25 Ways to Perform Link Building without Guest Posting

by Stuart McHenry January 16, 2019

 
Link Building Techniques

Table of Contents

  1. Outdated Content
  2. Podcast
  3. Discounts
  4. Be Helpful
  5. Interviews
  6. Give Out Testimonials
  7. Unlinked Mentions
  8. Broken Link Building
  9. Roundup Posts
  10. Image Link Building
  11. Associations
  12. Reviews
  13. Contest
  14. HARO
  15. Design Contests
  16. Create a Quiz
  17. Local Link Building
  18. Newsjacking
  19. Create Free Tools
  20. Niche Web Directories
  21. Scholarships
  22. Job Posting Board
  23. Sponsor Events
  24. Infographics
  25. Ego Baiting



Are you tired of guest blogging to build backlinks? Or maybe you lack diversity in your link building campaigns. Either way one of the hardest most time-consuming processes in SEO is link building. If you are constantly pounding the digital road asking for guest posting opportunities, then this post is for you.

There is much more to building links than just guest posting. Some of the advanced link building techniques below will work better than others depending on your situation. But all are viable ways to help increase your link profile.

The Importance of Links

One of the essential factors in the Google algorithm is links that point to your website. For just about any semi-competitive keyword your website cannot rank without backlinks.

It’s not just the sheer amount of links but also the quality of your backlink portfolio. Backlinks from quality websites will carry more weight and will help your efforts to rank better than low-quality backlinks. You can read more about how to determine a quality backlink in our blog post here.
 

SEO Expert Insight:

In today’s algorithmic climate, link building is less about what you do and more about where.  Finding the best partner sites within your industry is not easy, even if you do find them, getting emails opened and acted on is a real challenge.”

Debra Mastaler, President – Alliance-Link.com

Below we have 25 ways to do link building without having to guest post.

 

Outdated Content
By far one of my favorite methods is to update content for an out of date resource. In just about every industry things change, companies change, techniques change, and new products come to life. There are vast amounts of outdated information floating around online.

Some of the resources are sitting on high-quality websites with backlinks pointing to these specific pages. These pages are pure gold in the link building world.

Perform outreach and ask the publication if you can update the content. This would not be a complete rewrite, but you would correct the outdated information and add new relevant information to make the content current again.

This only works if you have a resource that supports the edit. If you don’t, you should create the resource before performing outreach.

Don’t just make a quick niche edit for a backlink and send the article back to the publisher for updating. This will likely not get published. You want to show you added value so take your time and ensure the article has a significant amount of new information.
 

SEO Expert Insight:

Outdated content is one of my favorite and easiest methods of link building, especially around the area of data, statistics, studies, and trends.

These types of content are often tied to specific dates, e.g. “Mobile Coupon Trends 2018” and “Consumer Credit Card Behavior Survey 2016.”

Data posts tend to naturally earn a high number of links, but also can go stale very quickly. Even a single year can be enough to justify reaching out to a webmaster and letting them new you have newer, fresher data. Win-win.”

Cyrus Shepard, Founder – Zyppy

 

Podcast

Podcasts have been gaining traction for years, and there is numerous podcast in every industry. Becoming a guest on a podcast is a great way to build brand exposure. Most all podcast host will do a write up on their blog about the podcast and usually link to the guest’s website.

On the flip side hosting your own podcast has the same effect. Guests that are invited to be on your show will often link back to the webpage the podcast is on.

How do you get on a podcast? Ask if they are looking for a guest. Basically, pitching a podcast is similar to pitching a guest post article. You will want to introduce yourself and explain how you could provide value to the podcast.
 

SEO Expert Insights:

Podcasting has become one of my favorite scalable link building methods outside of guest posting. Not only is it still relatively untapped across most online niches, but research has shown that the recall rate for listeners taking action on brands promoted on podcasts is much higher.

Podcasting has become so popular that even researching topic specific podcasts to pitch has gotten easier with the advent of podcast directories like Podbean and Stitcher’s top 100.

Plus if you’re purpose (and approach) is for SEO it’s not even that expensive; most podcasts have websites of their own.. and most of these website’s get updated with new content every week (or at the very least every month) whenever new episodes come out; so they tend to have pretty high crawl rates and even tend to be over DR20; regardless of how popular the actual podcasts are in terms of subscribers/listeners.”

