In this post, I’m going to list out every possible way to build backlinks in 2021.
But, before I do I have to say that I believe your time is better spent creating better content (we’ll get to why later). That said, let’s get into how to build some awesome links!
1) Ask Your Affiliates For a Backlink
This is my personal favorite way to build high quality backlinks. There are 4 reasons that I love it.
- Companies with products tend to have very high domain ratings (people link out to products).
- If a small company is making $1,000+ a month off of your content, they’re extremely likely to give you a link.
- Even if you fail at getting a link, you’ll be making money from their affiliate program.
- Since you’re no-following your affiliate links (it’s not a link for link scheme). And because nobody else has the exact same affiliates as you, Google’s unlikely to think of it as a scheme.
I try to focus on writing content for high-paying affiliate offers. Once I’m making money with the program, I’ll ask for a backlink. Whether I get the link or not this tends to be a very profitable use of my time. And I get the link more often than not (which can’t be said of most other link-building techniques).
2) Interlinking Within Your Own Site
This is my 2nd favorite way to build backlinks. And it has the obvious downside that it’s not going to raise your overall domain authority. That said, don’t overlook interlinking! A link from one of your popular articles can absolutely drive another one of your articles up the SERP! Particularly if your users are clicking through.
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.
3) Create Your Own Product (With an Affiliate Program).
Creating your own product can be difficult. But, it can also be very lucrative. And remember when I said companies with products tend to have high domain authority? It’s because bloggers link out to products like crazy. Particularly ones with popular affiliate programs.
And yes, every affiliate link is supposed to be a rel=nofollow sponsored link. That said, most bloggers simply forget to do this because it doesn’t happen by default. You win.
4) Acquiring Other Websites
If you have the cash to swing it, buying another blog and 301-redirecting all of the content to your primary domain is probably the easiest way possible to legitimately acquire a large number of legitimate backlinks.
It also gives you a ton of fresh new content that may be linked to in the future as it has time to age. The vast majority of people selling their websites have sites that are less than two years old and they’ve yet to see a fraction of the backlinks that they will over time.
5) Help a Reporter Out
With Help a Reporter Out (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 day (preferably the first 30 minutes), don’t bother responding. Prepare to send a dozen or so answers with only 1-2 do-follow links to show for it. Maybe less.
6) Create Amazing Content and Wait
You can write a fantastic blog post in less than a day. Over the years that content will generate a few links to your website on average. Meanwhile, if you used that day to write a guest post you’d generate a maximum of one link. Simply writing content for your own site beats out a lot of well-known link-building techniques if you have a long-term time horizon (and you get to keep all the traffic / money your work generates).
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.
B) 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.
C) 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.
D) 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.
7) Get interviewed on podcasts
Podcasts can make sense if they get you in front of the right audience. And the creator will likely be willing to throw you a backlink.
That said, I wouldn’t do a series of podcasts exclusively for the backlinks. Podcasts are incredibly intimate settings (much more so than a blog). People like the host enough to list to them for nearly an hour of their time. You should be using podcasts to get that audience to want to follow you rather than to build links.
8) Guest Posting
I don’t believe that doing a lot of guest posting makes any sense whatsoever. Again, a single blog post on your own website will probably generate more than one link on average over time. So why waste your time creating content for other websites?
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!
9) 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.
10) 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 2021, 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.
11) Create YouTube Content
Not for the backlinks, all links on YouTube are no-followed. 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 becoming a brand name on Google’s video platform. And even if that’s not correct, I’ve experienced firsthand the rankings boost you’ll see when you start embedding video content into your blog. It helps.
BlackHat Link Building Techniques
The elephant in the room when it comes to link-building is that if Google becomes aware of an easy way to game their system, they’re going to destroy it. Meaning if you’re reading about easy ways to build links on a blog post on the open Internet, Google is already well aware of it and is actively working to combat it.
This is why you shouldn’t bother with any black-hat link-building stuff. Here are just a handful of things I’ve seen other bloggers suggest that you should steer clear of and why.
- Link Injection into WordPress Themes – If this is your plan you’re about 10 years too late. Matt Cutts was talking about this blackhat technique and how they identify it over a decade ago!
- Posting in Blog Comments Sections – No self-respecting comments section has do-follow links in 2021 (including WordPress comments).
- Social Media / Web 2.0’s – Reddit, Quora, Facebook, Twitter, WordPress Blogs, Medium, Tumblr, YouTube (and all the other sites I can’t even remember) no-follow each and every one of their links.
- Private Blog Networks (PBN’s) – For obvious reasons, it’s THE example that Google gives as spam almost every time they speak.
How Many Links Do You Need to Build?
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.
That said, in researching my posts, I discovered this cool graphic from Alexa in which they plotted how many links sites tended to have according to their alexa rank.
The interesting thing about this graphic is the top 100,000 sites on the web are probably generating pretty close to a full-time income. And yet they tend to only have between 10 and 100 backlinks. Meaning you don’t need to build an ungodly amount of links to be successful at this. Despite what other people may be telling you.