Get Backlinks: 18 Creative Techniques

Links are still as important as ever, and that’s not likely to change.

Moz’s Google ranking factors survey still shows links as the most powerful factor in ranking highly in the search results:

Links are really important. Still, you shouldn’t focus on them first (even though they are at the top of the list).

Before you begin to care about links, you should make sure your content is absolutely top-notch. Great content will amplify all of your link-building efforts.

You probably wouldn’t link to lousy content, and neither will anyone else. You don’t need a big budget or an English degree – just make sure your content is in-depth, helpful, professional, and unique in some way.

When I started taking the time to really polish my posts, I got way more links than ever before. Plus my average time-on-page improved dramatically, and Google knows how to use metrics like this to determine if your content is garbage or not.

Quality is a large pillar of my W.I.S.E. approach to digital marketing.

With that said, let’s look at 18 awesome ways to get backlinks. We won’t waste time with lousy links (like directory listings or article directories).

Here’s how to get really powerful links that will make a big difference in your traffic.

 

HARO

HARO stands for Help A Reporter Out.

How would you like to get a link from CBS, Forbes, or Entrepreneur.com? You probably assume this would never be possible for you.

It’s easier than you think.

Journalists often work with tight deadlines, and when they don’t have time to arrange meetings with high-up people (who have super busy schedules), they reach out for advice from people with knowledge or experience in a given area.

By providing a few lines to use as a quote or some helpful guidance, you can get cited as a contributing expert in a big-name publication.

It’s free and easy. Here’s how:

Visit HelpAReporter.com and sign up for free as a source. That will put you on their email list, and you’ll get 3 emails a day with requests from journalists.

Then just look for questions related to your blog. Here’s one I’m qualified to answer:

Now send an email to the listed address with your response.

Don’t get crazy with your answer. Just answer the questions as asked (which usually only takes a paragraph or two of typing). If they want more detail, they’ll write you back.

At the end, include a quick bio (one or two sentences) telling the journalist about your knowledge / experience that qualifies you to answer the question.

When you sign your name, include a link to your blog at the bottom.

That’s it.

Do this every day, if you can. It only takes about 10-15 minutes to answer most requests, so try to do several. It will take a few pitches to get a bite, but doing this right can give you a super powerful link every week or two.

When it pays off, your pitch turns into in-content links like this one on Entrepreneur:

Links like this let you destroy your competition in the search results.

 

Create an Award

This is stupidly simple to do, and it can result in a lot of links every month.

Make a few different awards and periodically give them out to bloggers. It’s really easy to do – all you need is to make a few different graphics:

You don’t have to be anyone special to give someone an award. Anyone can do it.

This works so well because it’s a huge ego boost.

If you won an award, wouldn’t you want to tell people about it? Especially if it’s something you worked hard at (like blogging). If it’s their first award, they even get to start bragging about being “An Award-Winning Blog”.

You can create a few different awards, like “Blog of the Month”, “Post of the Month”, “Funniest Blog of the Year” and so on.

Make a blog post each month about the winners, and then contact those blogs to give them the awards. You can send them a little award image to display on their site, along with a link back to the post where you announced the winners.

They will want to link back as proof that they won!

Best of all, if you create a recurring award (like a monthly one), you can repeat this every month for a new stream of links to your site.

This is also a great way to make friends with bloggers. If you have something cool you’d like them to share in the future, having given them an award in the past is a great foundation for your pitches.

 

Broken Link Building

Broken link building is a scalable way to get a bunch of high-power links to a page on your site.

I’ve used it to get hundreds of links from one attempt, and many of them were from .GOV and .EDU sites.

When a page no longer exists, it’s common for that page to still have a bunch of links pointing to it from other websites. The owner usually has no idea that the page they linked to no longer exists.

By contacting the site owner and informing them of the broken link, you’re doing them a nice favor that helps improve their site. Of course, they will need to replace the link with a new one, which gives you a nice opportunity to pitch a similar page on your site to be the replacement.

