34 link builders talk about the best link building tactics in 2019

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Much like every other aspect of digital marketing, link building is an always evolving concept; changes in Google’s ranking factors can completely change the landscape of the industry and it already has multiple times.

Much of what worked in 2018, might not work in 2019. In our roundup of predictions for 2019, multiple industry experts predicted a change was coming to the link building world. As old school techniques like PBNs, guest blogging and spam cannon links fade further from relevancy; newer more organic methods like content marketing, broken backlink building and digital PR rise to take their place.

So, in this new landscape of link building, I set out to find what the best link building techniques for 2019 are. I pulled together some of the best Digital PR, Outreach and SEO minds in the world to talk about what methods work today, for not only gaining backlinks, but also ensuring they help websites rank.

I spoke to 34 digital marketers, asking them one simple question “What is your favourite tactic(s) for building links in 2019?”. This is what they said.

Laura Hampton – Head of Digital PR – Impression

Link building in 2019 is about far more than quantity; in order to prove the value of our work, we need to show tangible impact to metrics like rankings, traffic, conversions and more.

For me, the most valuable link building tactic for 2019 lies not in the ways we build the links themselves, but in the way we measure their impact.

This, I believe, lies in our understanding of the conversion funnel and recognition of the topics/stories that are pertinent at each level for our clients and their audiences. When we can sculpt our link building campaigns around the topics that most touch our target audiences during their conversion journey, we can create far more relevant backlink profiles that reflect the awareness, interest, desire and action stages.

We can then use our campaigns to build audiences, as well as links. Capturing users who engage with our content is a great way to initiate multi-channel campaigns which push users through to conversion point – e.g. using remarketing to send sales messages to most engaged digital PR campaign viewers. This enables us to show the impact of our link building campaigns not solely in the number and quality of links we’ve built, but the audiences we’ve engaged and the subsequent sales we’ve been able to drive.

Some tools I like to use to support this approach include social media (social listening tools like Linkfluence or paid advertiser insights from platforms like Facebook), Google Analytics affinity categories, persona creation, keyword research and PPC insights via AdWords and Bing.

The future of link building, for me, lies in the exploration and evolution of omni-channel, cross-funnel campaigns, allowing us to generate value beyond links.

David White – Associate Director of Content Marketing – Edit

To be successful in building relevant, high authority digital PR links you need have a great story. A great idea will always sell, however, you do need to focus on finding conversations your target audience is having online and work to build a campaign out of that.

A key tactic we have seen working in 2019 is the use of data visualisation. This is, put simply, taking data, manipulating it into a newsworthy story and visualising it in a creative and shareable way.

Traditionally PR’s run surveys to gain this data but I find that this tactic is delivering less and less results. In fact, I recently conducted research which shows:

● 32% of PR surveys gain no backlinks
● 39% of PR surveys gain less than 10 backlinks
● 11% of PR surveys only gain 1 link

You can see the full data here.

You need to be as creative with the data as you are with the idea. Look to find free data resources such as government updates and FOI requests. Work with experts and don’t be afraid to take the campaign offline to gain data (e.g. running public experiments and tests)

This kind of data will stand out when compared to a traditional survey and if visualised and outreached correctly will deliver results!

Alexandra Tachalova – Founder – Digital Olympus

We’re a small agency that is tightly focused on link building. Some time ago, I noticed that our best digital marketing partners were those companies that actively focused on links. When we measured the results on some of our projects together, it didn’t take us long to fine-tune our business model in that direction and amplify it so that we can get 10x results for our customers and partners. My favorite strategy is still to uncover potential partners who already understand and engage in link building and establishing long-term partnerships with them to increase the effects for all parties.

Here is a step-by-step guide to how you can find such link prospects:

1. Find companies that have recently started to become visible in your niche. For example, in the IT niche, ProductHunt and G2Crowd would be good places to start.

2. After you’ve built an initial list of sites, check to see whether they’re investing in acquiring links that track back to their content. This can be done with the help of BuzzSumo, which shows how many links each post has gained to date. Optionally, you can also go to Ahrefs to check the growth trends of links that are associated with their blog.

