In the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) world, links are crucial. They help boost your visibility, credibility, and search ranking on search engines and are critical to Google’s mysterious algorithm. However, many SEOs (us included) will caution you to be wary of buying links – it’s risky and can lead to crippling penalties. Instead, we’ll tell you the value is in “link earning,” which almost immediately begs the question – What the heck is link earning? How is that technically different than buying links, and how can I do it?
All fair questions 🙂
What the heck is link earning, and how is that different from buying links?
- Buying Links: This involves paying for backlinks to your site. While it might seem like a quick win, these types of links are against Google’s guidelines and could result in penalties, including lowered ranking or removal from search results (remember the days of penguin?)
- Earning Links: In contrast, this means creating and promoting high-quality content that garners natural links from other websites. This method is ethical, sustainable, and aligned with Google’s emphasis on quality content and user experience.
Alright, How do I Earn Links?
Well, in SEO, that’s a million-dollar question. However, I’ve compiled a list of ideas for earning quality links for your SEO strategy. Luckily, You don’t need webmaster expertise or a marketing degree for these link-building strategies; you need a little creativity. Hopefully, some of these ideas will give you a springboard for your link-earning strategy!
Link Earning Category #1: Valuable Content
#1 Infographic: Translate complex data into visually appealing graphics. To make your infographics link-worthy, ensure they’re packed with valuable, unique data and use engaging designs. Remember to include an embed code and social sharing buttons to make sharing easier for others. Here’s a little more insight on how to create a great infographic.
#2 Videos: Express your ideas visually and reach a broader audience on platforms like YouTube. Videos include tutorials, explainers, product reviews, or company culture showcases. Promote your videos across your social media channels and embed them in related blog posts to increase visibility.
#3 Podcasts: Start a conversation, share knowledge, and attract an audience who enjoys audio content. Add detailed show notes and transcripts for each episode on your website, which can improve SEO and earn you links. Want to avoid putting the energy into your podcast? Consider reaching out to get interviewed in one! Backlinko details this tactic in its link-building guide.
#4 White Papers: Show your industry expertise with an in-depth analysis of a specific topic. When promoting your white paper, target industry leaders, influencers, and websites that might be interested in your insights, encouraging them to link to your work.
#5 Case Studies: Share success stories to demonstrate your experience and results. Case studies that include compelling data, precise visuals, and actionable insights will likely be shared by others in your industry.
#6 E-books: Provide valuable insights in a format that users can consume at their pace. Once your e-book is ready, promote it on your website, newsletter, and social media. You can also offer it as a free download in exchange for a share or a backlink.
#7 Guides: Offer step-by-step advice to help solve everyday problems in your industry. Comprehensive, evergreen guides often earn links organically over time, as other writers cite them as resources.
#8 Tutorials: Teach something new and make the learning process easier. Tutorials that are clear, easy to follow, and filled with practical tips are often linked to valuable resources.
#9 Courses: Build learning materials that can turn visitors into students. Promote your course on industry forums, social media groups, and your email list, asking students to share their experiences and your course link.
#10 Webinars: Connect with your audience in real time, answer their questions, and offer immediate value. You can earn links by partnering with influencers or other businesses for webinars, linking your content to their websites.
#11 Blogs / Articles: Create optimized content to rank well for informational keywords and gain inbound links & traffic. Be sure to create informative, engaging articles full of data-driven insights. Others often cite These types of articles in their content, earning you backlinks naturally over time. Moz has a great Content Marketing guide that can help you come up with ideas for this kind of content.
#12 Cheat Sheets: These are great for simplifying complex information into a handy, quick reference guide. A well-designed cheat sheet could become a highly linked-to resource if your industry uses complicated terminologies or procedures. When you share your cheat sheet, encourage your audience to share and link to it, especially if they find it helpful for their audience.
Link Earning Category #2 – Engaging with Online Communities
#13 Online Communities: Participating in online forums, discussion groups, or social media communities is a great way to earn links. Provide helpful answers, share your insights, and regularly engage in discussions relevant to your industry. Over time, as you establish your authority, you can naturally reference your content and gain backlinks.
#14 Contests and Giveaways: Creating contests or giveaways can generate a lot of buzz, especially if you encourage participants to share your link for extra entries. Promote your contest on social media, your website, and email marketing for maximum reach. Here’s a case study detailing a super successful contest we ran on behalf of one of our clients.
