There are endless opportunities, when it comes to building backlinks to your website.
Beginners often get lost and dedicate their time to techniques that won’t work. Even SEO experts have much to learn from one another.
That’s the reason why we prepared this lengthy article, that covers all link building strategies that work in 2021.
Note, we will only cover white hat methods (or at least greyish), that need to be done manually.
So you won’t see any advice on using automated software like RankerX, as this just doesn’t do any good for SEO anymore.
Alright, enough with introductions, let’s jump right in!
Table of Contents
- Crowd Marketing
- Outreach Guest Posting
- Niche Edits
- Social Media Link Building
- Q&A Websites
- Building Links on Reddit
- Directory Link Building
- Foundation Link Building (Web 2.0)
- Share Assets – WordPress Themes/ Images/ Designs etc
- Write Reviews and Testimonials
- Wikipedia – a Source of Backlinks?
- Search for EDU backlinks
Well, this one deserves an article of its own. We actually have one right here. Based on a huge number of cases it became evident that crowd marketing links can be really effective to increase your SERP ranking.
As a strategy, crowd marketing is pretty simple. You go on forums and niche-related communities, post some helpful comments, and link back to your website.
As you can see, this comment with a link was placed on a popular forum (that you can find right here) in a thread that specifically discusses SEO. The comment itself is well-written and answers the question discussed in the thread.
However, don’t be deluded, that forum link building is an easy task. In order for a crowd marketing campaign to be successful you have to account for the following:
- Doing good research beforehand and choosing only those forums and communities, that have high metrics, high traffic and are not filled with spam
- Finding your way to bypass moderation (having a trusted account helps)
- Making sure that your comment blends well in the context of the forum thread (having multiple accounts helps, as you can stimulate an artificial discussion)
- Last, devoting LOTS and LOTS of time to it.
Long story short, forum link-building is very beneficial, but also very time-consuming, if you do it the White Hat way.
That’s why people use services like Crowdo – to get those backlinks without having to spend a decade doing it yourself (slight exaggeration). If you want to know the exact procedure we follow here at Crowdo, you’re welcome to read our detailed guide on crowd marketing.
Outreach Guest Posting
The good old classics. Probably the most tried, tested, and reused link-building method ever.
There is a good reason why SEO specials turn to guest posting.
Having a link from a relevant and high-authority blog gives a really nice boost to your SERP ranking, as well as indirect benefits like increased website traffic and sales.
Similarly to crowd marketing, when your link is placed in a place that captures your target audience – you can expect that people will get interested and check out your website.
But let’s stick to SEO benefits for now!
The nice thing about guest posts (as well as niche edits) is the ratio of linked-to and linking domains.
Linked-to domains are domains that our website links to, whereas linking (or referring;) domains are the domains that point to our website.
Links that come from linked-to domains are sometimes called inbound links, and links from linking domains are outbound links. Alright, enough with terminology.
The point is – the majority of popular blogs will have a lot more inbound links.
Take a look at some reliable sources like Forbes or Entrepreneur – there are a lot more websites linking to them, compared to them linking to other websites.
This ratio is important for SEO, as it signals credibility, and that’s what makes guest posting on popular blogs so effective. You can check the mentioned link ratio in any advanced SEO tool, such as Ahrefs.
And if you’re interested in trying outreach marketing, here’s a checklist that briefly explains what you have to do:
- Again, do your homework and find some popular blogs within your league
- Try to find contact information of the website owner. You’ll likely find it on the website’s contact page.
- Write a nice and compelling letter, pitching your topic and why it should be featured on that person’s blog
- The rest is clear: you submit an article, where you link back to your website and it gets published. It’s a win-win, the blogger gets more content, whereas you get some exposure and a juicy link!
Niche edits work similarly to outreach guest posting, but there are some notable differences.
Guest posts are fresh pieces of content that you wrote to discuss a certain topic and place a backlink to your website. Whereas niche edits are existing pieces of content, that were slightly edited to include a backlink to your website.