3. Finally, reach out to them and ask whether they’d like to build more links by partnering with you.

Paul Lovell – Founder – Always Evolving SEO

One link building tactic I like to use is unlinked mentions. I monitor brand names via semrush each week. I get an email with a list of websites to reach out to that are already mentioning or talking about you or your business. The great thing about this is that getting the link should be quite easy as you are not having to pitch them on some content like you have to with traditional outreach or PR.

Brogan Renshaw – Director – Fire Wire Digital

My favourite tactic for building in 2019 is Image Link Building.

It is an all to common story for many websites. Your business has spent time and money on attractive images of your products & services for your website. Then one day you are searching around your industry and find YOUR image on another website.

Don’t get angry and fire off an email for them to take it down. Think of this as an opportunity for an inbound link to your website.

Write an email to the website that includes:
● a link to the original image,
● a thank you for using the image
● a polite request for attribution and a link back to you.

Don’t forget to set a reminder to follow up in the future if they don’t get back to you. It is amazing how many people do respond to a polite follow up after appearing to ignore the first email.

Now think, if one website has used our image maybe others have? Do a google search of your image to easily find other websites that have used your image. Repeat the email request for every site you can.

If websites are using your image already there is clearly a demand online for them. The final step in image link building is consider distributing them under Creative Commons licensing. This then enables you to further claim links in the form of the relevant attribution.

Josh Gallant – Digital Marketing Strategist – Foundation Marketing

My go-to tactic for finding link opportunities so far this year has been a bit of a twist on a classic strategy — find old posts that are similar to yours with plenty of backlinks then reach out to the sites linking to them. It’s a pretty common approach. The classic bait and switch “that post sucks, mine’s better” pitch right? Not quite.

Instead of asking them to swap the link to yours, take the value-add approach. You’re not a replacement for the outdated post, you’re simply another valuable resource they can include. If they linked to a post similar to yours in the past, that’s the signal you need to know they’re open to including you as well. Send them a short & simple pitch, add at least one personalized merge tag (And no {{First Name}} doesn’t count y’all) — then boom. Links.

Bethanie Dennis – Senior Outreach manager – Silverbean

Targeting unlinked brand mentions is a tactic that requires very little time resource, but can be extremely successful when done well. Many of our link placements on highly authoritative sites (DA75+) are from emailing the relevant journalist within a couple of days of an unlinked mention of a brand going live. Having daily/live alerts set up for this is key to keeping on top of these mentions and being super reactive.

Tabby Farrar – Senior Outreach Specialist – Further

My favourite tactic for building links in 2019 is…. 🥁

Data-led digital PR

While scanning the journo request hashtags and responding to HARO queries definitely comes a close second, which I love for the simplicity and the speed with which you can get a really high-value link, data-led PR is my number one choice because it combines the creation of on-site content that can have ongoing organic potential with a quickfire outreach strategy.

Whereas old-school guest posting is still a slow and steady way to pick up single links here and there through thought leadership and useful insights, with data-led PR you get to create something completely new and exclusive to your brand or client without having to give away the usage rights to somebody else. And while each article you might write for a niche publication will get you a single backlink, one successful PR campaign can capture dozens or even hundreds of links.

Data-led PR also affords you the ability to outreach major news sites that you’re unlikely to have any success with when using tactics like guest posting or link reclamation. As an added bonus, because you’re going to be publishing the data on your / your client’s site, there’s the potential for ongoing organic link pick-up and rankings, which you don’t get with other strands of outreach.

The reason that data-led PR specifically is my preferred choice over any other kind of PR, is that it almost can’t be shared without a link being included. If someone is writing about survey results, a trend statistic or any other new figure you’ve found, a good writer will always cite their source. If they don’t, your chances of persuading them to add a link at a later date are much better if it’s a link to evidence of claims that are being made, than if it’s just a link to a homepage or general news announcement.

David Farkas – CEO – The Upper Ranks

My recommendation for link building in 2019 is to focus less on guest posting and more on how you can earn links thru outreach – based on the merits of your content.

These days, the guest posting route will only get your so far before the well dries up.

Instead, create a piece of content that’s helpful or educational for your target audience.

It doesn’t even have to be ‘word-heavy’ as long as you create something useful, and put real thought behind it. Even something as simple as creating a ‘resource page’ of helpful links on any given topic can be an excellent linkable asset.

And, ALWAYS make sure there is a large enough pool of potential linkers for what you’re creating beforehand!

