on May 9, 2021 (last modified on May 19, 2022) • 38 minute read
Having an effective link building strategy is critical for boosting your website rankings.
Sure, some niches and keywords aren’t competitive–but with 1.5 billion websites worldwide, the vast majority of SERPs are warzones. You need lots of power to reach the top.
The only problem? Some companies have SEO budgets that you’ll never be able to compete with.
Especially when almost 40% of experts we surveyed said they don’t have any budget for link building, and a further third spend less than $200 per month:
So, we’ve put together this powerful guide to help you understand:
Backlinks refer to links created as a result of one website linking to a page on another website. Synonymously, they are also referred to as inbound links or incoming links.
Google and other search engines consider backlinks to a particular page on your site to be a vote of confidence that its content is useful and of great relevance. As such, the more backlinks a page tends to have, the higher its search ranking will be.
Backlinks are great for generating referral traffic because when someone clicks on the link that leads to your website from another website, Google recognizes the visitor as a referral, which also doubles as a ranking factor.
The more quality backlinks you have, the more likely you will generate quality referrals and, ultimately, potential customers in the long run.
Related: How to Increase Your Referral Traffic (Tips from 42 Marketers)
Earning quality backlinks is beneficial to brands as the more a brand gets, the more reputation and exposure they get for generating links on certain subjects.
The more high-quality links your website earns, the more trust and authority your website attains within your industry. More people will get to know your brand as an expert in certain areas, which in turn automatically leads to other websites linking to your website as a credible source.
Backlinks help search crawlers discover your website page(s) faster and include it in its databases, making your content more discoverable. This is exceptionally useful for new websites or blogs.
The quality and value of a backlink boils down to some key factors such as:
When a website that is well-trusted and is known to be an authority in a certain niche links to your website, this gives a good signal to the search engines and readers alike – which impacts your content rank and traffic.
Do-follow links are generally more appealing and valuable to search engines. So when another website includes a backlink to your website, it needs to be a do-follow link to make it count for SEO.
A good backlink should be from a website whose content/business-focus is related to yours; generally, this is a good signal for Google.
You don’t need to suffer in silence and allow your small (or nonexistent) budget to stop your SEO strategy from working.
There are several strategies you can use to build free links. As Alex Ratynski of Ratynski Digital says: “One of the absolute best ways to build links on a budget is by utilizing things that don’t require money, but just require time.”
The downside? When you’ve got limited resources, there’s more pressure on the activities you do, as Blake Hawksworth of Creditplus explains: “When working on building links on a small budget, or for free, it’s advantageous to work on a quality over quantity basis.”
That means you’ll need to find free link building techniques that actually work–and don’t see you wasting time you can’t afford to lose.
Are you ready to start building backlinks to your site? You might be exhausted with the guides that tell you to pay for guest posts or use Private Blog Networks to create tons of spammy links.
Those aren’t the way forward. There are workarounds to do SEO (particularly backlinks) on a budget.
In this guide, we’ll talk about the free link building tips that you can do on any budget, such as:
To optimize your website for organic search, you probably use Google Search Console to learn which pages receive the most impressions and clicks, and which queries drive them. To get the information you need, you may need to visit several areas within GSC and view multiple reports.
Now you can quickly assess your overall SEO performance in a single dashboard that monitors fundamental metrics, such as:
Now you can benefit from the experience of our Google Search Console experts, who have put together a plug-and-play Databox template showing the most important metrics for monitoring your SEO performance. It’s simple to implement and start using as a standalone dashboard or in marketing reports, and best of all, it’s free!
You can easily set it up in just a few clicks – no coding required.
To set up the dashboard, follow these 3 simple steps:
Step 1: Get the template
Step 2: Connect your Google Search Console account with Databox.
Step 3: Watch your dashboard populate in seconds.
*Editor’s note: Keep an eye on the links you’re building to your site with our Link Analysis dashboard. You’ll be able to see important link building metrics–including the total number of links, page views, and users from your backlinks–in real-time.
Charles Ferrer says the team at Dilate Digital “recently put more focus into providing valuable information that comes in through HARO or SourceBottle as part of our link building strategy.”
