me to send them over.

P.S I’m more than happy to promote the finished post to my 3000 twitter followers and email list.

Thanks,

[Your Name]

Most guest post outreach emails start with some BS about how you are a massive fan of their blog and how it’s your life long ambition to write for them.

STOP!

No one believes this crap.

If you messaged me about printing off posts from this blog and putting it on your desk, not only am I going to ignore that email, but I’m also worried that you may try to wear my skin as a coat in the near future.

It comes across as creepy and puts you into the same category as the next image.

View this post on Instagram

I love sushi 🤗🍣

A post shared by @ yourpsychogirlfriend on

I’m not sure who writes these templates but in the real world, they just don’t sound real.

In your time on this planet can you count the number of times you have printed blog posts off and put them on your desk?

Me neither.

Once again, keep it real.

Just tell them that you’d like to write for their blog, and link to your best work which is in that industry.

You get bonus points if these blogs are on other sites, but if this is your first guest post, link to work on your own blog.

I really like the last two lines too.

Firstly you tell the blog owner that you have some good ideas, and if they like the quality of the work you have done in the past, they will ask you for them.

You can then do some research on what works well on that current owner’s site and pitch something similar.

If list type articles are on their blog, pitch them a “17 things you need to know about x” type article.

guest posting list style articles

If tutorials are posted often, pitch them a “how to do x” type article.

By asking the blog owner permission to see your ideas you are saving time on having to do the above for every blog you pitch.

And lastly, “I’m happy to share with my followers” line gives your email more value.

If you don’t have twitter followers or an email list. You can either take this out or offer to promote the post via paid ads on Facebook. (You don’t have to do this, but it does improve your success rate)

Not a writer? Do this.

I find writing difficult.

For this site, I write my own articles.

But for clients, I insist they have someone who can take care of content creation.

If you want to build a scalable link building company you will need someone else to handle the writing.

If a company hires you for link building but don’t have the capacity to write for you, I would suggest hiring a freelance writer from Upwork.

freelance writers for seo

The best thing about freelance websites like this is you can find writers in all different industries.

freelance writers

Good writers are hard to find.

You can expect to pay anything from $50 – $100 for an acceptable article.

You can get some writers for $10 a post, and some writers will charge you $1000+

Before finding a good writer you will go through some terrible ones.

When hiring writers you should do it in batches and give each of them a small task to carry out.

Fire the ones that are terrible and then use the better ones for your work.

Sponsored posts

Once you have done outreach for guest posting you are going to run into the following type of replies:

Bloggers know how valuable a link is and they have started to charge for them.

But remember…

Buying links is a big no-no from Google and sites buying links will get punished.

It’s completly up to you if you want to buy these links, as long as they are not marked sponsored posts and look native you shouldn’t have a problem.

I don’t buy links, I’m a firm believer that Google will catch these sites eventually.

If you are willing to risk it, by all means, use this tactic.

Just be careful and know that it could put your website in a spot of bother one day.

Some bloggers also disguise they are selling links by calling it something else like an editors fee. Check out the following email:

sponsored post link building

Link Reclamation

Over time your website will lose links.

backlink reclamation strategy

Having worked so hard for them in the first place, it’s important to keep an eye on your links and when you lose them try to find out why.

Maybe the page got deleted, maybe it’s moved or the site editor just removed your link.

If the site editor has removed your link you can try and reclaim it.

If the page is deleted there’s not much you can do about it.

Finding lost links

To find lost links and reclaim them you are going to need software like ahrefs or majestic.

I use ahrefs, easily my favourite SEO tool.

You can get a trial of ahrefs for $7, no excuses.

Sign in to your account and click on “site explorer”

ahrefs site explorer

Input the URL of the domain you want to find lost backlinks for, click the search icon and you will see the following:

ahrefs main screen

Click on the lost backlinks option and you will see a calendar which shows you the date you lost a backlink on and how many of them you lost.

losing backlinks ahrefs
Business Insider is losing up to 500 links a day. Wow.

Click on any of the days in which you have lost links and you can see what sites have unlinked you:

unlinked websites ahrefs

Now all you have to do is go through these links and see if the page still exists. If it does send an email over to the website editor.

Subject: Hey [Person Name], Can you help me out?

Hey [Person Name],

It’s [Your Name] from [Your website],

I was recently looking at all the websites that linked to me and saw that you used to link to me on this page [page with your link] but don’t anymore.

I was wondering would you mind putting the link back in, it would really help me and my business out.

