25 Ways to Build Backlinks to Your Website for Free
With enough website builders and content management systems (CMS) available to fill a book, and almost as many web hosting companies, developing an online platform has never been easier. But therein lies the problem many new bloggers and businesses now face.
There are more than 7.5 billion people alive at any given moment, and more than half of them are online. This means that, excluding those who don’t have access to the internet (and those too young or too old to use it), almost everyone has some online presence. For many, this may be limited to social media accounts and a smattering of subscriptions, but there are still billions of business websites and personal blogs.
So no matter the nature of your online platform, you need to be smart and resourceful if you want your site to be visible. The days of simply posting online and adding a few keywords are very much long gone. The world of search engine optimization has evolved to a point where even most novices know that there are hundreds of factors that contribute to your ranking.
Some of these factors - especially keywords - are very well known. The problem is, with the rise of voice search, keywords are no longer the dominant SEO tool. Many SEO experts have stepped forward and stated that keywords are somewhat outdated. And while they’re not likely to ever fall away altogether, relying purely on keywords is suicidal. That’s where backlinks come in.
What Are Backlinks?
Backlinks are probably one of (if not the) most important SEO factors. Unfortunately, they’re also pretty high on the list of SEO metrics that you don’t have very much control over—but we’re going to help you with that in a moment.
Simply put, a backlink is an external link that directs users’ attention away from one site and to another. You certainly want to include some backlinks in your content, but most importantly you want there to be backlinks acting as an incoming redirection. In other words, you want to have other sites and pages referencing yours with a link.
Backlinks go hand in hand with organic traffic, which is when someone accesses your site or via the search engine's results page (SERP). That’s because search engine website crawlers look for backlinks in particular when building their search engine index, so the platform can better understand how your page(s) are connected. More importantly, the backlinks also tell search engines how your content relates to other websites and pages on the internet. This helps in placing your page on the SERP relevantly so that you can attract organic traffic for the right search queries.
The way search engines index and display your pages is in turn related directly to the quality of your backlinks. All backlinks will help search engines to index your content according to relevancy, of course, but that alone doesn’t have much effect on your ranking.
That’s why it’s important to generate backlinks to and from authoritative websites. These are recognized sites that already rank well for topics similar to your own.
Generating quality backlinks can be hard work, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are 25 ways to build (or earn) backlinks.
1. INTERNAL BACKLINKS
In our introduction above, we mentioned that backlinks are the term best associated with external links to your site and pages, but internal links also match the term. All backlinks contribute to the way search engines interact with your website because they help the site crawlers used to develop and update search engine indexes understand how your content relates to content on other websites.
Internal links contribute to developing a great user experience because visitors can easily navigate your site and find relevant articles that add to or match the page they’re already viewing. This is paramount in SEO because it allows you to retain visitors: instead of typing in another search query to find additional, relevant information, you’re providing a means for them to find it on your site.
One of the most common ways this will play to your advantage is if your content contains technical terms relevant to your industry. You want readers to understand your writing, but adding a definition to the first instance of every technical term makes for a messy content structure.
That’s why you’ve got another page going into detail on that term because it’s relevant to your industry and your target market. Turning the first instance of a technical term on your page into anchor text containing an internal backlink to the definitions page, you ensure that your readers have everything they need right at hand.
Be careful not to overload your pages with internal links, though. A good rule of thumb is to keep backlinks per page down to below 100, and you want to include external links to the count (you’ll see why in a bit).
2. GUEST POSTING
It may sound like you’ll just be helping another site build their resources and generate more views for themselves, but this is very much a case of helping each other out. After all, guest posting is very different from ghostwriting. As a ghostwriter, you get no credit for the content whatsoever. But every guest post is entirely credited to the writer, not the hosting site.
Of course, this does help the host site to generate views, but that’s okay for the guest writer because more often than not it includes a backlink to your site. Guest posting is one of those cases where it’s not only about generating a backlink to improve your search engine index ranking for SERPs, which shouldn’t be your only focus at all. This is a great way of getting your name out there, making your content available to new readers and winning increased online visibility. Guest posting, most especially for authoritative sites in your industry, builds your reputation online in a big, big way.
But it can take a long time to find opportunities to create guest posts if you go about it the wrong way. One sure means of discovering fresh, relevant opportunities is to make use of sites like Twitter. By using the search function, you can quickly find authoritative sites that are looking for guest post contributors on a regular basis. Just type “your niche” + guest post (for example “SEO” + guest post) and scan the results for new opportunities.
3. HELP A REPORTER OUT (HARO)
Help A Reporter Out (HARO) is a fantastic online resource for generating backlinks on authoritative news sites. All you need to do is sign up as a source, which takes less than a minute to do, and you’ll get three emails a day every Monday through Friday (at 05h35, 12h35, and 17h35 ET). These are the source requests, which is a list of articles that reporters need information for.
Each one includes a summary (usually the intended headline for the article), the topic category, and the email address of the journalist (which is where you’ll be sending the information to). It will also include the name of the site where the article will be published, the reporter’s deadline, and a description detailing what kind of information they need.
Of course, you’re not going to be able to contribute to every single query. For one thing, there can be over a hundred per email you receive, and not all of them are going to be relevant to your industry. All you have to do is scan through the list to find ones covering your area, and then send a contribution pitch to the reporter’s masked email!
In your pitch, you’re going to include your answer to the journalist’s query and your contact information—which can include a link to your site.
You’re not guaranteed to get a backlink from every single HARO query you answer because the journalist might not use the information you provide. After all, he/she is going to be receiving many responses, and some may be more relevant than others. But more often than not, you’ll be rewarded with a backlink on a high-ranking site.