There are tons of opportunities out there in every niche. This one I found has 1,700 links pointing to it, many of which are from .GOV and .EDU sites:

That’s 1,700 opportunities to get a link to your blog.

And the results are powerful. This is after getting only 14 of these new links:

So, how do you find opportunities like this for your blog?

You have to go about it the right way. Most people don’t use a process as powerful as mine, so their results aren’t as substantial.

I made two video tutorials that walk you through it step by step (with a special focus on .GOV and .EDU links). It’s too much detail to include in this post, so check out those videos.

If you can follow along with my mouse clicks, then you can find awesome opportunities.

 

Visual Assets

Most of us know how powerful infographics can be.

A beautiful, data-rich image can attract tons of backlinks.

The problem is, they are expensive. The ones that get shared are created by professional designers, and the research that goes into them can be immense.

Sadly, most new bloggers don’t have the resources or experience to pull off a truly successful infographic.

But you can save a bunch of time and money by creating visual assets, and still get a ton of links from them (sometimes even more, since they are easy to share).

Visual assets are little charts or graphics that help explain a concept or provide a small amount of data.

Here’s an example of a really simple visual asset from Rand Fishkin:

This image illustrates a concept nicely, and it’s started to get shared by other blogs who link back to the source.

How long do you think that image took to make? 5 minutes? 10?

Unlike infographics, visual assets don’t have to be visually stunning. They just have to help people understand a concept. They can be ugly as long as they work.

Once you’ve made a couple of cool visual assets, find some blogs that recently wrote about related concepts. If your charts or images could help better explain their concept, drop them a polite email.

Don’t be pushy or ask for a link outright. Effective outreach looks something like this:

That’s it. Notice that this example focuses only on adding value to the blogger. I’m not even asking for a link back.

This approach gets far greater response than if you ask for something right away.

Notice all of the details needed to link back (name and website URL) are included in the email. Most people will automatically give you credit for the image. If they do share it without credit, it’s easy enough to drop another email asking them to give you credit.

This method is simple and effective.

 

Promote Your Content

This is one of the simplest and most often ignored ways to get extremely high-quality links.

Most people don’t like sending emails. Or, when they do, they give up easily. What these people are missing is that outreach is still one of the single most powerful ways to get links.

When you write on a specific topic, take the time to gather a list of blogs / sites that have wrote about closely related material. Then email as many of them as you possibly can.

You can’t contact 20 or 30 sites and call it quits. It’s a numbers game. You should be reaching out to hundreds of bloggers.

I wrote an article containing homemade baby food recipes. Then, I contacted related blogs using this outreach:

I reached out to 280 blogs and got 16 extremely high-quality links. These are in-content links on very powerful pages, and I shot to the top of the search results in just a few days.

There’s just one catch: Your content has to be high quality. You have to take the time to make it in-depth, thoughtful, genuinely helpful, and grammatically correct.

Ask yourself if you would take the time to link to your content if you were someone else. If not, polish it until it exceeds those standards.

Content quality is one of the pillars to my W.I.S.E. approach to online marketing. Yes, all of this takes a bit of work. But hard work is another pillar of the W.I.S.E. approach, and you’ll get much better results than if you spent the same amount of time goofing around with the same lousy techniques everyone else is using.

 

Steal Your Competitor’s Links

This is one of my favorite tactics.

If you want to push ahead of your competitors in the search results, then get the same links they have.

This simultaneously helps strengthen your site and remove any advantage they might have by holding powerful links that you don’t.

Outreach tends to yield decent results. If your sites are vaguely similar, you can try to get listed on the same pages they are on.

If you want to be more aggressive, you can try to produce better content than they have, and pitch site owners on replacing their links with links to your own site. While your results will vary massively, if you truly have better content, you have the chance to boost your site up while demoting your competitors.

This works especially well if the content in question is outdated. If you can point out information in the original link that is no longer relevant, you can sell your much improved version as a link replacement.

