TOP 13 Link Building Methods
There are plenty of quality platforms for backlinks, but successful SEO is impossible without a natural link profile. It must contain links of different types; otherwise, search engine algorithms can become suspicious and impose penalties over time.
Link factors still significantly affect ranking and determine the site position in organic search results. If the project has good internal optimization, quality links will help to quickly surpass competitors in organic search results.
1. What is link building and how does it work?
Link building is the process of building link mass for your promoted projects. It implies a consistent increase in the number of backlinks. References prove the high quality of a website to search engine algorithms, since hundreds or even thousands of resources refer to it.
Many novice webmasters want to know how to get free links to a website to save the budget and build a cohesive backlink buildup mechanism. Links from conventionally free sources are part of a natural profile, and further in the article we’ll talk about approaches to getting them.
It is necessary to choose link-building techniques depending on the experience of a webmaster, the unique features of the project, and the budget for promotion. Some optimizers are still using directories and catalogs to increase visibility in organic results.
Building links from directories is relevant in 2021, but their impact on positions by queries has decreased considerably in recent years, and links from spam resources are almost useless. To promote a site in competitive niches using backlinks from UGC platforms is difficult, and quality directories are not so common.
Optimizers use different link-building methods, but all approaches have a common goal to get as many quality links that will not disappear in a few months as possible. The more of these links will lead to a promoted resource, the better the search ranking will be.
You do not have to spend thousands of dollars every month on link building. If a webmaster has experience in working with links in different niches, he/she will be able to promote the project with a limited budget. As a result, you get a quality link profile and targeted traffic for thematic queries.
2. The best link-building methods
Getting quality links to a site with no or minimal budget is hard enough. Under such conditions, methods that allow getting the highest quality links guest posts and outreach will be inaccessible.
Backlinks from profiles and directories are also beneficial, but they supplement the most trusted links. Therefore, to achieve tangible results, it is necessary to use different link-building methods and closely monitor each direction.
This method implies the submission of articles with backlinks on projects with user-generated content. The technique can be considered a white-hat link-building method, but not all webmasters correctly use it when promoting sites.
This approach to posting backlinks is beneficial for informational and commercial sites. Submissions will hardly help increase brand awareness or attract the target audience to the site. They act as natural protection against penalties for SEO links.
The main advantage of submissions is that they are free. Optimizers rarely pay for links from directories or catalogs. In this case, we are not talking about organic outreach but about the creation of a natural link profile.
2.2. Press releases
The oldest method of generating backlinks based on posting informational materials about the site being promoted. Many optimizers believe that in 2021, press releases make no sense because they do not affect site ranking in organic search results.
Press releases will only be useful if:
- they are posted on quality websites
- the topic of the donor site matches the topic of the recipient site
- identical press releases are not published on hundreds of sites
Press releases can even attract the target audience to the resource under promotion, but it is not always possible to get such a bonus. Many quality sites post only paid materials about projects; so, it is unlikely that this method will be free of charge.
Outreach is one of the most popular and complex link-building methods. It helps get backlinks from authoritative projects, which act as a «foundation» for the successful promotion of a site in search engines. Links generated with outreach can become a catalyst for the growth of search engine visibility.
Outreach implies active interaction with site owners. An optimizer sends emails to them offering cooperation and maintains interaction until a link is posted in a previously published article or new material with several backlinks.
Outreach is especially well-developed in niches that lack link exchanges, and automating backlink posting on a paid basis is quite difficult. The effectiveness of outreach depends on the approach to email marketing and the budget for the task.
2.3.1. Guest posting
Guest posting implies posting articles on a site with reference to the promoted resource. The method is a variation of outreach. The difference is that an optimizer should get published material with one or more links on a donor resource as a result.
Guest posts are used for sites in different niches. They can be used to promote blogs, online stores, SaaS platforms, and other projects. When a webmaster looks for the way to get links to a website, guest posting is one of the best techniques.
Content posting allows getting an affiliate link, but it is necessary to take into account the theme or topic of the resource and the overall quality of the project. If you post articles on websites whose topics differ from the subject matter of the resource being promoted, the site rating is unlikely to increase.
2.3.2. Link exchange
Backlink exchange implies posting backlinks in two directions. The difference from guest posting is that new content is not always posted. In some cases, a webmaster only needs to get a link referring to his project.
This link-building technique is highly risky. Search engine algorithms closely monitor sites and penalize any link schemes. It is necessary to act cautiously and take a careful approach to the process of selecting potential donors.
