Director of Client Services, 8+ Years of Client-Facing Project Management & Digital Marketing Expertise
January 26th, 2017
Backlink strategies have been an important part of online marketing for a long time now. They help improve your website's traffic, rank, reputation, and even relationships.
Though the effectiveness of quality backlinks to your site has not changed, the methods in which you get them has.
Successful digital marketers incorporate backlink strategies into their overall marketing strategy, building links on sites not only with high authority, but also meaning to their personas.
Contrary to old practices, it's not effective to spam other blogs with comments linking to your site anymore (no one ever liked this anyway). You need quality content, with something valuable to say in order to earn your backlink.
Here are five more sophisticated backlink strategies that actually work!
Top 5 Backlink Strategies That Work!
1. Guest Blog For Larger Sites
This first strategy will probably take the most time out of your schedule, but it can also have the biggest payout -- guest blogging on larger sites including links back to yours.
Building guest blogging connections and getting your unique content posted on other sites will not only help broaden your brand's reach and drive traffic back to your website, but also build site authority.
For this backlink strategy, the benefit is ultimately gaining a long-term relationship with a more established and authoritative website and brand.
By building a relationship with bigger influencers, you open the door to even more marketing opportunities including additional articles and guest blogs, perhaps co-branded projects, speaking engagements, as well as more backlinks.
Easier said than done, I know.
So, where do you start?
1. Make a List of Possible Sites
The first step is finding sites you'd like to get referral traffic from.
Think of it this way: Where are your personas going for information? What are they reading?
Start by making a list of the top 20-30 sites you can think of (ask customers if you're struggling to create a list).
Yes, you could go after random high authority sites to get backlinks from, but the effort to create content is better utilized if you can also reach out to a broader, qualified audience and get referral traffic to your site.
So, only include sites on your list that buyer personas would actually be reading.
2. Narrow them down!
The next step is to rank those sites by their domain authority, social authority, and relevance to your services and the persona.
Make note of LinkedIn company followers and Facebook likes to help with your rank. During your search, look for the site's rules on posting/sharing etc. Some may not accept guest posts outside of their network.
After you've completed your analysis (you may have removed some from the list at this point, and that's ok), start with the sites that are of the highest potential and importance. The majority of your effort should be focused on these sites.
3. Perfect Your Pitch
One by one, find the submission forms to submit ideas, or the email addresses of editors/copywriters on each site.
First impressions are SO important in this situation, so you want to make sure you have a well thought-out pitch - or else you'll get overlooked.
When considering topics to pitch, think about the other articles on the site, the readers, and most importantly, the person you're pitching to.
What will they see as a valuable contribution? If they don't see the value, you won't get the post.
While writing your pitch, keep it concise, explain why you have expertise on this topic, and make note of their work.
It goes a long way to make it known you've done your research and actually read their content. They may get hundreds of requests in a week from people that will try anything to get links back to their sites, so make your email memorable, and human.
Follow up on your messages, and continue to build a connection with the person you're talking to. If there isn't an opportunity to post at the time, you may have one down the road, so connect with them on social media and share their content.
4. Optimize Your Article
If you do get a positive response (it really does happen if you put the right energy into it), keep the editor and readers of the site in mind while writing.
They still have the opportunity to ditch your content even after you've written it, so ask for guidelines if they aren't clear on the site.
Just like you would choose one call-to-action for your site's blog articles, do the same with this content. You want the link back to your site to be meaningful if referral traffic does come through.
I suggest linking back to a blog article that dives deeper into the topic you've started.
Keep in mind: the editor may remove links if you include too many or don't follow their instructions, so it's best to stay focused and make your links meaningful.
With luck, you'll get your article posted, you'll gain valuable backlinks, and the blog article you chose as your 'call-to-action' will get more traffic to your blog.
2. Ask Bloggers to Consider a Review
This type of outreach is most effective if you sell a product. In a similar way to researching sites and bloggers for the point above, start by building a list of bloggers who might be interested in providing a review.
By searching Google for keywords related to your product, you'll find bloggers that are potential options for this method of outreach.
If you're interested in taking this route, you have to ensure that your product is 100% ready to be reviewed.
After finding your target list, craft an email to send to these bloggers, remaining as friendly, human, and non-spammy as possible.
Explain how you found the blogger "you were looking for info on x"
Introduce the product
Offer to give the product to the blogger for free
If they're interested, ask that they consider mentioning the product on their blog or write a review
It may take some additional communication past your first email, but by working with the writer, you may build a long-term relationship, opening doors to additional posts and links back to your site or articles, essentially driving more site authority and visits to your website or blog.
3. Offer Your Content as A Resource
Bloggers and copywriters everywhere are looking for resources and links to help them create content for their readers. By utilizing some of the sites from the list you create for guest blogging, consider offering your posts as a resource for them in the future.
IMPACT gets emails all the time asking our blog to include links to their resources or redirect deadlinks on our site to them -- and if they're relevant and high-quality, we're happy to do it!
Another great way to find more bloggers to share your content with is to search for link roundups. Brian Dean from Backlinko explains this well in a video on his post here.
Search Google for your keyword and "link round-up" to find authors posting on a regular basis.
Reach out to them, citing their recent link round-ups, and offer your content as a link for an upcoming post.
This strategy relies heavily on trust and relevance of your content. In this situation, it wouldn't hurt to connect with the bloggers on social media and engage them further.
4. Try HARO or Answer Questions
HARO (Help a Reporter Out) can be hit or miss for your industry, but it's worth exploring.
Reporters and authors submit posts that you can offer your expertise or insight on as a way to build research for a topic they're writing about.
Find posts that are relevant to recent content you've written, and you'll have a better chance at being quoted or linked back to.
You can also search through Quora, Yahoo! Answers, or social media sites for people asking questions pertinent to your expertise.
Not only will you be helpful and position yourself as an expert, but you may have the opportunity to link to a post you've written (getting the backlink).
You may even get insight into questions your personas are asking, or an idea for an upcoming blog topic you'd like to write about.
5. Get Listed on Directories
Though thought of as an older method for backlinks, it's still important to show up in directories. These are usually high-ranking and highly trafficed, so take advantage of them, but remember, find those best-suited for your industry, rather than blanketing to hundreds of sites just for the backlinks.
The more niche the directory, the more qualified the audience. Places like Best of the Web and DMOZ (The Directory of the Web) are pretty general, but may get you started.
For businesses that serve consumers in a specific service area, local directories (also known as citation pages) are especially important.
Backlink campaigns, like any other marketing campaign need to be well-planned and implemented efficiently. Take these tips seriously, but do your research first. Develop a plan that works for your business, industry, and of course, your schedule.
The overall goal of your backlink strategies should be to get links back to your site from high-quality sources, but to also get traffic back to the content you've worked so hard on creating.