Building links to your website is key to boosting domain authority and increasing your brand visibility in key search results. Clearly, it’s a topic of high interest.

We asked marketers to share their best link-building strategies, and 109 marketers contributed, making this one of our most successful roundups yet.

Just how vital is link building to a marketer’s overall strategy? Highly vital, according to our survey.

When we asked marketers to rate the importance of link building in their overall marketing strategy, they gave it 4.32 out of 5 on average (with 1 being of least importance and 5 being of greatest importance).

In fact, 49 marketers rated link building’s importance at a 4, and another 48 rated link building’s importance a 5.

importance of link building rated

Link building doesn’t usually happen by chance, even though you may end up with organic links if others think your content is useful. Rather, you need to be deliberate about how you build links for the greatest success.

And many marketers certainly are deliberate. A slight majority of marketers (55%) spend 6 or more hours on link building per week, while 23% spend more than 10 hours. Some even said they spend 15, 20, or 30 hours per week on link building; and one respondent shared that link building makes up the bulk of their full-time job.

hours spent on link building per week

What tactics work best to generate the most and highest-quality backlinks? How should you construct a link-building strategy for your own business?

We compiled the best tips from 109 marketers. But before diving in, we break down the statistical insights we gathered.

The most popular link-building tactics: guest posts and email

Although marketers often use multiple link-building tactics, guest posting still remains most popular among those we surveyed. A majority 72% use guest posting to build links.

In fact, many marketers mentioned guest posting in their link-building advice because they find it so successful.

Even so, a few marketers disagreed. They didn’t attribute as much success to guest posting compared to other tactics, like email outreach.

In our survey, 67% of marketers use email outreach to build links, making it the second-most popular technique for link building.

Another 28% of marketers let some of their link building happen organically, but most use at least one deliberate strategy along with organic link building.

tactics marketers use to build links

Most-used backlink tools: HARO and Ahrefs

Marketers use a wealth of tools to find backlink opportunities. We chose to highlight the top nine tools below:

tools used for backlink opportunities

From the selection, two tools clearly stood out as the most popular: HARO and Ahrefs.

HARO helps marketers discover opportunities where other sites are actively looking for insights and guest posts – and these sites are usually willing to give backlinks in return for these contributions.

Ahrefs lets you set up alerts for new, relevant backlink opportunities based on keywords and brand mentions. This way, you can reach out immediately to see if the site would be willing to include a backlink to one of your pages.

In addition, Ahrefs can send real-time alerts whenever a source mentions your competitors, but not your brand, so you can ask to be included in the mix, as well.

Criteria when looking for (and giving) backlinks

How do marketers decide which websites to get a coveted backlink from? According to the marketers we surveyed, high domain authority is most important (72% use this as a deciding factor).

Marketers also prefer non-competing sources in their brand’s niche (49%), high-traffic sources (49%), and sites they feel will be enriched by a link to their content (45%).

Which sites to get backlinks from?

As for the sites marketers prioritize giving backlinks to, content that enriches their particular piece is most important (58% of marketers say this is a deciding factor).

Marketers also prefer non-competing sources in their brand’s niche (48%), and websites with high domain authority (44%).

which sites to give backlinks to?

16 expert link-building strategies you can’t miss

We received a wealth of useful advice from marketing experts on how to best build links.

Although we couldn’t include every response in this article (after all, there were over 100!), we compiled a selection of the best link-building strategies. Here are the top 16, in no particular order.

1. Write high-quality content

Marie Belsten of Bootcamp Media shares, “My top link-building technique would be to write a really high-quality cornerstone piece of content for your own blog, which contains a variety of content formats such as images, statistics, little-known facts, infographics, charts, graphs, and quotes from authoritative thought leaders.”

Trond Nyland of Mattress Review says, “Write quality content, then send out notifications about it to people who have linked to similar content before. This gets us an average of 15-20 backlinks on every blog post, which is how we got over 550 backlinks.”

Noman Nalkhande of WP Adventure tells us, “People are always looking for newer and better content to be added to their sites. If you’re able to write amazing pieces of content that are relevant for the site’s audience, webmasters will be glad to publish it and provide you a backlink as well.”

Tonya Davis of ThoughtLab shares, “If you look at all of the top ranking websites within your niche, it’s likely they have an extensive blog or resource section. Content really is the top priority. I can’t stress this enough. If you have great content, the links will just come naturally.

