The SEO NI Guide to Link-Building

First Published:

The SEO NI Guide to Link-Building Techniques

Link building is one of the most essential aspects of SEO and one of the most misunderstood and intricate pieces of the search marketing equation.

We all know that acquiring high-quality links with White Hat Link Building to your website is one of Google’s primary ranking factors, but not all links are created equally, and link building has changed considerably in recent years.

Gone are the days of link farms, article directories and blog comment links designed to boost your sites’ rankings. With each algorithm tweak, Google has grown considerably more thoughtful in evaluating and valuing links. In today’s landscape, if a link is not providing value to the users of a website, it’s not likely to be of much help for your SEO.

Yet, if you want to increase rankings and drive traffic, you will need a consistent strategy to acquire these “white hat” links — which is easier said than done. Link building is a complex and frequently problematic task.

That’s where this guide comes in! Whether a link-building novice or a seasoned pro, we hope this guide will help you build links confidently and effectively. In it, you will find a little of everything you might need as a link builder, including best practices, examples, tools, and explanations of the how and why of link building.

What is Link Building Anyway?

Link building is encouraging — and sometimes persuading — humans with relevant websites to link to a page on your site. Google’s core PageRank algorithm was founded on the premise that links online represent a vote of confidence. Their algorithm uses links as a primary ranking factor in determining which pages to return for a search.

The more relevant links you point to your own site, the more authoritative Google (and all search engines) considers your website. The more authoritative you are, the more your own links “count.”

In fact, Google was the first search engine to use links as a ranking factor, which led to markedly better results. The original PageRank algorithm revolutionised search engines and helped make Google the dominant force it is today. Now, all search engines use links as a primary ranking factor.

So links are essential. But how do you convince a website with a relevant audience to link to your own site? There are many methods to acquire a link to your client’s website, which we will cover in this guide.

Does Link Building Work for Everyone?

The short answer is no. Links make a difference if your site is well-optimised or has terrible content.

An on-site technical audit should ensure the website is an excellent link-building candidate. You should also know which keywords you want to rank for and ensure you have pages that genuinely deserve to rank.

All of the links in the world won’t help your website perform well if your pages don’t answer searcher intent.

Another critical ingredient in link-building campaigns is “linkable assets.” A linkable asset is a page or piece of content that is informational, non-promotional, and provides demonstrable value to those who might click on it. This can be content, images, resources, and more.

The goal is to have pages that serve as a valuable resource to your audience, which other websites in your niche will be willing to link to.

The History of Link Building

Before the launch of Google in 1998, no search engine used links as a ranking factor. Links played no role in search engine optimisation.

Google’s search algorithm relied heavily on links as a ranking factor, and this use of links in part helped Google return better results than any other search engine. Google soon became the dominant search engine.

SEOs took notice of Google’s use of links, and link-building began.

SEOs soon learned they could reliably manipulate Google’s results with easy-to-produce, low-quality links.

Search engines, at their core, are incredibly advanced information retrieval systems. Like any advanced technology, search has evolved quickly based upon innovation in both hardware and software–mainly when there is a threat to the integrity of the technology.

Google introduced drastic improvements in their search algorithms which have changed–arguably for the better–how they determine which sites are the most relevant for a given search. In 2012 Google released the Penguin algorithm, which marked the beginning and end of manipulative link-building spam.

Search engine algorithms continue to grow more advanced and refined. Google is closer to its goal of returning the best results than ever before. If you want your site to perform well in search sustainably, you need to answer searcher intent. You need to deserve to rank and then secure links.

Acquiring natural links that make sense, provide value, and are ethical is part of a sustainable search strategy.

White Hat Link Building Techniques and Strategies

There are many different tactics to secure a backlink to your client. Tactics continue to grow and evolve, but each should be designed around value.

No matter how you attempt to secure a link, the link must be deserved. Ask yourself, “why would another site link to mine?”

To help you better answer this question, here is a list of the most successful tactics commonly used to acquire links. Each is predicated on a different form of value, which may work better for your website and skills.

Content Links

A content link strategy revolves around creating and using content to place links on third-party websites. The links are placed within a piece of writing, such as an article, infographic, or press release.

In-content links can be an ideal method of gaining links so long as the client has linkable assets, such as a guide (like this one), interesting or unique information, statistics or other valuable data. You can increase the client’s search ranking by using targeted keywords within the content.

This strategy hinges upon creating valuable content for your audience or your client’s website already containing said content.

Resource Page Links

One of the most common reasons websites link is to direct their audience to helpful resources.

