How To Build Links That You Didn't Ask For – Search Engine Journal

It’s perfectly possible to generate links that you didn’t ask for. Here’s what you need to know for link building with link worthy assets.
A huge part of the link building process is outreach.
This is the step where you approach other websites and see if they will link to you.
They may link to you for a range of reasons such as you’ve created a great piece of content or you’ve told them about a broken link and have a new resource to replace it.
The thing is, when many of us think about link building, our default mindset usually goes toward proactively building links using outreach techniques.
We tend to think of link building as something that we do, not something that just happens.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing and of course, many of us spend a lot of time adding value to businesses by proactively building links via techniques such as content marketing, digital PR, or broken link building.
For many businesses, this is a good use of budget and helps to improve organic traffic faster than they may otherwise get.
The thing is, you shouldn’t need to ask for every single link that a website gets.
Proactive outreach and campaigns are important, but to make link building drive the absolute best return on investment possible, focus on how a website can be link-worthy naturally.
A link-worthy website gets links you didn’t ask for and even if you stop doing outreach, you’ll still get links.
Sounds pretty good, right?
For most of us, it takes work to make a website link-worthy enough to generate links at a good scale and over a long period of time.
For others, it’s not so hard.
For example, when Apple launches a new iPhone, pretty much every technology publication on the internet will link to it!
The same can be said for other huge brands such as Samsung or Amazon.
The sheer brand awareness that they have, often combined with truly unique and innovative products, means they don’t need to worry about getting links.
The same can’t be said for the majority of other websites online which, across the UK and US, are made up of over 90% small businesses.
For many of us, we need to put a lot more effort into making a website link-worthy.
Let’s look at a few ways that you can do this.
While brand teams and above-the-line campaigns often sit in teams away from SEO, it’s important to understand the role that brand building plays in link building.
If you are working with a brand that is reasonably well known, either within your industry or generally, then you are in a much better position to generate links without asking.
A strong element of brand awareness and affiliation can add credibility to your link-building campaigns.
Brand awareness can also mean that writers, bloggers, and journalists naturally seek out your content, data, information, and opinions when writing stories which can lead to links too.
Smaller, less-known businesses are not as likely to have this happen and as a link builder, you probably need to work a lot harder to get links.
This is an important distinction to understand because depending on the type of business you work with, your link-building approach and strategy may be different.
For well-known brands, you may be able to generate links you didn’t ask for simply by adding linkable assets to the website or providing PR teams with content assets.
These assets may then generate links naturally without any direct outreach.
For lesser-known brands, you may need to put more work into content that ranks well for research-led keywords and try to establish them as an authority in their niche.
One of the key ways that a piece of content can generate links naturally over time is to rank well in search results.
By doing this, more people will find the content and in some cases, people who find it will link to it from their own content.
This works particularly well if you create content that can rank for keywords that indicate that someone is doing research for something.
Some of the people who carry out this kind of research will be writers, bloggers, and journalists who are looking for information for their own articles.
If they find your content and reference it, they are likely to link to it too.
For example, if a journalist is writing a story about dogs, they may want to include some information about dog names.
If they Google [dog name statistics], this article from Rover ranks well and is updated regularly with new trends and content.
If this article didn’t rank well and wasn’t regularly updated each year with new trends, then it wouldn’t get anywhere near as many links as it does.
You can also look for opportunities to optimize this type of content for keywords that may indicate that someone is looking for data, trends, or statistics.
You can use basic on-page SEO to optimize for keywords including:
Anyone searching for these kinds of keywords may not only visit your content but also reference and link to it if they write an article or blog post on the topic.
One of the classic challenges with link-building campaigns is when you get lots of coverage but no links.
Someone may write about the campaign and mention the brand and campaign, but for some reason, they didn’t include a link to your campaign.
Some publications have no link policies but putting that to one side, you should spend time with each campaign thinking about how you can increase the likelihood of someone linking to you.
One of the best ways is to think about what makes your campaign link-worthy and to carve out time during the production process to create assets that may encourage someone to link to your campaign.
A strong, relevant story may be enough for a journalist to cover it and mention your brand, but to encourage a link, you may need something else such as:
Even if someone doesn’t link to you the first time, building these assets will make it easier for you to reach out to them and ask for a mention of your brand or a person to be turned into a clickable link.
Building relationships is an often overlooked part of link building.
We tend to think of building a relationship at the point at which we need a link from someone, not before this point and not maintaining it afterward.
It really pays off to use an approach where you genuinely try to build relationships with key industry contacts outside of your campaigns.
For example, sending them random feedback, tips, or information that they may find useful for their stories that have nothing to do with the brand that you work on.
This is not only useful for them, but it shows that you want to help them outside of times when you’d like something in return – this is what strong relationships are all about.
Bringing this back to link building, having strong relationships with key contacts in your industry can mean that you get links naturally because they are already aware of your brand and the content that you produce.
If they come across your content themselves, they may pay more attention to it and cover it, even if you haven’t explicitly been told about it yet.
Another possibility is that they search for content to link to which you may have produced in the past. If it’s still useful and relevant, they may be more likely to link to it because of their existing relationship with you.
To wrap up, it’s perfectly possible to generate links that you didn’t ask for.
It does take some thought and planning, particularly if you aren’t a well-known brand and don’t have the natural credibility that this can bring.
But even if you’re not a well-known brand, you should put some of your time and resources into some of the activities above that may start to move you in the right direction of generating links that you haven’t asked for.
More resources:
Featured Image: fizkes/Shutterstock
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Paddy is co-founder of Aira, a digital marketing agency based in the UK specialising in SEO, Paid Media, Content Marketing … [Read full bio]
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