I’m happy to re-share your article with my twitter followers.

If not, no worries at all.

Thanks,

[Your Name]

Usually, there’s a reason why your link was taken out, but sometimes it could be removed by accident and a little email is enough to get it back in.

Don’t be taken back if the website editor tells you no, after all, they may have their reasons.

Broken link building

This is probably my favourite of all link building types.

what is broken link building
Finding a dead page and reaching out to others who linked to that page

Broken link building is the process of finding a broken link in your industry and reaching out to everyone that has linked to this broken resource and ask them to link to your content instead.

If you find a page with 300+ linking domains you have found yourself a gold mine of an opportunity.

Broken link building is an amazing link building strategy to add to your arsenal but it takes so much time (but it’s worth it).

Finding Broken Links

For this link building strategy, I will once again be using ahrefs, but you can use other tools like screaming frog and scrapebox.

ahrefs for broken link building
ahrefs for broken link building

Log into ahrefs and go to site explorer (we did this already for the link reclamation tutorial).

Once in this section add in a popular website that’s in your industry.

site explorer for broken link building

You don’t want to think too small for this, small websites hardly ever have links pointing at their content.

You may also want to look outside of your industry to a shoulder industry.

For SEO you could try marketing sites or business websites.

When doing this work for clients you may receive some pushback on the content you have to create for a broken link building campaign as it may not be what they usually write about.

But don’t worry, most blogs are filled with “10 reasons why you must give your money to us” type posts that do nothing for the business.

Type in a domain in your industry on the site explorer and click search.

Next click on “best by links” in the lefthand side menu.

broken link building

On the next screen select the filter by HTTP code and select 404

This may take a while so be patient.

When the results are in you should have something that looks like this:

broken link building guide

Find a post which would be suitable for your industry and click on the referring domains for that post.

If you don’t find any suitable posts or there were no broken links repeat this process with a new website.

If a page has less than 100 referring domains I would move on and try to find a broken page with more referring domains. (Depending on your niche you will have to adjust these numbers. Some industries you may only have 10 links to go after)

Broken link building is a huge resource hog and I usually get a 7% to 10% link acquisition.

For 100 referring domains you may get 10 high-quality backlinks.

Once you have found a post, make sure the sites linking to it are good quality. Otherwise, it will be a waste of time trying to get links from them.

In the referring domains section, click the filter to only show do follow links.

broken link building 2019

You will then see the potential linkers you can get to your content:

Techcrunch, Vice and Avvo all link to a broken page

As you can see from above, TechCrunch DR 92, Vice DR 91 and Avvo DR 90 all link to this page.

If you could create something similar and reach out to these sites you could potentially get some great links.

But how do you create similar content?

Head over to archive.org and input the website address (the broken link) of the content you want to recreate.

executing a link building campaign

You will then see a calendar with dates circled. These circled dates are when archive.org crawled the site. Click on these dates until you see the original post content.

broken link building using archive.org

Sometimes you can’t get to see the original post, but more often than not you will be able to.

All you need to do then is use the original post as inspiration and create a better post. Either add more content, make it look better or add new research.

You can even send a copy of the original post to your writer and tell them to work their magic. Don’t copy the original! but make your post quite similar.

All you need to do now is reach out.

There are a few ways of reaching out for a broken link building campaign.

Brian Dean of Backlinko uses a permission-based approach where he reaches out and asks the site owner if they want to see the broken links he found on their site

When the site owner replies he then hits them up with a pitch telling them about his resource.

While numerous other SEO link builders use a more direct approach, like the following:

Subject: Problem with your website

Hey [Person Name],

I was just reading your post [post title] ([post url]) and saw that you were linking to a dead page, I think it’s been deleted.

The link is halfway down the page, with the title [link anchor] and links to [link url].

If your looking for something to replace this link with I just wrote a similar article which goes into a lot of detail on [subject].

If you’re interested you can see my post here: [link to your post]

If it’s not a good fit, no problem.

Also, I’m happy to share the original article with my twitter followers.

Thanks,

[Your Name]

Some people will ignore your email, some people will fix the link and not link to you and others will give you a link. See some examples below.

This reply made me laugh. They fixed the link but didn’t give a link to my client and were blunt too.

Nice and simple. DR60+ link.

Not only did I get a good link (below) for my client (DR40), but also a new social follower and the start of a relationship.

Broken link building takes up a fair bit of time, but if done right you can score high authoritative links in bulk.

Local bloggers

Local bloggers are great for local SEO clients.