Resource page links hinge upon the concept of under-promoted or undervalued resources on your client’s website. Your goal is to go out and find other websites with resource pages for their community and promote your client’s resource.

These links typically reside on the “links” or “resources” page. Ideally, a resource link would offer something of value to a reader, such as a calculator, widget, or other tools that are not advertorial in nature. There must be a reason for the person behind the website to include the link.

Broken Link Building

The web is an ever-evolving mass of websites, pages, and links. As pages move, change, and go down, links break.

This tactic relies upon finding broken links on a prospective website and then emailing to let the site owner know. You provide value to the website owner by pointing out the broken link, and in exchange, a website owner is likely to add your link to their site with little opposition.

Make sure you scan every page you want a link on before emailing a site owner — even if the link isn’t relevant to your own page, you still add value to your outreach by letting the site owner know about a dead link on their site.

404 Reclamation

Similar to broken link building, this tactic relies upon no longer existing pages.

Look for 404 pages on your client’s website and competitors’ sites. These are broken pages that no longer exist at that address. Once you’ve found a handful of 404 pages, run them through a backlink explorer to see if any other sites link to the 404.

For any 404 pages on your website, make sure you redirect to a similar page.

Compare any competitor 404 pages to your client’s site for a similar page. You may also consider creating a new page if there’s enough link opportunity to justify it. The idea is to provide a better option than a dead link to a webmaster.

At this point, contact the website owner and let them know that they are linking to a dead page. Use the opportunity to provide your client’s asset to replace the dead link.

404 reclamation aids both the website owner and the link builder.

Fresh Mention (Unlinked Mentions)

Another reason websites link is to provide context when sharing information. This is the core idea in mentioning links: another website has mentioned your product, brand, or site but failed to link.

Look for mentions of your client across the internet. Locate websites that mention your client’s brand or URL but do not link. Reach out to the website owner to thank them for mentioning your client and ask they include a link back to your client.

This technique has a relatively high return, assuming your client has gained popularity online.

Directory Listing (niche)

Directories existed before any search engines and were used as helpful hubs to direct people around the internet.

Unfortunately, many directories exist today solely for SEO (as link farms) and should be treated with some caution.

If you wish to pursue this tactic, you will have to weed through less desirable directories to find directory listings that are niche specific to your client. When reviewing directories, look for relevance to your client’s niche, limited use of advertisements, and clear signs of editorial discretion.

You can get a good idea of a website’s authority using tools such as Moz’s spam indicator if you have any doubts.

Scholarship/Student Discount

If your client offers (or would be willing to offer) a scholarship or student discount, they can earn high-value .edu links.

You’ll need to create a static page and consistently offer the scholarships. These links can be obtained by reaching out to educational websites, letting them know about the scholarship opportunity and requesting a link to the scholarship page.

Military/Special Service/Senior Discount

Similar to the scholarship discount, if your client offers military, community service (firefighter, teacher, policeman, etc.), and senior citizen discounts, you should be able to secure high-value, or .org links.

Reach out to government websites and organisations, letting them know about the discounts your client offers.

Promotional Giveaway

If your client regularly runs promotional giveaways, then you have an opportunity to secure links back to your site.

There are caveats, however.

Your client must continue giveaways regularly or redirect the old page to a relevant one after the promotion. You’ll also want to be sure you’re not incentivising others to link through the promotional giveaway — i.e. don’t require a link to win or be entered in the contest.

Wikipedia Link

Wikipedia links, while highly valuable, are not easily gained. Your client must be referenced on Wikipedia and cited as a source or have the potential to do so, perhaps with newsworthy events.

It’s also worth noting that you can’t suggest edits or additions to Wikipedia without being a trusted community member.

Moving Man Method

Brian Dean of Backlinko developed this unique twist on 404 reclamations to gain high-quality backlinks without guest posting.

The tactic combines broken link building and 404 reclamations that Brian first implemented when he found a competitor had gone out of business.

First, look for sites that no longer exist or have changed URLs. Then, backlink the old site to find any sites linking to it. Outreach to those sites, informing them of the dead URL and offer your link as a replacement.

The difference between this and 404 reclamation is that you’re looking for an entire website that no longer exists instead of just a single page.

Outreach Techniques

Now that we’ve covered several tactics to obtain a link let’s walk through the next important step: outreach.

All links should involve editorial discretion, which means you must convince another person with a website to link. That means finding contact information and reaching out to them.

Again, the value should be your goal. If the link makes sense for their website and audience, convincing them to link is as simple as explaining why it’s in their best interest.

It’s a subtle mix of promotion and value propositions. Start with value, and the outreach message should come naturally.

