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The Only Link Building Strategies Your Site Needs to Grow Its Rankings

Ajay Paghdal

Only Outreach Founder

Last updated on

November 12, 2022

Alongside content, backlinks are the heart and soul of your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.

The more authoritative and relevant the links are, the higher your website will rank on search engines.

However, the problem is the actual process of building links—it’s not easy.

You can’t ask for links and expect site owners to give them to you. Conversely, you can’t build links using shady tactics as they will come biting you in the ass sooner than later.

In this case, the best course of action is to give them a reason to link to your website, plain and simple.

Again, this is easier said than done. But as the saying goes, “if it’s easy, everybody would be doing it!”

This post lists the most effective link building strategies and details how you can implement them on your website. 

Blogger Outreach Strategies

Most link building tactics nowadays begin and end with outreach campaigns and with good reason.

Here’s a typical blogger outreach process:

  1. Identify link building opportunities based on intent or strategy.
  2. Extract and verify the domain’s email addresses and identify who the site owner or manager is.
  3. Send emails to these people using an outreach tool. Create a drip campaign containing multiple emails with follow-ups to ensure visibility.

By sending emails or reaching out to site owners using their preferred online channels, you humanize the connection. From here, it’s much easier to build trust that you can eventually leverage into backlinks.

At the same time, since you’re the one reaching out to site owners, you must overdeliver to establish the connection. 

In other words, you have to make the outreach about them and how you can add value to what they’re already doing.

Herein lies the problem:

Everybody seems to forget all these.

Here’s what I’m talking about:

Above is the perfect example of what you SHOULDN’T do in your link building outreach campaign.

The first thing that sticks out after reading the email is “why.” Or, to be precise:

Why should I link back to you?

If the reason is that it's an authoritative piece by simply having "25 different sources in the article," that's not good enough.

Another question that springs to mind is, “what do I get in return?”

After taking your time editing the page to include their link, the best you’ll probably get is a big thank you from that person. That’s it.

To be clear, you can leverage these opportunities into backlinks on your own (more on this later).

But if you’re reaching out to site owners for backlinks, you need to be better than this.

As mentioned, you must give them a good reason (not just any reason) why they should link back to you and how it benefits them in the long run.

While there’s no guarantee that they’ll do what you ask, it nonetheless allows them to consider your offer and provide you with a response.

Below are irresistible link building strategies grounded on email outreach:

Broken Link Building

This link building tactic has been around for ages, and with good reason: it worked before and still works now.

Broken link building requires you to find authoritative websites relevant to your niche that are pointing to outbound 4xx links. 

These pages are no longer available for review for various reasons. The site owners probably don’t know about this, which is why the links to the pages are still there.

For this link building strategy to work, you need a page on your site that’s similar or identical to the broken page you plan on replacing. If not, that’s fine because you can do something about this (we’ll discuss this briefly).

But first, you must determine the sites you want to target.

Using a tool like Ahrefs, type the URL of your competitor on Site Explorer and go to referring domains. 

From here, you‘ll see the list of domains linking to your competitors. Ideally, you want to determine link opportunities from the list according to Domain Rating (DR). 

The higher the DR, the more authoritative the site is based on the quality of its link profile.

Majestic's site explorer is another option to find websites that link to your competitors.

But before you pursue links from this domain, you must ensure that you don’t have links from those domains, either.

In this case, you can also use Ahref's Link Intersect feature to expedite the process. It’ll show you domains that link to your competitors and doesn’t to you.

Once you’ve decided on a domain, run it using Site Explorer and click on Outgoing links > Broken links.

The tool will then show you the broken pages that the domain is linking to.

From here, analyze which among the broken pages are similar to pages in your site. The goal is to use these pages as leverage to get a backlink from the domain.

Let’s say you don’t have a page similar to these broken pages or a page like it on your site, but it’s not the same.

What you can do is retrieve the working version of the broken page and incorporate its content onto a new or existing page on your website.

To do this, go to Wayback Machine and enter the URL of the broken page there.

It will then show you a calendar and the dates when the cached version of the page is available.

There may be multiple cached versions of the page on Wayback Machine. If so, uncover the version that worked before the page broke down starting with the latest version to the oldest.

From here, check the content of the page and re-write them onto your page’s content. Again, make sure the content is unique and better than the original because this will give you an edge once you start pitching the page for link building.

“Better,” in this context, depends on the page you’re grooming on your site. 

For example, if the broken page a site is linking to is a statistics page, you should include more up-to-date stats on your content. 

Or, if the page is a how-to guide, be more specific in your instructions by adding images and videos to show your audience how something is done correctly.

