It’s really hard to teach someone (or to learn) creative link building because if it could be easily learned it wouldn’t really be creative, isn’t it? So, how does someone become more creative with his link building? By probing deeper into his industry, location, his own business, but also by different examples that can help him apply similar solutions for its own website. For that reason, we decided to ask SEO specialists and website owners to share with you their most creative link building tactics. We gathered 33 examples:
Provide something useful for businesses in your location
This video shows that walk that customers will need to take from the nearest public transport stop or car park to their premises.
We make these videos for other local brick and mortar businesses who then host the video on their find us page. The text that accompanies the video contains a link back to the client, usually with the text: this video was created by name.
Here are the steps to do it:
1) Build a list of local companies that have a find us page or exact location page (use Google search operators for this). Get their contact details. This has about a 20% acceptance rate so build your list assuming a 10% acceptance rate.
2) Email them explaining what you will do for them, show them an example video, and explain that the video will be free of charge, but they will need to link out to you from their find us page (be as transparent as possible about this).
3) For every positive response make the video. This is easily done with an iPhone and iMovie. Film the video as a timelapse and then slow it back down in Imovie and add instructions.
4) Get the local business to publish the video and add the link. A lot of these will be small businesses without a dedicated web dev, so make the whole process as easy for them as possible.
Getting local links is great for local search visibility. Combine this with high quality local directories and you should dominate your local SERP.
Help other businesses improve their website or their content
Erico Franco, Inbound marketing manager at Agencia de Marketing Digital:
We have a very interesting case about linkbuilding: Once we were desperate to get backlinks to a client who was a cryptocurrency wallet. At the time, the only domains that had a good domain authority were precisely the company’s biggest competitors. So we came up with a very interesting plan, we would try to discover security flaws in these competitors and ask backlinks as a reward, which was very difficult since we are experts in digital marketing and not in digital security.
So we did the following, we started to scan all the cryptocurrency sites we knew for malware. We’ve used virustotal.com API for this. In the end, we scanned thousands of sites, found 8 sites that contained some relevant malware and immediately notified them by email and phone, at the end we asked for backlinks and got 6 average good backlinks that increased our client’s traffic by 30%.
Burak Özdemir, web developer:
Lately, many developers created COVID-19 trackers that are reporting live statistics about Coronavirus. However, some of those websites are harmful and contain malware. A week ago, the Turkish government banned some of those scammy websites. After seeing that the government has blocked those websites, I found a report published by the government agency (usom.gov.tr/dosya/covid19.pdf) that listed those scammy websites. Then I reached out to the people, who were linking to those websites, and I told them that they are linking to websites that contain malware. Moreover, I offered my dashboard as a replacement. Finally, I received a single backlink out of my five outreach emails.
TLDR: I followed the internet access restrictions related to scammy Coronavirus websites in Turkey, then reached out to the people who link to those shady websites.
Gene Mal, Static Jobs:
One link that we got was from an old open source library that Google knows really well about. Because we’re software developers, we love to program. We emailed the project maintainer, offering to write a sample program that would demonstrate a certain feature of that library. We implemented that simple program in less than a day, and after about a week and several emails, our source code appeared on that library’s website along with a link to our own website as a token of appreciation. The source code, too, contained our company name, tagline and website URL. That’s pretty much it!
Adam Carbonneau, Managing Director at Take the Stairs, LLC:
The most creative backlink strategy that I’ve ever used was trading podcast transcriptions for a link. In today’s world, it’s starting to feel like there are more podcasts than people so the opportunities are endless.
For this strategy, you need to look up podcasts that are related to your industry (as related industry links are more important to your backlink portfolio) and determine if they embed a player for their podcasts on their website.
Finally, you need to make sure they aren’t currently posting the transcript of their podcast.
When you have developed your campaign list for the month. You need to start finding contact information for these companies through either calling and asking who the best person to talk to or reach out via LinkedIn.