“Some marketers may know this as crowdsource contributions or crowdsource link building, but these work really well. These are free links which require no paid budget except for your time and information.”
So, how can you find opportunities to contribute quotes for a free backlink?
My Supplement Store‘s John Frigo says their favorite way to do this is through Help a Reporter Out: “HARO allows me to get backlinks from major media sources which would otherwise likely not post if I just cold outreached them. HARO sends out 3 emails per day, so it’s something I never forget about and never forget to do; it’s just part of my daily routine.”
Ryan Jones of Imaginaire Digital: “Journalists and content writers request information on here and emails are sent 3 times a day, so plenty of opportunities to offer your expertise and get a backlink back to your site in the process.”
Faveable‘s Liz Jeneault explains: “You also want to respond to pitches quickly, to catch the reporter’s attention early on. I feel by quickly responding to queries that best fit my area of expertise and by making my pitch subject lines catchy and interesting, I’ve had so much success with scoring backlinks through HARO.”
“Also, be sure to keep your pitches succinct and word them well! Mistakes will result in a journalist passing on your pitch. Don’t be too overly promotional, either, as journalists aren’t a fan of that.”
Mark Aselstine of Uncorked Adventures agrees: “While there’s a lot of other places to get links these days, there is no place that I could, as a small business, earn links from sites like Fortune, Forbes and the AP other than HARO.”
Summarizing, Reuben Yonatan adds: “With placements on well-read, professional platforms such as Forbes and your articles, we get not only free SEO for GetVOIP, but also excellent PR and brand awareness building, as well.”
Jamie Thomson of Brand New Copy says: “One of the most efficient ways to build free backlinks on a budget is to search #journorequest on Twitter alongside your area of expertise, e.g. ‘#journorequest #SEO’.
“The hashtag is used by lots of people, not just journalists, and can be a great way of building free backlinks to your website in exchange for an expert quote.”
Buzz Carter of Bulldog Digital Media agrees: “One of the best ways I use to get amazing free links on top tier publications is monitoring #JournoRequests on Twitter, you’ll find journalists asking for expert opinions or comments for their articles.”
“If you can help them out, 9 times out of 10, you’ll get a link alongside your comment. This is amazingly easy if you work in house, but also easy if you’re agency side and have someone you can speak to that’s willing to comment you can get great links.”
Carter says: “I’ve used this method for a while, helping out journos & I’ve landed awesome links on sites like metro.co.uk, dailymail.co.uk & theguardian.com.”
Zarar Ameen of CANZ Marketing says that “participation in content round-ups/aggregate posts via outreach and link building tools like Databox, Harrow Response, and Source Bottle has been our top choice for free link building.”
“These backlinks, together with the ones we earn from guest posting, show huge power to create part of the impact and exposure we need.
Plus, Kathryn Robers of Quest for $47 adds: “Most often participating in roundup posts allows you also to foster new relationships with other people in your niche, which allows you to collaborate further down the line.”
You don’t have to handle your marketing campaigns totally in-house.
You can enlist the help of other companies and work together, as Carsten Schaefer of crowdy.ai explains: “If you want to get the maximum number of links with little effort is to partner up with other companies in co-marketing.”
“That way, with each new guest post which you write, you can mention a few partners of yours. When your partners create guest posts – they mention you as well.”
“With this simple arrangement, you can get 4-5 links for the price (and effort) of just one, as long as you keep your promises,” Schaefer adds.
Drew Johnson of Lagerhead Cycleboats argues that non-profits make great co-marketing partners: “Usually, these nonprofits call in to request some free tickets to go on our cruise to enter into a raffle they are having.”
“I always say yes and ask them to link to our site from their website. This also results in more business for me as well as we require at least 6 passengers to go out on a cruise.”
“The most tickets I will give out is usually two at a time. This requires the group to bring at least 4 more people with them (I am already making money), and usually, they bring more than 4 (even more money!),” Johnson adds.
Daniel Heur of The Skyline Agency also recommends “Talk with college students to get them to link your site in a blog post on the school blog.”