Doing all these will help increase the likelihood that site owners will respond to your email, if not outright link to your post!

Reciprocal Linking

Unlike broken link building, reciprocal links as a tactic caught the ire of Google back in the day. It penalized websites that were linking to each other on a page level.

That means website A has a link to its page X from website B’s page Y and vice versa. This type of method is considered a link scheme for the obvious footprints it leaves.

And that’s the thing:

If you’re able to obfuscate your footprints, Google won’t be able to tell a link scheme from a natural link.

Using this information, you can make reciprocal linking more natural-looking in the eyes of Google.

To do this, instead of getting a link from the same page you’re linking to, get a link from another page

Here’s what I’m talking about:

This is a GREAT email for several reasons:

  1. The person made no bones that this is a link building outreach. But instead of prioritizing his needs, he also had my best interests in mind by offering to link out to one of my posts in exchange for linking to his.
  2. He showed an actual example of what page on my site he’ll link to his. Also, he took out the guesswork from his proposal, allowing me to agree with his plan.
  3. He added an incentive to sweeten the deal (promote your hosting (or any other tool) review page.”)
  4. He explained the benefit of his proposal from an SEO standpoint.

Doing reciprocal linking like the one above gives site owners whom you’re reaching out to greater control on how to build relevant links on your sites. 

At the same time, your collaboration enables you to establish a better rapport with them, which could pave the way for more link opportunities.

Update Old Content

A link building outreach strategy that hasn’t been fully tapped to its full potential is updating old content of prospect sites.

Let’s say your target domain has an old blog post that hasn’t been updated for years. It contains outdated statistics and screenshots of tools and pages that no longer exist.

More importantly, its keywords rankings may have dropped as a result.

By uncovering these opportunities, you can contact site owners and pitch updating these posts to keep information fresh and new.

In exchange, you can ask for a link to your site to be included in the content!

So, here’s how the process goes:

  1. Analyze your prospect using Ahrefs’ Site Explorer. 
  2. Go to Organic search > Organic keywords to see its pages’ keyword rankings.
  3. Check the Position Chart History of a page to see its traffic trends based on the number of keywords it’s ranking for. If the traffic is trending downward, the page is losing its keyword rankings. 
  4. Check the publish date of the page. If it was published years ago, consider updating this page when you reach out to the owner.

The downside of this approach is that checking the Position Chart History of each page could take lots of time.

A way around this problem is to limit your analysis to pages ranking outside the first page of SERPs (second page onwards) for their keywords. 

The idea here is that these pages aren’t the site’s top-performing pages, so their site owners are much more open to updating the content in the hopes of getting better results.

Here’s an example of the email you’ll send to prospects:

Hello, {{name}}!

{{your name}} here. Just noticed that your page {{page name}} hasn’t been updated for years. So it contains lots of outdated information, probably causing it to lose organic traffic.

Would you like me to update it for you?

I’ll make sure to provide new and relevant information about the topic. But, more importantly, I’ll optimize the post using {{tool}} to increase its chances of improving its organic rankings over time and recover the traffic you previously lost.

Here are samples of my previous works if you’re interested:

{{links to previous works}}

I can do this for you free of charge. In exchange, I’d like to include a backlink to my site within the content.

What do you think?

This is just a template you can use as inspiration for your campaign if you plan on using this strategy. It’s designed this way because of the following reasons:

  • You want to go straight to your pitch. Use the email signature section to tell them who you are and links to your website and social media if they want to learn more.
  • I mentioned {{tool}} because you want to reassure them that you’ll be observing the best SEO practices to help them recover their rankings. Tools like Surfer SEO, Frase, and similar can help you with this. Also, if you have a different method for ranking blog posts, mention it here.
  • Linking to previous posts gives site owners an idea of the kind of writing you can do for them. It’s one way of saying you can make their content better, it’s another to show them what you’re capable of.

Guest Blogging on Steroids

Guest blogging mainly uses outreach campaigns to effectively submit and publish their guest posts with a link to their site.

But guest blogging is a strategy in itself due to the multiple ways you can approach it.

The simplest way is to pitch publications expressing your interest in writing for their website and ask what the editorial guidelines are.

Here’s an example of a guest post pitch:

This campaign alone should be enough to secure your guest blogging opportunities on multiple sites. It all depends on how you write your emails and how good your writing skills are.

As mentioned, there are other and more clever ways of securing a guest post on relevant websites.

There’s no term for this strategy yet, but it involves launching interconnected guest blogging campaigns to secure backlinks from various websites much easier.

