Unless you’re HubSpot or Ahrefs (or Search Engine Journal 😉) and naturally land millions of links, you should be looking to acquire links.
Google has made it clear that content and links are two of the biggest SEO factors.
Content without links limits your referral traffic and hinders ranking potential.
The only problem is that Google has strict link building guidelines in place as well.
So how do you acquire critical links from top websites without breaking Google’s “rules” and requirements?
How to create ethical links that positively impact your website and your brand image?
Here are three ethical link building strategies for SEO and marketing professionals to try.
1. Be a source of journalistic information
One of the most ethical sources of backlinks online is to be a journalistic source of information.
What does it mean?
Basically: Providing a quote or advice or information in exchange for mentioning your name, brand and website.
For example, this is something I just did on a blog post about SaaS Vacation Marketing:
Expert interviews, roundups, or quotes are fantastic content marketing tools that can help improve the impact of content.
It is always useful to collect several opinions from different sources on the same topic in order to understand the concepts and use the experience of several sources.
This allows for fantastic user experiences when reading and researching new ideas.
For this reason, reporters, journalists and writers are always looking for people to contribute their content.
And when you’re trying to build ethical, compliant backlinks to the book, that should be music to your ears.
So how do you do this effectively and expand your ethical bonding?
How on earth to contact content marketers and bloggers to get featured without being boring or spammy?
My favorite tool is HARO, which is Help a Reporter Out. It is used by more than 55,000 bloggers and journalists.
HARO is a website where writers can post their topic and the type of quote or advice they are looking for.
All you have to do is reply by email with your submission and wait for their confirmation.
The best part is that the sources you contribute to aren’t unfamiliar, random, or sketchy websites.
I’ve actually contributed posts from HubSpot to Forbes using it:
With HARO, you can create a free account that will deliver daily media opportunities straight to your inbox.
Depending on what niches you want to focus on, you will potentially get hundreds of media opportunities every week to respond.
With a long curated list, you can choose the topics and posts that interest you the most as well as your brand’s goals.
The best of all?
Sure, writing up a valuable quote or advice takes time, but getting exposure on websites like Forbes is worth it.
So what are you waiting for? Go become a journalistic source of information and gain strong connections, ethically.
2. Link recovery: improve the value of existing content
Creating broken links is nothing new.
You’re looking for content that mentions your specific anchor text goals and hope the link is broken, allowing you to come up with your own to replace it.
It can work, but on a large scale it is nothing short of a nightmare.
It can take you hundreds of articles to find just one potential link location, not to mention the low conversion rate you will get from getting a link placed.
This type of ethical bonding is a needle in a haystack bonding tactic. It’s one in a thousand.
Give up building broken links and start working on link recovery.
What is that?
Essentially, link recovery focuses on branded mentions (with or without a link).
For example, if someone writes an article and mentions your software tool but doesn’t link to you, this is a great opportunity to:
- Thank them for the mention
- Ask them to add a link to one of your target pages related to the copy
- Connect with this site or writer for future collaboration
Using a tool like Ahrefs, you can locate them quickly. Launch Ahrefs and use the content exploration tool:
From there, enter your brand name in the search bar and hit enter.
Select a date range to target, focusing on newer content first.
Then select the “live only” links and a minimum domain rating range.
Remember: you want to focus on making the big wins here while eliminating spam.
Then be sure to also select “One page per domain”. Now you can export your list and have a full spreadsheet showing where and when your brand is mentioned.
From there, it’s up to you to research the site, the writer, and take some awareness-raising actions!
One of the biggest keys to link recovery is choosing the right link to launch.
Instead of just a link to the homepage, dig deeper into the topic of the article and find a landing page, cover page, etc. on your site that suits you.
Select your priority target pages and find existing anchor text boxes that line up.
If you don’t have one currently, consider creating a new, more focused landing page that fits right in.
Link retrieval is about as ethical as it gets – you’re actually increasing the value a reader gets from a blog post by providing a link on that page where they can read more.
Without it, they are forced to spend multiple searches to find that page.
The real question is:
Does it work?
If done correctly, it absolutely works. I have done link recovery with several clients and have seen an average conversion rate of 25% for getting links.
3. Guest message to establish connections
Guest post. It has long been a debate about whether guest posting “works” or whether it should be done for links or not.
Almost six years ago now, Matt Cutts said: “Okay, I call it: if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably quit. “
But, was he really talking about delivering an exceptional quality article to HubSpot and linking to a valuable piece of content on your own site?
Not at all.
In fact, it was the other way around that he was referring:
Rotate existing content and fill it with links to quickly increase your domain’s rating and ranking.
This is clearly spam, creates no value for readers, and was intended to mess with the system.
On the flip side, high-quality signed content continues to thrive, and for good reason:
Blogs need better content more than ever, and hiring top content marketers doesn’t come cheap.
This is where you come in: delivering value with a piece of content.
But don’t just submit your guest post and call it a day. Of course, you’ll probably get at least one signature link and generate referral traffic. But the whole point of this trick isn’t just to post guest posts.
This is a pretty obvious tactic. Instead, take this opportunity and bond with your contact.
If it’s an editor, ask to become a regular contributor. Ask how you can offer them more value.
Once connected, ask them if they need help with the current content they are creating for other websites.
Take the opportunity to help yourself by adding quotes, tips, stats, and helpful links to your own content.
Give up guest posts on paid, spam-packed websites and start focusing on natural guest post links on top sites, with an emphasis on building editorial connections.
Link building evolves, rapidly.
It’s no longer about infographics, scouring the end of the world looking for broken links that might match your anchor text, or posting guest links.
Instead, it’s about finding ethical bonding strategies that have one thing in common:
Improve value for people who read content and click on your links while avoiding Google penalties.
Use these three strategies to get there.
Featured Image: Pixabay
All screenshots taken by author, December 2019