Imagine you have a client in the restaurant business. You could do what every other SEO’r and their dog is doing and build local citations on Yell, Thomson local etc.

Or…

You could get local bloggers to write about the restaurant, its menu or you could even invite them down to the restaurant and review it.

Getting links from local blogs (even better if they’re food blogs) would boost your local rankings in no time at all.

When it comes to local blogs you can also pitch them on a guest post or you can offer to sponsor a post (grey hat).

Remember sponsoring a post can get you in trouble if Google finds out.

Finding Local Blogs

Finding local blogs is easy.

Enter your city name + bloggers.

local link building

Then select a few blogs that look active.

You can also run them through ahrefs to check their metrics.

Go to ahrefs, click on site explorer.

ahrefs site explorer
Enter your local blogger in here and click search

You should be looking at bloggers in the DR20+ range.

local blog link building

Above is a nice DR32 blog that could be worth a pitch.

link building for organic seo

Small DR and no traffic, not worth contacting.

blog link building

This one has a low DR 15, but has a nice amount of traffic.

It could be worth outreaching to this blog if they’re in a related niche as some of that traffic could become customers for you (or your clients).

Pitching local bloggers

With local bloggers, you can either ask them for a guest post which I covered earlier or you can use something like the following (grey hat)

Subject: Sponsoring Your Blog

Hey [Person Name]

My name is [Your Name] and I live/work here in [Your City].

The reason for this email, I’m looking to work with some local bloggers to help me get my business out there and I like the look of your site and was hoping we could work together.

Do you accept any sponsored posts on your blog?

I don’t need anything too obtrusive, a link from one of your old posts to my website would be great.

Let me know either way,

Thanks

[Your Name]

An agency that I subcontract for uses this exact pitch and it works like hell.

Most local bloggers are happy to link to you for a fee.

When they reply that they do accept sponsored posts for X amount…

Never accept the first amount.

Tell them that this is out of your budget but you’d be happy to pay [a price lower than they asked for].

Once again this is grey hat and Google will penalise you if you buy links.

The only reason I mention the above is it works so well and it’s near impossible to detect if you do it.

With that said, I don’t use this strategy for my site or my clients!

Infographics

Infographics can take a dull topic and give it new life.

Take a look at the following:

Infographic: What is Inbound Marketing?

Small bitesize information that keeps the user engaged. Great infographic from www.thewholebraingroup.com

Not only are infographics interesting but they can earn you hundreds of links without being penalised for duplicate content.

With that said, marketers have spammed infographics everywhere.

I have tried pitching infographics a few different ways.

The best success rate I have achieved is when pitching a blog that has posted infographics in the past as they are far more likely to accept them.

Designing an infographic

Not everyone can afford a £3000+ infographic for their marketing campaigns.

And if you suck at design like me, you’re going to need to look elsewhere for help.

Once again we can turn to a freelance website like Upwork or if you have a very small budget you can hire a designer on Fiver.com

infographic design services

Finding blogs that publish infographics

Not everyone likes infographics.

You can find blogs that have posted infographics in the past by using the following search queries:

  • intitle:infographic “SEO”
  • intitle:infographic SEO
  • inurl:infographic “SEO”
  • inurl:infographic SEO

Pitching an infographic

Once you have found a blog that posts infographics, you can reach out to them with something similar:

Subject: Infographic on your website

Hey [Person Name]

I noticed that you post infographics on your website about [subject].

I’ve had one recently made and I’m yet to publish it on my website.

It’s an infographic on [tell them about your infographic, keep this brief]

I’d love to get your thoughts on it and see if it would be something your audience would be interested in seeing.

If not, no worries.

Thank you,

[Your Name]

Research link building

Here’s a tactic that I got from ahrefs.

In certain industries, original research can attract a thousands of links.

If you’re in the position to be able to create one of these studies you can reach out to other sites who have talked about similar studies which are now outdated.

You can use the handy content explorer on ahrefs for this:

research link building

The study above conducted in 2014 has generated over 396 referring domains. And in the space of 5 years, you can bet the data in this post is out of date.

If you wanted to you could research all of the points in this post, create a new post and reach out to these referring domains.

Subject: Outdated post

Hey [Person Name]

I just read your post on [post topic & URL] and I saw you were linking out to [old data study].

I can see why you linked to it, it’s a great resource, but it was written in 2014 and is a little out of date.

I’ve just recently published a new study on [topic] and I’m just reaching out to a few people in our industry to have a look at it.