When you have the POC that can help. Let them know that you would provide them a free transcription of a popular episode so they can increase online traffic by naturally adding relevant keywords to the page.
For those who agree, all you need to do is upload their transcript to Rev.com for $1 per minute. At the high-end, you’ll pay $80 (80 minutes) for an industry-related link.
Within your transcript make sure to add at the bottom Transcript Provided “Your company name”
when you send it to the podcast in question.
In this way, you are adding value to a growing industry with minimal cost and work.
Use the specific things about your business or competitors
Nathaniel Rodriguez, account manager at LIFTOFF Digital:
The most creative thing I have done in order to get a backlink installing a webcam overlooking the beach. It was for a hotel, and once we had the webcam feed up on a page on the site. We started doing link building and we got so many links, it was a great ROI.
Quincy Smith, VP of SEO & Analytics at Ampjar:
We once found out a competitor was being acquired for their technology (meaning their company wouldn’t exist anymore) and pitched everyone who linked to their website in order to intro our company and explain that didn’t exist anymore but we would be a suitable replacement.
It wasn’t a big campaign, maybe only 50 opportunities and I think we only landed 2-3 links but it was quite easy to do and was only possible because we were monitoring online mentions of all our competitors.
Joseph Piñeiro, SEO Manager at www.360training.com:
The most creative link building strategy we’ve implemented is the scholarship link building. We’re currently in the process of it. This is a white hat link building technique where we’re creating a legitimate, biannual scholarship and marketing it to high schools and colleges around the country via email marketing campaigns.
We simply email them notifying them of our scholarship, including a link to our new scholarship page, and requesting that it be added to their outside scholarships page. I’ve utilized this strategy for past clients and successfully earned over 50 dofollow links for each of them. What makes this link building technique so powerful is that universities tend to have domains that are both high DA and .edu, meaning they are worth much more than your average backlink.
Andrea Bailey, Organic Search Coordination at Tandem Interactive:
One strategy I’ve use involved the use of a scholarship. The business had a quarterly scholarship opportunity. In order to get the name out about the scholarship, I reached out to several colleges and universities in the state who had students who qualified. Most schools were very receptive and already had a page on their website for outside scholarships and opportunities. They would add our scholarship to the list, and we would be rewarded with a high-quality .edu backlink.
Create interesting content rich with stats and resources
The double survey technique includes two of the best post formats- roundup posts and original research. You select a topic that is lacking original research or statistics and create one of the most detailed posts possible for it.
The first step is to conduct a survey with relevant questions. Once you get a reasonable number of participants to take it you move on to the second part- getting quotes from industry experts to include in your article.
This is backlink gold because who doesn’t link to original stats within their article? You research will be used by tons of writers who need that classic stat line to start up their article and you get a backlink in return.
Bernice Quek, SEO Writer at Pet Lovers Centre:
Feature quotes and tips from industry experts.
Link building is greatly tied with the article topic and writing process. In order to get organic backlinks, you have to write something fresh and unique that’s worth linking to. Therefore, when I write, I try to find opportunities to feature quotes, tips or content written by experts. Examples of experts would be veterinarians for pet-related topics, nutritionists for food topics, SEO practitioners for SEO topics.
After I quote these experts in my article, I will reach out to them to let them know about the article. If it’s well-written and factually correct, the experts might share it on their social media and even link to it. From there, the word will spread via even more social shares. Bloggers that find our content intriguing may link to us organically.
Another way to get more backlinks is to reach out to blogs within your niche or shoulder niche, and let them know that expert A (drop names) has shared your article. This makes a good testament to the quality of your content. Therefore, guaranteeing more backlinks to your page.
Mason Culligan, Founder and CEO of Mattress Battle Inc:
One of my strategies in gaining backlinks is through infographics.
An infographic is an easy-to-digest visual content. Resharing an infographic is also easy; making it an ideal way of getting sourced.
