Nothing changes more in SEO than link building.
Since the first Google Penguin update, the algorithm continues to tighten the screws on many types of link practices. However, there are some link building tactics that will stand the test of time.
The seven evergreen link building strategies I’m going to show you will not only produce substantial organic growth, but will also keep your site safe from any future updates affecting links.
Let’s jump in.
1. Broken Link Building
Broken links aren’t going away anytime soon, which means there are plenty of opportunities to leverage them. Even the best of the best websites have occasional broken links in outdated content. The beauty of replacing a broken link with your own is that the linking page will generally be aged, have strong Page Authority (PA), and have strong trust signals. This recipe will supply your website with amazing link equity and trust.
First things first, how do you find these opportunities?
Resource pages are the low hanging fruits, so you should begin your prospecting there. A simple search string like “keyword + resources” or “keyword + suggested links” will give you plenty of options. Don’t go overboard searching a ton of different queries because you’ll just end up with a bunch of duplicate data. On average, you should try to find at least 50-100 pages with potential broken links.
Now that you have the prospective pages, how do you go about finding the broken links?
I personally use the Check My Links extension for Google Chrome.
After you install the extension, simply go to the prospective page and click the red and green icon in the right hand corner.
Track all of the broken links in an excel file so that you can sort them based on quality. Your high level opportunities should be the most relevant and have strong PA and DA. Ideally, the target page should have a Topical Trust Flow relevant to your website. Avoid any pages with low-quality outbound links to “bad neighborhoods.”
Now that you’ve identified top-level opportunities, you can either leverage content you already have or write new content to match the original broken link. Producing highly relevant content that improves upon the original will increase your chances of link acquisition success. At the very worst, you’ll have a piece of content that’s been proven to perform well.
It’s now time to do the outreach and replace the broken links with your own. Do not over-complicate this. You can either do this yourself or hire a virtual assistant (VA) to send out emails. I recommend the latter so you can focus your time on high-level tasks. This article from Moz has some excellent email templates you can use.
2. White Hat Alternative to PBNs
For a long time, I was deep into private blog networks until I realized that it was killing my team’s time as well as my own. With that being said, I wanted to figure out a way to leverage the power of PBNs without having to take on the risk and time it takes to create and manage a network. That’s when I discovered what I coined “ the white hat alternative to PBNs.”
In essence, you’re leveraging the power of expired domains without ever needing to create a site. You’re simply extracting the expired domain links and notifying the webmaster that they’re linking to a dead website/resource.
To find these opportunities, you should use the following tools:
My personal favorite is DomCop.com because it allows you to filter based on Topical Trust Flow. This metric can help you find relevant expired domains faster and begin to extract their link profile.
After you find a domain that’s relevant to your industry, simply toss it into Ahrefs or Majestic, export the links, prioritize the links based on quality, and follow the same outreach strategy you did in the broken link building section.
3. Niche Relevant Guest Posts
Before you freak out with your Matt Cutts quotes, let me explain. Relevant guest posts on REAL websites are still the most powerful links you can acquire. Notice the important keyword “REAL.” Real websites have real traffic, real links, real social activity, and real user engagement. These are the sites you should focus your efforts on.
There are hundreds of repetitive articles on how to get guest posts, so I won’t bore you. BUT, I do want to speak briefly on what classifies as a good guest post. Prospecting for guest post opportunities is easy, but filtering through the junk and deciding where to focus your energy is much more challenging.
As a general rule of thumb, a guest post you should acquire should meet the following criteria:
- Should have site-level relevancy
- Should have page-level relevancy
- Should have engaging, unique content
- Should have a community of users that share, comment, and link to its content
- Should have a decent Alexa rank
- Should have decent Domain Authority (DA)
- Should have relevant Topical Trust Flow (not required, but recommended)
4. High Authority “News” Links
Getting links from news outlets and super authority sites will always be a sustainable strategy. When I say “super” authority sites, I’m talking about Huffington Post, Forbes, ESPN and many others. It’s extremely challenging to get links on these outlets, but when you do it’s very rewarding. Firstly, you’re getting insane link authority and trust. Secondly, you’re building brand equity by being mentioned on such trusted authorities. Lastly, these sites will send you tons of quality referral traffic that will likely convert into subscribers, sales or anything you’re trying to accomplish on your site.
