23 Actionable Link Building Tactics [B2B SEO Essentials]

Link building is an essential part of SEO success and it’s one of the trickiest things to get right. There are tons of tactics and strategies out there, but based on my 8+ years of experience in growing startups through SEO and content marketing, I’ve learned that the tactics that seem to work well keep changing all the time. It’s generally not worth it to go after the latest quick hacks that fall into the “grey or black hat SEO” category and focusing on providing value is the only long-term link building strategy that you can count on.

So, even though I expect the effectiveness of these link building strategies and tactics to change in time, I’m hoping that you’ll find some inspiration and practical tips from it.

NB: In this article, I’m evaluating the tactics and giving my very subjective 10-star rating to each one. This is solely based on my own experience working with B2B SaaS companies in very specific industries (and many of them have been bootstrapped companies), so take it with a grain of salt when deciding what to try out and what to ignore.


1.Visual Assets in Blog Posts (Data, Ideas, Concepts) 
2. Comics, Memes & Other Fun Viral Content
3. Link-Worthy Listicles
4. Original Research & New Data
5. In-Depth Pillar Pages
6. Using HARO as a Source
7. Using HARO as a Journalist
8. Guest Blogging
9. Relationship-Based Link Exchange
10. Broken Link Building
11. Expert Round-Up Articles
12. Offer a Scholarship
13. Wikipedia Links
14. Producthunt, Betalist & Other Startup Discovery & Software Review Sites
15. Going After Uncredited Brand Mentions
16. Skyscraper Technique
17. Shareable Infographics & Maps
18. Answer Questions in Quora, Reddit, etc
19. Linkable Assets & Mini-Tools
20. Get Interviewed on Podcasts
21. Business Directory Websites
22. Resource Page Link Building
23. Reverse Image Search Outreach
FAQ


1.Visual Assets in Blog Posts (Data, Ideas, Concepts)

Simple visual assets that summarize data, ideas, or concepts in a really valuable way can generate amazing organic backlinks with relatively low effort. If your content has some interesting facts, statistics, models, methodology – take a bit of extra time, fire up Canva and create some link-worthy graphs. People love to link to stuff that makes something complicated look easy.

Example:

Here’s my own humble attempt to gain backlinks through this simple visual step-by-step guide explaining the best bang-for-buck organic link building tactic.

Feel free to share this graph in your channels and make sure you link it back to this blog post. Thanks!
Feel free to share this graph in your channels and make sure you link it back to this blog post. Thanks!

Step-by-step guide:

  1. find a popular older post from your blog that consistently gets some organic traffic
  2. pick a key concept, idea, methodology from that content that would benefit from a visual summary
  3. sign up for Canva (the free account should be enough), pick a template that works for you, and create that visual asset that would complement the blog content
  4. put the new visual in the blog post and re-promote the whole blog post and just the visual in social media to gain some exposure
  5. fingers-crossed that someone uses it in their content and gives you a backlink and that it starts ranking organically in Google’s image search results

Is it worth the time and resources?:

  • 10/10 – it’s worth making this approach a part of your content creation process with all the new posts that you publish, it doesn’t take that much time but could offer a lot of value to your text-based content + gain organic backlinks
  • free – if you use only free tools and promote it to your existing audience (e-mails, social media, etc)
  • time commitment – it’s not a one-time tactic but rather something you should do all the time to get results

2. Comics, Memes & Other Fun Viral Content

If you have someone with the funny-bone employed in-house, then this is definitely a tactic to try out. Pick a very specific target audience and create something funny for them that would have the potential to go viral.

There’s no faking it though. If you’re not able to produce something that’s actually funny and resonates with your target audience, it simply won’t work at all.

Example – Toggl Comics

This is not really a “low effort” tactic, but it worked amazingly for Toggl. I had the pleasure to work with the legendary, multi-talented Mart Virkus who created comics in his spare time. We tried it out for Toggl’s audience as well and it worked great – this tactic generated tons of valuable backlinks and referral traffic. Here’s one (and by linking it here I’m generating another backlink for them – see, that’s exactly why this strategy works):

What-kind-of-people-work-at-tech-companies-toggl-blog.png

Step-by-step guide:

  1. find an in-house person with a great sense of humor (maybe it’s even possible to outsource this funny person?)
  2. pick a very narrow target group to focus on (PHP developers, 1st-year lawyers, etc)
  3. brainstorm some jokes about this target group – the riskier the better
  4. pick some of the best jokes and figure out what content type fits them – a comic, a meme, a short video, graph, landing page, etc
  5. create the content (this part you can usually also outsource from Upwork or Fiverr)
  6. publish it on your domain; for example, in your blog
  7. share the link in the specific forums and groups where this target group is active (subreddits, Hacker News, Facebook groups, Slack groups)
  8. if it’s actually funny and resonates with the audience, it will go viral without any further effort

Resources and time commitment:

  • 7/10 – it’s a high risk, high reward type of tactic
  • paid – finding a good comic artist could be expensive and there’s no guarantee that each content piece that you publish and share goes viral
  • time commitment – if it’s successful and your content goes viral, you’ll gain tons of backlinks for years to come with just this one tactic, but you’ll need some good insights into the specific target group you’re focusing on – their common daily annoyances, specific routines, hidden motivations, etc. If you already have these insights, then the time commitment isn’t too big. If you don’t, you’ll need to have lots of casual conversations with them and do your own research to figure it out. This could take weeks.