If you’re interested you can see it here [your link]

No worries if you’re not, but I’d love to know what you think.

Thanks,

[Your Name]

HARO Link Building

help a reporter out link building

HARO or Help A Reporter Out is a service where reporters ask a question and you provide them with an in-depth answer.

If the reporter likes your answer and uses it you usually end up with a juicy link from an authoritative website.

Sounds simple.

But it’s highly competitive and you can write the most thorough answer and you still won’t get picked.

Which is a massive waste of time!

But…

When these links come off you could end up with links from inc.com, Forbes, BusinessInsider etc.

If you want to learn more about Haro link building check out this post

Stolen Images link building

One of the easiest ways to get a link back to your website is when someone steals something from you.

In this case, it’s when someone steals an image from your blog or website.

Now you could go and sue them or you could use this as an opportunity to build a relationship with the blogger and get a link.

I guess it all depends on if the stolen image causes you a financial loss. In most cases getting a link back is more than sufficient.

Finding stolen images

Firstly go to Google images.

stolen image link building

Next, find the image you want to search for and drag it onto the search bar.

stolen images link building

Google will then list out all of the websites that are using your image. Go through them and see if they have attributed the image to you.

If they haven’t, add them to a list to contact later.

stolen images link building technique

Reaching out to the image bandits

These people already owe you, so be firm but fair when reaching out.

Subject: My Image

Hi There, (You Don’t need to find their name for this one)

I noticed you are using my image on your website [Website url], I’m happy for you to use this image if you attribute it back to my website [your url].

Thanks for your time,

[Your Name]

Then give it a day or two and check back.

Either you have an image attribution or you don’t.

If the owner ignores you, follow up reiterating that you’re happy for them to use the image with attribution, but if they’re not happy to do that then they need to remove your image or you will be seeking legal action.

Usually, this is enough to either get a link or stop the person from stealing from you.

Scholarship link building

Scholarship link building I feel has been abused so much over the last few years.

But, it still works.

scholarship link building
A look at Oxford Universities scholarship page

Most SEO consultants seem to believe that links from universities and colleges are worth more than a link from normal sites. I disagree.

Schools generally have good domain ratings and are hard to get links from.

If they give more power or not, scholarship link building can return brilliant results.

But, it can be costly! (at least £1000)

What you need to do

To set up a scholarship link building campaign you are going to need to set up a page on your website explaining:

  • What the scholarship is.
  • Terms and conditions.
  • Deadlines.
  • Scholarship amount.
  • The requirements on how to enter.

Take a look at lloyds Scholars for a general idea.

scholarship link building, an overused tactic?

Your page doesn’t need to look this good, but it should cover the basics above.

When creating a scholarship page you should think of what you want to achieve from it (except for links).

If your business is in the marketing industry you could ask the entrants to put together a 500-word essay on what business they would start for £10,000 and how would they market it.

You can then take all these entries and use them for content on your blog.

You could also share some of these entries on social media to build brand exposure.

Finding scholarship pages

Once you have your scholarship page ready you are going to need to find universities/colleges that have a dedicated scholarship page.

scholarship link building

To find these pages use to following search queries:

  • scholarship inurl:ac.uk (For UK readers)
  • scholarship inurl:.edu (For USA readers)
scholarship link building usa.

Go through each page and see if they link to other smaller companies and have a similar budget to yours.

When you have recorded all of these link opportunities start reaching out.

Subject: Scholarship Opportunity

Good Morning [Person Name],

My name is [your name] and I’m contacting you about the scholarship opportunity I have here at [My company]

My scholarship programme is for £1000 and is open to everyone studying [Subject], it can be used for the cost of living, books or electronics.

You can see more information here: [your URL]

I hope that you can add us to your scholarship page on your website and let your students know about our offer as I would love to give back to the community.

Once again the application page is here [your url]

Thanks

[Your Name]

After the scholarship link is live you will start to receive submissions.

Make sure you store these applications and go through them judging them on the best content submitted.

When you do pick a winner for your scholarship, be sure to take photos, announce it on social media and even contact local news outlets to see if they would be interested in running a story on your scholarship.

With the right offer, I have seen clients build over 200 high domain authority links using this method.

Education discount link building

I love this link building tactic.

Education discounts are great for e-commerce SEO.

education link building
Get links to your discount page and share the equity to your product pages

You could use this for a local business but it’s going to be hard to convince a university in London to link to a website based in Scotland just because you are offering them a discount.

