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James Brockbank

How to Get Backlinks: 12 Strategies for 2020

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James Brockbank
How to Get Backlinks

There is no getting away from the fact that backlinks remain one of Google's top three ranking factors, and that it is unlikely to change any time soon.

This means many marketers and business owners are left wondering how to get backlinks to their site. Links from one website to another are seen as votes of confidence, trust, and authority.

This increased authority can mean higher rankings on SERPs, thus granting your site more visibility and likely much more organic traffic. That said, not all links are viewed equally in the eyes of Google, and the wrong type (toxic links) can harm, rather than help, your ranking.

Essentially, backlinks should:

  • Be editorially earned

  • Come from topically relevant, authoritative websites

  • Not have been paid for, or sponsored (including as a result of gifted products)

The right backlinks can help to supercharge your SEO strategy, and there are many ways that you can earn excellent links. But where do you start? 

Here are 12 tactics that you can use to get backlinks in 2020, specifically covering:

1. Resource Link Building

When thinking about ways to get backlinks, many often start by thinking about big and complicated tactics. But one of the most effective ways to build links is with resource link building.

To be successful with this tactic, you need to identify where your business can add value to your audience. Then you need to create great resource pages so you can earn quality backlinks from relevant authorities. 

Common examples of where resource pages exist online include:

  • Travel and tourism boards
  • Universities
  • Local governments

UCLA Career Resources screenshot

And you can often find these opportunities by analyzing your competitor's link profile and taking a look at who links to them but not you. By using the SEMrush Backlink Analytics Tool, you are easily able to identify resources that link to your competitors' site. This way, you can work on a content strategy that may attract their attention, and they will want to link to your site instead. 

backlink analytics

2. Broken Link Building

Broken link building is all about finding informative webpages with external links to dead pages.

If you can identify broken links that point to 404 pages and present an alternative piece of content that is as good, if not better, than the original link, you can pretty quickly build some excellent links.

You need to make sure that you have a similar piece of content to what was initially linked to (or be prepared to create it). You can drive a reasonable level of success from this tactic, as neither users nor the website you want a link from will benefit from linking to a page that 404s. You are helping a webmaster to reduce broken links on their site while suggesting an alternative replacement, so they do not have to go looking for one themselves.

You can read our guide on Broken Link Building to learn how to use the tactic.

3. Unlinked Brand Mentions

From mentions by regional online newspapers and radio stations to product reviews and references, it is not uncommon for many businesses to find that they have been mentioned across the web.

While the ideal situation is that these mentions also link out to your website, sometimes they do not. These are known as unlinked brand mentions.

But how do you find unlinked brand mentions and try to turn them into links?

You can find these with the SEMrush Brand Monitoring Tool.

SEMrush Brand Monitoring Tool Screenshot

Set up the tool to monitor for mentions of your brand, and you will receive these straight into your inbox as they occur.

When it comes to finding existing unlinked mentions, simply click the 'no link' box on the 'link to website' dropdown, and you will see a list of unlinked brand mentions. 

Then you can begin reaching out to the webmasters, journalists, or bloggers who mentioned your brand and politely ask them to add a link.
However, to maximize your chances of this happening, you need to be able to showcase how the link adds editorial value. You can use this template as a base for reaching out (which you can do and manage through the Link Building Tool).

Hi [Name],
I’m getting in touch regarding an article published on [publication], with the title of "[article title]" - It was written based on research conducted by my client, [client].
It was fantastic to see that the research was of interest, thank you for the coverage. It’s really appreciated.
I was wondering, however, if it would be possible for you to add a link to the research page itself?
This would enable readers to [demonstrate the editorial value here] and to view the original research and associated data in more depth, as well as provide full credit to my client for their work. 
Here are the relevant links:
Article: [link to the publication’s article]
Research: [link to the research / linkable asset]
If you have any questions or I can help in any way, please feel free to get in touch.
[Email Signature]

Build Your Backlink Portfolio

with SEMrush tools

Please specify a valid domain, e.g., www.example.com

4. Supplier Links

If you sell other people's products, you could be sitting on an excellent opportunity to earn a bunch of really authoritative links to your site.

Many manufacturers and suppliers have 'where to buy' or 'stockists' pages on their website, just like this:

Stockists

This is simply a manufacturer pointing users to the places where they can buy their products. And if you are a seller of a manufacturer's products, you should be listed (and linked).

Pull together a list of all of your suppliers and their websites and work through one-by-one to look for a page that lists their stockists.

Find a page but see that you are not listed? 

It is probably not intentional. Reach out to whomever your contact is at the company, share the page, and ask what the process is to get your website listed and linked. Oftentimes, your contact can arrange this for you.

Cannot find a page that lists stockists? Perhaps you could still collaborate in another way?

5. Business Association Links

Are you a member of any type of business association? Maybe your Chamber of Commerce or a specialist industry body? If so, you could have some easy opportunities to earn links to your site.

In many ways, this is similar to supplier links but does not rely on you stocking a manufacturer's products or them having a page on their site.

You need to compile a list of all of the associations that you are a member of and their websites. Then look for a 'members' page or a similar page on their site. Often this is in the form of a member directory, like this example from Long Beach Chamber of Commerce. 

Long Beach Chamber of Commerce Directory

If you are a member but do not see yourself listed, reach out to your contact and ask how to get added.