3. Link-Worthy Listicles

Creating listicles all day, every day, makes most marketers cringe – but they work. Tool listicles rank well because they hit the search intent of valuable keywords just right and they tend to gain more backlinks than any other type of content. It’s probably due to the fact that it’s very easy to consume a blog post that has bite-sized ideas presented in a very orderly way. Also, for lazy readers, the title of “100 B2B SEO Tactics” sounds more impressive than a more general “The Ultimate Guide to All the Possible B2B SEO Tactics”.

Example:

This Backlinko article 21 Actionable SEO Techniques For 2021 promises very practical and up-to-date SEO techniques and has gained tons of backlinks from different blogs that also write about SEO. The key takeaway here is not just the fact that it’s a listicle, but that the content itself is very actionable and useful. The fact that the content is presented as a listicle makes it more appealing to readers and increases the chances to get valuable backlinks.

Step-by-step guide:

  1. pick a broad topic that’s very close to your product and value proposition (for example: setting the right KPIs)
  2. think about an angle that is usually mentioned in the articles covering this topic and could be linked to (KPI examples)
  3. Google it and see if the top 3 results are listicles (if yes, you’re good to go) and how many items in the list they promise
  4. do more – “171 SaaS KPI Examples” or more targeted – “33 Actionable KPI Examples for Law Firms” or more up-to-date – “100 Marketing KPI Examples for 2021”
  5. research, write up, and publish this amazingly valuable listicle
  6. link to it from your topically relevant older articles
  7. share it with your existing audience (social media, e-mail newsletters, etc), answer relevant Quora questions with a link to it, use some ad budget to promote it on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Reddit, etc

Resources and time commitment:

  • 9/10 – this strategy is slow to show results but it will add to the compound effect of increasing organic traffic over years to come and you can never go wrong with a tactic that focuses on offering top-quality content
  • free – no additional costs if you’re using in-house people to write it up and promote it to your existing audience
  • time commitment – researching and putting together a competitive listicle takes a lot of time (3-5 workdays, easily)

4. Original Research & New Data

Do you have access to some original industry insights through your user base? New knowledge that you can put out into the world is one of the best ways to get valuable backlinks (and it also helps to boost your perceived trustworthiness). A simple survey, user interviews, or anonymized data could give you the type of content that becomes the holy grail of backlinking.

Example:

While working in Dashbird, I gathered data from our early users about the benefits of being “serverless”. This original research ended up as an article that was also published in Hacker Noon – “Serverless Survey: +77% Delivery Speed, 4 Dev Workdays/Mo Saved & -26% AWS Monthly Bill” – and it still gets mentioned in social media and pitch decks years later.

dashbird, annika helendi, serverless survey, link building.png

Disclaimer: this article was published in Medium because we got the opportunity to be featured on Hacker Noon and that exposure was really valuable at the early stages of the company. Generally, though, I would almost never advise you to publish an article in Medium. For SEO benefits, you should always prefer publishing an article like this in the blog on your own domain.

Step-by-step guide:

  1. pick numbers or statistics that are very valuable to know for your target group (average salaries/budgets, hours saved/spent, $ earned/saves/wasted, etc)
  2. find data: for example, conduct a survey among your user base:
    1. put together a Typeform survey
    2. send it to your user base
    3. analyze data and make conclusions
  3. write an article based on this data, put the most impressive numbers in the title, and create graphs about the results
  4. promote the article to the same users who got the email and to the general public
  5. bonus: if it makes sense, you can also use the stats on your home page as social proof

Resources and time commitment:

  • 10/10 – this tactic is valuable in so many different ways. It engages your current and future user base, brings new knowledge into the world, generates traffic and evergreen backlink opportunities.
  • free – if you’re only using your in-house people to put it all together, promote it to your existing audience and use free tools for graph-making and for conducting the survey
  • time commitment – finding original data that’s also valuable to your audience and figuring out the best ways to present it will take a lot of time. At least a week or two.

5. In-Depth Pillar Pages

In-depth pillar pages or “The Absolute Ultimate Guides to X” – whatever you like to call them. The main idea is that you create at least 8000-15000 word content pieces that attempt to answer every possible question that gets asked about a specific topic, every key concept, idea, methodology, example, and so on with the goal to improve your topic authority, rank for a bunch of valuable keywords and get organic backlinks.

