Link Building Strategies: What Should You Focus on and What Should You Avoid?

There’s a lot that goes into SEO. Some suggest there are 200+ Google ranking factors.

You’ll see some of the famous names in the industry talking about all kinds of fancy techniques and strategies (like language models using ngrams or biometric parameters while viewing results.)

This is all well and good, but it’s advanced stuff. When you’re 90% of the way there, this stuff will give you that extra 1% or so.

But what gets you up to the 90% in the first place?

For me, it’s two things:

  • Great content that solves the searcher’s query
  • Quality backlinks

There’s some evidence to back this up as well. Search Engine Journal suggests content and backlinks are two of the most important ranking factors.

So, let’s focus on getting the backlinks.

There are a million ways to get them, but where should you focus your time and energy? What is a proven technique that gets results? What does Google like? What don’t they like?

Link Building Techniques

The Skyscraper Technique

What is it?

The Skyscraper Technique was made famous by Brian Dean from Backlinko.

Basically, you find a piece of content related to your industry that has a lot of links, make it better, and then ask everyone linking to that piece of content to also link to your content.

Verdict: 5/5

This is a great way to get links. You can build a process that makes this technique very efficient.

The upside is you can create one piece of content that generates hundreds of referring domains.

The downside is it’s difficult and time consuming to create great content. It also takes time to extract competitors’ backlinks, email the webmasters of the linking sites, and negotiate to get a link to your site.

Overall though, it is probably one of the most efficient ways to generate a high volume of linking domains.

Resource Page Link Building

What is it?

Resource pages are pages site owners have created on their websites to link to other sites that have useful information about that industry.

For example, Maggie’s Rags is a knitting site that’s linking out to other knitting sites with useful information on knitting events, knitting patterns, knitting magazines and all sorts.

resource page link building

To get a link, all you need to do ask email Maggie and ask her to add your site to the list.

Verdict: 3/5

It’s simple, and easy to do, and you’re probably helping Maggie by giving her more resources to link to from her page.

The downside here is resource pages don’t tend to appear on powerful websites all that often. You’ll tend to find them on older websites that aren’t necessarily being maintained anymore.

Also, from personal experience, I’ve often found links from resource pages to be ‘nofollow’ links (meaning you don’t often get any SEO benefit from them.)


What is it?

This is often controversial in the SEO community.

A PBN (Private Blog Network) is a number of websites that have been created with the sole purpose of generating links to the website that makes you money.

So, you might have 20 websites, each with 15 articles on them that all have links on them to the site that you want to rank on Google.

Verdict: 0/5

Do not use! I cannot recommend against using PBNs enough.

Firstly, it’s against Google’s terms of service. This means your site can lose rankings, or even be de-indexed completely if you get caught.

Secondly, it’s hard work and expensive. You have to run multiple websites at the same time, create or buy content.

Or, you can just pay someone else for links from their PBN. If you do this, you’re trusting all your organic traffic in the hands of this person. If they go down, they’re bringing you down with them.

Why not just focus your efforts on building links properly? It’s a lot easier.

Broken Link Building

What is it?

Broken Link Building means finding pages with a lot of links in your field that have either been deleted or are no longer live for some reason.

Either way, it means there are broken links on the sites of the people you are contacting. This is a bad user experience. It’s a great excuse to contact site owners and ask them to link to the article you’ve just created on the same topic.

Verdict: 3/5

I like broken link building because it gives you a great excuse to contact someone. It is in their interest to fix the broken link. Whether or not they choose to do this by linking to your page is up to them.

The downside of broken link building is there’s an upper limit of links you can get from your piece of content. If there are only 12 broken links, you can only get 12 links to that piece of content.

However, at this point, you can combine broken link building with skyscraper to get even more links. So, it’s not all bad.

The Scholarship Method

What is it?

Scholarship link building comes from the viewpoint that links from .edu domains are extremely powerful.

While the reason for this is up for debate, the fact that .edu websites tend to be very powerful sites leads me to agree that they are powerful links.

You can get these links by creating a scholarship fund. Students can apply to receive a scholarship of, say, $1,000 to put towards their tuition fees.

If you decided the scholarship was open to all students in Ireland, you could legitimately ask each and every university in Ireland to link to the page on your site where the students apply and get a whole bunch of .edu links.

Verdict: 0/5

Wait, what? 0/5???

Yep, I’m afraid so.

Think about it. Google doesn’t like you exchanging money for links.

From my point of view, this is exchanging money for links. There is evidence that suggests companies have been penalised for this in the past with manual action penalties.