Niche edits are easier to implement because you don’t have to come up with a unique piece of content and negotiate with website owners to publish it.
Just as guest posts, niche edits can be free and paid. For example, a lot of SEO influencers like Brian Dean search for broken links and suggest webmasters to replace them with a link to their website.
It is an effective and free trick for building backlinks, but you can also pay webmasters to link back to you in their articles.
From our experience, guest posting is more effective in the long-run (because you get brand recognition and authority in your field).
However, if you’re looking for a pure SEO gain, niche edits are perfectly fine too, as long as they are placed on trusted resources with high metrics and traffic.
Another great thing about niche edits is that some of the aged blog articles have already gained traffic and ranking weight.
Social Media Link Building
“Social media links are useless for SEO” – uhm, not really. The purpose of building links on social media is not about directly affecting your SERP ranking, it’s about getting social signals.
More often than not, if you have something valuable to share – people will click on your link, providing your website with some additional traffic.
Furthermore, if it’s REALLY something valuable – more often than not, people will link back to you outside of social networks, for example on their blogs or corporate websites.
Again, the real value of those links is indirect.
Last, but not least – social media backlinks can be helpful for newborn websites to gain that first bit of visibility in search engines.
Here’s a short to-do list to get you started:
- If you have an existing audience on social networks, just post more content and link to your website
- You can also post your content in specific Facebook groups, Twitter channels for some extra exposure
- As always, you can reach out to influencers and ask them to share your content
This technique is somewhere in the middle between social media and crowd marketing.
You can answer people’s questions on platforms like Quora or Yahoo answers while including a backlink to your website. Again, those links are no-follow, but you can generate some traffic from those platforms.
Here’s what you can do to get started:
- Create an account on Quora , but you can also search further and find other Q&A websites that might be relevant
- Search for questions within your topic of interest
- Answer those questions and link back to your website
Building Links on Reddit
Let’s be fair, Reddit is definitely not the easiest nor the most welcoming online community when it comes to link building.
Actually, to be even more transparent, if you sign up just to place links to your website – people will hate you for it.
However, links from Reddit can add diversity and credibility to your link profile, as well as bring traffic to your website.
So how do you build quality links on Reddit without being hated by the entire community?
Here are a few tips that might help:
- Search for popular subreddits, related to your niche/ your expertise. Remember, that old subreddits that aren’t being monitored will likely get abused by spammers. That’s not the place where you’d want to make your website visible. Other than that, links from this kind of subreddits have little to no value for SEO.
- Don’t act as a salesman. Redditors don’t tolerate that and you’re going to get banned as soon as you start aggressively promoting something.
- Focus on helping people, not on building links. If you contribute to the subreddit that you are a part of, over time you can start linking to your projects without people calling you a “spammer”. In other words, don’t rush with links and keep your reputation in mind.
If done right, link building on Reddit can be beneficial. At Crowdo we have seen multiple cases where keyword ranking in Google Search has increased.
Directory Link Building
A directory is basically a database of links, and those were used for link-building purposes for a while.
Why? Because those directories often have a really high DA and rank high for a huge number of keywords.
However, this technique was heavily overused in the past, making links from some of those directories toxic for your site in the long run.
You should only consider listing your website on trusted and relevant web directories, that people actually use these days.
Most of the time your website just has to be approved to be listed in the directory. Yet some of them will charge a fee.
One of the most notable benefits of using directories is boosting your Local SEO.
In other words, improving search visibility for a target keyword in your specific region, which is especially useful for local services.
That brings us to the importance of choosing not only niche-relevant but also local directories if that is something you’re interested in. Google My Places is a great place to start (pun intended).
Here’s a list of popular web directories, that you can use to link to your website:
- BestofTheWeb (paid)
- FourSquare (free)
- Yelp (free)
- Spoke (free)
- Blogarama (free)
- Google My Business (free)
- Bing Places (free)
- Better Business Bureau (free and paid)
Foundation Link Building (Web 2.0)
This method revolves around building links on platforms that are either aimed at user-generated content or let you have your own domain or URL.
