How to Get Backlinks: Top 15 Secrets from a Technical SEO Expert
When you search how to get backlinks, you usually get a long list of old techniques that everyone already knows. It’s easy to guess that you should do a Google search for “keyword + write for us” or look at the top sites in your target niche and scrape their backlinks. What you need is a list of creative techniques you haven’t tried before.
Having been involved in building backlinks and running a link-building service in the UK since 2008, I know of a technique that few people put on a generic list.
So, dig in and I’ll share some innovative tactics we use to get backlinks. let’s start!
How to Get Backlinks: Tools and Strategies
Look beyond the competition for opportunities
Many link builders recommend that you look at your competitors’ backlinks for inspiration; but have you ever thought about looking at the backlink profiles of the sites linking to them?
Go down the rabbit hole! Check the backlink profiles of websites linking to your competitors, then check the backlink profiles of websites linking to theirs, and so on.
Some good tools are Ahrefs, Majestic SEO, and Moz Link Explorer. This may sound puzzling, but if you use this approach, you’ll take advantage of a ton of new site options to explore.
Dig deeper into Ahrefs’ link-building tool
Ahrefs is a very handy link-building tool, and there are many different ways to get the most out of it.
The solution has various tools to help you find high-quality backlink opportunities. It also provides many filters so that you can find the right sites for your backlink profile.
For starters, you can use the Keyword Explorer tool to find relevant keywords that other high-ranking pages in your niche incorporate into their content.
These keywords can inform each stage of your process; if you’re not satisfied with your main keyword, or you’ve exhausted all your options, you can use related keywords to find more sites.
You can then drop new keywords into Ahrefs’ Content Explorer to find pages discussing your chosen topic and rank for your target keywords.
You can then use the Link Intersect tool to find sites that link to your new target but not to your site – not yet!
Finally, one of the neatest ways to use Ahrefs as one of your link-building strategies is to check out your site explorer to see your growing pages. By using the Top Content section, you can view the fastest growing pages on each target URL or competitor site.
You can then locate sites that link to them and see if you can follow their approach. For example, if your competitors are driving a lot of traffic for a new press release or announcement, you can incorporate this approach into your digital marketing strategy.
As you can see, Ahrefs is my favorite tool. My team and I use it a lot when building backlinks and finding exciting new opportunities for our clients and our sites.
See which sites are ranking on BuzzSumo
BuzzSumo is another great tool that can help you find amazing websites for your link-building strategy.
Using BuzzSumo’s web content search tool, you can find the best content to rank for your target keywords and phrases.
The site shows you how much engagement your content is getting across a range of platforms, as well as its metric, the Evergreen Score.
The Evergreen Score is BuzzSumo’s unique value, bestowed on each piece of content based on engagement and backlink revenue 30 days after publication. This shows that when content is no longer fresh, it continues to provide value.
The more sustained engagement the piece received, the more evergreen — that is, consistently relevant — BuzzSumo found the piece.
Using this score and other engagement information from BuzzSumo, you can find sites that publish lasting and engaging content in your niche.
You can also use this information for outreach: you can highlight content as high-performance work and suggest similar themes to mimic its success.
Check out your organic competitors on SEMrush
SEMrush is another versatile tool I like to use to find link-building opportunities. By providing dozens of useful tools and analytics, you can use SEMrush in link building in many ways.
A great way to start is to find your organic competitors and then explore their backlinks. You might even consider reaching out to them if you’re in the “Sharing is Caring” market!
To find your organic competitors, you can put your website into the Domain Overview section and check out the organic research insights the tool can offer. This tool will give you tons of amazing insights on organic rankings, including your main organic competitors.
You can then export this data as a CSV file and browse the website, evaluating linking domains and other insights.
Using this method, you can collect a lot of data and potentially uncover thousands of potential backlink opportunities.
Never rely on just one metric
There are tons of SEO metrics out there – it seems like almost every tool on the market has at least one! Each metric represents something different, be it total backlinks or content quality.
When building backlinks, you need to consider a range of metrics, including traffic. You should look for a metric that focuses on how likely a page is to rank on the top SERPs, such as Moz’s domain authority. You can also consider a metric that focuses on the quality of websites linking to your chosen domain, such as Majestic SEO’s trust flow.
The companies didn’t tell us how they calculated the scores, otherwise, we could replicate them. Therefore, you need to be objective and use combined metrics to evaluate your website. If you focus on one metric without fully understanding it, you may be missing out on valuable link-building opportunities.
By the way, at UK Linkology we don’t think any of the current metrics can reliably give us enough confidence to accept or reject a site. We solved this problem by creating our formula that used domain-level metrics like Moz DA and combined them with organic traffic and keyword metrics. (You can read more about how we developed and used the M-Flux indicator here.)
Think like a visitor
In addition to metrics, you also need to consider a human approach in your link-building strategy.
Before you target a website as a link-building target, make sure you think of it as a website visitor. Open the site and see if it looks like a real person is connecting to it.
Does the site have a social media presence? Is the content readable? Do they use generic stock images or unique images?
If you think this site looks like a PBN (Private Blog Network), it’s likely to be one of them. Readers and search algorithms will also notice, so avoid it at all costs.
Use Facebook’s About Section to Find Email Addresses
Finding an email address can be difficult, and everyone knows that contact forms aren’t the best when you’re trying to find link-building opportunities.
So how do you find an email address when they’re not on the contact page? While tools like Hunter.io can help, there are easier and sometimes faster ways, especially if you don’t have a pro plan and run out of free checks!
Typically, businesses will list an email address in the About section of their Facebook page. You don’t even need to be logged into Facebook to access it – most business pages are visible to everyone!