I’d rather not risk it. It is better to partner up with a white label link building agency instead.


What is it?

Run a competition with a prize that’s relevant to people in your niche using a tool like Gleam.

Then, ask blogs in your niche to create a page on the site to embed the competition so their readers can enter. You also ask them to put a link back to your site on the page.

competition link building

Verdict: 0/5

Competitions can be great for building email lists, but not for link building.

It’s the same problem. You’re offering financial rewards for links. It’s against Google’s terms of service and can see you get penalised (I know this from experience!)

Expert Roundups

What is it?

An Expert Roundup is where you reach out to some of the most influential people in your industry to ask their opinion on a single issue or a number of issues.

One example is this roundup from experts describing what innovation means to them.

Verdict: 1/5

I don’t love this technique.

Firstly, it’s time consuming. You need to contact all of the experts, and have a few emails back and forth. Wait for their responses, type it up, format it and upload it.

Trust me, it takes a while to get people to respond.

Secondly, you need to link to them first. Now, you can nofollow the links if you want, but this is a bit sketchy in my opinion. This results in any links you get from the article being one for one link exchanges. These are not particularly beneficial.

Also, the experts are under no obligation to even link to your page in the first place. The chances are you’ll go through all the effort, and in the end, only 3 out of the 15 will actually end up creating a post to link to your article.

But, these people may share the article with their social followers and you can find yourself picking up quite a few links that way.

Infographic Campaigns

What is it?

Infographic campaigns are simply where you add an infographic to an article you want to rank.

You then do email outreach to ask people if they want to use the infographic on their website with a link back to your site as the original source.

black friday

I’ve found I can get an average of around 30 referring domains for an infographic campaign. This tends to be pretty consistent.

Verdict: 4/5

I like this technique a lot. It’s a way to get a lot of links to a page that might not be all that linkworthy based on the article alone.

The downside is the infographic has to be really good, otherwise, it can be difficult to get people to use it. It can also take a lot of time and work with your designer until you get an end product you’re happy with.

Guest Posting

What is it?

Guest Posting is writing an article as a guest author on another website within your industry.

As part of this, most people will allow you to place one backlink in your article or bio back to a page on your site.

Verdict: 4/5

I love guest posting.

The downside is that you only get one referring domain for a piece of work. But the upside is that you can often get a link to a money page that’s difficult to get links to otherwise.

These links are worth their weight in gold, so it’s worth the effort.

Citation Link Building

What is it?

For local SEO, citations can be important.

You want to have your business name, address and phone number in the citation. This way, you’re more likely to appear in local searches (in the map box or even in organic search.)

citation links

Verdict: 3/5

This is useful in moderation for local businesses. Otherwise, I wouldn’t bother.

The best place is to create a list of directories such as Yell in the UK, things like Tripadvisor if appropriate it, and set up Google My Business.

Buying Links

What is it?

Buying links can mean a number of things.

But, as a basic rule, if someone asks you for money in exchange for a link on their site (be it for a guest post, to post an infographic, to put your link on a resource page) say no.

Verdict: 0/5

Don’t do it.

Google will catch up with you in the end. Eventually, you’ll get a penalty and end up losing a big chunk of that traffic you’ve worked so hard to get. If you don’t have time to build links, then it’s best to outsource link building.

Blog Comment Link Building

What is it?

Commenting on other blogs that are ranking with a good answers to someone’s question, and a link to your own article on the topic.

Verdict: 1/5

This can work, but I’d rather focus my efforts elsewhere.

The thing with comments is that many site admins won’t allow comments with links in them. And, those that do will probably be nofollow backlinks.

Personally, I’d rather focus my time techniques with more upside.

My Top Three Link Building Techniques

Having looked at a wide range of techniques, it’s important to think about what we’re trying to achieve with our links.

We want quality links so we can rank pages that will make us money. This may be by collecting email addresses and putting these people through a sequence, it may be through a direct sale, or it could be via a different goal.

Either way, the most important thing is to build links that bring us traffic and convert.

For me, the best three ways to do this are:

  1. The Skyscraper Technique – Build a high volume of links.
  2. Infographic Campaigns – Build links to pages that weren’t previously attracting links.
  3. Guest Posting – Build links to money pages.

There’s a lot of different ways to build links out there. You don’t need to try and trick Google. If you do, it will come back to bite you in the end. Here’s a little secret — Google is smarter than you!

Instead, focus on the techniques that will return the most links, or the most relevant links in the most efficient manner (And remember that internal links optimisation counts for higher ranking).

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