Example:

Since we’re on the topic of link building, here’s one really good pillar page about link building from Backlinko – “Link Building For SEO: The Definitive Guide

Step-by-step guide:

  1. pick an umbrella term that’s closely connected to your product offering (for example – remote team management)
  2. Google the term and analyze the current top 3-5 results (word count, topics covered, depth, original data, graphs, overall quality)
  3. make note of the “People also ask” section on the search results page, the related search terms at the bottom of the page and the autocomplete suggestions in the Google search bar
  4. use these insights to create an outline for the pillar page + add more interesting topics you’ve learned about from user interviews, support emails, etc
  5. if it’s not already added from previous insights, definitely add a paragraph about the best tools/services/solutions and unapologetically put your own tool as the first one in the list of about 5-10 solutions
  6. link to all the other relevant articles that have been previously published in your blog and connect with this pillar page
  7. publish the pillar page and now link to it from all the blog posts that fall under the same umbrella topic
  8. promote it organically (answer questions in Quora and try to link to it, share it in specific Facebook/Slack/LinkedIn groups, subreddits, share it in your social media) and use some ad budget to reach new audiences as well

Resources and time commitment:

  • 9/10 – this tactic works wonders for SEO in general, but it’s very slow to show results and requires very high word-count posts
  • free – if you use only your in-house resources
  • time commitment – since the content must be long-form, it could take you weeks to finish just one exceptional pillar page.

6. Using HARO as a Source

The concept of HARO (Help a reporter out) is very simple – it allows reporters, journalists, and bloggers to quickly get access to quality sources on almost every possible topic. To use it for link building, you just have to sign up as a source on HARO’s website, start receiving the daily emails with source requests, offer your unique expert opinion on whatever relevant topics come up, and hope that your insights get published along with a backlink. Sounds easy, but similar to most of the link-building strategies mentioned here, it requires consistent effort to pay off.

Example:

Back in the day, when working in Toggl, I also used HARO to get new backlinks. I picked marketing/growth topics and tried to pitch ideas that I knew would provide more variety to the article that was being written. For example, this HARO pitch was published in ReferralCandy blog:

The title of the article was “Word-of-Mouth Marketing: Entrepreneurs Share Their #1 Secret” and I pitched them an overview of a strategy that we actually used pretty successfully in Toggl and I knew would offer some variety to the other expert opinions.
The title of the article was “Word-of-Mouth Marketing: Entrepreneurs Share Their #1 Secret”and I pitched them an overview of a strategy that we actually used pretty successfully in Toggl and I knew would offer some variety to the other expert opinions.

Later in my career, having bigger and better titles allowed me to get some easy wins. For example, this HARO pitch took me only a minute to put together and we got a pretty solid backlink from it:

This was published in CBNation with the title “22 Entrepreneurs Explain What They Love About Being An Entrepreneur” and gave us a solid backlink for a 1-minute effort.
This was published in CBNation with the title “22 Entrepreneurs Explain What They Love About Being An Entrepreneur”and gave us a solid backlink for a 1-minute effort.

Step-by-step guide:

  1. sign up for HARO as a source (the basic subscription is free)
  2. start receiving daily emails (3 per day) with a list of topics that require sources
  3. pick a general topic to pitch for as an expert and always scan the HARO emails for this topic
  4. be concise and only offer valuable information within each email pitch (max 200-300 words usually, UNLESS the journalist has also posted several questions and is clearly looking for more in-depth opinions)
  5. make it mindlessly easy for the journalist to copy-paste your response into the article without the need to reach out to you for additional information (and add a link to your headshot, give your name, short bio, company name, website link, position, etc)
  6. be fast and send your pitches within 24h of receiving the emails
  7. make it part of your daily routine to send out these expert opinions and improve your answers over time. Don’t expect to get published every time – you’re competing with hundreds if not thousands of other “expert sources” and it might take months to see how many of your pitches have actually ended up in articles and gotten you new backlinks.

Resources and time commitment:

  • 7/10 – this can be a gold mine for amazing backlinks IF you are pitching yourself for less competitive topics (so not for marketing or business) and you are an expert in your field with a very compelling writing style. For more competitive topics, it might turn out to be a waste of your time if none of your opinions get published.
  • free – if you sign up for the free HARO subscription and you write the pitches yourself. If you want to explore HARO’s paid options, here’s a good overview by Ahref about it.
  • time commitment – expect to do this for at least a few months to validate if it’s successful or not, since it takes some time to get any article written up and published. You should be consistent with your efforts, so try to scan the HARO emails at least once a day and send 1-3 pitches each time.

7. Using HARO as a Journalist

You can also use HARO as a journalist and use it to put together content pieces that feature different industry experts (who are trying to get backlinks to their websites) and ask them to link to that same article in return. This is also a good way to create valuable content for your website and ties together with some other link-building tactics that are mentioned in this article ( Tactic #4 Original research and new data, Tactic #11 Expert round-up articles).

Example:

Databox blog example, using HARO as journalist.png
Databox Blog: “Freemium vs. Free Trial: Which is the Better Model for Your Business?

Databox blog is filled with long-form articles that all feature tons of experts. I’ve personally been included in a bunch of them and gotten a backlink out of it. This example article includes 70+ expert opinions and they gathered it all by using HARO as a journalist.

