We Analyzed 12 Million Outreach Emails. Here’s What We Learned

We Analyzed 12 Million Outreach Emails. Here’s What We Learned

We Analyzed 12 Million Outreach Emails. Here’s What We Learned

We analyzed 12 million outreach emails to answer the question:

What’s working in the world of email outreach right now?

We looked at subject lines. We looked at personalization. We even looked at follow-up sequences.

Along with our data partner for this study, Pitchbox, we uncovered a number of interesting findings.

Here is a Summary of Our Key Findings:

1. The vast majority of outreach messages are ignored. Only 8.5% of outreach emails receive a response.

2. Outreach emails with long subject lines have a 24.6% higher average response rate compared to those with short subject lines.

3. Follow-ups appear to significantly improve response rates. Emailing the same contact multiple times leads to 2x more responses.

4. Reaching out to multiple contacts can also lead to more success. The response rate of messages sent to several contacts is 93% higher than messages sent to a single person.

5. Personalized subject lines boost response rate by 30.5%. Therefore, personalizing subject lines appears to have a large impact on outreach campaign results.

6. Personalizing outreach email body content also seems to be an effective way to increase response rates. Emails with personalized message bodies have a 32.7% better response rate than those that don’t personalize their messages.

7. Wednesday is the “best” day to send outreach emails. Saturday is the worst. However, we didn’t find an especially large difference in response rates between different days that messages were sent.

8. Linking to social profiles in email signatures may result in better response rates. Twitter was correlated with an 8.2% increase, LinkedIn an 11.5% increase, and Instagram a 23.4% increase.

9. The most successful outreach campaigns reach out to multiple contacts multiple times. Email sequences with multiple attempts and multiple contacts boost response rates by 160%.

10. Certain types of outreach get higher response rates than others. Outreach messages related to guest posting, roundups and links have an especially high response rate.

We have details and additional data from our study below.

Most Outreach Emails Are Ignored or Deleted

You may have heard that it’s challenging to get people to reply to cold outreach emails. According to our data, poor response rates do appear to be the norm.

In fact, we found that only 8.5% of all outreach emails receive a response.

Only 8.5% of all outreach emails receive a response

This response rate is similar to what several cases studies, like this one from the Moz blog, have previously found.

The fact that 91.5% of cold outreach messages are ignored may not come as a surprise. After all, generic outreach emails like this are extremely common:

Generic outreach email

Fortunately, our research found several factors that helped certain outreach emails outperform the average. We will cover these findings later in this post.

But for now, it’s important to note that very few outreach emails receive a response.

Key Takeaway: 91.5% of outreach emails are ignored.

The Ideal Outreach Email Subject Line Length Is 36-50 Characters

Our study found that long subject lines get a significantly higher response rate than shorter subject lines.

Specifically, subject lines between 36-50 characters get the best response rate.

The ideal length for subject lines is 36-50 characters

To compare subject line response rates, we placed them into 5 buckets: short, medium, long, very long and extremely long.

And we found that long subject lines outperformed short subject lines by 32.7%.

Long subject lines get higher response rates than short subject lines

Why do long subject lines do best?

It’s likely because longer subject lines give you an opportunity to fully describe the content of your message.

For example, imagine a super short subject line like: “Quick Question”.

Subject line too short

At 13 characters, it’s impossible for your recipient to know what your email is about. It could be a question about their sales process. Or their lunch plans.

Plus, because it doesn’t note anything specific, it makes your outreach email seem generic before they’ve even opened it.

Contrast that with a subject line like: “Quick Question About Your Latest Blog Post”

Ideal subject line length

This subject line is much more specific. That way, if the recipient decides to open your email, they know what to expect.

However, it’s possible for your subject line to be too long.

For example, “Quick Question About Your Latest Blog Post About The Top 10 Paleo Diet Myths” is an extremely descriptive subject line. But it’s likely to get cut off by most inboxes (like Gmail):

Subject line too long

Key Takeaway: Long subject lines get 32.7% more responses than short subject lines.

Sending Follow-up Messages Significantly Improves Response Rates

Should you send follow-up messages to people that don’t reply to your initial outreach?

According to our findings, yes. We found that multiple outreach messages work better than a single message:

Multiple outreach messages result in higher response rates

While sending 3 or more messages results in the best overall response rate, sending just one additional follow-up can boost replies by 65.8%.

A single follow-up message can boost replies by 65.8%

Why do follow-ups work so well?

Simply put: people receive lots of emails in their inbox every day. In fact, The Radicati Group found that the average office worker receives 121 emails per day.

With 100+ emails to sift through per day, the chances of your single outreach email getting seen, opened and replied to is pretty slim.

But when you send more than one message, you have yet another chance to stand out and push through the noise in someone’s inbox.

Of course, there’s a right and wrong way to send follow-up messages.

Annoying follow-ups like these can damage relationships, lead to spam complaints, and overall, do more harm than good.

Annoying follow-up email

However, gentle follow-ups that provide additional context can improve conversions without burning bridges.

Gentle follow-up

Key Takeaway: Follow-ups can significantly improve outreach conversion rates. In fact, a single additional follow-up message can lead to 65.8% more replies.

Reaching Out to Several Contacts Increases the Odds of a Response

We looked at the effect that reaching out to several contacts at the same organization had on outreach conversions.

And we found that, compared to a single contact, sending emails to more than one contact improves response rates by 93%.

Reaching out to several contacts increases response rate

We also looked at how outreach success rate correlated with number of contacts. We found a clear pattern that more contacts leads to more responses.

Outreach reply rate is proportional to number of contacts

However, we did find a point of diminishing returns at 5+ contacts.

If you’re reaching out to a single-author blog, you probably don’t need to worry about sending messages to several different contacts.

However, multiple contacts becomes important when reaching out to large websites with dozens of employees. That’s because it can be hard to tell who exactly is responsible for which task (even with the help of an org chart and “About Us” page).

For example, let’s say that you’re sending an outreach message to a large publisher as part of a link building campaign. Should you email the author of the article? Or the editor of the blog? Or maybe the best person is the head of content.

It’s almost impossible to know without an intimate understanding of the organization’s inner workings. That’s why it usually makes sense to reach out to a single person. Then, if you don’t hear back, try again with another contact. That way, over time, your message should get in front of the person that is most likely to add your link to the post.

Key Takeaway: Having multiple contacts to reach out to increases your chances of getting through. In fact, outreach emails sent to multiple contacts can boost response rates by 93%.

Personalized Subject Lines Lead to More Replies

Personalizing emails is considered an outreach best practice. However, to our knowledge, there hasn’t been any research done to support this strategy.

That’s why we decided to investigate the effect of personalization on outreach email replies. Specifically, we compared the response rates between messages that did and didn’t use personalized subject lines.

Our data showed that personalized subject lines got nearly 1/3rd more replies than those without personalization.

Personalizing subject lines lead to more replies

Why do personalized subject lines lead to more responses?

Although it’s difficult to fully answer this question from our data alone, my theory is that personalized subject lines help you stand out in someone’s crowded inbox.

For example, take a non-personalized subject line like: “More Leads”. For someone that’s hurriedly scanning incoming emails from their iPhone, “More Leads” doesn’t compel them to see or open the message.

Non-personalized subject line

On the other hand, adding a bit of personalization makes your subject line much more compelling to the person on the receiving end of your message.

Personalized subject line

Key Takeaway: Emails with personalized subject lines boost response rate by 30.5%.

Personalizing Email Body Copy Can Significantly Improve Response Rates

As we just outlined, personalized subject lines are correlated with higher response rates (likely due to a higher email open rate).

However, we wanted to see if the benefits of personalization extended to the outreach email body itself.

Our data showed that personalizing the body of outreach emails also improved conversion rates. Specifically, personalized messages received 32.7% more replies than those that weren’t personalized.

Personalizing email body copy can significantly improve response rates

Generic outreach messages are easy to spot. For example, here’s one that I received a few days ago:

Generic outreach email – Guest posting

The telltale “Hi,” or “Hello,” is usually enough to let you know that this exact same email has been sent to hundreds of other people.

On the other hand, even a relatively small gesture, like using the person’s first name, can go a long way.

