When building backlinks, it is of the utmost importance to stay away from automated methods. Automated methods allow you to build massive amounts of backlinks at once, which is why they attract many marketers and SEOs.
Be aware — it’s a trap! While you may get more backlinks initially, those backlinks won’t do you any good in the long run.
Using automated methods goes against Google’s link scheme policies. Google has gotten pretty good at determining whether backlinks were built manually or using automated methods.
Fortunately, there are many ways to build high quality backlinks manually. Today, I will be covering 12 methods that are very effective for SEO and improving your rankings, and they don’t take too much time either.
Let’s get into it.
A lot of times, people will talk about you — without actually linking to you. They might forget to add the link, or they might cite you as a source without providing you with a link.
If your brand awareness campaigns are on point, people might mention your brand without linking to your site.
You might think that those are all missed opportunities — but they’re not. You can still get a link out of those mentions.
This strategy is called “reclaiming lost links,” or “reclaiming mentions.” There’s no guarantee you can turn those mentions into links, but you can try.
Politely message the site owner and ask if they could add a URL to your site. They might oblige, or they might not.
Many will, as long as you make it easy for them by providing them with a link they can insert into the text.
Of course, sometimes, you won’t want a link, such as if someone wrote a negative review about you. Use your judgement.
Alerts by Ahrefs is a fantastic tool for monitoring these kinds of mentions.
If you don’t want to pay for Ahrefs, you can set up a Google Alert.
Did you know that commenting on posts to get a backlink is not a black hat method? That’s according to Matt Cutts, former head of web spam at Google, himself.
Now, you do need to use your better judgement here. Commenting on a low quality site to get a backlink probably isn’t a good idea.
Also, if you write comments that are unrelated to the blog you’re commenting on or add zero or little value to the conversation, they will probably be deleted. If there is a pattern of such comments with your link in them, Google might think you used a robot to spam sites with comments.
That’s why you shouldn’t use this as your primary method. Instead, if you see a great blog post that you have a real opinion about, leave an interesting comment, with your viewpoint and thoughts.
Try to spark a conversation. You can link back to a related post you recently wrote about the same topic, but don’t make that the focus of your comment.
Be personal! Commenting on other sites also gives you a chance to build your personal brand as an expert in your area and build connections with other bloggers.
That is why you should use your real name and not a fake name or even your company name.
If you run a local business, you need to get links and citations from directories. This part is not as important for location independent businesses, but you may still be able to get citations from directories that list companies in your niche.
The more local citations you have, the better your rankings will be. Some big citation sites include Google My Business and Yelp, but there will always be smaller directories that list businesses in your area or industry.
Another superb method of getting backlinks is by publishing press releases. Press releases aren’t blog posts, so you need to write them professionally, like a journalist would.
You should follow AP style guidelines, as a general rule, or you can simply hire a writer who specializes in writing press releases.
There are many services that will distribute your press release for you. Some of the most popular ones include:
There are many other good ones too. Pricing varies, so shop around a little until you find one that provides what you are looking for at a reasonable price.
There are a few things to keep in mind here. First, it’s worth paying more for the more expensive services, as they will publish releases on higher quality sites.
Backlinks from low quality, spammy news sites are not what you want. That just doesn’t make you look good, and Google won’t like it either.
Another thing to know is that many PR distribution services provide only nofollow links. Nofollow links have a nofollow tag, which signals to Google not to crawl them.
However, nofollow links still benefit your SEO rankings. Google switched over to a “hint” approach, in which nofollow tags are hints, not rules.
According to Neil Patel, multiple case studies have shown that nofollow links do, in fact, help for SEO.
Still, if you would prefer to get dofollow links, make sure the PR distribution service you are using offers them.
An extremely popular link building method is to find broken links that lead to 404 errors or websites that don’t exist anymore, and then email the site owner to suggest a better link for them to use.
Of course, that better link will be a link to your site. You do need to have an existing page that is similar to their old, broken link and would be a reasonable alternative to link to.
You can find broken links on a site by using a tool like Dr. Link Checker. However, you will have to check each site one by one, so this method can take a bit of time.
