How to Get Backlinks: 10 Strategies That Work

Kelly Lyons

Dec 20, 202215 min read
How to Get Backlinks

TABLE OF CONTENTS

If you follow the right formula to get backlinks, you can massively improve your website's rankings and authority.

In this article, we’ll cover 10 ways to get quality backlinks, regardless of your industry.

1. Create Linkable Assets

This link building strategy consists of:

  1. Creating high-quality pages that will naturally attract backlinks
  2. Promoting them to relevant publications

Done right, it’s a scalable way to build quality backlinks for your site.

But keep in mind that you’ll need to create assets that other websites want to link to. Some common examples include:

  • Data-driven studies
  • In-depth, long-form guides
  • Infographics and visuals

If you create a resource that’s in-depth, compelling, and accurate, people may naturally cite you as a source.

The best part is that these links are placed naturally, which Google prefers.

As a case study, let’s use our blog post on the 100 most visited sites:

top 100 websites by traffic

To create this post, we first did keyword research to find a high-volume keyword. “Most visited websites” has a U.S. search volume of 5.4K and a global search volume of 13.0K.

keyword overview most visited websites

The goal was to create something that journalists and bloggers would use and link to from their articles. To do this, we included the right data from our tools and designed a post that would make a good resource relevant to many industries.

Here’s the section on Education:

education overview

To sum things up, we made a resource that is frequently updated, visually easy to understand, and relevant to many industries. 

As a result, our blog post earned over 9.5K backlinks from over 1.1K referring domains.

backlink analytics most researched websites

This includes backlinks from the likes of Time, Glamour, HubSpot, and more.

To learn more about this method, read our guide to digital PR.

One of the most effective—and simple—ways to get backlinks is to do the so-called resource page link building.

Resource pages are curated lists of links (i.e., resources).

There are resource pages for pretty much any topic you can think of. 

Like:

Let’s look at the career planning resource from the above list as an example.

Here’s what the resource page looks like. It’s filled with links to other websites that help people plan their careers in different industries:

career planning example backlinks

To get your website listed on this page, all you’d need to do is fill out this form:

fill out form

Voilà: With only five minutes of work, you could get a valuable backlink.

You can find more resource page opportunities by looking at which pages already link to your competitors.

Here’s how to do that with the Semrush Backlink Analytics Tool.

Enter the competitor’s URL you’d like to review and click “Analyze.”

backlink analytics tool

Next, navigate to the “Backlinks” tab on the top navigation bar.

backlink analytics backlinks report

This will give you an overview of what types of backlinks a site is getting, as well as a full list of them.

Now, filter the URL column by the word “resource.” This will provide a list of pages that link to your competitor and contain the word “resource” in the title or URL:

backlink analytics resource search

In other words, it’s a list of resource pages that already link to a site in your industry (your competitor). 

This means there’s a good chance they’ll be willing to link to your site, too.

Review the results to see if there’s a page on your site that would be a good addition to one of these resource pages. Or, if you don’t have a relevant page currently, you can always create one.

Your last step is to go through the resource pages and either submit your resource via their forms or contact the site owners directly.

Broken link building is the process of finding broken links on pages within your niche and reaching out to webmasters with resources of your own to replace them with.

Here’s an example of a page with the so-called 404: Not Found error a user may see if they click on a broken link:

broken link example

Not only is this a poor user experience, but it also makes the site owner look bad.

Broken link building is a relatively low-effort tactic that leads to a win-win situation: The site owner fixes a broken link, and you get a backlink.

Here’s how to find broken links and contact site owners with your replacement:

First, navigate to Backlink Analytics. Type in a domain related to your niche and click the “Indexed Pages”tab.

For example, if your business was related to personal finance, you could look at nerdwallet.com.

backlink analytics indexed pages

Next, check the “Broken Pages” box on the top left.

backlink analytics broken pages

This will show any broken pages on the site.

From here, you can click the hyperlinked numbers under the “Backlinks” column to find out what sites are linking to these broken pages.

backlink analytics broken page backlinks number

Now, look for any broken pages focused on topics that you have existing content for (or could create content about).