“You can build partnerships with university professors or classes that teach your specialty. You can get social content that way, too. This makes for free or cheap “.edu” links which can have some power behind them.”
The process for guest posting is complex, long-winded. And with the strategy having gained a reputation for one used by spammers, some people debate whether guest blogging is worth the link you’ll get.
One expert fighting for guest posting is Nicola Roza: “Not only is this method free, but I also use my guest posts as a springboard for connecting with a webmaster on whose blog I’m a guest, and with other bloggers in my niche.”
Maybe that’s why guest blogging is the most popular free link building technique:
The best part? Hans van Gent of User Growth says that “finding guest post opportunities sound difficult for a lot of people, but with a simple query in Google, you can discover lots of websites that offer guest posting opportunities in your niche.”
Van Gent advises using one of the following search terms to find guest blogging opportunities:
Rachita Sharma adds that through guest posting, Girl Power Talk “not only receive backlinks to help improve our website’s relevance and domain authority but also a great opportunity to expand our reach to the platform’s audience.”
Amy Hernandez of ElectrIQ Marketing adds that guest posting also “demonstrates your knowledge in your field and grants you the ability to add an anchor link on a specific phrase or keyword that can direct readers to your intended page if clicked on.”
Plus, Anthony Mastri of Search Engine Coach argues that “links you acquire while guest blogging is also the most contextual. Contextual appraisal is something that appears in several Google patents, and the probability is high that context plays a big role in the value to users and search engines.”
Summarizing, Visual Objects‘ Kristen Herhold says: “It’s easy, and there is no other link building strategy that you have control over the links, anchor text, and content.”
“As your website has been around for a long time, you’ll notice that people will naturally mention your company. But when they give you credit, they won’t always link to you,” writes Asian Absolute‘s Nedelina Payaneva.
“So why not email all of these people and ask them to turn the mention into a link?”
Roosh‘s Alice Bedward explains that you can do this by “setting up Google Alerts to monitor your site and brand name. Any time you see that someone has written about your brand, it’s worth trying to reach out to them to ask if they wouldn’t mind turning a word or two into a link.”
SyncShow‘s Jasz Joseph also says: “You can do this really efficiently using tools like SEMrush. However, if you do not have access to SEO tools, you can simply find them via a Google search for your brand name.”
Bedward adds: “The response rate from this technique is generally quite high when compared to other forms of cold email outreach since, in many cases, the blogger has written the content because they liked the product/service in the first place.”
“One of the easiest ways to create backlinks (especially if your business is SaaS), is affiliate links,” says William Chin-Fook of Pickfu.com.
“If you can create a customized affiliate link (using UTM parameters to track), then you can get a TON of deep-links to products or services pages, which is the dream of many SEOers.”
“Also, due to you running the relationship and helping your affiliates get paid – you can direct them where to link to. If you’re using an affiliate program like Shareasale or impact radius, this will still work, but keep in mind that there are some small diminishing returns due to the redirect chain.”
Alexandra Nima says the team at The Sophisticated Geek “are [also] big believers in affiliate marketing, as well as backlinks/outreach to boost search ranking and reputation.”
“Since 46% of searches have local intent, a great way to obtain local backlinks is to reach out to news outlets, bloggers, local events and businesses and ask to be a guest blogger or event speaker,” says Roberto Torres of Turrem Technology.
“This will lead to links back to your site as a special guest, speaker, or author. For example: Search Google for page titles that include the word ‘sponsor’ or ‘event’ and the location. Search allintitle: “sponsor” + “dallas, tx”.
Torres implies that the results for your query are sites you could land a link from, should you secure a speaking gig at their event:
“My best way to build links for free is to first register your company’s NAP (Name, Address, and Phone number) on a variety of free local and national online business directories,” says Code Authority‘s Patricio Quiroz.
“These usually will allow you to insert your website URL into the listing. These are usually no-follow links but are great for getting your website some brand equity in Google’s eyes as well as building a natural backlink profile.”
Socially Found‘s Rob Sanders explains: “There are many generic directories available (local & national) that you would spend time on. As you become more proficient, the next step would be to research niche directories that provide information relevant to the industry you are targeting.”