And for those that are interested in getting the highest reply rate possible, writing outreach emails from scratch (or working from a template with lots of room for personalization), seems to work best. Here’s an example of one such outreach email someone recently sent me:

Personalized follow-up email

According to our research, personalizing subject lines and body copy is correlated with above-average response rates. Yes, personalizing takes more time and effort. But the data suggests that this extra work pays off.

Key Takeaway: Emails with personalized bodies boost response rate by 32.7%.

Wednesday Is the Best Day To Send Outreach Messages

Several industry studies have set out to answer the “best day to send emails” question. However, most of these studies (like this one from GetResponse) are specific to newsletter messages. They also tend to focus on open rates, not reply rates.

Which is why we decided to look at how response rates differed based on the day of the week that messages were sent out.

Our data showed that Wednesday had a slight edge over the other 6 days of the week. Also, Saturday appears to have the worst response rate.

Best day of week to send outreach emails

However, I should note that the differences in response rates were somewhat small.

For example, when we looked at the response rate for the “best” day (Wednesday) to the “worst” day (Saturday), we found that messages sent on Wednesday had a 1.99% higher overall response rate.

Comparing outreach response rates Saturday .vs. Wednesday

In other words, according to this data, sending outreach emails on Wednesday vs. Saturday could theoretically boost your response rate from 6% to 7.99%. If you’re only sending a few dozen outreach messages per month, this may only lead to an additional reply or two.

However, this finding is more significant if you’re doing outreach at scale. That’s because, while 1.99% may not mean much in absolute terms, it amounts to a 33.1% higher relative response rate. Which is significant for those that send out a large amount of outreach emails every month.

We also compared response rates for messages sent during the week vs. those sent on the weekend.

And we found that outreach emails sent Monday through Friday had a 23.3% better conversion rate than emails sent on Saturday or Sunday.

Outreach emails sent on weekdays get significantly more replies than those sent on weekends

Key Takeaway: Outreach emails sent on Wednesday get more responses than any other day of the week. However, most small-scale outreach campaigns don’t need to organize their sequences based on the day of the week.

Linking to Social Profiles May Slightly Improve Outreach Response Rates

Do social profile links in the email signature affect response rates?

According to our study, they do. Messages that contained links to social profile links in the sender’s signature had an 9.8% higher average response rate compared to messages without them.

Linking to social profiles may slightly improve outreach response rates

We also broke down the impact of social signature links by social network. We found that linking to Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram profiles positively affect response rates. However, linking to Facebook profiles didn’t seem to make a dent.

Links to Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter may lead to more outreach replies

Why would social profile links lead to more responses?

I have two theories:

First, links to social profiles make you seem like a living, breathing person.

Brian email signature

I doubt that many recipients actually click on these social signature links. However, their mere presence may suggest: “I’m not an outreach robot. I’m a person that’s reaching out to you”.

Second, it’s possible that social profile links may not have any direct impact on responses at all. It could be a case of correlation, not causation.

For example, people that tend to be transparent may also spend more time personalizing their messages, which is the true underlying cause of the improved response rates.

While it’s impossible to glean the exact effect of social profile links on outreach response rates, they don’t appear to hurt conversions. Which makes them something worth testing.

Key Takeaway: Outreach emails that contain links to social profiles have a 9.8% higher response rate than those without social profile links. Links to Instagram and LinkedIn appear to be most effective.

Email Sequences That Involve Multiple Contacts and Multiple Messages Perform Best Overall

As I covered earlier in this write-up, follow-up messages and sending multiple contacts are correlated with higher outreach reply rates.

We also decided to investigate the combined effect that these two strategies had on conversion rates. Specifically, we compared reply rates between a single email to a single contact with a 3-part email campaign to several different contacts.

Our data showed that more contacts combined with sequencing yield a 160% higher response rate than sending a single message to a single contact.

Email sequences that involve multiple contacts and multiple messages perform best overall

Key Takeaway: Taken as a whole, campaigns that involve sequences that go out to several contacts perform significantly better than one-off emails to a single person.

Outreach Emails About “Links”, “Guest Posting” and “Roundups” Have Especially High Response Rates

We investigated reply rates between eight common email outreach topics.

Specifically, we looked at the reply rate for outreach emails related to:

  • Link building
  • Guest posting
  • Sponsorships
  • Infographics
  • Resources
  • Reviews
  • Mentions
  • Roundups

And we found that outreach emails about guest posting, roundups and link building all had an above-average response rate.

Outreach email response rate by topic

This is an especially interesting finding considering that many content marketing and SEO experts consider guest posting and roundups “dead”.

Guest-posting collage

However, at least according to our study, site owners are still largely receptive to pitches for guest posts and expert roundup invitations.

Emails related to sponsorships also tended to get a fair share of replies. I found this noteworthy as Influencer Marketing, which relies heavily on paid product placement and promotion, is growing. It appears that influencers are still happy to receive pitches from brands that want to sponsor their website, YouTube channel or Instagram profile.

Our data also showed that messages about infographics receive relatively few replies.

This may be due to the fact that infographics have lost the novelty they once had. Or that the most infographic-focused outreach is untargeted.

For example, I got this infographic pitch in my inbox a few months ago:

Infographics pitch

My site has never written about or even touched on holiday promotions. This was clearly someone that created a mediocre infographic with the hope that mass outreach would help get the word out.

Key Takeaway: Emails about guest posts, roundups, links and sponsorships tend to get the best response rates.


I’d like to thank Michael Geneles from Pitchbox for providing the data that made this study possible. I also want to give a shout out to Alex Gopshtein for digging deep into the data and making it easy to understand and digest.

And for those that are interested, here’s a link to our study methods.

Now I’d like to hear from you:

What’s your #1 takeaway from today’s study?

Let me know by leaving a comment below right now.

The post We Analyzed 12 Million Outreach Emails. Here’s What We Learned appeared first on Backlinko.

We Analyzed 912 Million Blog Posts. Here’s What We Learned About Content Marketing

We Analyzed 912 Million Blog Posts. Here’s What We Learned About Content Marketing

We Analyzed 912 Million Blog Posts. Here's What We Learned About Content Marketing

We analyzed 912 million blog posts to better understand the world of content marketing right now.

Specifically, we looked at how factors like content format, word count and headlines correlate with social media shares and backlinks.

With the help of our data partner BuzzSumo, we uncovered some very interesting findings.

And now it’s time to share what we discovered.

Here is a Summary of Our Key Findings:

1. Long-form content gets an average of 77.2% more links than short articles. Therefore, long-form content appears to be ideal for backlink acquisition.

2. When it comes to social shares, longer content outperforms short blog posts. However, we found diminishing returns for articles that exceed 2,000 words.

3. The vast majority of online content gets few social shares and backlinks. In fact, 94% of all blog posts have zero external links.

4. A small percentage of “Power Posts” get a disproportionate amount of social shares. Specifically, Specifically, 1.3% of articles generate 75% of all social shares.

5. We found virtually no correlation between backlinks and social shares. This suggests that there’s little crossover between highly-shareable content and content that people link to.

6. Longer headlines are correlated with more social shares. Headlines that are 14-17 words in length generate 76.7% more social shares than short headlines.

7. Question headlines (titles that end with a “?”) get 23.3% more social shares than headlines that don’t end with a question mark.

8. There’s no “best day” to publish a new piece of content. Social shares are distributed evenly among posts published on different days of the week.

9. Lists posts are heavily shared on social media. In fact, list posts get an average of 218% more shares than “how to” posts and 203% more shares than infographics.

10. Certain content formats appear to work best for acquiring backlinks. We found that “Why Posts”, “What Posts” and infographics received 25.8% more links compared to videos and “How-to” posts.

11. The average blog post gets 9.7x more shares than a post published on a B2B site. However, the distribution of shares and links for B2B and B2C publishers appears to be similar.

We have detailed data and information of our findings below.

Long-Form Content Generates More Backlinks Than Short Blog Posts

When it comes to acquiring backlinks, long-form content significantly outperforms short blog posts and articles.

Long-form content generates more backlinks than short blog posts

You may have seen other industry studies, like this one, that found a correlation between long-form content and first page Google rankings.