“I would first focus on creating linkable assets to help generate links and shares. Then find ways to amplify that content. As they say in the SEO world, content is king, distribution is queen.

“Reach out to sites that would find the content valuable to their audience and share it with them. If the content is unique, well researched, and relevant, they’re a lot more likely to share it.”

2. Network with other brands and content creators

Brett Banchek of Overnight Flowers explains, “Building links begins with networking. Whether you’re using HARO, writing guest posts, or exchanging links, building connections as you go can be extremely important.

“If you become a regular contributor to roundups, those looking for content will respect your opinion, and you’ll soon be recognized as an expert in your particular niche.”

David De Haan of Stand Up Paddle Boards Review advises to, “Interact with other website owners. Let people in the industry know you exist and the type of content you create. Comment on their posts and join conversations on social media forums. If your content is high-quality, you will start getting backlinks.”

3. Approach link building like PR

Charlie Tatum of Fort Worth Optimism tells us, “It’s important to think of [a link-building strategy] in the same way you would a typical PR campaign, even though the results are different. Look for opportunities to receive links and features in high-authority publications that reach your desired audience.

“We think broadly about opportunities that are a good fit for our clients, but don’t try to force anything that doesn’t feel right. Link-building strategies that come together organically are more effective than those that feel forced or awkward.”

4. Focus on higher-quality links

Christy Morgan of Exposure Ninja advises, “When people are starting out with their link building strategy, they might be tempted to get as many links as possible. But the focus should be to get quality links. To build your domain authority and trust flow, you want links in quality publications.”

Anna Tatelman of Optimistic Miami shares, “Our top link-building strategy is to try and obtain quotes in online publications with high domain authorities. Having our content included in sites that rank at the same level or higher than ours helps boost our DA score. This link-building strategy helps reach more customers on search engines who may not have been exposed to our company before.”

5. Find strategic guest posting opportunities

Nikola Baldikov of Brosix tells us, “I’ve had the most success with guest blogging and building partnerships with niche players that aren’t competitors. In this way, I’m able to scale up my link-building efforts/results by leveraging the professional network I’ve built for myself.

“Guest blogging also helps me raise my professional profile, and has helped establish me as an authority in my niche. This makes my outreach more effective.”

Peter Mann of SC Vehicle Hire explains, “We used to do a lot more email outreach, but nowadays, you need to do email outreach on a large scale to consistently generate results. Guest posting is more reliable, as many websites offer guest posting opportunities. And it’s a lot easier to get a response from a website that already offers guest posting instead of cold outreach.”

Stefanie Siclot of Growth Rocket adds, “When pitching to sites do a guest post, you have to spend at least an hour or more thinking of topics/titles. The more comprehensive and different your title is, the more likely the webmaster will agree to feature your work.”

Malte Scholz of Airfocus says, “Writing high-quality guest posts is a great chance to get published on relevant websites within our niche. Our strategy is to invest in the content creation and produce quality articles that we could offer to some of the best websites in the SaaS industry.

“Nowadays, guest posting is considered a side activity and lots of site managers refuse such offers because of the previous bad experience. Our goal is to change this and build strong relationships with selected websites.”

Darin Evangelista of Lyda Law Firm shares, “I’ve used just about every white hat link-building technique under the sun, but I’ve had the most success with guest posting.

“Everyone wants great content on their site and if you can provide that without asking for much in return (just a link), you’re going to be successful. The key is to provide the best content possible without trying to sell anything. Be honest, be open, and be sincere.”

Sam Olmstead of Los Angeles Website Design Experts says, “If you have the opportunity to write a guest post for an authoritative publication, you can completely control both the content you create and the links you include. The important thing is to find relevant guest post opportunities for the industries you’re working in.”

Saurabh Jindal of Talk Travel advises, “When you do a guest post, try to get a backlink in the main content rather than in the footer. A link in the main content is considered more useful by Google and given a higher weight.

“Also, try to guest post on websites which have content on similar topics as your own website to establish a relevance for the incoming links.”

6. Use email outreach

Kristen Bolig of SecurityNerd recommends, “My main strategy with link building is using email outreach. It takes a lot of time and effort to find valuable contacts, but it’s been well worth it for my business. I was recently able to land backlinks on valuable sites, like BusinessWire and Yahoo, through targeted email outreach.”

Khris Steven of Khrisdigital recommends, “Email outreach focused on genuine relationship-building still remains one of the best ways I build links. My email outreach process always starts with researching publications and specific people who might be interested in my content and connect with them.

