5 Creative Link Building Techniques for 2014

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We can’t compare link building to Michaelangelo’s “The creation of Adam” painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, but in the right hand and with the right information, it can become an art. You’ve searched for link types and link building techniques and you keep stumbling over the same keywords “web directories”, “guest blogging” or the vague concept of creating “engaging content”.

There are a lot of bystanders in this niche, who are fine with their plain old strategies of obtaining links because they work. But because you’re not the type of person who believes in the expression “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it”, and because you’re always striving to be the best, you’re always on the look out for creative and functional ways to get links. This list of link types was written for you!

1. Ego Baiting

This is one you should tread lightly on, but if you’re new in the industry and you want to enter in conversation with influencers, one great way would be to appeal to their ego one way or another ( fluff it or threaten it ). It’s not an approach for everybody, as it requires a certain delicacy when dealing with other people’s ego, so you’ll need to be very subtle.

Ego Baiting

Photo credit https://www.flickr.com/photos/27162342@N00/7940520254/

While you can probably already see the benefits, I’m going to break it down so you’ll better understand how you could benefit from ego baiting:

  • It gets you seen. As I’ve already mentioned, it’s pretty hard to get known in a certain line of business and it’s even harder to network and create relationships. This is a great way to get under the skin of influencers and connect with a lot of people interested in the same domain.
  • The content created by you has a bigger reach. Once you get to reach influencers and get them involved, there may be a snowball effect on the articles that you write. On their own, articles may get lots of shares and coverage on the internet, if they are interesting and useful. By using ego bait, you’re going to increase the reach just because the ones that had their ego stroked will make their best to spread the content in which they were involved.

But again: Be careful! This tactic can backfire if not done carefully.

So how can one try to ego bait influencers to get involved?

Create articles in which you write about the top performers in your domain with links pointing to their sites. It’s a very magnetic ego bait, as people tend to pay attention to mentions and may comment on your article or refer your article on social networks. This strategy is one of the classic ways to ego bait.

Another strategy would be to look for a lot of known people from your area of interest and try to get them involved into writing their opinions on a matter. Your job would be to tend pull everything together, and you end up with a team effort in promoting the article.

One small but very important and effective fact would be to mention people directly in comments or articles. As specific as possible, the better. Instead of “I liked how the dude from X writes stuff” you could formulate it like “I like how Brian from X spoke about X topic.”

2. Refurbishing Infographics Tactic

The fact that something isn’t created by you doesn’t mean you can’t use it to build something better, as long as you add value and it’s relevant to the viewers. On a similar note, you can use old and outdated infographics to your advantage. Search for quality infographics created for your niche and use that structure to re-create them, but with updated information.

The sites that formerly linked to the old infographic should be contacted and informed of the improved content, which gives you the opportunity for you to ask if they are interested in updating their link to point to the new one.

To find the sites that link to those infographics, you should use of a reputable backlink checker to extract all the referring domains that are pointing to it.

Backlink Check for Infographic

Screenshot taken 22/03/2014 of explorer.cognitiveseo.com (I am the founder of cognitiveSEO)

As we’ve seen lately, any visual content created, and especially infographics, are enjoying a lot of attention. With this form of creative link development you’ll get a lot of links easily by leveraging other successful campaigns that worked for others in your niche.

3. Outdated Content

Outdated Content

The expression “another man’s junk is another man’s treasure” is very real in this context. For those webmasters who are smart, links that point to inactive or deleted pages are a treasure chest. You can identify outdated content in your niche and build similar or better content on your site. Next, you should contact the site owner and ask him if he would be interested in redirecting the link to your page, which has the same content (but better and actively maintained). Don’t focus too much on those pages that only have a few links. The more backlinks it has, your chances at being successful are going to grow.

4. Answer Questions Online

All businesses need to build customer personas. Understand your customers and see where they are hanging out online. They will surely “gather” in groups in forums and blogs. You should track these sites and help out by answering questions and honestly trying to be helpful without being spammy or salesy. Your time investment will pay off when you become an authority on those sites and people know you (and hopefully occasionally start linking to your site that has additional useful content).