Nick Eubanks, CEO – From The Future
Podcasts are so popular right now. I think most people that I know listen to at least once a day. I think that anything that is popular is perfect for link opportunities.

If you interviewed three people on one podcast and posted the podcast on your site, you’d have a good chance of those three people linking to it, and surely socializing it.

Most likely you’d also have people recommending it to each other, thereby increasing its popularity in general, and that’s a good thing for naturally attracting links.”


Julie Joyce, Owner – Link Fish Media

 

 

Discounts

Some of the easier links to obtain are done by just giving out value to an audience. In this case, the value is in the form of a discount.

Some companies might run a sale on their website which is relatively common. So ask yourself how you can be different and use this for link building?

Instead, offer larger discount codes and promote it to bloggers that share a similar audience as your website. In some niches, you will find bloggers that provide weekly roundups or newsworthy recaps. This is an excellent place to get your discount code featured.

What works best is if you can give the blogger a specific discount code for their blog. This would be something like “Peters50OffDeal” discount code. Don’t ask for a link specifically. Most bloggers will provide this without having to ask.
 

 

Be Helpful
Some of the easiest links I’ve ever built were to people I was just helpful too. Over the years I have given out advice to help a fellow business owner out. Not full website audits, but I’ve spent 20-60 minutes to provide guidance or offer technical help.

One of the times I never mentioned to the business owner I wanted a link. He later added a link to his website under his resource section.

On a few of the other occasions, people generally ask how they can repay the favor. All you have to do is mention you are trying to promote your website, and a link back would be super helpful! They all have been more than happy to help out and link to my website.

This works better in the SEO or any technical industry. In other service industries, this might be more difficult but still very feasible.
 

 

Interviews
Interviewing known experts within your industry is a great way to gain multiple links. After the interview is published, share it with the person you interviewed. They will more than likely share it on social media and some will even link to it from their website. It adds more street creed for them.

To get more mileage out of this technique perform some outreach and let other bloggers and publications know about the interview. If they have news roundups or if the interview provides excellent value you will pick up more links.

Don’t be afraid to reach out of your network for these interviews. In fact, the best way to get more eyeballs on your interview is to interview people that are experts in a related industry.
 

SEO Expert Insight:

Building links is often said to be about building relationships. I find that this extends to literally building relationships with people one on one.

It often pays to get out from behind the computer and go meet authors, industry celebrities and industry thinkers at conferences and events offline. Literally, build a relationship with the actual person. After they know you they may be more open to an interview than with a total stranger who is approaching them via email.”


Roger Montti, Owner – Martinibuster.com

 

 

Give Out Testimonials

Are there services or products you use that you love? Give them a testimonial and let them know they can use it on their website. These links are good because they are often linked 1-2 clicks away from their homepage and carry more weight.

This works much better if the company is newer and they are trying to build up some credibly. The tip here is to send your testimonial with your name, position, and company URL.

Example: “Product XYZ really helps me save time and money. I can now get twice as much work done in the same amount of time.” Stuart McHenry, President of McKremie.com

You won’t always get a link 100% of the time. But if they do post your testimonial it does tend to work about half of the time. Either way, this is a super quick way to build some quality links.
 


 

Unlinked Mentions

This technique works well for medium to large websites or brands but doesn’t rule this out for smaller ones as well. There are tons of content created every day online. In these pages and articles, not everyone links to a company name via their website.

It doesn’t even have to be your company name. It can also work well for branded services and branded products.

Search for these mentions online and request a link. There are tools you can use including Ahrefs Content Explorer. Or you can perform a Google search. This works best if you use quotes around the brand name.

Example: "Samsung"

You can even be proactive and set up Google Alerts. Or use one of the many brand monitoring services like Awario. This way every time there is new content created that mentions your brand or website you get an email alert notifying you.
 

SEO Expert Insight:

Broken links and unlinked mentions by prominent web publications is the one tactic that isn’t admonished by corporate communications.

The people in your PR/comms teams are the best partners for doing this. Most often, they already have a relationship with these publishers, so it comes off as a branding/marketing request rather than the SEO team trying to get links.

