Link building is bar none the most impactful thing you can do for SEO. If on-page optimization and content is fuel for Google’s algorithm, backlinks represent the rocket fuel needed to ignite your rankings.
Research from MOZ to AHREFs and every SEO authority in-between has demonstrated time and again that backlinks are the number one correlation to ranking for search terms in Google.
Yet you can’t just run around scooping up just any backlinks. Google, in their infinite wisdom and an ongoing battle against SEOs, has put in place a multitude of algorithms designed to combat low quality and unnatural backlinks and linking schemes.
So what does a white hat webmaster to do?
In this guide, we’ll walk you through a number of actionable tactics you can begin employing TODAY in order to build and earn high-quality authoritative backlinks that move the needle and help you rank safely.
No matter if you’re a seasoned SEO professional or a newbie starting out, we’re sure you’ll find something useful as a takeaway.
White Hat Link Building Tactics
1. Custom Link Channel Database
This tactic goes off of the premise that sites that have already linked to you in the past are more likely to do so again.
- a. Utilize a third-party tool like AHREFs or Majestic SEO in order to find all sites that already link back to yours. Export this data to a CSV.
- b. Sign up for Google’s very own https://cse.google.com/cse/
- c. Copy and paste the value of column A1 (formatted as domain.com) into the “Sites to search” box in your custom search engine.
- d. Give the search engine any name you’d like, then click “create”.
You now have your very own custom search engine that you can update with sites that already link to you.
What makes this so useful?
Every time you create or publish a new piece of content, be it an infographic, video, guide or article, you can utilize this custom search engine to find a list of prospective “link targets” that have written about that topic in the past and are great targets to reach out to for a backlink to your newly curated media.
2. Be Like Robin Hood and “Steal” your Competitors Links
The global market is a big space, and chances are you are not even close to being the only one in your niche trying to build links. No doubt those outranking you right now are actively investing in link building efforts. Don’t let all their hard work be wasted on just their site. Help them spread the love by replicating their own link profiles.
- a. Competitor link profile intelligence. Again, AHREFs and Majestic SEO are two great tools to uncover a site’s link profile but feel free to use any third-party tool you prefer.
- b. Use this intelligence to find out “how” they are building links (direct relationships, paid placements, editorial posts, guest posts, comment or profile links, etc.).
- c. Do the same by emulating their tactics. After all, they are already proven to work.
3. Scalable Broken Link Building: Digging Deep
Broken link building certainly isn’t new, but it remains a HIGHLY effective tactic that will never go out of style. The fact remains that every single day, millions of links turn from being a valuable resource or a broken mess negatively impacting SEO and the user experience.
- a. Locate broken links. There are a great many third-party tools online to help you with this process, from free chrome extensions to robust scrapers.
- b. Replicate the type of content that the now broken link used to point to.
- c. Reach out to the webmaster or site and suggest the change to your newly minted piece of content.
4. Create FREE and Useful Niche-Specific Web Tools
Sure, skyscraper articles, guides, and infographics might be the “norm”, but one technique that can yield incredible results is developing a simple yet useful web tool or app that addresses a need, answers a question or otherwise provides value in a particular niche.
- Calorie counter for fitness/diet niche
- APR/loan calculator for finance
- Find a problem/need
- Come up with a simple app idea to address the need
- Hire a web dev to create the app and post it live
- Reach out to niche-specific sites and provide the app free for their users. Pro Tip: Search for “resource” pages in your niche.
*App can be either hosted on your site or created as an embeddable widget. Just remember that an embedded widget may put a heavy strain on your servers if it is placed on high traffic sites.
5. Manipulate Link Juice to High Performing Pages
The majority of backlinks to MOST websites are pointed to their homepage. Yet the homepage is often neither the page you want to be ranked most for a hyper-targeted keyword nor the one that is most relevant to the intent behind that keyword search (i.e. think better user experience).
For example, your product-specific page/lander, or pre-sales page targeting a specific problem and offering a personalized solution might convert way better than your home page.
So what is to be done? While this tactic won’t necessarily earn you new links, it can help you shape and control the link juice flowing to your pages.
a. Find out who is linking to your homepage
b. Visit the page that the link already exists on
c. Determine if an inner page of your site would better serve both you and their audience
d. If “yes” reach out and ask to have it switched.
Webmasters already linking to your site are often much more receptive to altering an existing link to your site than adding a new one altogether.