I could be wrong, but i’ve only used this for my e-commerce clients.

The strategy

First set up a simple page on your website with a discount code and make sure to have links to your products or category pages on there.

staff discounts link building
A current discount page on a university website.

You want to do this so you pass the link equity from this discount page to your products or services, making them rank better in the process.

Once you have all of the above set up we can move on to finding the universities/colleges.

Use the following search operators to find universities with discount pages:

  • discounts inurl:ac.uk
  • coupons inurl:.edu

Go through the list of schools that have these pages, make sure they accept similar websites to yours and pitch them:

Subject: Discount for members of staff

Hey [Person Name]

I notice that you have a discount section on your website for your staff.

My name is [your name] and I own [your company]. The reason why I’m emailing you is I’d like to offer your team a discount on my products too.

My company sells [your product]. If you think it’s something your staff would be interested in you can get the discount code and more details from here: [your discount url]

It would be great if you could add the above link to your discount page[their website url] so that everyone’s aware of the savings they could have.

Thanks for your time,

[your name]

Education discount link building results

Here are the type of replies you should see:

education link building

Nice and simple, DR 85 link, and a DR80 below.

Boom!

dr80 link

Link building with free tools

If you have a budget to build a tool for your industry there’s a good chance you could hit a gold mine of links.

Tools you could create:

  • Mortgage calculators
  • Life insurance calculator
  • Weight loss counter
  • Celebrity comparison tool

You don’t even have to make something new.

Find a tool that sucks and has backlinks, make a better one and reach out to those who linked to the old tool.

A pretty simple strategy for building links, but it works.

Look at these tools and the links they have attracted.

free tool link building

The mortgage calculator above has gathered 1330 backlinks from 203 referring domains. Total traffic value per month is a shocking $232k.

making tools to attract backlinks

Another calculator, this one 551 backlinks from 220 referring domains. Total traffic value per month of $100k.

backlinks from free tools

Yep, another mortgage calculator.

This one only has 66 backlinks from 57 domains but has an estimated traffic value per month of $12,000.

And it’s not only mortgage calculators that do well.

Look at this page, it compares your salary against Kim Kardashian’s.

Check it out if you want to be incredibly envious.

kim kardashian salary tool

Not only is this fun and ties into what the website sells, but it also attracted a nice amount of links.

backlink checker ahrefs

226 backlinks form 105 referring domains.

The traffic levels are low for this page, but it doesn’t matter as this page passes all of that link equity to their other pages and they rank for many high volume keywords.

Reaching out and building links

If you build a tool that is better than what exists, chances are you will be able to get a good amount of links to it.

Outreach with an email like this:

Subject: Question about [post name]

Hey [Person Name],

I just read your post on [post name] at [post url] and I saw you were linking to [competing tool].

I think it’s a great calculator and I can see why you linked to it but I find it [hard to use, slow etc].

So I decided to build my own, you can see it here [your url], I’d love to get your feedback on it, and feel free to link to it if you like it.

Thanks,

[Your Name]

“A little birdie told me” method

I believe a good link building campaign should build a diverse range of links that are do follow, no follow, contextual and everything else in between.

This method I like to call “a little birdie told me” does exactly that.

For this to work you can either use Buzzsumo or ahref’s content explorer. If you can’t already tell I’m a massive fan of ahrefs, so I will be using that.

ahrefs content explorer for the little birdie told me method

Load up content explorer, type in a keyword that is related to the posts on your website or your clients.

In this example, I will use link building.

ahrefs then pulls up the most shared content for your keyword.

In the “a little birdie told me” method we want to find the most shared posts on Twitter.

Click the sorted by filter and select twitter shares.

content explorer ahrefs

The top shared posts are now at the top.

Some of these are false positives though and are website homepages.

Ignore those and find content that is similar to the piece you want to promote.

finding content on ahrefs

For this post I will use the above as an example, it’s not an exact match to this link building guide but for the sake of it let’s pretend.

The article above has over 5.8k retweets. Perfect.

Click on the “Who tweeted” button.

You will be shown everyone who has shared this post with their audience.

Now here’s where you can adjust the “A little birdie told me” method to your needs.

If you’re in an obscure industry it’s very likely you won’t be able to find posts with over 5k shares.

But as we are in the marketing industry we can filter this down.

filtering results ahrefs

Select the date range you want to filter by.

I think anything within a year is fair game.

Click apply.

You should then be left with a list that is interested in sharing the type of content that you create.

finding twitter sharers

The next part is painstaking.