2.4. Crowd marketing
Crowd marketing is a link-building tool that helps to increase brand credibility and getting natural links. Crowd links, along with submissions, are among safe link-building methods that allow creating a «filter» to protect a site’s link profile.
Crowd marketing is used to maintain an optimal rate of link dynamics. For example, if there are 20 new backlinks every month, getting them with the help of outreach or press releases is difficult. Crowd marketing, on the other hand, is ideal for this task.
2.4.1. Links from profiles on forums
The rate of posting links on forums is gradually declining because the number of quality and moderated sites is decreasing over time. And backlinks from spammed resources can harm site ranking in a search engine.
Links from forums still work, but such postings are not often used as a channel for getting new links. Nevertheless, they are suitable for increasing brand awareness and attracting the target audience to the promoted resource.
2.4.2. Links from discussions in new and existing threads
In addition to forums, other types of platforms are used for crowd-marketing. It is not recommended to focus only on forums because algorithms may suspect the project is in unfair competition for high positions, and it will be subject to penalties.
You can post links on:
- social media
- Q&A sites
The last option is mainly used to increase brand awareness. On the other hand, content from Telegram, for example, is perfectly indexed, and links from messengers are taken into account in a site profile.
2.4.3. Blog comments
Link-building techniques were in demand when the popularity of blogs was at its peak, and webmasters actively followed new content in RSS feeds. In recent years, bloggers more actively use social networks and messengers; so, posting comments on standalone projects is no longer profitable.
Important! If you can easily get a referral link from blog comments, its value is minimal. Moderated blogs rarely approve comments with external links, especially if they are not marked with nofollow or ugc attributes.
2.5. Web 2.0
Web 2.0 websites are social networks, blog platforms, and other sites with a focus on user-generated content. Building links from such sites is relevant in 2021, but they are used primarily for link profile dilution.
References are considered relatively safe because not all backlinks are posted on a paid basis. Some webmasters believe that links from Web 2.0 resources are not useful for website promotion, but when combined with other sources, they can increase visibility.
Keep in mind that Google has repeatedly stated that backlinks from Web 2.0 sites have no impact on rankings. In April 2020, John Mueller, Search Quality Specialist for Webmasters, made it clear: « So that’s something where if you hire an agency and they go off and post links on Tumblr, on classified sites and free posting sites and they claim this is going to help your website then I would move to some other agency. So just to be really clear like this kind of activity has zero value for SEO. It’s not something where you’re promoting your website in any way but rather essentially they’re spamming the web. So that’s something I would strongly discourage anyone from doing.»
John didn’t talk specifically about Web 2.0, but he mentioned some resources that are related to this type of sites. So, you have to be extremely careful with such backlinks and keep track of their number in your link profile.
Private Blog Network (PBN) is one of the ways to boost site link equity without using external platforms. The essence of the method is to develop a network of satellites that look like independent projects but, in practice, serve to promote the main site.
Google is against any artificial links; so, if satellites refer to a single site, algorithms may get suspicious. Therefore, websites should be as high-quality as possible, without usability errors, and not connected in any way.
Remember that search engines can detect networks of sites and often limit the ranking of all projects that have common features. It is realistically possible to lose 20-30 sites at a time if you ignore the basic techniques of protection.
2.7. Broken links
A relatively inexpensive approach to link building, which implies doing analysis of potential donor sites. An optimizer searches for links to non-existent pages and offers the site owner to replace them with relevant landing pages of your web resource.
In recent years, this technique is not in demand among SEO specialists. It is much easier to write a letter offering guest posts than spoil the impression of a potential partner with a message about a broken link and a request for a replacement.
Nevertheless, the approach is quite interesting, and it requires minimal resources. You will only need a list of potential donor sites and a service or a program that can automatically find broken links. And the further result depends on the ability to convince partners that the deal is profitable.
The popularity of different link building methods according to LinkDoctor
3. Which methods to use for local businesses?
When it comes to regional platforms, the first place is occupied by conditionally free link-building methods: submissions, links from aggregator websites, profiles, and local projects. Outreach and guest posts can also be used, but the number of platforms suitable for commercial sites is lower.
For local businesses, the following will work:
- mapping services
- company listings
- review sites
- creation of research in PDF format for distribution through news sites
- sponsorship of local organizations
- scholarship establishment
Press releases and news infographics are best for promoting local sites, which can trigger a natural link increase. The fruitful work of an SEO specialist and a content marketer will help generate a large number of links with minimal effort.