Step-by-step guide:

  1. sign up for HARO as a journalist
  2. pick a blog post topic that requires expert opinions
  3. submit your HARO query
  4. evaluate all the content that you receive from different sources and include the best ones in your article
  5. publish the article and personally contact each source that was featured in the article. Send them a thank you note and ask them to share the article with their audience.

Resources and time commitment:

  • 7/10 – it can be a great resource if the type of content you need to create involves expert opinions that you can easily gather through HARO. It really depends on the industry and the topic.
  • free – if you only promote the articles through organic channels
  • time commitment – you’re saving a lot of time by not having to reach out to the “experts” yourself, but getting this type of content piece written up, published, and promoted will still take about a week or two.

8. Guest Blogging

This used to be the top go-to white hat link-building technique for years, but it’s gotten super spammy and I would advise you to be very intentional with it. Try to use your own contacts to secure guest posting opportunities and make sure you write super interesting and valuable articles for top domains only. Avoid sites that have the big “Write for us” links on their sites.

Example:

I honestly didn’t find any of the guest posts that I wrote back in the day and I guess that already says something about this tactic. But here’s an article that answers the question: Is Guest Blogging Still a Viable SEO Strategy?”

Step-by-step guide:

  1. think about opportunities among people and organizations that you already have personal contact with (people in your industry you’ve talked to during a conference/networking event/hackathon, your investors, their other portfolio companies, your first customers, etc)
  2. study their blog and find a topic that would offer a lot of value for them and also would allow you to have an organic backlink to your own site in it
  3. create the content outline and pitch it to the blog you have in mind
  4. if they agree, write the article in the shortest reasonable time possible and make sure it’s fully formatted and top quality
  5. once the article is published, promote it on your end as well

Resources and time commitment:

  • 5/10 – it only works if you can secure the guest posting opportunities within your own network and can be sure about the quality of the domain. In general terms, guest blogging as the main link-building tactic has passed its prime.
  • free – if you only use your own contacts. Lots of blogs offer guest blogging opportunities for a fee, though keep in mind that you get what you pay for.
  • time commitment – usually you’ll end up spending the majority of your time on the communication part of the deal and not on writing the actual content.

9. Relationship-Based Link Exchange

Depending on the size and quality of your personal network, this could be one of the easiest and most powerful link-building techniques, yet it’s also more of a gray-hat SEO tactic. So be careful with it.

If you are a seasoned marketer or a founder, you probably know tons of people in the same field and have a good enough relationship with them to inquire about possible link exchange opportunities or to just make it a habit to link to their content any time the topic fits.

Example:

Since this isn’t exactly a recommended tactic by Google, then I don’t want to expose anyone by giving specific examples and instead recommend reading more about this topic here: “Are Link Exchanges a Legitimate SEO Strategy in 2021?”

Step-by-step guide:

  1. evaluate your existing relationships within your field and find partners who are not direct competitors but are writing about very similar topics to you
  2. see if the quality of their content matches your expectations and only proceed if you’re inspired/impressed by it
  3. talk to them directly and figure out a mutually beneficial deal: finding ways to link to each other’s relevant content in an organic way (both in older content and in new ones)

Resources and time commitment:

  • 6/10 – great strategy if you have tons of close friends running amazing blogs in the same field. If you don’t have that, then don’t bother forcing this tactic – you could end up hurting your SEO efforts.
  • free – if you manage to set up a win-win type of deal that’s based on quality content and organic linking. Buying backlinks is a very popular option too, unfortunately. I don’t recommend it, because it’s almost always low quality and can hurt your whole domain rankings.
  • time commitment – these opportunities have to come to you almost as happy accidents (your friend’s blog links to one of your articles and next time you find a way to link to theirs as a thank you, for example) without much hassle.

10. Broken Link Building

This strategy has also gotten super spammy and has a low success rate, but it’s still worth a mention in this article. As Ahrefs puts it:

“Broken link building is a tactic whereby you find a broken (i.e., dead) link, recreate the dead content, then tell anyone linking to the dead resource to instead link to your recreated content.”

Example:

Does it even work anymore? Here’s a Youtube video from Ahrefs about it:

https://youtube.com/watch?v=k_0jmRvK4gs%3Fwmode%3Dopaque%26enablejsapi%3D1

Step-by-step guide:

  1. use an SEO tool like SEMrush or Ahrefs to analyze sites that are in your niche and find their dead backlinks (step-by-step guides linked for both tools)
  2. create content that exceeds in value
  3. pitch that new content to the site while notifying them about a dead link on their site

Resources and time commitment:

  • 4/10 – everyone’s been doing it and it just isn’t that effective.
  • paid – you need to use an SEO tool to find the broken link opportunities. SEMrush subscription starts from $129/mo.
  • time commitment – a few hours spent on analyzing data and finding the dead backlinks, then you have to spend a few days or up to a week to create content (or update existing one) and then to also pitch it to the webmaster without any guarantee that they’ll even respond to you.