Create a new excel spreadsheet, with the following headers:

  • Old Content Link
  • Account Name
  • Email Address
  • New content

The old content is going to be the link to the old article they shared.

The new content is going to be your content piece that you want to share with them.

The account name is their twitter @ name.

And we are going to manually find their email address and record it here.

using twitter for link building

Go to each user profile and see if they have an email address listed. If they don’t they will usually leave a link to their website.

Once you’re on that user’s website check out their contact page, the website footer or the about me page for an email address.

If you find one record it, if not, don’t worry I will show you a method in the “tools to make your outreach easier” section in a little bit.

Repeat this method until you have a list of influencers that you can contact and hit them up with a pitch:

Subject: What do you think of this post?

Hey [Person Name],

I just came across your twitter account and saw you share content like [old post], I wanted to reach out to you to see if you’d be interested in reading a more up to date post on [subject]

I just finished a 15,000-word ultimate guide on link building and would love to get your thoughts on it.

You can see the post here: [Your URL]

If you think your followers would like to read it a share would really help me out.

But no pressure,

Thanks

[Your Name]

P.S I’d be happy to share one of your posts with my own followers and email list.

Unlinked branded mentions link building

This strategy won’t work for everyone.

Weeare.co.uk is my own personal business website, and although I rank for some good keywords in my industry i’m not a big brand.

People are not writing about me or this website.

But if you have a client or you’re a relatively well known brand, you can use this method to a great effect.

So what is this link building strategy?

People will write about you or your brand on their website but not link to you.

It’s your job to find these people and then reach out to them and ask them to link to you.

To do this, load up ahrefs, click content explorer and type in your brand name. I will use Moz for this example

unliked brand mentions

This shows over 250,000 branded mentions.

The only problem, we have no idea if these websites are linking to Moz.

Over in the righthand side first, click the one article per domain.

one article per domain ahrefs

This cuts the results down to 57k, better, but we still have work to do.

Next, click on the filter “highlight unlinked domains” and type in your domain name.

This will then highlight any domains that don’t link to you.

unlinked mentions link building strategy

Rather than going through each post individually searching for highlighted domains you can export the domain names to a spreadsheet ready for your outreach process.

exporting linking domains via ahrefs

Go through these websites and filter out any that don’t meet your standards.

You’re now ready to outreach.

Subject: Thank you for the shoutout

Hey [Person Name],

Just came across your article [article where you are mentioned] and wanted to say thank you for mentioning me.

I noticed that you didn’t link to my website and I was wondering if you would be able to, this would help me get my name out there.

I’m a small business owner like yourself and it really would help me out in growing my business.

If not no worries, I do appreciate the shout out in the first place.

P.S If there’s anything I can do to help your website please let me know.

Thanks

[Your Name]

The infamous skyscraper technique

I left the skyscraper technique to last as it’s one of the most known link building techniques.

If you haven’t heard of the skyscraper technique here’s what it is:

The skyscraper technique involves finding a piece of content in your industry that ranks well and then creating a better version of it.

You can create a better version of content by:

  • Making the content more in-depth.
  • Having a better user experience.
  • Creating content in a different medium.
  • Having updated statistics.

When you have your new piece of content you outreach to the others in your industry who linked to the old content piece and make them aware of the new content.

Finding content to skyscrape

This is by far the hardest part of this technique.

Finding content to make better is easy, but finding content that has a good amount of links is hard.

Once again, we will use ahrefs content explorer to find content with a good number of links that we can improve on.

Go to ahrefs, use content explorer and type in a seed keyword that you would like to rank for (but more importantly get some quality backlinks)

In this example, I have used the seed keyword “wedding planning”.

Which gives us over 200,000 articles.

Let’s narrow that down.

skyscraper link building

Use the referring filter to find articles with over 70 domains (adjust this for your industry)

In the wedding niche it’s easy to find content with a lot of referring domains. If you’re in the plumbing or legal niche this may be more difficult.

Next, scan the results and look for low-quality articles with good links.

skyscraper technique

The above article has over 104 referring domains and generates 29k visitors a month. The article has only 759 words and looking into the article the information is basic and reads like a massive wall of text.

To skyscraper this article I would add more content, flesh it out more and avoid huge walls of text.

I’d also break up the content with more images, headlines, quotes and lists.

Skyscraper link building outreach

With your new content piece ready, find all the linking domains above and reach out to them.

skyscraper technique link building

You can use something like the following:

Subject: Great Article

Hey [Person Name],

Just finished reading your article on [topic] ([url to article]), and noticed that you linked to the knots article “what to wear to a wedding” ([the url to the page]).