The fourth example on this list was a page about the average credit card debt in a household. It has 1,573 backlinks. Let’s run with it.

backlink analytics credit card debt example

Click the number of backlinks (“1,573” in this case).

You’ll be taken to a list of all the domains that link to the broken page.

backlink analytics specific page backlink details

If needed, use the filters to sort through your results (e.g., type your desired keyword into the “Filter by title or URL” section at the top right of the above screenshot).

You can check the “Anchor and Target URL” column to find the page URL. As well as the anchor text that the sites are using to link to the broken page.

backlink analytics specifc page backlinks anchor target url

Once you’ve found a few solid opportunities like the one above:

  1. Create a replacement page on your site
  2. Reach out to the owners of sites linking to the old page and offer your page as an alternative target

The Skyscraper Technique means building backlinks by following this proven process:

  1. Finding successful content that has earned lots of links
  2. Creating better content
  3. Promoting that content to those who linked to the original piece

In other words: Create good content and show it to people who will care about it.

Why does the Skyscraper Technique work?

People are naturally attracted to the best of the best.

So the goal is to become the tallest “skyscraper” in your space. Your content should be so good that people will want to link to it over other options.

scyscraper technique

To perfect the Skyscraper Technique, create the best piece of content on the web for your chosen topic. 

Go all-in on things like:

  • Comprehensiveness
  • Uniqueness
  • Original visuals

Let’s dive into a few examples that follow the Skyscraper Technique. We’ll start with this comprehensive list of SEO tools from Backlinko:

Backlinko list of seo tools

You’ll have a hard time finding a more comprehensive list of SEO tool reviews than this one (hence why it’s so linkable).

It also includes a filterable table of contents so users can find exactly what they want within the list.

table of contents

While more isn’t necessarily better, it can be if all the content is useful and comprehensively covers the topic at hand.

Ready to try out the Skyscraper Technique yourself? 

Start with competitor research.

Your goal is to find popular sites within your niche and find out which of their pages get the most backlinks.

You can use Backlink Analytics to research a competitor within your niche. Let’s use Crate and Barrel as an example.

Head to the“Backlinks” report as seen below.

crate barrel backlinks report

Scroll down to see where they are getting backlinks, the Authority Scores (overall quality) of those pages, and more.

crate barrel backlinks source pages

Specifically, look at:

  • What pages are getting the most backlinks?
  • What do they have in common?

You can also perform this step in Google if you want to start your research by topic.

Search for a topic within your niche that you’d like to pursue. Then, take a look at the pages that rank on page one.

where to buy home decor serp

For further details, enter individual pages into Backlink Analytics the same way we did for Crate and Barrel above:

exact url search in backlink analytics

Be sure to research more than just traffic and backlinks. 

Editorially review the pages to take note of content, graphics, and other elements you can make even better on your own page.

Once you’ve gathered enough information, create your own page to compete with the pages you found in your research.

Keep in mind that you shouldn’t simply take a piece that’s performing well and reword/add more images—that probably won’t work very well. 

Instead:

Add your own spin to the topic via the angle, structure, visuals, etc.

While writing (or updating) a page using the Skyscraper Technique, your goal should be to make your page:

  • More comprehensive
  • More up-to-date
  • Better designed
  • Better organized

Now that you’ve updated your page, look for prospects who may be interested in linking to it.

The key is to reach out to people who already link to similar content. You’ll offer them a better, more comprehensive option to link to.

To find people to reach out to, head back to Backlink Analytics and plug in a page you want to compete with.

Navigate to the “Backlinks” report again and see what pages link to the competition. 

exact url backlink source page details

Here, you can see exactly what pages link to your competitor’s page, as well as other details (like what anchor text they use).

Repeat this step until you have a list of potential link building prospects. This is an ongoing process, though, so you can always go back and add more.

Here’s a template you can use when you reach out:

backlinks reach out template

Keep in mind that the idea is quality over quantity here. So while you may only end up getting 10 or 15 links, this can actually make a huge impact if they are from relevant, authoritative sites.

Ideally, if you’ve put in the work and have created a solid page, it should be a no-brainer for others to link to your page.