“Always ensure you are using trustworthy directory sites, as well as using the exact NAP (Name / Address / Phone) that is published on your website.”
Jeff Romero of Octiv Digital says that “for local SEO campaigns, most directories and citation sources allow a backlink for free.”
“The weight of the link isn’t quite as strong as a mention on a blog or from an authoritative news publication, but it’s still a link that Google recognizes and gives credit for.”
Osiris Parikh of Summit Mindfulness agrees: “Businesses listed with YellowPages, Yelp, Alignable, Gust, and others tend to see hundreds of quality backlinks generated to their site, including the benefits of visibility from the directories’ large amount users.”
“Best of all, these tactics can be done for free.”
“My best way to build links for free is to capture or design industry-relevant quality pictures,” says HUSTLR‘s Jeremy Ong.
“Every industry needs pictures to make their content enjoyable and easy to understand. We usually search for it on Google, but only the premium ones fulfill our requirements.”
Ong continues: “What about creating an industry-relevant high-quality image database and making it royalty-free? Make the only requirement for people to link back to your website.”
Side note: I wanted to figure out if this actually worked. I tested whether it was easy to rank in image search–and more importantly, whether ranking there actually drives site traffic that could turn into free links.
…It does. I managed to rank a photo of my dog in the image pack for “Sprocker Spaniel,” a keyword that drives 72 visitors per month to my affiliate site from the image search results:
(Bear in mind that 72 monthly visitors might not sound like much, but the site was only made a few months ago and has a Domain Rating of 1. This keyword/image combination drives the most traffic to the site as a whole.)
“The best way I build links on a budget is to spend two to three months developing relationships with people over the content we publish on our blog,” writes Rumit Gambhir of Creole Studios.
“So asking others for quotes, contributions, and providing them with backlinks for it (not a link swap!).”
“Once you’ve built a good rapport, people will automatically start approaching you when they’re developing content in your areas of expertise. Given you’ve built a relationship, it’s also easier to start conversations surround guest posting.”
Red Olive’s Richard Overmyer agrees: “Most businesses have B2B relationships: customers, suppliers, specialists, referrers, referees, sponsors, and shoulder industry partners, to name a few. Their websites probably have someplace to link to you.”
“The best kind of link building reflects your everyday business activities and relationships. Include the idea of adding links as appropriate in your meetings, or even send them an email after a good project.
“You may need to get a bit creative with the specific ask, but these are easy links to get, as long as you do ask and are willing to contribute value,” Overmyer says.
Sam White of Del Mar Jiu-Jitsu Club summarizes: “It will get easier over time as you build relationships with publishers and who knows they may even ask you to write something.”
“[Fixwerks] love using content syndication to republish our best articles on other reputable online magazines,” according to Bernice Quek. “Syndicating your content will not only build links to your original article, but it’ll also bring traffic to your site and build your branding.”
However, Quek adds: “It’s important to request for a canonical tag to be inserted into the republished article so that all the link juice will be attributed to your article.”
Tommy Landry of Return On Now adds: “Do you already have a deep library of your own blog content? Is it publication-ready in terms of quality? If so, start looking for websites that syndicate content in your topic area.”
“More often than not, they’ll pull your materials verbatim, including any internal links you include to pages on your website — doubling down with not only a bio link to your home page but a deep link from an external domain.”
“Even though it is time-consuming, I have found the best way to get links for free is to reach out to other publishers that have similar content to yours and ask them to add your link,” says Mae Woods of Sally Space.
“The best way is to give them the exact line where your content would be relevant so that its’ less work for them. Rarely will you find someone who will spend their time finding the perfect fit in their content to benefit you. Make sure to always offer a link back in return.”
Growth Hackers‘ Jonathan Aufray explains: “For instance, find blogs in your niche where you’d like to get backlinks from. Contact the website owner and tell them that you’d be happy to add links on your blog directing to their blog in exchange for a link.”
“This might sound simple, but I can tell you this works like a charm.”
