Link Building Strategies: 8 Ways to Build Links in 2023

Tushar Pol

Mar 07, 202310 min read
link building strategies

Backlinks bring authority to your site. Which can help boost your rankings.

However, your backlink strategy should focus on quality. Not quantity. So you’ll need to use effective link building techniques to find the right backlink prospects. And get results.

Read on to learn eight of our favorite link building tactics for 2023.

1. Outreach

Outreach is when you contact relevant websites and ask them to link to your site. Most link building strategies involve outreach in some way.

Be sure to provide a strong reason to link to your content in your pitch.

Ask yourself: 

What makes your content unique?

Is it original? In-depth? An up-to-date resource?

Be specific in your pitch.

Because if you don’t give people a good reason to link to you, your outreach campaigns may not succeed.

Not sure who to reach out to? Use Semrush’s Link Building Tool to find potential prospects and manage your link building campaign.

First, click “+ Create project.”

Create project in Link Building Tool

Enter your domain and name your project.

Click “Create project” again.

Enter domain and name project

Next, add keywords.

The keywords should be related to the pages you’re trying to build links for.

Let’s say you want to build links to your weight loss guide.

Keywords could include “easy ways to lose weight,” “how to lose weight,” etc.

step 2: add keywords

Tip: Read our keyword research guide for additional guidance.

After you add keywords, click “Competitors” at the bottom of the screen.

Competitors button highlighted

And add the competitors you want to outrank. (Read our competitor research guide if you haven’t already identified them.)

After you’ve added your competitors, click “Start Link Building.”

Start Link Building button

The tool will collect and analyze the data. When you see the confirmation pop-up, click “View prospects.”

View prospects

You’ll then see suggested websites to reach out to for backlinks.

see backlink prospects

Manually review the results. To begin the outreach process for a particular website, click on the corresponding “To In Progress” button in the “Actions” column. And the prospect will be moved to the “In Progress” tab.

To In Progress button highlighted

First, connect your email account by clicking the “Add” mailbox link. This way, you can reach out directly from the Link Building Tool.

add mailbox button

Then visit the “In Progress” tab.

Click “Contact” next to your prospect. 

where to contract the prospect

On the next screen, you’ll see an example outreach email.

Like this:

example outreach email

Fill out and personalize the template. And remember to provide a compelling reason your prospect should link to you.

Then send your email by clicking “Send and proceed to next.” 

Send and proceed to next

Once you’ve sent your outreach emails, go back to the ”In Progress“ tab and monitor your backlink prospects.

The “Status” column shows whether your emails were sent, opened, or replied to. 

And shows “Backlink earned” status when your prospects finally link to you. 

Backlink earned status

Plus, you can catch any lost backlinks by heading to the “Monitor” tab. 

Monitor tab highlighted

And scrolling down to toggle to “Lost” links. So you can focus your recovery efforts.

Lost links

Pro tip: Use the Link Building Tool for any of the following tactics that require email outreach.

Broken link building involves finding broken external links on other websites and offering an alternative link from your own site.

This works because dead links contribute to poor user experience. So nobody wants them on their site.

Start by finding broken pages on your competitors’ websites with Semrush’s Backlink Analytics tool.

Type your competitor’s domain and click “Analyze.”

Backlink Analytics tool

Next, navigate to the “Indexed Pages” report. Check the “Broken Pages” box.

Broken Pages box checked

The tool will reveal your competitor’s broken pages. And how many backlinks each one has.

competitor’s broken pages and backlinks

Analyze the broken pages’ URLs to determine what topics the content used to cover.

See if your site has similar content. If not, you can create a new page (as long as the topic is relevant to your website).

Then reach out to websites linking to broken pages and pitch your replacement link.

Click the number in the “Domains” column. These will be your potential prospects:

Domains column highlighted

3. Unlinked Brand Mentions

Unlinked brand mentions are when websites mention your brand name without linking to your website.

Like this:

Unlinked brand mention example

If websites mention you by name, they’re already familiar with your brand. So they may be more willing to add a link.

To find unlinked brand mentions, use the News Alerts app in Semrush.

Click “Get started” to begin.

get started with News Alerts app

Click “New query.”

New query button highlighted

Click “Brand.”

Brand option highlighted

And enter your brand name.

enter brand name

Next, select the type of alert you want to receive.