Okay, so now that I’ve hyped it up, how do you actually get these links?
You’re not going to like my answer…
You have to build your authority in your industry.
So, if you’re a sports writer and want to get on ESPN, you need to sell yourself on why your insights are worth something. Every business’s goal should be to become an authority in your respective industry. But the truth is that this takes a very long time.
There is one alternative that you can start using today…
I know, it’s old news, but it is a simple way to get featured on high authority sites without needing to be a super authority. Yes, you will have a higher success rate if you have a track record of proven success in your field, but almost anyone can benefit from HARO.
5. 404 Link Reclamation
404 link reclamation is the first link building strategy my agency employs with every new client. That’s because it’s super easy, but it’s also highly effective.
It’s quite simple: find 404 pages on your website and identify what pages have link equity. Next, you 301 redirect the pages with link equity to your homepage or a relevant internal page. I prefer the homepage because it will send link equity throughout the entire site.
To find 404 errors on your website, use the following strategies:
Google Webmaster Tools: go the “Crawl” section, click on “Crawl Errors” and click on the “Not Found” tab. Boom. There are your 404 errors that Google has crawled.
Download the 404 pages and run a batch analysis with Majestic or Ahrefs. For Majestic, go to “Tools”, “Link Map Tools”, and “Bulk Backlinks”. For Ahrefs, go to “Labs” and “Batch Analysis.”
Identify what pages have link equity and 301 redirect them.
6. Unlinked Brand Mentions
Although some believe that Google credits unlinked brand mentions, I would rather just have the juicy link. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a minute, year, or 10 years from now, there’s always going to be people talking about your brand and not linking to it. That’s when you jump in and make sure you get those mentions linked up.
The unlinked brand mention strategy requires three steps:
- Find unlinked mentions
- Create pitch
- Add value
To find unlinked brand mentions, head over to Google and use the following search strings:
“your brand name” –site:yourwebsite.com
“your brand name” –site:yourwebsite.com blog
Once you have a nice list, you’ll need to develop a “pitch” for the outreach. The good news is that most mentions of your brand will be positive, so getting the source to link to it shouldn’t be too challenging.
All you really need to emphasize to them is that their readers would get more value by having the opportunity to actually visit your site.
To increase your response rate, you may want to try adding some value in the email. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy. My favorite strategy is telling them that you’ll promote the page with your own followers. This way, both parties are getting value and growing.
You can also setup Google alerts or use Mention.net to monitor your brand “noise” on a daily basis.
7. White Hat Link Pyramid
Some hardcore white hat link builders will have a panic attack when they hear the phrase “link pyramid.” That’s because it has been negatively associated with black hat SEO. However, what I’m about to show you is a white hat strategy and a great way to increase your brand’s presence online.
The primary aspect of the strategy is to boost the strength of your links that already exist. This can be achieved through other white hat links or through the increase of social activity.
Personally, I prefer the guest posting pyramid. This process will send massive link equity, referral traffic, and brand signals through all your published posts.
At the top of the pyramid, you’ll have your highest quality guest post or linked brand mention. As you go down the pyramid, you’ll decrease the quality in order to have more quantity. Keep in mind, even the “average” guest posts are coming from real websites with real traffic. The only difference is that these guest posts are easier to land.
You might ask, “why not link directly to your site?”
My answer: the formula expands your brand’s influence and build’s massive authority for your best link. You can still link to your money site from the lower tier articles, but the goal is to send link equity and brand signals to all of your publications.
It’s pretty safe to say that these seven link building strategies will stand the test of time. Like any other strategy, don’t spam or abuse them. Focus on relationships and building a strong foundation for your business. Links are suppose to bring your brand exposure, not manipulate Google.