It’s a great article, it made me want to write my own version.

So I did.

I’ve made a more up to date and more in-depth version, you can see it here if you are interested: [your article url].

Feel free to reference it if you like, if not no worries.

Thanks,

[your name]

Skyscraper content takes a lot of time to make and outreach takes longer, but it’s a great way of building links.

Anyone looking to execute a link building strategy should look to see if they have the content already to outreach to other websites, if you don’t get a writer to help you to create one.

Link building outreach tools & tips

White hat link building is hard and time-consuming.

Here are the tools I use to make the process easier and quicker.

Voila Norbert

How do you find these websites email addresses when they’re not listed on the website?

Enter Voila Norbert

voila norbert for link building

Voila Norbert is easy to use.

Sign up for an account, enter the person’s name who you are trying to contact and the domain name.

Click “go ahead, Norbert.”

Wait a few seconds…

Norbert will then show you any matches it has found with the percentage of the address being found is correct.

I think it’s a great tool and it’s not too expensive either.

If you’re just starting out link building, you can sign up for a free plan which gives you 50 requests.

As you grow your SEO agency you can then upgrade to the paid plans. Which can be seen below.

tools to find email addresses

1,000 leads or the valet plan is more than enough for 5-10 SEO clients.

If Norbert can’t find an email address I use a second tool named Hunter.io

Hunter.io

Hunter.io is another excellent tool for finding email addresses.

I use both Norbert and Hunter when prospecting and don’t have a preference to which as they both do an excellent job.

email prospecting with hunter

With Hunter, sign up for an account and then enter the domain you want to find an email address for.

In the example above I entered my own domain name and within seconds it spits out my email address.

Perfect.

Hunter.io is once again priced competitively.

Their free price plan starts off with 100 requests. After that, you are going to need to upgrade your account. You can see Hunters pricing below.

hinter.io email prospecting tool price plans

Finding email addresses manually

In every link building campaign, you are going to come across sites that the above tools can’t find email addresses for.

When that happens you will need to manually find the email address.

This slows the entire process down, but there’s nothing we can do about it.

Firstly, go to the site you want a link from and look on their contact page.

I’ll use my site in this case, I don’t want to anger other webmasters by putting their emails here.

avoid contact form swith email outreach

As you can see, there’s no email listed here.

We could use the contact form, but you will usually be sending your message to a non-decision maker or a general email box, not good for our link acquisition rate!

Next, have a look for an about page.

Most webmasters or bloggers will have their email addresses on their about page (not me, I don’t have one).

My next step is to look at the website footer for terms and conditions or privacy page, usually this is found in the footer.

Sure enough…

finding email addresses manually

Email address found!

This won’t work all the time, but sometimes it does.

Finding email addresses on social media

Still can’t find that pesky email address?

Don’t worry it’s out there somewhere.

Probably on their social media channels.

Load up the person’s website and open all of their social media channels in a new window.

Now scroll through and look for that email address.

Within seconds you have the decision makers email address.

Instagram seems to be the best source for this technique, not sure why but every blogger seems to list their email address on it.

Email outreach software

If you want to do link building that scales you will need to use outreach software at some point.

Although you shouldn’t be sending the same robotic templates out to everyone, A template is a good place to start.

For best results, modify the template to each person you outreach to.

The software I use for sending emails is Mailshake

mailshake email outreach

Mailshake saves hours of time for every one of my clients.

I 100% recommend it if you’re looking to build white hat links in a scalable fashion.

Mailshake Pricing

Mailshake offers two pricing packages per user.

You are also going to need to pay for one user per client. 10 clients = 10 users, etc.

Mailshake tutorial

Mailshake is easy to use.

But if you need a little help use this tutorial below:

Canned Responses for Gmail

If you haven’t got the budget to pay for Mailshake, canned responses is a good alternative.

It takes more time to do, and the process is manual but it still works well.

Heres how to set up canned responses in Gmail.

First, log into your Gmail account, click the cog icon and then settings.

set up canned responses in gmail

Click the advanced tab.

canned responses tutorial

Enable canned responses.

enable canned responses in gmail

Make sure to save your new settings at the bottom of the page.

gmail canned

Next, create a new email. Copy the text from one of the templates above. Along with the subject line. If you have an email signature delete it for this part (it will pull through later).

You should see three dots next to the bin/trash icon.