But you can take this tactic one step further, and you can proactively go out and look for organizations in your locality or industry that offer a link to their members as part of their membership. If you are not a member and think that you could benefit from what they have to offer, go ahead and become one... then chase that link!

6. Listicle Link Building

Listicles are an important component of your backlink building strategy.

When it comes to getting links to your site, you can use listicles to get your products or services in front of your audience while also earning links that do so much more than just increase your search rankings. You are probably already aware of popular listicles in your industry that reference your competitors but maybe do not include you.

Best Restaurants Listicle screenshot

These are usually articles that cover:

  • The best...
  • Top 10...

Or similar.
You can use Google search operators to identify listicles in your industry that round up your competitors and then look to see whether you are included. That said, you would likely already be aware of the post if you are.

To get added to some listicles, you need to be reaching out to a journalist or blogger and justify why you are a better inclusion than some of those that are already on the list. 

Sometimes you will find that the writer will be happy to update and add your business if you can demonstrate how it adds value to users. It all comes down to selling yourself.

Read our guide on Email Outreach to learn top tips on how to reach out.

7. Link Gap Analysis

One of the quickest ways to find link building opportunities is to conduct a link gap analysis and find sites that link to your competitors but do not link to you.

If a website has linked out to more than one of your competitors, there is a very good chance that they will also link out to yours - as long as you can justify why they should do so.

And you can use the Backlink Gap Tool to make this process much easier. 

SEMrush Backlink Gap Tool

Just enter up to five domains, and you can see the domains (and pages) that are linking out to multiple competitors. Then you can take the time to understand why they linked and how you can grab these for yourself.

8. Digital PR

If you want to build quality links to your website at scale, you cannot overlook the power of digital PR.

Journalists often rely on PRs to feed in stories for them to cover, and if you can be the brand which stands out and makes the news (even when you have no product launches or similar), it is not uncommon to earn hundreds of pieces of linked coverage from a single campaign.

But it is not just about numbers.

Digital PR can help you to build topically relevant links from the most prominent publications in your industry. These links can position you as an industry expert and drive targeted referral traffic, too. 

To acquire these types of backlinks, you will need to provide linkable assets and promote them to journalists using tried-and-tested PR tactics. 

9. The Skyscraper Technique

First introduced to the SEO community by Brian Dean of Backlinko, the Skyscraper Technique is a link building tactic that follows a proven process:

  1. Find successful content that has earned lots of links
  2. Create better content
  3. Promote that content to those who linked to the original piece

It works for the simple reason that you are removing the guesswork that is often associated with content marketing by building upon a foundation that is already proven to be successful.

This technique can, and will, help you to build links that make a real difference for your organic traffic and help to rank your site for competitive search terms and keywords. 

But you need to be prepared to put in the effort.

The Skyscraper Technique is all about creating the best piece of content that is on the web for your chosen topic, so you need to be prepared to go all-in on:

  • Length
  • Depth
  • Visuals

10. Help Out a Journalist

If you have never come across HARO before, there is a good chance that you are missing out on some great opportunities to earn links from the press.

HARO is all about giving quotes to journalists who are looking for help to write their stories, and there is a good chance that they will link out to your website as credit. 

Sign up, and three times each day (Monday through Friday), you will receive an email in your inbox that looks like this:

HARO email screenshot

Many journalists across a whole host of industries are looking for a quote to go in their article. If you see one that is relevant to what you do, go ahead and respond to it. You need to make sure to be as comprehensive as possible and to only reply to topics and requests that you are indeed an expert on. 

You will not be successful with every pitch, but choose your responses carefully, and it can be a great way to build great links. 

11. Roundup Posts

Roundup posts can be a great way to build links to content that you are creating as part of a broader content marketing strategy.

Think about this as building links that will help to get eyes on the content you are creating. 

Run a search on Google for:
"keyword" + roundup 

And you will be presented with a list of articles that are published in this format. Usually, it is merely a list of curated posts around a particular topic, and most industries have at least a few.

roundup post screenshot

Most people who publish roundup posts do so regularly, and this means that they are actively looking for great content to include.

So why not drop an email to the author of the roundup posts that you find and let them know about your latest piece of content? 

12. Give a Testimonial

You are probably used to asking for testimonials from your customers, but have you ever thought that they can also be a great way to build links?

Probably not.

While this tactic will not necessarily scale, it can help you to diversify your link profile by shouting about how great someone else's tool, product, or service is.

If you can write a testimonial or case study that they can publish on their website, they will usually be happy to link back to your website as a credit alongside it.

It is often a case of identifying who you are a customer of (your suppliers) and thinking whose offering you love. From there, write a fantastic testimonial and share it with them alongside the permission to use it on their website.


There are so many different tactics that you can use to get backlinks to your website. Which tactic is right for you often depends on how you have approached link building in the past, which industry you operate in, and what your competitors are doing.

But by putting together a solid link building strategy, you can identify the tactics that are best suited to your website and resources and plan out exactly how you are going to earn your competitive advantage.

Happy link building!

Build Your Backlink Portfolio

with SEMrush tools

Please specify a valid domain, e.g., www.example.com

James Brockbank
Legend

Getting here is not easy at all!

James is Managing Director of award-winning digital PR and SEO agency, Digitaloft, and has been involved in search marketing since the mid-2000s. He's a regular writer on topics including link building, content marketing and eCommerce, having previously contributed to the likes of Search Engine Journal.
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