Gael Breton is one of the co-founders of Authority Hacker.As editor-in-chief, Gael creates and curates content for both the blog and our training courses. He also directs the market research and strategic planning the site. In his spare time, he can usually be found in his secret laboratory testing the latest SEO tools and tactics.
The real challenge isn’t link building, but getting quality, trusted, and natural links. In this article, we have revealed a few link building tactics that can be applied to most types of websites.
Sure, on-page SEO is important. But what happens off your site also plays a key role in your search performance.
Obviously, we’re talking about backlinks.
Backlinks are one of Google’s top two ranking factors. Unsurprisingly, pages with a ton of backlinks pointing at them also tend to get more organic traffic.
So naturally, you want to grab as many (quality) links as you can. But unfortunately, that can be easier said than done. It’s not just a case of churning out content, because not every blog is going to win you links. In fact, 94% of all blog posts have zero external links.
You can’t just rely on traditional tactics, because that's just the same as what everyone else is doing. A little out-of-the-box thinking can go a long way.
With that in mind, here are five unconventional link-building tactics that you can start using right now.
1. Search for Unlinked Brand Mentions
Say your site is relatively well-known. You might not be a household name, but you’re probably getting mentioned in various corners of the internet – people might be talking about some research you conducted, or quoting a webinar you hosted.
But not all of those people are linking to you. Frustrating, right?
Well, it’s time to do something about that.
For starters, we need to find all those unlinked mentions. The Ahrefs Content Explorer is the easiest way to do this:
- Enter the following query into the search function: -site:[yoursite.com] "your site/brand/name". That’ll look like this:
- Select the option “Highlight unlinked domains” so it’s easier to find sites that have mentioned, but not linked to, your site:
- Depending on the volume of results, you might also want to hit the “One page per domain” toggle:
So you’ve got a list of sites that mention your brand but aren’t linking to you. If you want to make doubly sure that these are real opportunities, visit each page in turn and hit CTRL+U (or Option/Alt+CMD+U on a Mac) to view the page’s source code, then search for your URL using CTRL+F.
Now, it’s a simple case of reaching out to those sites and asking for a link.
There’s no one way to do this – you’ll need to use your common sense to identify the right person to contact, and whether they’re best reached via email, LinkedIn, Twitter, or some other platform.
Either way, keep your message simple. They already mention you, so unless that mention is in a roundup of “brands that I hate the most”, it’s a fair bet that they like you and value your content. Asking for a link in return isn’t a big demand.
2. Find New Guest Post Opportunities by Spying on Your Competitors
Guest-posting is one of the most reliable ways to generate new backlinks.
But once you’ve been guest-posting for a while, or in high volumes, or both, it gets harder and harder to find new, relevant sites to target.
Rather than spending hours trawling the web for obscure-yet-high-authority sites, why not let your competitors do the hard work for you? After all, if other brands in your space have been guest-posting for the X website, chances are you can too.
This time, we’re going to use the Ahrefs Site Explorer:
- Head to the Backlinks section and enter the URL of one of your competitors
- To find the actual guest posts, apply the following filters:
One Link Per Domain; Links > Dofollow; Type > Blogs; Language > English
Ideally, you’ll notice that when your competitor writes a guest post, they consistently link to one page (or a handful of pages) on their site, like a downloadable guide or a playbook they’re promoting. In that case, you can just enter that URL into Site Explorer to bring up a list of guest posts. Now you can contact those sites and offer to write your own guest posts. Simple!
If that’s not the case, try exporting the data from Ahrefs into a spreadsheet, sort the titles from A-Z, and look out for listicle-type articles (which are particularly common in guest-posting because they’re pretty easy to produce).
Hopefully, that’ll leave you with a list of target sites to contact.
3. Seek Out & Regain Lost Links
It’s easy to forget that when you win a backlink, it’s not guaranteed to stay there forever. The linking site might have made some changes that meant the link accidentally dropped off, or maybe they decided to purge a bunch of external links.
