14 Creative Link Acquisition Strategies That Deliver Results
But, to say that links aren't important is just an outright lie. They are. They are very important.
With competition at an all-time high in terms of link acquisition you need to be creative if you plan on making forward progress.
In order to help you get the creative juices flowing, I asked several search engine optimization professionals to share their best creative link acquisition strategy. You can use these ideas to help you develop your own plan of action in order to build your website's link profile and experience positive movement in the SERPs.
1. Actual human interaction outreach.
"We create a list of targets for each of our clients tailored to their industry and goals. Then we go through the list and create individual outreach emails for each one. It's time consuming but it works if you take the time to work out the 'hook' for each link building target.
It needs to be personal. After all, it's the quality as opposed to the quantity of links that is important for increasing your Domain Authority and online brand awareness. People can tell quite quickly if you've sent them a generic guest post pitch as opposed to something tailored to them.
I've also found that contacting them via phone works better. I think people respond to this much better than a PR-sounding email. When an actual human reaches out you can discuss how working together can provide a mutual benefit." -- Anya Gair, Yellowball
2. Be ahead of the competition regarding upcoming trends.
"Over the years I've tested out many creative link building strategies. The one that consistently yields results is predicting upcoming trends and having link-bait content ready to go ahead of others.
The biggest success story from this was a link building campaign I was doing for a finance company. This was in the early days of cryptocurrency before alt-coins and everyday headlines. Knowing that nobody would actually pay for their product in crypto I created a PR piece that the company was the first in its market worldwide to accept Bitcoin as a payment method.
That headline alone was enough to grab journalists attention and it got coverage in some of the world's biggest news outlets.
They company set up a wallet in case anybody did go through with it. The end result was a very successful PR and link building campaign.
I waited for a slow news day to hit 'send' on the campaign -- that's always a good way of amplifying coverage and squeezing out extra links." -- Pete McAllister, OutreachPete.com
3. Ego-stroke via round-up posts.
"One good way to catch the attention of the person who you are targeting is to focus on them. Instead of just asking for a link, find someone in a related business (non-competitor), and ask them to answer questions related to your client’s industry.
When they respond, you can use their answers to curate content and then tell them that you quoted them. Many people are so thrilled to be quoted that they will not only link out to that piece of content to their own site, but they also share it with others." -- Andrea Bailey, Tandem Interactive
4. Create content journalists and reporters can't pass up.
"Essentially, we make our client a data source on a topic a reporter cares about. We create content campaigns that are tangential to a company's brand (not traditional content marketing) -- usually in the form of a data study, survey results, or artwork.
We then use a thorough press outreach strategy to earn backlinks from high Domain Authority news sites in the U.S. and around the world.
The reporters are interested in writing about the content we created -- not necessarily the client. However, they credit the client for the study with a backlink. Thus, this isn't traditional PR that drives reporters nuts." -- Maddi Salmon, Go Fish Digital
5. Pitch around themed months and holidays.
"How to do it: I find a themed time period that fits with my client’s industry, develop topic ideas relevant to that theme, and pitch to appropriate online publications.
For example, July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month and the last week of February is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. I’ve had successful content placements around these themes for clients in the mental health industry.
Why it’s effective: I’ve found editors respond well to these time-sensitive queries. It also provides a broader angle that opens up publications you wouldn’t normally reach out to. For example, a broad topic like eating disorders awareness can be suitable for a general lifestyle magazine, a local news website, and a mental health blog.
Additionally, this technique provides a deadline to run the article, which helps you plan out when you are going to pitch." -- Corinne McCarthy, Web Talent Marketing
6. Provide a benefit or discount to industry-specific associations and organizations.
"A great strategy to get high authority backlinks for service-based companies is to reach out to the associations that serve your industry and become a member benefit provider.
For example, as a marketing agency, we work with a lot of attorneys in Central California so we became a member benefit provider of the Fresno County Bar Association.
We not only get a high-quality link (for free) on their website but also receive leads from this partnership." -- Dave Martin, Nettra Media
7. Create and rank industry statistics pages.
"The idea is pretty simple -- compile a large list of statistics related to your industry, organize them into a nice piece of content and work to rank that content for terms like "[your industry] statistics" and similar.
How does this help you earn links? When journalists and bloggers are searching for statistics to use in their content, one of the first places they turn is Google.
If your statistics page appears at the top of search results, it is likely to be referenced and linked to in content related to your industry -- without the need for outreach." -- Zack Reboletti, Web Focused
"Scholarships are an effective method for generating inbound links to an organization.
So long as the scholarship a company is offering is legit, submitting this scholarship to colleges is a great way to build some solid .edu backlinks.
