The cost of a link is roughly the same price as sailing to the Caribbean.
Content creation and promotion generally costs around $800 per link in the short term. Meanwhile, routes that start from Florida and sail to the Bahamas cost roughly $1,000 on budget cruise lines—and those come with a piña colada on the beach.
What I mean is, if you’re going to spend the price of a beach vacation on creating content, you better know how to get backlinks, and quality backlinks at that.
Now let’s chat strategy. The value of a link depends on the authority, perceived quality and relevancy of a site. A single link from a high-tier news site is worth inherently more than 10 links from low-authority guest posting sites. However, the up-front investment of content that interests high authority publications isn’t always the best strategy, depending on your brand’s goals.
In this post we reveal seven link building tactics that we use for our clients with short, mid and long-term goals to generate unmatched ROI through strategic backlinks.
Table of Contents:
- Competitor Links
- Link Moves
- Broken Link Building
- Reciprocal Linking
- Guest Posting
- Long-Form Resources
- Link Reclamation
- Review Roundups
- High-Tier News Coverage
- Passive Link Acquisition
Short-Term Link Building Tactics
Brands don’t always have the time or funds to generate the type of content that has the most long term value, so let’s talk about short-term wins when link volume is a top key performance indicator (KPI).
Believe it or not, sometimes getting backlinks is as easy as browsing sites that link to your competitor, and borrowing that lead. This tactic can generate backlinks in three simple steps.
- Make a list: List your top 3 competitors that appear to be implementing a content strategy.
(Pro tip → think about the frequency of posts, number of sites linking to posts and terms they’re ranking for—are they all branded?)
- Find top performing posts: Use tools like Content Explorer in Ahrefs and find posts that bring in the most traffic to your competitors.
- Send your pitch: Now it’s time to craft a pitch. Send an outreach email that briefly explains the value the website’s audience will get if they include your brand within the post.
Say you have a new product page that’s been optimized for conversions. A backlink to that page is going to become more valuable than a link to an older product or resource.
Enter: link moves.
This strategy involves repitching sites where you already have a link attributed to your brand. While the older link is still a worthwhile mention, a link to newer resources or product pages will do more for your brand in terms of SEO value and conversions.
Similar to link reclamation, the webmaster or journalist you’re reaching out to should see the immediate benefit for their audience by moving the link. Think strategically, considering moves to location-specific pages depending on the audience demographic, existing product mentions in the copy, or informational pages that help explain a complicated sales process.
Broken Link Building (BLB)
Tried and true, broken link building (BLB) is an O.G. promotion method that survived the Penguin Update and still sees success today. The tactic calls for finding resources that return a 404 or no longer exist, and reaching out to the sites that have linked to that resource.
BLB works because you’re bringing value to the webmaster (locating a broken link on their page) before you’re coming in with your ask (adding a link to your resource).
You should frame your pitch as such so your recipient sees that value as soon as they open the email.
Here’s what I mean:
Prior to pitching a site with broken links, consider the relevance of your content. A resource page for storm chasers won’t care about your guide to financial resources for single parents, and it’s highly unlikely that you’ll generate a backlink.
Do you have a large customer network or extensive list of vendors? Reciprocal linking is the process of requesting a link from known contacts—think the food delivery button at the bottom of your favorite website’s restaurant.
While you shouldn’t rely on these type links as a complete backlink strategy, a handful of thoughtful reciprocated link placements is an easy win.
Let’s think of a less obvious example. Say you’re a local shop who provides toiletries and other amenities to cruise lines and hotel chains. You probably feature them as your client on your website, but do they? Think of the benefits of your brand in terms of their audience. Are you purely organic? Family owned? Small-batch production?
Pitch your vendor with the value-add of the link. Not only will their customers have a direct source to learn more about your product, but you’ll have the extra link juice in tow.
Guest posts can be a double edged sword. Kind of like that shrimp cocktail you tried in the cruise buffet line.
While these posts can be an effective way to get in front of new readers, you need to make sure you’re not engaging in tactical link building techniques, which can easily get devalued by Google.
If you’re going to undertake guest posting as a backlink strategy, you have to be ready to go above and beyond. Only pitch sites where you have topical authority, and be prepared to write another high-quality post with around 800+ words.
Here’s an example.
I do a lot of backpacking, and I was pitching camping printables for my client. I have topical authority from backpacking for 10+ months as a solo female and it’s within my personal brand to write a guest post for a site that creates content around camping for women.
The guest blog was genuine and drew from personal experiences and I just happened to be able to tie in my client’s page with the piece, without diluting authority.