Gareth Simpson – Co-Founder – Seeker Digital

If we’re talking favourite link building tactic (and not necessarily always the most effective), then my favourite link building tactic is karma.

Karma-based link building is doing something good and getting a link for it.

It could be something like doing a careers talk at a local college and getting a link on their blog; or it could be a collaborative piece of content with a charity.

When you do good in the real world that results in a link, you’ve achieved two things: you’ve done something good, and you’ve also earned a great link. It’s a mention you’re genuinely proud to own.

As an agency that builds links for other brands, it’s our duty to represent their brand well.

Karma-centric link building tactics are perfect for our clients because they are on-brand and send a positive message about links.

Ric Rodriguez – SEO Consultant – RicRodriguez.co.uk

In 2019, link-building is all about “positioning”. While it’s clear that links are still a part of Google’s algorithm (John Mueller publicly said as much at Brighton SEO recently), I believe the signals they send – and how we should perceive them – have changed in recent years. We often talk in terms of overall site “authority” when it comes to link-building, but this (at least in my view) is a concept that’s behind the times. Instead, we should think of links in terms of positioning instead; on the surface, this may sound similar, but it is quite different to authority. It’s about building a network (or “graph”) of information and signals, that makes it clear that your website (and by extension, you as a brand) are a subject matter expert. As a result, you may still seek reference from “high authority sites” in the traditional sense, but also from key information providers, that are more relevant to your industry. However, these types of sites can be difficult to engage and may not respond well to traditional outreach approaches. Often, this requires a transactional relationship, but one that doesn’t offer money or product – in this case, data is your currency.

It’s difficult to give the impression of being a subject matter expert, without actually being one in reality – particularly when soliciting a response from your peers. But your business data, how you position it and the uniqueness of the information, will enable you to engage those around you. This doesn’t have to be sensitive data; a great example of a source you could use is from your “internal site search”. Through this, you could give an understanding of how consumers buying habits have changed over time, or how a particular product has grown in interest against the changing economic / meteorological / trend-influenced background of the industry you operate in. What’s important is that the data is yours, unique and tells a compelling story that these publications cannot discuss without it – and in turn, positions your brand as an expert in the field to search engines.

Steven Van Vessum – VP of Community – ContentKing

Link reclamation works really well for us. It’s a tactic that’s been around since the very start of the web, and it still works.

So here’s how to go about it:

1) Create quality content that’s informative and that actually answers people’s questions
2) Make sure it’s seen by people. Promote the content (both organically and paid)
3) Now that people’ve seen it, they’ll start to mention it, re-use bits and pieces. Think beyond text, because often visuals are used as well.
4) Keep track of who’s using your content. For text you can use CopyScape or Grammarly, and for images you can use Google Images search by uploading the your own images.
5) Reach out to those that used your content for credit. 95% of the cases, they’ll do so because it’s the right thing to do.

Kas Szatylowicz – Marketing Coordinator – Nightwatch

Here, at Nightwatch, link building turned out to be one of the most effective ways to boost the search visibility of our website. Over the last few months, we’ve tried and experimented with a wide range of approaches and eventually decided to stick with a few that brought us outstanding results.

One of the best link-building techniques that we have tried was getting featured in the experts’ roundups, as well as publishing roundups or articles including quotes from other experts in the industry ourselves. This approach is very simple and brings more than just links – making new connections and building close relationships with other bloggers opened new business opportunities and helped us accelerate our marketing efforts.

To master this process, you have to master your outreach game by writing a compelling pitch, connecting with bloggers beforehand (doing so-called “soft touches) and building an image of an expert to ensure your credibility in the eyes of the roundups’ authors. This process seems time-consuming, but if planned and executed well, you will only have to invest time and effort in the beginning. Later on, once your reputation as an expert is established and people know that you provide value, they will start reaching out to you themselves and asking for your contribution (for example the quote).

Of course, you can reciprocate the favor and include their thoughts in your pieces of content, too. In this way, you will maximize the potential of the long-term collaboration and your backlinks portfolio will start growing with almost no effort invested.

Nick Dimitriou – Growth Marketer – Moosend

One of my favourite ways of effectively building links to your website/blog is Broken Backlink Building(BBB).

The reason is that whilst you try to find those broken backlinks from your competitors you also get ideas and create link worthy content.

