When it comes to improving your website SEO, most tips include a call to focus on link building. There’s a good reason for this – it works great for some people (usually people who say it needs to be done).
But here’s what they don’t tell you: There are other ways to improve your ranking on Google and other SERPs, and they may even work better. And in this article, we will tell you how to do it!
What is Link Building?
When we talk about creating links, we are talking about inbound links, that is, getting other people to link to your content. The way most people do this is by finding inactive or outdated links on high authority sites in their niche, creating replacement content (if you don’t already have it), and then pitching the website owner to use their link to fresh, new content.
Other ways to create links include:
- Find resource pages where your content fits and present it
- Use a tool like BuzzSumo to find mentions about your brand, and then post more of your content on those sites.
- Run a paid influencer marketing campaign
Inbound links are still important when it comes to SEO, but the current focus is more on quality than quantity. It is better to have five good links from medium or high authority sites than 15 from low ranking destinations.
Link building can be an effective strategy, but it has its downsides. Everyone is doing this, so there is a lot of competition. Second, you have to constantly push yourself and the results may not be worth the time you put into it. And three, it can get expensive in terms of billable hours, especially if you decide to go the influencer marketing route.
The good news is that you can get inbound links without wasting all your time looking for opportunities elsewhere. Try these tactics to improve your ranking on Google without spending hours creating and promoting content.
Tactic 1: Build a Great Product
If you have a good product, you don’t have to fight for links. One of the biggest misconceptions about link building is that it has to be done manually. if you build it, they will come. If they love it, they will link to it.
Some time ago, I noticed that funnywill was classified as “strikethrough text” because we mentioned it in a blog post. So I said, “We should Use a strikethrough tool.” We did so.
It’s just a simple generator, but it actually helped us move to a higher ranking for the keyword. This is a great example of not having to create links or advertise – we just created something useful that people were already searching for and attracted more links.
This approach is called “Product Driven Growth” (PLG) and is a term coined by OpenView Venture Partners. Basically, it means building something not as a standalone product, but as a marketing channel for the other products or services that your company offers.
Tactic 2: Embrace Freemium Products
If you already have a premium product or are planning to build one, it may be worth giving at least a part for free as a tool to market the paid version. This is the freemium model.
HubSpot has a tool called Website Grader and it does exactly what you think it does: it audits websites based on a variety of factors and gives them a “grade.” You then use that grade to upsell paid products that you can use to improve it.
Is Website Grader the most comprehensive website auditing tool out there? No, but it is free, and if you give practical advice, you are much more likely to pay for the updated product than simply subscribing to a premium product that you know nothing about.
And according to SEMrush, Website Grader has more than 700,000 backlinks and rankings for 1,600 keywords:
HubSpot does it well too. Not only do they offer a bundle of free marketing tools, but they also have effective marketing funnels to direct you to multi-featured paid products.
The downside to freemium products is that you need to build something and it takes time, resources, and money. Before diving into this model, do your research and see if it really makes sense for your brand.
Tactic 3: Or Just Give It Away
Are your competitors charging thousands of dollars for a product? Find out how to make a similar product completely free for your customers.
A good example of this is Ubersuggest, Neil Patel’s free SEO keyword tool. Now, there are a lot of keyword tools out there, but what sets Neil’s tool apart from them is that it’s free. Not freemium. Free. No strings attached.
Neil does not market Ubersuggest or advertise, but he has more than 270,000 backlinks and brings 10,000 people to his website every day. Why? Because people want free keyword tools and it’s the highest-rated game in town.
Like HubSpot’s Web Grader, Ubersuggest doesn’t have many amenities, but it does have enough information to make it useful. And when people visit your site to test it out, they may find that you have a wealth of content telling them how to improve SEO or they decide to check out your consulting services. You are not pushing these things through the tool, but people can find them. People do find them.
Tactic 4: Create Linkable Assets
If you don’t have the budget or resources to create a free or freemium product, you still have the opportunity to create linkable assets. Linkable assets are simply items created for the express purpose of getting people to link to them.
Here are some examples to get you started:
Visual assets: these are your infographics, maps, and diagrams. For example, let’s say you are an influencer marketing agency. You can compile an infographic with statistics on your industry, a map of where the biggest influencers live in a specific niche or a flowchart on the influencer selection process. All of these assets are most likely shared by people in the influencer space.
Tools: includes all the above tools. It can be as simple as the strikethrough tool or as complicated as the site classifier. Either way, you must satisfy a specific need of your clients and customers have.
Tutorials and Guides: What Do Your Customers Want to Know? If you want to learn how to tie a tie, for example, you will probably stop at How to tie a tie. What can you teach people to do? You don’t have to create a separate website for this, you can just post something like “The Ultimate Guide to Tying Every Type of Tie”. Check out our handy guide: Step-by-step guide to writing an Earth-Shattering Blog Post:
Interactive content: Quizzes, transformation apps, and other types of interactive content that give customers the opportunity to learn something about themselves, which they can improve with a paid product or service, are an effective tool for manhood and inbound links.
Many types of linkable assets are easy and affordable to create. And because there are so many different types, you can start small and grow to something with more features as you learn what works.
Tactic 5: Leverage Social Sites for Press
If you decide to create a linkable asset or tool, post it on Reddit, Product Hunt or Hacker News, or any other website applicable to your industry. Reddit is applicable to most industries, as there is a subreddit for almost everything.
You need to be careful when promoting products within communities, especially on Reddit. Please read the rules before posting and/or consider that paid ads are not banned for blurring the lines between useful and spam.
Using more specialized sites is a great way to get qualified eyes. Some of these people will probably end up creating links for you if they like your content or product.
You Need to Do More Than Just Create Great Content
SEO used to be about creating comprehensive, useful, and up-to-date content. In a way, it still is, but with so much competition, you have to do more to stand out and be ranked.
I started writing in-depth marketing guides and articles and blog posts while it was still your ticket to the Google homepage and I was very successful at that. I didn’t have to do a lot of advertising to get backlinks. Now I, like everyone else, have to diversify.
It’s important to think outside of the box when it comes to your SEO strategy. Whether it’s launching a free or freemium tool, hosting a free in-person event, or even running a PR stunt, this is how links are built. It’s not about manual reach and it’s definitely not about buying links (don’t do that!).
Every time Google’s algorithm changes, people rush to crack the code. But no matter how much it changes, some things remain constant; the most important is the importance of providing value.
What do your customers or clients need to be successful that is complementary to the goods or services you sell? Give it to them, in a unique way. It may be unique because it is free or because no one else has tried it yet. Either way, make sure it’s the best.