Acquiring inbound links from relevant, high-authority sites is one of the most consistent, reliable ways of increasing a website’s visibility to search engines. A site’s backlink profile – the combined links it has acquired – remains an important Google ranking factor, with statistics from Backlinko showing that the number of domains linking to a page correlates with rankings more than any other factor.
Emerging SEO trends and tactics haven’t affected the value of link acquisition. Search engines want to see several different sites ‘endorsing’ or ‘vouching’ for a page; Google views links as a display of trust, showing that a site values another enough to feature it in its content.
- What Are the Benefits of Link Acquisition?
- What Makes a Good Link?
- How to Acquire Links?
Link acquisition is fundamental to achieving success in organic search. Alongside a technical approach to SEO and creative, strategic content marketing, gaining links from authoritative sources drives traffic and boosts rankings – ensuring that a page continues to perform in SERPs.
A sound link acquisition strategy has the potential to dramatically impact a brand’s bottom line, maximising the ROI of related marketing activity whilst driving more potential customers to their site. The benefits of a quality backlink profile include:
- Improved visibility
- Greater organic traffic
- More conversions
- Increased revenue
- Brand exposure
- Referral traffic
- Valuable relationships and partnerships
Link acquisition isn’t a case of gaining links from any old site. It’s critical that the links you acquire are from natural, high-authority sources, or else it could have the opposite effect and negatively impact SEO performance and rankings.
Here, we take a look at what makes a good a link, and what you should avoid.
- Natural (or natural-looking)
- Trusted, high-authority domain
- Topical/industry relevance
- High-quality page content
- Sensical, sensible anchor text
- Irrelevant placement
- Poor-quality editorial execution
- Too promotional, clearly paid
- Over-optimised anchor text
- Too many external links
- Outdated ‘black hat’ tactics
There are many tactics you can use to acquire links to your site. At Banc, our approach covers three key areas: tactical, strategic and specific link acquisition. Below, we explore the link building strategies which each encompasses.
1. Brand Monitoring
Brand monitoring is a useful way to gain ‘low hanging fruit’ links. It involves monitoring mentions of a brand online and approaching the site for a link.
For example, say a journalist mentioned a brand in a feature covering must-have gadgets, but didn’t include a link to the company’s site domain. There’s a strong probability that they would agree to add a link if requested – so it’s an easy way to gain links from credible sources.
There are now several tools available which allow you to monitor a brand name for mentions. We’d recommend BuzzSumo or Ahrefs, as they allow you to receive email notifications whenever a brand (or any keyword for that matter) is mentioned online.
When you’ve identified an opportunity, find the journalist or webmaster’s contact details using Google or BuzzStream’s contact details scraper and send them a polite, persuasive email encouraging them to link. Always give them a reason to do so, framing in the context of their audience whilst offering them the promise of future value.
2. Link Reclamation
Link reclamation is the process of securing links from historic content which mentions your brand, products or services. It’s a simple technique that can result in significant gains from high-authority sites.
Follow the steps below to gain links through reclamation:
- Make a copy of this Google sheet created by RankTank and save it to Google Drive. Enter parameters as per the instructions. You will be given a very a raw list of historical link prospects.
- Copy resultant URLs into new Google Sheet, right-click to open multiple, and begin qualifying.
- Once you have a solid list, reach out the same way as with the previous method – contacting journalists or webmasters to request a link to your site, whilst promising future value.
3. Commercial Relationships
Often, looking close to home is a great way to gain links to your site from reputable sources. Every business has commercial relationships with other brands, and this gives you the opportunity to partner up and share assets to win credible, natural links.
When assessing viable commercial partnerships, consider:
Come up with a creative strategy for the two of you to work together; this will give your collaboration greater weight and ensure that any links you accrue appear genuine, authoritative and natural.
4. Journalist and Blogger Opportunities
One of the most valuable forms of tactical link acquisition is gaining opportunities from journalists and bloggers. Because they’re writing on behalf of an authoritative publication, you stand to acquire high-value links through any collaboration.
A good way to seize on such opportunities is through ResponseSource – a media and PR relations tool that connects journalists and bloggers with brands. Journalists post enquiries on the ResponseSource feed, and brands are encouraged to respond with comments, guidance and expertise which the journalist/blogger can then choose to feature in an article.
The same tactic can also be used on social media; just keep an eye on the #JournoRequest hashtag to stay abreast of the latest opportunities.