What I usually do is determine the current trending keywords and create an infographic around that. You have to simplify your approach when drafting an infographic to remove the complexities of the topic. The way the information flows is also something I am keen on.
To get backlinks from my drafted infographics, I do email outreach to websites that share my infographic’s niche. I also use keyword searches to target websites based on a particular keyword.
Infographics can be easily incorporated in an article and are also visually appealing. Hence, creating an infographic for others to use is a good tactic for achieving quality backlinks for your website.
Christian Antonoff, Content Writer at Exceltemplate.net:
n my previous company, we came up with the idea to do a roundup of all the popular articles in a selected industry every month. My task was to find the most relevant and shared articles and write a short resume about each of them. The roundup had between 5-10 linked articles, all with a bit of description and links to the social media accounts of their respective authors. After that, I outreached the roundup to all mentioned companies and professionals.
The result was that pretty much all involved parties liked and reshared my roundup. Some of them even included it on their websites with a link to our site. Best of all, they started contacting me with suggestions for future editions of the roundup. This is a clear win-win situation for me, because I not only get backlinks, but free content as well.
This tactic has worked quite well for me in the past.
Matt Satell, SEO Growth Manager at Mechanism:
I ran a campaign at drone photography company where we took aerial pictures of 50 local golf courses and showcased them all in an article on Philadelphia’s 50 Most Beautiful Golf Courses. We then reached out to each golf course that was featured to let them know and a number of them were more than happy to link to the article. It took a fair amount of work to capture all of the aerial pictures but was worth it in the end as the article has attracted links from 12 domains.
Momchil Koychev, Marketing Manager at Codegiant:
Here’s how I manage to generate quite an impressive amount of backlinks:
Study one of your indirect competitors. Go through that competitor’s articles. Use the tool Check my links in order to find if there is any broken link on any of his articles (100% there should be).
Once you find the section where the broken link is positioned, you crafted a whole new section about your website and include valid links.
Then message the content marketing manager – tell him that he has a broken link on one of his articles. And in order to make it easier for him, you did some of the heavy lifting for him – you wrote an entirely new section that is relevant to the original one but includes links to your site.
This works because you are providing value. No one wants outdated content on his website. With a few kind words, you can go a long way. And that’s how you can actually build a long term relationship with that indirect competitor of yours and constantly exchange backlinks on upcoming articles.
Build relationships and partnerships
Paul Ronto, CMO and Content Director at RunRepeat:
I have two thoughts on this topic.
1. First, the most creative tactic I’ve utilized is to generate unique data by running surveys on our site. It’s not that crazy of a tactic, but almost no one does this, instead, many SEOs rely on roundups, guides, how-to articles, and HARO, but getting backlinks from top-tier news outlets
requires fresh insight and data on topics their readers find interesting. Luckily we have enough traffic to gather data quickly, but I think collecting your own data is a creative avenue that any content creator should consider. Stand out from all the listicles and do something new that adds to the conversation in your field.
2. Second, and this is maybe more of what you are looking for, but I sign up for industry trade shows and fly across the country to network and meet people within my industry. I am not our company’s sales rep, I am the CMO so I don’t conduct normal business at that trade shows, but getting face to face with people within my industry helps build relationships that can eventually lead to working together on content and building quality backlinks. It’s a lot of money to fly somewhere for 3 days, but I think it’s 100% worth it and the relationships you build are real, which in the end is one of the keys to link building.
Hamna Amjad, Content Marketing Executive at Indoorchamp.com:
I have tried various link building strategies to earn backlinks for different websites. However, the most creative tactic that I have used to get a backlink is using the power of social media.
One thing that I have learned over the years is that your *first email* to a prospect should be about them rather than yourself. Never ever ask for a link in your first email.
Your focus should be on building relationships with other people in your industry. Show genuine interest in your prospects. First understand how they work and then later when it makes sense, show them what you have. This is where social media comes in.
“97 percent of online adults regularly visit social networks.”
