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Top 5 Link Building Strategies for 2018 According to Advanced SEOs

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Top 5 Link Building Strategies for 2018 According to Advanced SEOs

Aleh Barysevich
Top 5 Link Building Strategies for 2018 According to Advanced SEOs

What is the current state of link building? It turns out it is still alive and kicking!

While backlinks are, admittedly, just one out of hundreds of different signals, they remain one of the most important ranking factors in the SEO industry. Google’s algorithm keeps evolving, but at present, there is still no better way to measure the authority of your content or the trust others place in it.

Naturally, the question then becomes how do SEOs build links these days?

To answer that question, my team and I recently created a brand new industry survey. We polled 628 SEO experts (which included a mix of in-house SEOs, SEO agencies, SEO consultants, and small business SEOs) at SMX Advanced 2017 in Seattle. Then we published our findings in this Link Building Report.

What we found is while links are still crucial to website health, most link building strategies have swung heavily away from quantity and towards quality. That means link building now takes more time, effort, and deliberate action than it once did, but the final payoff is still well worth the effort.

 In this article, I will break down the top five most efficient link building methods according to our SEO respondents, and teach you how you can use those same methods to boost your SEO.

1. Creating Cornerstone Assets Such as Data and Research

I will admit to some small satisfaction that our original research revealed the value of original research. Yes, according to the SEOs we asked, investing in original data and research is an efficient link building method a solid 70% of the time - making it the #1 most efficient link building technique.

It is hard to understate the value of original data and research in the current digital landscape. In an industry where “content is king,” there is no content more valuable than current, and previously unpublished industry insights. Holding creative control over this original research means earning backlinks whenever anyone writes a new blog article or social media post that references your findings.

I call this type of research a “cornerstone asset,” because you can build upon your findings by creating all sorts of fresh content - from blog posts, to slide shares, to infographics, and more.

How to use data and research for link building:

  1. Start with a topic you know your audience finds valuable. For example, my readers usually want to know about link building, Ann Handley’s wants to hear about content marketing, and an equity research analysts might want to read about supply-demand trends in their industry.
  2. Conduct independent research and compile your findings. Restrict the scope of your analysis to a specific topic or demographic. Collect as many unique data points as possible - the more representative your research is of an entire niche or industry, the more valuable it is.
  3. Publish your research. Your research won’t earn you any links if nobody knows about it. Spruce up your research with some design elements, such as graphs and charts, and share it with the world.
  4. Create complementary content based on your research. Use your research to create a series of blog posts, podcasts, videos, tweetable stats, and any other content you can think of. The sky’s the limit!
  5. Promote and share your findings. If you understand your target audience and picked a topic that is guaranteed to tickle their fancy, then you should have no problem finding interested parties to share the fruits of your labor.

2. Paying for (relatively) Legitimate Links

Buying links is bad-practice, old school black hat SEO, and it is liable to get you a Google penalty for your trouble. That said, plenty of opportunities still exist to buy links that are slightly more legitimate - such as paid product reviews, official sponsorships, and creating guest content with a disclosure. Our respondents found legitimate paid methods to be efficient link building methods 68% of the time.

Disclaimer: before we go any further, however, you should know that Google considers any exchange of money or products for links to be a link scheme. If you pay for links, you may be penalized at any time for unnatural link building.


Here is how to build paid links:

  1. Build more organic links than paid links. Personally, I recommend against building paid links - the risk is too high. However, if you are going to build paid links anyway, try to ensure that your link profile never exceeds 10-25% paid links.
  2. Build links slowly and deliberately. Most SEOs these days only generate 1-20 links per month. Given this, I recommend only buying 1-2 of those links - or none at all, if your organic link numbers are low.
  3. Do LOTS of research on target sites first. Vet domains carefully before agreeing to create paid content for them. Look for anything fishy in their domain history and PageRank, and watch out for red flags like lots of spammy outbound links.
  4. Vary your keyword-anchored text. Thousands of reviews that all use the same anchor text send a big red flag to Google that you’re probably buying links. Mix up your link profile with varying anchors and both long-tail keywords and head keywords.
  5. Always disclose sponsored posts. When you have paid a site to host sponsored content, disclose your involvement. Don’t try to hide paid links from readers, because at best you will erode their trust, and at worst you might earn a Google penalty if they find out.