Also, there is no guarantee that the site owner will swap the old link to yours. They may simply delete the link or even ignore your email altogether — they might just not care enough, or they may be too busy to respond.
Do links from social media help for SEO?
True, they are not traditional backlinks — but they do provide a lot of SEO juice.
Social signals show Google that people are talking about your site. The more social chatter there is about a site, the more fascinating it must be.
So, if you have been neglecting social media and focusing only on SEO, it’s time to reconsider that strategy. Social media is not directly related to SEO, but it can boost your rankings indirectly.
Think about it. If a site has no presence at all on social media, or if its profiles have zero or few followers, what will Google think about it?
On the other hand, if your Twitter and Facebook profiles have thousands of followers and likes, and hundreds of people are sharing your blog posts on social media, Google will start paying more attention to you.
Build up your social profile, share your links on social media, and encourage your blog readers to share them as well.
Yes, links from forums can help for SEO. The same goes for Q&A sites.
However, as with the commenting method, you have to be careful here. First, don’t do this too much — you don’t want to be spamming Quora or Reddit with your link.
Not only will it look spammy to Google, but it might get you banned from those sites or a specific subreddit.
Instead, if you see a question that you have real expertise on, and you can provide a wonderful answer that helps the OP out, write an answer. You can provide a link somewhere in the text, but do it subtly.
Don’t just copy and paste from an article you wrote. That looks spammy, even though a lot of people on Quora do it.
Look for forums in your niche you can join. Make sure the forum owners let you add links to comments — read the forum rules.
Reddit is always a good site to join. Some Q&A sites you can join include Quora, Stack Exchange, and Yahoo Answers.
In addition to Q&A sites, you can get links from mini blogging sites like Medium. You can set up a Medium profile and write blog posts — and you can link to any page you want.
However, you want to use this method sparingly as well. You need to write quality content on those sites — put in as much work and originality as you would on your own site.
Other sites you can submit content to include Slideshare and Steemit.
A unique way to get backlinks from quality sites is to offer to submit a testimonial.
You do need to be a customer to submit a testimonial — otherwise, you are putting your reputation on the line, as you have no real way of knowing if you can vouch for that company.
However, if you used a service and were satisfied with it, why not offer to leave a testimonial with your profile image and a short bio? You can usually get a backlink in exchange, so you both win.
Sometimes, even quality sites might link to information that is outdated or low-quality. If you find such a link, email the site owner and suggest they link to your updated resource or guide instead.
The site owner might not have noticed that the information in the post they linked to was outdated. If they are not an expert on the topic, they might not have known that new updates rendered that information irrelevant.
You will be helping them provide more accurate information to their readers.
If you have expert information about your industry, allow yourself to be interviewed by news sources, podcasts, and blogs. Sometimes, even lesser known podcast personalities or bloggers might have quality sites with a high DA rank.
You do need to provide them with your precious time, but you can often get a backlink in return.
One way to make yourself available to reporters is by joining HARO. On HARO, you need to be proactive, sift through queries from journalists, and respond to their queries.
This method is somewhat similar to the “reclaim lost mentions’ technique I talked about earlier in this article. Here, however, you will be targeting bloggers who published your original images or infographics without permission.
This method may be more effective, as they may be violating copyright laws. That does depend, because a lot of this type of usage may fall under the “fair use” category, which allows people to use screenshots and other images when providing commentary and opinions.
However, if they outright just republished your image or infographic, you may have a valid copyright claim.
Don’t start off by being confrontational, however. You want to build bridges, not burn them.
Also, many of them may not have even known it was your image. They may have pulled it off Google Images or found it on some other site that used it without your permission.
Instead, politely point out that they are using your image. Say that you are glad to let them continue using it, as long as they provide a link crediting you as the source.
Usually, that will work. If they still won’t comply, you can submit a copyright complaint to Google after sending them a more stern warning.
One way to find out if anybody has been using your images is to conduct a reverse Google image search.
So, there you have it — 12 ways to build backlinks manually. You should never rely on a single method, as each method has its advantages and disadvantages.
Instead, use several or all of these methods together to get the best results.
Above all, stay away from automated and spammy methods. Check Google’s link scheme guidelines if you are not sure if a link building method is acceptable or not.