If you think link building is shady business, I want to personally apologize on behalf of all the misinformed marketing professionals who’ve steered you wrong. You might’ve missed some enormous opportunities for boosting your SEO value by increasing the number of inbound links to your site, but don’t worry — you can still make up for lost time.
Today we’re sharing 15 highly effective (and ethical) link building techniques for 2020 and beyond, but before we dive in, let’s tackle the big question.
In the early 2010s, several companies were penalized for engaging in spammy, black-hat link building campaigns. Even organizations like Overstock.com and J.C. Penney were participating in unscrupulous SEO tactics — like placing links on disreputable sites unrelated to the brands’ products to trick search engines into giving them greater clout. And Google took action, swiftly sinking their results to the bottom of SERPs.
In the wake of the Panda update, and subsequent Google updates, some businesses shied away from any link building activities — even the completely acceptable, white-hat variety — for fear Google would hit them next.
But generating inbound links through legitimate practices can and should be part of your SEO strategy. And we’re sharing 15 powerful link building techniques you can start using right now — without making Google angry.
Without further ado, here are several ways you can increase inbound links to improve your organization’s search engine ranking.
Contribute to relevant blogs and publications in your field or niche, and ensure each post links back to your site. In addition to earning backlinks, this will also help you grow your audience by familiarizing potential prospects with your brand.
Sites like PR Web, Business Wire and GlobeNewswire (formerly Marketwired), allow businesses to publish press releases, which are then syndicated to hundreds of other sites. By including links to your site, you can theoretically create dozens (if not hundreds) of backlinks with one press release.
If you haven’t already, be sure to claim your listing on sites like Google My Business and Bing Places for Business. Even B2B companies can benefit from adding their site and contact information to these popular directories. While Google’s Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller says links “generally” don’t help with SEO, research from Moz says web directories and local citations still appear to be a small ranking factor, according to Search Engine Journal. Either way, it’s good practice.
Make sure you have an accurate and up-to-date business account on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter. Not only does this enable you to promote your content through paid ads, and adds a link to your site, but it helps you appear more legitimate, too. And social sharing can increase website links by as much as 245% in one year, according to data from EarnedLinks.
It’s worth noting that Matt Cutts, former head of search quality at Google and current administrator with the U.S. Digital Service, says social signals — like Twitter followers and Facebook likes — do not affect search rankings, according to Neil Patel.
Form strategic partnerships with companies that share a similar audience, and share links to each others’ content. Consider publishing a co-branded piece of content, like a whitepaper, or host a webinar together to increase the number of backlinks and exposure to both brands.
Offer to write a testimonial for a vendor’s site, and ask them to link back to you. In most cases, companies will be all-too-grateful for an unsolicited testimonial and may even return the favor.
One of the best ways to earn backlinks is by linking back to others.Create a weekly or monthly “roundup” of the best articles you’ve seen, or the best industry tools you’ve discovered, and link back to those companies. Then, let them know. Most of the time, brands will be pleased with the free press and happily link back to a blog post that mentions them.
Make a list of industry influencers, and reach out with an offer for a free product or a free trial of your service in exchange for a review. While you can’t control the outcome of the review (every once in a while, you may come across someone who doesn’t love your offering), you’ll likely receive plenty of positive reviews and valuable backlinks.
Have any slide decks laying around from past webinars or events? Update them (if necessary) and publish them on SlideShare. Just be sure to include active links within the deck.
An aesthetically-pleasing, insight-heavy infographic is like hot gossip — everybody wants to share it. By putting a little extra time and effort into visuals and promotion, and giving clear instructions for sharing (with a link), you can bet your resource will be making the rounds fast.
Sites like LinkedIn and Medium aren’t just great places to share thought leadership content and earn engagement from readers in your target audience, they’re also excellent platforms for acquiring backlinks. Consider republishing existing content from your blog — just be sure to use a canonical tag to prevent a duplicate content penalty.
People know citing data will help strengthen their arguments (I’ve done it once in this post already), and equipping people with this data will undoubtedly earn you a few backlinks. One way to do this is by sending out surveys and publishing an annual report with the findings. Ensure it’s well-branded and well-promoted.
Your organization is likely full of subject matter experts — both inside and outside the c-suite. Help them earn recognition (while also generating inbound links) by encouraging them to speak at industry conferences and networking events. And work with event organizers to add links to their bios and promotional announcements.
Similar to the above, guesting on relevant, industry-related podcasts can help grow your organization’s audience, your leaders’ personal brands, and drive traffic to your site. Just be sure to request that the podcast includes a link to your site in the episode notes.
If you quote or reference an industry leader in a blog post, be sure to mention and tag them when you promote the post on social media. More often than not, they’ll happily reshare the post to their audience, which will earn you a backlink.
A high number of links driving to your website demonstrates to search engines that you have valuable content. “Inbound links from other websites tell Google that people trust what you have to say — enough to link to it from their websites,” says marketer Sam Kusinitz, in an article for HubSpot. “Trust is huge in the eyes of Google, and the more trustworthy the source linking to you is, the greater the impact their inbound link has on your ranking.”
Many of the link building techniques listed above are excellent tactics, no matter if your goal is to boost organic traffic, improve your brand recognition, drive conversions, or all of the above. By focusing on creating shareable content and sharing others’ content, you can help improve your search engine rankings fast.