3. Sharing Content on Social Media

While most SEOs considered social sharing to be an effective link building strategy 68% of the time, link building through social media proved to be far and away the most popular method of link building among our respondents at SMX Advanced.

While some link building strategies were quite popular among specific SEO teams (e.g., SEO agencies used Broken Link Building, SEO consultants used Local Business Websites, etc.), almost every SEO we polled found value in social media - both in sharing content and including links in social media profiles.

How to build links by sharing content on social media:

  1. Use social listening tools to find your audience on social media. Find which platforms earn your brand mentions and focus your attention on those platforms first.
  2. Use your tool to find patterns in your popular content. Look for signs of engagement, such as shares, likes, and comments and ideate similar topics that will engage your audience.
  3. Create high-quality content in the same vein. Create content tailored to your audience’s interests. Note: this is a great time for the research mentioned in step #1!
  4. Share and promote your content. Publish your content and set it loose. If you have done your homework, your audience will likely help you promote it with gusto. Think about the time of publication based upon your audience's social habits and build a social media posting schedule to coincide with that.
  5. Remarket your content. Don’t stop there! If you tweeted your content, retweet it regularly over the next week. If you posted it on Facebook, share it on other platforms as well. And, even after a week is up, give that content a small boost once per week - you may attract some interested parties who missed your content the first time around.

4. Link Building with Videos

I’m a little surprised that 66% of SEOs found link building with videos to be effective, if only because so many of our hard-earned backlinks wind up in Google’s pocket when we create videos (thanks to YouTube being the de facto video sharing platform).

Nevertheless, the numbers speak for themselves. Many experts have seen a lot of success in self-hosting videos on their website and/or sharing them on their social media pages. If you have been itching to include some video in your backlink building strategy, there’s never been a better time to start.

How to build backlinks with video:

  1. Share and promote any self-hosted videos on social media, as you would any other piece of content.
  2. Reclaim some of the links YouTube’s earned for your content.
    1. Log in to YouTube Analytics > Traffic Sources. Find sites that have embedded your video and reach out to them, requesting that they include a link to your website (if they haven’t already).
    2. Run your YouTube URLs through backlink checking software. Find websites that have linked to your video and ask them to include a link to your company too.

5. Publishing Industry-Specific Interviews

The fifth most efficient link building method was to publish PR-based assets - the SEOs we polled found this method effective 65% of the time. Like original research, high-quality interviews will likely be prized by your readers, and they will be keen to share it on your behalf.

Two elements make up a good interview: (1) you need to interview the right person, such as a key influencer and/or a big ticket customer, and (2) you need to ask the right questions. You will keep readers engaged with insights into successful business practices, customer values, and other topics of note.

How to create link-worthy interviews:

  1. Do your homework. Discover which topics your audience finds valuable and which influencers have clout within your niche. If you are interviewing a customer, find info such as company size and success that might make that person a compelling interviewee.
  2. Prepare your questions ahead of time. Compile a list of important questions that will directly satiate your readers’ curiosity and solve their pain points.
  3. Stay flexible. Obviously scripted interviews are tedious to read. Be prepared to steer your interviewee back on track if they go off topic, but if they start saying something interesting then don’t be afraid to ask follow-up questions your readers might value.
  4. Publish your findings. Just like original research, fresh interviews are no good if they stay under lock and key.
  5. Promote and remarket. Share your interview on social media, promote (and re-promote) it regularly, and don’t forget to share it with the person you interviewed - they may want to link to it too!


