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Last updated: October 2, 2020
Most of us bloggers and Internet marketers will know that backlinks are one of the major organic ranking factors. But we also dislike building links. At least, I do.
And that’s perfectly fine. If you just focus on publishing quality content, your site will rank eventually. It may take a bit longer, but good things will happen to those who are perseverant and patient.
But creating a few quality backlinks along the way will certainly help to speed things up a little. And if the process of creating these quality backlinks isn’t super complicated, then time spent on getting these links is time well spent.
Link building is perhaps the most difficult part of an SEO strategy. Getting quality backlinks, that is. Not just random, low quality backlinks. And because it’s so hard and time consuming, many bloggers avoid link building altogether.
There are tons of different strategies to get quality backlinks, but most of them are complicated and often have a low return on investment rate.
So below are three simple ways to get quality backlinks. Nothing shady, all very much legitimate white-hat stuff that won’t get you into trouble.
3 Simple Ways to Get Quality Backlinks
1. Brand Mentions
Brand mentions are literally that. Websites that mention your brand or blog name, but without actually linking back to you.
The idea is to find these unlinked brand mentions and ask the corresponding website owners if they can turn these mentions into real backlinks.
How to Find Brand Mentions?
Simply head over to Google and search for your brand or blog name in quotes, like this:
“my awesome brand name”.
To do this task more efficiently, it’s best to play around with Google’s settings to finetune the search results.
For example, you can change the date settings so that you’ll only get recent results:
You can also change the results per page so that you don’t have to keep hitting the next and previous buttons:
Also make sure you select the correct region settings:
Once you’ve found a few new brand mentions, analyze the site that mentions your brand (without linking), and if it’s a decent enough site, reach out to them and kindly ask if they are willing to change the brand mention into an outbound link.
The way you reach out though can often determine how successful you are with this strategy. Keep your emails short and sweet, to the point, add a personal touch and show a bit of gratitude.
Note that this strategy will only work if your blog or online business has been around for quite some time. If your site is still fairly new, it’s very unlikely it will have any online brand mentions.
You can easily turn this strategy into a monthly task to continuously find new backlink opportunities. Create a template for your outreach email to further streamline the process and minimize the effort involved.
2. Link Roundups
If you’ve never heard of link roundups, they are basically curated lists of interesting resources in a specific niche.
So, for example, here on Blog Pioneer I could create a roundup list of excellent SEO articles I’ve read this past month. Articles that I think are worth sharing with my audience.
Below is a real example of an SEO news link roundup post published on a blog named 99signals (brand mention… see what I did there?).
Bloggers often create these types of roundups on a regular basis as an easy way to create content they can share with their audiences.
It’s also a good way to get noticed within your niche. How? Because the bloggers that receive a link in these link roundups will take note of it.
Why is it so good to be included in a list like that? These links are natural, they are contextual, they are a good fit and they often get shared to a big audience via newsletters and social media channels. They are quality links.
And not only that, they can also have a huge flow-on effect.
If these roundup lists get shared across different channels with large audiences, you will get an instant traffic boost and probably a whole bunch of new email signups.
So in short, it’s worth spending a bit of time hunting these link roundups and getting your pitch ready.
How to Find Link Roundups?
The easiest way to find link roundups is via Google. Simply submit the following search queries:
“keyword” + “roundup”
“keyword” + “link roundup”
“keyword” + “this week”
There are more of course, but you get the point. You can limit the search results by using a date range.
You can also use BuzzSumo for this purpose. BuzzSumo is a powerful tool that helps you find the most shared content on the web. So using similar search queries on BuzzSumo will also give you some great results.
The idea is to get a collection of blogs that regularly publish link roundups. Maintain a list of these blogs (plus contact details) in an Excel sheet and regularly check for new updates.
Once you’ve noticed a suitable link roundup for which you have an excellent candidate resource written on your own blog, go ahead and send through a convincing pitch.
This pitch needs to be very clear and to the point. You need to explain why your article should be included in that list. I also recommend you give your email a personal touch and that you avoid sounding generic.
There really is just one big prerequisite for this link building tactic. Your pitched article needs to be top. Not okay, not good, it needs to be amazing.
3. Reverse Image Search
This link building tactic is a bit more time consuming than the other two but it’s definitely worth it.
If you’ve been blogging for a while and you use lots of images in your content, most likely some of your images will have been used by others.
This is “kind of” okay as long as you get credit for it. And not just a mention, but also a link back to your site where the image originates from.
Sadly though, a lot of people just go and “borrow” images via Google search to use them on their own blogs without giving any credit to the original source.
How Does Reverse Image Search Work?
Using Google Chrome, right-click on an image on your site and select:
“Search Google for Image”
A new tab will open with Google’s info on that image followed by a list of pages that contain the image. You will now need to go through these results and try to identify sources that are indeed using your image without giving you a link credit.
Depending on how many sources Google has found, you can limit the search results by date range to make it easier.
Then go to these sites and check whether they are linking to you. Often a link is mentioned below or before the image, or otherwise the image itself links back to the source. The best way to verify this is checking the source code and search for your site’s URL.
I hear you thinking, “I have tons of images on my blog, this reverse image search process would take me forever!”. True, but you don’t really need to check every single image that exists on your site.
To minimize the effort, I recommend you go to your top 10/20 performing articles and select the best (share worthy) images on these pages. It’s these images that typically end up high in Google image search results. And because these images can be found, they will most likely be “borrowed”.
So focus on these images and do your reverse image search to see if you can find any websites that have borrowed your image without giving you a link.
Go for Big Sites
I wouldn’t worry too much about meaningless and low-authority sites that use your images. These sites come and go and are not worth your time.
You should approach the bigger sites that are using your best images. Ask them kindly to credit you, which they likely will do because they did something naughty, right?
How to recognize big sites? If you spend a lot of time online, you will learn how to identify which sites are worth approaching and which ones should be ignored. Otherwise, you could use the Moz DA score to get a bit of an idea of how authoritative a site is.
If you still think that this tactic is too time consuming, keep in mind that the bigger sites will show up on top of the reverse image search results.
And because you’re probably already aware of any existing links from big sites to your site, then it’s easy to recognize sites from the reverse image search results that have not yet credited you.
The more you practice this link building tactic, the easier it gets.
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Final Thoughts on Link Building
I am one of those rare SEO people who think that you can be very successful online without spending a single minute building backlinks. I’ve done it many times before and it works. Full stop.
Backlinks aren’t as important as they used to be when it comes to ranking high in the SERPs. The Google algorithm has evolved such that it doesn’t need to rely on backlinks so much anymore to identify quality websites and content.
That said, backlinks are still important. And if you spend a bit of time trying to establish quality backlinks in a legitimate white-hat manner, your website will definitely benefit.
So go ahead and try the above three link building methods and see if they work for you.