11. Expert Round-Up Articles

Expert round-up articles can offer some great win-win types of content deals. You can put together a very valuable content piece thanks to the experts offering their opinions while they get a backlink out of it. This in return can generate some organic backlinks for your round-up article as well.

Example:

While working in Dashbird, I contacted serverless industry experts and thought leaders through Twitter and conducted a survey among them to gather some new knowledge about this emerging market. This information was then published as this article – “Serverless Influencers Share Their Predictions & Insights for 2018 and Beyond” and ended up featuring 8 industry experts who all shared this article with their audience after it was published.

dashbird, serverless indusry experts, round-up backlink tactic, annika helendi.png

Step-by-step guide:

  1. analyze trending topics in your industry and find an angle that’s not covered yet and would require expert insights
  2. make a list of experts to contact directly (Twitter is a good place for it) or submit a query as a journalist in HARO (this tactic mentioned above as well)
  3. if you’re contacting the experts directly, remove as much friction as possible (instead of asking for a 20-min video call, send them a Typeform link with a few open-ended questions and get their bio and headshot picture from their public social media accounts )
  4. analyze the insights that you get from the experts and take your time putting it all together in the most useful way
  5. publish the article, promote it in your social media channels and share it in online communities that have the same target group
  6. contact all the experts that are featured in your article personally, share the article link, ask for feedback and request that they would share it with their audience as well

Resources and time commitment:

  • 7/10 – it can be a really good strategy to get valuable content published in your blog, generate organic backlinks and also to establish some industry contacts in the process.
  • free – you don’t really need to spend any money on this strategy, unless you decide to use some budget to promote the finished article in paid channels as well and/or to send some gifts to the experts that were featured to strengthen the connection with them.
  • time commitment – it probably takes you a few weeks to get it all done, but it will be relatively low effort compared to the value that you could potentially offer with the finished content piece.

12. Offer a Scholarship

This is an interesting tactic that I haven’t tried myself, but I found it from the Wordstream blog and found it very interesting. I’m guessing that this tactic could work really well for some industries.

Example:

This tactic is just one of the many mentioned in Wordstream’s blog post “10 Highly Effective B2B Link Building Tactics”
This tactic is just one of the many mentioned in Wordstream’s blog post “10 Highly Effective B2B Link Building Tactics”

Step-by-step guide:

  1. create a scholarship page on your site, then create an application form (for example, with Google Forms)
  2. hire a data miner from Upwork to find the contact information of someone in the Financial Aid office, as well as in the relevant departments in different universities (aim to get about 200 universities lined up)
  3. contact the universities about your scholarship and ask them to link to it

Resources and time commitment:

  • ?/10 – since I haven’t tried it, it’s hard to evaluate it. Let me know how it worked for you in the comments section below.
  • paid – scholarship itself costs you some money and if you use the same approach and hire a data miner, then that’s an added expense as well
  • time commitment – it seems to take at least a few weeks to pull this off

13. Wikipedia Links

Wikipedia has amazingly high domain authority and you definitely want a backlink from there. But it’s very hard to just go in and try to edit existing articles with a new Wikipedia account with the goal to get a backlink to your site. Most likely your edits will get blocked very quickly by seasoned Wikipedia contributors (trust me, I’ve tried it a couple of times). So instead, try to find a person who has some history with updating Wikipedia articles and ask them for help.

Wikipedia links are “nofollow” but they still hold a lot of value because a lot of sites use Wikipedia content on their sites and a lot of them are “dofollow”.

Example:

While working in Toggl, we asked our followers for help with adding our link to Wikipedia and it worked like a charm.
While working in Toggl, we asked our followers for help with adding our link to Wikipedia and it worked like a charm.

Step-by-step guide:

  1. find someone who’s frequently contributing to Wikipedia articles
  2. find a relevant article that should have your backlink in it
  3. give them all the content that should be included (follow Wikipedia’s general style, sales copy is not tolerated)
  4. thank the contributor with some kind words and gifts

Resources and time commitment:

  • 8/10 – if you can get in touch with the right person quickly, this can be a great bang-for-buck link building technique
  • free – if you don’t pay for the Wikipedia contributor
  • time commitment – pretty low, ideally it can be done in less than an hour

14. Producthunt, Betalist & Other Startup Discovery & Software Review Sites

The software/startup discovery and review sites not only offer some easy backlink opportunities but could also bring you tons of potential referral traffic or get your product the much-needed early adopters. Even though a lot of the sites only give you a “nofollow” link, they have the potential to create opportunities that are way bigger than just one backlink.

Example:

Out of the 6 Producthunt launches I’ve done, the Unicorn Startup Simulator browser game got the most upvotes and traffic. This was a fun side-project that we did with Toggl’s marketing and frontend teams on a team retreat in Scotland and thanks to this Producthunt launch, it briefly went viral in the startup circles.
Out of the 6 Producthunt launches I’ve done, the Unicorn Startup Simulatorbrowser game got the most upvotes and traffic. This was a fun side-project that we did with Toggl’s marketing and frontend teams on a team retreat in Scotland and thanks to this Producthunt launch, it briefly went viral in the startup circles.