One of the most interesting revelations I gleaned from our Link Building Report is that not all high-quality content is equally efficient when it comes to link building. Notably, some cornerstone assets performed very well (specifically, data and research), while other cornerstone assets were among the least efficient link building methods (specifically, webinars).

That is not to say that webinars or other types of content are bad, or that you should stop creating them. Remember: backlinks are just one among hundreds of ranking signals, and high-quality assets that don’t earn you links might still be useful for things such as lead gen, brand awareness, and audience growth. At the end of the day, if you are creating content that your audience loves—you are doing okay.

To quote Bruce Clay, President and Founder of Bruce Clay, Inc. and one of our Link Building Report respondents, “In fishing there are a couple of things you have to do. 1) You have to use the right bait; 2) You have to fish where the fish are. That is link building. You have to come up with something that your community cares about and then put it in front of them.”

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Aleh Barysevich is Founder and Chief Marketing Officer at companies behind SEO PowerSuite, professional software for full-cycle SEO campaigns, and Awario, a social media monitoring app. He is a seasoned SEO and social media expert and speaker at major industry conferences, including 2018's SMX London, BrightonSEO and SMX East.
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Thanks for the content. I got a couple questions on things that were not quite picked up in the article:

Can I build links to multiple pages on one specific site from multiple posts on the same web 2.0? – Or should one web 2.0 link out to only one page on my site and thats it.?

How can I get my web 2.0 indexed by google?

thanks for giving the best information, I suggest some new tips for link building through social bookmarking sites. Please check it out.
Vijay Singh Khatri
Thanks for the
Thank you so much for clarifying all my doubts on link building.
Excellent point Mr. Barysevich - " In an industry where “content is king,” there is no content more valuable than current, and previously unpublished industry insights."

Tip, even if your content is dated, go in an update it to match the present day. Add new dates, new research, new peer data, and link to updated peer articles.
what about scholarship creation? are they still useful for the backlinks?
I would not do the second recommendation.
Susan Stokes
Thanks, Aleh, really great info - I found your article from SEMRush SEO Fundamentals Course.
Salman Saleem
@Aleh Barysevich You have written a good list of Link Building techniques. I feel that "Paying for (relatively) Legitimate Links" is little doubtful. Anyways it can be tried slowly and results can be monitored to check its effectiveness. It is a good strategy for Digital Marketing professionals and SEOs to try in 2018.
Qazi Anas
Nice information shared keep up the good work.
Hello Aleh Barysevich,

I found myself stucked with one project in link building startegries. I don't know to increase back links and organic traffic. The client is not giving me content. He want new activities other than these links building techniques.

Could you please help me this. What new activity that i can perfrom other than SB, DS, Classified (as client is not giving any content) nor he interested in infographics, PPT and forums.
Shruti Panwar
Thanks for sharing this amazing post.
Video link building is an effective strategy...
But there are trendy link building techniques such as weekly roundups, link bait, broken link building, link reclamation that helps to improve the authority of the site in quick time.
Sarah Taher
Very comprehensive! Thanks
Awesome! Nice tips for 5 Link building techniqes very interesting content, Video and social media sharing getting more popularity and will continue to rise in the coming years.
Hi Aleh, you have provided really usefull tips. Can I ask you to share with us the linkbuilding methods which have been included in your research with 628 SEOs ( as youmentioned in comments - This article is a summary of a link building survey we conducted among 628 SEOs. There was a long list of all link building methods in the survey ...)