#15 Sponsoring Events: By sponsoring industry events, your brand gets visibility, and you typically get a link back from the event website. Consider events that align with your brand values and have an audience that matches your target demographic.
#16 Live Events: Whether online or offline, hosting live events allows you to interact with your audience directly. Participants and industry media are more likely to share the event link if the event is valuable and engaging. You can also post these events on common websites that allow you to share events, such as directories, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Business Profile, etc.
#17 Webinars: Hosting a webinar is an excellent way to share your expertise and interact with your audience. Be sure to invite guest speakers who bring added value and their following. Promote the webinar link on your website, social media, and email newsletters to encourage sign-ups and shares.
#18 Podcasts: Start a podcast where you discuss industry trends, interview experts, and share unique insights. This not only boosts your credibility but also makes your brand link-worthy. Promote your podcast on your website and social media, and encourage guests to share the episode link.
#19 Guest Posts / Guest Blogging: Writing guest posts for reputable websites in your industry can earn you high-quality backlinks. Be sure to create content valuable to the host website’s audience and naturally include a link to relevant content on your site. Remember, the focus should be on providing value, not just getting backlinks backlink. You’ll also need to craft a solid outreach strategy for this type of content.
Link Earning Category #3 – Creative Link Bait
#20 Tools and Calculators: Crafting bespoke tools or calculators that provide utility to your audience can earn you valuable backlinks. For instance, a fitness blog might offer a ‘Calorie Burn calculator, while a financial advisory website could provide a ‘Retirement Savings calculator. The tools should resonate with your audience and industry and be straightforward. Let your audience know about your offerings through your social media, newsletter, and other marketing efforts, encouraging users to link to your tools.
#21 Downloadables: Valuable resources that your audience can download and use offline add immense value. These could range from PDF guides, and industry reports to printable checklists or worksheets. These resources should align with your industry and give your audience a unique perspective or solution. By promoting these resources effectively, you encourage downloads and potential link shares.
#22 Badges: HTML badges that other websites can display can testify to their reputation or standing. For example, a certification badge that links back to your site can both validate the certified site and create a backlink for you.
#23 Software: Software or web applications that solve a problem for your audience can earn you links. Whether it’s a time-tracking tool for freelancers or a recipe organizer for food bloggers, these solutions must be helpful and relevant. As users share your software, links to your site can multiply.
#24 Extensions: Browser extensions that augment the functionality and align with your brand can gain attention. An example might be an extension that helps digital marketers analyze web page performance on the fly. Ensure your extension is reliable and valuable, promoting it on various platforms to boost downloads and shares.
#25 Checklists: Tailored checklists that simplify complex tasks or projects can be incredibly valuable to your audience. For instance, a thorough and handy SEO checklist can become an essential resource for digital marketers. Promote your checklists, encouraging users to share your help and earn more backlinks. Here’s an example of one of the most popular checklists on our site – our SEO website launch support checklist.
Creating Interactive Content
#26 Quizzes: Crafting interactive quizzes can create an enjoyable learning experience for your audience. Quizzes that are fun and insightful encourage users to share their results on social media, indirectly promoting your content and potentially earning you backlinks. Search Engine Journal talks about this and other interactive content in their guide to link building.
#27 Games: The combination of entertainment and education can make games an exceptional tool for link earning. Designing a game that resonates with your audience, even if it doesn’t get a million players, can still garner a significant number of backlinks.
#28 Interactive Infographics: Infographics are valuable resources in their own right, but making them interactive takes their utility to a new level. Users can interact with sections of the infographic to reveal additional data or alter the displayed information. When these infographics provide valuable insights, users are encouraged to share and link to them.
#29 Interactive Videos: With interactive videos, users can influence their viewing experience by deciding what they learn next in a tutorial or by clicking on different features in a product video to learn more about them. When the interaction adds value to the viewing experience, users are likely to share your video and link back to it.
#30 Interactive Maps: Maps displaying location-specific data are incredibly valuable and interactive. For instance, a travel website could offer an interactive map that highlights top-rated restaurants or attractions in specific cities. Users will likely share and link back to these maps when they find them helpful.