Step-by-step guide:

  1. make a list of different tool/startup-discovery and product review sites that are relevant for your product. The usual suspects are Producthunt, Betalist, AngelList, Crunchbase, Capterra, but there are so many more.
  2. prepare copy and visual materials for each one and publish them on the sites
  3. create campaigns around the sites that require it (try to make a big splash with a Producthunt launch and create an email campaign to get positive reviews from your best customers for Capterra and similar review sites)

Resources and time commitment:

  • 9/10 – this is a great tactic especially for early-stage startups
  • free/paid – you can only use the sites that allow to put your product profile up for free, but there are also tons of sites that do it for a fee (and some just take a lot of time to review your free listing, while you could speed up the process by paying them)
  • time commitment – depending on how big of a list you have and how quickly you can create copy and visual assets for each one, this will still take a few weeks of your time.

15. Going After Uncredited Brand Mentions

If your company has gotten some recent media mentions or PR has played a major role in your early traction, then there’s a good chance that this tactic would help you get some quick and valuable backlinks.

Example:

You can read more about how Wordstream did it in “10 Highly Effective B2B Link Building Tactics” (scroll down to the “Link Reclamation” part).

Step-by-step guide:

  1. the simplest solution is to set up Google alerts (or a similar service) to get notifications every time your brand name is mentioned
  2. if you see that a new brand mention is missing a link back to you, get in touch with the site owner and kindly ask them to include a link back to you as well (bonus points if you can establish a good connection and organically develop a link exchange or guest blogging deal with them as well).
  3. for more advanced strategies, check out this Ahrefs blog post: “Link Reclamation: How to Easily Find (and Reclaim) Lost Backlinks”

Resources and time commitment:

  • 6/10 – it’s a good bang-for-buck tactic IF you have recently gotten lots of brand mentions in the media, but usually there just aren’t that many opportunities to take advantage of this tactic
  • free – unless you use a paid tool like Ahrefs for the more advanced methods, you can easily use this tactic with only free resources.
  • time commitment – a quick email here-and-there once an uncredited brand mention comes up – super low effort tactic.

16. Skyscraper Technique

Created by Backlinko’s Brian Dean, the Skyscraper Technique is a methodology for turning content into high-quality backlinks. In short, it means that you research popular trends and topics in your field, find content that’s popular already but could be even better with some unique angle, additional visual assets, data, etc. You’ll then create that elevated/upgraded content piece and pitch it to the sites that link to the original content that inspired you to create your own version. Hopefully you’ll get a backlink out of it.

Example:

This is the original article that introduces the Skyscraper technique to the world - “Link Building Case Study: How I Increased My Search Traffic by 110% in 14 Days”.
This is the original article that introduces the Skyscraper technique to the world – “Link Building Case Study: How I Increased My Search Traffic by 110% in 14 Days”.

Step-by-step guide:

  1. find link-worthy content in your field that’s already gained some interest and links
  2. create something even better with elevated design, a new angle, updated data, etc
  3. reach out to the right people and ask for a backlink

Resources and time commitment:

  • 7/10 – as far as cold pitching to get backlinks goes, this seems to be the best strategy that’s currently out there (but be mindful about the fact that this strategy is widely used and site owners probably get a lot of cold emails similar to your’s). But even if you don’t end up getting a backlink through directly pitching your content to other sites, you’ll still end up with an amazing article in your blog that you can promote on other channels.
  • free – if you don’t use any paid SEO tools to find the link-worthy content opportunities and write the content in-house
  • time commitment – since you have to produce amazing content and finding the exact topics requires some research, using this tactic can be pretty time-consuming. It will probably take you a minimum of 1-2 weeks to get something out there.

17. Shareable Infographics & Maps

Creating infographics and maps for link building is a bit different from the first tactic in this list (creating visual assets to complement your blog content) by attempting to tell the whole story on the image. Basically, you’ll try to find a new piece of knowledge or data that would perform well in visual form and then pitch it to different sites and hope you’ll get some backlinks out of it.

Example:

You can check out how creating maps has proved to be an especially useful link building tactic for lots of companies in this article - “The Visual Format You Should be Using for Link Building (No, It’s NOT Infographics)”
You can check out how creating maps has proved to be an especially useful link building tactic for lots of companies in this article – “The Visual Format You Should be Using for Link Building (No, It’s NOT Infographics)”

Step-by-step guide:

  1. research trending topics and new or interesting data that’s connected to your field
  2. evaluate which topic/data would work best as an infographic or a map
  3. find an angle that would make the content link-worthy in your field (check the examples above for inspiration)
  4. do additional data mining and analysis if needed and create the infographic/map either yourself (in Canva maybe?), use an in-house designer, or outsource it from Upwork or Fiverr
  5. pitch it directly to media outlets and bloggers

Resources and time commitment:

  • 8/10 – if you find the right angle, this could really blow up your backlink profile in a matter of days
  • free – if you do it all on your own and with free tools
  • time commitment – it probably takes you a minimum of one week to put it all together and pitch it

18. Answer Questions in Quora, Reddit, etc

Reddit is one of the biggest websites in the world and Quora also has super high domain authority (and there are lots of niche sites similar to them – for example Growth Hackers for marketers). These sites are strictly moderated and hold a lot of value for link building and for general brand awareness. Even though these sites only generate “nofollow” backlinks, it seems that Google still considers them as “hints”.  Being active in a meaningful way on these sites will probably pay off in more ways than just this one.

