In this post, I’m going to list out every possible way to build backlinks in 2020.
But, before I do I have to say that I believe manual link building campaigns are a complete waste of your time. We’ll get into why that is, but first, we have to start with how much an individual backlink is actually worth.
How Much is an Individual Backlink Worth?
We know that high-quality backlinks strongly correlate to a higher ranking on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Google has admitted backlinks are still a big ranking factor despite moving more towards AI in recent years.
But, how much can an individual backlink be worth when the top results for competitive search queries have thousands of backlinks?
If you need to build 10,000 links to become competitive for the term “How to start a blog,” it’d take you 10,000+ hours to do so. For context, you only work 2,000 hours a year at a full-time job. Do you want to dedicate 5 full-time years of your life to ranking for this query?
Of course not, this type of brute-force approach would be stupid. We need to be smarter than this to compete.
Create Amazing Content and Wait
Link building is that simple. You create as much content as humanly possible, and you wait for Google to recognize how great it is. Eventually, other bloggers find it on Google and link to it. That’s the whole process.
You can write a fantastic blog post in less than a day. Meanwhile, a day of link building will only produce a couple of links.
Over the next few years, you’ll get considerably more links from that blog post than you would have by manual link building. The links take longer to come in, but you’ll end up with more links and more content that brings in high-quality traffic for years to come.
What types of content are best for getting links? I find the following types of blog posts tend to do quite well.
When you link out to another website, it’s usually because you’re looking for data to back up your argument. Create a post that dives into the numbers on something, it’ll get links.
2) Extensive How-To’s
Bloggers often write about topics that require prerequisite knowledge. Rather than write an entire post on the subject, they’ll search Google for a good explainer post and link to that.
3) Extensive List Posts
I have a big post on 100 ways to create your own product for monetizing your blog or YouTube Channel. Something like that is a link monster for whenever another blogger wants to give exhaustive ideas about that subject.
4) Sensational or Contrarian Posts
If you do an excellent writeup on a contrarian opinion, it’s the type of content that will draw in links to it.
The “experts” never explain how infographics will get you backlinks. And they don’t explain it because they promote begging bloggers to use your infographic via email (AKA spam).
Without resorting to spamming people, how else would you get a link back to your infographic? Are you hoping somebody steals your graphic, puts it on their site, and then links back to you as credit? That’s a pretty convoluted plan. And even if it worked, what high domain authority sites are doing that?
Infographics are only on this list because they can visually improve your statistical posts. Moving your post up the Google ranks.
Build a Product or Tool
Tools will attract more links than you can imagine. I crap on Neil Patel all the time, but how many backlinks does he get because UberSuggest is a free tool?
The product you build doesn’t even have to be free. I link to Income School’s course on blogging all the time because it’s a good beginner blogging course. I link to all sorts of products all the time. Even physical products if I think they’ll help my audience.
Create An Affiliate Program For Your Product.
Affiliate programs are gray-hat because affiliate links are supposed to be a rel=sponsored link. That said, how many affiliate links do you forget to mark as nofollow on your blog? I’d guess almost all of them.
Affiliate programs guaranteed sales and backlinks. It’s really a win-win.
Interlinking Within Your Own Site
Your popular blog posts can pass link juice to your other articles. This is such an easy win that so many bloggers are missing out on.
Take your most popular blog posts and find natural places to link out to your other articles from it. Or consider creating new content that can be linked to from your popular content.
Also consider the anchor text you use to link to your own assets. Make sure that anchor text contains keywords you want to rank for in Google.
Create Social Content, Particularly YouTube Content
In 2020, I feel that focusing on social media is a big waste of your time. However, Google may be using social signals in an attempt to find how credible the author of a piece of content is. Here’s what they have to say on the subject.
I do think there may be some value in focusing in on the following social media platforms.
1) The Author’s Facebook and Twitter Pages
In that YouTube video, Cutts mentions using social media to establish if an author is a credible human-being. As opposed to a bot.
I do think it makes sense to clean up your social media pages as best you can. Delete any spammy stuff you have that’s public. Then link out to your social handles from your author bio page.
YouTube helps your blog out in a number of ways.
First, YouTube is a tremendous source of traffic all on its own. You may find that your YouTube Channel becomes way more popular than your blog ever could. You can also embed your YouTube videos into your blog posts which is an excellent way to rank higher.