Look under the “Business Information” section for “Contact” for email addresses. Typically, this email will send you directly to the online editorial or marketing team so your email is reaching your target audience!
Don’t be afraid to follow up
If it’s for a good reason, it doesn’t nag. Never be afraid to send follow-up emails to your target website.
Often, my team and I find that follow-up emails get the highest response rate! They may have missed your first email, or forgotten about it, but follow-ups are harder to ignore.
As a rule, we usually follow up two or three times. If there’s no reply after that, it usually means they either hate you or the email isn’t working properly.
Try to find an alternate contact, if that doesn’t work and you still hear nada then log off the site as the reason for the failure. Instead of wasting too much time ignoring your website, focus on finding exciting new opportunities and dealing with responsive websites.
Personalize your outreach template with unique insights (not just their name)
Templates save you time, but you can spot them a mile away! So while you should use a template, you need to make sure it can be personalized for your goals.
This personalization can be as simple as adding recipient names and incorporating their site name into an email. But you can use an emailing tool like Mailshake to bulk mail your templates while also including personal information.
Aside from the name, you should also try to add unique insight to their website. For example, if you have access to SEO tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush, then you can use them to see your top-ranking pages. You can then mention that you want to create similar content or mimic the style of that post to earn them more traffic.
Most website owners will know you’re looking for backlinks, but if they think they can get something out of the deal, they’ll be willing to help. So you need to show them the benefits of working with you. If they don’t see them in your first email, they probably won’t ask.
Follow the site’s contributor guidelines
Many sites have a “write for us” page to let potential writers know what they’re looking for. For example, here is the WordStream page.
If your target site has one, then you need to follow the instructions above. Most good sites will have instructions, so you’ll want to make sure you use them.
For example, many websites require you to use a specific subject line. Some even have a phrase to check if you’ve read the content guidelines.
Even if they don’t specify, you should read the “Write for Us” page to see if there is anything on it that you can use. Some pages will include a joke, so you can reference and repeat the joke as part of your personalized outreach email. This method will allow them to see that there is a person behind the email and that they are not just a number on a huge list sent out by an unknown agency.
Don’t be afraid of losing quality links
“Link down” sounds ominous, but in reality, it can be a great way to save time. You can find articles on topics of your choice and then offer to add your quotes and links.
Many link builders use the broken link method to find links that disappear over time and recommend their links as a replacement. We’ve also found that tools like Pitchbox and HARO are great for finding opportunities for link loss.
Using these tools, you can find opportunities to add links to articles and save time; instead of writing an entire article, you only need to write a quote!
When you remove links, you need to check the metrics on the page as well as the entire site. It doesn’t make sense to put your link on a great site and instead choose content that doesn’t have any traffic or authority. Older pages without any authorization are unlikely to do so and are best avoided.
Check your page’s traffic with SEMrush and view engagement with BuzzSumo to ensure you’re picking valuable link drop opportunities. Also, use metrics like Moz Page Authority (PA) and Ahrefs UR to understand how internal linking affects the page you’re considering.
Replace your anchor text
Search engines are always on the lookout for link-building campaigns, so you need to make your campaign hard to find by using anchor text smartly.
A large number of sites with the same or similar metrics, linking back to you at about the same time, with the same anchor text, all in one backlink profile, is very suspicious.
This is why variation is key to the entire backlink profile. In addition to changing the website you’re targeting, you should also change the anchor text you use on your links. A rule of thumb is to never (or rarely) use the same one twice.
This approach makes your backlink profile look more natural and increases your chances of achieving your target rankings.
Remember that higher word counts are not always better
Many bloggers will ask you to write long-form content to get guest posts, but quantity doesn’t always mean quality or SEO success.
Search engines focus on usability and technical SEO, so if your content is full of filler words, it won’t achieve your goals.
The point is to give Google enough information to answer the query completely and accurately – sometimes this can be done in three words!
You need to research the SERPs and see what Google already ranks on the first page. Then seek to improve existing pages or approach queries from a fresh perspective.
Likewise, if you’re writing the ultimate guide, you need to provide everything your readers need to know. In this case, you may need to go deeper, which means more words.
Write content that meets the needs of your readers (AKA intent) while your SEO benefits. Writing fluff to fit the word count won’t take your rankings off the ground!
Write content that you are happy to publish
When writing content for this type of backlink strategy, make sure it’s of the same quality that you use on your website.
The content may not be published on your website, but if it contains your link, then you will be associated with it in one way or another.
Therefore, you need to ensure that you produce high-quality, insightful content. After all, the best backlinks can be found in high-quality content. The more engagement and traffic your work gets, the more benefits it will bring to any website it links to, including yours.
Link building is an art, so get creative!
If you only learned one thing while going through this article, then so be it: link building is an ever-evolving market. These techniques are working for us right now, and they can help you. That doesn’t mean they are the only way to get backlinks.
Use your ingenuity and resources to find a unique approach that works for you. I’ve been building backlinks for decades, so I’m saving you time with these tips. Having said that, the best thing I can recommend is that you test everything and move on. You never know what works and what doesn’t until you try it.
To recap, here’s how to get backlinks:
- Look beyond the competition for opportunities
- Learn more about Ahrefs’ link-building tools
- See which sites are ranking on BuzzSumo
- View your organic competitors on SEMrush
- Never rely on just one indicator
- Think like a visitor
- Use Facebook’s About section to find email addresses
- Don’t be afraid to follow up
- Personalize your outreach templates with unique insights (not just their names)
- Follow the site’s contributor guidelines
- Don’t be afraid of losing quality links
- Replace your anchor text
- Remember that higher word counts are not always better
- Write content that you are happy to publish