Link building is one of the most demanding activities for every WordPress Site.

If you don’t want to pay for your website’s traffic, you need organic traffic. If you want organic traffic, you need to do solid Search Engine Optimization. And a solid SEO requires link building activities.

If you want organic traffic, you need to do solid Search Engine Optimization. And a solid SEO requires link building activities. Click To Tweet

But first, let’s get back to basics.

Link building is the process of acquiring hyperlinks (also known as “backlinks”) from other websites to your site.

There are two ways to acquire such links: The first way is to earn them by making other website owners genuinely want to refer to you. The second way is through editorial intervention

You probably already know that link building is a big part of SEO. SEO is divided into three main categories, and link building is the main activity of the last category, namely off-page SEO. Accordingly, the branches of SEO are these:

  1. Technical SEO: structured data, robots.txt, crawling, indexing
  2. On-Page: keyword research & optimization, page speed, internal links
  3. Off-page SEO: referral & organic traffic (aka backlinks)

Backlinks are one of the most significant Google Ranking factors.

This is what makes backlinks and link building so important. If you are looking for organic traffic for any WordPress site, you need to find ways to rank in SERPs (Google’s search results). Naturally, Google Ads is the fastest way to do that. However, an organic result is usually most preferable than a paid one, for both users and your wallet.

The way you usually achieve these organic results is, first, to create content and then make said content rank through link building. It’s no coincidence that one of the most common strategies of digital and growth hacking agencies is to help websites grow through the combo of content creation and link building.

Building links toward homepages and landing pages is also an option but usually harder to achieve.

So, now that we all know what link building is, how does one “build links”? Here are 5 ways to do that!

1. Link Unlinked Mentions

Let’s start with the most pain-free link building tactic.

Remember when we said that the first type of backlinks is earned backlinks? Well, earned backlinks sound great, indeed. Who doesn’t like earning something without even asking, right? The reality is that very often, you get an “earned mention” from the referrer but not an “earned backlink”.

An unlinked mention usually happens when someone writes about you but doesn’t link to you.

For example, imagine a mention of Popup Maker. It could look like this:

“I created an awesome popup for my WordPress site with Popup Maker”.

While this is great and everything for Popup Maker, this is much better:

“I created an awesome popup for my WordPress site with Popup Maker”.

Notice the difference?

So, your purpose here is to outreach to those who have mentioned you but haven’t linked to you. And then get them to link to you.

Now, let’s continue our Popup Maker example. Let’s say that I’m searching for unlinked mentions for “Popup Maker”. How do I find unlinked mentions? Well, with a Google search. What I’m looking for in my search query is to find the word “Popup Maker” anywhere on the net but at the same time, I want to exclude popupmaker.com itself as well as any links from social media.

Accordingly, my search query, using the Google Search Operator “intext” will look like this:

intext:wppopupmaker -wppopupmaker.com -facebook.com -twitter.com -youtube.com -instagram.com

That means that the internet has mentioned Popup Maker 410 times. Now, Google will only show you the first 5 pages of results. But there is a way around it. What you can do is go through your Google Preferences, and select 100 results per page for a maximum of 500.

Now, how can we know if these mentions are linked or not? If the result is not a big number, you can manually visit one by one each of these mentions. If the number is bigger though, you will need some help. This is where link building tools come in. Crawlers like Screaming Frog SEO Spider and Free Link Checker Tool are some of these tools that can assist you in excluding already link mentions.

Unlinked brand mentions are not the only mentions you can make linkable. Don’t forget that an image with no credits also counts as an unlinked mention.

Have you created any images or infographics in the past and published them in your blog? Great! There’s a chance that someone else also has published them in one of their blog posts. So, every few months you can do a Google reverse image search for each of your images. And if you see any of your images in someone else’s blog, you can contact them and ask them to give you credit (and a backlink, of course). More often than not, they will give you.

2. Guest Blogging

Guest blogging is when someone, instead of publishing an article on their site, they post it on somebody else’s blog.

Guest blogging, as a link building tactic has been around for years. Nonetheless, there is a difference between guest blogging today and, say, 10 years ago. Before Google’s major updates like Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird, the context of a backlink wasn’t as relevant as it is now.

What that means is that today, guest blogging and backlinks are all about the context. For example, a guest post from a website about tennis rackets to a website with business news and tips doesn’t hold much value.

So how does one find places to guest blog?

First, make sure that you have a few posts on your own blog. Editors often ask for a writing sample, so you better have something to show them.

Second, you have to find blogs in your industry that accept guest posts. To do that, you will have to google the name of the subject you are interested in and a phrase that suggests that the site accepts guest writers. Those kind of phrases are pretty standard:

“Keyword” + “write for us”

“Keyword” + “guest post”

“Keyword” + “guest article”

“Keyword” + “submit content”

“Keyword” + “become an author”

“Keyword” + “guest post guidelines”

If I wanted to write a guest post for Popup Maker, the first thing I would google would be “wordpress” + “write for us”. Let’s see how that goes.

A few million results are more than ok! Time for the next step.

Third, you need to contact those blogs and tell them you want to write for them. Most blogs that accept guest posts have a ‘write for us’ or ‘contributors’ section, where they will explain what you have to do to write for them.