Since people have linked to that particular content before, and it’s now a dead page on your competitors’ website the chances are that this particular piece of content will also generate backlinks organically.

Pete McAllister – Head of Outreach – Outreach Pete

Tricks and shortcuts don’t work anymore; anything that can be easily scaled or takes little effort is being devalued by Google. One example is scholarship link building which has been rampant over the last 3 years. Most good link builders never engaged in this practice, as they knew it would be devalued. So what’s the point in doing something you know will only have a limited short-term benefit?

Our foolproof strategy for 2019 is to set up outreach campaigns for comprehensive long-form
content. Basically, you want to make sure that there isn’t a better resource than yours on the subject matter. Some call this the ‘skyscraper’ technique (where you take the existing information out there and tower above it with added value and information).

However, lots of link builders are doing this. If you can differentiate yourself from others, your the success rate will also tower above the competition.

Usually, these link-bait content pieces are not commercial pages within themselves. Link builders will include internal links to their ‘money’ pages within their outreach content to pass on value.

Tip – Don’t do this until your link building campaign is tapering out! If your outreach piece is purely informational and doesn’t have a commercial or sales slant to it the number of people willing to link increases dramatically. If you want to put anchor-rich links within your content wait until your outreach is finished (you’ll have more link equity to pass on this way anyway).

Becky Simms – Founder & CEO – Reflect Digital

At Reflect Digital, content marketing and link building are intrinsic to our managed SEO campaigns for client’s, having a user first approach is extremely important when creating content and aiming for links. With this in mind, my favourite link building tactic is gamification. We use gamification to cover a number of key marketing KPIs so as a tactic it brings so much more value than links.

I’ll start with the why gamify first… consumers are numb to advertising, consumers are smart and they are bored with brands continually selling. We completed a study in 2018 of 2,000 UK consumers which found 58% of respondents believe online advertising has little or no effect on their buying behaviour. These people are trying not to be marketed to. We then asked them about playing games with brands and 60% said they would be more likely to buy from a brand if they played a game that they enjoyed with that brand. This statistic rose to 86% for those that had experienced gamification before. You can read our full gamification report here.

With this knowledge, we know consumers are crying out to have more fun with brands and to start playing more games online. This is where I start to get really excited, as executed well gamification can offer:

● Links
● PR
● GDPR compliant data
● Insight into your users
● Social growth
● Social conversation

The above is just the tip of the iceberg. To make this all happen though, you have to start with your end goal, what do you want to achieve, if links are number one priority, then it must be link worthy. You still need to think of all the traditional measures you would consider in any link building campaign, starting with who will care? You need to start conversations with relevant journalists to see if they would be interested in your idea. Remember games could be for fun or they could be more serious and educational. If a game is just for fun, then you must have a newsworthy hook, a reason for the game being created or you need to create a hook. It may be that you run a research piece and hook the game onto the results for this.

The planning will really come down to your website niche, as something like a football based quiz, like our Find 50 Clubs this exploded and generated 100+ links because football fans love a quiz, having the right hook was less important.

I just love gamification though – for the effort you put in you can get so much in return. From a customer journey point of view it helps satisfy awareness, consideration (if educational), building loyalty and advocacy with the social nature of games. So not only can we deliver links but we are creating a moment with our users, one that will be memorable and will impact their long term relationship with the brand.

Will Hobson – PR Manager – Edit

First of all, one of my starting points is to do a competitor analysis of the client you’re creating a campaign for. Take a look at what’s working in that industry to gain links from. This can give you inspiration for campaign formats and styles. Secondly, another tactic I’m using at the moment is to think of the story first and don’t over complicate your campaign. An eye-catching design is still important but if there’s no story you aren’t going to gain any links or coverage.

The last tactic I always use is to utilise client and open data. Journalists love data and it can be the base of an incredible story. Run an analysis to what data your client has and think of how you might be able to utilise it. Another option is open data held by bodies such as ONS- they have everything from happiness to employment figures you will be able to find something relevant for almost every client.

Laura Hogan – Owner – Milo’s Mail & Jellybean

My advice would be to not be afraid of being a vulture with competitors who are no longer trading. Find their best backlinks, produce the content needed to replicate why they were linked to in the first place and get outreaching… it’s a mutually beneficial tactic.