However, to our knowledge no one has investigated why longer content tends to perform so well. Does the Google algorithm inherently prefer long content? Or perhaps longer content is best at satisfying searcher intent.

While it’s impossible to draw any firm conclusions from our study, our data suggests that backlinks are at least part of the reason that long-form content tends to rank in Google’s search results.

Key Takeaway: Content longer than 3000 words gets an average of 77.2% more referring domain links than content shorter than 1000 words.

The Ideal Content Length For Maximizing Social Shares Is 1,000-2,000 Words

According to our data, long-form content generates significantly more social shares than short content.

However, our research indicates that there’s diminishing returns once you reach the 2,000-word mark.

The ideal content length for maximizing social media shares is 1,000 to 2,000 words

In other words, 1,000-2,000 words appears to be the “sweet spot” for maximizing shares on social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and Pinterest.

In fact, articles between 1k-2k words get an average of 56.1% more social shares than content that’s less than 1000 words.

Key Takeaway: Content between 1k-2k words is ideal for generating social shares.

The Vast Majority of Content Gets Zero Links

It’s no secret that backlinks remain an extremely important Google ranking signal.

Google recently reiterated this fact in their “How Search Works” report.

Google – How search works

And we found that actually getting these links is extremely difficult.

In fact, our data showed that 94% of the world’s content gets zero external links.

94% of content published gets zero external links

It’s fair to say that getting someone to link to your content is tough. And we found that getting links from multiple websites is even more challenging.

In fact, only 2.2% of content generates links from multiple websites.

Only 2.2% of content generates links from multiple websites

Why is it so hard to get backlinks?

While it’s impossible to answer this question from our data alone, it’s likely due to a sharp increase in the amount of content that’s published every day.

For example, WordPress reports that 87 million posts were published on their platform in May 2018, which is a 47.1% increase compared to May 2016.

Number of posts published (WordPress)

That’s an increase of 27 million monthly blog posts in a 2 year span.

It appears that, due to the sharp rise in content produced, that building links from content is harder than ever.

A 2015 study published on the Moz blog concluded that, of the content in their sample, “75% had zero external links”. Again: our research from this study found that 94% of all content has zero external links. This suggests that getting links to your content is significantly harder compared to just a few years ago.

Key Takeaway: Building links through content marketing is more challenging than ever. Only 6% of the content in our sample had at least one external link.

A Small Number of “Power Posts” Get a Large Proportion of Shares

Our data shows that social shares aren’t evenly distributed. Not even close.

We found that a small number of outliers (“Power Posts”) receive the majority of the world’s social shares.

Specifically, 1.3% of articles get 75% of the social shares.

And a small subset of those Power Posts tend to get an even more disproportionate amount of shares.

In fact, 0.1% of articles in our sample got 50% of the total amount of social shares.

Top subset of

In other words, approximately half of all social shares go to an extremely small number (0.1%) of viral posts.

For example, this story about shoppers buying and returning clothes from ecommerce sites received 77.3 thousand Facebook shares.

This single article got more Facebook shares than the rest of the top 20 posts about ecommerce combined.

Key Takeaway: The majority of social shares are generated from a small number of posts. 75% of all social shares come from only 1.3% of published content.

There’s Virtually No Correlation Between Social Shares and Backlinks

We found no correlation between social shares and backlinks (Pearson correlation coefficient of 0.078).

In other words, content that receives a lot of links doesn’t usually get shared on social media.

(And vice versa)

And when content does get shared on social media, those shares don’t usually result in more backlinks.

This may surprise a lot of publishers as “Sharing your content on social media” is considered an SEO best practice. The idea being that social media helps your content get in front of more people, which increases the likelihood that someone will link to you.

While this makes sense in theory, our data shows that this doesn’t play out in the real world.

That’s because, as Steve Rayson put it: “People share and link to content for different reasons”.

So it’s important to create content that caters to your goals.

Do you want to go viral on Facebook? Then list posts might be your best bet.

Is your #1 goal to get more backlinks? Then you probably want to publish infographics and other forms of visual content.

We will outline the differences between highly-linkable and highly-shareable content below.

But for now, it’s important to note that there’s very little overlap between content that gets shared on social media and content that people link to.

Key Takeaway: There’s no correlation between social media shares and links.

Long Headlines are Correlated With High Levels of Social Sharing

Previous industry studies have found a relationship between “long” headlines and social shares.

Our data found a similar relationship. In fact, we discovered that “very long” headlines outperform short headlines by 76.7%:

Long headlines are correlated with increased social sharing

We defined “very long” headlines as headlines between 14-17 words in length. As you can see in the chart, there appears to be a linear relationship between headline length and shares.

And this same relationship played out when we analyzed the headlines in our dataset by character count.

Long headlines (100+ characters) are correlated with social shares

As you might remember from 2014, clickbait-style headlines worked extremely well for publishers like Buzzfeed and Upworthy.

And their posts tended to feature headlines that were significantly longer than average.

Although clickbait isn’t as effective as it once was, it appears that long headlines continue to be an effective tactic for boosting social shares.

There are, of course, exceptions to this rule. For example, this post with a 6-word headline received over 328k social shares.

Keto no-bake cookies post

But when you look at the headlines across our dataset of 912 million posts, it’s clear that content that uses longer headlines get more social shares.

Why long headlines work so well is anyone’s guess. However, I have two theories that may partly explain things.

First, it could be the fact that longer headlines pack more information in them compared to short headlines. This “extra” information may push people to read a piece of content or watch a video that they otherwise wouldn’t, increasing the odds that it goes viral.

Also, longer headlines contain more terms that can “match” keyword searches in Google and on social media sites where people commonly search (like Twitter). Again, this results in more eyeballs, which can lead to more shares.

Twitter search

Key Takeaway: Very long headlines (14-17 words in length) get 76.7% more social shares than short headlines.

Titles That End With a “?” Get an Above Average Amount of Social Shares

One interesting nugget from our data was that “question headlines” seem to be working well right now.

In fact, headlines with a question mark get 23.3% more social shares than non-question headlines.

For example, here’s a post with a question headline that boasts 3.3M shares:

Question titles may work because they add an element of intrigue that’s well-documented to increase click-through-rate. Put another way, you might decide to read a post in order to answer the question posed in the headline.

Obviously, question titles aren’t a magic bullet. But using questions in certain headlines may help increase shares and traffic.

Key Takeaway: Question headlines get 23.3% more social shares than non-question headlines.

There’s No “Best Day” to Publish New Content

What’s the best day to publish a blog post?

Well, according to our data, the day that you publish doesn’t make much of a difference.

(At least in terms of social shares)

Social shares by day of the week

We did find that Sunday had a slight edge over other days of the week. However, the difference in shares from content published on Sunday vs. the other 6 days of the week was only 1.45%.

Several industry studies and case studies have set out to answer the “best time to publish content” question. But most are either old (one of the most-cited industry studies I found was published back in 2012) or used a small sample size.

And this is likely the reason that the findings from those studies are so conflicting.

Considering that there’s no advantage to publishing content on a certain day, I recommend researching and testing the best publishing time for your industry and audience.

For example, after extensive testing, we found that publishing on Tuesday morning (Eastern) works best for the Backlinko blog. But I’ve heard from other bloggers that their publishing on Saturday works best for them.

So the “best” day to publish is ultimately whenever your audience is available to consume and share your content, something that’s best determined by testing.

Key Takeaway: There’s no “best” day for new content to come out. Shares are essentially equal across different days of the week.

List Posts and “Why Posts” Get a High Level Of Shares Compared to Other Content Formats

We investigated the relationship between content format and social shares.

Our data shows that lists posts and “Why Posts” tend to get more shares than other content formats.

List posts and

For example, this Why Post from Inc.com was shared on Facebook 164 thousand times:

Why reading books should be your priority

On the other hand, how-to posts and infographics don’t get shared on social media very often.

That’s not to say you should avoid any particular content format. There are infographics and how-to posts out there that generate tens of thousands of shares.

However, our data does suggest that focusing on list posts and Why Posts may increase the odds of your content getting shared on social media.

