Establishing relevant, high-quality inbound links to a website continues to be one of the most important components of building online authority — and in turn, organic search visibility.
It makes sense that a website’s authority and relevance are directly tied to the volume of other highly relevant and authoritative sites which are linked to it.
This is, in fact, the definition of authority – being labeled as an expert on a subject or topic by a group of like-minded peers. It indicates a symbiotic relationship where both parties benefit from a boost in mutual authority.
However, establishing authority and building relevant, high-quality website links are increasingly challenging propositions.
In this article, you’ll discover seven creative ways you can look to earn and build relevant, authoritative links back to your web presence:
- Produce unique research.
- Respond to a popular/trending article.
- Update or elaborate on links in relevant posts.
- Offer free tools.
- Create unique images or graphics.
- Review the SERPs.
- Build trusting relationships.
1. Produce Unique Research
Depending on the type and scope of your business, you may have access to your own unique customer or industry data.
You can collect, compile, analyze and organize into it relevant valuable research your target audience will want to read, like, and share.
People generally love relevant stats and insights to which they can compare and gauge their own personal or business experience.
Buzzsumo, a well-respected content research tool, does this well with its detailed, comprehensive research studies.
These types of useful articles, chock full of data-backed insights, no doubt garner Buzzsumo.com ample backlinks from other digital marketing sites who reference them, in addition to acting as powerful lead generation tools.
Not all organizations have access to the wealth of data available to Buzzsumo. Step back and take a look at yours, and see if you have unique, useful information to share.
2. Create Unique Images, Graphics, or Video
The web is largely a visual medium. As such, unique images and graphics can be critical to engaging readers and attracting links.
Unique Original Images or Video
Stock photography is useful to enhance and complement website and blog post copy, but unique, creative images extend the content they accompany with much more authenticity and authority.
Look to incorporate original photos and images into your content wherever possible and practical.
In both B2C and B2B, using authorized photos of actual people or products in action is much more likely to result in real human connection and engagement – engagement which will include shares and links.
The growth of social media is proof of the power of using human images to tell human stories.
Taken a step further, unique, authentic storytelling via video has pushed YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok to the forefront of viral content engagement.
Videos, like images, can easily be embedded into blog posts and web pages to boost interactivity and entertainment value, which is half the battle when encouraging views, likes, shares, and links.
Simply put, engaging video content is more likely to be linked to than plain text.
Where possible, linking from within a video to another relevant video or other information source and then providing clear attribution to the source can trigger links.
Don’t be afraid to ask referenced authors for links directly to your video or the post within which it has been embedded.
Infographics were, at one point, a very popular form of content, as they provide a visually pleasing and engaging way of presenting simple or complex information and data.
While the buzz over infographics has somewhat faded, when created with purpose and planning they can be an effective way of attracting links.
Taking a page from the section above, determine what data or information you have which would best be presented via a unique infographic.
The infographic can then be incorporated into a shareable blog post or web page.
Infographics may also cite information from relevant external sources which, when properly attributed and referenced, can themselves become potential backlinking sources.
3. Respond to a Popular/Trending Article or Topic
Sharing your unique opinions on a trending topic or article (whether positive or negative) is a great way to build authority. You can respond via a blog post, video, podcast episode, or some combination of all of the above.
Start by broadly monitoring trending topics via Google Trends. You can also conduct relevant keyword-based hashtag searches via social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, or others where you’ve identified your audience is engaging.
Once you’ve identified a topic (or a specific article) to comment on, be sure to reference/provide full attribution to the article author as well as the business or organization to which the author belongs.
Ensure your response is both authentic and comprehensive with links to any other relevant content published by you or any other relevant source.
The end goal is to provide readers, listeners, or viewers with a full, rounded examination of the topic, which demonstrates your knowledge, expertise, and authority.
Publish and distribute your opinion piece to appropriate social or industry channels, where the hope, again, is to receive likes, shares, and links in recognition of your contribution to the topic.
4. Update or Elaborate on Links in Relevant Posts
A similar, but perhaps simpler, approach to engaging with relevant trending or popular posts is offering complementary, value-added content to the original author.
