Inbound links a.k.a. backlinks are still and will most probably always be one of the most powerful ranking factors in SEO. Having strong authoritative backlinks from respectable websites is one of the easiest and fastest ways to get to those top positions in the SERPs.
While there are many tools that help you create backlinks such as GSA Search Engine Ranker, what you should be looking for are real natural backlinks created by authoritative sites. So how do you get those? Well, here are the top 20 ways to naturally generate inbound links in 2016 according to 20 marketing experts.
#1: Creating An Affiliate Program
Candice Galek, CEO & Founder of Bikini Luxe, uses affiliate programs to generate inbound links to her website:
One fantastic and underused way to generate new links to your website is by the creation of an affiliate or ambassador program depending on what it is that you are selling.
After the creation of our affiliate program, we increased our inbound links by 20 percent. [However, if this is to succeed] it is important to do SEO work for the keywords of the affiliate program you are targeting.
#2: Publishing Content From Interviews
Derek Gleason from Workshop Digital, said that he has found great success with the publication of interviews with staff from relevant organizations:
For a financial services client, it might be to interview a curator at a museum about their upcoming exhibit on paper money. Content gleaned from interviews is 100% unique, and the interview process builds a relationship to make outreach easier and linking from these organizations more likely.
#3: Be Quotable
J. Colin Peterson, President & CEO of J – I.T. Outsource, said that you must be quotable in your words:
And if you’re going to quote someone, I always say quote yourself. Especially when you’re an expert with a lot of strong opinions. So I do say thing that are sometimes outrageous, sometimes profane, but always worth quoting by bloggers, journalists, and other online writers who will (very kindly) give you the courtesy of a link back to the home page of such a preposterous person.
#4: YouTube Video Mentions
Mark Aselstine, Founder of Uncorked Ventures, thinks that YouTube video mentions are the way to go in terms of inbound links generation in 2016:
Major brands have really polished their YouTube videos while the rest of us have not. But, we also know that people respond better to human faces than they do almost anything else.
So, mention people when you’re talking about stuff in your industry – they will either link to you or embed your video.
#5: In-Depth Guides + Content Rich Product Pages
Derrick Lawless, the Marketing Director at D. Lawless Hardware, shared his two best ways that have he has found to be most effective in terms of natural backlinks generation:
- Create in-depth guides on issues concerning your industry and host them on your site. Is there a FAQ that you get asked all the time? Create a page and answer that question thoroughly. Our cabinet hardware finish guide has only been up two months and already has 1,000 pins and many inbound links. It will continue to build because of its value to so many people.
- Product pages must have more than just the product on them. Product pages should have as much relevant information as possible and pictures of the product in use. Make your online store a place where customers are getting ideas while they browse. People link to the unique and interesting. If you are just posting stock images and descriptions from the manufacturer, you are never going to get any links to that page.
#6: Go Hard On HARO
I recently ran an experiment where I “went hard on HARO” and responded to all relevant queries for 30 days. I sent 21 pitches and received 11 backlinks, including from outlets like Success Magazine and Business News Daily.
#7: Use The People At The Office
James Armstrong, a Digital Marketing Consultant for Roman Blinds Direct, said that you should utilize the talents and skills of the people you have in your office as an efficient way of earning natural inbound links.
If you’ve got artists, athletes, photographers, film makers, comedians, or even just someone who’s shaving their head for charity, in the office, tell your audience about them on your blog.
And then reach out to the relevant communities and offer them the chance to share this content. Roman Blinds Direct set its younger staff members loose to create new blind designed and used what they came up with for a blog post. That post has since earned them 5 links as well as briefly putting them on the front page of Reddit.
#8: Create A Free Tool
Jamal Asskoumi, Owner of CastleSmart, said that one of the most effective ways to generate inbound links is by creating a free tool:
One of the most effective methods I’ve found to gain inbound links is to create a free tool for your website. Everyday webmasters are approached by SEOs offering them guest posts or asking for links to their site.
In these situations the webmaster gains nothing. They are doing all the giving in this situation and for what, good will. It isn’t enough. However, if you’re able to offer a tool that will benefit the site owner or their users or could be mentioned in an article as useful resource, people will link to you.
Now, this doesn’t need to be anything fancy, just a simple tool that can automate something small in your niche.
#9: Social Bookmarks
Sam Williamson, Owner of SEO Fife, said that you need to create inbound links, but they must also be the type that actually drive traffic to your website:
Recent studies have shown that whilst inbound links still remain an integral part of an effective search engine optimization campaign, they’re pretty useless unless they’re actually driving traffic to your site.
Social bookmarking is an old school SEO tactic that, when used right, can help you build quality links and get people visiting your site. Even mentioning the name on Reddit is enough to make most internet marketers shake in their boots with fear.
But in terms of creating “dofollow” links from an authority site and driving insane traffic to you site, there’s no better option.