Pro tip: Keep your outreach efforts organized by using the Link Building Tool.

5. Help a Reporter Out (HARO)

HARO is a website that provides some great opportunities to earn links from the press.

media outlets using haro

HARO, or Help a Reporter Out, connects journalists with sources. If a journalist chooses to use your content as a source, they may also give you a backlink.

Here’s how it works:

After signing up, you’ll receive emails three times each business day. 

They will look something like this example from zestard.com:

example from zestard.com

In this case, the journalist is searching for tips on making a home look more elegant. They include requirements so sources know exactly what to send.

You can also choose which industries you’d like to subscribe to. So if you signed up to get queries within the interior design industry, then you would have received this tip.

Visit the live page from Best Life Online and you’ll find a variety of tips with quotes attributed to various sources. Aka: backlinks.

live page from Best Life Online

The best part about this tactic is that you don’t need to do much legwork if you set up your HARO account correctly.

Respond to relevant pitch requests (And don’t forget to include a link to your website and any additional information from the journalist’s request.)

Journalists across all industries need quotes and sources to back up their articles. In order to cite a source properly, they’ll need to call out where they got specific information.

So if you see a request that is relevant to what you do, go ahead and respond to it and you could become a source for an article. (In other words, earn a backlink.) 

Be as comprehensive as possible and only reply to topics and requests that you are indeed an expert on. 

You won’t be successful with every pitch. But you can build some authoritative backlinks if you respond strategically.

One of the quickest ways to find backlink opportunities is to conduct a link gap analysis—finding sites that link to your competitors but not to you (yet).

If a website has linked out to more than one of your competitors, they will likely link out to yours, too.

You can use the Backlink Gap tool to make this process much easier. 

Start by entering your domain and up to four competitors.

backlink gap tool

You can enter up to five domains in total. Once you enter them, click “Find prospects,” and you’ll be able to see the domains (and pages) linking to one or more of your competitors.

Here’s what the main screen will look like:

backlink gap tool overview

On the left-hand side, you can see which referring domains link to the domains you chose to review.

To find out exactly which pages are linking to your competitors’ sites, click the arrow symbol next to the number in the competitor’s column:

backlink gap competitor column

If you click on this arrow in the realtor.com column, you can see links to the two pages from nj.gov that link to them, the authority score of those pages, and more.

backlink gap competitor drop down

Not every page will be a perfect match. (You may find some spammy backlinks.) 

So take the time to visit the pages that provide your competitors with backlinks to see if they are worth pursuing.

Once you find a page that you’d like to link to your site, you can begin outreach straight from the Backlink Gap tool. 

Click the “+ Start outreach” button toward the top of the page.

backlink gap start outreach

This will open a window that allows you to send prospects directly to the Link Building Tool, where you can manage outreach and send emails directly inside Semrush.

send prospects to link building tool

7. Provide Testimonials

Customers often rely on testimonials and reviews to make purchasing decisions. 

But did you know you can also leverage testimonials to build backlinks to your website? 

Here’s how it works:

  1. Write a blog post that highlights products or services you love
  2. Then, notify the owners of the sites you mention

They may link to your content or share it on social media. 

Or, if a site has a space for users to leave reviews, that’s an easy and less time-consuming way to get started.

Here’s an example of HubSpot’s testimonials page. If you click the “Learn more” buttons, you’ll be directed to the sites that gave HubSpot an award or shoutout:

hubspot testimonials page

Semrush also has a Success Stories page where companies can email their testimonials:

semrush success stories page

We’ve posted success stories for a wide range of Semrush users and link back to their sites from this page:

semrush success stories

This process is a win-win. We can show our users success stories involving Semrush. And if we feature a business, they earn a backlink.

Here’s how you can get started:

Begin by writing a testimonial or case study on your site that shouts out a tool/service/etc. (Of course, make sure it’s relevant to your industry and a tool you actually use.)

For example, we wrote a blog on some of our favorite free and paid SEO tools. We included over 50 tools we use and love and added a link to each of them.

semrush blog linking seo tools

Keep in mind that you shouldn’t create useless content in an attempt to get links. You’ll want to make sure that your content is valuable to your readers.