For local commercial projects, pages about recruiting interns and scholarships that allow getting backlinks from trusted sites of educational institutions work great. In most cases, they are hosted on .EDU domains, and optimizers are willing to pay a lot for the opportunity to get a direct link from such resources.
It is convenient to post guest posts, press releases, reviews, research, and other types of informational materials through the PRPosting exchanger. It offers tools for quick domain search and manual control over each stage of interaction with site owners.
PRPosting provides a 100% money-back guarantee within 7 days after the deal is made, gives access to 44,000 manually verified donors, and offers the opportunity to order content for promotional campaigns from verified authors.
4. What methods to use for global websites?
For websites that are not region-specific, all safe link-building methods that meet the budget are suitable. But a random approach should not be taken. Submissions, crowd-marketing, outreach, guest posts, PBNs, and other methods, when combined, will help create a natural link profile.
The choice of a priority method of posting backlinks should be based on the specifics of the website. If it’s an online store, the link-building approach should consider promoting the site as a brand. And the focus should be on crowd-marketing, outreach, and other techniques that imply PR of the project.
One of the benefits of link building for global sites is multi-regionality. You can not only post links on projects dedicated to one country but also avoid tying to geolocation. This smoothly leads to an increase in the standard budget for links by several times.
5. Link-building analysis tools
One of the main link-building tools is link mass analysis services, which allow minimizing routine tasks. They provide comprehensive information on profile dynamics, approaches to posting backlinks, and potential threats to SEO.
There are many backlink analysis services on the market, each with its own features, but they all solve the same problem quick analysis of domains and displaying a complete overview of a link profile.
An integrated search engine marketing platform, which has long obtained the position of a leader in the niche of SEO tools. Ahrefs is used by link builders, SEO optimizers, webmasters, marketers, business owners. In each case, the tool helps solve important problems.
- deep analysis of backlinks
- analysis of search queries
- site audit
- tracking positions by keywords
- searching for ideas for article and video content creation
Ahrefs offers free basic link profile analysis and a 7-day trial for $7. The service has enough capabilities to cover all the tasks that arise in the process of website promotion.
This service is a direct competitor of Ahrefs it has similar tools but surpasses the latter in some features. Reportedly, Semrush has more than 1 trillion positions in its link database.
- deep backlink analysis
- keyword analysis
- page and entire site audits
- tools for local SEO
- tracking positions by keywords
- domain comparison
Semrush offers optimizers a free rate with a daily limit of 10 queries. The features of paid subscription can be tested free of charge for 7 days.
The oldest service for link profile analytics, which appeared back in 2003. In addition to link mass analysis, it provides a comprehensive assessment of the quality of donors. It utilizes its own metrics to calculate authority, spam, and other domain parameters.
- deep link profile analysis
- historical index of backlinks
- mass verification of links
- website grouping to track dynamics
Majestic offers a 7-day test period, just like its main competitors. It focuses solely on links and is suitable for webmasters who want to cover only this task.
6. How much budget should I allocate for link building?
To answer this question, it is necessary to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the project to be promoted. At the first stages of website development, you can focus on conditionally free link-building techniques, and after 3-4 months, it is worth applying more complex approaches outreach and guest posting.
What affects link budget:
- Website type. Links for commercial projects are much more expensive than for informational websites.
- Priority link building methods. The budget for outreach and submissions varies significantly.
- Region of promotion. The cost of links in the Tier-1 countries is quite high, and the number of donors for uncommon locations may be minimal.
- Niche. In competitive and «expensive» topics, the price of backlinks is off the charts.
- Availability of a link builder in a team. If this specialist has a list of relevant sites and experience to support the necessary profile dynamics, costs will be minimal.
One of the main criteria that can affect the link budget is the time required to achieve the result. If a webmaster wants to promote a site in a few months, a lot of money for outreach and guest posting will be required. If it’s a client project with no time limit, it is possible to allocate the budget for several years ahead.
The main goal of link building is to build a natural link profile, and this is only possible when using as many link-building techniques as possible. The list should exclude outdated approaches, such as searching for broken links and looking through spammed directories.
Use submits, social media backlinks, create viral content, and try to address the audience’s problems.
Create a quality project that can be of interest to top projects as a donor. Or offer good content in exchange for a link and a fee for posting.
Links from reputable resources, which rarely refer to sites for money and value their reputation in search engines, have the greatest impact on positions.
Each of the services is good in its own way. The choice should be based on the tasks that a webmaster may be facing.
That alone would be enough for at least 10-20 quality links every month. The faster the link profile increases, the less time will be necessary to increase visibility in organic search results.