Extremely helpful!!! Thanks for sharing these link building techniques. I had no idea with some of the options which are mentioned here and have been marketing with other old ways from last 2-3 years. Now, I am definitely going to start implementing these ways to get great results for my website [link removed by moderator].
Ashok Sharma
Great tips Aleh, Thanks for sharing what are your views on Internal Links | Citations and Brand Mentions | 2018 Jacking | Blog Commenting and Guest Blogging on High authority sites
Paul Paquin
What about for a local strategy — Creating intern job pages in different cities in the US and then linking that page to the local product page in that same city — generating the local traffic with the intern page and then passing it to the product or service page. You would be able to kill two birds with one stone with the strategy — hiring and marketing. And you would need to get your job intern page listed in the “communication section” of the college sites.
Aleh Barysevich
Paul Paquin
This sounds like an interesting strategy, thank you for sharing it here.
Shruti Panwar
Interesting Tips!
Link earning techniques and link building through content is getting more popularity and will continue to rise in the coming years.
Aleh Barysevich
Shruti Panwar
Thanks, Shruti!
hey pal thank for this awesome tips for link building for social as well as video... good work keep going.. :)
Aleh Barysevich
So glad you liked it!
Granit Doshlaku
I don't see how 2nd method is a legitimate way of building links .. if you're paying for a review (the main objective here is to get a link) then you're in the black hat zone and against what Google (& most experienced SEOs) advise. If you're paying for your content (including link/s) to be published somewhere, those links should be no-follow but then you aren't getting any value. So what's new about this method (and all tips in this article to be honest) again?
Aleh Barysevich
Granit Doshlaku
Hi Granit, appreciate your thought-provoking feedback.

Let me provide some background on why this particular link building methods have made the list.

This article is a summary of a link building survey we conducted among 628 SEOs. There was a long list of all link building methods in the survey, and the participants responded if they have used the particular methods and whether they have found them efficient.

Thus, it wasn't the goal to highlight NEW link building methods in the article. Rather, the goal was to highlight the methods that have proved to work for the SEO professionals polled.

Legitimate paid methods were reported to be efficient by 68% of respondents. Here's how the point was listed in full in the survey: legitimate paid methods, i.e. paid reviews and articles with a disclosure, official sponsorship, and such. This is what the respondents voted for.

I believe it is very rare that people opt for sponsorships or paid reviews for link building only. That would be the limited view of the opportunity. Backlinks are just a nice side effect that comes along. That's how I would interpret these results. As for the nofollow attribute, opinions differ among SEOs about its value. Nofollows do not pass PageRank, but many experts believe it's natural to have them in the mix. This point of view must have found the reflection in the survey results.
great tips... mostly social and video share tips awesome.... )
hyy Aleh,
as u have said build more organic links than paid links , i hv tried most of the time but results not sound well they asking me to switch to paid ones then only my websites get high pr
this method I have used. but no results yet. I have to be patient
good info thanks
Aleh Barysevich
Thanks for stopping by and all the best with your link building.
Shivangi Shrivastava
Great post Aleh.
There is a saying "Not all that glitters is gold" same way "Not all quality content is efficient". I will make sure to use these tips. Thanks!
Aleh Barysevich
Shivangi Shrivastava
Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed the article.
Apologies for sounding rudely cynical, but if these are your advanced link building techniques I just might take a breath of relief that only a few people can compete with me :D
Aleh Barysevich
I'm curious to know what's on your list - if it's not confidential :D
want to know technique. [email protected]
Manoj Negi
Doing the link building in a right way is the key to achieve the goals. Can you suggest any website to buy the paid links but the quality and reliable backlinks?

Let's say i want to do the backlinking for "digital marketing expert" keyword so can i get the list of websites where should i do the backlinking etc. as dont have time to research & find the organic backlinking websites etc.

Thanks for sharing the information!
Aleh Barysevich
Manoj Negi
Legitimate paid opportunities, discussed in this article, include sponsorships and native advertising campaigns. A high-end example in the digital marketing industry would be the native advertising program at Search Engine Land.
Manoj Negi
Aleh Barysevich
thanks, any idea where can we find the list of websites that offers Native Advertisements?
Aleh Barysevich
Manoj Negi
I haven't come across the ready-made lists I could recommend.
Debra Mastaler
Manoj Negi
Linkedin and Facebook offer targeted ad programs you should look at, also search on this phrase "list of advertising platforms" and check out the sites listed in the first organic result or snippet. I think that's what you're asking for.

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