Best Ways to Build Links for Free 2014
Disclaimer – Overuse of some link building methods, (and some anchor text) can result in a penalty. Build Links at your own risk.
I apologise for the format of this article. It is a mega-dump of link-building and outreach ideas, in no particular order. There is (hopefully) some good ideas and tips within it all.
To begin with, set up a page for your business on Twitter, FaceBook and Google+
You can use http://knowem.com to check for other social media pages you may or may not want to register
Create a blog of your own – try and update it once a week. This is where you can put all your content.
Pictures work well, just to fill content, and because people never bother to read too much on the web, which is getting ironic now, because I’m writing lots…
Create a https://www.scribd.com account, add a link to your profile. Add your best content to your account.
An easy way to make content for your blog, is to embed relevant videos and vines. Give it a description and a keyword rich heading. Like on this blog post.
Get people to see your content – share on FaceBook, Twitter, Reddit, stumbleupon and Linkedin.
If you post something on Linkedin, and check the box to Tweet it at the same time. All RT’s are worth double in social signals. This will help get your content noticed. It’s boll*cks when people say great content gets links naturally. If you have a low PR website, you need to promote it, a lot.
Offer something of interest and/or value – like a free ebook, free website templates (if relevant), icons, badges, themes etc. or a workout system (again, if relevant. Offer people something relevant)
Guest Posting – ideally you should guest post occasionally and only on blogs that are completely relevant. To do this, you need to make a list of all relevant blogs; and contact them offering your expertise. Offer to write a blog post, in return for a link back to your own site. This is the most common way to build links, at least in 2012/13 but Google say you should use this method occasionally not frequently. UPDATE – 2014, only do this very occasionally, with webmasters you know well, and only write about subject you are well versed on. Link back to your Google+ page in the blog posts.
Include more than 1 link (to different sites) in each post you do; make the post and link look natural and not ‘salesy’. And don’t always link to your homepage.
If you still want to find guest posting opportunities, try searching:
Keyword allintitle:guest post guidelines
Keyword intitle:write for us
Keyword “guest blogger”
Start with an excel spreadsheet, and record your ‘prospects’. As discussed below you can use scraping software such as ScrapeBox and SEO Quake (it has a feature to record prospects).
In excel, record the PA, DA, PR, Twitter followers, Klout score.
As well as the searches shown above, try:
- “keyword+ “write for us”
- “Keyword” + “guest post”
- “keyword” + “This post was written by”
- intitle:guest post guidelines
- intitle:guest blog guidelines
Use Google Blog Search with these search queries, as well as normal Google.
Search Google + posts for – “write for us” Keyword, as show below
You can use Twitter Advanced Search to search “guest post” and “write for us”
Infographics – controversial one but for the time being at least, it appears to be an effective way of getting links. Comic strips also seem to work well. Dog Paradox is the greatest thing of all time. UPDATE 2014 – make infographics, but don’t provide embed code. Add your infographic to visual.ly
You can add your infographic to other directories, but if you over do it, you’re asking for a penalty:
Tweet and socially share your infographic.
Schedule some extra tweets and updates, for the following hours and days, that point on the most interesting facts on the infographic. Do maybe 1 tweet every 2 days for 6 days.
Email the references on the infographic. Thank them. Offer them the infographic.
In your outreach to other niche websites, offer to write a unique description for them.
Add to Reddit and Stumbleupon.
Find similar infographics on visual.ly
Conduct an image search by dragging the image into a Google image search (works best on Chrome). See who has used this infographic. Offer your owninfographic
Hold an event – and invite bloggers to attend. The more creative, the better. This is a great idea for certain niches. See the awesome Moz guide on SEO incentivised events
Offer valuable information and reviews – for example, you could review and compare the new PS4 and Xbox One, to help people decide which is best. Create an infographic with the results, and the best features.
Sort out your internal linking, so that your most ‘valuable’ pages, are linked to the most within your site
Competitor Research – use a backlink profile checker, like opensiteexplorer or Majestic SEO, and see who is linking to your competitors.
Create some amazing photographs, put them on Flickr etc. and let people use them, as long as they link to you
Like this one, Ted and I, it should win awards
Search for “submit image galleries”, stock photo websites etc.