#10: Specific Email List Building
Dimitri Semenikhin, Founder of Yacht Harbour, had a pretty, out-of-the-box if you will, idea:
A creative way to build inbound links is to start an email list, curating top events in your industry with links. if you’ve covered these, add a link to your website in the brief, if not link to relevant articles and include your most important blog post of the week somewhere in the middle of the email.
Then send this email to reporters and key players in the industry. If you build the habit of doing this, you can create an efficient way to get your news and blog posts reposted and linked to.
#11: Utilize Google Alerts
James Rice, Head of Digital Marketing at WikiJob, tipped us to use Google Alerts for inbound links generation in 2016:
My tip would be to use Google Alerts to never miss an instance of when someone mentions your brand online. Set up daily alerts for all the main variations of your brand, and then check those pages to see if a link was provided.
If not, send a friendly email to the site owner to request one. This often works, as many times they had intended to link but forgot to do so.
#12: Blog Comments & Forum Posts
Siobhan O’Rorke, the Marketing & Communications Manager at Lookeen, said the good old-fashioned blog comments and forum posting strategy is the way to go:
One way to generate inbound links is to comment on blogs and post in public forums like Quora. If you company runs a blog with helpful advice in a niche area, you can search for websites with users requesting help in that area, and answer their questions in a thoughtful way.
If you include a link to your blog with an article containing more helpful information, the link is far less “spammy” than a link to your product or site. Engaging with the community this way adds value to potential customers.
It also doesn’t hurt your brand image to be associated with free help and advice, even if the link is nofollow.
#13: Reach Out To Bloggers
Julia Nash, a Marketing Assistant at Softorino, said that the most powerful way of naturally generating inbound links is by reaching out to bloggers that can cover your product/service:
This is the way we got our app WALTR reviewed by more than 100 blogs. But the main thing is to always keep track of what is happening in your niche. You have to know your competitors and you have to know what techniques they use to generate backlinks to their website.
For instance, we often check if our competitiors have broken backlinks. If they do, you can reach out to the authors of those articles, inform them of a broken link, and then tell them that we also have a solution to this very problem.
These concerns not only broken links, but also any links to the products that were replaced, stopped working or don’t satisfy people. Of course, there are other ways – developing your website’s blog, guest blogging, leaving testimonials on other websites, publishing press releases of your products, etc.
But the thing is that all of these techniques should go together to be effective.
#14: Infographics + Memes & Visual Messages
Jasmeet Sawhney, CEO of YibLab, had two solutions to inbound links generation – one for B2B companies and one for B2C companies:
Generating inbound links requires businesses to constantly create a mix of different types of content that their audience would love to share. But, there are two specific types of content that perform the best for our B2B and B2C clients:
- Infographics (for B2B companies) – The best way to generate inbound links for our B2B customers has been infographics. In a world where everyone is overwhelmed with content, getting a visual summary of a topic along with some stats is a treat. That’s exactly why infographics are so popular, and have extremely high re-publish rate. The SEO value of infographics embedded on relevant external sites is immense, which is further amplified by loads of referral traffic.
- Memes and visual messages (for B2C companies) – Memes, animated gifs and text messages on a graphical background work extremely well for companies trying to engage their customer audience. These are simple and cheap to create and get shared a lot. Of course, the graphics and messaging have to be relevant to the product or service the business is selling. Memes and visual messages that mix in humor perform even better and get reposted a lot.
#15: Interview Authoritative People In Your Industry
Caleb McElveen, the Digital Marketing Manager at the Saving Thousands Radio Network, gave us an insight into his best way of natural inbound links generation:
A fantastic way to generate links, and improve your content, is to use authoritative figures in your industry or those that are relevant. Interview them. Have them quote on a specific topic.
Have conversations using audio or video. They will love to share it with their audience, amplifying your content and brand. But they will most likely link to it as well. Using professors is a great opportunity for gaining .EDU links.
#16: Add Unique Value
Jeremy Levi, the Director of Marketing at Mars Wellness, said that you only need to add just a little unique value to something, somewhere:
For years now it’s been proven that inbound links are the best strategy for long-term SEO success so doing it well is imperative. See where you can add unique value, even only a little value, and go for it.
When a reporter is writing a story they will undoubtedly get content from many sources, especially if they use HARO. That means they don’t need you for basic info. Add a unique twist, an interesting spin and there’s a good chance you’ll get noticed in the ever-crowded field of content marketing.
#17: Get Involved Locally
Mike Shaw, an SEO Marketer at Tower Marketing, said that his best way of generating inbound links is by getting involved locally:
Build relationships with local businesses in your community who have a need you can help solve. Talk to them, build rapport, have coffee and brainstorm solutions together. This problem solving can make a great blog post that links to your company for the help offered.
This has worked well for Tower’s clients because offering genuine help to other local businesses encourages positive word-of-mouth, endorsements with backlinks and social shares, increasing brand awareness and exposure – leading to more sharing and linking via the community.