Key Takeaway: List posts perform well on social media compared to other popular content formats. Our study found that list posts generate 203% more shares than infographics and 218% more shares than how-to articles.

“Why Posts”, “What Posts” and Infographics Are Ideal Content Formats for Acquiring Backlinks

We found that “Why Posts”, “What Posts” and infographics get linked to more often than other content formats.

What’s interesting is that, while there’s some overlap, there’s a significant difference in the content formats that people share and link to.

Referring domains .vs. Average social shares

While our study found that list posts were the top content format for social sharing, they’re dead last in terms of getting backlinks from other websites.

For example, this list post has 207.8k social shares.

20 amazing writing prompts

But according to BuzzSumo, despite all those shares, this article has zero backlinks:

BuzzSumo – boredpanda.com – Shares

It’s a similar situation with infographics. Our data shows that infographics tend to get very few shares relative to list posts, “what posts” and videos.

However, when it comes to links, infographics are a top 3 content format.

This supports our other finding from this research that there’s no correlation between shares and links.

My theory on this is that certain formats are primed to get shared on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. And other formats designed to get linked to from the small group of “Linkerati” that run and contribute content to websites.

Infographics illustrate this contrast perfectly.

Although the occasional infographic may go viral, it’s fair to say that their novelty has worn off in recent years. Which may explain why infographics aren’t shared very much compared to other formats (like list posts).

However, due to the fact that infographics contain highly-citable data, they work as an effective form of “link bait”.

Also, unlike a list post or how-to post, infographics can be easily embedded in blog content. This further increases the chances of acquiring links.

Key Takeaway: “Why Posts”, “What Posts” and infographics appear to be ideal for link building. These three formats receive an average of 25.8% more referring domain links than how-to posts and videos.

B2B and B2C Content Have a Similar Share and Link Distribution

We analyzed a subset of content from our dataset that was published on B2B websites. Our goal was to find out if share and link behavior differed in the B2B and B2C spaces.

First, we did find that “normal” content generates significantly more shares than B2B content. In fact, the average amount of shares for all the content in our dataset is 9.7x higher than content published in the B2B space.

B2C content gets shared 9.7X more than B2B content

This finding wasn’t surprising. B2C content tends to cover topics with broad appeal, like fitness, health and politics. On the other hand, B2B content on hiring, marketing and branding only appeal to a relatively small group. So it makes sense that B2C content would get shared more often.

However, when we analyzed the distribution of B2B shares and links vs. all published content, we found that they largely overlapped.

For example, 93% of B2B content gets zero links from other websites.

93% of B2B content gets zero external links

The amount of B2B content without any links (93%) is similar to the figure (94%) from our full dataset.

The percentage of B2B posts get linked to from multiple websites also overlaps with B2C.

Only 3% of B2B content gets linked to from more than one website.

Only 3% of B2B content generates links from multiple websites

This largely matches the 2.2% that we found in our mixed dataset of B2B and B2C content.

Overall, B2B and B2C link distribution largely overlaps.

Similar share and link distribution

When it comes to B2B social shares, we found that 0.5% of B2B articles get 50% of social shares.


And 2% of B2B articles get 75% of social shares.

B2B subset of

Like with B2C content, B2B publishers have a small number of “Power Posts” that drive the majority of social sharing.

B2B and B2C shares stem from a small number of

Key Takeaway: Although B2B content doesn’t get shared as often, the distribution of shares and links in B2B and B2C appears to be similar.


I learned a lot about content marketing from this study, and I hope you did too.

I’d like to again thank BuzzSumo (in particular Henley Wing) for providing the data that made this research possible.

For those that are interested, here is a PDF of how we collected and analyzed the data for this research.

And now I’d like to hear from you:

What’s your #1 takeaway lesson from this study?

Or maybe you have a question.

Either way, leave a comment below right now.

The post We Analyzed 912 Million Blog Posts. Here’s What We Learned About Content Marketing appeared first on Backlinko.

Introducing: The SEO Marketing Hub, A Free Library of SEO Resources

Introducing: The SEO Marketing Hub, A Free Library of SEO Resources

SEO Marketing Hub

I’m SUPER excited to announce the release of the SEO Marketing Hub.

This free resource library covers over 35 key topics — including Schema, sitemaps, SEO software, content audits, link bait, rich snippets, and lots more.

You can check out the brand new SEO Marketing Hub right here:

Visit The SEO Marketing Hub

All in all, this resource library contains over 50,000 words, 700 screenshots, as well as 150+ custom-designed diagrams, charts and visuals.

SEO Marketing Hub

Read more

The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

Today I’m going to show you a VERY effective SEO strategy for 2019.


In fact, I recently used these exact steps to rank #1 in Google for “Video SEO”.

And “keyword research tool”.

Let’s dive right in…

Step #1: Find an “Opportunity Keyword”

Let’s face it:

A #1 ranking isn’t what it used to be.

That’s because Google keeps adding stuff to the search results.

For example, look at the keyword “SEO Tools”:

SEO Tools – SERPs

Like most search results, you’ve got ads at the top of the page.

Plus, a Featured Snippet:

SEO Tools – Featured snippet

A “People also Ask” box:

THEN you get to the #1 result:

SEO Tools – Number one result

That’s why you want to focus on Opportunity Keywords.

Opportunity Keywords are keywords with a high organic click-through-rate (CTR).

How about an example?

I recently created a post optimized around the term “SEO Audit”:

SEO Site Audit – Post

And “SEO Audit” is an Opportunity Keyword.

Sure, there are ads:

SEO Audit – Top ads

But that’s actually a good thing.

(More ads=higher commercial intent)

Other than ads, there isn’t a lot to distract people from the organic results:

SEO Audit – Organic results

You can also estimate organic CTR with Ahrefs.

Ahrefs homepage

For example, when I put “SEO Audit” into Ahrefs, it says that 61% of searchers click on a result.

SEO Audit – Ahrefs

Not bad.

Which leads us to…

Step #2: Analyze Google’s First Page

OK, so you found an Opportunity Keyword.

Now it’s time to see what’s already working for that keyword.

To do that, just type your keyword into Google.

Scan the top 10 results:


And jot down any patterns that you notice.

For example, the first page for “SEO Tools” is PACKED with lists of tools:

SEO Tools – List post highlights

So you’d want to jot down: “lots of list posts”.

Then, move onto step #3…

Step #3: Create Something Different… Or Better

When it comes to content, you’ve got two options:

Option #1: You can create something different.

Option #2: You can create something better.

Here’s how…


Sometimes you want to create something bigger and better than what’s out there.

(aka The Skyscraper Technique)

But sometimes you’re better off with content that’s completely different.


Because it helps your content STAND OUT.

For example:

A few months ago I sat down to write a piece of content optimized around: “Mobile SEO”.

And I noticed Google’s first page was littered with list posts, like: “X Ways to Mobile Optimize Your Site.”

Existing mobile SEO content


I could have created a BIGGER list post like: “150 Ways to Mobile Optimize Your Site”.

But that wouldn’t make any sense.

Instead, I created something totally different.

Specifically, I published an ultimate guide to mobile optimization.

Mobile SEO Guide – Post

And because my content stood out, it got a ton of shares:

Mobile SEO Guide – Shares


Mobile SEO Guide – Comments

And most important of all, backlinks:

Mobile SEO Guide – Backlinks


This is a lot more straightforward.

All you need to do is find out what’s working…

…and publish something WAY better.

For example:

A while back I noticed that most content about “SEO tools” only listed 10-20 tools.

And I knew that publishing another list of 20 tools wouldn’t work.

So I decided to create a list of 188 SEO tools.

SEO Tools post

And it did GREAT.

In fact, it now ranks in the top 3 for the keyword “SEO Tools”:

SEO Tools – Backlinko SERPs

Step #4: Add a Hook

Here’s the deal:

If you want to rank in 2019, you need backlinks.

You need backlinks to rank

Question is:


First, you need to figure out WHY people link to content in your industry.

(“The Hook”)

Then, include that “Hook” in your content.

For example:

Last year I noticed more and more bloggers writing about voice search.