Either way, you can do something about it.
To use this method, you’ll need to have access to a list of all your successful link acquisitions. This is an important part of any link-building strategy, so if you’re not doing it, you should definitely start!
First, download a tool called Scrapebox and install their Free Link Checker tool. Now, you want to add your list of acquired links, as follows:
- Save your list as a .txt file, with one link per line
- Click on "Blogs" in Free Link Checker
- Load in the .txt file
- Create a new .txt file containing only your domain
- Click on Your Sites and add the .txt file
- Click “Start”
You’ll be left with a list of red and green links – those red ones are lost backlinks.
However, that doesn’t mean you can 100% regain them. Sometimes, the page simply doesn’t exist anymore or returns a 404 error. There’s not much you can do about that.
But if it’s a guest post that’s still alive, but your link has been removed for some reason, it’s absolutely okay to ask them to add it back in. Just be polite about it; chances are this isn’t some grand conspiracy against you!
4. Review the Products You Love
You probably have a bunch of tools you use day in, day out. We certainly do (we’ve linked to a couple in this article).
There’s a good chance those brands would love a testimonial from you – especially if you’ve built up a decent amount of authority over the years. And in return for that testimonial, they’ll likely be happy to link back to your site.
To start, list all the tools you regularly use and love. For us, our daily tech stack includes stuff like:
This definitely isn’t about saying nice things about products you’ve barely used. It’s about providing legitimate testimonials for tools that have genuinely helped you.
Having compiled your list of tools, it’s time to reach out to those brands. There’s no silver bullet here – the best method will depend on the company in question and your relationship with them. But options include:
● Speaking to your regular contact, like an account manager or customer services rep
● Using LinkedIn to find the best person in their marketing department or customer success team
● Asking via on-site chat boxes or contact forms (just make sure they’re in members-only parts of the site so your message is prioritized)
One final tip: don’t start by asking for a backlink. That’s almost a secondary goal with this tactic; the first is to offer a truly valuable testimonial. So provide stats and figures that demonstrate exactly why you love their product so much. Maybe it’s helped you monetize your blog, or saved you X hours a week on internal communication.
5. Guest On Podcasts
There are currently more than 1.5 million podcasts, with over 34 million episodes between them.
With such a huge volume of content already available, it’s no wonder podcasts are always on the lookout for guests!
The good news for you is that guesting on a podcast could help you earn backlinks. If you appear as a subject matter expert, you should have myriad opportunities to discuss specific blogs you’ve written, the research you’ve carried out, or solutions you’ve provided to customers. Reference the relevant pages on your site and there’s a good chance you’ll bag yourself a link or two in the podcast’s show notes.
However, if you’re going to be a subject matter expert, you need to find relevant podcasts. There’s probably not much point pitching your services as a marketing expert to a true crime pod.
There are a couple of ways to track down podcasts in your niche:
- Google: Simple – just search [your niche] + Podcast. Because most podcasts appear on Google Podcasts, they’ll show up within the search engine results page. Don’t forget to search variations of your niche so you’re casting the net as wide as possible.
- Review competitors: Are there any big names in your industry? The sort of people who’d likely appear on podcasts? Then search [their name] + Podcast. Not all of the results will be 100% relevant to your brand, although you might still find opportunities for out-of-niche appearances.
Once you’ve found a bunch of target podcasts, reach out to them highlighting your experience, a couple of success stories, and the specific topics on which you can add value. If it’s a podcast with a decent listenership, they likely have a lot of people wanting to appear as guests, so make it clear why they should pick you!
Don’t expect every one of these tactics to work for every brand.
If your competitors aren’t actively guest-posting, you won’t learn anything from reviewing their activity.
Or if you’re in a super-niche field, there just might not be any relevant podcasts on which you can appear.
But link-building is a numbers game, and there are no shortcuts. Once you find a tactic that works for you, keep going at it until you’ve completely exhausted it. Then when you need to find a new tactic, come back to this list and try something else.
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