#18: Get Involved With The Press
Steph Russel, Founder & CEO of Vizually, shared her top 4 ways of generating natural inbound links:
Some of my favorite ways of getting inbound links, that have worked great for my businesses and my clients involve:
- Applying to HARO queries.
- Writing an article that references and links to other experts or websites, then reaching out to let them know you referenced and linked back to them – this can result in them doing the same for you.
- Submitting testimonials to your favorite websites and companies, especially if you’ve seen results from their product or service.
- Writing for larger publications – it’s surprisingly easy to apply to or send them your writing. Most publications have a page dedicated to submissions and guidelines.
#19: Create Top 10 Lists
JC Cavanaugh, Founder of Clever Conversions, said that top 10 lists are one of the best ways to get inbound links:
Inbound links are critical to being discovered and ranking well on Google. One of my favorite techniques to getting inbound links is to create a top 10 list. Let’s say you are a company who sells support services to insurance companies.
You could create a top 10 list of insurance carriers for men with pre-existing conditions. Imagine a blog post with a list of the top 10 companies who offer such services including bullet points, an address and contact number.
Next, you reach out to all 10 companies and mention they were chosen to be a part of your top 10 list. The first thing they will want to do is share this post with their followers as they will be proud of this recognition.
They gain recognition and you gain a link or two. Keep in mind not all companies will post on social media or create a link but even if one does that could be a very powerful link for your website.
#20: The Complete Solution In 6 Methods
Amy Sheridan, CEO & Founder of Blue Phoenix Media, not only pitched in for this article I am writing, but provided an extremely in-depth response, which I just couldn’t overlook even though I requested just about 100 words of quotable pitch. Here are her top 6 ways concerning the generation of natural inbound links in 2016:
- Blogging – Maintain a steady blog by consistently creating and curating great blog content that is interesting to many people. Included in this blog should be an RSS feed, links to other blogs, creating a resource list and have other bloggers write guest posts on your blogs and you do the same for them. It is essential to stay on top of current events and comment on them as you will rise to the top of the SERPs due to the freshness component of the Google algorithm. Additionally, this is a great opportunity for others to
link to your content when recapping your content in their own accounts.
- Content – There are so many ways that you can create your own innovative and exciting content you want others to share. On the B2B side you could create case studies about your most impressive clients about their business and ask them to link to your site. Some other ways to generate content for your site include conducting webnars and publishing and archive copy on your site, creating relevant ebooks and creating free tools and templates which others employees, partners and industries can link to.
- Design – There is nothing more shareable than visual content. Whether creating an infograph, chart, graph, cartoon or content visualizations people will skip the fuss of creating their own visual content and use your legwork to link to yours instead. Using the information from your infograph as well as repurposing slides from your last speaking gig you could slice it into pieces to create a presentation. You can put these on your site in the resource center or share on a SlideShare account for more inbound links. Another sure fire way to get your links spread everywhere is by making a funny MEME. Think about funny or inside jokes in your industry and make a MEME with the humorous content that is linkable. As always, share this on your social media accounts to make your creations go viral and spread even further.
- PR – Use your PR skills to write a press release about interesting company news. Create an area on your blog or site to post all public news coverage about your company. Push out the press releases to one or more of the big newswires to get maximum coverage. Additionally, send out a joint press release when your news involves another company you are doing business with. This is helpful to reach thousands of other related site outside the scope of your business. Go out and get interviewed. At any trade show there are always camera’s and mics set up to do on site interviews. Reach out before the trade show to schedule something with your industries media outlets. Also, reach out to journalists that you can see really appreciating your story. Create a dedicated page about the story for the journalists to link to as a resource. Finally, write an op-ed article and target the online version on magazine publishers and newspapers for an extremely valuable inbound link back to your website.
- Social Tools – Incorporate a social sharing widget on to any single piece of relevant content. The thing about getting inbound links is getting your unique content out to the public in the easiest way possible. A social sharing widget in your content will get people sharing you content socially way more often which in turn means greater visibility in search engines, on Facebook, in news feeds, twitter streams etc. Put them on your marketing content like case studies, ebooks, white pages and everything else!
- Volunteering – Sponsor or speak at an industry event. Events normally give their speakers and sponsors tons of website publicity. Make sure to negotiate inbound links into your agreement! Volunteer to be the subject of one of your partners case studies. Once it is published make sure to get a back link from the case study. Finally, give away some free trials or a sneak peek of your product. When people see your product beforehand, they will want the world to know that they were an early adopter and part of a VIP crowd. Leverage the free trial/sneak peek for them to write a review of your product and make sure they include a link back to your site about it.
So there you have it – the top 20 ways to naturally generate backlinks to your website in the new 2016. As you saw, the easiest way to get them is to write about someone else or some other product/service, because who doesn’t like getting recognized by some other person and their audience right? I know I do and I make sure to place a link to that content somewhere on my website.
Bottom line is inbound links will not only bring in a lot of new and fresh traffic to your website, but they are also one of the fastest ways to rise in rankings which will in turn skyrocket your website’s organic traffic. So by all means, find a way to get them.