There are lots of clipart galleries and icon galleries too. It is a painful process finding ones that give do follow links
There are dozens of them, some give dofollow links, others don’t.
Create some charts and graphs out of some really current/news worthy data, invite people to use them, in exchange for a link
Top 10 or 5 lists – always a winner. Lists of photos work well too, see Buzzfeed for examples. There are actually websites that accept lists as a type of guest post.
Search for List25, listverse, toptenz, topfivelists, top5ives and makefives.
Create a funny Quiz or test – and invite people to share their score. There are plugins on worpress websites for this.
Feature tutorials and “how-to’s” on your blog
Review, preview, write about anything seasonal like the FA cup final, Christmas, Easter etc. Review products and services too. If the review is positive, contact the manufacturer or organiser. Alternatively, ask bloggers to review something of yours. A product or service that your business may offer. Many businesses send out products to bloggers for free, and the blogger will link back in return. I would check out the Matt Cutts video on product reviews before doing this on mass.
Do parodies, spoofs etc on something in the news
Establish yourself as an authority by sorting out your Authorship on Google+; creating a course on Udemy, an ebook and holding webinars. This will attract links over time. This great article by Matthew Barby has a great section on establishing yourself as a “Thought Leader” (scroll about half way down to find it). UPDATE – Authorship has been scrapped.
See the section of my slideshare presentation about content authority:
Do some research and blog about it. E.g. see what percentage of people indicate left at roundabouts during rush-hour. Create a press release about the results.
Can you use any of your analytics data? For example, can you break down what area in the UK spends the most on your products? What is the average spend for each city?
If it’s interesting, do a press release and an infographic based upon the data
Looking for a graduate to employ? Write to a number of university blog webmasters, and see if they’ll advertise the job and link to you
Use Slide-Share – under utilised (apparently). Stick a presentation on there
Write to alumni websites, or university course websites that you or an employee attended. See if they’ll link to your company, if you let them use you as a case study, for how great and successful their course is. See this for an example (I did that course, it wasn’t the best). You could also offer work placements or scholarships to local colleges and/or universities. .ac.uk links are golden.
Create a page on your site with a scholarship details, and make it specific to a college or university.
State the award amount, deadline, requirements (e.g. essay or dissertation) create an online application.
Finally, contact the university or colleges you have seen with clear scholarship pages that could potentially give you a link.
If you have some excellent content, then try this advanced search:
site:ac.uk KEYWORD inurl:links
This will find pages in your niche, that are .ac.uk site, and linking out to resources that are useful to students. If your article is especially educational and helpful then ‘reach out’ to the webmaster
Look for student clubs and organisations. If they have a poor or no logo or bad web site design, offer your services.
Offer customers a discount in exchange for a link e.g if you sell beds to a care home, give them a 10% discount, for a link off their website.
Offer a discount to staff at a local college.
Offer a discount to people who visit a local tourist or resource page.
If you have a bricks and mortar business, find local tourist and resource pages for your area and contact the web page’s admin.
Do a Google image search of your own images, and contact anyone using them. Don’t be afraid to call people (in this instance, and just generally)
Be nice and helpful – to bloggers, webmasters, and to people in general. You never know when it’ll pay off
Go to conferences, write about them, tweet and email your review to the organisers. Ideally you’ll speak at them too (eventually)
Just do something, anything, that’s really creative; that provokes emotions, is interesting, funny or valuable. e.g Dress up as Batman, go to a local pub, ask everyone if they’ve seen Robin; write about how you got on and make a video.
Dogs – stuff with dogs in always does well
Blog about retro stuff, people love that
Write insulting stuff about politicians, because pretty much everyone hates them. Write a sarcastic list of their best money-saving tips, for example
Make a meme, and put it on http://www.cheezburger.com, stumbleupon, Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit, and Tumblr. This will help your meme to spread. (Wouldn’t do this too many times though, or if you work for a brand-sensitive company)
Illustrations – people love these, so consider adding a blog-post or two with some illustrations that you’ve done – if they’re really good! Like this one I did, it’s of a knight, fighting off an angry bear, who’s gatecrashed his tavern
Or this Rocky one, which is pure awesome:
Try Fiverr.com and peopleperhour for some people willing to do illustrations, designs, themes, icons etc for cheap
Join trade associations and professional bodies, and maybe write a testimonial or do some relevant research. Head back to http://knowem.com and click on the “Social Networks” tab. Scroll down to the bottom to find some websites that may be relevant.