Anna Ilyina – Content Manager – Digital Olympus

The world works according to one big rule: when you want to get something, you need to offer something valuable to those who you’re reaching out to. I usually propose either sharing on social media channels a recent post or linking to a resources page. I never ask for a link without giving anything back in return. For me, the core priority is personalization. I perceive those to whom I’m pitching as partners and this helps me to build long term relationships that won’t end within your outreach list.

Also, it’s important to feel the difference between pitching to companies or pitching to an influencer. I really love commenting on the posts of those I want to talk to. You never know what the reaction will be or the way your conversation will end up, but it definitely helps to be 100 steps closer to your goal.

Pavel Naydenov – Online Marketing Expert – Kanbanzie

Last year my team managed to acquire more than 400 backlinks. Also last year we managed to increase our organic traffic 6 times. Do you think this is a coincidence? Because I don’t. Even if I had some doubts about the importance of backlinks last year they were eliminated.

It may sound like a strong statement, but due to my humble opinion backlinks is the #1 ranking factor. However, earning quality backlinks requires stellar content. This brings me to the first very important link building strategy: create data-driven content.

What does that mean? When creating your next article I suggest you find valuable researches, conducted by authoritative and influential people for your industry sources. Convert the data into pie charts, tables or diagrams and include them in your piece of content. And don’t forget to refer to all the resources you used, because it gives credibility. For me, there is a simple reason why people like to link to data-driven content. It is trustable. It is a sign that you invest time to create something valuable.

Jess Hawkes – Digital PR Specialist – Impression

We know that Google’s semantic understanding is getting more intelligent than ever, so relevance in link building has never been more important. This means we can no longer rely on citations and link-building basics, as we just aren’t seeing the same strength of results if there is no topical relevance to the company or brand. My favourite tactic for link-building in 2019 then is a far more driven PR approach, with an increasing focus on the integration of traditional aspects of the PR ‘offline stunt’ discipline into digital strategies.

I don’t just mean content marketing. As journalists and bloggers get more SEO savvy, it’s becoming harder to link-build effectively and sustainably through simply creating interactive content pieces that sit onsite or as a sub-domain. What’s more, we don’t know how Google will view these more obvious attempts at ‘unnatural’ link-earning in the future.

In many ways, traditional aspects of PR and news seem to have been long forgotten when it comes to link-building and digital PR. Going back to the origins of PR, we saw bold, intelligent, integrated marketing stunts hosted offline which manipulated the media and both gained press coverage and pushed brand values. I believe link-building in 2019 then needs to replicate and implement these traditional PR and ‘offline’ tactics into digital campaigns, without losing sight of the search marketing goals and data-driven measurement.

A good example of this would be from Airbnb, who often host offline stunts such as the opportunity to spend a night in the Louvre, but subsequently receive a lot of high authority, relevant coverage and back-links.

Matt Sladden – Outreach Assistant – Bulldog Digital Media

One way I like getting links is using Twitter. The #journorequest is a great tool to find journalists looking for help on an article they’re writing. Find an article thats relevant to one of your clients and ask them for a quote on the topic. Send the quote over to the journalist and they’ll feature the quote with a link to your client.

Bruce Paulson – Founder – Determined Solutions SEO

My favourite tactic for link building? Study the competition.

Most of my clients are Local SEO clients. So this makes it easy. Look at the SERPs for the keywords you’re going after.

See what sites are ranking, and analyze the link profile of those sites. Then try to get the best of those links.

I usually see citations, so it’s important to get your citations done and done with the correct N.A.P (name, address, phone number).

I often see links from local tv stations and even some newspaper websites.

When analyzing the SERPs, I skip the authority sites. These are often ranking at the top. These are sites like Yelp, BBB, etc. Again, if you get your citations correct, this will be taken care of. I skip these because I won’t be able to get any useful info. They rank because of their authority.

Right now, Google is loving exact match domains. You’ll see a lot of exact match domains ranking well. So, if you see a site with a partial match keyword in the domain name or especially a brand name domain that doesn’t have a keyword in it, pay close attention.

If a domain is ranking well and it doesn’t have a keyword in the domain, then it is a high probability that the reason it’s ranking is because of the quality of the links pointing to it.

So, analyze the SERPs. Skip the authority sites and analyze the rest of the sites on the first page. And pay attention to sites that rank that have little to no keywords in the domain. Then try to get those same links.