5. Refresh Competitor Evergreen Content

The word evergreen was mainly popularized by editors to explain the concept of stories or articles that were constantly of interest to the readers. But the evergreen concept exists in every domain, for example look at the “Queen – The show must go on” song in the music industry. That song is perpetually relevant to people.

In order to create evergreen content for your niche, you should search for this type of content and identify, for example, guides that were already built and are successful ( maybe have links ) and build better guides both visually and informative.  The purpose of this kind of content is audiences can use it for large periods of time. But as years pass by, the content inevitably becomes less and less relevant, even though it’s still gaining readers’ attention.

These types of articles should have natural traction, but you can also ask people linking to the other guides to link to you, as your content is better and fresher. This way you get more links and traction and you get to provide the community great content.

Never stop looking for more!

Curiosity can fuel a lot of powerful link building strategies. You may never know what will work and you should never rely on your already known techniques. One of the worst things you can do is to enter in the comfort zone – the search engines are always evolving and adapting.

Link building may seem a very straightforward process, but with a little creativity you can become very innovative with your strategies. First, start with the information you’ve read in this article and try implementing these five link types. As you get more comfortable creating links you may start to search for even more creative ways to increase the number of incoming visitors and the site’s ranking in search engines.

Have you thought of a creative way to obtain links lately ?

Razvan Gavrilas
Razvan is the Founder and Chief Architect of cognitiveSEO, an SEO Toolset focused on in-depth analysis of ranking signals. His passion for search engine marketing... Read Full Bio
Razvan Gavrilas
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  • Snertev

    Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam… 😉

  • felhers

    Leonardo Da Vinci?.
    Perhaps Michelangelo.

  • Ego Baiting and Answering questions are two that have been explored a lot around the web. The other 3 you mention, I have not heard of before. Great info. I’m off to find some outdated content or infographics

    • get as creative as possible to differentiate yourself. some techniques are more popular some aren’t. some are more effective some aren’t. consistency is key! glad you found those interesting.

  • I’m a fan of Ego Baiting but have not tried the refurbishing infographics tactic. I will have to try that out. Thanks for sharing!

    • glad you found them useful. would love to see a feedback here after some time when you tried those 😉

  • Nice tips for 2009 maybe, but really, which article did you refurbish here? Oh yes, this one here http://www.affilorama.com/blog/9-high-quality-link-building-methods-in-2011 and a little bit from this one http://312digital.com/link-building-techniques/

    • Hi Nenad. it is not a refurbish at all. this a list of creative techniques that can be used in order to smartly do link building based on all the negative signals manual link building has. creative value in todays link building space is much harder that it use to be in 2009. 2009 style link building techniques were most webdirectories and other type of links that in the end got hit by Google. The strategies presented above are strategies that present smartly link building without getting a penalty. links in the end are a by-product. focus on building brand and value.

    • Good example of how not to link build.

  • Very good tips. Answering questions always helps.

  • Thank you so much for this information. I do have a question, rather than a comment. On the ego baiting, do you post something valuable and compelling about the influential party and then ask him or her to post on FB or website? I know you have to traverse carefully, but sometimes I would think that asking is required for action to occur.

    • you should start by creating a relationship. don’t ask for anything at first. just start communicating with the person on Twitter,FB,G+ and start to share thoughts and ideas on the same topic. once you build a relationship you can start to ask for things.

  • Great Post1 Glad to see this.

  • For me i am still using answer question online.

  • Answer Questions Online is a great technique to share relevant information and get quality backlink. Further i am trying to use “Refurbishing Infographics Tactic” let see how much it will help.

    • it should work great if done smartly and here I refer to create really better content ;).

  • If you are using these strategy you are going to back in 2008. I hope read Latest update from seomoz and LinkedIn better for you what strategy use for getting back links. Citation is most important way for that.