Alayna Okerlund of Best Company shares how you can tie this in with guest blogging: “If you can’t manage to create guest posts for other websites, you may want to start accepting guest posts for your website.”
“Although receiving guest posts on your site doesn’t immediately give you any backlinks, you can reach out to the author of each guest post and ask them to link to the article they wrote for your website.”
“This creates a mutually beneficial relationship and can save you time and money in terms of backlink building,” Okerlund adds.
Vyper‘s Jack Paxton says: “When I do a guest post exchange with another blog, my relationship with that blog does not end there. I propose that our blogs enter into a link exchange partnership.”
“This way, we can help each other out by requesting links from each other on an ongoing basis. This way, we won’t have to keep writing guest posts for each other. I can just place a blog partners link into upcoming posts on my blog (and vice versa). This strategy is a huge time saver.”
“The best way to build links on with low to no budget is to provide the target website with something valuable,” says Zylo‘s Joshua Palmer. “And, in many cases, this is content.”
“Contributing subject-matter expertise via content can cost little other than the effort required to make outreach or pitch and then produce the content itself.”
“That said, beyond content production, the outreach effort itself can be substantial. First, ideally, you will seek to build links from on-topic and high-quality websites. This requires effort to research and evaluate.”
Palmer continues: “Secondly, you will want to validate and accurately track efforts with an SEO dashboard software to diagnose success when new links occur. Again, more effort. Even if you use a tool such as Ahrefs to identify new inbound links, it makes sense to keep a spreadsheet documenting the details on date, content, and message behind each pitch to refine and improve your efforts.”
Kian L Tan of Drbodygadget.com has some bonus advice: “When reaching out to the owner of a website, you would present something on your website that would be of value to them or their readers.”
Tan explains what this looks like their business: “I review a lot of products so I write detailed posts of products, then reach out to the product manufacturers and ask if they could link to my post.”
“The value in my proposition is that I let them know that if they link to my page, they can potentially expand their product exposure and build trust with their customers. Most of the time, they say yes.”
Tan adds: “That is the key. Pitch them something valuable and also make sure your site looks good. Good websites won’t link out to spammy looking sites.”
Anthony Gaenzle advises to “make sure you pinpoint a specific place within the article where you feel the link would fit. This way, you make the site owner’s job easy.”
“Site owners aren’t likely to go out of their way to drop a link in for you if you make it a challenge to do so, so it’s key to make their job as easy as possible.”
“You will need to be prepared to face rejection (or simply be ignored). Ultimately, it’s a numbers game, so keep sending out messages to site owners, and you’ll eventually start getting positive responses, and most importantly, gaining backlinks,” Gaenzele adds.
Plug your URL into Copyscape. Chances are, there will be a handful of websites containing the same (plagiarized) content as yours:
Payette Forward‘s David Payette explains how you can use this to build free backlinks: “Google allows anyone to file a DMCA takedown request when content is plagiarized, and we do that for very low-quality domains.”
“Surprisingly, sometimes the websites that do it have surprisingly high domain authority, and those websites will do almost anything to avoid getting in trouble with Google.”
Payette continues: “We’ve had a lot of success offering people the choice between us filing a DMCA complaint and them taking a few minutes to give credit where credit is due.”
According to Fueled‘s Max Falb, “a difficult, but also a really great way to get backlinks is to get yourself on a podcast. Podcasters in tech, business, etc. are always looking for guests to be able to comment on certain trends or new ideas that would be interesting to their viewers.”
“Being able to get on a podcast would not only create a powerful backlink to your company but also allow for some free promotional content for your company.”
Corey Haines of Hey Marketers explains: “Podcasts always link to their guests, and you’ll likely get a nice link from both the podcast site as well as the podcast host.”
“Make a list of relevant podcasts in your space, come up with 2-3 topics you could talk for hours about, and then reach out to the hosts over email or social media and ask if they’re looking for guests to cover similar topics. Pretty simple!”
Larry Ludwig of Ludwig Media agrees: “Podcasting is an excellent way to get backlinks and establish credibility. Podcasts are always looking for new guests.”