One thing to remember is that link building strategies & tactics are constantly evolving. Certain methods may have worked well in years prior, but now are viewed as spammy and black hat at best.
Arguably the best link building strategy is staying informed." -- Derrick Rehn, Integritive
9. Leverage case studies.
"When your agency is doing great work, why not tell everyone about it? Marketing professionals love to (hate and) hear how their peers go about their work, and there's a lot that can be learned from a case study that has been well put-together. Once you start sharing your case study across your social media platforms like LinkedIn and your blog, your agency's insight into the process becomes valuable - making it that much easier to earn links from industry publications.
With an insightful, detailed, and data-driven case study, editors and publications are always on the lookout for experts to share their advice and guidance. Case studies are win-win for every party involved. Your agency receives a quality link while bragging about your outstanding work and the publication gets quality content to their users.
Content marketing remains one of the most effective ways to earn links to help support any SEO campaign. Whether that's through case studies, surveys or good old fashion guest blogging, the real skill is identifying how to implement the best strategy for your SEO campaign." -- Andrew Vinas, T3
10. The reverse HARO approach.
"HARO is a pretty nice link building strategy by itself since you can easily be featured on articles with great Domain Authority simply by providing your insight.
But we're going one step further -- finding articles that came out recently and asking the author to add a piece of new advice that brings extra value to the piece. We reach out to the writer of the article with the insight we would add, and ask to be credited with a link if what we came up with adds value to their article. They usually gladly add it with a link.
It's basically answering a HARO query, but without the HARO query.
Of course, this technique needs a lot more time than simply answering any HARO -- you need to research the latest articles in your industry, analyze what advice is missing from the articles and find the right angle that the writer will find interesting.
However, once the email is sent, it has higher chances to work than most link-building reach outs. After all, you've just given a writer some high-value content on a silver platter." -- Marie Lamonde, DashThis
11. Link reclamation.
"Link building done right can be a time-consuming and downright tedious task but the reward can be well worth it if the right strategies are put into play.
One of my favorite ways to build links is through link reclamation. It's the process of reclaiming existing links to a website by way of a 301 redirect (or requesting a correction). This process, unlike other link building tactics, can be far less time consuming and still produce -- big time.
By using a tool like Ahrefs, you can quickly see what links point to your site that are already broken. Next, run them through Screaming Frog to identify if they're still 404ing. Lastly, based on those that are 404ing, write 301 redirect to reclaim the link.
Now, not all 'link juice' will be passed -- but nonetheless, this is a well worth effort considering what is involved. This can really be beneficial for a website that has been around for some time and already has some visibility." -- Tim Dugan, Web Services CT
12. Look to partners and vendors.
"One of my creative link building strategies that I like to use for myself and clients is tapping into your partners and services that you use. Most businesses have a network of partners that they are not utilizing for their link building needs.
Every single person you come in contact with that has a website has a guest post written all over them. Reaching out to partners can be an effective way to get a link. Along with that, almost all businesses use dozens of services that they pay for monthly.
Reach out to those CRM's and marketing tools you use and tell them you're willing to put together a little case study or testimonial on how their tool has impacted your business, and in return, all you need is a link.
I bunch these tactics into one campaign and always get great conversion rates." -- Sean Dudayev, Frootful Marketing
13. Audio link building.
"People are busy and it can be hard to consume written or video content while on the go. There is definitely a demand for audio content, which has been verified by the rise in popularity of podcasts in the last couple of years.
So, what I do is scout out sites in a niche a really want link from. I'll use SEM Rush to find their most popular posts. I'll then reach out to the site and offer to record audio versions of their posts so that readers can consume their content on the go. I've got a cheap $20 Blue Snowball Mic I use.
When the site tells me they'd love to have an audio recording, I read the post into my blue Snowball Mic to record it. I'll then upload the recording to SoundCloud and when I send over the embed code, I'll add 'Recorded by' with my link into the code. What I love about this technique is I can get links from high authority sites without ever writing any content.
All I have to do is read a blog post out loud. I'm also providing value, because many sites don't have recording audio worked into their content workflow. For now, this approach is unique and cuts through the clutter of requests for guest posts.
It's something site admins really seem to appreciate. For now, this is my favorite technique." -- David Kranker
14. Use outside-the-box originality to create a buzz.
"Our most successful link acquisition campaign was actually for ourselves. We sent out chocolate bars to recipients in the media and communications sector, as well as leads, which were individually wrapped with a unique code and prompted the user to go to google and type “who sent me chocolate” to find out who sent them the sweet treat.
If you search this term now, you will see that barry schwartz at search engine land covered the campaign as well as numerous others. Because of its simplicity and originality, this campaign got us a lot of natural coverage and diversified our backlink profile immensely." -- Keith Hodges, POLARIS