3 of the Best Link-Building Tactics for 2021 (With Examples)

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    Link-building tactics. Why do you need to know them?

    Because, like it or not, link-building is a cornerstone of SEO. It gets a lot of flak for the amount of work it entails, but it still remains an essential Google ranking factor.

    Need evidence?

    Backlinko analyzed 11 million+ pages and found that the higher-ranked sites had more backlinks pointing to them. In fact, the #1 ranked pages examined had 3.8x more backlinks than the #2 – #10 ranked pages. Doesn’t look like a coincidence to me.

    Despite its many benefits, link building can be slow to produce returns, especially if you use archaic tactics. Old favorites like earning backlinks from forums or post comments are redundant now, according to Google’s Spam Expert, Matt Crum. If you continue linking to big names in the hope of earning links, Google may think you’re a spammer and penalize you for it.

    Scary, right?

    I know.

    But don’t worry. To make link building as painless and effective as possible, I’ve identified three of the latest link-building tactics in this post. Let me walk you through them.

    As explained, link building is not a one-time deal. Wouldn’t it be great if you could build link channels that can be used over and over again to identify new link opportunities? Here are three smart link-building tactics to help you do that:

    Getting new backlinks can involve huge costs, especially if you rely on things like sponsored posts. To keep your marketing budget in check, I advise that you capitalize on old relationships. 

    Instead of approaching random sites to link back to you, rekindle relationships with your old link partners. It’s fair to assume that sites that have linked to you in the past probably like your content and have an audience base that relates well to your content.  

    Makes sense, right?

    Now imagine you have a search engine that cuts through the noise and finds such high-intention websites for you. That’ll save you precious hours, not to mention dollars. In just three steps, you can nail this link-building tactic.

    Load your site’s URL into a backlink analysis tool like SEMrush or Ahrefs and get a list of sites linking to you. Set the filter “Links per reference domain” to “1.” Export the list into a CSV file.

    Step 2: Create a Google Custom Search Engine (CSE)

    Next, sign up for Google CSE using your official email ID and load all the websites from step 1 into it. Access the “Control Panel” and click on “Site to search” in the navigation pane.

    Google Custom Search Engine Example
    Via Google

    In the form that appears, type one of the URLs from step 1, name your search engine, and hit “CREATE.” Your CSE will be set up. To add all of the sites together, click on “Edit” and select the option “Include sites in bulk.”

    Google Custom Search Engine2

    Then, click on “Save.” This search engine will only show link opportunities on the sites where your content has been published before, not the entire web. This way, you can put in concerted efforts in the right direction.

    To find prospective link partners using the CSE you created, set it as your default search engine. If you plan to get a post about SEO published on an external website, type “SEO” in the CSE. You will see if any of the publishers you’ve written for in the past deal with SEO-related content.

    To widen your pool of link prospects, you can use semantically-similar keywords from Google auto suggestions or related searches. For finding more keyword variations, you can use a keyword generator like LSIGraph.

    I like to call this link-building tactic “RLR or research-learn-replicate.” As the name suggests, it entails three steps:

    • Research your competitors’ backlink profiles.
    • Learn how they earn backlinks.
    • Replicate their strategies. 

    Let me walk you through the steps:

    First, you need to analyze your competitors’ backlinks. You can use tools like Moz Link Explorer for this purpose. Just type in your competitors’ URLs in the tool and generate a backlinks report. 

    You likely already know who your competitors are, but if that is the case, don’t worry. Conduct a basic Google search for the keywords you’re trying to target, say “Link-building tactics.” Then, copy the first-ranked URL (Backlinko in this case) and paste it into your backlink tool.

    Finding Seo Competitors

    You will find out which pages link to Backlinko, their DAs, and anchor texts. Their entire backlink strategy will be revealed and you can simply replicate it for yourself.

    Competitor Backlink Analysis MOZ
    Via MOZ

    For instance, if you find Backlinko is generating a ton of links by guest posting on high-DA websites, leverage the strategy for yourself.

    If you find the same sites popping up again and again in the backlinks report, you can deduce that Backlinko has forged a relationship with them. It might be worthwhile to copy the same trick. 

    Click on the linked guest posts and analyze their content quality. If you can, create a better resource and reach out to Backlinko’s linking partners with a guest-posting proposal. 

    You can use an email finder like Hunter.io to search verified contact details of publishers. Keep the outreach email crisp and friendly, like the one shown below:

    Guest Post Outreach Email Example

    Simple enough?

    It is. 

    Thanks to this link-building tactic, I grew my visibility and authority in the industry when I started my career. The best part is that my link prospects expanded as I published more and more content externally, making this tactic even more bankable and easy to implement.

    Broken link building is not a new link-building tactic. Today, I’ll tell you a more scalable version of it, using which you can score a boatload of backlinks in one go. 

    Typically, broken link building proceeds like this:

    1. Find broken links on the pages where you want to be featured. You can use tools like Dead Link Checker to detect broken links. 

    To illustrate the process better, I checked an article (tools for digital marketers) using the link checker. I chose this post since digital marketing is my forte and I know that I can create stellar content about it. 

    Note: Tool and resource listicles are a great starting point for broken link building since they tend to link out to many external pages. Most site owners don’t bother to keep their links up-to-date, which means these pages tend to have many dead/corrupt links. 

    That’s precisely what happened with the article in question. Refer to its link-check report below:

    Backlinking Tactic Broken Link
    Image via Dead Link Checker

    Out of the11 links flagged on the page, many point to pages that do not exist or are forbidden, and can be replaced with quality content on the same topics.

    Now, comes the scaled-up twist. I found all the domains referring to these dead domains so that I could get them all to replace their dead links with mine. 

    Cool, right? 

    It is.

    To do that, I placed one of the corrupt links in Moz Site Explorer and got the list of referring domains. Turns out, the link was referred to by a whopping 1.2K sites. 

    Backlinking Tactic Broken Link2

    Imagine, if even 10% of these sites agree to promote my content, my link profile would be richer by 1K inbound links of high-quality. That’s how scaled broken link building works its magic.

    2. Create content to pitch to the webmasters of those sites. But before you do that, check out what the disappeared content resource used to look like. 

    How, you ask?

    Place the corrupt link in a tool like Wayback Machine and you’ll see a screenshot of the content you need to replicate. Even if you don’t have on-brand content related to the topic, you can always create tangential content, which actually produces more backlinks and social shares, according to Moz.

    Tangential Vs Onbrand Content Performance
    Via MOZ

    3. Reach out to the webmasters with your link-replacement offer. Inform them that one of their links is broken and you have the perfect resource to replace it. 

    Don’t forget to boast about your credentials. Explain what you bring to the table – reach, authority, solid social presence, etc. Make it a no-brainer for the editors/publishers. You can use this outreach email template for the task:

    Backlinking Tactic Broken Link Email Example

    Voila! There you have it. An unbeaten link-building tactic that produces quick results since it’s done at scale.

    As you can see, link-building tactics do not need to be labor-intensive or costly. In fact, most of the tools I’ve mentioned in this post are available for free so everyone can unleash the power of link building. Plus, you won’t have to worry about attracting Google penalties with these white-hat tactics. Low-budget marketing with assured returns – just as I had promised.

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    About the author

    Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant who specializes in influencer marketing, content marketing, and SEO. He is the co-founder of Attrock, a digital marketing agency. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.