Example:

While working in ContentFly, I tried to be active in Quora because there were a lot of questions posted by our ideal target groups. This is one of the answers that gained a lot of attention and got us some new clients.
While working in ContentFly, I tried to be active in Quora because there were a lot of questions posted by our ideal target groups. This is one of the answers that gained a lot of attention and got us some new clients.

Step-by-step guide:

  1. find subreddits and Quora questions that are relevant to your product and start following them
  2. whenever a topic comes up that you know more about, then contribute in a meaningful way (no sales text, build a valuable presence instead)
  3. only if it makes sense, add a link back to your site along with your answer (linking to specific blog posts that offer value usually work better than just home page links)
  4. bonus: the discussions/questions you follow will give inspiration for creating new content that can then be linked more easily

Resources and time commitment:

  • 6/10 – it takes time to build up your reputation in these communities and it’s not that easy to slip the desired link into your text
  • free – it just needs your time
  • time commitment – to build up your profile as a contributor, you should follow the topics almost daily and offer your insights at least a couple of times per week and keep doing it for months. You have to find a way to enjoy these channels to make it a successful link-building channel.

19. Linkable Assets & Mini-Tools

Think about your industry and see if there are some frequent problems that you could help people solve with a free, browser-based tool – for example – a salary calculator, online timer, word/topic generator, etc. These assets, if valuable, generate a lot of backlinks, so make sure you host them on your main domain.

Example:

It’s not mind-blowingly clever, but this “Free Online Timer on Full Screen” hits some super high volume keywords and it’s very similar to Toggl’s main product offering.
It’s not mind-blowingly clever, but this Free Online Timer on Full Screen”hits some super high volume keywords and it’s very similar to Toggl’s main product offering.

Step-by-step guide:

  1. think about your target group and if there are some simple tasks that they would love to solve with a free browser-based tool
  2. once you have a concept in mind, include your dev team into the talks and see if they can help you put it together, or outsource the development part from Upwork, Toptal, or any similar platform.
  3. once it’s up and running, promote it to your existing audience in social media, via emails and try to mention it in relevant subreddits and Quora answers as well
  4. bonus: if it’s organically connected to your product offering, add a link to it to your site’s footer

Resources and time commitment:

  • 8/10 – these mini-tools can turn into organic-backlink-machines
  • free/paid – if you can use only your in-house team to pull it off, then you won’t need to spend any extra money, but usually these projects are very low in the priorities list for internal engineering teams, so it might make sense to outsource the development part.
  • time commitment – it will probably take about a month to get it done.

20. Get Interviewed on Podcasts

Although I personally believe that using podcasts as a marketing channel has low value, they can be useful to gain some backlinks (especially when you’re just starting out with a new site). Usually, the site hosting the podcast will link to their guest’s sites from the post for that episode. So the only trick is to get yourself invited to a bunch of podcasts that have good websites behind them.

Example:

Here’s an article in Search Engine Journal about this tactic – “How to Use Podcasts for Link Building”

Step-by-step guide:

  1. research and make a list of podcasts that connect with your position, previous work experience, and special skills
  2. Google yourself and see if what comes up seems interesting for a potential podcast listener, if not, upgrade your public profiles, start expressing your professional hot-takes on social media and start a personal blog
  3. pitch yourself to the podcast hosts (make each one unique and focus on the audience’s point of view). It helps if you have written about these topics in your personal blog as well and you can link to these articles as a reference. Once you have at least one podcast under your belt, you can start using that as your reference.

Resources and time commitment:

  • 6/10 – it’s a big-time commitment for just one backlink, but if you genuinely enjoy the podcast format, then go crazy!
  • free – just use your unique perspective to pull it off
  • time commitment – taking part in an hour-long podcast might not seem like a big commitment, but you also need to go through the pitching process and prep a bit for the actual thing.

21. Business Directory Websites

Most of these types of websites add “nofollow” tags to the site link, but as mentioned above the backlinks from these platforms can be beneficial if they are popular in your niche. 