Bloggers writing about voice search

I noticed something else too:

When people wrote about voice search, they linked to content that featured stats and data:

Voice search writing linked to content featuring stats and data

So I decided to do a voice search study that was PACKED with stats:

And it worked!

To date, this single post has racked up 848 backlinks:

Voice Search SEO study – Post backlinks

And 90%+ of these backlinks cite a specific stat from my post:

Backlinks cite specific stats from post

That said:

Data is just one type of Hook that you can use to get links to your content.

Here are 3 other Hooks that are working great right now:

New Approaches and Strategies

Think about it:

What do bloggers and journalists LOVE writing about?

New stuff!

And if you create something new, you’ve got yourself a hook.

For example, a few years ago, I coined the phrase “Guestographics”.

How to Get Backlinks – Post

This was a new strategy that no one knew about.

And because Guestographics were new (and had a unique name), 1,200 people have linked to my post so far:

Massive Guides

When you publish a massive guide, your guide itself is The Hook.

I’ll explain with an example…

A few years back I published Link Building: The Definitive Guide.

Link Building Post

It was (and still is) the most complete guide to link building out there.

Here’s where things get interesting…

Every now and again a blogger will mention “link building” in a post.

But they don’t have room to cover the entire topic.

So they link to my guide as a way for their readers to learn more:

Bloggers link out to my guide

Very cool.

Case Study Results

Case studies are GREAT for getting links.

But to get links to your case study, you need to feature a specific result.

For example, a while back I published this case study:

Content strategy post

This was a SUPER in-depth case study.

But I didn’t feature ONE result in the post.

Instead, I listed out 20+ results:

Content strategy post – Results

Which meant my case study didn’t have a single Hook for people to link to.

And very few people linked to it.

Flash forward to a few years later when I published this case study:

Increase Conversions – Post

This time, I focused on ONE result (a 785% increase in my blog’s conversion rate):

And that single result was The Hook that led to hundreds of links:

Hundreds of links from one result – Focus


Step #5: Optimize For On-Page SEO

This step is all about keyword-optimizing your content for SEO.

And here are the 3 on-page SEO strategies that are working best for me right now:

Internal Linking

Yup, internal linking still works.

But you have to do it right.

Specifically, you want to link FROM high-authority pages TO pages that need authority.

High authority pages

For example, I published Google Search Console: The Definitive Guide earlier this year.

Google Search Console – Post

So I found a page on my site with a ton of authority…

Google Ranking Factors – Post

…and linked from that page to my new guide.


Short, Keyword-Rich URLs

Our analysis of 1 million Google search results found something that surprised a lot of people:

Short URLs crush long URLs.

Short URLs are better than longer URLs

That’s why I make my URLs either just my keyword…

SEO Checklist – URL

… Or my target keyword plus one more word:

Backlinks Guide – URL

Either way works.

Semantic SEO

Finally, I optimize my content for Semantic SEO.

In other words:

I find words that are related to my target keyword.

Then, I use those terms in my content.

Here are the deets:

First, pop your keyword into Google Images.

Enter keyword into Google Images

And Google will give you words and phrases they consider closely-related to that topic:

Google Images – Related terms

Second, type the same keyword into normal Google search. And scroll down to the “Searches related to…” section.

Searches related to

Finally, sprinkle some of those terms into your content:

And you’re set.

Step #6: Optimize For User Intent

In other words: The Skyscraper Technique 2.0.

I’ll show you how this works with a quick example.

A few years ago I wrote a post about getting more traffic to your site.

Increase Website Traffic post – Older

It did OK.

But it never cracked the top 5 for my target keyword (“increase website traffic”).

And when I analyzed Google’s first page, I realized why:

My page didn’t satisfy user intent.

I’ll explain…

Most of the content ranking for “increase website traffic” listed bite-sized traffic tips.

But my post gave them a high-level process.

Backlinko – Increase website traffic post – High-level process

So I rewrote my content to match this keyword’s User Intent.

Specifically, I turned my process into a list post:

Increase Website traffic is now a list post

And now that my content matches User Intent, it ranks in the top 3 for my target keyword:

Which led to a 70.43% boost in organic traffic compared to the old version of the post:

Increase Website Traffic – Organic traffic boost

That said:

You can also publish User Intent optimized content right out of the gate.

In fact, that’s what I did with my recent post: The Ultimate SEO Audit.

SEO Site Audit – Post

I saw that most of the content ranking for “SEO Audit” listed out non-technical steps.

SEO Audit – Existing content – Non-technical steps

So I included simple strategies that anyone could use:

SEO Audit – Strategy examples

I even emphasized the fact that my audit was non-technical.

SEO Site Audit – Non-technical emphasis

(This hooks people so they don’t bounce back to the search results)

And this User Intent optimization (and my site’s Domain Authority…more on that later) helped my post crack the first page of Google within a month.

Step #7: Make Your Content Look Awesome

Design is THE most underrated part of content marketing.

You can have the best content ever written.

But if it looks like this…

Bad website

…it’s not gonna work.

That’s why I invest A LOT of time and money into content design.

For example, you’ve probably seen one of my definitive guides:

Google RankBrain SEO – Post

These guides are designed and coded 100% from scratch.

(Which makes them super expensive to make)

That said:

Great content design doesn’t have to break the bank.

In fact, here are 4 types of visual content that are super easy to pull off.

Graphs and Charts

These work so well that I try to include at least one chart in every post.

Include at least one chart in every post


Because they make data EASY to understand.

For example, take this stat from my mobile SEO guide.

Stat as text

I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time picturing 27.8 billion ANYTHING.

So I had our designer create a nice chart.

Stat as graphic

As a bonus, people will sometimes use your chart in a blog post… and link back to you:

Graphic used by site with link

Screenshots and Pictures

You might have noticed that I use LOTS of screenshots in every post.

Brian uses lots of screenshots in every post

In fact, this single post has 78 screenshots:

SEO Checklist post – Screenshots

To be clear:

I don’t use screenshots just for the sake of using screenshots.

I only use them if it helps someone implement a specific step.

For example, these screenshots make the 2 steps from this guide dead-simple to follow:

Easy to follow steps using screenshots

That said:

Screenshots only make sense when you describe something technical.

What if you’re in a non-technical niche… like fitness?

Well, pictures serve the same purpose.

For example, my friend Steve Kamb at Nerd Fitness uses pictures to show you how to do exercises the right way:

Picture used to demonstrate an exercise

Blog Post Banners

Unlike graphs and screenshots, blog post banners serve no practical purpose.

They just look cool 🙂

Depending on the post, I either use a right-aligned 220×200 image…

Square post image example

…or a giant banner at the top of the post:

Banner post image example

Graphics and Visualizations

Graphics and visualizations are kind of like charts.

But instead of visualizing data, they visualize concepts.

To be clear:

These DON’T have to be fancy.

For example, in this post I explain how all 4 versions of your site should redirect to the same URL:

Visualization redirect example

This isn’t rocket science.

But it’s hard to picture this idea in your mind.

So our designer made a simple visual that makes this concept easy to understand.

Redirect visualization

Now it’s time to actively build links to your content.

Specifically, we’re going to tap into 3 link building strategies that are working GREAT right now.

Broken Link Building

Here’s where you find a broken link on someone’s site…

…and offer your content as a replacement.

For example, this is an outreach email that I sent to a blogger in the marketing niche:

Outreach email to blogger

(Note how specific I am. I don’t say “Please consider linking to me in a blog post”. I have a specific place on a specific page where my link makes sense)

And because I helped the person out BEFORE asking for anything, they were happy to add my link:

Blogger – Happy to add Brian's link

Competitor Analysis

This strategy is old school.

But it still works.

First, find a site that’s ranking for a keyword you want to rank for.

For example, I’m trying to rank for the keyword “SEO Audit”.

So I grab this result from the first page…

SEO Audit SERPs with Ahrefs highlight

…and look at their backlinks.

Ahrefs – Page backlinks

I can see that this page has links from 160 domains:

Ahrefs page – Referring domains

So I should be able to get at least a handful of the same links they have.

To do that, I go one-by-one through their backlinks.

Go through backlinks – Ahrefs

And find pages where my link would add value.