Here’s how guest post process goes:

  1. Launch a campaign reaching out to prospects for guest blogging opportunities. Identify the prospects that approved your pitch.
  2. Launch another campaign asking a new batch of prospects that you have guest blogging opportunities from these sites. Ask them if they’re interested in getting a link in the post and which page on their site they want to be linked on. In exchange, you want to write a guest post with a link to your own site. 
  3. Replicate the step above by launching yet another outreach campaign (the third one this time) and reaching out to a new set of launching.

You can keep repeating the second step by launching new campaigns as long as you don’t run out of prospects to reach out to.

The goal here is simple: leverage guest post opportunities from your initial campaign to get new opportunities in your next campaigns.

Here’s a screenshot informing a prospect that the article with a link to their site is published, and the sender is expecting a response regarding the guest post ideas:

The best thing about this strategy is launching as many outreach campaigns as possible so long as you can find prospects to reach out to. This way, you won’t run out of link building opportunities from guest posting.

However, be wary of including lots of links in your guest posts. You don’t want to cram in irrelevant links just for the sake of getting them in them because your prospects asked you to. Instead, determine if their links are a good fit for your guest post’s topic.

Also, read their editorial guidelines first or ask how many links they allow in a post (and whether they’re set to dofollow or no follow). 

The last thing you want to do is get your article rejected because you didn’t double-check the maximum number of links to be included.

Inbox Link Building

As your site grows, so does the attention from your audience and, unfortunately, link builders.

We featured an example above of how you should approach link building outreach. And if your site is gaining traction on organic search and growing its engagement on social media, you may have received these emails above.

But the last thing you want to do is IGNORE these emails or send them straight to SPAM.

Why is that?

The fact that they reached out to you shows that they know the value of backlinks for their site.

That means there’s a chance they could build links to your site in exchange for placing their link on one of your site pages.

Here’s what Ranktracker have in place for guest bloggers and contributors on their site:

Basically, they’re open to guest blogging opportunities but only if the blogger can secure a link for them to relevant sites with at least a Domain Rating (DR) of 70 and above.

This might be a big ask from bloggers, especially considering that Ranktracker is demanding a link from a site with a much higher DR than theirs.

However, it’s worth a shot since it’s such a low-hanging fruit task that’s impossible to ignore.

At the very least, this filters opportunistic bloggers out from their list. And if they’re interested in getting a backlink from your site, they’ll agree to your request and find a way to secure you a link to your site that meets your demands.

“Reverse Outreach?”

Brian Dean published a post about a “brand new” link building strategy he implemented that allowed him to secure more than 5,000 backlinks to his site.

He coined the phrase “Reverse Outreach” for his strategy, essentially the Skyscraper Technique, which he also coined years ago.

Essentially, you need to create content that journalists would want to link out to. To do this, you must find journalist keywords or search queries that journalists ask when writing a piece for a publication.

By creating content optimized for these keywords and supplying the most accurate data about the topic from trusted sources, you can get the attention of journalists and a link back for your efforts.

But before we continue, let’s call a spade a spade: this link building strategy has been rebranded many times through the years. 

But whether you call it reverse outreach or link-bait content, one thing’s for sure: it still works.

Producing content to generate backlinks remains one of the best and easiest ways to fortify your link profile.

Instead of just publishing them, however, you should consider promoting them to prospects.

To be fair, this is what most link builders do with their outreach campaigns. They use their best content as leverage for a backlink on the recipient’s site.

However, most outreach emails make it about how great the content is, which should be reason enough to link to it.

Unfortunately, the strength of your content isn’t enough to convince site owners and even journalists to link to you.

To make a case for your content, you must go out of your way to build relationships with site owners and foster trust first. You can do this by meeting all their demands, no matter how difficult they may be.

Conclusion

As you can see, building backlinks that move the needle on search results takes copious amounts of time and effort to accomplish.

However, link building is not about strategies and processes. Take all those things away, and you’re left building human connections with site owners and audiences.

How you’ve cultivated your relationships with them determines how much high-quality links your site will get. The more trust you build and the authority you exhibit about your expertise, the more reason the audience will advocate for your site and site owners to link back to you.

Remember this when applying any of the strategies above to your website. And if you're looking for an agency partner to help with outreach, check out our link building services agency.

Reach out to us so we can prepare a quote for a link building campaign tailor-made for your site.

Our refined link building outreach and vetting process will help you get the backlinks your website deserves.

Reach out to us so we can prepare a quote for a link building campaign tailor-made for your site.

Our refined link building outreach and vetting process will help you get the backlinks your website deserves.