“These relationships can lead to partnerships, interviews, guest blogging opportunities, and more. And not just for backlink purposes alone. It’s all about building connections and relationships that benefits both parties.”

Lora Bovie of Choosing Therapy shares, “I use email outreach as my top tactic to build links these days. I’ve tried link exchanges, comments on forums and blogs, and guest posting in the 2010s, but I don’t see the same positive results I do with email outreach.

“I’ve also seen clients not have a link-building strategy and hope that it happens organically. And I can tell you that I have never once seen that strategy work.”

7. Find opportunities to replace broken links

Phil Strazzula of Select Software shares, “My favorite way of getting backlinks is to replace broken links. All it takes is to find a broken link in an article that’s in your niche. Once you find it, create a page or post that would be a fitting replacement. Then simply pitch your page to the site hosting the article as a replacement.

“The greatest part of fixing broken links is you can potentially get multiple backlinks for one replacement. If you search the broken link, you may find some are linked in multiple articles. You can then pitch all of the people hosting the links. A broken link looks bad on the article, as well as the linked source because it takes away from its legitimacy. So most sites will be willing to replace them if you provide a fitting alternative.”

Shiv Gupta of Incrementors Web Solutions recommends, “Find pages on different blog sites with dead links and request for the blogger to replace the broken link with a link to similar content on your own site. This is beneficial for both marketers and publishers. When a broken link is replaced with an updated URL, a marketer earns a link back to their website, and a publisher’s site becomes more SEO-friendly.”

8. Attract backlinks with your images

Farzad Rashidi of Respona defines, “Guestographics: the process of pitching an infographic to a certain piece of content to get a backlink.

“This is a great practice for a number of reasons. By including a useful infographic, the content owner gets a valuable infographic in their content and may attract shares and organic traffic. The person pitching the infographic receives a valuable link for the page their infographic is featured on. Using infographics as an incentive helps encourage response rates, along with having something visually attractive to offer in someone else’s content.”

Ruggero Loda of Running Shoes Guru tells us, “Our number one link-building technique is creating high-quality content with unique images, then telling others about it through outreach. We know who to email by using MOZ and SEMrush to see who’s linked to similar content in the past. Once we identify these people, we message them, and get loads of links this way.”

9. Conduct original research

Max Woolf of ResumeLab tells us, “One of the unconventional methods of getting server-crushing traffic to your website is to build backlinks using original data and research. Here at ResumeLab, we tap into the power of Amazon Mechanical Turk to poll people on career-related topics and create original, data-fueled research rich in graphics that helps job seekers around the world.”

Daniel Reeves of Dandy Marketing says, “We found creating original research to be highly successful if you get the topic right and it’s aligned with your niche. This is mainly done through surveys, either paid or using an existing email database.

“We normally ask about 10 questions in the hope of getting some interesting stats we can use for outreach, or for people to use in their content as a source – which they normally link back to. Writers or journalists are always looking for data to use in their articles. The main concept behind this technique is to become that source of data.”

10. Use HARO to your advantage

Tory Gray of The Gray Dot Company says, “My secret sauce for link building is HARO. It’s possible to get our company and our clients an extra 5-10 monthly links there while spending about two hours per backlink. That results in a good ROI for us.”

Hilary Bird of Render Pilots shares, “HARO is my top link-building technique. Since more and more websites are extremely strict about backlinks on guest posts (and writing guest posts just takes a lot of time), I defer to HARO.

“It’s the fastest and easiest way to get a diverse range of backlinks to sites I may otherwise never have a chance to get backlinks on. I think it’s been so successful because I’ve made it a priority to look at – and respond to –  all HARO emails within 1-2 hours of receiving them. Sometimes there aren’t any queries in the HARO emails that apply to my niche, but usually there’s something I can speak to in a related vertical.”

11. Apply the “skyscraper” method

Natik Ameen of Incrementors Web Solutions advises, “Use the Skyscraper Link Building Technique. Find a piece of content ranking highly for a keyword you’d like to rank for, then create a better version of the content. ‘Better’ may mean adding a video, writing longer-form content, adding useful images and/or infographics, or otherwise extending the quality of the content. It’s all about finding popular content, creating even better copy, and therefore getting backlinks both naturally and by reaching out to the right people.”