“It’s an often-overlooked SEO strategy. Plus, with the recent changes by Google, they are now indexing and transcribing podcasts as well.”
You don’t have to do this single-handedly, though. Marketable‘s Rod Austin adds that you can ask “key team members [to] take their unique industry insight to the wider web via guest posts, podcast appearances, and other forms of communication.”
Dan Moyle of Impulse Creative adds “a ninja hack: Create a landing page for each interview that has that show’s name in the title, the artwork on the page and a reference to the host and show.”
“Welcome listeners to this show” goes a long way to building trust. Then during the interview, you can mention, “I have resources for your listeners at my-website-slash-your-show.” Also, include the link in an email thanking the host and offering the link for their show notes.”
Related: 18 Marketing Podcasts That Have Built A Cult Following
Rachel Ramsey of Service Direct thinks the secret to getting free backlinks lies within “pitching bloggers/media any proprietary research/data analysis – meaning it’s data that is yours and can’t be found anywhere else.”
(You might’ve seen us do this at Databox. Each expert round-up we publish–including this one–contains unique data from our survey, which gives people an incentive to link to us.)
Brendan Hufford of SEO for the Rest of Us agrees: “Hands down, the BEST way is to create something worth linking to (original data, totally new angle/opinion, etc.) Nobody cares about crappy 2% better “skyscraper content” anymore and begging for backlinks to those crushes your soul.”
“You’re not the first person to create a “How To…” article about a certain topic, and you’re definitely not the only person sending cold-pitch emails to other content marketers to build backlinks,” G2‘s Lauren Pope adds.
“The best backlinking building comes from content that organically attracts backlinks. This is content that you can write, set, and forget, and the backlinks come in on their own. It saves you time and money you might otherwise spend scraping the bottom of the barrel for links.”
Pope explains that this type of content could be:
“Think about the type of content your team needs to reference but doesn’t have the time or business case to write. You’re more likely to externally link to a piece that explains that for you, to save your time, right? Why not be the team that creates that content for other people?” Pope says.
This ties into “one of the golden rules of content marketing: Always make sure to link to any data or statistic you quote,” Anna Rubkiewicz of Survicate explains.
That’s why Rubkiewicz adds: “We’ve had significant success with leveraging our own survey tool to do primary research on topics relevant to the SaaS industry. You see – when you write reports based on your original research, you’re not just writing reliable content; it’s also VERY shareable.”
“[Prep Expert] often use services like Fiverr to find qualified writers and then provide them reference articles and materials for them to use when crafting their own content,” according to Shaan Patel.
“The benefit is that we can help increase our backlink outreach through new IPs via specific keywords but still provide helpful content that simply isn’t copied and pasted from us.”
According to Insightland’s Irena Zobniów, “the best way to build links for free is to create content that engages users the most. The content that is easy for them to share via social media or blogs, like a guide to, tips and tricks, etc.”
“If you create such content that answers users’ questions, helps them in some way, you can easily win free links to your website.”
Zobniów continues: “Research the topic thoroughly, look for ideas in Google Trends, seek the forums that gather your potential audience. Moreover, by creating interesting, up-to-date content, you can interest media that will link to it.”
Summarizing, Lisa Chu of Black n Bianco adds: “Google does not want people to exchange content for links, they want webmasters to share it because they find it useful. So remember to build and write content people want and share it. That is the most effective and free way to build links to your website.”
…There’s a reason why almost three-quarters of SEOs think content is the most important factor for an SEO-friendly website.
*Editor’s note: Do you know whether the content you’re publishing is having an impact on your SEO? Grab our template designed to Improve Your Google Search Position dashboard template to monitor how your average position, impressions, and keyword position fluctuates:
Tino Jaimes of Sunrise House Buyers TX thinks “the best free way to build links on a budget is researching “broken” links and reaching out to the host with rich content to replace the broken link.”
Jaimes adds that “you can use apps like Check My Links and visit websites/blogs similar to your industry, then the tool will research and look for any broken links for you. Reach out with rich content and see if it is accepted on the website.”
Henry Chen explains that for Syncoria Inc, “all I did was find resource pages, look for any links that pointing to broken pages, then just find out about the broken page, create something better than the old one, and inform the web owner that has broken link about it.”