The keyword “free seo tools” has a search volume of 4,400.

free seo tools keyword

So in this case, we chose a keyword people in our industry were interested in. Then took the opportunity to provide some testimonials for tools we use and love.

As of writing, this page has a total of 2K backlinks from 423 referring domains.

free seo tools backlink analytics view

If you write a thorough, informative piece that also highlights tools you use and love, it can be mutually beneficial. The owners of the tools you mention may share, and it might resonate with others within your community or niche.

8. Contact Your Suppliers

If you sell other people's products, you could be sitting on an excellent opportunity to get backlinks to your site.

Many manufacturers and suppliers have “where to buy” pages on their websites, like this example from a bicycle manufacturer.

where to buy page

Each one of these is a store that sells that specific brand of bike. The supplier is happy to link to these shops from its website because it draws attention to their product (win-win).

This link building tactic is simple.

First, pull together a list of all of your suppliers. 

Then, visit each website to find out which ones have pages linking out to their retailers.

Look for a button or link called something like “retailers” or “dealers”:

find a dealer page

Find a page where your site isn’t listed?

Reach out to your contacts at the company and ask how to get your website listed and linked. 

9. Reach Out to Business Associations

If you’re a member of a business association, you may have an easy opportunity to earn a backlink.

Business associations are organizations that bring together businesses, usually in one area (like a local Chamber of Commerce group).

To start, either join a local business association or navigate to the website of the one you’re a part of. 

Then look for a “members” page on their site. This page will typically be in the form of a member directory, like this example from the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce:

long beach chamber of commerce page

If you’re a member but don’t see yourself listed, reach out and ask how to get added.

Here’s another example from the Downtown Naperville Business Directory for businesses in downtown Naperville, Illinois. It includes a directory that links to its members:

downtown naperville directory page

If you aren’t a member and think you could benefit from what they offer, go ahead and become one. Then, chase that link.

10. Look for Relevant Listicles

Listicles are articles presented as lists. They can vary depending on your industry and can cover topics like:

  • Best [business type] in [city]
  • Top 20 [products]
  • Top 10 [topic] blogs

Here’s how the search results look like for “best vegetarian recipes”:

best vegetarian recipes serp

All of the results are listicles.

The key is to find listicles that don’t include your site. Here’s how to find these pages so you can reach out and pitch your business.

If you own a local business, try searching for “things to do in [your city],” “best restaurants in [your city],” etc.

You can also use Google search operators—commands to further specify your search—to identify listicles in your industry that exclude your site.

Use the minus sign (-) to exclude phrases you don’t want to appear in your search. In this case, it would be the name of your business.

Let’s say you own Quartino Ristorante, an Italian restaurant in Chicago.

If you wanted to find listicles that didn’t (yet) include your business, you could search the following on Google: “best restaurants in chicago -quartino ristorante”

best restaurants listicle example

None of the results here contain the phrase “Quartino Ristorante.”

Take a look at the page one results and make a note of any listicles you want to feature your site.

Pro tip: You can also use our Surround Sound tool to find this data. Enter your keywords and you'll find out where your brand should be mentioned but isn't.

Let’s say we’d like this position one page from Eater Chicago to feature our hypothetical restaurant.

Do some digging to find the best way to reach out to the site owner. In this case, Eater Chicago has a contact page where you can specify why you’re reaching out:

Eater Chicago contact page

You can also click the social media links in their navigation bar if you think you’d have better luck messaging them there.

Eater Chicago social media links

Eater Chicago has a pretty large following, so it may not be a foolproof method. But it can be a good chance to reach out in a more personal way.

Next Steps

As you've probably noticed, many of these link building techniques require contacting the website owners and asking for backlinks.

It’s a lot of work. To stay organized, create a free Semrush account and try our Link Building Tool

It allows you to:

  • Find great backlinks opportunities
  • Connect your email account to reach out to backlink prospects directly from the tool
  • Keep track of your progress and results

Good luck, and happy link building!

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Writer, editor, SEO strategist, and supporter of the Oxford comma. There‘s little I enjoy more than lounging on my couch playing video games and snuggling with my dog.
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