3 ways to build backlinks without breaking the bank

Building backlinks is the key to off-page SEO. Learn how to do it the right way
6 minute read
Adam Smith @HomebrandAdam
Technical Co-pilot
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Getting links to your site doesn’t have to cost you time, money or integrity.

Backlinks building is one of the most watertight SEO strategies you can commit time and resources to. So many websites break their backs trying to figure out the strange alchemy of search engine optimisation.

But as most people know the tides of Google are unpredictable; tricks and hacks that work one day might not work (or even work against you) the next. So it’s wise to batten down the hatches and hold on tight to the strategies we know will weather the storm of Google’s next update. Links from sites with high domain authority tell Google you’re a source to be trusted and Google will always trust the word of a weathered sea captain.

The problem is, building backlinks on your own watch can be time-consuming and the siren’s call of shady link-building businesses can be all too tempting. But charting that route is a fool’s errand and most shortcuts lead to despair (and low-quality links). Lucky for you landlubbers, we know of some seaworthy strategies that will help you land the big links.

Hunting down broken or out of date links

Let’s say you’ve just published a fresh page or tool. You’ve poured blood, sweat and tears into your page, right? So it’s safe to assume that, whatever the use case, your guide, app or tool is at this moment in time, the most reliable and accurate version available on the internet. So why wouldn’t people want to link to it?

For example, let’s just say you’ve just launched a new tool that compares pricing on sneakers. As slick as your idea might be, you’re not the first to think of it. But let’s say for the sake of this article that the fine folks at ShoeKicker have decided that monitoring price changes just isn’t worth their time. That would make your tool the most relevant on the market and the one big publications would much rather link to.

ShoeKicker would make your job fairly easy in this case as they, like most other tools and services, list the big-name publications that have provided coverage for their tool. All you would need to do in this case is tailor your Google search using the ‘site:search’ function. Let’s say ShoeKicker’s website mentions The Boston Globe in its coverage section. To find that particular article, all you need to do is type ‘site:https://www.bostonglobe.com shoekicker’ into Google’s search bar and it should return the exact post/page that mentions ShoeKicker.

 

off page seo search

 

Now in this sad, hypothetical timeline, ShoeKicker just ain’t cutting the mustard any more. Worst case scenario, the site is no longer operational.

That’s when it's time to swoop in, like some kind of sneaker-obsessed savior. If you believe your tool is more up to date or more relevant, you might suggest this in an email to The Boston Globe’s webmaster. And if the link is dead, it’s in The Boston Globe’s best interest to replace it. If it’s the latter, the friendly Bostonians might thank your eagle-eyed link monitoring with a link back to your new and improved tool. It can be a little trickier with the former, as this particular post is quite clearly a news article of the time, specifically about the company ShoeKick. So that’s not as simple as swapping out a link and will require a little extra effort on the webmaster’s behalf.

But who is this mysterious webmaster? Did they create the web? Or are they simply another pawn in weblord’s sick game?

It’s always a bit of a mystery, to be honest. And reaching out to massive publishers will often result in heartbreak. For a site like The Boston Globe or Lifehacker, we’d recommend reaching out to the author of the article (so long as they're staff and not freelance). If it’s a smaller site or blog you’re angling, there are three methods for getting in touch ranging from casual outreach to getting desperate: use the contact link at the bottom in the site’s footer or contact section, look up the webmaster using a domain lookup such as whois or contact the domain host directly.

Guest posting

Your sneaker website is live, you’ve hooked a few cheeky links in ShoeKick’s stead and the SEO skies are clearing a little. People are using your tool, making purchases, leaving feedback. Everything is just peachy. But who the hell are you? What’s your deal? I mean, great tool but we still wouldn’t be able to pick you out of a lineup of peppy entrepreneurs.

As the captain of this here ship, it’s important that your name goes down in history. From here on out, you are the sneaker guy. The one the internet goes to for advice when they need slick new kicks. You’ve done the work; late nights of market research and monolithic spreadsheets. Any website that reviews clothing and apparel would kill for that kind of niche expertise. They’d straight up murder a fool if it came for free.

That’s the strategy. Simply reach out to a webmaster or content pitch submission form with your background and an offer of a free review all for a simple link back to your comparison tool. Not only does that get you a tidy backlink, but it also helps build authority with Google. The more your byline appears at the top of sneaker-related content, the more Google will begin to see you as an authority on the topic. When the internet needs a leader in the sneaker space, you’re basically a shoe-in.

Ahem. Sorry.

Use your data to tell compelling stories

Comparison tools like the lovely ShoeKicker have upwards of 50,000 people per month using their comparison tools. With the help of Google Analytics, these tools have access to incredibly unique datasets that reveal current consumer trends in their particular corner of the internet. If your tool or website is the most popular in its field, it's fair to say you have one of the most comprehensive insights on consumer purchasing habits and retailer pricing structures.

Nowhere near enough comparison websites take advantage of this data to segment their audiences to tell a compelling story.

If you can map out the data in a way that says something about consumer demographics in the sneaker industry, put it to good use. Even if you’re not the most experienced writer, there are thousands upon thousands of hungry freelancers out there who will take your data and weave a wonderful tale about the latest purchasing trends. To sweeten the pot, you could also hire a freelance graphic designer who can transform that data into a wonderful, shareable infographic.

Maybe more people in Salt Lake City purchase more hiking boots than any other city in the world, or maybe people from Colorado don’t actually purchase Colorado shoes. Alone, these discoveries don’t seem like much but there should be enough on hand to flesh out a much larger story on the purchasing trends underfoot.

Outlets also love a gorgeous infographic as they tell 90% of the story and can be easily embedded. If your designer is using a tool like Piktochart or Infogram to create a dynamic/interactive infographic, you can also link back to your site. Meaning that, wherever the infographic is shared, you will receive a backlink.

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