I’ve been using this method successfully for years on client’s sites. It takes manual work for the research, but it pays off in the increased traffic you get from good links

Alex Jones – Head of Earned Media – Hallam Agency

My favourite link building tactic is to conduct a link intersect through Ahrefs for all my clients. We should strive for getting links that our client’s competitors are getting which our clients don’t have. If they work in the same/similar industries then there is no real reason why those links acquired shouldn’t point to your client too.

But the tactic that always works, is to work to a longer-term content and outreach strategy. You should be looking to produce or outreach content each month, aiming for high quality and relevant sites that have a large readership. The online media landscape is changing, and media are now monetising what was previously editorially driven decision making, and a big hurdle for digital PRs and marketers, is how to bypass these ‘advertorials’. My advice on placing content for links, is to ask yourself does it engage, advise, add value or entertain. We need to create trust and credibility in editorial, by engaging readers and audiences and offering content with actionable insights.

Emily Berry – Content Director – Go Fish Digital

Tangential content is our tried and true method for securing backlinks for clients. By creating visual content that both fits into the current news cycle and has a clear tie back to the client’s brand while not coming across as overly branded, we’re able to generate coverage from top tier news sites for clients.

For example, we recently executed a piece of content on the average cost of beer in each state for a client focused on personal finance. Beer is a topic with wide interest and the cost element of the campaign allowed us to clearly tie it back to the client. The content piece earned links from over 70 unique domains and was covered on sites like CNBC, Thrillist, and the Chicago Tribune.

Jessica Hodkinson – Freelance Content Marketing & PR – Online Pr Pixie

Building relationships with journalists and editors of credible online publications enables you to start off on your link building journey. Great content will naturally gain links and sometimes, more than expected. The written content needs to be of relevance and have an authentic tone. Designed content needs to offer value in some way and not just look like ‘link bait’.

Stacey Barton – Senior Outreach Executive – Honcho

Gone are the days where you could quickly build lots of links for clients by simply posting on forums or adding your details to directories! Outreach is much more complex and connected now. So far in 2019, I have found the most fruitful and effective tactic for building links, is visiting existing opportunities.

By this I mean turning brand or client mentions on top quality websites and blogs into links – it’s proven to be a very successful but easily forgotten tactic. This is perfect for converting mentions on high quality newspapers or magazines that can otherwise be tough to get onto in the first place without a decent PR message or story. It has been much more time-effective for my outreach team too, as it doesn’t involve a big campaign or thorough strategy. You’re essentially asking these top quality websites for a favour rather than a going in with a fresh pitch. Using SEO and tracker tools, we can build a target list of mentions to convert to links fairly easily.

Client-wise, the benefit of this is that it can provide more value to their site than building lots of lower quality links. For our retail client Bondi Sands, this tactic has presented a huge link building opportunity. So many bloggers and top beauty magazines use the fake tan and mention it, but often forget to link. It was fairly straightforward for us to lean on our existing relationship with them to share a link so their readers can then be diverted to the mentioned product. Win win all round!

Will O’Hara – SEO Director – Rank Better

Whilst a search for “link building ideas” will confront you with a thousand potential options, for most sites there’s no one option that works all the time. Context is key for link building just as it is for creating page copy or content.

But, that’s a bit of a cop-out answer so I will mention one “tactic” that you should be able to apply across the board. A few years back Wil Reynolds talked a lot about RCS, Real Company Sh*t. This is essentially doing something not just for links/SEO but because there’s going to be a benefit to your company/brand or to the industry or customer. An example of this might be offering grants to students at Universities studying in your field. Providing £XXX grant as well as something money can’t buy – a few days with your team, mentorship from someone senior – adds that cherry on the top.

So look for the opportunities that if they don’t come off for links – can still benefit your company or the industry. Reduces the chances of ending up sat with no links and a sad looking infographic or survey. Working closely with the client (or if you’re in house, the product team/client team) to understand what annoys people who work in the industry, is a great way to find something you can latch onto.

Carrie Rose – Freelance Digital PR Strategist – Carrie Rose PR

Think of link building as a two-step process:

1. What can we do to earn coverage?
2. What can we do to turn that coverage into links?

Most focus on the first step and succeed. But earning coverage without a link is the most frustrating scenario that we as Digital PR’s face. So what can we do to ensure our next campaign gets that link without chasing?