You just need to find out your target person’s preferred social media network. Instead of using the traditional method of sending an email and multiple follow-ups (which can also get you marked as spam), use Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. to connect and interact with them. You should like, share, and comment on their posts. Start conversations and in whatever way possible, try to provide value to them.
Your goal should be to stay on their radar. This is how you can create opportunities for yourself and avail them when the right time comes. For instance, when they are looking for particular information or insights from other experts, etc., you can provide them what they need, get featured on their website and get a backlink for your website. In fact, chances are that they’ll come to you on their own!
I have tried this strategy multiple times and have been successful in acquiring backlinks. The *backlinks* that I earned via this method were very high-quality (from high authority and very relevant websites).
Elly Wilson, Digital Marketing Manager, Trendzplus:
1. We look out for brand mentions of our competitors by influencers and bloggers on social media (especially LinkedIn and Twitter)
2. We reach out to these influencers/bloggers on – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and from their we sometimes get the link to their website.
3. Now here comes the tedious part – we keep them suggesting about new topic ideas, suggest and write new content on their old articles, help them out on Quora (by answering their questions). We try to create a good raport with them and finally when it has been established we do write for them and get backlinks on our website.
4. But this is not the end of the story – we don’t do link exchanges (Google has started identifying such link exchanges and have been putting them on their spam list!). We simply cross them. If we happen to know blogger A, B and C , we get a backlink on A, A gets a backlink on B, B gets a backlink on C and for C we write articles and post on quora answers, and other social media. It is also important not to close the circle, because Google might in few months understand that trick as well.
Estimated time to get backlinks – 30 to 45 days.
Brian Robben, CEO, Robben Media:
Imagine this. I shut off my computer. Got in my car. Met a guy at a restaurant. We had beers, soft pretzels, and burgers. Then we talked business. And I straight up asked him for a backlink, to which he said, No problem. Of course, I’m happy to do that. That’s the strangest way I’ve received a backlink.
The week before dinner, I messaged him saying how it’d be good for us to share what we’re seeing in the industry and different opportunities to partner. Then I made the ask (the worst he can say is no) and it worked out with me receiving a 61 domain authority backlink.
This isn’t a recommended strategy if you’re going for quantity. Though, if you want to secure a high domain authority backlink, spending the time and making the ask with an individual each week will do wonders. Of course, go to this move after COVID-19 is under control, or do it in a video hangout or call.
Gabriel Bertolo, Owner of Radiant Elephant:
I did a very simple free website for a local charity. Once completed I created a press release that introduced the charity and added that we designed the site for free because we believed in what they were doing. Due to this, we ended up getting over 30 great backlinks for not just us but for the charity as well.
Use the power of your brand and social following
Matt Schmidt, CEO of Diabetes Life Solutions:
The most creative technique we often use is also a pretty simple one. When reaching out to a website for a ‘guest’ blog post with the same target audience as us, we dangle a little carrot in front of them. I offer to write an authentic post for their site, giving us a backlink in my author
section of the post, in exchange for promoting them in our monthly newsletter that goes out to over 100,000 people. By offering something that is beneficial to the other business, we have great success obtaining a blog post with a backlink. Truly win-win for everyone.
Syed Hasan, Digital Content Head at Film Jackets:
I’d like to share my tip on how creatively we received backlinks: through subscribers.
Getting backlinks is a tricky part of SEO and it’s the only way to boost your website ranking if other strategies don’t work. What I did was contacted influencers in our subscribers’ list and asked them if anyone is a Blogger or YouTuber? After receiving so many responses, I sent a second email to ask if they’d be interested in reviewing and promoting one of our jackets? I received many positive responses and also a few of them gave backlinks to our website.
Nikola Roza, CEO and owner at Nikola Roza- SEO for the Poor and Determined:
I got a backlink from a very recently published expert roundup.
So, when I first saw it on social media, the roundup was promoted as 14 experts explain how to do X in SEO.