For example, this post mentions the Ahrefs content by name:

Post mentioning Ahrefs' content by name

There’s no reason to link to my post there. So I moved onto the next opportunity on the list.

And I came across this post:

Good candidate post

This time, the link to Ahrefs is part of a big list of resources.

Link to Ahrefs – Part of a resource list

A list that would be even BETTER and more complete with a link to my SEO audit post.

Evangelist Method

This strategy is less about links… and more about getting your content in front of the right people.

(Specifically: people that run blogs in your niche)

I’ll explain how this strategy works with an example…

A while back I wanted to promote a new Skyscraper Technique case study.

So I used BuzzSumo to see who recently shared content about The Skyscraper Technique.

BuzzSumo – Recent Skyscraper Technique shares

And emailed everyone a variation of this template:

Outreach template

And when they replied “sure, I’ll check it out”, I sent them a link to the post:

Outreach template reply

(Note how I DON’T ask for a share. This is a Judo move that makes your outreach stand out)

Which led to dozens of shares to my brand post:

Resultant shares of template use

Step #9: Improve and Update Your Content

This is working amazingly well right now.

You might have read about the time that I used The Content Relaunch to boost my organic traffic by 260.7%:

Content relaunch post

And I’m happy to tell you that this approach still works.

For example, last year I relaunched this list of SEO techniques.

SEO Techniques – Post

But I didn’t just re-post the same content and call it “new”.

Instead, I went through and removed old screenshots and images:

Removed screenshots

Added new strategies:

Added new strategies

And deleted strategies that didn’t work anymore:

Deleted old strategies

The result?

An 62.60% organic traffic boost to that page:

Organic traffic increase result

Bonus Step #1: Increase Your Domain Authority

This is the ultimate SEO superhack.

When you have a high Domain Authority, SEO gets A LOT easier.

For example, let’s look at the keyword “SEO audit”:

According to Ahrefs, you need backlinks from 108 websites to rank for this term:

Ahrefs – Backlinks needed to rank for term

But my content cracked the top 3 within weeks…

Backlinko content cracked top 3 for

…with only 38 websites linking to me:

Ahrefs – Only 38 sites linking to Backlinko's top 3 content

That’s the power of Domain Authority.

Here are 3 ways to increase your Domain Authority:

Content Partnerships

Partnerships can 2-5x the number of shares and links that you get from your content.

For example, my friend Larry Kim and I co-created this infographic:

Brian / Larry Kim – Infographic

And we both promoted it to our audiences on the same day:

Brian Dean / Larry Kim – Joint promotion tweets

Which got our infographic in front of thousands of people.

In fact, I still get links from this co-branded content… 2+ years later:

Cobranded content still gets backlinks years later

Publish Studies and Data

I touched on this in Step #4.

But it’s worth repeating.

In fact, if you look at my site, 3 of my top 5 most linked-to posts are studies or data-driven guides:

Most linked-to posts are studies or data-driven guides

Guest Posts, Interviews, Speaking Gigs (and Yes) Roundup Posts

In other words:

Get your name out there… and the links will follow.

In fact, when I first started Backlinko, I guest posted like crazy:

Brian guest posts from when Backlinko first started

I went on any podcast that would have me:

Brian went on many podcasts

And I spent hours flying to countries like Romania and the Czech Republic to speak at conferences:

Brian speaking at a conference

Even that wasn’t enough…

I was so determined to promote Backlinko that I added an “Interview Me” page on my site:

Brian – Interview me page

(That “Interview Me” page didn’t work. But at least I tried 🙂 )

Basically: I hustled to get my name out there.

It didn’t happen overnight.

But over time, all this work resulted in a ton of exposure… and links.

Bonus Step #2: Build a Community on Your Site

A while back Google said that comments can help your rankings:

Comments can help your rankings

To be clear:

I’m not convinced that blog comments are a direct Google ranking factor.

But I am convinced that a community indirectly helps with SEO.

(For example, community members are more likely to share your stuff on social media)

With that, here are 2 quick tips for getting more comments on every post:

Be Picky

This is counterintuitive.

But stay with me…

Imagine you just read an AWESOME post.

And you want to leave a comment with your two cents.

But when you hit the comments section, you see this:

Spammy comment

Are you still going to leave that comment? Probably not.

That’s why I’m SUPER picky about the comments I let through.

And this pickiness fosters great discussions, like this:

Great discussion in the comments section

Reply To Comments

I reply to 90% of the comments that come in.

And considering we have 24,189 total comments on the Backlinko blog…

Backlinko – Total comments

…that’s approximately 21,000 replies.

Wow. That’s a lot of replies.

And I have ZERO regrets about replying to so many comments.


These replies show people that I care.

Which turns random commenters into active members of the Backlinko Community.

Now I’d Like To Hear From You

There you have it:

My 9-step SEO strategy for 2019.

Now I’d like to hear from you…

Which strategy from today’s post are you ready to try first?

Are you going to update and relaunch older content?

Or maybe you want to try Broken Link Building.

Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now.

The post The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW] appeared first on Backlinko.

Link Building Strategies: The Complete List

Link Building Strategies: The Complete List

Link Building Strategies: The Complete List

This is the most complete list of link building strategies on the Web. Period.

In fact, you’ll find 175 strategies, tips and tactics on this page.

So if you’re looking to build powerful backlinks, you’ll really enjoy this list.

I want strategies that are:

  1. Beginner
  2. Intermediate
  3. Advanced

Show only Brian’s favorite strategies:

  1. Yes
  2. No

Beginner techniques

Alumni Lists and Directories


Most college sites (or standalone alumni websites) have a section of their site dedicated to their alumni. And some of them link out.

For example, here’s a business listing (with a link) on the SMU Alumni site.

Alumni lists

Ask People You Know for Links


This can be friends, relatives, employees, colleagues, business partners, clients… just about anyone.

More and more people are creating their own sites and blogs (or know people that do).

That said: you really only want to get links from relevant websites. If it’s not relevant, it’s not going to have much of an impact. Plus, these people might be (rightly) hesitant to link to your jewelry store from their football blog.

Be Specific With Your Outreach


Don’t be afraid to (gently) let your outreach targets know exactly where you want your link to go.

This isn’t being pushy: it’s considerate. Otherwise you force them to figure out where your link should go.

Here’s a real life example of a very specific outreach email:

Example of a very specific outreach email

Better Business Bureau


Links from the BBB are now all nofollowed. And Google has said that getting listed on the BBB doesn’t directly help your SEO. That said, if you believe that getting listed on the BBB website itself has some SEO value, it might be worthwhile.

The price of a BBB listing is determined by region and by number of employees. For example, St. Louis BBB ranges from $370 for 1-3 employees all the way to $865+ for 100-200 employees. Anything over that, as well as additional websites, constitutes as additional charges.

Either way, you are SUPPOSED to get a link of some kind out of all of this. You need to check on your listing once it is published as each region has their own rules regarding their directory. There have been some instances where a business’ website URL in the directory listing was NOT a live link, only text. All you have to do is contact your BBB representative and ask for that to be changed.

Blog Commenting


Do blog comments directly lead to dofollow links? No.

But they’re an awesome way to get on a blogger’s radar screen… which CAN lead to links.

For example, in the early days of Backlinko, I’d comment on marketing and SEO blogs all the time:

Brian comment on another site

And this helped me build relationships with bloggers in my niche. And weeks or months later, I noticed some bloggers spontaneously linking to me. And others ask me to guest post on their site.

Blog Directories


If you have a blog, you can submit it to various blog directories.

For example, here’s a link to my blog from AllTop:

Blog directories

Chamber of Commerce


Getting a link from your Chamber of Commerce is a guaranteed link just waiting for you to get. In some cases, though, it takes a little bit of time to find the right person to get in touch with.

Company Directory Submissions


Just like general web directories, you can submit your site to general company directories.

Just like with most submission-based tactics, focus on getting links from highly-relevant sites. For example, are you a startup in NYC? Then this business directory would be a solid link.

Company directory submissions

Contribute to Crowdsourced Posts


Unless you’re insanely busy, always say “YES!” to crowdsourced post invites. They usually ask you stuff you already know. So it should only take you 5-10 minutes to write a response.

