There’s no such thing as a free backlink. Instead, there are techniques which generate free backlinks.
Getting free backlinks for your website doesn’t mean that you won’t pay for links. What it means is that you won’t pay money for links. Rather, you pay for those links with time and hard work.
For website owners willing to put the work in, this is great news. After all, there’s no better way to get the upper hand on your competition than by doing the work which they won’t do. So, here are four ways to get free backlinks for your website.
1. Guest Post Outreach
Editors of all kinds are always looking for great content to put on their website. If you provide that content, they’ll post it for you online. You’ll need three things to get started:
- A target website which accepts guest posts or submissions and is relevant to your industry and your story idea.
- An irresistible article which is relevant to your industry and the publication.
- A contact at the target website.
These three things are key. Let’s say you have a jaw-dropping story: incontrovertible evidence that Stonehenge was built by aliens. The wrong publication — Care Homes Weekly for example, still won’t run it!
More than that, it’s no good having anything unless you have an email address or — at the very least — a contact form.
Find a Story
To get started with guest post outreach, you first need to find the story. To do that, try typing your keyword into Google, clicking ‘News’ and see what kind stories come up. This will give you some idea what’s going on in your industry and what people are writing about.
Or, if you want to go old school, just write your keyword in the middle of a piece of paper and jot down anything that comes to mind. Try bouncing ideas off your colleagues or a partner to see which ideas stick.
Find a Publication
Once you have an idea, you need to find someone to publish it. Google your keyword or a phrase related to your industry and then, in quotation marks, type “guest post”, “write for us” “submission”, or something similar.
By doing this, you’ll find a load of sites that have accepted guest posts in the past. That means they’re probably open to the idea of accepting guest posts in the future too!
Find the Contact Details
Once you have an idea and a publication, it’s time to send a pitch. To do that, you’ll need to find some contact information. Ideally, you’re looking for the editor.
If you’re lucky, you might find a page titled “Submissions” or “Write for us”, which gives crystal clear instructions on how you can pitch an idea. If not, you’ll have to do some sleuthing.
First, try the “Contact us” page. Not there? How about “About us” or something similar? Still nothing? Scroll to the footer of the website. Zilch?
Okay. It’s time to go on social media. You should be able to find a number of people who regularly write for your target website. Simply search their names on the different social media profiles. You should get some matches fairly quickly. Journalists often have an email address in their social media profiles so that people can send them stories. If not, just send them a message via social media with your pitch.
Send a Pitch
Once you have an email, it’s time to send off the pitch. This needs to be punchy, short and informative. Editors are strapped for time and they see more pitches per day than they are able to respond to. You need something which is really going to sing. If possible, aim for less than eight sentences. If you can’t explain your story in eight sentences, you probably don’t have a good idea of what the story is about.
After sending the pitch, follow it up periodically once a week with a polite email. Unless you get a response, do three of these follow-ups. If you don’t get anything, it’s their loss. If you get a reply, it’s time to write the article!
Create the Content
Write the article you promised in your pitch. Follow their guidelines, if they have them, and don’t promote your product. That’s not what the article is about. If you can include a natural link to a relevant blog post or page on your website within the article, that’s great. If not, make sure you get a backlink in the author bio.
Once you’ve checked, doubled-checked and triple-checked your article, send it over. Try to find out when it might be published, but don’t be pushy. Follow it up once every couple of weeks with a friendly email. Do this three times.
If all goes well, you should have an article published with a backlink to your website! And if the story looks good, there’s no harm emailing the editor and asking if they’d be interested in a continued partnership. They might work at other properties or need more content in the future.
2. Guest Comment Outreach
This is a faster process in every way. The opportunities come faster and the articles get published faster. However, it means that you need to be faster, too. If not, your competitors will reap the benefits.
Follow as many journalists on Twitter relevant to your industry as you think appropriate. Keep an eye out for #journorequest or #prrequest in your feed. If you don’t see anything, search for the two hashtags in the search bar.
Confusingly, both hashtags are also used by bloggers. You can either just try to ignore them, or you can type “filter:verified” after the hashtag.
This will filter out all posts from unverified accounts. As a general rule, journalists are more often verified than bloggers.
Find the journo request that only you could answer and offer to answer it. The journo might give their email address out in the Tweet itself, in which case you should email them. If they don’t, comment saying that you’d love to contribute and give them your email address. They’ll either comment back, email you directly, or they might ignore you.
If they do the latter, don’t chase it up. Twitter moves fast and journalists are very busy people. If they are interested, they’ll probably give you a deadline. If not, ask for one — though assume that it’s as soon as possible.
Get them their comment ASAP. Include a link to your website somewhere in the comment, or write a short bio line at the top, with a link to your website. The comment doesn’t need to be long and the journalist might only end up using a couple of sentences anyway. About 300 words should be more than enough.
Once you’ve sent your comment over, check for the published article. If it doesn’t contain your comment, hard luck. If it does contain it with a link, congratulations!
If the article is published but without a link, don’t worry. Send the journalist a polite email asking to be credited for the story. Most are more than happy to oblige.
3. Directory Listings
Directory listings can be found all over the internet. They are websites dedicated to listing the services of other websites. To start, write one short and one long description of your business. Some directories want short descriptions, some want long descriptions, so have both at the ready. Make sure both descriptions contain a backlink.
To find directories, type in your keyword or a phrase from your industry and “directory” or “directories” into Google. Make a list of all the directories you find. At this point, you’ll need to filter out junk directories. This is harder than it looks! In general, you’re looking for directories with some kind of human verification in place. Systematically approach every directory that meets the cut asking for your business to be listed with the description you have provided.
It’s an arduous process, but remember that your competitors probably think it’s arduous, too. In fact, they might not even bother doing it, which is all the more reason why you should do it!
4. Wikipedia Citations
Wikipedia needs citations. Without them, it’s not an internet source to be trusted. To find the citation which a blog post on your website would be perfect for, search Wikipedia for articles relating to your keyword or your industry. Find a section which is missing a citation and add your blog post as a citation for that section.
If you want the experts to help you build free backlinks, get in touch with Exposure Ninja. Our Content Marketing Ninjas have used these very techniques and more to build links for our clients from TechRadar, the Guardian, the Telegraph, the Mirror and countless other powerful publications.