How to Get REAL Backlinks for Free (Without Much Effort)
If you’ve read about and learned the basics of SEO, you know that backlinks are important for the ranking of your site. More important, however, is the fact that backlinks can range widely in quality.
Generally, the easier it is to obtain a backlink, the lower quality it is (there are exceptions, of course). I don’t ever claim to be an expert on SEO, but I wanted to share with you a very simple strategy that I tried recently, that helped me get a real backlink without having to spend any money.
When I say “real”, I mean that it isn’t a backlink I manually built for myself with content on an article directory or Web 2.0 site, and it isn’t something auto-generated by software. Also, I didn’t have to write any content (i.e. it wasn’t a guest post).
This is an old, simple, and proven tactic, but I just wanted to show that it still works.
With all of the changes that Google is making lately to its algorithm, it’s becoming pretty clear that low quality backlinks (i.e. social bookmarking, Web 2.0 submissions, article directory submissions, etc.) aren’t going to cut it anymore if you’re facing any type of legitimate competition. So, we need to get creative.
“Natural” backlinks are great, but because they are natural, you can’t really force them into existence. Obviously, you want to keep creating high quality, helpful content that people feel inclined to share and link to, but for a newer site, this may not be easy.
How to Get a REAL Backlink: Ask For It.
As I mentioned in the introduction, this isn’t some kind of new, fancy backlinking method. It’s simple and easy, when done correctly. I recently tried this out with my authority site and it worked really well.
Here’s the Basic Strategy
The basic strategy isn’t complex, but you can’t expect to have a 100% success rate either. Below you’ll find the basic steps, and then I’ll go into some more detail with a real life example that I had with my authority site.
1) Find a site in your niche. It’s pretty important that the site you target is very relevant to your own site.
2) See if the site links to related sites (although if they don’t, you can still proceed if you think it’s worthwhile).
3) Contact the site owner, mention something specific and flattering about the site, and ask for a link.
A Real Life Example
Here’s an actual e-mail exchange I had with a site owner in an attempt to get a real, relevant backlink from the site. I’ve hidden some of the information just to protect the privacy of the site owner.
In case you’re curious, the site I e-mailed was a PR4 site, and the page that contains a link to my site is a PR3 page. While this one backlink isn’t going to propel my site to the top of Google’s search results, it’s still a much more valuable backlink than most of the ones you would typically build yourself.
Some key takeaways from this e-mail example:
- Notice how I began with a personalized subject line, which hints at the fact that the e-mail is a flattering one. Site owners love to hear from fans, so this pretty much guarantees your e-mail will be opened and read.
- Keep the e-mail brief. The length of my example above is probably the longest I’d want an e-mail to be. If you get too wordy, the site owner might only skim the e-mail, or worse, ignore it.
- Offer a specific compliment, showing the e-mail recipient that you’re an actual reader/fan of the site and not merely someone looking for a link.
- Ask for a link directly, and briefly (one sentence), explain your site’s unique selling point.
- Be friendly and thank them in advance (either “thanks in advance!” or “I’d greatly appreciate it”, or something similar). This is pure psychology – when you thank someone in advance of them performing your request, they are more likely to agree to do whatever you’re requesting (within reason, of course).
Other Things to Consider
If you have a VA that you can trust to write well-written e-mails (you can always provide the template for them), you can easily outsource this task. Of course, by bringing in a VA, this process starts to cost money. I’d recommend doing it yourself first before outsourcing it.
Also, a very important note: This strategy isn’t going to work for small (thin) niche sites, mainly because people won’t be interested in linking to them. Before you attempt this, be sure your site is already well-developed, both from a content and design perspective.
Bonus: For those of you who read this post within a couple weeks of me posting it (before 10/31/12), I’ve got a way for you to get a guaranteed valuable, real backlink. Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income periodically does “reader challenges” where he’ll link out to content that fits the rules of the challenge.
For the current challenge (due by the end of October), there’s a wide range of content that qualifies, so I suggest reading this post (toward the end) for the instructions. If you have an authority site, there’s no reason why you can’t write content for this challenge, and get a valuable backlink.
What do you think about this strategy? I know it’s nothing new and fancy, but there’s a good chance you haven’t tried it yet.
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments (and if you found this to be helpful, I’d appreciate a share on Facebook or Twitter!)