Click the three dots and go to canned responses > new canned response.

setting up a new canned response

Save a name for this template.

If it was the email template for skyscraper name it skyscraper. If it’s an email for a guest post name it guest post and so on.

canned response template set up

To send an email all you have to do is now click those three dots, go to canned responses and under insert, click on the template you just created.

The final step is to replace the content in the brackets with your content.

How to link – Anchor text ratios

If we go back 10 years, Google used to heavily rely on anchor text in a link to determine what a page was about.

anchor text ratios

If you wanted to rank for the best web designer in London, you could have spammed various forums, blogs and websites with the same anchor text “web designer London” and more often than not you would rank.

But like everything black hat, Google caught on.

SEO’s now try to mix anchor text ratios so that their link building looks more natural.

But honestly…

White hat link building often leaves the anchor text out of your control, most of the time you only get to choose your own anchor text when you guest post.

The following anchor texts are a guide to what types of links can be built.

Exact match link

An exact match anchor as discussed above is the keyword you want to rank for in a link back to your website.

For example:

exact match anchor text

Out of all the link types, this is the one you don’t want to over optimise and use too much, otherwise, you could face a penalty from Google.

Natural link

In my experience, these are the most common link types gained when doing white hat link building.

A natural link means that your anchor contains none of the keywords you are trying to rank for.

An example can be seen below:

natural backlink profile

Title backlinks

Title links are usually acquired when you land link roundups or when someone references your post as further reading material.

Title backlinks use the title you created for your post.

For this post, a title backlink would look like the following:

title backlinks

Naked URL

A naked URL link type is an anchor that doesn’t contain any keywords but just a naked link, this can be seen below:

maked url anchor text

Keyword + Words

A keyword + other words anchor is the keyword you are trying to rank for plus additional words.

This is a great way of building links with your keywords in without it looking spammy.

If you are trying to rank for SEO London, for example, you would use something like the following:

seo agency

Best and agency are additional keywords surrounding your main keyword you want to rank for.

Branded backlinks

These should be your meat and potatoes of your backlink strategy.

For the American readers:

“These should be the foundation of your backlink strategy

There’s no doubt that Google favours big brands in the search.

Often these big brands have no links to their inner pages and the on-page SEO is ok at best.

So why do they rank?

Because they are a brand, and Google trusts big brands.

In my opinion, your ultimate goal should be to build a brand with your search engine marketing campaigns.

Rand Fishkin of Moz said something similar (Sorry Rand, couldn’t find your exact quote after I read it) to:

“Create a brand so good that branded search volume is higher than all non-branded search volume combined”

Rand Fishkin of Moz (Paraphrased)

To build branded anchor links use the name of your business:

branded anchor text backlinks

Branded + Keyword

Branded links with your keywords are another great way of linking to your website without looking spammy.

If I wanted to link to this article with a branded + keyword anchor I would use the following:

branded + keyword anchor text

Other anchor text types

There are many other ways people will link to your website including:

  • Via images.
  • With no text.
  • With random words from your article.
  • With statistics from your article.

and much more.

What I would say is don’t get too hung up on the above.

As long as your building links naturally you won’t have a problem with your anchor text ratios being too high.

Link building guide conclusion

Link building is hard.

Most small businesses won’t invest the amount of time or money to carry out these link building strategies either.

link building harder than a rubiks cube
Is link building harder than a Rubik’s cube? More than likely.

When you see other SEO agencies doing link building for less than £500/$500 a month you know they are not doing any of the white hat strategies listed above and they are using some shitty PBN service.

That’s a bad thing for their clients, but for you as a SEO consultant it means you’re ahead of the pack.

Competing against other SEO consultants and agencies charging $99 or (£99) a month for SEO will also be difficult.

Don’t let this put you off.

If you implement the above link building strategies for your clients and charge a fair price they will be over the moon with the results you get them.

But I won’t lie to you…

Sometimes you will fail.

failed link building strategy
10 hours work for 1 backlink. Ouch!

You may create a link building campaign and spend days on content and outreach and receive less than a handful of links.

Other times you will score 30+ links for similar content.

successful link building campaign
69 Referring domains, estimated traffic increase of 402.

Not all of the above strategies will work for every client, if one doesn’t work don’t get discouraged. Try another.

All of this is part of the link building game.

If this article has helped you, please feel free to give it a share by using the social sharing buttons on this post.

If you have any questions about link building or SEO drop me an email.

Thanks for reading.
Ricky.

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