If you’ve thoroughly researched search engine optimization (SEO), you’ll learn that getting other sites to link to yours is a critical piece to ranking well. Google’s original PageRank algorithm was all about understanding the link structure of the web, and it instantly made Google the best search engine in the world — and it wasn’t even close.
While Google has now gone far beyond links, and they don’t matter as much as they used to, they’re still a significant part of their algorithm. As a general rule, the more reputable sites that link to you, the better off you’ll be.
However, over the years, spammers have worked to game Google’s system, so you need to be careful about how you go about this. Gone are the days of just automatically submitting your site to 10,000 directories and calling it good, but if done carefully, link building can still be hugely beneficial. So how do you get more links?
High Effort with High Return
The best way to get more links to your site is to create amazing content that people want to share. If you write valuable content and put it out to the world, people will share it. This blog is full of links to other sites that we’ve found to be valuable.
A great example was a few years ago when I was writing for Google Earth Blog. Virtually every post we wrote was full of links to other sites — places that our readers would find interesting. As a result, though, we became a great resource and hundreds of sites linked to us. It was a win-win, and Google loved it all.
Find Broken Links and Citations
An easy way to pick up a few new links is to find people that mention your site but fail to link to your website or those who tried to link to you but did something wrong (misspelled your site, etc.). Do some creative Google searches, find those kinds of sites, and ask them to edit their content. In most cases, them adding/fixing your link will make their article better as well, and they’ll be happy to do it.
Ahrefs has a great post about this technique where you can learn more.
Moderate Effort with Moderate Return
Grab Association Links
If you’re a member of an association (like a local business association or chamber of commerce), have a seat on a board of directors, or you’re referenced on a local charity site for work you’ve done, make sure to get your links.
In the case of an association or chamber, you can often log in and update your profile with a link to your site. In the other cases, you may need to reach out to that organization and ask them to update the page/story to include that link, which they’ll typically be happy to do.
Get Your Local Links
If your company has a local presence, you’ve got a great chance to pick up links from various local directories. While general online directories have largely faded (with some exceptions below), local directory references are significant for locally-focused businesses.
You can go after a lot of these yourself; just add profiles on Google My Business (which is a topic by itself), Yelp, Foursquare, Superpages and other local sites. If you want a tool to help you find/submit more, we’re big fans of Moz Local.
Find Out Where Your Competitors are Referenced
Your competition likely has a variety of sites linking to them, and some of those are resources that would love to include your site as well. If you can find those resources, that can be a quick way to get more links. Use a tool like Moz’s Link Explorer or Raven’s Backlink Explorer to find those links, then spend some time checking them out and reaching out to those that you think would be willing to list your site.
Low Effort with Low Return
Submit Your Site to Certain Directories and Aggregators
I said earlier in this article that general online directories have largely faded, and that’s true. A decade ago, seemingly everyone had their own directory, but Google has since made most of them irrelevant. That said, there are still quite a few that could be valuable, mostly for specific niches.
There are still thousands of directories out there, so I dug into a few hundred of them and pulled these out. It’s difficult to quickly verify which ones are legit and which aren’t, so I did a few things to help.
First, I tossed any that felt shady (spammy links on the home page) or too outdated (copyright date not in the past year or two). Next, I removed any that didn’t allow for free submissions. While some with paid submissions can be fine, the directories below all have some way to submit for free; whether you ever get added or not is a different story.
Lastly, I only list sites that have a Moz Domain Authority (DA) of 38 or higher. Domain Authority isn’t a perfect metric to use, but sites with a relatively high DA are more likely to be legit.
Dig into the list below, find some that you think could fit your site, and go ahead and submit your info.
|Hot vs. Not|
If you have others to add to the list above (or if any are broken or paid-only), let me know so we can keep this updated.
There are also some blog aggregators to look into; if you have a blog, these sites will automatically grab your latest posts and share them with their readers:
Building links is still an essential part of SEO, but an increasingly challenging one. Hopefully, the items above will give you some ideas to earn some strong links to your site. If you’re looking for more, this great article from Search Engine Journal has tons of tips on ways to do even more.
If you have further questions about this or need some help, don’t hesitate to reach out to us and ask.