Search engine optimization is getting more difficult each year – with Google algorithm changes becoming more adept at spotting poorly-written content and competition levels rising in most industries, getting your website ranked requires an innovative strategy that’s based on solid principles.
Sure, on-site optimization still matters – you need to have the current version of WordPress or use a universal website builder if you don’t want to use WordPress. And today, it’s more important than ever to have a mobile-friendly site because otherwise, Google will simply ignore you.
But even with all of that, without off-site SEO you don’t have many chances to rank.
That’s why an integral part of getting your website ranked on the search engines is obtaining backlinks. Without other websites linking back to your content, Google will not consider your site worthy of ranking, no matter how well-optimized it may be or how awesome your content is.
Backlinks help to build your domain and page authorities, which are crucial factors when it comes to search rankings.
But Why Are Backlinks So Important for SEO?
Well, it all boils down to how the web functions.
Google and other search engines know that useful, high-quality content gets shared online – people post it on their social media feeds, bloggers link to it on their websites, and authority sites link to them as useful resources on a particular subject.
So, when an article or a blog post gets linked back to from multiple prominent sources, that sends a signal to Google that the page is a valuable resource on the subject and should be displayed in the search results.
But does that mean that all links are equally valuable?
Well, not quite.
In fact, Google has a sophisticated algorithm in place that uses multiple metrics to measure a website’s authority and relevance, which help it to determine if a backlink from that site is trustworthy or not.
So What Makes a Quality Backlink?
There are a few key factors that Google takes into account when deciding on how important a backlink is.
If you try to generate backlinks by using spammy or low-quality methods, Google could penalize your website and decrease your rankings, so it’s essential to choose the sites you want to target carefully.
Obviously, link building is not an exact science – you can’t precisely measure the impact that a backlink will have on your rankings. But it is possible to use a few guidelines to make educated guesses of which backlinks will have an effect and will appear as organic search engine optimization instead of spamming.
Here are the three main factors to consider:
As mentioned before, Google measures a website’s quality to determine if the backlink is meaningful.
That means that if you get a backlink from a low-profile site, it will probably not have any effect. And if you get hundreds of these kinds of links in a short time, Google is likely to penalize you for spammy SEO practices.
A quality website is a website that’s established, has authority in its field, and is itself ranked high on Google.
If such a website links back to you, that tells Google that your site must be pretty good as well. You can think of it as an endorsement from a trustworthy source versus from someone who is completely unknown.
When a website generates backlinks organically, it usually happens on multiple levels at once – people share the content on social media, blogs link to it in their posts, and authority sites link to it as a resource.
If one of these is missing, or if one of them is disproportionally high in numbers, that also signals Google that the backlinks might not be organic and shouldn’t be trusted.
Finally, you need to make sure that your backlinks are relevant. Just because a website is high authority, doesn’t mean that the backlink is necessary valuable.
For instance, if you’re selling healthy snacks and you get a backlink from a car dealership website, it won’t be relevant to your niche and Google will not consider it a valuable backlink.
It might even trigger an alert in the algorithm and worsen your rankings in the process.
How to Build Effective Backlinks?
It’s obvious that quality backlinks can be immensely useful in getting a website ranked on Google and other search engines.
But when going against competition with dozens if not hundreds of backlinks, it can seem all but impossible to keep up.
Luckily, building backlinks isn’t some magical or super technical process that only the chosen “SEO gurus” can do.
In fact, if you know a few practical strategies, even a complete novice can start to quickly accumulate high quality and relevant backlinks that Google absolutely loves.
Want to learn how?
Then read on below, and we’ll explore fifteen of the most effective advanced link building techniques that will be an integral part of SEO for years to come.
1. Broken-Link Link Building Method
As a marketer, I love broken links on other blogs. Why?
Well, for me, they are the perfect opportunity to score an easy, but incredibly valuable backlink.
The method is unbelievably simple, and yet it works like a charm every single time. Here’s how it goes:
You go out and find relevant websites and blog posts that relate to your niche. Then you find outbound links that are broken and send a friendly email informing the blogger of what’s happened.
What’s more, you even offer up new, working links that contain similar information that’s relevant to the blog post.
And, in the process, you can recommend your own useful links in place of the broken ones, meaning you get a free backlink while at the same time doing a favor for the webmaster.
Why does this work so well?
Well, as I mentioned, this method involves you doing a favor to the webmaster, free of charge. No one wants broken links on their websites – they’re bad for the user experience, and search engines hate them as well.
Once you send an email outlining the exact links that are broken and include suggestions of what links to use to replace them, you’re doing all the hard work for the webmaster, so he will be grateful for your effort.
And, in return, he’s much more likely to return the favor by opting for your links to replace the old ones.
But how to find websites that have broken links?
Well, the process is surprisingly simple. Just go on Google and type in your keyword + links, your keyword + resources, or keywords inurl:links.
So, for example, if I had a dog training website, I would type in something like dog training + resources. This should provide me with a nice list of sites that have resources pages.
But how to know which links are broken?