For those publishers with whom your PR department doesn’t already have contact, you can ask them for outreach as well – or you can DIY.”


Don Rhoades, Senior SEO Manager – ServiceNow

 

 

Broken Link Building

Although this tactic can be more time consuming but has worked well for years, find a website that has a broken or no longer existent page. Good examples of this would be a resource page, how to guides, or just an excellent informational article.

The next step you want to do is to create a similar resource but better of course. There is a good chance the resource is a bit outdated and could use some updates. Don’t just go through the motions here. Create a valuable resource with some visual aspects.

Once you have completed your guide, it’s time to curate a list of websites that are linking to the old content. You can use any number of backlink tools here like Ahrefs, SEMrush, or Majestic. You will then want to do some outreach and explain that they have a broken link. You will then want to provide them with a link to the new updated information so they can update their website.

A good tip here is to make it seem like the information is nearly the same.
 

 

Roundup Posts

Round up posts rock and don’t let anyone tell you any different. The reason I like roundup posts so much is that people link to them and share them via social media often. (more exposure) Usually, roundups provide valuable information all on one page. These are link attacking gold mines.

Another significant aspect of roundup posts is the fact they take minimal effort to participate. Usually, all it takes is your thoughts on a subject in a few paragraphs. Sure beats writing a 1,500-word blog post to get a link.

There are different types of roundups. Some blogs do a weekly roundup of news events within their niche. If you create something, newsworthy roundup bloggers will take notice. You can also increase the chances of being featured in their weekly roundup by emailing them and asking.

While some bloggers create roundups for informational or learning purposes, these type of roundups look for industry experts to help give a perspective on a topic. If you are lucky enough to be asked to participate in a roundup, do it. Not only does it help build your brand but you usually get a link back to your website.
 

 

Image Link Building

If you aren’t adding custom images to every post start doing it now. Be sure to optimize your image as well. This will help earn you links. People search Google and when they find a good picture they use it. They use it for social media, blog posts, and other online pages.

Some of the images we have had the most success with have been meme-like images. High-quality unique images do really well too. The most important thing here is do not use stock images in your blog posts.

Some websites will give you credit for the image and link back to your website. But many won’t and you need to find websites that use your images. You can do this by using the reverse Google image search engine. Once you place your image in there it will show you other places online that are using that image.

The next step would be to contact those websites and request to give you credit for your image. In my experience, this works well although some will just take down the image altogether.
 

 

Associations

Whether it be local, or more industry-specific, belonging to a professional association comes with perks. Most can be good opportunities for networking and many of the associations will provide your company with a profile page, which often comes with a link.

One of the easier links to get are local Chambers and the Better Business Bureau but don’t limit yourself to just these. It’s a best practice to be listed on these websites if you have the opportunity.

Industry-specific associations can be good to join. Most will provide ongoing industry-specific information to keep you up-to-date on issues. You can also use your membership as a marketing tool by letting customers know you belong to that specific association. I wouldn’t sign up for every industry association but maybe pick one or two. If your only goal is to get a link you can check out their membership pages and see how they link.
 

SEO Expert Insight:

Join as many associations in your industry as you can. Why? When you belong to an association, your membership is a shared point of commonality with other business owners. Membership rosters give you a targeted list of webmasters to approach and saying you both belong to the same association helps “vouch” for you. This point of commonality works to get your emails opened.

Chamber and associations publish on and offline magazines, both which are solid advertising and publishing opportunities. Drive people to your onsite libraries and/or case study collections, people will naturally link if they find the resource of value.

Conversely, look at the sites of association members and see if they have resource centers. If yes, use that point of association commonality and suggest they link to yours.

Lastly, associations and Chambers need members and exposure so they are very active with the media and on news sites. Tap the association media or membership director for help in making introductions to journalists or ask to be featured in one of their news releases. At the very least, take note of the news sites publishing your Chamber’s news and send your press releases to the same media outlets the next time you have a big announcement.“

Debra Mastaler, President – Alliance-Link.com

 

 

Reviews

Letting bloggers try out your product or service is a great way to get a link. Let them know you are trying to get more exposure and you would appreciate a post about it.