Take a look at Backlinko’s email template for inspiration:
SpdLoad‘s Maksym Babych thinks you should “find the relevant forums with topics that are most suitable for your niche” to build free backlinks.
Babych also shares four major forums and how you can use them to get free backlinks to your site:
But before you dive into posting, Babych advises: “First you need to check: Does the forum have traffic? Is there regular activity on it? Who lives on the forum: real users or link builders?”
Related: The 14 Best Online Communities for Promoting Your Content
“One of my favorite link building tools for new sites is a press release,” says Wes Marsh of eRep CPQ by BCA Technologies.
“If you choose the right provider, you’ll get pickups from hundreds of sites with a single release. To be fair, some of these links will be no-follow links, but you can usually secure a dozen or more do-follow links, which is a great ROI, especially for a new site.”
“Plus, for new sites, it’s great to have an announcement for your potential users anyway,” Marsh continues.
In fact, it’s the second-most effective way to build free backlinks:
ZooWho‘s Claire Shaner adds: “When a news organization posts about your business, they’ll often send a quality link your way. You can even target student newspapers that carry a .edu link. This gets the word out about your company and builds SEO at the same time.”
JellyBean‘s Laura Hogan explains: “These are time-consuming, but don’t have to cost any money to create and outreach.”
“Freedom of Information requests are free (although they take 20+ days to come back) and can give you data from councils, the NHS, universities, and much more. This data can then be turned into a press release and sent to journalists – it’s even better if you can get a geographical and data skew.”
“Use your own data to compile releases too. If you’re an e-commerce site, what’s really popular in each region (i.e., Liverpudlians love red heels, whereas Brummies prefer a trainer).”
Hogan adds: “Also consider any company birthdays, acquisitions, new team members and growth announcements that you have. These can be turned into press releases for the local press in particular.”
Related: How Do You Craft a Successful Media Pitch that Actually Lands Coverage?
420interactive‘s Mathew John explains: “Resource links are when a website has a page with ‘resources’ that they include and link out to. These can be easy opportunities for backlinks if your content fits.”
“A good way to find these opportunities is to use a targeted Google Search like these:
John adds: “These will show you top resources or link pages with your keyword or topic.”
NameBounce‘s Axel DeAngelis says that you can “use Ubersuggest’s free tool to find sites that are linking to similar posts” to do this.
However, you don’t need to pitch your content for other people’s resource page. Loud Digital‘s Dan Young says: “If budget is tight, I always recommend creating a helpful resources page for the client’s industry. This page should contain links to industry leaders, free courses, free resources, and so on.”
“Now all you need to do is wait for Google to crawl the resource page, and you’ll start receiving emails from people wanting to feature on your resource page, and you can ask for a link in return. I’ve found this the most effective way of building high-quality links for absolutely no cost.”
When we asked Best Company for their best free link building tip, Alice Stevens recommended “writing round-up articles.”
“The experts you include are often willing to share the post on social media, and some will link to it from their news or media section. This is a great way to get content on your site, build your site’s expertise, and get a few backlinks.”
“The fastest way I’ve found to build free or low-cost links is by doing a backlink analysis on competitors and finding their high authority directories,” writes Jacob Landis-Eigsti.
It’s a tactic also used by Blogerio, according to Michael Rewers: “Analyze competition using tools like Ahrefs and find out where do they get their backlinks. Then use the skyscraper technique to create a lot better content and reach out to website owners who linked to your competition.”
Omar Fonesca of Medicare Plan Finder thinks: “Any top link building strategy involves competitor analysis.”
“Specifically, by performing a Competitor Link Gap Analysis, you will analyze your competitors’ link profiles to find backlinks that they have in common, which you do not. If they can acquire these backlinks, we should be able to as well.”
(Pro Tip: Using Moz’s (or Ahrefs) Link Intersect, input 3-5 competitors and retrieve a list of domains in which they share backlinks, find the ones that they have in common that we do not, then reach out!”)