Well, luckily, you don’t need to check each one manually. Instead, you can use a Google Chrome plugin called Check My Links. It can instantly show you all broken 404 links from any given page.
After you identify the broken links, simply reach out to the webmaster, inform him about the broken links, and offer a few links to replace them. This won’t always work, but more often than not, the webmaster will be grateful and willing to include a link that you provide.
2. Discover Common Backlinks of Your Competitors
An easy yet very effective way to gather the most important backlinks for the target keywords is by doing a thorough competitor analysis – you should identify the common backlinks that are shared by a few of your competitors and try to get them as well.
If they are used by multiple websites that rank well for the target keywords, this probably means that the backlink is important in the eyes of the search engines.
And since your competitors managed to get a backlink from those sites, there’s no reason why you couldn’t do it too, right?
By performing a competitor backlink analysis, you can identify the backlinks that helped your competitors reach the top page of Google search rankings and try to get as many of them as possible.
While this strategy alone may not be enough to get you to the top of the rankings, it works great when you combine it with other link building strategies on this list.
3. Utilize the Skyscraper Technique
The Skyscraper Technique is a complete system for turning content into high-quality backlinks created by Backlinko’s Brian Dean.
While it may not be the easiest way to earn a backlink, if done correctly, the Skyscraper Technique could become the most powerful tool for obtaining the very best backlinks in your niche.
How does it work?
Well, the basic process is actually pretty simple. First, you find the very best content on a topic you want to cover (or as Brian Dean calls it, the tallest buildings in the city). Then, you analyze it and create an article that’s even better than the ones you analyzed.
After you’ve got your premium-quality piece of content, you simply find people who have been linking to other articles about the topic and offer to link to your article instead, because it is, after all, the best one available.
Since people want to link to quality content, if you do your job right, you should earn a significant amount of backlinks that can provide you a huge rankings boost.
4. Build Authority Links by Creating Different Types of Content
The way we consume information is rapidly changing – right now, video is on the rise, as more and more people prefer to digest their information through engaging media rather than reading.
According to a study by Cisco, by 2020, 80% of all consumer internet traffic will be videos. This clearly shows that people love videos and the majority of online users prefer them to written content.
And that can be a golden opportunity for you to earn links that offer massive value.
You see, even today, a lot of the top content in any given niche is still in a written form, either as an article as a guide.
No matter how informative it may be, some people just don’t like reading huge articles and would rather digest that info in another way. And many websites are losing customers because of it.
That’s where you can come in.
If you can find high-ranking authority sites that publish in-depth guides and how-to articles in your field, you can then convert that content into a different format and offer it to the website owner free of charge.
This way, you offer them something of value, and they will likely be more than willing to include a link back to your site because the video will help make their content easier to digest.
For example, if you sell makeup online, you could create a video about how to select the right lipstick shade, and then offer it for free to webmasters who have “ultimate guides” on the subject and are ranking high on Google.
Since the video can be a very valuable asset and webmasters know this, more often than not, you will get a backlink out of it.
5. Blog Post Commenting
Blog post commenting is one of the oldest and most used link building methods out there. But while many people downplay its significant saying that blog posting is obsolete, it can still work as a complementary tactic for your overall link building strategy, if you do it productively.
The method itself is quite straightforward. You go out and find the most popular blogs in your niche and look for blog posts that generate a discussion.
Then you contribute in a valuable way and add a link to your site that fits in with your comment and is relevant to the overall topic.
This way, you’re not just spamming the comments section and annoying the webmasters, but instead, you’re adding value by sharing your insights and positioning your link as a valuable resource and not just spam.
6. Make the Most of Your Visual Assets
If you create a lot of visual content such as infographics and charts, you can utilize it to build backlinks without any effort.
Usually, informative and useful visuals get shared around the web – websites re-post infographics or charts and use it to enhance their own content.
The problem is, not all of them link back to the creator of the content.
To combat this, use the Google Reverse Image Search to find websites that are using your visuals without linking back to you.
Then just contact the owner and request ask to either link back to your site or remove the visual. More often than not, they will gladly comply, and you can quickly add multiple backlinks to your portfolio.
7. Create List-Based Content
People love actionable, list-based content that they can apply immediately. A very extensive study by Moz analyzed more than a million pieces of content and found that those that list-based articles tend to get more shares.
And when looking to build links, every share is a valuable asset that you cannot ignore.
Any post that offers a numbered list of things to do or tips is much more likely to be shared because people enjoy bits and pieces of insights that they can use.
Articles like “7 Ways to Do X” will often outperform almost any other type of content because it offers a lot of information, so almost anyone interested in the topic can get at least one or two useful bits of information.
Obviously, you should know how to use keywords in your content to attract the right visitors and rank for the keywords that matter.
8. Quora Linking
SEO experts often debate the effectiveness of using Quora for building links. But even though the links are nofollow, they can still be valuable if used together with other SEO strategies.
And since posting your link together with a useful answer on Quora is so easy, it’s definitely worth the effort to get a few links pointing back to your site.
Quora makes it very simple to reference sources when writing your answers so you can quickly link back to sites with useful info, including your own.
