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Links are still the most important factor in determining where a site will rank in the search results for a specific search term.
Getting good quality links to your website is hard these days and in general you need plenty of time and budget to get good results.
A lot of the ways in which you could build free backlinks in the past are now dangerous and should be avoided like the plague.
However, there are still a few ways to build free backlinks that are perfectly safe. The kind that will help your SEO efforts, without spending any money.
#1. Business partners
The perfect place to start if you want some free and easy links is the people you work and have a positive relationship with. Suppliers are often happy to link as you are providing them with business.
Business partners that you have a good relationship with will probably be happy to honour that relationship with a link. They may want one in return, but that is fine.
Finally, satisfied clients will often be happy to give you a link in return for all your hard work.
This is a perfect way to start your link building campaign as you already have a good relationship with these people. With this method, you could build a good base of links with no financial investment and very little effort.
#2. Back from the dead link building
Links are lost all the time on websites. When pages are moved or taken down completely, if the URLs are not redirected then the value of any links pointing to that page will be lost.
This could have been happening on your site for years!
Back from the Dead Link Building is a method for reclaiming all those lost backlinks.
You do this by identifying pages that used to exist, but are now serving a 404, and redirecting them to other relevant pages to reclaim the links that were pointing at them.
The beauty of this method is there is the possibility of getting a large number of links in a short space of time with very little work; you are just taking back what is yours.
#3. Press requests
Journalists often need a hand when writing articles, the topic they are covering may not be something they have any expertise in.
This presents an opportunity to provide the required information which may earn you a mention or a link in the finished article.
You can use services such as HARO (Help A Reporter Out) and Response Source to prospect for potential articles to contribute to.
#4. Guest posts
Guest posting has a bit of a bad rep thanks to this announcement (“So stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done”) from Matt Cutts in January 2014.
Of course, as is often the case with Google announcements, we have to read between the lines and use common sense and logic.
In fact, it was later clarified that what they really meant was guest blogging for the sole purpose of building links was over.
In other words, pushing out low quality articles that were of no value – just to get links – should be avoided.
But creating quality pieces of content and offering them to other websites that may link back to you is still a very valuable way to build free backlinks that are high-quality and relevant.
The biggest and most well-known players in the SEO industry (Moz, SEJ, Search Engine Land) have used guest posts as a constant source of high-quality content for years – and have been very successful at it.
So if you want to do guest blogging, the key guidelines are to not just write the content to get a link. Make it valuable and something that people will want to read, and offer the content to high quality sites.
#5. Create referenceable content
Obviously we would like all our content to be innately referenceable and linkable. But there are specific types of content that can be created which answer a question or back up a statement: these are what we want to create.
As well as answering a potential question, this content should be able to gain organic visibility.
The idea then is that when someone writes an article and needs a stat or piece of information to back it up, they will go to Google, search, find your piece of content which backs up what they are saying, and reference it in their article.
We want to create content that will rank for the search term that they will type in.
#6. Link reclamation
Depending on how well known your brand is, there could be people mentioning you on the web without you having any knowledge of it. When people mention your brand, there may also be an opportunity for a link.
You can use this Moz tool to search for un-linked mentions of your brand and you can set up Google Alerts to notify you when your brand is mentioned.
You can then get in touch with the website or author of the article where your brand has been mentioned, and see if they will add a link.
This method may be more successful if you suggest linking to an about us or a specific page that gives information about your brand.
Tip: if you have people who are well known and may be referenced on the web, you can set up dedicated bio pages about those people. And if they are mentioned, you can ask for a link to the bio page.
#7. Speak at an event
Speaking at an event may be daunting to some, but the rewards are massive. As well as the opportunity to get your brand in front of people, there are also opportunities from a link-building perspective.
If the event organizer has a website, it is likely that you will be able to get a link form that. And if anybody decides to write about the event and your talk stood out from the crowd, they may link to your website or social profile.
If they mention you but don’t link, you can use link reclamation to see if a link can be added.
#8. Build free backlinks: scoop It
Scoop it is a platform where you can curate content and it also has the cool feature allowing you to suggest links to be added to peoples’ boards.
Head over to the Scoop.It and find a board that is related to your content:
Paste in the link and press ‘suggest’. It the curator of the board likes your link, they will publish it and you will have a high authority link for very minimal effort.