For unlinked brand mentions, select “New mention alert” from the drop-down.

New mention alert

Then enter your email. You can also choose to track backlinks from brand mentions.

enter your email

Finally, specify “Countries” and “Languages” to define the scope of your search.

specify “Countries” and “Languages”

And click “Create query.” 

Create query button

The tool will generate a list of webpages that mention your brand name—but don’t link to you.

News Alerts results

Analyze the results and reach out to sites you think would be a good match. Each one that agrees to “link” your unlinked brand mention on their site means you get another backlink.

Tip: You’ll probably be more successful with the results marked as “Positive.” This means the article’s sentiment is favorable toward your brand.

Analyzing your competitors’ backlinks tells you which content types tend to attract the most backlinks in your industry.

Do your competitors earn backlinks on listicle posts? How-to guides? Opinion pieces? Or something else?

Use this information to create similar types of content for your website. And, ideally, earn backlinks.

To start, use Semrush's Backlink Analytics tool.

Type a competitor’s domain and click “Analyze.”

Backlink Analytics tool

You’ll see a detailed record of your competitor’s backlink profile—from referring domains to backlinks to an overall Authority Score.

referring domains and Authority Score highlighted

Navigate to the “Indexed Pages” tab.

Indexed Pages tab

It shows your competitor’s pages sorted by the referring domains (i.e., the domains that link to your competitor’s site).

Below, we can see that many of speckyboy.com’s most linked-to pages are listicle posts:

  • “10 Open-Source Login Page Templates Built With HTML & CMS”
  • “50+ Web & Mobile UI Free Figma Templates”
  • “The 100 Best Free Fonts for 2023”
  • And so on
Indexed Pages report

If you’re in the same industry, consider experimenting with list-style posts for your website.

Repeat this process for other competitors and jot down topic ideas. After you create new content, refer to the Link Building Tool outreach process as needed.

5. HARO

Using HARO (Help a Reporter Out) is another way to build high-quality backlinks to your site.

HARO connects journalists with industry experts. Because journalists often need an expert's opinion for their articles.

And if they cite you, there’s a good chance they’ll link to your website.

Authoritative media outlets like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Mashable, and TIME all use HARO.

So you have a chance to receive backlinks from reputable publications.

Go to HARO’s website to sign up and register as a source.

HARO’s website

Then go to “My Account.”

HARO My Account

Under “HARO PREFERENCES,” you'll see that HARO categorizes requests by industry. 

Subscribe to the ones that make sense for your business.

HARO PREFERENCES

Now, you’ll receive emails with journalist queries.

Here’s an example:

example email with journalist queries

Each query has a title and the name of the media outlet in brackets.

If you see a relevant query, click on it to get detailed information.

click on relevant query

Then respond to the request by making a solid contribution.

This means adding value by thoroughly answering all the questions in the query. 

We also recommend including your contact information and a link to your website. This way, journalists can contact you for follow-up questions. And they’ll know which link to use if they cite you.

6. Digital PR

Digital PR is a strategy used to increase online brand awareness via digital methods. 

It’s a broad field that encompasses some of the other link building strategies we discuss in this list, such as HARO and creating linkable assets.

Other examples of digital PR include the following:

  • Sharing press releases about your company with journalists
  • Building relationships with bloggers or online journalists
  • Participating in influencer marketing

Digital PR and link building go hand in hand.

Let’s say something newsworthy happens at your company. And you want journalists to cover the story.

Write a press release about it and reach out to journalists at relevant media publications.

If journalists decide to cover your story, they’ll usually link to your site when they mention your brand.

Find journalist contacts with a digital PR tool like Prowly.

After you sign up, click “Database” from the navigation sidebar.

Prowly Database

You now have access to Prowly’s media database. Which includes the contact information for journalists from various industries.

Search by people, media outlets, or keywords. And select your preferred country.

Then hit “Search.”

For this example, we searched by “Media outlet” and selected the United States as a preferred country. 

Prowly search example

The tool will show media outlets related to your search. 

Prowly search results

Once you click on a media outlet, you’ll see relevant writers, editors, or reporters you can contact about your story.

click on a media outlet to see more details

To get in touch with a media person, click their name to see their information.

click media person name to see contact details

You can also add the media contacts to a list. Where you can return to review them later on.

add the media contacts to a list

Finally, pitch your story to them.