Not all bloggers will give your product a try. Some are just too busy and get approached way too often with similar requests. This comes down to a few things. It depends on your relationship with the blogger and it’s also a numbers game. The more free products or services you send out, the better your odds of success.

It is best to contact the blogger ahead of time and ask if they’d like to try out your product/services. Many of the popular bloggers have specific protocols in place on how they handle product/service reviews.

Don’t just focus on the top bloggers. You will actually have a better success rate if your focus on those middle bloggers. Somewhere between the top tier bloggers and the bottom tier bloggers. These bloggers get far less requests but still have quality blogs. Most will be flattered you sent them products/services and they’d be happy to share with their audience.
 

 

Contest

Running a contest and creating excitement around your brand can lead to massive amounts of links. Obviously, you cannot give away $5 gift card and expect people to share your content online. Dig deep here. The larger the prize the more the buzz.

There are two main key aspects when running a contest. First, give away prizes of good value. Make it worth wild for people to sign up for the contest. Most people won’t waste their time on low-value prizes.

Secondly, add a twist to your contest. Something that sets you apart and creates more buzz around the contest. Fun elements like photo sharing, or involving pets or kids tend to get people talking and sharing online.

You will want to have a dedicated page or blog post on your website for this contest. This will give a location for people to link to and a place for them to sign up for the contest.

Prior to announcing the contest identify a list of potential bloggers that may want to share your contest information. Look for blogs within your industry especially ones that provide weekly roundups. Once you announce your contest shoot them an email and ask if they will help share your contest information.

One word of caution, be sure to look up the laws in your state to ensure you are in compliance.
 

 

HARO

HARO stands for “Help a Reporter Out” and can be a great way to get a mention or even a link from a reputable news source. Although this service has been around for a decade now it is still underutilized. This service is used by journalists that need sources for the articles they are working on.

To get started visit Helpareporter.com and register as “I’m a Source.” There are several account options from free to premium. If you are serious about this technique for link building you should sign up for either the advance or premium account. Which will ultimately help you build links faster.

After you register you will begin to receive emails or even text messages on a daily basis of reporters looking for sources for their articles. These emails will provide a daily list of what reporters need. Simply look for opportunities that you can provide a source for.

One of the biggest tips I can give is to jump on these opportunities and respond to the journalist request as fast as you can. If someone else provides a source before you the opportunity is usually lost.
 

 

Design Contests

If your website is ugly this isn’t a tactic for you. However, if you have a nice custom website you can look for design contest online.

The goal isn’t to really win the contests but to make it on the lists. If you do win, great. But often times the lists have anywhere from 10-25 websites in the contests. Some are very niche specific as well which helps with relevance.

Finding the contest is easy to do. Just perform a search in Google and you will see there are literally lots of websites that have some sort of design contest. Some look at other aspects than just the homepage so it’s possible to get on a list for something like a contact page or a client questionnaire.

These contest are good for when people are looking for examples of good design as well. We’ve had clients featured for their design and eventually picked up more links in posts as examples of their design.

Again, the key here is to get on the contest lists so your website can start gaining more exposure.
 

 

Create a Quiz

Creating a quiz that is specific to your industry is a great way to build some attention for your website. Ensure you host your quiz on your website. This way it gives people a place to actually link to.

Quizzes should be interesting, fun, and also challenging. A boring quiz will do very little to gain attention. You need to make your quiz stand out.

A good way to get more shares is to ego bait the quiz with one or two industry experts. This will help increase the chances someone with a substantial following shares your quiz online.

When someone receives their results you can offer two solutions. You could give them a custom page on your website that shows their results. Or simply give them a badge they can share on social media or their website. These can be fun and people like to show these off either result.

Beware; Google does frown upon using widgets/badges with a keyword-rich anchor text backlink. But there are other ways to get links without providing a widget/badge.

You should reach out to industry blogs and publications to share your quiz. Ask a few editors to take the quiz and let you know what they think. If your quiz is halfway decent they will probably blog about it. You should also approach blogs that do weekly roundups to see if your quiz could be included as well.

A good quiz will get shared via social media over and over. This will create some buzz and potentially earn your website some links out of it.
 

 

Local Link Building

Never neglect local link building. Utilizing your friends, local business, and local bloggers in your city to help build links can be very effective. These might not be the most powerful links you can build but they can carry a lot of weight, especially for local SEO.