5. Backlink Analysis
By analysing a competitor’s backlink profile, it’s possible to identify opportunities and build relationships with sites linking to them – so you can take advantage of their link acquisition success. Try to understand what they’re doing to get links, but also the context of their links – what made other sites link to them, and how can you emulate that in your approach?
Ahrefs’ Top Referring Content and Best By Links views are particularly useful for seeing what’s working well for competitors at a glance. If setting up brand mentions for competitors, why not set up weekly backlink alerts, too?
6. Collaborative Articles
Collaborating with journalists, bloggers and influencers on the production of new content is a highly valuable way to gain links from authoritative sources. It’s particularly powerful if you take the time to build relationships with individuals who operate in a niche with a built-in community – helping to develop brand advocacy and engagement.
Here are some ways to make collaborative articles work for your link acquisition strategy:
- Identifying and collaborating with influencers within a client niche on the production of a piece of content.
- Taking advantage of influencer expertise to increase the value and credibility of the content.
- Encouraging investment into the content – ask collaborators to share the finished piece with their own audiences.
- Even if they don’t link to the content on the first occasion, forging relationships with the most influential figures in an industry only helps your case – and opens doors to work together in future.
Collaborating with industry experts in Q&A style content is a great way to encourage high-authority backlinks from sites within that specific field. The same principle as collaborative articles applies here, with the end goal being to create investment into the content, increasing the likelihood of gaining links and shares.
Approach individuals in your niche who are considered thought leaders, and who have an active following on social channels. Offer value whilst providing a timescale and simple structure, before following up with the questions. Encourage them to share the finished Q&A and feature quotes from it in an article on their site.
8. Evergreen Content
Evergreen content is among the most valuable elements of a content marketing strategy. By publishing high-quality, in-depth resources which directly respond to audience needs, it follows that, over time, you’ll secure backlinks from sites referencing or endorsing your content.
Here are some points to consider when creating evergreen content:
- What are industry sites covering?
- What are people searching for?
- What are the ‘hot topics’ audience problems?
- What competitor content is most linked to?
9. Moving Man
Moving man is a technical form of strategic link acquisition which can prove valuable in securing authoritative links in circumstances like:
- A change in brand name
- A change in URL
- A brand has shut down or gone out of business
Essentially, it involves stepping in and offering a site hosting a link to a broken URL the opportunity to link to you instead – giving them a fresh, working and improved resource for their readers.
10. Broken Links
Similar to moving man, link acquisition through broken links is an effective way to target existing link opportunities which no longer work.
Using a crawl tool, such as Screaming Frog, find all broken inbound links pointing to one of your competitors. Then, approach the webmaster or author of the site and make your case as to why they should link to you instead.
Not only is this a great way to poach links from competitors, but it also allows you to build trust and develop relationships with new partners. After all, the fact that you’ve raised a broken link will also benefit them, regardless of whether they decide to link to you in return.
11. Influencer Marketing
Organising campaigns with influencers is a very effective way of gaining authority links, particularly for B2C brands. Influencers have niche, passionate followers, so any collaborations or partnerships are likely to garner positive results for engagement and brand advocacy, too.
Here are three key tips on how to win links through influencer marketing:
- Research list of influencers (high DR, large and engaged audience) – this will ensure the maximum ROI and impact of your campaign.
- Create an editorial challenge aligned with brand messaging or themes – ensure that the content you collaborate on is relevant, engaging and topical.
- Share brief with campaign instructions and agree editorial budget – having a structured framework, timeline and budget will help ensure the project stays on track.
12. Survey Campaigns
Sourcing original data about a relevant topic, telling stories with the outcomes in a compelling way, then promoting this to carefully targeted media is a highly valuable strategy for garnering natural, authoritative links.
Any stats and figures you can accumulate through a survey campaign can garner excellent coverage and interest from journalists and media partners. When creating your survey, consider the questions carefully to ensure that the responses you receive align with your campaign objectives, and pique the interest of journalists.
13. Interactive Content
While infographic content has come to saturate the web, it’s still possible to attract links through interactive content. A creative, original approach is needed to cut through the noise and ensure that bloggers, journalists and experts want to share your content with their readership.
When planning interactive content, aim for something beyond the tired infographic approach. Videos, quizzes, calculators and tools are considered the most effective means of acquiring links through engaging visual content, so think outside the box and consider how to use data and information to attract clicks and links.
At Banc, our organic search team are experts in link acquisition. We use the latest tools, tactics and industry best practice to acquire authoritative links for our clients, ensuring maximum ROI across all marketing channels. For more information or to find out more, click here or call our helpful team today on 0345 459 0558.