What‘s more, linking on Quora can provide you with referral traffic as well and even serve as a lead generation tool. People will come to your site directly from Quora, or they may even use your link as a resource on their own content.
9. Build Secondary Links
Typically, link building mostly involves linking to your money site, or the page that you want to rank in the search engine ranking pages, by using anchor text with the desired keywords.
But that’s not the only way you can use backlinks.
You can also create backlinks for your secondary pages that link to your primary pages, creating a more organic and natural appearance that will reduce the chances of your website getting penalized for spammy backlinking practices.
This not only makes your original backlinks seem more authentic but also gives them more “backlink juice” so that the backlink becomes more powerful in the eyes of the search engines.
Some SEO guys use spammy, low-quality links for their second-tier backlinks because it poses less risk, but in my opinion, it’s best to build secondary backlinks organically as well to minimize the chances of your website being penalized.
10. Publish Interviews
Few bloggers utilize the power of interviews. But those that do can reap incredible results and gain even the most difficult backlinks that quickly propel their site to the top of the rankings.
Interviews with the best minds in your industry will always attract a high number of readers because they usually produce unique content and insights that are not available anywhere else.
And the best part is, even high-profile people in any given niche are usually more than willing to give interviews because it provides them with additional exposure.
And you get a high-profile figure to share their insights and also share a link to the interview with their followers.
A sneaky way to build massive-value backlinks from .gov or .edu websites (which Google loves) is to offer to interview people from organizations that use these types of domains.
Normally, it would be all but impossible to obtain a backlink from these sites, but if you appeal to the ego the person who you’re approaching and offer to interview them, they might be more than happy to post a short description about the interview and link back to your site.
11. Use Sponsored Backlinks
Sponsored posts are a great way to generate quality backlinks to your site. Although they do cost money, sponsored backlinks can help you shorten the time it takes to rank, even for more competitive keywords, as your competitors might not be willing to fork up the cash to get published on many of those sites.
But just because it’s sponsored doesn’t mean it has to be very expensive.
In fact, if you know where to look, the investment can be small compared to the result that it helps you achieve.
One method that’s often overlooked is utilizing donations to get valuable backlinks. Non-profit organizations are always looking for sponsors for their projects and usually have a donation page, so if you donate, you could not only contribute to a worthy cause but get a backlink out of it in the process.
For example, if you’re selling animal products, you could donate to your local (or not local) animal shelters. They would be more than happy to post a short article or social media post about your donation with a link to your website.
If you want to go with a more traditional route, you can just find prominent websites in your niche that accept sponsored content and get a backlink that way.
12. Write Testimonials
When thinking of ways to build backlinks, testimonials are not the first thing that comes to mind.
But today, when testimonials are becoming much more personal and branded, they are quickly becoming a great way to earn a valuable backlink.
How does it work?
Well, we all use all kinds of products and online tools, right? So all you have to do is compile a list of all the products that you use and like, and then contact their websites, offering your testimonial in exchange for a link underneath it.
The image above is from a conversion optimization website and is an excellent example of a testimonial with a backlink.
The best part of this strategy is that the website owners will usually be more than willing to include your link because it adds credibility to your testimonial.
You can be straightforward and send out an SEO proposal – since the best testimonials are those with real people, using real pictures, and real, verifiable links, adding the backlink benefits both of you.
13. Get Interviewed
We already talked about the benefits of interviewing someone, but it works the other way as well – you can get interviewed by others as well and generate great backlinks.
And the benefits of getting interviewed go far beyond just backlinks – you also get to increase your exposure to the point where people will actively seek you out for interviews because you will be perceived as the authority in your niche.
When starting out, you might need to look for people who’d like to interview you, but that shouldn’t be a problem either – interviews are a great form of content, so bloggers and podcasters are always looking for people who can offer fresh perspectives on a subject.
14. Ask Your Readers for Backlinks
Online bloggers and webmasters are very afraid to ruin the relationship with their readers, so they’ll sometimes go out of their way to avoid asking for any favors.
But the truth is, people love to share stuff that they find valuable, especially if they’re reminded to do so.
Never be afraid to directly ask people to share your post on social media or even on their sites – if your content is valuable, they will likely be more than willing to help you out.
15. Turn Mentions into Backlinks
If you’re good at what you do and produce quality content, chances are that sooner or later you and your company will become known in your industry.
And when that happens, you will probably become part of a lot of conversations and content – other bloggers will reference you and your ideas, and that will present a golden opportunity to score natural backlinks.
To get the process started, set up alerts on BuzzSumo or a similar tool to alert you when someone mentions you in their content.
Once that happens, drop a short email or SMS to the webmaster asking them if they could insert a backlink to your site where they mentioned you. Since you’re already featured in the post, linking to your site will only enhance it, so they’ll be happy to do it.
About the author:
Dave Schneider is the founder of LessChurn, churn reduction app. In 2012 he quit his job to travel the world, and has visited over 65 countries. In his spare time, he writes about SaaS and business at DaveSchneider.me.