Over the years, link building strategies have evolved and matured.
Long gone are the days of link farms and link exchanges.
Today, link building is about earning links through outreach and high-quality content and less about spammy techniques that try to trick search engines.
Still, link building (or link earning, if you prefer) remains an effective strategy for increasing organic reach and getting discovered.
However, many brands and marketers still struggle to implement a successful link building strategy.
Why Is Link Building SO HARD?
A decade ago, link building was easy. You tossed a few bucks at a link farming company or set up dozens of your own sites and interlinked them. A few hundred dollars or a few hours of work and your site was rolling in top ranks.
Those were the days, right?
The problem was that link building was too easy.
If link building were still easy, then everyone would be doing it. (And everyone used to.)
Link building today is hard.
But with the right tools and knowledge you can be one of the few utilizing it to its full potential.
Below you’ll find 50 different types of links you should be earning for your business or clients, as well as strategies for acquiring them.
Keep in mind, there is no easy way to build links, and not every link type will make sense for every type of businesses. But I am certain you will find at least a few new link strategies to implement.
Since this is a long list, I am unable to go into great detail for each type of link, so whenever possible I have offered additional resources where you can learn more about the specific strategy.
50 Types of Links & How To Earn Them
1. .EDU Links
While .edu links are not inherently more powerful, .edu sites do tend to have high domain authority, making these links valuable.
To earn .edu links, you can allow guest posts from students (ideally those studying your industry) and encourage them to share the post with teachers/classmates.
Consider offering students a discount or ask about an alumni directory at your alma mater.
2. .GOV Links
Much like .edu, .gov sites tend toward high domain authority.
To earn .gov links, focus on how you can help veterans of the armed services.
3. .ORG Links
These carry the same benefits as .gov and .edu links, but are easier to get.
Try sponsoring a charity program, offer your services/products pro bono, or volunteer.
4. Editorially-Given Links
Editorial links happen naturally when you publish high-quality, engaging content.
Build a diverse content marketing plan for the best chance at earning these.
5. Links from Traditional Media or Press
The best way to get links from the press (e.g., newspapers, magazines, radio, TV) is by creating a resource or study that journalists will cite.
You can also use HARO to answer reporters’ questions, but it can be time-consuming to sort through the twice-daily emails.
This is a good in-depth post about media link building.
6. Internal Links
Internal links are some of the easiest to build.
If you use WP, I recommend a related post plugin to find more internal linking opportunities on your own site.
7. Links from Complementary Businesses Within Your Niche/Industry
Complementary businesses have a similar target audience but don’t directly compete with you.
To earn links try offering to exchange guest posts, write a review of their product/service, or co-build a marketing campaign.
8. Links from Competitors in Your Industry
If you can get competitors to link to you, you know you are doing something right.
Consider creating a job board or do some in-depth, original research that’s so valuable they can’t help but link to it.
9. Niche Forum Profile Links
The value of these links lies in the audience, which are people who are highly involved in your industry.
Search for top niche forums in your industry and start engaging.
Offer value first, then share links when it makes sense.
10. Social Media Profile Links
If you don’t already have your site added to all your social profiles, go do that now.
A simple step, but it sometimes gets overlooked, particularly because there are just so many social platforms.
And any others where you maintain a presence.
11. Social Media Post Links
You want to post new content to your social channels.
But also use a tool like Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule content multiple times to keep driving traffic.
12. Links from Reddit
This is separate from other social media links because it requires a very careful approach.
Reddit users particularly dislike being sold to, but it can be done if handled carefully.
Brent Csutoras has written extensively about marketing on Reddit.
13. Links from LinkedIn Company Directory
Another simple, but overlooked link.
If you haven’t already, create a company page and add a link to your site.
14. (Relevant/Non-spammy) Industry Directories
No, don’t go out and get dozens of crappy directory links.
But DO look for legit industry directories.
Can’t find one for your industry or niche? Create your own.
15. Links from Local Directories
Think Yelp, Bing, etc.
This is particularly important for local brick-and-mortar stores, but can help online brands, too.
Check out this post for a list of local directories.
16. Links from Template Directories (Create a WordPress Theme)
If you have the dev skills (or someone on your team does), create a WordPress theme or plugin that others in your industry would find useful.
Alternatively, commission one and white label it.
17. Links from Ebooks
Write an ebook, then add a link.
Simple stuff, right?
Writing a book can be time consuming, so consider hiring an editor to help you turn a series of blog posts into a book.
18. Links from Local News Sites
Similar strategy for getting traditional media links, but focus more on your local area.
19. Guest Blogging Links
Yep, good old guest blogging.
Find a industry news blog or complementary business blog and pitch a solid, well-written post.
20. Manual Outreach Links
Manual outreach is a numbers game, but it does work.
Look for broken links to pitch resources for, reach out to webmasters when it makes sense, and above all make sure you are offering value.
21. Google My Business Link
Don’t forget to claim your listing and add your website link.
In many cases, people will see this information before they see your site.
22. Links with Brand Name Anchor Tags
See your brand listed or talked about somewhere? Ask for a link.
Set a Google Alert for brand mentions and reach out when you find someone is talking about your brand.