First, identify popular posts using the same methods detailed above at which point you will have a couple of options.
A. Click on and review any links within the post to ensure they are working and/or point to appropriate, up-to-date, and accurate content.
With older content, in particular, you may find links within articles that do not work and therefore provide an immediate opportunity to fill a gap with your own link.
Similarly, gaps may occur when links and the content they point to become stale or outdated. Here, too, you can offer your own link to relevant, current content as an alternative.
Many site owners simply do not have the time to review the validity of all of their links and you will be doing them a favour, while also gaining a potentially valuable inbound link.
B. Beyond existing links, look for opportunities to elaborate on any keywords or topics mentioned in the article for which you have or can create more detailed support content to which the article may be linked.
In all of these scenarios, you will need to thoughtfully craft a message to the original content author/website owner explaining why they should consider linking to your content.
This will always be easier if you have already created and are able to share the content you are proposing for review.
5. Offer Free Tools
Regardless of the job or task, people are continually searching for free tips, hacks, tools, or templates to help them save time or guide them where they lack knowledge or experience.
A quick Google search for [x calculator] or [y template] will no doubt reveal a plethora of results. Those at the top of the list are obviously deemed the best tools, which in part means, they have been linked to because of the value they provide.
If there are unique or useful tools or templates you use to streamline your business or processes, consider sharing them via a resources section within your website.
From an SEO best practices perspective, ensure you have relevant keyword-rich content surrounding the tool or template to provide context for readers and search engine crawlers.
Further, having published the tool, you should promote it via any and all relevant channels, social or otherwise, where you believe your audience will see and then potentially link to it.
Encourage and bluntly ask those who access the tool to share it with others if it provided value to them.
Ahrefs is a master of providing access to free versions of tools within its SEO platform. In fact, for Ahrefs, this is a key pillar of its product-led software strategy, as the brand actively promotes these free components in blogs and social posts.
Thousands of its paid users have started by engaging with these free tools and then graduating to the premium version of the platform.
Going a step further, Ahrefs offers a wide range of free SEO training courses with the same goal of attracting and engaging prospects.
A quick backlink check would surely reveal a significant volume coming from highly relevant industry directories, publications, and other authoritative sources.
As a result, Ahrefs consistently appears high in organic search results for SEO-related terms.
6. Review the SERPs
A manually intensive and therefore often overlooked (or maybe simply ignored) method of identifying sources and building inbound links is via the search engine results for your primary focus keywords.
Assuming you’ve already done some keyword research, grab and scour the top 50-100 search results for each keyword for any non-competitive potential backlink sources.
Any domains/websites appearing in the top 50 are, by definition, relevant and somewhat authoritative in the eyes of the search engines. Relevant backlinks are a clear signal to the search engines of the space in which you operate.
Look for opportunities to earn or build links via relevant:
- Industry publication ads or links.
- Association website ads, links, or directories.
- Partner or affiliate websites.
- Local business websites.
- Blog post or article comments.
- Blog post or article updates as noted previously.
- Video comments.
In the case of an association, partner, local websites, and blog posts, the level of actual authority is generally less important than the relevance to your business, product, or service.
7. Build Trusting Relationships
The underpinning of backlinks — and organic authority, by extension — is trust.
You will ultimately only be able to earn or build links on sites where you have established a level of trust based on the value of the content you are asking a site owner or a member of your audience to link to.
Trust, as we all know, is not gained easily or quickly. It demands a consistent demonstration of commitment to providing value over time.
Trust is a give-and-take proposition, so be prepared to give something in return for the privilege to share your content.
However, resist the urge to pay for links, as this only serves to diminish the authenticity and true value of those links. Buying links will typically cause more harm than good to your online reputation and authority.
Trust is earned, not bought, and search engines are consistently getting better at telling the difference.
The payoff of building relevant, high-quality content to which others choose to link can be massive.
Topical authority, organic search visibility, and a trusting, loyal audience with a higher propensity to sign up or buy what you’re selling are all at your fingertips.