These websites include social networks and blogging platforms. Since we already discussed social media, let’s turn to blog platforms. Those include:
The links coming from those platforms are also called “foundational links”, and they are especially relevant for fresh websites that are just starting to gain visibility on Google.
While it is cost-effective (doesn’t cost you anything), John Muller from Google repeatedly mentioned that this kind of link building does not improve your SERP directly.
While you will get that first glimpse of visibility, Web 2.0 backlinks definitely won’t get you to the top of Google.
Share Assets – WordPress Themes/ Images/ Designs etc
If you’re the creative type (photographer, designer, web developer) – you probably have quite a few assets that you should share online… in exchange for a link.
There are tons of creative libraries that offer freebies and either force you to credit the author (due to a license agreement) or at least encourage you to do so. Examples include:
More often than not, the link will direct to your profile on these platforms, where you’ll have a link directing to your website (think of it as tiered link-building).
This link building strategy is not extremely effective in terms of boosting your SEO, but hey – if you have some creatives that you don’t use – there’s no harm in doing it.
Similarly, if you designed your own WordPress theme – you can share it with other WordPress users and include a link to your main website in the footer.
That’s what a lot of developers do, especially for free WordPress themes. This gets a bit more interesting because not only it’s a free backlink for you, but a lot of people will actually see it on websites that use that theme (and they might click on the link).
Once again, this is not how you become #1 on Google, but that’s how you can make a contribution to the creative world and have that tiny SEO benefit at the same time.
Write Reviews and Testimonials
If you’re an expert in your field – you can use this opportunity and not only leverage your authority, but also lend a few useful links.
What you can do is reach out to some of your partners or organizations within your field, and write some reviews of their product or service and ask them to link back to you.
It’s a win-win since they get a good-looking review that they can use for PR purposes, while you get a backlink.
Furthermore, if some reviews or testimonials that you’ve written in the past are already published somewhere on the web but don’t include a link – it’s easy to change.
Just contact the website owners and ask them to include a link to your website in your review of their service.
Of course, you can’t scale this technique indefinitely, but it’s a just quick and easy way to get a few backlinks if you’re a reputable person in your league.
Let’s admit it, infographics are pretty cool (that’s why we made one for this blog post).
They often get tons of shares on social media and have a much higher chance of actually getting read, compared to a text-based post.
There are several things you can do to get a few backlinks with infographics:
- Guestographic method – this is something Brian Dean has suggested. It follows the same principle as guest posting, but instead of lengthy posts you share infographics. As before, reach out to people in your niche and offer them to feature your infographics on their website and the image will contain a link that goes to your website.
- There are lots of infographic directories, so why not also use those? More often than not, those websites have high DA and provide do-follow backlinks. Here are a few examples:
P.s – some of them will require a fee for posting.
Wikipedia – a Source of Backlinks?
Wikipedia is one of the most trusted websites on the internet, so having some backlinks from there can offer tremendous value to your SEO.
There are some misunderstandings when it comes to building backlinks on Wikipedia, so let’s get those out of the way real quick.
- “Wikipedia backlinks are no-follow, thus they’re useless” – that’s bullsh*t. It has already been proven that Google doesn’t disregard websites that are referenced on Wikipedia. In the end Wikipedia is an extremely reliable source of information, so why wouldn’t they?
- “Wikipedia is an open resource, so everyone can write whatever they want, making this link building strategy super easy” – once again, bullsh*t. If you ever tried uploading your content to Wikipedia, then you know that those guys have a large community of moderators, who always remove content that looks spammy. So if you intend on bombarding Wikipedia with tons of backlinks – that’s not how it works.
So how can you leverage the power of Wikipedia to strengthen your backlink portfolio? Here are a few thoughts:
- Once again, broken link building… Sorry for repeating ourselves, but this just seems to work on every occasion.
- Editing an existing Wikipedia article. if you stumble through a page, that has a noteworthy research gap – this is your chance. Make a contribution and add a few thoughts to that article, while linking to your website. However, as mentioned, Wikipedia favors contributions, not spam. Most of the time your content has to be of either scientific or journalistic nature.