In Prowly, click on the “Emails” tab and create a “New email.”

create a new email in Prowly

Give your email an “Internal name” and click “Next.”

add internal name

Then, add your recipients.

add email recipients

You can choose individual contacts or load a list you have previously saved.

add recipients options

Once you add all your recipients, click “Next.”

go to next step

Now, you’ll add your email address.

add your email address

And click “Add new sender.”

Add new sender

Enter your email information and click “Add.”

Add sender address page

Prowly will send an email to your email ID to verify that it is correct.

Now, you can create your email content. Like adding your name and a subject line.

Add email name and a subject line

And your email body text.

Add email body text

Once you’re happy with the email content, click “Next.”

go to the next step

Prowly will ask you to review your email before you send it. You’ll see suggestions and any errors that may block you from sending the email.

Resolve any issues before continuing.

Review email before sending

Then, you can send your email or save it as a draft for later.

Send email or save it as a draft

If journalists see your story as a good fit for their publication, they may cover it. And you could receive a backlink in return.

Tip: Maintain your relationships with your contacts. They may choose to highlight your site again in the future.

Learn more: A Guide to Digital PR and Why It's Important for SEO and Link Building

7. Linkable Assets

A linkable asset is a type of content that attracts backlinks naturally. 

Examples include the following:

  • Infographics
  • Original research and data studies
  • Calculators
  • Free tools
  • In-depth guides and tutorials

In short, engaging content tends to earn links naturally.

Take this interactive infographic link building example from animagraffs.com:

animagraffs.com infographic

When we analyze its performance in Semrush’s Backlinks Analytics tool, we see that it has 775 backlinks from 277 referring domains. That’s a lot of backlinks.

animagraffs.com infographic performance

But what type of linkable assets should you create for your own website?

Find out what works for your industry by studying your competitors’ webpages for inspiration.

Open Semrush’s Backlink Analytics tool and plug in your competitor’s website. (In this example, we’ll use Backlinko because they’re very successful at building backlinks.)

Then click “Analyze.”

Backlink Analytics tool

Go to the “Indexed Pages” report to see what kinds of assets attract the most backlinks.

This site’s data studies and original research attract a lot of backlinks:

Indexed Pages in Backlink Analytics

If you’re also in the SEO niche, try creating similar guides or studies to earn backlinks.

But don’t just repeat the same information. People will only want to link to your resource if it truly is the best, most comprehensive option.

So use this step as a starting point to creating your own original content.

Pro tip: Learn the ins and outs of creating linkable assets from Backlinko Founder Brian Dean in this linkable assets course

8. Guest Blogging

Guest blogging is the process of writing and publishing a blog post for another website. Which typically results in a backlink to your site.

It’s still one of the most popular link building ideas. But there’s a right and a wrong way to guest post.

If you’re guest blogging on any site available just to get more backlinks, you’re violating Google’s guidelines.

Instead, partner with relevant brands in your niche to create useful, valuable content.

You’ll still get credibility and brand exposure. But you won’t violate Google’s link spam policies.

Now that we’ve covered the basics—how do you find relevant guest posting opportunities? 

One simple method is to use Google search operators.

Here’s one query you can use to find sites in your niche that accept guest posts: 

Your keyword + intitle:“write for us”

Say you want to find guest blogging opportunities for health and fitness websites. Search for the following: 

Health + intitle:“write for us”

You’ll find websites that accept guest articles.

SERP websites that accept guest articles

But everyone can find prospects this way. So these sites probably get tons of guest post pitches.

Stand out by reaching out to relevant sites even if they don’t advertise guest posting opportunities. Many people are willing to feature free, high-quality content that’s relevant to their site.

You’ll get exposure, and the other website will get potential traffic to their website. It’s a win-win situation.

When you reach out, always include a list of topics you’d like to cover. And ensure they’re all unique blog post ideas.

Read our full guide to guest blogging for more information on best practices.

Dozens of SEO link building strategies can help you build high-quality backlinks. These eight ideas are a great place to start.

If you’re a Semrush user, use the Link Building Tool to set up your first link building campaign. The tool allows you to build high-quality links at scale—which can help improve your site’s rankings.

Looking to learn more about link building?

Check out the resources below to expand your link building knowledge:

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