Typically, you’ll have editorial guidelines to follow as a guest blogger, and there will be a formal process to publish the piece.
Take a look:
Pro tip → make yourself available after the post goes live to answer comments.
Mid-Term Link Building Tactics
The mid-term backlink strategies we’ll touch on include pitching your long-form guides and infographics to relevant websites. Best for brands with shareable top-funnel content.
Pitching long-form resources looks similar to finding sites with broken links. You’ll use the same types of Google search operators (ie. inurl:resources | intitle:helpful-links | inurl:links), however you’ll be pitching your guide as a new resource, instead of replacing a link.
Site and post relevance is key here. Consider adding additional Google search operators that will narrow down your search. If you’re pitching a resource for veterans, you may want to use operators like intitle:military or intext:veteran.
Your value add is crucial. You want to make sure the resource your pitching is better than existing content to provide value to your prospect’s audience.
Link reclamation, or unlinked mentions, is the process of finding your brand referenced online without a backlink to your website. You’ll find these mentions in online publications, social media posts, product reviews, and everything in between.
These tactics work when established brands already have some buzz, and can create link opportunities to extremely valuable bottom-funnel pages. Link reclamation is unique to your brand, and your competitors can’t replicate these links, because the websites were already talking about you.
Shine on, captain.
Let’s talk logistics. By reaching out to the person who wrote the post, you can present your link as a way for their readers to find more information, and therefore provide value before your big ask.
Here’s what it looks like:
Notice that this email focuses on brevity. Journalists are busy, and they get hundreds of emails per day. Keep your pitch short and to the point so they can scan it easily. Make sure to include a link to the post your brand is mentioned in—again, journalists are busy, and they’re not going to want to dig through old posts to do you a solid.
You’re in an industry where relevant keywords ranking in the SERP are formatted as “Best X”. Instead of trying to rank higher than the post with “136 Best …” it might be a better strategy to simply ask for your product to be included.
Craft your pitch to make your value proposition apparent. If you’re a software booking company, and there’s a list of “X Best Booking Softwares for Cruise Lines,” you’ll want to feature why your software is different. If the post is missing a better booking system, they’re likely going to include your link to create a more comprehensive guide for their audience.
Disclaimer: Advertising or “publishing fees” may be requested.
Long-Term Link Building Tactics
In this last section, we focus on link building tactics that have the most ROI in the long-term for cost per link and organic link placements.
Feeling a bit eager to dive in?
Before we get too deep into the strategy, let’s level set.
These tactics typically involve a higher investment of time or money up front. The good news? Your competition can’t replicate these showstopping pieces easily because of the high investment they take to generate success.
High-Tier News Coverage
In link building, the highest form of validation seems to be coverage from a high-end news source with a 90+ domain authority linking to your content. If BLB is the budget cruise line of link building, high-tier news coverage is like the private yacht.
But how do you get the attention of journalists who get hundreds of emails per day?
Data + value-added pitch = coverage.
Here comes the intimidating part. You have to gather data and create a piece that highlights enough points so journalists can put the spin on it they want to. You can do this with surveys, analyzing data from Google trends, or even using proprietary data.
Take a look:
This email cuts the fluff, and pitches a piece offering interesting data handed to the journalist with a story idea on a silver platter. The easier you make it for a journalist to envision the headline, the more likely you are to get that placement.
Passive Link Acquisition
Passive link acquisition is arguably the strategy that generates the highest ROI and lowest cost per link over time. Long after you’re done with outreach, your post will continue generating organic placements and rank in a pitchable SERP.
These SEO linking strategies can include statistics posts, definitional posts, and top-funnel topics with high search intent along with a shareable asset. While these pieces don’t generate as many links up front, after 6+ months they begin to reap SEO backlinks and gain traction in the SERP.
For example, this statistics post by Panda Security is ranking #9 in the SERP for “cybersecurity statistics” and has racked up 75 linking root domains and counting since it’s publish date in October 2020.
Naturally, other sites begin to reference your post as it gains more authority. Not only can these garner organic links from mid-tier sites, but they can also achieve top-tier coverage naturally. Not to mention, these links are the least likely to be devalued by Google should another core update come along to rock the content marketing boat.
In case you didn’t notice, there was a common theme throughout this post, and I’m not talking about cruises. You can learn how to get backlinks with one overarching content marketing strategy: add value for your prospects and their audience.
Whether you’re pitching to journalists and the story needs to get approved by their editor or busy mom blogs that also write about side hustles. The benefit of including a backlink to your piece should be clear as a Bahamian day for your prospect from the moment they open your email.