Review a product or service, and then contact the manufacturer with an email and/or tweet
Write about, research and debunk myths – produce an infographic and a video.
Produce ‘ego-link-bait”. Write about or list the 10 best experts in your field, and tweet the experts with your link. Provide an awards badge/logo.
Create a controversial article. e.g. Why MMA should be banned etc.
Produce a great instructional video, but host in on your website, not on youtube.
I think you’d need the HTML5 video tag for this. You could also video an event and send the link of your footage to the organiser. UPDATE – put videos on youtube as well. This helps build authority in your niche.
Make tools and calculators – easier said than done, but can someone on peopleperhour or fiverr do it for you?
Carry out a survey and blog about the results. Try a “survey service” such as http://www.pollsource.com and create a press release about the results, and maybe an infographic
Use ‘content request websites’ such as http://www.responsesource.com and http://www.helpareporter.com to see what content publishers and editors are looking for
Use Scoop.it to submit your high quality content
Put 1, branded anchor text link in a press release. Use a free service like Release-News.com
Link RoundUps. Represent bloggers looking for links. Good links. Search “link roundup” + keyword
e.g. “link roundup” + seo
Use google search tools to filter to a recent date
Notify bloggers and webmasters of broken links with a well-crafted email or tweet. Then offer your content as a replacement. Use:
Sort by 403 and 404s.
Get all the websites that point to these broken pages by pressing the OSE button. Then contact them.
Find broken links (again). Use the WayBackMachine to see what the page that was linked to, looked like –http://archive.org/web/web.php
Click on “take me back” then click on a recent capture of the page. Create a piece of content that improves upon the original, and content the site owner with the broken link and your new content.
Find influencers in your niche on followerwonk and Topsy.
Put comments on blogs that add value and real insight. Don’t link to yourself; just express your appreciation of an article of post, and make a real point – like “…have you seen anotherBlog.com’s article on a similar topic?”
“I agree with what you said but have you heard of the Joe Blogs technique?”
You can do this on Twitter too. Occasionally. Just make sure you don’t just tweet something vague like “lol” in response to something they’ve tweeted. Be helpful and insightful.
Add the influencer on Google+ too. Again, leave an insightful comment or two. Not many other people will so you’re likely to stand out.
Then when you contact someone with a piece of content; they’ll hopefully know who you are, and will at least open your email.
Keep track of who you are trying to build a relationship with, and what stage you are at.
Relationship build, a bit, then repurpose people’s content
If for example, you see a really good and relevant video on youtube. Could you make an infographic based upon their video?
If so, tweet it to them and/or email them with it. I believe this is how this infographic came to pass…
Not 100% on this one, but I guess it’s still legit.
Look for relevant blogs, and look for blog posts that are a year or older.
Contact the blogger with a more “up-to-date” article around the topic
Use the following techniques with caution. They may be good for starting or for adding link diversity, but don’t have a large link profile full of submission/directory style links:
High Quality Blog Directories
Add your blog to BlogHub and Blogarama
Add link to business directories
Record a song at http://vocaroo.com/
Then create an account at purevolume.com, bandcamp, sharemyplaylist, yourlisten.com etc.
I hope this doesn’t destroy the online music world. So make an effort with your songs please
PodCast Sharing Sites
Web Design & Logo Sharing Websites
and artist and photography websites such as shownd.com. On shownd.com you can add a link with each new portfolio. Add high quality images, buy an SLR camera and make a bit of effort. Artician.com also gives a do-follow link in the profile.
https://www.iconfinder.com appears to give do-follow links each time up upload a set of icons
Logofave and LogoPond appear to give dofollow links for logos.
.ac.uk or .edu pages would be best, but, sparingly, do these searches:
If you have high quality content in that niche, which might be helpful to their visitors, then reach out.
Look at using ScrapeBox. There is a great tutorial here. Be careful you don’t get your IP and your agency banned from Google though.
If you are VERY selective, and offer insightful comments, then it is possible to use dropmylink to find commenting opportunities.
Use icon websites like http://www.iconspedia.com to upload your icons. These websites get reviewed, so the icons have to be high quality. Click on the top downloaded icon packs, and see what’s in demand.