All you need to ensure is to have something on site which acts as a resource or adds value to the journalist’s story. This resource (whether it be a blog post, report, map, graph, or interactive asset) MUST add value to a journalist’s story by providing extra information (which the story hasn’t covered).

To do this:

• Hold back some information and provide it only via your/your clients website whether that’s data, images, tips or hacks.
• Collate data into one place and visualise it in a way which it has never been visualised before. This doesn’t need to be an outstanding piece of design; it could even be a table summary but something which brings data together in to one place for a journalist to use.
• When outreaching send journalists just a snippet of the story/data and encourage them to ‘click here’ to see more. This immediately gives the impression that there is more of this story to be seen and linked to.
• Include something which a journalist would prefer not to include in the story but will still have to link to. For example, I recently launched a Dream Summer Job campaign looking for one lucky person to be our ultimate spa and hot tub tester.

100+ publications covered this story and every single one of them linked back to my client’s website. Why? Because we had a blog post with the full T&C’s of the job – something which users NEED to know when applying for the role but journalists certainly don’t want to have to write up and include within their articles. It’s easier just to link to them!

My go-to tool: AHREFS! This is a tool I constantly have open and use at least 10x a day. I mainly use it for…

• Checking my competitor’s backlink profile: find out what sites are linking to my competitors and form a list of target publications that I want to feature on too
• Competitor strategy: analyse the backlinks of my competitors and see what sort of content they are creating to get links. This helps me form a strategy for ideation.
• Finding new links to my site
• Ideation: using the content explorer section to find popular articles talking about my selected topics and filtering the publications by which have linked or not linked to you previously.

Testing ideas: The Mum test

Coming up with a good idea is the hardest part and other than using competitor activity for inspiration one great tip that nearly always works is ‘the mum test’.

Have an idea? Go home to your mum or dad or relative and tell them your idea in no more than two sentences. If you struggle to do this, you need to refine the idea and ensure you can fit the full story into one headline statement. If you can’t, then the idea may be over complicated and something that journalists may not find shareable.

If you succeed in summing up your idea in a short statement, but your relative’s reaction is not a “ohhh, ewww, ahhh, wowww, or really?!” then scrap it and come up with a new idea. Digital PR and content marketing should always play on emotions and achieve a response which shocks, surprises or interests the recipient. If you get a confused response or are a simple ‘yeah’ unfortunately it’s just not good enough.

Relatives will be honest, but more importantly testing your ideas with other people will usually generate a discussion. They will share their thoughts, opinions, experiences, and even start to ask questions which is exactly the sort of response you are looking for.

The best ideas are always ones you can’t wait to go home and tell someone about, so start with it as a test and you’ll know which ones are winners and which are losers right away.

Jessica Pardoe – Digital PR & Outreach Executive – Tecmark

I might be biased but my favourite way of building links is through digital PR. I live and breathe public relations, I studied it for 3 years, and have even been running a ‘PR and lifestyle’ blog for the past 2. To me, there’s no better feeling than getting coverage from campaigns that you’re running, and when they include a link it’s just the icing on the cake. Most of the publications I target are top tier, so their domain ratings are always high 80 to 90s, plus I always run campaigns that are based around my client’s main industry. This means that: 1. the links I get are qualitative and impactful and 2. the releases can encourage click-throughs to the client’s site, meaning they carry much more weight than just a link.

We run a lot of interesting and fun campaigns at work, for clients in all sectors including health, travel, legal, business and retail. I’ve not worked in link building for too long, it’ll be about 9 months now, but I’ve managed to achieve some amazing results in that short time frame. I think that feeling you get from generating results for your clients, plus being able to see your pieces in really great publications, is a feeling that can’t be beaten. Therefore digital PR is my favoured method of link building all day long, it’ll never go out of style in my opinion.

Judith Lewis – Founder – Decabbit Consultancy

My favourite link building technique is probably the most difficult and expensive – unique research or a novel way of visualising existing data. Both require a lot of work – so doing Google data set searches or similar, looking at the existing data and looking for the data to offer up some unique insight no one else has picked up on so far or doing unique research.

