Six and a half years ago (which is ages, in Internet years), Robin Nobles, Eric Ward, and John Alexander compiled a legendary list of 131 legitimate link building strategies. Four years later, Aaron Wall and Andy Hagans published 101 link building tips to market your website, which was inspired by the other article. Considering the furiously changing face of search engine marketing and with 2009 already ahead of us, I thought it was time to evaluate both lists and create an updated collection of link building strategies.
7 Internal link building strategies
1. Make sure that your navigation is spiderable. Either use (anchor text carrying) text based navigation, or an image based navigation with relevant alt attributes attached to each image link.
2. Breadcrumbs are a great internal linking tool. Use them for usability and anchor text differentiation.
3. In-content links not only tend to have a higher click through rate and perceived trust, but are also able to add more relevance to a link because of the surrounding text.
4. Use a sitemap. A good sitemap is useful for visitors, useful for search engines and, therefore, useful for you.
5. Link to topically relevant pages on important pages of your website. Link to important pages on every (or most) topically relevant page of your website.
6. Be consistent in linking behavior. If you link to homepage.com, always link to homepage.com, and not to homepage.com, homepage.com/index.php and homepage.com/index.php&id=123.
7. Identify your most linked-to pages, and make sure that the link juice flows to your most important pages from there, in a well-optimized way.
10 Easy link building starters
8. Optimize your existing links. Contact the webmasters of prominent websites that link to you and ask them to change ‘click here’ to an anchor text that contains relevant keywords, an anchor text that encourages clicking through, or -ideally- a combination of both.
9. Monitor your 404 statistics. Keep track of whoever links to old pages or misspelled URLs, which is data that Google provides as well. Contact those webmasters and provide them a good URL which they can link to.
10. Create a ‘link to us’ page, where you provide information about how people can link to you and which URL(s), logo and/ or anchor text they can use. Update this page regularly in order to diversify the anchor text.
11. Contact family, friends, colleagues and other people you know and let them know about your website. Some will send you useful feedback, others -who happen to have a website of their own- might link to you.
12. Do you block search engine bots from indexing certain parts of your website via robots.txt or meta-noindex? Find out if people link to this section of your site. If so, contact the webmasters of these sites and kindly ask them to link to an other page of your website.
13. Use your spell check. People will more likely link to correctly spelled articles than to content that’s full of grammatical errors.
14. Search for websites that already mention your business name or URL, but haven’t linked to your website. This works excellently in Yahoo!.
15. Look for websites that mention your personal name, but currently don’t link to your site. Use Yahoo! for this as well.
16. Leave comments on the blogs you visit every day. Hey, you’re visiting them anyway, so why don’t leave a (relevant, useful!) comment?
17. Find out which website your company owns. If you work for a small company, there may possibly be several. If you work for a large company, the number will probably knock you off your shoes. Link these websites (carefully!) together, or redirect the most important and/ or relevant ones to your main website.
12 Old school link building techniques
18. Search for related websites by using relevant keywords. Filter out all interesting websites and contact them. When you did this for your main keyword(s), there are still tons of other combinations possible.
19. Check which websites link to your competitors. Try to get them to link to your website as well.
20. Check which types of websites link to websites that offer the same services or products as you, but in a different country/ language. This might result in a “I never thought of that…” feeling.
21. Either interview an expert from your field, or try to get interviewed by someone else. Don’t forget to mention your best content: readers of the interview might be willing to link to it.
22. Write guest posts for relevant websites in your niche. You could also write posts about your industry for websites that are slightly related to your niche.
23. Teach. Whether it’s a public workshop (local press), a class at a local college or University (.edu website) or at a business related event (industry links), teaching can result in authority links.
24. Use any search engine advertising program and advertise on keywords that linkerati might use. Try to convert the targeted traffic into links.
25. Use Google AdWords’ content network to determine which (relevant) websites generate traffic and conversions. Contact those websites directly.
26. Join an affiliate program. See #25.
27. Determine who’s linked to you before. Contact them again when you’re releasing an interesting new piece of content.
28. Trade links. There’s nothing wrong, with swapping links with a few, highly relevant, authority websites that can bring in extra traffic. Exchanging links with lots of irrelevant websites, however, might get you in trouble.
29. Donate to a charity. Although buying links is not allowed by Google, there are still lots of ways you can buy links (kind of) legitimately.
12 Places to submit your URL to
30. Most social media websites are only useful for promoting good content (which will get you links in return), but sites like LinkedIn still provide dofollow links with an anchor text of your choice.
32. High quality, niche directories can be worth considering as well. Notice the emphasis on high quality.
33. Don’t forget to submit your website to high quality, regional directories. Especially worthwhile for websites that target local markets.
34. Publish stunning, interesting, funny or beautiful images in your Flickr account, that contains a link to your website.
35. Writing an article about a relevant topic, that contains one or more links to your website, and submitting it to article directories such as eZineArticles might work for you.
36. Relevant, non-spammy links in Wikipedia articles, Yahoo! Answers or Google Groups may have nofollow attributes attached, but can lead to (dofollow) links indirectly.