X is something I know a lot about, so I reached out to the author and asked to be included.
In return I promised tweets to my 1k strong and engaged Twitter audience, backlinks to the post from my future guest posts; and finally, a tip that none of the other 14 experts talked about.
It was real work.
I needed to be creative and I also had to convince myself that it’s possible to be included in a roundup that just got out and I was clueless about previously. But I offered real value and got a good link to my homepage.
Use alternative outreach methods
Neal Taparia, Owner of Solitaired:
Today, everyone sends hundreds of emails to get backlinks. In my last business, we had an online presence that reached 30M uniques yearly, I would get dozens of emails a day requesting links.
With my new company, I started picking up the phone and calling people after cold emailing them for a link opportunity.
Yes, people were surprised, but they were also disarmed when I explained that I had tried emailing them, and that I’d simply send them another email to discuss the opportunity again. The response rates shot up like crazy, and so did the links.
Snezhina Piskova, Writer at Exceltemplate.net:
I have been involved with link building for the past three months, with no prior experience. I am not a big fan of the stale and boring emails that usually get sent out – I feel that they lack something very important, which is human authenticity, and instead sound needy and robotized. This is why I decided to go out of the conventional way and try different approaches – and found that the following works wonders for me: Crack a joke
Let’s be real – most people you outreach to are likely to know what you want as soon as they see your subject line. Why would you beat around the bush, then? If you do that, there is a big chance that the person will get annoyed, since they might perceive you to be wasting their time. This is why I often get straight to the point – but make sure to use a joke as an icebreaker. I feel as if people underestimate jokes and how far they can take you. Being able to joke about the subject you are pitching about, and being able to do so in style, says a lot about you as a person. So the next time you are outreaching to people, show them you are human and appreciate the power of laughter.
Ashley Sterling, Director of Operations at The Loop Marketing:
Backlinking is unique as there are so many different ways you can be successful. When I first started backlinking, I researched and followed the specific tactics offered by the experts, but the problem with that type of approach is: everyone who follows the experts are doing the same thing. Same email templates, same tools, etc.
How can you stand out? I have a sales background, so I put my sales hat on and thought about what I could offer to a prospect rather than what I can ask for. The answer? Send a genuine email explaining why you’re reaching out, or even call the company/article author, and offer a video summary of their article in exchange for a link. Make sure it’s relevant, and that you
have direct access to someone at the company.
Don’t just send it to an [email protected] If you don’t have access to a human, call the company! It puts a voice behind the outreach, rather than the anonymity of email, and I promise, no one else is calling for links.
The result? Worked faster than any other type of approach (roughly 12-24 hour turnaround).
Video is becoming the leading form of media consumption, so by offering to help rather than asking for them to help you, you can establish rapport and your domain authority will benefit.
Shawn Love, Blog Writer, LOSTnLOVEco:
As difficult as it is to get backlinks and how important these things are. I have just decided (pre COVID-19) that if a business is local to me. Then I would just go to the place of business and have a conversation.
I would start off like: Hello, I’m Shawn with LOSTnLOVEco and we have a blog that has x amount of reach in your area. We have an audience and they are looking for a product. We would like to do a story on your product in hopes to fill this need that our readers are looking for. All that we ask is that you link to the Story as additional evidence or proof to your product.
This has helped in many ways. It gives a face and a good conversation. Some of the local business are happy to get free press and traffic and we enjoy a link. I’m not that big on link sharing but if we can deliver something that the people need. Then it is good for all of us.
Muhammad Farasat Khan, SEO Specialist at IsItWP:
A lot of SEO people think that cold-emailing which asks for links does not work any more. But hey, I get approx 50 links in a quarter doing the same.