Nikola Roza tells us, “My top technique is creating a skyscraper post and then promoting it like crazy. First, I find a really competitive keyword in my niche, where sites that rank have racked up a ton of referring domains and links. Then I create something better and reach out to all those sites. And because there’s usually a few hundred decent sites to outreach to, that lands me a few dozen good links to my page.

“My goal with the skyscraper post is not to rank for the main term, but to get as many links as possible so that I can then raise my overall domain authority and rank higher for all my pages in Google.”

Andrea Loubier of Mailbird says, “We like to rely on the Skyscraper method, which involves a mostly automated process where you can build a list of prospects, and then send proposals out via an email service.

“In the email, the recipients are made aware of the opportunity to link to a highly-detailed guide you just prepared, which fits their niche and could serve as a great resource. This is a win-win situation, as the guide will receive more views, and the hosting site will have a valuable source of information free of charge.”

Derek Lenze of Floating Authority explains, “I’ve been focusing on the ‘Shotgun Skyscraper’ method. This technique involves emailing people who linked to a similar page of competitors and asking them for a link. In the process, I make sure my page is visually appealing, informative, and authoritative, with quotes to high informational sources.

“Shotgun Skyscraper is excellent because sending emails is all automated, which allows me time to focus on other matters. I just have to dedicate an hour or two a day to reply to these emails. This technique has helped my site go from a DR 18 to a DR 30 in four months, so it’s been convenient to me.”

12. Reverse-engineer links

Jakub Rudnik of Shortlister recommends, “Reverse-engineering links by using SEO tools to see what sites and what types of content link to competitors’ content.

“Then, I look to get my resources linked to by the same content, but also content in the same topics on other sites. I know that a similar resource was a good link fit for similar content, so our content should be, as well.”

Adam Korbl of Ifax App explains, “We build a list of prospects we would like a link from, and then do a full data extract of all the articles they currently have. Then we compare the missing keywords they’re ranking for to their competitors. Both tasks will give us topics and keywords they’re not ranking for, but their competitor is – perfect ammunition to use!

“We pitch them a limited selection of articles backed up with the data we have on their competitor. We offer to write this for them ASAP. We’re doing them a favor, while of course building a very topical backlink.”

13. Personalize your outreach

Kevin Groh of Cachi Life explains, “Personalize your message to the website you want a backlink from. Whenever we get generic emails that attempt to obtain a backlink from us, they go right into the trash. People want to be listened to, so make sure they are heard in your pitch.

“For a twist on email outreach, rather than sending a cold email with no face behind it, we are using a video service to personalize a message to that website. This nets us approximately an 80% response rate to get a dialogue started.”

14. Propose a link exchange – carefully

Carrie McKeegan of Greenback Expat Tax Services shares, “A proven strategy for building links is finding other sites with content that can align with your own and proposing a link exchange. Of course, there is a technique involved, which means using a site like Ahrefs to search for such content.

“Additionally, you’ll be more successful when attempting to exchange links with sites who share a similar domain rating to your own. Just be sure to be a little picky when placing the link they provide for the exchange, and be sure it can really add value to your content.”

15. Publish roundups and ask for links

Jase Rodley says, “We build high quality roundup articles on our site from people in our niche. Once published, we let them know and ask if they wouldn’t mind sharing on social, and linking to a blog post we picked out that’s relevant. Around 20-30% of participants will eventually link. And as the sites are cherry-picked, they are always topical with a high DR.”

16. Remember link building is a marathon, not a sprint

Ty Stewart of Simple Life Insure advises, “Focus on one to two distinct link-building strategies, and then work at them consistently over the course of many months. You can’t do everything all at once. Link building is a marathon SEO tactic, not a sprint, and one that really only pays off if you stick with it for the long haul.

“Our link-building strategy is currently twofold. First, I’m answering open calls for quotes published on relevant industry articles and posts where our company gets cited with a backlink in return. Second, we’re setting up a process within Google Search Console to gain greater visibility over lost and broken links that easily weigh down your website’s domain ranking progression.”

Wrapping things up

However you choose to build backlinks to your website, don’t just leave link building to chance. You’ll have much more success in the long run if you develop a deliberate strategy for building links, whether it’s guest posting, email outreach, answering HARO queries, or another method.

  • Just make sure any link you offer has a clear value to the other website, as they should receive value in return for giving you the link.

Writing stellar content is essential, of course, but make sure you reach out to other relevant brands so they know your content exists!

What types of content works best for building links? Check out this roundup for a list of expert opinions.