For example, here’s a link that I got from a crowdsourced post a while back:

Contribute to crowdsourced content

Create an RSS feed


If your blog runs on any popular Content Management System (like WordPress) you probably already have an RSS feed. If you don’t, create one.

How does an RSS feed help with link building? It’s simple. There are sites out there that will scrape your content (stealing it without permission). And they find your content via your RSS feed. Just make sure to include internal links to other pages on your site in your content. That way, even if the scrapers don’t link to your original post, they’ll at least copy your internal links.

Here’s an example of a scraper site that scraped my content… including my internal links:

Create an RSS feed

Create Shoulder Niche Content


In a boring niche? Well, it’s still possible to get links. You just need to be creative.

For example, one industry study found that “tangential content” (content not directly related to what a site sells) resulted in 30% more links and 77% more social shares:

Tangential content resulted in more links and shares



Use sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo to find projects that need funding and are willing to give links to those who contribute. Here’s an example:

Crowdfunding link

Fair warning: This is definitely a grey area in terms of “paid links”. Use this strategy at your own risk.



Discounts are a great way to get mentions in lists like this one.


Just reach out to writers that curate discounts. And let them know about your discount or coupon.

Donate to Charities & Non-Profits


Charities and non-profit organizations usually have a donors page, like this:

Donate to charities and non-profits

Unfortunately, this is one of the most overused link building strategies on the planet. In fact, Google has come out and classified donation links as “paid links”.

Email People That You Mention


This is simple. But it works.

Whenever you mention or link to someone in your content, let them know:

Let people know when you mention them in your content

Email Signatures


If you send out 100 emails a day, having an email signature with a link back can drive an extra 50+ people a month to your website. It’s not much, but it requires zero effort.

Event Resources


Create a resource that helps attendees get the most out of their experience at a popular event or conference.

For example, this SXSW survival guide last year has picked up 29 backlinks:

Event resources

Fix Grammar and Spelling


This is just like Broken Link Building. But instead of broken links, you’re looking for spelling and grammar mistakes.

Obviously, most people aren’t going to add your link just because you pointed out that they used “your” instead of “you’re”. But it’s an easy way to get your foot in the door.

Getting Links From Scraped Content


If your content gets scraped, and the scraped piece of content doesn’t have a link back to you, contact the webmaster and ask for one.

Just like images and infographics, scraping content without attribution is copyright infringement. So you’ll find that sites that want to avoid DMCA complaints are willing to add your link (or delete the scraped content).

That said, most scraper sites aren’t that great anyway. Which means a link from that site isn’t going to do much for you.

Guest Blogging


Guest blogging doesn’t work as well as it used to for two main reasons:

First, bloggers are sick of guest blog pitches.

Second, Google has largely devalued links from guest posts.

That said, guest posting still has its place as a link building tactic. Assuming you follow these caveats:

  • Only guest post on sites that are VERY picky about what they publish. If they accept anything, you probably don’t want a link from that site.
  • Don’t use exact match anchor text in your external links
  • Focus on publishing on relevant sites (even if that means compromising on Domain Authority)
  • Don’t rely on guest posting as your sole (or main) link building strategy. That’s a footprint you don’t want

Hire A Recent Graduate


I’m not saying you should hire a recent grad for the sole purpose of getting a link. But if you’ve hired any recently, check to see if there’s a career sections of their school’s website that talk about recent grads landing jobs. If so, ask your new hire to outreach for the link. It usually just takes a quick call or email.

For example, the University of Oregon’s career center has a category of their blog dedicated solely to this.

Intern/Job Postings


If you have any job or internship opportunities, you can get a few easy .edu links. For example, if you work in anthropology and you’re looking for an intern, here’s an easy link.

If you run an agency, compile as many of these opportunities as you can in a spreadsheet. And categorize them by category (i.e. travel, hospitality, etc.). These will come in handy whenever you land a new client in that niche.

Link Out


Yup, linking out is an on-page SEO best practice. But it can help you build relationships too.

(For example, you can send outreach emails to everyone that you linked out to).

Links from Shopping Mall Websites


If you’re located in a shopping plaza or mall, chances are that mall has a website. And if they do, they probably have a list of the businesses located in them (along with a link to each business’s main website).

Here’s an example:

Links from shopping mall sites


  1. People.
  2. Love.
  3. Lists!

They can be massive lists of 100+ strategies or tips. But small lists can work well too.

For example, this list of 17 SEO tips has been linked to 2,400 times:


Local Listings


Submit your site to local listings. You already know about the big ones (like Yelp). But there are literally thousands of these. Keep an eye out for sites that focus on your city or state. These are super relevant and have fewer submissions to comb through.

Mention Specific People


Whenever possible mention specific people in your content. Why? People LOVE getting mentioned. And when they see that you linked to them, you’ll at least get on their radar screen. And they’ll sometimes even share and link to your content.

Niche Specific Directories


Unlike general web directories (like BOTW), niche directories only accept sites that cover a specific topic.

For example, here’s a directory of California-based websites.

Niche specific directories

Offline Marketing


Our Retailers Pages


If you’re a retail or eCommerce site, make a list of manufacturer and supplier websites of the products you carry.

Here’s an example:

List of suppliers

Then, reach out and ask them to add you to their list. Simple.

Note: This is a great way for local businesses looking to get more NAP citations.

Paid Directories


Some directories cost money in order to be accepted into their listings (technically a fee to review your site). While some of these can pass legitimate value, most are a waste of money.

I’m not a fan of paid directories in general. But if you want to go for it, I’d recommend submitting to the BBB directory, BOTW and JoeAnt.

Personalize Email to Contact Forms


Contact forms and “info@” email addresses are like outreach black holes.

You have no clue who manages these generic inboxes… or if they care enough to forward your message.

That’s why I always write to contact forms as if I was writing directly to the person that I want to get in touch with:

Use a personal tone in contact forms

In my experience, this makes it 2-5x more likely that your email gets forwarded to the right person.

Printable Resources


People like hard copies (PDFs) of useful guides. Why? It makes your content more valuable (and worthy of links).

That’s why I offer people PDF versions of our definitive guides:

Printable resources

Profile Links


Profile links don’t do much. But they’re technically a “link building strategy”. So I had to include it on this list.

Basically, if you sign up to become a member for a site, you’ll get a link in your profile. Well, not every site. Some sites will allow quality links in your profile. Others won’t.

If you do build links from profiles, make sure to focus on niche-relevant profiles. That way, your links don’t look spammy.

Q&A Sites


Sites like Quora can build a few nofollow links that can also send you traffic. You obviously want to mention your website as a source in your answer.

For example, here’s a link that I built from Quora to one of my YouTube videos:

Brian – Q&A site link

Reciprocal Linking


Yup, I included reciprocal linking even though I don’t recommend it. This list wouldn’t be complete without it.

That said, if you are going to exchange links with a website, be picky about who you exchange links with. Make sure it’s the most relevant, trustworthy website you’ve ever seen in your life.

Reclaim Links Pointing To 404s


You probably have a few broken links pointing to your site. Maybe you moved the page. Or maybe the person that linked to you messed up the URL.

You can easily find broken backlinks in Ahrefs (“Backlinks –> “Broken”)

Reclaim 404 links

Then, redirect those broken links to a similar page. And you just “built” a bunch of backlinks without any outreach. Sweet!

Reclaim Profile Page Links


People will sometimes link to your profile pages on external sites. For example, this links to my Twitter page:

Reclaim profile page links

As long as the page itself doesn’t have any real link value (for example, Twitter links are nofollow. So getting a link to that page doesn’t make that link more powerful), you’re better off with a link to your actual site. That said: don’t be pushy with your outreach. Just gently let them know that you’re more active on your own website. So a link to your website will send their readers to the right place.



Scoop.it is a great way to drive traffic and build a few nofollow links at the same time. Scoop.it is a site where users curate content they want to share.

All you need to do is find Scoop.it pages that get lots of views. For example, this page has over 20 million views.


Then, suggest your content to the person that runs that page.

Slideshare Presentations


If you have an awesome slide deck, submit it to Slideshare (nofollow).


Social Coupons


Sites like Living Social and Groupon allow you to include (nofollow) links on your coupon page.