Once I had a prospect for which the email address was unavailable through Hunter or their contact us form. But I was too desperate for that link, so I scanned the website, found the owner and searched his name in Google. And guess what I found his LinkedIn profile. From there I found out that he is now managing another website for which the email address was available
I sent him an email, stating the very same thing that I have been through to reach him. And in that email I asked him for a backlink from his other website. He was generous enough to answer and add a backlink to one of his roundup posts.
That day I learned, no prospect is a dead prospect. There are ways to convert, and it just needs the right eye to hunt the details.
Laura Fuentes, Operator of Infinity Dish:
Website Owners May Ignore You, but Writers May Not: While working with our team to get hundreds of backlinks to Infinity Dish, one method has stuck with me for its ingenuity on the part of the outreach team member. On one high DR site we were hoping to get a backlink on, we noticed that much of their best content was written by one seemingly passionate writer. After not hearing back from the site owner (little surprise there), the team member decided to give it a shot and send out an email complimenting their work, mentioning a few places where our page (a long skyscraper piece on cable TV statistics) could help, but with more of a soft-sell approach. And instead of ignoring us or telling us no, the writer said they were a regular contributor to the site, and reached out to the owner mentioning the potential update. The next thing we knew we had a link on one of his pieces, and soon after we added “the writer approach” to our playbook.
Offer your help to reporters, journalists and bloggers
Anjana Wickramaratne, Active Digi Solutions:
As a digital marketer who offers SEO services to my clients, I use several techniques to get high quality and relevant backlinks. But the most creative tactic I have used is that I used *HARO* (Help A Reporter Out) to get inputs from other experts on an article topic I am putting together and pitched the idea to a high domain authority relevant blog site. They accepted my request to guest post within a few days and this is because of the combination of several expert’s opinions in the article making it much more valuable.
Sanjay Patoliya, Founder & Director of Teclogiq:
I have gained many high-quality backlinks using HARO without requesting or bagging for a backlink. The only condition is you have to answer thoroughly the questions and provide insightful answers.
Also another technique I regularly use to gain backlink is the broken link building. This is one of the easiest and powerful compared to other techniques to gain a backlink. You have to find deadlink on any webpage, contact details of that webpage owner, check that broken(deadlink) webpage on Wayback machine, create similar content of that dead (broken link) webpage, pitch that webpage owner, you got your backlink.
You can get both answers and backlinks at the same time via HARO
Daniela Andreevska, Marketing Director at Mashvisor:
One relatively unconventional tactic which has allowed us to get a number of high-quality backlinks is asking questions on Help a Reporter Out (HARO). As soon as we publish a blog post with contributions from experts available on HARO, we reach out to them to share the article with them and ask them to share it on their website and social media channels if
they find it of value to their users and customers. This approach has produced positive results several times. Moreover, it’s not time-consuming at all, compared to other more traditional ways of building backlinks.
Create useful online tools
Raj Dosanjh, Founder of RentRound.com:
A creative way we have got backlinks, is creating a ‘super’ tool that combines smaller tools in one.
In the property industry, people want to calculate how much it will cost to renovate their property.
There are calculators that add up the cost of paint, flooring, roofing etc jobs. We created a calculator that combines all these calculations in one place.
As they add value, we organically got backlinks through this excellent, yet very simple tool.
Jason Scott, Freelance Digital Marketing Specialist:
The most creative thing I’ve done to gain backlinks for a client was develop a tool. The client was in the luxury watch space and I developed a tool that allowed customers to find out when their vintage watch was made based on the watches serial number. It was a remarkably simple tool to create, but as it was one of the first tools of its kind, it was very effective at generating backlinks. I used email outreach to pitch the tools to some industry-recognised blogs and publications and a few of them liked the idea and published it.
The authority of your website (or to be more precise its pages) is still a very important ranking factor. Building backlinks to your website was never an easy thing to do, but fortunately, you are free in employing whatever creative tactics you can think of, in order to get the people to link to you.. Those were just some examples, but keep in mind, no matter how proud of your tactic you are, there is still a chance that Google might consider your tactic to be black hat.