    • there is so much confusion around this around the web. I would strongly suggest thinking in terms of Brand building and look at links as if they are the by-product of quality content and product. all the mentioned techniques allow you to build more visibility by building relationships. I strongly disagree they are not working. in fact if you would have been using these in 2008 it means that you understood how to correctly do link building for a long time. congrats!

    • what citation really means “” building a relationship targeting local area or particular region to have perfect branding for any sort of business ” thats what i learned form moz and linkedin so i think it much more appreciated from my side @Razvan Gavrilas . cause you also said same thing with different perspective …

  • Very good tips. Answering questions always helps.

  • The good thing about egobait is it attracts attention from the influencers in an industry. It not only puts you on their radar and gets you an initial boost via a link or social media mention but it also opens up a new avenue and relationship for you to explore and benefit from in the future..

    • agree Barbara, but you need to approach them carefully and provide value to them also … not only requests!

  • i think this method is going to be next change in replace of Guest blogging … thanks for sharing

  • Ego Baiting and Answering questions are two that have been explored a lot around the web. it is a great technique to share relevant information and get quality backlink.

  • Ego Baiting and Answering questions are two that have been explored a lot around the web. it is a great technique to share relevant information and get quality backlink.

  • Good advice Razvan
    Nice technique to get noticed.I shall look at Ego Baiting.
    The news from Mark Cutts that old SEO methods just will not be as powerful as a year ago leaves me wondering what are the most effective ways to get authority

    • build the brand and links will follow. these are only a few of the techniques that will help you leverage more links while still being White Hat 😉

  • Great article! I’ve never heard of ego baiting, but it could be an interesting tactic – if done right, of course. Recycling outdated content is a good idea as well. Thanks for sharing!

  • When I write a post criticizing by top people, will I run into problems? will my website run into problems?

    • no. you will only attract the “negative heat” from those people 🙂

  • Hi Razvan,

    Ego baiting was a whole new concept for me. But for using that, first I need to invest heavily on networking. Especially networking with influencers. And after that, to get them involved, one must make sure that the content is of top quality! 🙂

    Something that’ll really work for me is #2, refurbishing existing Infographics. It is something that I can do, if I put in some effort and creativity towards adding something new to the infographic.

    Will make use of that strategy for sure!


  • Hello Razvan, I have found this article in Facebook. I have read thoroughly this content and would like to appreciate your effort to share this with all the readers. I am here in this Digital Marketing field for last 6 years. I really did not have any idea about EGO BAITING. Thanks mate for sharing this. But as you have mentioned that this process might back-fire if not done carefully, do you really think that this can be the most useful link building techniques in the coming time? More over, I agree with you regarding the Infographics. I have used this for many of my clients. Personally I think, Visual treatment has the plus point to involve the readers / the users. And in the recent time, SEO is nothing but the engagement of the USERs. Right? Anyways, thanks for sharing this valuable tips! looking forward to get more from you. Keep it up! BRAVO!

  • all of them are medium to long term processes. some don’t pay in the beginning but they will pay on the long run if applied correctly.

  • tks for the appreciation Atanu. I do not believe that there is such a thing as the “best” link building technique. Everything is to be applied in a context and at a specific time. some things will work for me and not for you and vice-versa. all strategies have downsides and upsides. it is a matter of deciding what is the correct balance of effort, time and money you want, can and need to invest in them.

  • 3. Outdated Content will going to be next big thing on seo. And i have already tried that trick and that really works it more better then a typical guest blogging .. thanks Razvan.. you made my campaign successful and now my clients are ranking on top …

  • Prajjwal, glad to see it works for you 😉 all the best 😉

  • Link building will be dead in the coming future, and will be a time of link earning.

    We will have to earn links. Google never tell to build links to promote website. Since link pointing to the website is a ranking factor, SEO industry is building links to manipulate the website results. Do you think Google like people to manipulate the search results? The ways which we used to built links over the years are marked as spam.