Start with any friends or acquaintances you have and ask them about linking to your website. Most friends won’t mind and these are the super easy link building wins.

You can also use this as a cross-promotional method to increase your business directly. A good example would be a local restaurant and a hotel, or a spa and a local hotel. Most hotels don’t have their own spas and you can create a partnership where they recommend your business to their guests.

Often times hotels will have a page of local places to eat or things to do and you can get your website listed there. This is just one example and you will have to think of something similar for your business.

You can also implement a local content strategy to attract local links and become a resource for your city. Start by creating a section on your website about local news events or local resources for your community.

Local link building doesn’t have to be hard you just have to be more creative.
 

SEO Expert Insight:

Scale what’s already been done. There’s an idea machine out there for any local vertical – businesses who provide the same product/service in other cities across the country.

You don’t need to be the first dentist or plumber to come up with some highly creative link building strategy specific to your niche – look at how dentists & plumbers have gotten links in major metro areas like NY, LA, Miami, etc. using Ahrefs/Majestic.

Those businesses have a lot more budget & competition, and through that, you’ll have numerous more ideas than what you could come up with in a brainstorming session with your employees.”


Jonathan Cooper, Founder – Hyperlynx Media, Inc. @joncooperseo

 

 

Newsjacking

This is the process of taking a breaking news event and putting a different spin on it for your business/website. When an initial story breaks it gets covered. Shortly thereafter journalists look for additional information about the story.

This is where you come in. You will need to be creative and come up with your own spin on the story. This could be offering a service, creating a product, or offering a special price related to the event.

A recent example that comes to mind is Trejo’s Coffee and Donuts in Los Angeles. When the Los Angeles Rams made the playoffs they offered special blue and gold frosting doughnuts on Saturday, January 12th in honor of the Rams. This created buzz and was picked up by a dozen websites and by several local news stations.

When it comes to newsjacking timing is everything. If you wait too long the idea will have lost its steam and won’t be newsworthy any longer. Don’t directly copy the news story. You will want to infuse your unique perspectives on the story. And by all means whatever you do don’t choose a news story that is a tragedy.
 

 

Create Free Tools

Everybody loves free stuff especially if it’s a useful online tool. This link building technique is only as good as the free tools you create.

People will link and share information about useful online tools. But don’t just create a free tool for the sake of it. Nobody will link to a crappy tool. Make something useful that people need and use.

This works especially well in the technology industry as people are always looking for free tools to help make their jobs easier.

Keep in mind just because you create a good free tool doesn’t mean people will instantly love it and link to it. You will still need to promote your tool online.

Start by making a list of popular bloggers that you think has the right audience for your tool. Reach out to those bloggers and see how they like it. If the response is good ask them if they will mention it on their blog or social media.

Good free online tools can learn you links for years.
 

SEO Expert Insight:

We found great success in acquiring links by building tools. Using Greenlane as an example, several years ago I found myself doing a lot of manual work to dig out outdated information for a link building tactic. Other SEOs were likely struggling with the same manual work, so I built a tool to help myself and those SEOs.

To be honest, the intention wasn’t as much a link building campaign as it was giving back to an SEO community that always shares with each other. But the byproduct was an influx of links since day one.

The tool hit a sweet spot, was seen as valuable, and earned links via word of mouth. I really never promoted the tool with the exception of a couple tweets. It’s a great case study in building something that is unique and valuable and letting it go viral. We’ve since built several tools mirroring this success.”


Bill Sebald, Managing Partner – Greenlane Search Marketing

 

 

Niche Web Directories

I know it’s not 2004 and I don’t recommend you to go out and submitting your website to 100 web directories. However, in every niche, there are a handful of good directories your business should be listed in.

When looking for an industry-specific web directory ensure the editorial staff uses good judgment. One of the top things I look for is the anchor text used to link to a website. Are they using the official company name or a keyword? If they are using the official company name then this is a good sign of a quality directory.

Also, run a report in SEMRush and see if the directory actually receives traffic from Google. If it does this is a good sign the directory is worth being listed. If there is zero traffic I wouldn’t waste my time.
 

