Guest posting on paid guest post sites can get you in trouble with Google. Blog and forum comments don’t work. Sifting the internet for broken links and pitching replacements isn’t scalable.
Spend a few days trying to build backlinks for your website, and you might start to feel like link building is broken.
It isn’t. You just aren’t trying the link building strategies that actually work. Here are six strategies that actually work and are completely Google-safe:
1. Leverage Your Data
You know what people love to link to? Hard numbers, data, in-depth studies — reputable, data-driven resources. When journalists and writers for major (high domain authority) publications are trying to create written content, they’re looking for data.
And, believe it or not, you probably have some data that someone would link to. If you’re a business owner, think about the numbers you keep track of — what are people purchasing, what trends do you see in your market and so on. That’s all great data, even if it’s not in great packaging right now.
If you don’t have data just lying around, you can also generate it. To save yourself time and effort, think about the things you do as part of your job — do any of those tasks generate data (or could they)? Maybe you’re a marketer who routinely audits SEO strategies businesses are using in a particular industry — that’s great data. You just have to format it like a study.
However you come by your data, you then need to package it in a way people will notice and like. Plan some blog posts that cover the takeaways from the data, and consider a press release announcing the release of your data. If it’s data that changes over time, plan to update it every quarter, year or interval that makes sense.
Why It Works: Bloggers, journalists and writers in general are trained to support their assertions with hard numbers and facts. If you create original data, you create a great source for those professionals, and they link to their sources. Remember — these are professionals whose work is published on high-quality websites (the kind you want backlinks from).
2. Contribute to Industry and Niche Publications
Think of the blogs, magazines, email newsletters and even popular social media accounts you read and follow in your industry. Write each of them down. Then, find their websites. See what kind of content they are publishing, and try to think of a new subject, angle or approach you could offer.
Then, make your pitch. There are a couple of ways to do that:
Type this into Google: [publication name] + “write for us” (follow the writers’ guidelines for pitching).
Find the contact page for the publication and email the editors directly.
With a little luck and a lot of persistence, you’ll get a response. Then, all you have to do is write something great (and include a link to your site).
Why It Works: As a business owner in a particular industry, you are an expert. You have insight to offer and (hopefully) something to say. The editors of publications in your industry are looking for people with your expertise to help them create useful content for their audiences. If you do that, many of them will reward you with a powerful backlink.
3. Be a HARO Hero
If you’re not already signed up for Help a Reporter Out (HARO), do it right now. You’ll get three emails with calls for pitches each day. Read through the pitch summaries to look for opportunities to offer your expertise. When you find a match, answer the reporter’s questions via email.
You can’t require a backlink when you use HARO, but it’s pretty common for reporters to include one when they quote you in their stories.
Why It Works: To get accepted as a journalist who can call for pitches on HARO, you have to be writing for a website that is in the top 1 million websites (as ranked by SimilarWeb). In other words, getting a link from HARO means getting a link from a high-traffic, high-authority website, and that’s exactly the kind of backlink you want to get.
4. Interview Other Experts
When you’re writing blog posts to publish on your website, don’t keep it all internal to your company. Reach out to people in your network (or call for pitches on HARO yourself).
Interview other experts and quote them in your blog posts. Use the data and insight they offer. And don’t be stingy with the backlinks.
Why It Works: When you get other people involved in your on-site content, they want to promote it. You can gently ask them to share it with their networks and even link to it on their own blogs. That way, you get a built-in link from a website that is in your industry (or at least tangentially related to it).
5. Don’t Forget Directories
Most industries have a set of websites that act as online business directories. They often require a small fee in order for your listing to include a link to your website. Don’t forget to sign up for these directories
Definitely do your research to make sure the directory is reputable and worth the cost, but in most cases, these websites are going to have a lot of topical authority in your subject area. That means they make for strong backlinks.
Why It Works: This is one of the few situations in which you can control a backlink placement. Take advantage of it — your competitors almost certainly are.
6. Create the Indisputably Best Content in Your Sphere
A lot of people get tired of hearing this: Great content leads to backlinks. If you’re rolling your eyes after reading that, it’s because you haven’t actually created great content that can generate links.
But we’ve seen it enough times to know it’s true. Invest in great content over the long term, and you will see your backlink profile improve.
Why It Works: People want to link to the best content. If you’re creating high-quality and completely original content that readers can’t get anywhere else, you’re going to build up backlinks over time.
Stop Playing with Fire with Your Link Building Strategy
Paying for guest posts and doing spammy or shady link building is against Google’s guidelines. Believe me: You are not smarter than Google. No one is. If you violate the guidelines, Google will find you out someday, and your site might be punished in the rankings.
Stop playing with fire. There are plenty of link building strategies that won’t get you in trouble. You just have to invest in them and be patient. Earned link building is the long-term play — the one that will make your site come out on top in the end.