For example, some blogs want you to suggest a few headlines or give them a blog outline first, before writing a word. A few other blogs, however, want to see a ready-to-publish draft, written according to their guidelines.

A few things to keep in mind when guest blogging:

  • Look for blogs relevant to your industry or niche.
  • Find blogs with the highest domain authority possible.
  • If the blog doesn’t allow dofollow backlinks, it’s usually better to find another blog.
  • Read the blog’s guidelines very carefully.
  • Always follow up on your outreach.

3. Broken Link Building

This one is pretty straightforward.

Broken link building is about finding dead links, recreating the dead content, and then letting everyone who still has this backlink on their blog know that it’s broken and that you have created a similar (live!) content. In most cases, they will gladly replace the backlink with yours.

Here’s what happened to me recently.

While I was reading an article from our industry, I clicked at one of the backlinks and I ran into a dead page. Long story short, the page was not the only dead thing. The whole website was missing! So then, I googled the tool to find out more but I read that the company behind the tool had shut down. 

Bingo!

Immediately, I opened Ahrefs, the SEO tool I use, and searched to see if the company had made any more content and if there would be any pages leading to the now-dead content.

448 backlinks. Not too bad.

But still, I was only interested in their content that had real value. That being the case, I used some filter options to narrow down the results:

  1. Backlinks strictly from the blog (remember, I have to replace content, not homepage mentions)
  2. English-speaking websites
  3. Dofollow links, as nofollow have no value for SEO purposes

122 dofollow backlinks, two-third of which were spam. Still, I have about 40 leads to reach out to. 

Lastly, I had to see what kind of content I had to replicate. All in all, it was 5 blog posts, social media-related. As this happened pretty recently, we still haven’t created these posts but we are about to do so and see if we can bring any results. Hopefully, we do.

4. Create Link-Bait Content

Link-bait content is the kind of content created for the sole purpose of getting backlinks. Unfortunately, there is no “Link Bait Content Formula” and that’s why this tactic is one of the harder ones.

There are many content types that can make great link-bait content:

  • Infographics & Images
  • eBooks & Whitepapers
  • Widgets & Gadgets
  • Quizzes & Games
  • Video

Infographics are by far the most popular type of link-bait content.

My favorite example is College Raptor’s case study, a startup that went from 0 to 100k visitors per month in one year. According to their content marketing strategy, they had three types of content: 

  1. Evergreen content: usually blog posts that answer the most FAQ of their industry
  2. Social viral content: laid-back content that evokes emotion
  3. Link building content: in their case, an infographic

The secret in their success was that the infographic was not made for their target audience, to begin with. Rather, it was made for other sites, publishers, and writers. In the end, they got picked up by the Washington Post and Time Magazine.

What’s great with content like infographics and images is that most content writers are not designers and many of them work solo. Thus, they lack design capabilities or a helping hand from a designer. As a result, most writers will use somebody else’s design. Remember our first link building tactic -unlinked mentions- and how you should ask from those that have used your images to link back to you? Link-bait content reaches its full potential and value only when you actually get the backlink.

But what happens if you are also one of these writers that have nothing to do with design? Thankfully, that’s what infographic templates are for, many of which you can find for free.

5. HARO (Help a Reporter Out)

Help a Reporter Out, or HARO is a platform that connects journalists, who are looking for experts, with said experts.

From The New York Times to Mashable, and from Reuters to Forbes, there are many major media outlets that use HARO. Even if the rest of the publications are not as big, they can be relevant to what you do. And as we said, relevance is key in link building. Back to HARO — the way it works is simple. 

First, you need to sign up as a source.

Second, you have to select the categories you are interested in. HARO includes many categories such as Business and Finance, High Tech, Lifestyle, Healthcare, Sports, Education, and Travel.

Third, you are going to receive three emails per day, per category; one in the morning, one in the afternoon, and one in the evening. 

For example, this is the morning edition that arrived earlier today in my Inbox:

If you believe you can be a valuable source to any of the subjects you read, you just click on it and read more about the journalist’s query. Then, you can write your reply, email it to the journalist, and hope that it will be included in their article.

With HARO, you have to be fast when you reply; the deadlines of the journalists are pretty strict. Last but not least, you have to be pretty persistent with your replies. Even experienced HARO users/ sources don’t hear back from the journalists more than a fifth of the time.

Next Steps

Link building is where SEO and content meet. Good content with no SEO can’t go very far, and vice-versa. For that reason, you are going to need to use a good mix of SEO tools & knowledge. and content curation tools & expertise.

Now that you know some of the best link building tactics, here are a few do’s and don’ts to remember in your link building endeavors. 

Link Building Do’s

  1. Try to earn backlinks from high authority websites
  2. Pick websites that belong to your industry
  3. Avoid common traps of link building services
  4. Use relevant anchor texts
  5. If you are an SEO expert who builds links for a client, keep track of your link building activities with SEO reports

Link Building Don’ts

  1. Don’t guest blog on irrelevant websites
  2. Forget about cloaking (aka presenting different content to human users and search engines)
  3. Avoid reciprocal linking (aka I link to your site – you link to mine)
  4. Avoid any other kind of link schemes in general
  5. Don’t be too impatient with your link building; it’s a long-term strategy that takes time

Keep these in mind and I wish you happy link building!