To do this, we’ll use one of my favorite tools: SEMrush

SEMrush provides competitive data. It lets you look up your competitors and see a ton of information about their site’s estimated performance.

You can get data on how much search traffic they get, how much they spend on advertising, and – important for this link building method – what kind of backlinks they have.

Further down, you can see the top organic keywords they rank for and an estimation of how much traffic they get from each keyword. You can use this data to help with your keyword research.

Below that, there’s another list of their top organic competitors (so you have more ideas of who to steal links from):

Under the backlinks tab, you get a whole list of all of the links pointing back to their site. Go through and see which ones you might be able to steal:

When you find a decent list, hit the Export button to save all of the links in a handy spreadsheet for your reference:

Before sending any emails to website owners, make sure the content on your site presents something worthwhile for them to link to in this specific situation.

If not, take some time to refine your content or do a few more posts. It’s worth tailoring your content to be link-bait.

Head over to SEMrush to look up your competitors and see what kind of links you might be able to steal.

 

Accept Guest Posts

We hear a lot about guest posting for links (which isn’t such a great idea anymore, as Google has warned against it), but what about the other way around?

By accepting high quality posts on your site, you can get free exposure from the author.

If you had a post accepted by a site, wouldn’t you want to share it to get more attention?

By accepting guest posts from high quality writers, you can get them to leverage their social media following and email lists to promote it, and even get some links down the road as they reference their own content.

The key phrase here is high-quality. Most people trying to get guest posts are newbies with lousy content and no social influence. You’ll want to politely turn these pitches away.

Stick it out, and accept only the best writers. You can speed things along by reaching out to people who have guest posted before and asking them to contribute to your site.

A quick Google search for “guest author” along with your industry can help you find successfully published guest authors who are likely willing to write a guest contribution again. Just email them with your offer.

 

Answer Questions on Quora

Quora is an amazing resource.

It’s a lot like Yahoo! Answers, but with qualified people answering questions in an intelligent manner. It’s much more professional and valuable.

You can’t just spam your links on this site, but you can use them to provide more information or to backup your answers with additional data.

If you take the time to write a thoughtful response, Quora answers can get tens of thousands of views. The traffic can be worth it alone, with the link being just a nice bonus at that point.

Give it a try. You can build up a reputation before inserting any links, and then use them to support your ideas whenever relevant.

Just don’t link for the sake of linking. If it doesn’t make sense, you’ll get banned quickly and it won’t contribute to the community or build your reputation.

 

Trade Favors

We all know link-swapping is bad. It hasn’t been a viable SEO tactic for a decade.

But if you get creative, you can network with other bloggers in your niche and get a link out of the deal.

What do you have to offer other bloggers? You probably have something like an email list, a social media following on Facebook or Twitter, or maybe you have a skill like making video content or tutorials.

Reach out to some bloggers. You can send a message to your email list sharing a great post that they wrote, and in exchange, they can share some of your content on their blog.

Don’t have an email list? Then maybe you can do a video tutorial for their readers. They get free content, you get a link, and you also get exposure to their audience (which is great for click-through traffic).

 

Create Data

When people are trying to make a point, they love being able to reference data.

References support arguments. Being able to link to raw data that proves your point is an amazing thing.

How can you generate data?

My favorite (and the easiest) way is to host a survey on your site.

PornHub isn’t the kind of site you’d think would be able to get many links from legitimate sites, but they hosted a political survey for the 2016 elections.

Just by collecting that data, they received a host of exposure from all around the web. They got links from Maxim, NY Daily News, Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, Yahoo, and thousands of other sites.

If such a raunchy-themed site can get links by creating data, just think of what you can do with your site. Once you’ve collected data, post the results on your site and reach out to bloggers who have posted related content.

Chances are, they’ll love having a citation to back up their claims. You can even turn it into a visual asset to make the data more easily shareable.

 

Write About Someone Powerful

Writing about someone who is influential in your industry is great ego-bait.

