When you are just starting to build links for a new website, you may be overwhelmed with links from your competitors and the very idea that getting links is going to be quite an intense task.
You can get quick and easy links, but really good ones usually take time.
However, there are many other components of link building apart from the request/attraction of a link itself.
Your site should be worthy of links, for one thing. Links can also occur through offline channels.
Let’s discuss 20 ways to start building links.
1. Make sure you have good (and hopefully great) content before you start link building
See what already exists and do it better, or do it differently. Even better, see what’s not already there and create something.
Evergreen content will always be a good idea. You can buy links to any content. However, you can’t always build good links.
Without interesting and relevant content, you’ll be late before you even start.
2. Make sure you don’t have 404s and all your external links are working properly
Both of these are bad for usability. There are various tools to help you check them (eg Google Search Console, robots).
Just as you put yourself at a disadvantage with lower quality content, you put yourself at a disadvantage by having broken links.
3. Make sure the pages you target are indexable
If I had a penny every time I saw an entire site blocked by robots.txt.
In fact, I recently audited a site that was blocked and apparently had been for two years.
It still happens.
4. Claim all your social channels and link to them from your site
It takes a long time to build a useful following for a new site, so you might as well start as soon as possible.
If you have blog posts or articles that you would like to socialize, make sure there are buttons for that.
I’m always amazed by sites that make it hard to tweet a link to an article.
5. Configure google & Talkwalker Alerts for your brand, competitors and relevant keywords
You will receive an email listing the new mentions. If you see your site mentioned without a link, contact us and ask for a link to be added.
You might see a competitor mentioned in an article and you’ll get a good idea.
Maybe you’ll see a great resource in your industry and can reach out and get a link for your site (seriously, check that you don’t actually have a link before reaching out.
I say this from experience training someone on this.) Alerts are free by the way!
6. Use HARO
HARO stands for Help A Reporter Out. It’s also free!
Journalists looking for sources to use in their stories are asking for help and if you contact them and they like what you have to offer, you can get some really great links.
I also love using HARO to generate ideas for new content, especially if we can find a way to get those ideas into a different format.
7. Answer questions on Quora
Quora is a great place to start building your authority in an area. It’s also a great way to get ideas for new content.
If you get a link here, it won’t be followed, so there won’t be any ranking advantage, but we can’t forget that unfollowed links are still great for traffic.
8. See what links your competitors have, make a list and go to those sites
You can do this in the link tool of your choice.
However, I wouldn’t recommend trying to completely imitate your competitors’ profiles. Like any other site, they probably get a lot of crappy links that you would never want to replicate.
In fact, a (former) client showed me some really, really bad links that his competitor had gotten (hopefully without any effort on his part, because they were really atrocious) and asked me if they were worth the penalty of being prosecuted.
If that’s a link you would want in general, go for it. If you’re considering getting one just because your main competitor is related, don’t worry.
9. Every week, discover new links from your competitors
You probably won’t want to try to emulate them all, and you may not see any sites you’d like to link to for yourself, but once in a while you might find a good opportunity.
10. Try using unique content types (like video) instead of just chunks of text
Adding unique visual elements to the content helps it stand out more.
My friend recently published a yoga book for beginners and used drawings of people to illustrate poses instead of photos of real people, and it was very well received.
Several people when opening his book commented on how much they liked the designs because they were flawed and it appealed to them as they were nervous about always getting into the right shape.
Sometimes the visual is what sells (and leads to more links.)
11. Break up longer content into separate publishable chunks
I was recently part of a video series where snippets of the longer video were posted separately, leading up to the release of the full video.
I bought books because the first chapter was inserted at the end of a book by the same author. Previews of more to come can work really well and keep people interested.
If you’re going to publish a big guide, break it up into sections that can stand on their own, eg. Perhaps these sections can each generate links.
12. Interview interesting people on your site
I participated in many interviews and some of them really marked me because the questions asked were not the same questions that everyone asked me.
If you’re going to interview someone, see what they’ve already answered and go in a different direction.
You won’t always get a link from the person you interviewed, but most of the time you will get some social love, and that can sometimes lead to links.
13. Do offline branding (T-shirts, anyone?)
Anything that puts your brand in front of someone is a chance for a link.
That’s an ambitious statement, but a lot of offline and word-of-mouth marketing leads to conversions of some sort.
Maybe you get a new client.
Maybe you meet someone who is looking for someone to help a friend with a service you provide.
Maybe you get a link from a local blogger or hit the headlines.
14. Sponsor a local event, group or team
Many times you will get a link, but sometimes not. It still builds your brand.
Use searches such as “intext:sponsors Greensboro” or “inurl:sponsors Virginia” to find sponsorship opportunities.
15. Become a guest on a podcast or webinar
There will be a lot of promotion and, sometimes, a transcript.
As someone who hosts a monthly webinar, it’s not always easy to find guests, so if you can find a podcast or webinar that would be relevant to your business, reach out and let the host know you are. available.
16. Join the local chamber of commerce and any other relevant entity
This includes some online directories that are still considered valuable.
Many cities have women’s business groups, for example. These are great networking opportunities that can lead to leads and, possibly, connections.
In my experience, these were easier to get than they are today, but still worth a look. Not all of them can be found by searching for links and resource pages either.
I recently came across one when I was working for a home design client.
I’m under NDA, so I can’t reveal the exact title of the page. However, it was something along the lines of “Other Places To Look”.
18. Try to do a guest post or two, but don’t go overboard
Guest posts have brought me significant traffic and a few customers, so I think it’s still a valid way to build links as long as you’re smart about it and don’t rely on it as your only method of link building.
19. Socialize other interesting content and try to build relationships with authorities in your niche
Ah even just typing was hard because it sounds so mundane…but it works.
Got some great links from friends in the industry. I had some really great clients from friends in the industry who have recommended me.
Sometimes it’s a lot of work for nothing, but it’s worth setting aside a little time each month just to see if you can come up with something.
It certainly won’t happen overnight, but you’ll start building a strong link profile if you don’t take shortcuts and try to grab as many links as possible as quickly as possible.
So many existing sites have terrible link profiles. But when you have the chance to start from scratch, you have the chance to do it right.
All screenshots taken by author, May 2019