37. Submit your RSS feed to important RSS directories.
38. Blog directories may be willing to link to your blog. Submit your blog to the high quality ones.
39. Use PR websites to distribute your press releases, in addition to your PR agency. Make sure that your press release contains one or more (clickable) links to your website.
40. Got a great design? Submit your site to CSS directories and/ or website design contests. Even well-designed parts of your website can result in links.
41. Twitter. Just published a new post or article? Mention it on Twitter, your followers might visit it and -if they find it interesting- link to it.
12 Ways to make people write about you
42. Send out christmas gifts or birthday gifts to bloggers (or website owners) you know.
43. Offer services or a product in exchange for a review. Don’t ask the bloggers or webmasters to link to you, they most often will do anyway.
44. Create something unique. Top 10s, top 250s, mash-ups, how-tos, best-ofs, surveys, studies, awards. Define the proper hook, create unique content and attract good links. The possibilities are infinite.
45. Try to start a hype, use a new word, get a meme going, or do something else you’re the first at.
46. Link to others. People -especially bloggers- will notice it if you link to them. If you do this several times and offer content that is or might be relevant to these bloggers, they might link to you as well eventually.
47. If you happen to have some breaking news, offer a blogger (or a select group) the scoop. Bloggers love to publish scoops.
48. Say something groundbreaking, shocking, confronting, stupid, weird or flattering. People tend to link to others who are different or act that way.
49. Create something with an amazing design. This does not necessarily have to be your website, just having an awesome business card can result in extra links.
50. Launch an extraordinary offline campaign. People will talk about this online. If you integrate this offline campaign with an online version in a perfect way, you may even receive some extra links from ‘this is how you should integrate offline and online’-articles as well.
51. Create a contest and offer give-aways for winners. This is not only a great way to get attention, but to get valuable input as well, for example when hosting a guest post contest.
52. Build useful tools and/ or plugins that are free to use.
53. Speak at an industry conference. You’ll meet lots of interesting new people, and will probably get mentioned in several conference write-ups.
12 Common business tactics
54. Add a link to your local Chamber of Commerce profile.
55. The Better Business Bureau, and any industry related association you’re a member of are interesting link targets as well.
56. Contact your (preferred) suppliers, manufacturers, other partners. Obtain links from these website if they have a partners page as well.
57. Offer to write testimonials or a quote to your suppliers, if they are willing to link back to your site in or near this testimonial.
58. Ask clients to write testimonials about your product or service that they publish on their website, in exchange for a discount, extra fast delivery or any other benefit you can provide.
59. Hire a publicist. Press agency employees usually know the right people in the right places, which can result in a higher acceptancy rate of your press release.
60. Join relevant forums. You can either link to your website on your profile page, in your signature or in your posts. Notice how this one is listed under ‘Business related tactics’ in stead of ‘Places to submit your URL to’? There’s a reason why: forums are not places to drop links, but to join discussions.
61. Sponsor something. There are tons of possibilities, such as an industry conference, a sports club, a relevant forum, a local happening, or just any offline event that happens to have a website.
62. Hire an intern. You can let him or her work on a piece of research, which you can in your link building process. Also, don’t forget the website of the University you’re intern is attending.
63. Offer awesome product or services. People love talking about great stuff they’ve bought. If your products are ‘just’ good in stead of awesome, make sure that your after sales or customer care is excellent. People love talking about companies with a great service as well. Of course, offering crappy products or a lousy service will also result in links, but I don’t think those are the links you’re after.
64. Look for companies that went out of business. Either acquire their website, or contact the website that they’re currently getting links from and ask these sites to link to you in stead.
65. Turn your colleagues into link developers. Each of them has his or her own specialty and group of contacts. This not only take works off of your hands, but is very efficient as well.
4 Important considerations
66. Hire a link builder or an expert. Either let somebody you trust manage (a part of) your campaign, or visit a link building workshop. Especially when you’ve been building links for your own site for several years, a fresh mind can bring new ideas.
67. Hang in there. Link building isn’t something you can do in just a few hours, or something that you only have to do during one week in a year. Building a brand can’t be done in a single day, the same goes for a solid link profile. It’s a continuing process that takes time. Lots of time.
68. Keep an eye on the news. Follow important and interesting different blogs, in order to keep up with the latest news, trends and tricks. I’m not just talking about link building or SEM blogs, but make sure to follow general marketing blogs, slightly different, creative blogs or industry related news websites as well.
69. If you have to ask yourself ‘is this a legitimate approach’ or ‘should I be doing this’, the answer is probably no. Too much, too aggressive or too shady isn’t advisable. Don’t do things you would be ashamed of when explaining them to your mother. Or Matt Cutts.
0 Advanced link building strategies
There is no such thing as advanced link building. While this list already sums up quite a few different strategies, I’m pretty sure that you can easily come up with a dozen more, that are specifically suitable for your company or industry.
Eric Ward once said that link building is “one part marketing, two parts public relations, and three parts common sense”. I’d say that link building is 10% basic SEO knowledge, 20% business thinking, 30% creativity and 40% perseverance. Either way, there’s nothing advanced to it.