23. Links with Key Term Anchor Tags
Branded anchor tags are good, but so are key term anchor tags.
Use key term anchor tags internally, and ask for them when you are comfortable doing so.
24. How-to Guide Links
Is there a topic or process you spent a ton of time researching or perfecting?
Publish a resource or how-to guide for others in the same position.
Think about it – if you were looking for a resource there’s a good chance other people are searching for a guide, too.
25. Resource Guide
Compile a list of resources or ideas people in your industry would find useful.
For example, a list of 50 links you’d want to earn or places to find free stock photography.
Offer value and you will earn links.
26. Infographic Links
You can create these based on your own research or curate stats from other sites.
Create in-house using a tool like Canva (they have a specific infographic creator) or outsource.
27. Infographic Citation Links
I mention performing and publishing your own research a few times in this post.
That is because unique research is fantastic at attracting links – including from infographics.
Make sure you send out your research results and state it can be used in infographics.
28. Links from Q&A Sites
Go on sites like Quora and offer useful answers to questions.
The key here is offering value, not just searching for places to drop your link.
29. Links from Emails
If you have a newsletter list, use it.
Also consider sponsoring a newsletter for a complementary business.
30. Graphic Links
Anytime your logo shows up online, ask for it to be a clickable graphic with a link to your site.
31. Links from Videos
YouTube is often touted as the second largest search engine, so make sure to upload any video you record there with an embedded, clickable link.
Don’t overthink video.
You can go live on Facebook using a smartphone and good lighting, then upload the video to YouTube.
32. Links from SlideShare
Did you give a speech, teach a class, or present a webinar?
Repurpose the content by uploading those slides up on SlideShare.
Make sure to add KTs and a link to optimize your slides.
33. Links from Reviews
Ask bloggers or influencers in your industry to try your product/service and write a review.
Some will do this in exchange for product, some will charge.
34. Links from Wiki Sites
There is much more than just Wikipedia.
Find a Wiki related to your industry and contribute.
Publishing industry-related research is helpful for this.
35. Dofollow Links
When possible, ask for followed links in all of these strategies.
BUT, don’t forget about nofollows.
36. Nofollow Links
Most of the time followed links are better, but nofollow links are better than no links at all, so don’t turn these down.
Plus, ill-placed links can be penalized by Google, while nofollows won’t and may drive a good bit of traffic.
37. Ask People You Know
Ask friends and close colleagues if you can link to them and if they will to you.
It never hurts to ask, but tread carefully here.
Make sure there is value in the link.
A concrete company linking to a baking company is a stretch, but a cupcake company linking to a bouncy house rental company makes sense.
38. Conduct an Interview
Ask an industry friend or expert a few questions through email or by phone and publish the results.
Make sure to send a link to your interviewee, they will likely share on social and extend your reach.
39. Give an Interview
Keep an eye open for social media posts from people in your network asking for interviews and give an interview yourself.
40. Links from Podcasts
Pitch to be a guest on industry podcasts (or start your own podcast).
Pitching can be time consuming, so you consider outsourcing that part.
Just be careful to only pitch podcasts that make sense for your brand.
41. Contribute to a Crowdsourced or Quote Post
Contributing your thoughts to a quote post takes just a few minutes and will often earn you a link to at least a social profile if not your site.
Aim to share valuable advice, not just earn a vanity link.
42. Write a Crowdsourced or Quote Post
Flip the script and write your own crowdsourced post.
Make sure to send the final link to all who contributed and tag them on social media.
43. Links to News
Set a Google notification to email you when industry news is trending and write a post about it.
News posts can be short and sweet, the goal is to publish fast and ride the wave of trending topics.
44. Create a Tool
CoSchedule’s headline analyzer is a perfect example of driving links through tool creation.
45. Create a Template
If creating a tool is outside of your resources, create a template people in your industry would share.
For example, a link outreach email template, an infographic template, or a editorial calendar template.
These can be hosted on Google Drive or you can ask people to exchange their email for access.
46. Links from Webinars
Either sponsor a webinar with another brand (like SEJ) or host your own.
Make sure to upload your slides to SlideShare after.
47. Links to Original Research
Doing original research is just about guaranteed to draw links.
The simplest way is to start an annual industry poll and publish the results.
Create an infographic for additional link opportunities.
48. Links to Glossaries
Draw up a list of top industry key terms and create a glossary of definitions (e.g., SEJ’s SEO Glossary).
If done well, this will attract links from competitors, journalists, and bloggers.
49. Links to Your Case Studies
First things first, you’ll actually need to create a case study.
Consider partnering with a complementary business to divide the workload, or outsource if if doing it yourself isn’t feasible.
50. Links Your Competitors Have
Use a tool like Ahrefs, find out what links your competitors have and target those sites through manual outreach, guest blogging, or interviews.
Final Thoughts on Link Building
While the reputation of the practice has suffered over the years due to risky tactics that no longer work, link building isn’t a dirty word.
Link building is an exchange of value – how can you and a site owner help each other?
What can you offer in exchange for a link?
If you look at link building through this lens, you will be more successful and earn higher-quality links that can up-level your SEO value for good.
More Link Building Resources:
Featured Image: Created by author, July 2018