Related: How to Run An Effective Competitive Analysis & Uncover Hidden Opportunities
Email is the most popular outreach method–yet data has shown that just 8.5% of cold outreach emails receive a response.
Jared Carrizales’ team at Heroic Search has found that “phone outreach, by far, is the most budget-friendly tactic that I, or our team, has found.”
“It isn’t too terribly labor-intensive, especially when you factor in the much higher average close rate (link placement rate) that comes from speaking to someone on the phone vs. email outreach. This also lends itself to building more links in the future if you nurture the relationship,” Carrizales says.
Infographics were all-the-rage back in 2010. But are they still great for link building?
Yes, according to Beekeeper‘s Alexandra Zamolo, “sharing infographics is an excellent tactic for building links. Everyone loves a good infographic, and they can lend so much additional information to a post.”
“However, not everyone has the time (or the skill) to create them. Therefore, they’re great to share in exchange for a link. Plus, this sets up your company as an expert in the field.”
Anand Iyer explains that you can “convert your existing blog posts with stats and numbers into visual infographics and submit them to infographic submission websites. This will generate good, relevant, and decent quality backlinks.”
Jeremy Cross says that Team Building Los Angeles has “had success reaching out to “micro-influencers”, which in our case is anyone with their own website and domain.”
“We offer free experiences or team building activities, like an escape game or a museum tour, and ask the attendee to do a write-up on their site.”
Cross continues: “Not everyone does the write-up, but across our various domains, this strategy has helped us get 30+ contextually relevant links that have a domain authority of at least 20.”
Wyatt International‘s Coral Luck thinks you should “never underestimate the power of link building on Wikipedia. A particularly good tactic for B2B businesses, you can utilize content such as videos, blogs, and articles as sources in that specific sector.”
“For example, if you’re working with a company that specializes in components for cars, you can cite and link build using relevant content on pages about cars. Once you’ve exhausted these, you can then move onto topics relating to this, such as electric cars, alternatively fuelled cars, and so much more.”
Take a look at these links to Content Marketing Institute, for example. They’re added from the Wikipedia page for “content marketing“- their site’s keyword:
“While links from Wikipedia are no-follow, it offers benefits in terms of referral traffic,” Luck says.
I find creating a simple widget as one of the best ways of building backlinks,” writes PressPad‘s Wojciech Szywalski.
“It must be attractive for the target audience because only this way, they will embed it on their websites. It can be anything like a “space weather” widget for astronomy geeks or “Einstein’s quotes” randomly displaying around the clock etc.”
However, Szywalski adds: “The most important thing is to use rel=”nofollow” when linking back to your website.”
“One of our favorite strategies is building media distribution links. You do this by sharing videos, infographics, and even PowerPoints,” writes Paul Teitelman.
“Everybody knows about YouTube and Vimeo, but there are another dozen powerful and high Domain Authority video sites out there. It’s not about getting 15 videos on these sites. It’s about getting your link from the actual profile level.”
“For example, most people don’t know about Flipsnack, the most know flipbook creator, but it has a DA of about 77. It’s a monster, and it’s free.”
Almost 90% of experts argue that repurposing content is a better way to spend your time, budget, and resources:
Teitelman continues: “Take a video, transcribe it into a long-form blog post. Break it down into an infographic and a PowerPoint. Zip it up and get those items posted on smaller but high DA websites. These links take about 3 to 4 months to get indexed.”
“Again, it’s not about submitting dozens of videos. You only have to submit about 3 to 5 to get the actual profile level indexing.”
“One of the best tactics for building backlinks is offering testimonials for products or services that you’re obsessed with, that have some relevance to your industry,” says Maddy Osman of The Blogsmith.
“Create a warm open for providing your testimonial and making that backlink ask by first interacting with the brand on their social channels, then sharing a testimonial on your own profiles.”
There are tons of ways you can build free links to your website, meaning you don’t have to have awkward conversations with your boss about raising SEO budgets.
As Andrew Becks of 301 Digital Media summarizes, “the primary thing to remember is that link building is something that takes time and never ends, and should be integrated as an ongoing part of your weekly/monthly to-dos.”
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