Let’s admit it, there is so much buzz around link building these days! Some say that these practices are dying giving way to content marketing and natural links. Some argue that it’s still a core element of SEO.
Well, these ideas didn’t arise out of thin air. We’re seeing Google steadily evolving! Its algorithms are becoming straighter, so yes, some link building tactics are dying (the black hat ones, to be exact). That said, backlinks remain one of the most important ranking factors. In fact, it’s just found new avenues for development and changed the course: from buying irrelevant links to creating valuable content.
In this post, I’ll talk about safe ways of link building and give some tips on how to find more backlink opportunities for your website.
Where are we going?
Backlinks are still crucial, and you don’t have to be an SEO expert to check up on this. Just Google some keyword like “SEO guide” and check the number of referring pages for two articles — one from the top of SERP and one from the 5th page or so. You can use SEO tool like Ahrefs, Moz or Serpstat to do this step. Believe me, you’ll see the difference.
Here is what it looks like for the 1st article Google returns for “SEO guide” query:
And here is what you’ll see for the article from the 5th page:
Sure, there are a bunch of other important ranking factors, but this small research shows us the answer to the desired question: yes, backlinks still matter!
Next question is which link building tactics are safe and effective in 2018. Since Google algorithms are stricter than ever, we shouldn’t play with fire. Thus, the safest tactics are:
- Guest posting. It is a great way to get exposure, gain awareness and authority. At the same time, it works wonders with backlinks building. Most blogs accept mentioning your service or blog in the article as soon as it’s relevant and valuable to the reader. Some blogs ask to avoid being self-promotional in the body of the post, but they’re fine with you adding your website in your author bio.
Thus, you can write useful posts and gain authority as an expert, at the same time, you get a high-quality link to your own site.
- Viral content. Another way to get shares and backlinks is to post an exceptional content on your blog. It could be not only useful articles but also infographics and investigations. For instance, Hubspot points that infographics are shared 3X more than any other type of content. As to studies and investigation, bloggers always refer to such content in their posts as it helps to prove a point. See, I did it in the previous sentence too!
- Influencers mentions. You can use a quote or refer to influencer’s article in your post, or you can create a round-up article or interview mentioning opinion leaders. All these small actions can pay off big as influencers tend to share good content about them. The more shares, the more backlinks as a result. Here is the best guide to influencer outreach I know.
It’s not the full list of existing techniques, but it’s techniques that practically exclude the possibility of getting penalized.
Now let’s talk about some ways and tools that will come in handy when finding backlink opportunities. I’m convinced that whatever you do to rank higher, your competitors should be the first source of advice! Even better if you can find a backlink API to help do it programmatically, even better!
Find your competitors
There are two paths for finding your opponents online. First one is to google your main keywords and choose websites that show up in the SERP top-10. If these sites are ranking for the same keywords, then they are your direct competitors.
The second way is to use SEO tool like Ahrefs (Competing domains feature), Serpstat (Competitor analysis tool) or BuzzSumo (Most shared content). Choose one of these platforms, run your domain through the tool, and find the full list of your main competitors.
Explore their backlinks
We have an opportunity to find our competitors manually, but for backlinks research, that’s not the case. Fortunately, we have a lot of tools that allow doing this work properly.
Mention is a service that allows monitoring your brand mentions over the Internet in real time. Here you can create few alerts: first could be for your primary keywords and second for each of your competitors.
It also gives a chance to choose the sources you’re searching for (only blogs or only forums), the language of mentions, and country.
It’s a great service that always comes in handy when searching for the relevant blogs for guest posting. If you see that some blog writes about your competitor, then you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to get featured on this blog too. Just create few alerts and follow the progress. Thus, you’ll be getting new relevant websites every day!
Serpstat is an all-in-one SEO tool I’ve already mentioned above in this post. You can use its backlink analysis feature to find sites that refer to your competitors. Here is what it looks like:
Run your competitor’s domain through this tool, choose 1 backlink per domain and export the full list of sites that live links to your competitor’s site.
It’s a huge work as some of these sites aren’t suitable for our goals. You should spend some time sorting out these sites, but, believe me, you’ll find a bunch of sources to work with.
The last tool I’m going to introduce is SimilarWeb’s plugin. It’s the best service for exploring website’s traffic I know. Another great feature this tool offers is “referrals”. It shows sites that are effective in bringing new visitors to this site.
You can add this plugin to your browser and open it on the site you want to analyze.
Also, it has an interesting feature that shows sites that are similar to those being visited. (“Similar” tab)
With these tools, you can have endless sources to get backlinks from! Just check them from time to time, don’t forget to take care of other ranking factors, and top 1 spot in the SERP will be not long in coming!
Anna Rud is a Content Marketer at Serpstat. Establishing an active presence on external resources, developing rich and quality content, implementing of brand strategy and many other are her key responsibilities.