One of my favourite link building projects included partnering with a medical lab to do analysis on certain tissue to look at the effect of something on people (still under NDA). It was a complex project but worth it and added to the research that already existed, meaning the client not only gained links but was also acting as a thought leader and a business committed to advancing the available knowledge in the area. There’s a new piece in progress around multiple existing pieces of research to find new insight in to a specific thing (again – still under NDA).

It’s exciting to not just building links but doing something that will have a real impact for years to come. We’re adding to the available knowledge about this topic and while it is a link building project, it’s going to have a real, positive impact. Link building is no longer just about spam

Benjamin Houy – Founder – Growth With Less

My favorite link building tactic by far is Twitter link building. Every day, I monitor Twitter hashtags such as #journorequest, #haro and #prrequest and build backlinks by offering my expert comments on issues journalists and content writers are writing about. This is a great alternative to HARO because it’s less popular and getting the attention of journalists is therefore considerably easier.

Chris Long – Technical SEO – Go Fish Digital

One of the easiest ways to build authority from backlinks doesn’t require as much effort as traditional link building. Often times, websites have already built authority from backlinks but throughout time have either lost or diluted that authority. By reviewing the links already pointing to your site, SEOs can often times reclaim them. This is faster than traditional link building as it doesn’t require the creation of new content or any outreach at all.

Here are some way SEOs can reclaim authority from existing links:

1. Redirect pages that have built backlinks but return 404 errors
2. Switch 302 redirects to 301 to distribute more authority to the destination page
3. Ensure the robots.txt isn’t blocking pages/sections with a large number of backlinks pointing to them.
4. Correct long redirect chains

These can be efficient ways of generating the value from existing backlinks as they often times don’t require cooperation from a third party to link to your site.

Levi Williams-Clucas – PR & Outreach Executive – StrategiQ

This is a slight twist on the classic broken link building, but instead of scraping your own site for 404s/broken links and contacting sites linking to them to update them, you’re scraping relevant sites in your niche for links going to other sites that no longer work and replacing their broken content with your own.

This gets much easier with tools like Ahrefs and Majestic, but can still be done with free plugins on chrome slightly less efficiently if you’re low on budget (checkmylinks is great).

TL;DR On your target sites, find links where there’s content that’s no longer relevant, the link is broken or goes to the wrong place, create that content yourself and ask to fix the broken link to your own working one. It’s also a really easy way of finding quick-fire, relevant and quality content opportunities for your site.

Start by getting a list of sites that are relevant to your niche, so if you’re a gardening company, find a bunch of sites that are good quality relevant sites about trees/gardening etc. that you’d like a link from. Make sure you include relevant news sites and forums.

Then, run your list of sites through your tools like Ahrefs or Majestic to find where these sites have broken or missing links (or go through the relevant pages manually with checkmylinks). Of course, there’s always the small possibility that this niche is really on top of their content and you don’t find any, in which case, that makes this tactic a little harder. When you’ve got your list of broken links, work out what content used to be there (e.g. Wayback machine or just by a good guess from the anchor text) and recreate it.

So, for example, you have a website that’s about gardening. You found a website that’s full of useful advice about gardening, and you find a broken link which has the anchor text of ‘many different types of orchid’. So what you do, is create a piece for your site about how many different types of orchid there are. It can be as fancy or as simple as you like, as long as it’s decent content. This won’t work if you bash out hundreds of low quality content pieces! Publish your piece, then contact the gardening site and let them know the link is broken, whilst gently suggesting you’ve got the piece to fix it.

It seems like a lot for one link, but often you’ll find similar content comes up a number of times, or the content you’re replacing had a bunch of links going to it, so you can get more than one link per piece. This is a fabulous way of generating content that’s not too narrow but stays relevant to your site, gets a great result for the target site as their broken links are fixed and contributes great content for the site’s readers, while also establishing some great relationships with relevant sites for future link building.

In conlusion

So after reading all these excellent responses from the best marketing minds the industry has to offer, you should come away from this with a better understanding of building links in the SEO landscape of 2019. With so many things from Twitter to link bait to use to get links, it truly is a good time to be in the link building game.

Gone are the days where you can just spout thousands of comment links to a site, or build a PBN to get results. To get good links now, you need to be a Swiss army knife, trying every possible tactic you can to get what works in order to build links that can have a positive impact on your client’s website.

If you’d prefer your companies link building to be managed by an expert after reading all of this, contact us today and we’ll see how we can help you out in the world of link building services.

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