Example:

For example, you can check out the best practices for using this tactic from this Search Engine Journal article: “21 Web Directories That Still Have Value”

Step-by-step guide:

  1. make a list of business directory sites that you want to be listed on. For example, you can start with this one – “48 Free Websites to List Your Business”
  2. start checking off the list by creating a business profile on each of these sites

Resources and time commitment:

  • 6/10 – it’s a good way to get your early-stage venture “on the map” and send Google some “hint” about your existence
  • free – if you only stick with the sites that offer free listings
  • time commitment – just take a day or two to go through your list and create as many profiles as possible (and makes sense)

22. Resource Page Link Building

I haven’t used this tactic myself, but it sounds like it could hold some value. Basically, you’ll want to find different resource pages in your niche and then try to get listed on them with your site.

Example:

This is an example of this tactic from a Backlinko article: “Link Building For SEO: The Definitive Guide (2021)” (scroll down for Resource Page Link Building part).
This is an example of this tactic from a Backlinko article: “Link Building For SEO: The Definitive Guide (2021)”(scroll down for Resource Page Link Building part).

Step-by-step guide:

  1. find resource pages by using these search strings in Google. They’re designed specifically to unearth resource pages:“Keyword” + inurl:links
    “Keyword” + “helpful resources”
    “Keyword” + “useful resources”
    “Keyword” + “useful links”
  2. analyze the domain authority of the pages you find (with free or paid SEO tools)
  3. find the perfect fit between a high-quality resource page + your own content that would naturally work there
  4. get personally in touch and pitch your content for the site

Resources and time commitment:

  • 5/10 – I haven’t personally tried it but since this tactic counts on cold email pitching to succeed then I don’t have very high hopes for it
  • free – if you don’t use any of the paid tools to analyze the sites
  • time commitment – could be done as an afternoon project

23. Reverse Image Search Outreach

This is the link building tactic that you can use only after you have used some of the other tactics in this list (creating visual assets for your blog posts + infographics and maps) and have been successful with them. There’s a good chance that lots of people have forgotten to properly link back to you after one of your visual assets has gone “viral”, so you can then do reverse image search and contact all the sites that didn’t link back to you properly with a request to do so.

Example:

This example is from the same Backlinko article: “Link Building For SEO: The Definitive Guide (2021)” (scroll down for Get “Bonus” Links With Reverse Image Search part).
This example is from the same Backlinko article: “Link Building For SEO: The Definitive Guide (2021)”(scroll down for Get “Bonus” Links With Reverse Image Search part).

Step-by-step guide:

  1. Use Google reverse image search with the image that potentially has been used without proper credit back to your site
  2. send friendly emails or contact the people who have uploaded the image in social media and ask them to give you a proper backlink for it

Resources and time commitment:

  • 9/10 – if you have images that are so popular that they sometimes get used without the backlink, then this is a great low-effort tactic
  • free – you don’t need any paid tools for it
  • time commitment – you can get it done in an hour

FAQ

Which link building tactics are generally not worth the time and effort?

  • Broken link building strategy is overused and has a very low success rate. And any other tactic that relies on cold emailing site owners is usually a waste of your time.
  • Guest blogging strategy that involves just cold emailing sites and offering guest posts is also overused and doesn’t work that well, because the sites that still allow random guest posts to be published are typically very low quality and getting a link there will do more harm than good. Some sites ask money (you have to evaluate if their domain authority is strong enough to give you value, the industry and topics are relevant to your site and the quality of the other “paid guest posts” is good), but the majority of sites just won’t bother with allowing guest posts at all.
  • Leaving links in the comments sections of other blogs is super old school and not in a good way. It’s spammy, the links are always “nofollow” and there are very few blogs where the comments section has any type of valuable conversations.

Should I just buy links?

No. The risk is not worth the reward if you want to build a business that grows year after year and plans to be around for at least another 5 years.

What is the BEST link building strategy?

It depends on your industry, but as a general rule of thumb, what always works is creating link-worthy content that offers REAL value to lots of internet users.

What’s the difference between B2B and B2C link building strategies?

Using media coverage to create valuable backlinks is typically an option that, depending on the industry and the product, B2C companies can take advantage of a bit more than B2B companies. It boils down to the fact that B2B audience is more limited to specific decision–makers, but the B2C audience is much wider and it’s easier to find newsworthy topics that could get some wider media coverage.

B2B companies typically have to rely on very specific sites and partners that operate in a similar industry to them to gain links. Since B2B audience is very practical and motivated by measurable gains in time, money and other resources, then the link building tactics themselves have to focus on providing actual value. It generally doesn’t make sense to look for quick hacks with B2B link building, but to instead accept the fact that it’s going to take a lot of time and effort.

In general, (but depending on the exact industry and the products) B2C companies can also use influencer marketing more successfully to generate backlinks along with improving brand awareness, than B2B companies. The reason is also connected to the fact that the majority of influencers promote products to the general public and not to the key decision-makers that the B2B companies need to target.

Nofollow .vs. Dofollow?

rel=”nofollow” is a tag added to a link that tells search engines: “Don’t count this link as an endorsement.”.

Ideally, you want to get the normal, “dofollow” links whenever possible, but there’s also some evidence that “nofollow” links from quality sites are taken as ranking “hints” by Google.

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Annika Helendi
Articles: 12

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