 

Scholarships

University websites have a lot of quality. They are often linked from very high-quality resources like other universities, government websites, and news publications. This is why the SEO world goes nuts over scholarship link building. Not only is it a good way to build links but you can do some good in return.

Scholarships are also a great way to build brand awareness. If done correctly you could get people sharing and talking about your scholarship information.

The first step is to establish what kind if scholarship your business will offer. I suggest contacting a local university and speaking with someone that deals with their scholarships. This way you can ensure you cover all the essential aspects of creating one.

Once you’ve created the scholarship get the word out there. Outside of universities, there are blogs and specific websites that post scholarship opportunities.

I suggest you find a popular scholarship and then plug their URL into Ahrefs or SEMRush and find all the places that link to their URL. This will give you a road map of websites that will more than likely link to your scholarship.

If you put enough effort into this link building technique you could easily get a few dozen links out of a single scholarship.
 

 

Job Posting Board

People are always searching for jobs and there is no shortage of information online. Whether it’s companies posting jobs or people searching and posting their resume. There are two sides to gaining link via job postings.

First, is to create a job posting board for your industry and attach it to your website. This is a great way to earn natural links over time. As well as getting some extra exposure within your industry.

Secondly, you can create a page on your website with the open positions your company has. That alone won’t build you any links. However, there are a plethora of job posting directories and websites that will let you create listings to your open positions. These listings are a great way to help get the word out that you are hiring as well as an easy way to pick up some links.

These are good but the real gold mine is in finding bloggers that specifically write posts about openings. Usually, it’s not a dedicated post but will appear in a newsletter or a roundup post.

You can also perform a search looking for recruitment blogs. Most of the time with the recruitment blogs the posts stay up as do the links they use to link to your website.

Make sure you create a professional looking career section on your website. This will help build trust with the operators of these blogs and posting boards.
 

 

Sponsor Events

There is an endless number of events that happen which need sponsors. Not all sponsorships will result in links. It helps to look for sponsorships that will provide a link back to your website.
Some events will have different levels of sponsorship. They usually mention on their website what you get for the specific sponsorship.

Word of caution, don’t go signing up for those inexpensive sponsorships that take money from anyone just for a link. You can spot these by the long list of spammy websites that they link to.

My biggest tip is to sponsor a real event that is for a good cause in your local area or industry. Often times these events come with some exposure which is good for branding.

Ideas for sponsorships:

  • Conferences
  • Local Events
  • Podcasts
  • Nonprofits


You can do some creative searches online to look for sponsorship opportunities. You can use your city name + “sponsors” or industry + “sponsors” to help get you started.
 

 

Infographics

Remember when infographics were all the rage 7-8 years ago? Guess what? They are still very effective and can be a great link building strategy. Some infographics earn new links for years as they get shared time and time again.

There are two key steps to a good infographic.

First, it needs to have data-driven facts or explain something in an interesting and informative way.

The hardest part is gathering the data. The data needs to be accurate and from credible sources. If it isn’t you will be called out on it and the chance of getting it published on popular blogs will fail.

Second, it has to be visually appealing. Don’t take any shortcuts here. If you have to hire a designer, do it. A professionally looking infographic will help increase your chances of getting shared.

Once you have your infographic created it’s time for promoting it. In addition to bloggers within your industry, there are infographic directories that will publish your work. These aren’t the goal but they can help get more eyeballs on your project which increases the chances of getting it shared.
 

 

Ego Baiting

This type of link building can get a bad rap. Although, I really don’t get it because it is super effective. Ego baiting is basically stroking the ego of influential people within your industry to gain attention to your blog post.

Back in June 2012, we put out a post called “101 Internet marketers on Twitter & Google+” which gained some attention. We received 176 shares on Twitter and 107 shares on Facebook and earned half a dozen links out of it.

Why? Because people love being included or mentioned in posts. Especially if you are giving them a compliment which is what ego baiting is all about.

Your content doesn’t have to be 101 industry influencers. You could do a post with a handful of influencers and get similar results. Often enough you will earn links from the influencers within your post as they might blog about it or add you to their roundup post.
 

Stuart McHenry
Stuart McHenry is the President of McKremie a US-based SEO Company focusing on link building, content marketing, local SEO, and reputation management. Follow Stuart on Twitter @smindsrt