#31 Virtual Tours or 360° Videos: These types of content provide an immersive experience of a physical location or space. Whether you’re showcasing real estate properties, university campuses, or museum exhibits, virtual tours or 360° videos can attract viewers who may link to your content.
Expanding into New Technologies
#32 360 Reality Experiences: Embrace the potential of virtual and augmented reality technologies to create immersive, 360-degree experiences that captivate your audience. These innovative experiences can spark curiosity and inspire users to share, earning you more backlinks.
#33 NFT Applications: Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) are rapidly changing the digital collectibles landscape. Creating unique digital assets tied to NFTs could attract a tech-savvy audience willing to link to and share your work.
#34 Metaverse Applications: The metaverse offers a vast, virtual space where digital and physical reality meet. Creating applications within this space can be a novel way to engage with your audience. Unique, interactive content that serves a purpose in the metaverse could become a hotbed for backlinks.
#35 AI Applications: Artificial intelligence (AI) advancements present numerous opportunities to engage with your audience. Whether it’s an AI chatbot that enhances customer service, or an AI tool that simplifies complex tasks, intriguing applications of AI can make your website a must-mention resource in relevant conversations.
Digital PR and Newsworthy Actions
#36 Create a Newsworthy Campaign: What if you could link your organization’s mission to a cause that resonates deeply with your audience and the world? By crafting such a campaign, you can inspire your audience to take action, share your reason, and ultimately help you earn valuable backlinks. Remember, a genuinely newsworthy campaign goes beyond self-promotion—it contributes positively to the community.
#37 Compelling Press Releases: Use press releases to share significant, newsworthy events about your brand. Whether a new product launch, an essential collaboration, or a significant company milestone, a well-written press release can earn media coverage and backlinks from respected news outlets and industry blogs. Be sure to syndicate any Press Release on third-party sites, such as PR Newswire. Here’s a more detailed guide on how to optimize press releases for SEO.
#38 Influencer Engagements: Collaborating with influencers can significantly boost your brand’s visibility and reputation. Whether it’s a social media takeover, a guest post on their blog, or a shared webinar, such partnerships can increase your reach and earn quality backlinks.
#39 Product Launches: Innovative products pique the interest of customers and industry watchers alike. By creating buzz around your product launches, you can attract coverage from tech publications, bloggers, and industry influencers, who are likely to link back to your website.
#40 Local Events: Organizing or sponsoring local events shows that your company cares about the community. Such events, especially with a unique angle or tie into a broader theme, can garner local media attention and backlinks. Although we are in the US, our headquarters is in Denver, and we run regular meetups that gain valuable relationships that often lead to partnerships and the potential for backlines.
#41 Original Research: Original research can position your company as a thought leader in your field. When you share unique insights and complex data, other content creators will likely refer to your research in their work, earning you backlinks.
#42 Company Culture Highlights: A company’s culture can be a powerful differentiator. Sharing behind-the-scenes stories, employee experiences, or your values and initiatives can make your brand more relatable. It attracts like-minded individuals and companies who might link back to your stories.
#43 Current Events: Commenting on industry trends or global events keeps your brand relevant. It allows you to engage in broader conversations and opens opportunities for your content to be linked by others discussing the same topics.
#44 Pitch News Outlets: Regularly reaching out to news outlets, including services like HARO (Help a Reporter Out), can help your brand gain visibility and earn high-quality backlinks. Ensure your pitches are timely and relevant, and bring a unique angle to the table to increase your chances of being featured. Hubspot gives excellent ideas for contacting journalists in their link-building 2022 guide.
And there you have it, my friends – 40+ different ways to earn links that don’t involve sketchy tactics or wizardry. They say, “If you build it, they will come.” However, we like to say, “If you create something truly awesome, valuable, and worth sharing, they will link.”
While we’ve thrown a lot of ideas your way, remember that the secret sauce to earning a link is about creating something of genuine value and making sure your audience knows about it.
If this sounds like a journey you’re excited to embark on, you may need a trusted guide. We’re here to help! We’re packed with innovative ideas and have the expertise to help you navigate the winding paths of SEO, link earning, climbing the SERPs, digital marketing & marketing strategy.
In the meantime, here’s to making the Internet a more connected place, one high-quality link at a time!