- Publishing a new article on Wikipedia – if you know something that hasn’t been featured on Wikipedia (which is doubtful, but anyway) – you can write your own article. Again, do thorough research and reference reliable sources, not just your website.
Important remark: As you know, there is always a red pill and a blue pill. Or in your case, a white hat or a black hat. What we just described would be a white hat way of acquiring Wikipedia backlinks. Black hat way would be either trying to game the system with software (works temporarily, but not for long) or paying some reputable community members to approve your content (probably works).
Search for EDU backlinks
.edu backlinks are great because most of the time the websites of colleges and universities have high authority and credibility.
However, there is a common misconception that backlinks from .edu domains are powerful, which is not exactly the case.
John Muller said that .edu backlinks don’t pass any “additional” ranking juice. So links from educational domains are not better than any other links per se, but the fact that it’s an edu domain signals a high level of trust, both to Google and to users.
There are multiple ways to acquire .edu backlinks, let’s just review some:
- Offer scholarship – no university will ever say “no” to free money for their students. Simply create your own scholarship and offer it to various universities in your area (or even globally). P.s – initiating an own scholarship should be a reason to support a certain cause (or at least spread brand awareness). Doing it just for sake of SEO would be utterly stupid. What we’re saying is – you can run your scholarship and have a backlink to your website as an extra benefit, but that shouldn’t be the main goal of your endeavor.
- Interview a teacher, professor, or researcher – smart folks like those love getting interviewed. They want to share their knowledge, they want to be heard – and this is something that you can use for your benefit. Reach out to those researchers and invite them over for an interview, most of them will easily agree to that. Then you can ask them to publish the content of the interview on the institution’s blog or social media. This is mutually beneficial, as you can easily get a backlink, while the researcher will get some extra recognition. P.s – once again, don’t play dumb. If you’re having a casino business, don’t go and interview a microbiologist. Only search for people who have expertise in the same playing field.
- Get mentioned on the university’s blog – okay, this can be either white hat or black hat. So white hat way (you’ve probably guessed it) means reaching out to students who write blog posts and ask them to collaborate with you. The black hat way is simply paying them to insert a link to your website. Either way, it works!
- Broken link building – here it goes again. If you see broken links on educational blogs – use this opportunity and offer a backlink to your website instead.
- Offer student discounts – if you run a local business (or digital business, that might be relevant to students) – just offer them a discount! Student organizations likely feature all of the associated discounts on their website and then it becomes an easy opportunity to get a backlink to your website.
Woah, we’ve covered a lot of stuff in our article. If you feel like you need a quick recap, we’ve designed an infographic with some key points. Check it out right down below!
If you think that there’s an amazing link building strategy, that we’ve missed – let us know in the comments. And tell us – what works for you and why?
Do I need to use all of these methods to rank high on Google?
Not necessarily, there is no rule of thumb here. It is always advised to use a combo of link building methods, yet the exact proportions always differ on a case-by-case basis.
Are all of these techniques equally effective?
Some techniques are objectively more beneficial than others. (e.g guest post will always hold more value than links from Yahoo Answers).
Yet you shouldn’t underestimate these “low-tier” backlinks, as they’re useful for diversification.
I’ve just created a website. Which method should I use first?
Start with foundational and crowd marketing links.
Then you can start to leverage some authority-building methods like guest posting and niche edit.
I have an aged website. What should I try to outrank my competition on Google Search?
There is no precise answer to this question either.
We would advise you to build backlinks for low and medium-competition keywords (all kinds of links), because this is the playing field where you can compete quite effectively.
High-competition keywords is totally different story, that requires a more nuanched approach.
Is any of these techniques going to get your website penalized by Google?
Not if done properly.
We excluded all of the black hat strategies on purpose.
Yet if you go too far with any off-page SEO strategy – this can look suspicious to search engines.
Just keep it natural and avoid software that spams links.