If someone writes about you or your business (especially if they have nice things to say), you’d probably share that article with your friends, family, and followers.

You can maximize your results by targeting experts who already have a big social media or blog following.

For best results, drop that person a line ahead of time and ask if you can do a quick email interview to get some more information. That way, they are warmed up ahead of time and expecting your write-up.

When it’s live, just drop them a line via Twitter or email and let nature take its course.

 

Do an Expert Roundup

What’s better than writing about one influential expert? Writing about a bunch of influential experts.

Interview 6-10 experts at once and mash all of their advice into an expert roundup post.

This maximizes your chances of success, because even if all of them don’t share you content (no response rate is 100%, after all), odds are good that at least a few of them will.

 

Get Syndicated

Syndication is where another (more powerful) site picks up your content and directly shares it with their readers:

You get credit in form of a link to your site, and even get to keep internal links within the content back to your other pages.

Once you get picked up on a site, most will be happy to share lots more of your posts.

But wait, isn’t this duplicate content?

Nope, believe it or not.

Search Engine Land did a great post explaining how to syndicate content properly. When done according to best practices (clearly letting Google know that this is syndication, not plagiarism), duplicate content is not an issue.

It’s a really effective way to get a lot of links and quality click-through traffic.

Check out BuzzBlogger’s list of 500+ places to syndicate your content.

 

Get on a Podcast

If you enjoy a subject enough to start a blog based on the topic, chances are high you enjoy talking about it.

Either way, getting on a podcast is a great way to get exposure, and it often comes with a link from the site. They usually mention which guests are interviewed in the episode description, so that’s a great place to earn a link.

Not to mention all of the listeners who hear about your site and decide to check it out.

Finding podcasts is easy, and the podcast organizers are often so busy that finding people to interview gets to be a chore.

Just do a Google search for:

your industry + podcast

When you drop a line offering to appear on their show, many will be excited to hear from you.

Doing your first podcast is probably going to feel stressful, but if you loosen up and have fun with it, it can be a great time.

 

Leave a Testimonial

An often overlooked way to get a high-quality link is to leave a testimonial.

Many sites who display testimonials will link back to the person leaving it. Doing so helps prove that the reviewer is a real person, which adds a lot of legitimacy to the testimonial being legitimate:

Chances are you’ve used a product, software tool, or something else related to your industry. Make a list of any products you genuinely enjoyed (don’t try to game the system just for a link).

Then just send an email to the companies with a few lines summarizing how their product helped you or how you like the functionality.

If all goes well, you might just snag a nice link.

 

Turn Content into a Video

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a million.

As a blogger, I can tell you that it’s sometimes a struggle putting complex ideas into words.

When I see a video that explains something better than words can do, I love embedding that video into my posts. If I know who the creator is, I’ll give them credit for it (usually with a link).

Real blogs grow by creating value for their readers. If a video helps make my post more useful, I’ll use it in a heartbeat (even if someone else made it).

Try to think of some topics that are difficult to explain with words – things that might be visual concepts. Once you have a cool video, share it with bloggers who write about the topic at hand.

 

Search for Unlinked Brand Mentions

This works best for larger brands, but it’s worth a quick search even if you just have a small blog.

It happens quite a bit – someone writes about you or casually mentions your site / brand and fails to include a link.

These are some of the easiest links to get. Most writers will be flattered that you even noticed that they mentioned you, and will be happy to change their text-only mention to a link.

Moz has a nifty little tool called Fresh Web Explorer. Just put in your brand or site name, and it will show you sites that mention you but don’t link.

You can also do this manually, but it’s a lot of work.

 

Give Something Away

Do you have a product for sale, or even something simple like an ebook or premium subscription course?

You can get a bunch of coverage by giving away your product to bloggers in exchange for a review. People love getting free stuff, and if they will write about you in return, you’ll probably get a link (in addition to coverage in front of their blog audience).

What’s your favorite way to get links? Let me know below.