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Finding SEO Backlink Opportunities

Updated on September 9, 2016
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Anyone worth their salt in the SEO industry understands how powerful SEO backlinks really are, so we are not going to go into what a backlink is, why you should get quality backlinks, or why you need backlinks in the first place. In this article, I am going to focus strictly on where to get them and perhaps a bit about quality metrics for some of them. So, strap in and let's do this!

Extracting Success from Competitors

One of the easiest ways to find backlinks is to look at your competitor's link profile. Your competitor has spent copious amounts of time looking for quality backlinks and it has paid off, because they are ahead of you in the SERPs. They believe they did this for their own benefit, but if you are smart then you know that they only did your research for you (at least partially)! Getting in and finding out what is driving their success can be a great way to find new avenues for guest posting, photo submission, and even relevant industry directories that you have never heard of.

While some of their links are not going to be obtainable, such as mentions in blogs and news articles, you will definitely be able to pick up some quality links. Some of the links may be instant, while others may take more time to secure. If you are not familiar with how to analyze a competitor's backlink profile, I recommend a free tool called, SEO Profiler.

Guest Blogging

Being mentioned in someone else's blog post can seem like waiting for grass to grow or for your dog to magically become potty trained. However, a proactive approach is available and that proactive approach is guest blogging. Google views contextual links as more favorable than links found in the author bio or comments of a blog. So, guest blogging takes care of this problem, as long as you are posting quality posts. When you write a guest post for another blog, you can add a link to whatever page you choose right into the content, which is ideal.

Many blog managers need to fill their posting schedules and are often looking for an opportunity to post your guest post, provided your are submitting a post that is relevant to their readers. In order to be relevant to their readership and still be able to insert a relevant link, you may need to get creative. I recommend looking at areas where your business and their business overlap. For instance, I own a marketing agency, so when I did a guest post for Conversational, a virtual office assistant service, I wrote about how a bad receptionist (or no receptionist) can be a poor representation of a company and can cause leads to be pushed away. Writing in this way allowed me to contextually add a link to my blog post about landing good leads. Try to write “win win” articles, when you are guest posting.

Online Directories

Directories can be a scary place, to say the least. It is a well known fact that there are thousands of “web directories” online that are proliferated across the internet and are often associated with low or mediocre web properties trying to rank in Google, like it's still 1998.

Please note, “these are not the [directories] you're looking for!” There are other directories, better directories, ones that you need not fear being marked as spam when associating with them. So, the best way to know the difference is to look at the trust flow of a directory vs. the citation flow. This can be done by using Majestic. You can read more on Majestic's trust/citation flow here. If you are looking for a low cost option, you might consider Market Samurai to get this data from.

Blog Directories – Blog directories are often a place where you can submit your blog posts. These directories have a reader base and usually make their money from advertising, but they don't write the content themselves. So, they look for quality articles or blog posts to put on their site. Many of these may be nofollow, but if you are writing good material, then you should only be looking to get your post out there. Other blog directories will be dofollow.

Web Directories – Web directories can be a good idea, but these are the directories that are often spam, so be careful. If you are looking to stay on the safe side, start by looking at local directories and industry specific directories. Local directories may have low citation flow, but often have great trust flow. This is because they are trusted, as they are obviously local, but they are often not well kept and the content itself is not very valuable or informative.

RSS Directories – These are much like blog directories, except you are submitting your blog's RSS feed address in to the site instead of your blog URL. In fact, many blog directories ask for the RSS equivalent. Yet I mention it, because it will come up different in search.

Press Releases

If you have anything news worthy to report, don't hesitate to submit a press release. Being indexed on a press release site or getting featured in an article is great for your trust flow. Putting out press releases is a great way to show Google that you are (or might be) newsworthy and it looks good that you even submitted.

Getting a Column

Guest posting can become an arduous process that is ongoing, because you are continuously searching for guest posting opportunities. While it is important to increase the breadth of your link profile (across many sites), it is also beneficial to increase the depth of your link profile (multiple posts on the same site). When you invest only one article per site, google can see that you have a bunch of wanna-be “one hit wonders” on a plethora of sites. Ultimately, this looks like you are only concerned about link building and could cause your site to be viewed as unfavorable in the eyes of the Big-G!

So, by getting a column, you can post regularly on the same site for a given period of time or for a set number of posts. A latent effect of posting on the same site is that you tend to be in front of the same readers more often and, just like advertising, the more they see you the more they trust you. When people see your posts often, you will be more likely to get links from these people or, with a little luck, you might get them to convert on your website or gain a customer.

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Quality Educational Content

People flock to expert advice. While blog posts do provide advice, they are often short snippets or maybe they are more subjective and less expository. However, other types of educational content can be a great way to get links to your site. Here are a few ideas:

White Papers – Writing a white paper is a great way to get links, if your content is valuable. White papers should include research data and make a strong case.

eBooks – eBooks are much like white papers, except that they do not necessarily need to be research based. These can be more subjective, but in a long form. Usually, they are downloadable as a PDF file, which makes it more desirable as a resource that can be shared or printed.

Webinars – While webinars can be time consuming, they can also be very valuable as a sales tool. Use this as a tool at the middle of your funnel and create a sign up page and optimize it for SEO. Once your page is ready, share it on social and other networks.

Checklists – This is actually an underused tactic. If your industry competitors do not offer a checklist for people to go by, then you may have a very wide opening, depending on your industry. Checklists are great for people who want to try to do what you do as a profession. Giving them a walk-through checklist will do one or two things: they will figure out that they need your help and/or people will link to it.

Infographics – Infographics are popular, because they provide information in bite-sized snippets and are usually presented in a memorable way. Infographics are appealing to the mind and make retention of information much easier, because it is visual. Also, there are many great infographic submission sites, many of which offer links to your site, such as visual.ly.

Visual.ly Overview

Here is an example of an infographic that our team at Blue Phoenix designed and we later posted on visual.ly.
Here is an example of an infographic that our team at Blue Phoenix designed and we later posted on visual.ly. | Source

Tutorials – Last, but not least, tutorials and how-to's are great for getting links. Many users scour Google to find bits and pieces of information on the topics that they seek. As they search, they are trying to piece together the puzzle to build their foundation of knowledge needed for undertaking a certain task or process. Tutorials help to place all of the elements together in one place and with a logical process flow, so the user merely has but to read your article and follow your instruction. In essence, tutorials take most of the research out of their quest.

Influencer Marketing

High quality links are often associated with excellent websites, and usually, these websites are rather picky about who they allow to post on their sites, and for good reason. So, one of the most efficient methods of obtaining a great link is to look for influencers who already have a column on a website that you would like a link from. Some of these are paid, other times you can link bait to get a mention. Additionally, you may get mentioned on an influencer's social media, which could give you and your site a lot of free publicity.

Whenever you are building your backlink profile, never short sell yourself for cheap and spammy links. These can be more of a burden than a benefit, so don't bother. Look for high quality links from respected sites and industry leaders. Take the high road and make yourself impervious to Google algorithm updates.

If you are looking for more aspects of building your SEO presence, check out these 18 key areas of on-site and off-site SEO. Remember that SEO is a process, so don't rush anything and let things build in a natural, but guided, way.

Until next time...

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