Finding Contact Information

The first step in outreach is to find the site owner’s contact information. There are several ways of finding this information:

  • Look for profile pages of employees: often listed under “Meet the Team” or similar pages.
  • Check the source code for email contacts: right-click the website and select “View Source Code” in Google Chrome. Alternatively, you can use the hotkeys CTRL+U to view the source code. Then use CTRL+F to find any mentions of an email by searching for the @ sign.
  • Look in the footer: often contact information is contained in the footer. If not, the “About Us” or “Contact Us” page should be.
  • Advanced Google searchsearch operators such as contact will help you find contact information directly from Google. This searches for the word contact within SEO NI’s site. You could also try using editorial staff, editor, webmaster, etc. Additionally, if you know the name of the area’s owner/operator, search Google and locate any social media platforms.
  • WHOIS: if the website owner hasn’t privatised their contact information, then it is freely available for you to see. Utilise an extension like Quick WHOIS to see if they are listed publicly.
  • Trial and error: often, you can locate a contact email by simply appending keywords like info, webmaster, marketing, editor, and contact in front of the domain name. Something like When you use this method, verifying it is a valid email with tools such as Neverbounce is a good idea. Additionally, many domain email accounts are set up as catchalls, meaning any will, in fact, reach a legitimate email address.

Once you have the correct contact information, you can email your pitch or request.

Remember the value you are offering the website owner; approaching outreach from a value-first mindset establishes more confidence in your request. You should already know why it’s worth their while to link to you, so don’t try to be overly clever — simply explain why it’s in their interest (or their audience’s interest) to link.

When composing your outreach, ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I going to write an informal or formal email?
  • How can I bring value?

Immediately demonstrate the value of your request. Give them the WHY regarding your inquiry, and be concise. You should establish why you’re contacting them within the first two sentences. Some examples include:

  • Explain you’ve found a mistake or broken link and have a suggestion for a replacement.
  • Share your client’s resource and why it belongs on their page, and it will add value to their site and audience.
  • Pitch an article, infographic, or other content and describe how it will benefit the site’s readers.
  • Thank them for mentioning your client/product/brand, and ask them to include a contextual link.

I recommend always following up on your initial outreach as natural. Depending upon context, my limit is 3 times, 3-7 days apart. Be polite, not pushy. Also, thread your emails, so your contact doesn’t have to dig for information.

You want to show clear, immediate intent, demonstrate the value, use an attention-grabbing title and strong language, and include a call to action.

When composing an email, remember to start with your request, then include the pleasantries. People respond when they feel you are sincere, thus the old saying “honesty is the best policy”.

Don’t forget to include a proper email signature at the bottom of all your outreach emails. Make sure to include your full name, a title, and any social media accounts you would like the site owner to know about.

Examples Emails Pitching An Article

Subject: I loved your post [INSERT ARTICLE TITLE HERE]


Hello (name),

I recently read your post [POST NAME] and loved your point [POST MESSAGE]. [ADDITIONAL CONTEXT].

I’m a writer and would love to take a crack at a small business piece for your site. Do you accept outside contributors?

I have three different pieces I think would be a good fit for your audience:


I am free next week and would love to develop an outline for your review.

Look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Here are a few recent examples of my published works:

Best Regards,

Colin Manson

Subject: Guest Posting


Hello [NAME],

I’d love to write a guest post for your audience at [SITE]. The topic I have in mind would be an article titled [ARTICLE TITLE]. Is that something you’d be interested in featuring on your site? It offers your readers [UNIQUE VALUE].

Look forward to hearing from you!


Subject: Quick question regarding guest posts



Good afternoon. My name is Colin Manson.

I am a writer here in beautiful Portrush, Northern Ireland and a self-declared computer nerd who would love to write more on programming in Excel.

I would love to give back and contribute some additional knowledge I have picked up along the way, working with [CLIENT NAME].

To give you an idea of my voice here’s a recently published article I wrote:

Let me know! I would love to work with you.

Best Regards,

Colin Manson

CompTIA A+, Network+, Security+, and Cisco certified

Subject: Regarding my previous email

Body: I hope you had a great weekend! Following up on the email I sent last week regarding a guest post.

Look forward to hearing from you!

Best Regards,


Note: It’s imperative to thread your emails, so your contact doesn’t have to dig for information.

Subject: Are you getting my emails?

Body: I wanted to touch base and see if you received my last email — read below for my writing samples. Let me know what you think and if you’re interested in a guest post.



Note: It’s imperative to thread your emails, so your contact doesn’t have to dig for information.

