10 Hard-Hitting Link Building Tactics That’ll Boost Your Rankings

In early December 2011 I wrote a quick-and-dirty guide to modern-day link baiting. In case you missed it, here’s a snapshot:

  1. Infographics – perhaps one of the most popular forms of link bait, inforgraphics turn complex data into meaningful stories using graphics.
  2. Egobait – the concept behind this form of link bait is simple…appeal to someone’s ego. Think  Ad Age’s Power 150.
  3. Interviews – doing interviews with other bloggers and you’re going to get links, traffic and a growing audience.
  4. Micro sites – creating a micro site around an idea can go viral like The University of Victoria’s The Anything Project.
  5. Drawings – a good drawing can go viral and attract links and traffic to your site. Hugh MacLeod and FAKE GRIMLOCK are good examples.
  6. Videos – Jib Jab’s Elf Yourself or Rhett and Link’s FAIL Caption videos went viral, attracting links and driving traffic.
  7. Quizzes – Mingle’s The Blog Verbosity Test and The Moon Survival Challenge spread across the web as people shared and linked to each.
  8. Stories – If all else fails, then you can simply fall back on an old-time favorite…the story.

Now that you are up to speed on link bait, let’s look at ten more ways you can build links to your site…giving a jolt your linking building campaign.

Tactic 1: Collecting and sharing content

There are a couple different ways you can collect and share content. The first way is one of the oldest: link love posts.

These posts, which aren’t as common today since most people share links through Twitter or Facebook, basically takes a roundup of the best articles you read during the week and shares them in a post.

Here’s how Copyblogger does it:

copyblogger links

The other basic way to collect and share content is to simply have a site devoted to aggregating content. This is basically what Drudge Reportdoes. It’s not original content but it’s usually comprehensive. These sites become famous once they can be the first to break a story.

Another simple but great example is Arts and Letters Daily. Three articles described in two sentences with a link are delivered each day:

arts links

Takeaway: Collecting and sharing content will build a loyal audience of followers who look toward seeing what interesting stuff you can share. Naturally you’ll get links as they share the content with their audiences.

Tactic 2: Getting business links

This is a little time consuming, but it will get high-quality links to your site that will generate great traffic and authority. Basically you want to think about all the different ways you can get businesses or local sites to send you traffic. Here’s a short list Aaron Wall provided:

  • Join the Better Business Bureau. They’ll link to you once you are a member.
  • Join the local chamber of commerce who will likely link to you once you are a member.
  • Get your city and the state governments you live in you to link to you by submitting your site to the relevant government sites.
  • Get your library to link to you.
  • Get business partners and non-competing business to link to you.
  • Launch an affiliate program.

When it comes to the affiliate links, you have to make sure the URLs don’t contain extraneous characters or else those may not count.

Takeaway: Hunting down links that are related to business and from local sites is a great way to get high-quality links that have authority and tell Google and other search engines that you are trustworthy.

Tactic 3: Collecting testimonials or opinions for an article

Another way to build links back to an article on your site is to write a piece where you make a call for testimonials, stories and opinions.

For example, say you are writing an article on blogging tools that pros use. During your research you’ll want to reach out to some influential bloggers and thought leaders and ask them for their recommendations.

interview links

If you make it simple and remind them that they’ll get credit back to their site, most people will respond. Then you can use their testimonial or opinion, and when the page goes live, email them and let them know.

Takeaway: More than likely they’ll link back to the page you created and share it with their audiences. If you’ve got ten bloggers sharing their opinions and just three of them link back, that’s huge!

Tactic 4: Interviewing big bloggers

Like the tactic where you ask for their opinions or testimonials, requesting an interview with an influential blogger will also help you build links back to your site.

But you have to do it right.

Bloggers are busy and while they may not get requests for interviews all the time, they are going to be selective to protect their time. So you need to present an interview that’s unique…

  • Do they have a controversial stand on a topic that you think maybe they’d like to explain further?
  • Do you have an audience that you think they’ll be interested in?
  • Can you make them think or talk about something that is new or surprising to them?