The problem is that all YouTube links are “nofollow” links and don’t pass link juice. Despite that, you can tell your YouTube traffic to “Google [My Brand Name] + Keyword]”. People typing your brand name into Google is a very positive sign that you’re legitimate in Google’s eyes.
Help a Reporter Out
Now we’re into manual link building efforts. The things I told you to stay away from. One of the better options for this type of link-building is Help a Reporter Out (HARO). With HARO, reporters seek out experts in their field to use as sources in their articles.
This is intriguing because Google has stated they’re looking for Author credibility when ranking your content. Having high domain authority news sites link back to your Author Bio page should help with that.
However, HARO is competitive. You get an email 3x daily with a list of queries. If you can’t respond within the first 30 minutes, don’t bother responding. Prepare to send a dozen or so answers with only 1-2 links to show for it, if that.
I don’t believe that guest posting en-masse makes sense in any way whatsoever. A single blog post on your website is significantly more valuable than a single backlink is.
If you do choose to write guest posts, make sure it’s for high domain authority sites with an audience that would buy your product. And for the love of God don’t pay to guest post!
Get interviewed on podcasts
Just like with guest blogging, podcasts only make sense if they get you in front of the right audience. If so, go ahead and you’ll get exposure and a backlink. But, don’t go do a circuit of podcasts just for the backlinks.
A better tactic would be to do the opposite. Create a podcast and have guests from high domain authority websites on your podcast link to the episode.
Broken Link Campaigns
Broken link campaigns are where you use a keyword research tool like a hrefs to find a high domain authority website with broken links. You then email the webmaster letting them know about the broken link and suggest they fill it with your blog post.
Broken link campaigns are spam. Plain and simple.
Years ago broken link campaigns were seen as a helpful way to build links. But in 2020, ask any webmaster how they feel about the spam emails they get about broken links.
Because of this spam, you’re looking at a hit rate of 1%-5%. Meaning you’re going to be sending 20-100 personalized emails per backlink. It’s a gigantic waste of time.
Unlinked Mention Campaigns
Unlinked mention campaigns are where blogs have mentioned your website but haven’t linked to you. You reach out to the webmaster and ask if they’ll include the link to your site on the mention.
Google actually addresses why they don’t use unlinked mentions as a ranking factor (or at least they didn’t in 2009).
You can search for unlinked mentions in Google by using the query.
intext:your brand name -yourdomain.com -twitter.com -facebook.com -pinterest.com -youtube.com
This will show most of the places on the web that mention your brand. But, you’re going to get a very low response rate when you email webmasters begging for a link. It doesn’t matter whether you come prepared with an infographic, a broken link, or an unlinked mention. It’s a lot of emails for very few results.
Posting to Forums With Do-Follow links
Many “experts” suggest that you should go out and try to build initial traffic through Reddit or Quora. And while that may be an OK way to get some traffic, it’s not a legitimate way to build backlinks. This is because links on Reddit, Quora, Facebook, Twitter, WordPress Blogs, and YouTube are all no-follow links. Meaning they pass no link juice whatsoever. You’re wasting your time.
Google directly addresses how they feel about links from forums. They don’t like it and it won’t help you rank higher.
Acquiring Other Websites
This is actually a pretty great way to get links, but it’s also expensive.
In theory, you could buy up other blogs in your niche that already have a lot of backlinks. Then you would move the relevant content to your domain and 301 redirect the purchased sites link juice back to yourself.
You could also purchase expired domains that have a lot of link equity. Then 301 redirect the highly linked pages back to your domain.
BlackHat: Create a Free WordPress Theme or Plugin that Links Back To Your Site
I’m not going to list every single dark web way to get backlinks. But, nobody ever gives any examples of the types of things blackhats do. A good blackhat is finding a clever way to inject links into sites without Google penalizing them for doing so.
It’s a delicate balance. Google is onto link schemes like this and they will punish you when they catch you doing it. In fact, Matt Cutts talks about this exact blackhat tactic and how they look for it.
Google has been aware of this particular scam for over a decade so don’t try it. But, this is the type of thing blackhats try to do. They want to get their malware links on just enough high domain authority websites that both the site owner and Google don’t take notice.
As you can see, there isn’t a great way to build links at scale. So don’t waste your time. Create more and better content. Over the long haul, you’ll get links from it, and Google will take notice. There’s no need to waste your time worrying about backlinks.