Subject: Need help contacting someone at [WEBSITE NAME]

Body: I’ve been trying to get in touch with someone at [WEBSITE] regarding a contribution, but I haven’t received a response. Is this a good contact email address? If not, do you have an email address where I can reach the editor or site owner?



Example Emails Promoting A Resource

Subject: Sharing some business management guides

Body: I came across your [PAGE NAME] and would like to suggest some business-related guides from [YOUR BUSINESS CLIENT].

We have some guides on how to start/run a business. Also, a comprehensive guide explains how the new Content Kings Guide impacts businesses.

You can see them here: [GUIDE LINK].

These would be a fantastic addition to the resources you already provide and can help your audience better manage their small business.

Thanks, and have a great day!

P.S. If you’re not the right person to reach, can you direct me to the person responsible for updating this page?


Subject: Sharing a [CLIENT NICHE] resource

Body: I hope you’re having a good week so far! I came across your [PAGE NAME] and wanted to share [YOUR CLIENT] as an additional [CLIENT’S NICHE] resource.

We offer [WHAT YOUR CLIENT OFFERS], and the site provides some great [CLIENT NICHE] tips to help out your readers.

Please let me know if you’d like more information, and I’ll send some pages your way!

Have a great day!


Subject: Sharing a [CLIENT NICHE] resource

Body: I hope this week is treating you well so far! I looked through the sites on your [LINKS PAGE NAME] and was wondering if you’d like to include some information about [CLIENT NICHE].


P.S. If I’m contacting the incorrect email address, could you help me reach the person responsible for handling requests like this?



Subject: Trying to reach someone at your site

Body: I sent a few emails to your [POSITION/NAME] but didn’t receive a response.

I’m looking to reach someone to discuss the possibility of including some business management guides from [YOUR CLIENT] on your [PAGE NAME].

Are you the best person to contact about this? If not, can you help me reach the correct individual?

Thanks, and have a great day!


Subject: Re: Sharing a business management resource

Body: I’m checking in to see if you had an opportunity to review the email I sent over on [DATE]. It was about including [CLIENT NICHE] resource from [CLIENT NAME] on your [PAGE NAME].


It was about reaching the person who updates your [PAGE NAME] page to suggest a [CLIENT NICHE] resource.

I understand how easily emails get misplaced, so please let me know if you need the details of my original message.


Please put me in contact with someone more specific to discuss this in detail.

Thanks, and have a great day!


Subject: Are you getting my emails?

Body: I’ve sent a few emails to this address over the last couple of weeks but haven’t heard anything back. Do you regularly monitor this email?

Any response is greatly appreciated!


Examples of Emails for Mentions

Subject: Thank you for mentioning us!

Body: I wanted to contact someone about an article titled [ARTICLE TITLE] dated [DATE].

The article references and provides insights from [YOUR CLIENT]. We are always honoured to see our company mentioned in news publications and would greatly appreciate it if the article could include a hyperlink to [YOUR CLIENT] website here: [YOUR CLIENT’S WEBSITE]

We greatly appreciate the recognition. Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you for your time.



Subject: Re: Thank you for mentioning us!

Body: Did you receive my last email regarding an article on your site that mentions [YOUR CLIENT]?

I’d love to discuss it further and look forward to hearing back from you.

Best Regards,


Subject: Thank you for mentioning us!

Body: Good Morning!

I’m working with [CLIENT NAME], and I’d like to thank you for this article about our [CLIENT MENTION]. We really appreciate it!

We are working hard to ramp up our online presence. Please add a link to our website with our brand name mentioned.

Please let me know if you have any questions; I’d happily answer them. Thanks for your time, and I hope to hear from you soon.



Useful Tips and Tricks

Social Media

Social media should play a vital role in both your outreach and promotion of client resources.

Use social media to network with similar sites that share your client’s niche. For instance, if your client deals with metal detectors, follow other metal detector enthusiasts, ask questions, and contribute on forums, Twitter, Facebook, and others.

Build relationships in your desired niche, and you will have a much better understanding of your client and a network of resources to pursue. Social media is a great channel to prospect for new link opportunities and find engaged people with valuable sites.

More Info:

Content Creation

Know your client.

The best articles come from personal experience. For example, buy a metal detector if you have a metal-detecting client. One outing and you will have much more to write about, complete with original photos.

Be creative, and take stock of your skills. You might not know a thing about title loans, but you may know how to write scripts, so you could write a script that calculates interest, giving credit to your client. You could research title loans, interview your client, and write an article about what you learned. What matters the most is value. Keep that in mind when creating content, and you will do great!

Additionally, ensure to include original or free-to-use images. Graphics generate more interest in your article. Content marketing graphics provide more interest in stories than those that use text alone.