Takeaway: Snagging that interview with a big blogger and then publishing it on your site will lead to high-quality links coming back to your site when the blogger mentions it and his audience will start to share it.

Tactic 5: Redesign your site with a good CSS design

Do you have a beautiful design on your site? Do your website use CSS? If not, you can order a new CSS design for your site. If you have a beautifully designed site using CSS you can then submit your site to galleries like Best Web GalleryCSS Elite or CSS Mania.

Submission to these galleries is easy through the CSS Gallery List, which will submit to 100 galleries for $20. Or you can manually go to each gallery and submit your site for free.

css links

Takeaway: The benefit is obvious… if you get accepted to these galleries you’ll get a high-quality links back to your site.

Tactic 6: Running contests

Competition is a great way to generate activity with your audience that not only increases engagement but also increases the number of links coming back to your site.

Designing a contest can be as easy as giving away a prize in exchange for a link or it can be as complex as having contestants write out a 1000 words essay.

Or it could be for the best design or idea on a given topic.

But don’t stop promoting link building when the contest is over. Show who the clear winner is and if you can post all of the entries. Each contestant is likely to link to it to share with their audience if they see their entry on you site.

Takeaway: When you are running a contest make sure it is vote based. This way the contestants will blog about their entry and link to your website to convince their followers to vote for them.

Tactic 7: Comparing competitor link data

If you have a competitor ranking high for a term you’d like to rank high for then you need to figure out who is linking to their website.

That means tracking them all down, putting them in a spreadsheet and then slowly working on attracting those links. To get those links you’ll probably have to email the webmasters and politely ask for a link. You have more control over the kind of links you get this way, although whether the webmaster agrees or not is another story.

Takeaway: By scoping out your competitors you can uncover some gaps and missed opportunities in your own link-building strategies, while ranking for the same keywords they are.

Tactic 8: How social media impacts search

Social media impacts search rankings by the links that are generated from FB posts, tweets or LinkedIn. For example, we know that the more tweets a link receives the better it performs in search rankings.

We also know that Bing gets social cues from Facebook while Google gets them from Twitter. These companies want to know what’s trending, what influences different social signals and where links are pointing.

Start creating link bait that gets more retweets and Facebook shares/likes as that’ll boost your rankings.

Takeaway: Don’t give up on your normal SEO strategies or link building tactics and think that social media is the silver bullet. It’s not, mostly because so much of exactly how it impacts search is unknown. But it can’t hurt to use it.

Tactic 9: Re-purposing your content

Coming up with fresh content all the time is hard. However, you can use old content and re-purpose it to create new stuff that will generate even more links for the same content.

Here are some ways to do that:

  • Turn a dozen or so posts into a PDF that you can then post onScribd and Docstoc.
  • Turn a series of posts into a slide share document.
  • Submit your how-to posts to sites like eHow.
  • Create a video of a series of posts and then upload to the top video sites like Vimeo and YouTube.

youtube links

Takeaway:  Re-purpose old content to create new content can give life back to your link building strategy, driving high-quality juice and traffic back to your site. Just make sure you double check if the sites you are submitting to are using nofollows as those links won’t count.

Tactic 10: Write a meme-tracking and social bookmarking-worthy post

Before you write a post, check out meme trackers like TechMeme and see what ideas are trending. Then try to write a post about that trending idea, using a lot of your own original content and submit it.

Next have friends and your followers bookmark it with delicious or submit it to digg. These sites don’t have the same power they did a few years ago, but it’s worth it to leverage them, as they still command millions of visitors and those visitors will link back to your website.

Takeaway: If the post you write gains traction and becomes a trending topic, then you can expect lots of high-quality links driving traffic to your site.


If you want to create a site that’s got authority and ranks high, then you need to take your link building campaign to the next level by using these tactics. So give them a try and let me know how many links you get by using them.

So what other hard-hitting link building tactics do you use?

Neil Patel – January 9, 2012


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