Remember you can use Fiverr.com to get an icon or logo done affordably.
Offer a local business or blogger a service. For example, reach out and offer a small business a full SEO audit or UX audit or even a logo, in exchange for a link
Use website review websites
Sign up to the likes of http://www.conceptfeedback.com and http://www.criticue.com
Make sure you review other people’s websites too. You should then be able to get a do-follow link when you upload your own site.
“The trick isn’t coming up with ideas the trick is making them happen”
Don’t do these:
1. Article submissions to directories
2. Submit links to any directories, except DMOZ, high quality blog directories and business directories
3. Blog comments – unless “no-followed”
4. Don’t overdo product anchor text. E.g. if you sell t-shirts, don’t make all the anchor text “Buy cheap T-shirts Now”
5. Link to your homepage all of the time – get some natural looking links to deeper pages
Do do these:
1. Produce great content
2. Treat SEO like ‘normal’ marketing when budget and time allows
3. Vary link-building methods
4. Think about disavowing links on a regular basis if you have a high authority website
5. Don’t overdo guest posting, infographics, commenting and submission-style links e.g. links you get for creating an account and submitting content, or links you get on directories
6. Get Google+ and Google Places sorted if you are a local business
Anchor text – the text people click on, usually underlined and light blue in colour
Google Image Search – Think this might only work in the Google Chrome browser. Open your blog/web page with an image on it, go to Google homepage on a second tab. Drag the image from your website to the second tab, and into the Google search box
Infographics -data in a graphical form, with charts etc. Something like this
Guest Posting – Contact a relevant blog, ask if you can write about a relevant topic on their blog, in exchange for a link
Note – ideally, all your blog posts and other link building strategies will be as relevant as possible, getting you links from relevant websites. This can be difficult!
If you only have a ‘small’ website, it doesn’t appear to be as crucial; but relevant links will always be more valuable. For example, links to my blog are from sites such as thegoodmenproject.com and careerfuel.net; which aren’t that relevant, but helped my blog get some half decent SEO metrics
– Remember to optimise for mobile
– Think about questions people ask – and put these questions in headers e.g. “How do I build big biceps?” – as this is how people tend to search
– Keep an eye on conversational search, and how this might change SEO strategies and content marketing
– Ideally SEO should be very similar to ‘normal’ marketing, and links should come naturally
– “Google Now” will make local search and personalised search more important. So get your business registered with Google and make sure it has a Google+ page
– Google Authorship is really important, but as this is the free version of WordPress, I can’t add it to my blog (as far as I’m aware)
Looking for good sites to get a link from
– use Google advanced search to find sites the accept guest posts – URLs that have “submit” or “guest-post” in them.
– If a site consists ENTIRELY of guest posts, and has no trust metrics like an “about us” page etc. then it’s probably best to steer clear.
– A smaller website/business can get away with doing quite a few guest posts, if you are a big brand, you have to be very careful, and should probably steer clear of guest posts unless it’s on well known websites like the Huffington Post etc.
– Get Google Chrome or Firefox and install the “moz bar” or something similar
– Look at PageRank, Page Authority of the home page and the Domain Authority. The site should have a PageRank of at least 1, and an authority of at least 20 on the homepage.
– Is the blog relevant? There needs to be some kind of tie-in somewhere, link itself needs to be within an article/blog post that’s relevant
– Outbound link count – the more outbound links a page has, the less SEO value each link will provide
Link Building Tools
This section is from http://www.paddymoogan.com – I highly recommend his book.
OpensiteExplorer – for link analysis and checking sites credentials
Ahrefs – for link analysis
Majestic SEO – Link analysis, website’s SEO credentials
Buzzstream – For link prospecting and managing outreach
Boomerang – For outreach. Can schedule follow up emails and it’s free.
Rapportive – Great gmail plugin for SEO outreach. Shows you lost of useful information about the person you are contacting so that you can personalise an email easier. Xobni is the same, virtually, but for Outlook.
URL opener – Simple tool that allows to paste a load of URLs into the browser and open each separately in a new tab
Moz Toolbar – goes without saying.
Bloggerlinkup – email to sign up to and get lists of bloggers looking for guest posts. Free
LinkBuildingQueryGenerator by StokedSEO. Free
HelpaReporter.com – alerts you when writers are looking for news sources.