Further Reading:

Nofollow Links

Pay attention to whether or not the prospective website has nofollow links. You can use an extension, like External Followed Link Highlighter, to see if the links include the attribute rel=”nofollow”, or you can right-click the webpage and view the source code, then do a search in the source code for follow by using the hotkey CTRL+F.

Nofollow links are designed to stop search engines from passing link equity, although nofollow links also provide some SEO benefits.

Backlinking Competitors

You’ll need to know what’s working in your client’s niche to build strategic links. The easiest way to understand the linking environment (where competitors are earning their links) and effective tactics is to review your competitors’ backlink profiles.

Use a tool like AHREFs or SEMrush to locate competitors. Then use a backlink explorer like Majestic to see all the sites linking to the competitor.

That will give you a great list of prospective sites to start with. If the sites already link to a competitor, they should consider linking to your client.

Further Reading:

Slow Play

Developing relationships with high-quality sites doesn’t happen overnight.

Research your client’s niche and network using social media. Participate in discussions, follow industry leaders, and create connections.

Although it may take time to establish yourself, you are much more likely to be able to secure links on high-quality sites when you have made a name for yourself.

Research your prospective site like you would prepare for an interview.

Local Meetups

Local groups and meetups provide excellent networking opportunities in your client’s industry.

The idea is to get involved.

Knowing your client makes it much easier to secure links. If your client sells metal detectors, get one, join some metal detector clubs, and obtain a metal detecting license. Yep, I am licensed to metal detect at my local parks!

Join groups and leverage those relationships for high-quality links and excellent networking and referral potential.

Link Building Tools

Fortunately, there are many tools to aid you as you build links. Below is a list of some great tools for link building.

Majestic – Link intelligence tools for SEO and Internet PR and Marketing. Site Explorer shows inbound links and site summary data.

Buzzstream – BuzzStream is a web-based software that helps the world’s best marketers promote their products, services and content to build links, buzz, and brands.

SEMrush – SEMrush is a powerful and versatile competitive intelligence suite for online marketing, from SEO and PPC to social media and video advertising research.

Moz – Backed by industry-leading data and the largest community of SEOs on the planet, Moz builds tools that make inbound marketing easy.

Ahrefs – Ahrefs is a toolset for SEO and marketing. We have tools for backlink research, organic traffic research, keyword research, content marketing & more.

Screaming Frog – The Screaming Frog SEO Spider is a desktop program (P.C. or Mac) which crawls websites’ links, images, CSS, script and apps from an SEO perspective.

Google Analytics – Google Analytics Solutions offer free and enterprise analytics tools to measure website, app, digital and offline data to gain customer insights.

Authority Labs – Track website rankings in Google, Yahoo!, and Bing daily. Our automated SERP tracking saves you time and helps you respond quickly to ranking changes.

SEO SiteCheckup – Find comprehensive search engine optimisation (SEO) tools for your site.

Useful Chrome Extensions

BuzzMarker – The BuzzMarker for Chrome Makes Prospecting Faster & Outreach Smarter by Bringing BuzzStream With You, Wherever You Go on the Web.

MozBar – MozBar is a free Chrome Extension that makes it easy to get advanced metrics and do all your SEO on the go! … Link Metrics – See Domain and Page Authority scores, plus numbers of linking root and subdomains.

Majestic Backlink Analyser – The backlink checker from Majestic gives you a fast way to see the strength of any page based on its backlink information.

Google Similar Pages – Now you can quickly preview and explore other pages similar to the one you are browsing — on the fly.

Check My Links – A Google Chrome extension allows you to check web pages for broken links.

External Followed Link Highlighter – Checks all links on a page for any external links that do not have the attribute rel=”nofollow” and highlights them in a red border.

Open in SEMRush – Open in SEMRush adds a button to the toolbar, which, when clicked, opens a new tab and passes the current URL to SEMRush for quick and easy viewing of both organic & PPC keyword traffic statistics for the given website.

Who. is Lookup – Easiest way to look up a domain’s Registrar Info, Important Dates, Name Servers & Raw Registrar Data!

Reload All Tabs – Reload all tabs using a keyboard shortcut(ctrl + shift + r), context menu, or browser action button.

Redirect Link Checker – Redirect Link Checker is a tool to check your current page on chrome to look for redirects and broken links.

Domain Hunter Plus – Domain Hunter Plus (DHP) is an unobtrusive Chrome Extension that allows the user to quickly scan the current web page and check for dead links and available domain names.

Mention – Create alerts on your company, brand, and competitor, and be updated about any mentions on the web and social web.