Sponsor Events


Whether it’s a local meetup, industry conference, or anything in between, events are always looking for sponsors. And they’ll usually link to you from the event website (or at least mention you at the conference).

Sponsor Venues


You can also secure links from sponsoring venues where events take place. I’ve seen this most successful for outdoor sporting venues, like this one from my home state of Rhode Island:

Sponsor events

But I’ve also seen this work successful for indoor conference venues too.

Text Interviews


Podcasts aren’t the only way to get interviewed on another site.

In fact, I actually like text interviews MORE than podcasts.

(Why? Because I can answer the questions when it’s convenient for me)

For example, here’s a text interview that netted me a link from an authority site in the entrepreneurship niche:

Brian text interview with link

Video Submissions


If you have video content, make sure you’re getting links from all that hard work. Heads up: most of these sites (like Vimeo) only provide nofollow links.

Work With Niche-Specific Link Builders


Experienced link builders usually have a little black book of contacts (at least the good ones do). Which means they’ve dealt with people in either your vertical (or a similar one) already. And when you hire a link builder that has experience in your space, you get access to their contacts on Day 1.

Write Testimonials


How does this work? First, list any services or products you’ve bought recently. Then, reach out to the company and let them know how much you love their product, service, tool etc.

As long as it’s not a massive company (like Walmart), there’s a good chance they’ll feature your testimonial… and link to your site.

For example, here’s a testimonial that resulted in a backlink for me:

Write testimonials

Intermediate techniques

Alumni Spotlight


This is similar to Alumni Directories… but more valuable.

Unlike a directory listing, you get featured in an article. And because the link has contextual relevance, it’s more powerful than a simple directory link.

The key is having an interesting story to tell. If you do, your college will probably LOVE to write about it.

If you run an agency, ask clients for a list of their employee’s alma maters. And pitch their stories to these universities.

Pro tip: Check if there are any Awards (such as Drexel’s 40 under 40) that might provide another opportunity for a link.

Ask Customers


If a happy customer emails you out of the blue, ask them to share their experience with your product and service online. Even if they don’t have a massive following, you get a link… and a blog post that puts your company in a super positive light.

Obviously, let them know that you’ll put your muscle behind the post and promote it around.

Associations and Organizations


Are you a member of an association or organization? If so, find out if they link out to their list of members. And ask them to add you to their list. In fact, it’s sometimes worth joining an organization just to get a link.

Here’s an example from the World Federation of Orthodontists:

Associations and organisations

If you have a client that’s an orthodontist, that’s a nice relevant link that couldn’t be easier to get.

Member directories and lists are one thing. But if you want to take this to another level, most organizations run posts on their members that highlight what they’re up to (just like with Alumni associations). So if you have an interesting story to tell, ask them for a feature.



Badges work great if you’re giving out awards. Just make sure to include a link back to the awards page in the embed code.

Your badges/awards can be just about anything. There’s the obvious “top X blogs” in a niche. But you can also do a list of top local venues, restaurants, service providers, etc.  Or the best products in a category that doesn’t get a lot of social attention (like water pumps or CRM software).

These untapped awards usually work better because these organizations haven’t been featured anywhere before. Which means they’ll be pumped to spread the word.

Best Tools Lists


“Best Tools lists” are just like they sound: they’re lists of the best tools and software in your industry.

(In fact, I’ve published several of these myself)

So if you have a tool that’s a good fit for someone’s list, let them know about it.

Blogger Reviews


This is pretty simple: you give bloggers your product and ask them to review it. There are hundreds of potential blog targets in most industries. Which makes this one of the few link building strategies that’s actually scalable.

The one catch is that Google doesn’t want you to exchange your product for a backlink. Instead, just send your product out and let each blogger decide whether or not to link.

Brand Mentions


If your brand gets mentioned without a link, you’ve got an easy link opportunity staring you in the face.

For example, someone mentioned “Backlinko” on their blog without linking to me here:

Unlinked mention

All I need to do is email that person and gently ask them to link to me. That way, people can easily find my site.

I recommend using BuzzSumo to find these mentions as they happen.

Broken Link Building


Out of the 150+ link building strategies on this list, Broken Link Building might be my favorite. The steps are: 1) find a page that might link to you, 2) look for broken links on that page, 3) let the webmaster know… and ask if the broken link could be replaced with a link to you.

Here’s a great guide that includes the detailed process.

Build Relationships


Ever hear the expression: “it’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know”? Well, the same thing applies to link building.

The links you get from relationships are mostly indirect. But they DO happen.

Here are a few examples:

Share people’s stuff : When you see a great piece of content, share it. Unless the person is a huge baller, they’ll notice. And they might return the favor with a link down the road.

Go to meetups: I’ve given talks at dozens of meetups around the world. While these only landed me a single (nofollow) link from Meetup.com, these talks have resulted in a handful of dofollow links from SEO and marketing bloggers that went to my talk.

Answer questions: Answer questions on Twitter, Quora, forums… anywhere where people in your industry hang out. This can get you on lots of radar screens FAST.

Calendar Guides


This can be a 7-day, 30-day or even 365-day schedule of events, tasks, steps…just about anything.

It’s basically an ultimate guide laid out in the form of a calendar.

For example, this HIIT Calendar has over 400 backlinks:


Case Studies


As it turns out, case studies are GREAT for building links.

That’s because your case study is something that’s super easy to reference.

For example, this case study on my blog talks about how well The Content Upgrade worked for me:

Increase conversions post

And whenever someone talks about The Content Upgrade, they reference my case study as proof that it works.

In fact, my case study has been linked to 3,470 times. Sweet!

Charts and Graphs


Here at Backlinko, we’ve done 3 major research studies (one on search engine ranking factors, another on YouTube SEO ranking factors, and one on voice search).

And I can tell you from experience that attractive charts and graphs have led to 2-3x more links.

That’s because lots of bloggers embed our charts in their content… with a link back to the study:

Charts and graphs

Complete Lists


This is like an ultimate guide… in list form.

For example, this list of SEO tools from my blog has accumulated over 6,300 backlinks:

Ahrefs – SEO Tools – Backlinks

Content Acquisition


This is a low-cost version of buying an entire website. So the next time you find highly-linked to content on a site that seems abandoned, ask the site owner if you could pay them to move that content (with a 301) to your site.

Contest Giveaways


If you offer a product or service, reach out to bloggers in your niche that run contests. And offer up your product or service to the winner. They’re usually more than happy to accept. And 99% of the time, they’ll link to you from the contest announcement page.

Contribute to Wikipedia Pages


By citing your own content on relevant Wikipedia pages, you can get a link under the “References” section. It’s nofollow, but it’s super trustworthy and can send you highly relevant traffic.

Pro Tip: Make sure you don’t sign up as an editor with a company email address. Otherwise, people will disregard any edits you make with a link to you as spam. Also, if the link doesn’t make sense (you’re just adding it for the sake of getting a link), then it will get deleted within hours.

Create a Blog


Can you succeed with SEO and link building without a blog? Probably.

But it’s A LOT harder.

That’s because a blog makes it easy to publish awesome content, internal link, external link and more.

Plus, if you consistently publish awesome content on your blog, people will start linking to your blog’s homepage:

Create a blog

Create Conversational Content


If your content strikes up a conversation in the comments section and on social media, you’ll sometimes notice that people also start writing blog posts with their take.

(And they almost always link back to the original post)

This works best with controversial content. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be controversial. Anything interesting that starts a conversation can work.

For example, I published this voice search ranking factors study a while back. And HubSpot wrote an entire post with their take on the findings:

HubSpot – Backlinko voice search study post

Crowdsourced Content


Also known as a “expert roundup”.

These are getting a little overused. But they still work. That’s because an expert roundup does something super valuable: it curates tips, strategies and thoughts from experts all in one place. That’s something that will never go out of style.

For example, this foodie roundup has generated 200+ links:


CSS Galleries and Awards


Does your site look amazing? Well, there are loads of CSS galleries and awards you can submit to.

And you usually get a link if you make the cut.

CSS galleries and awards

Curate Awesome Content


Content curation is one of my all-time favorite link building strategies. That’s because, unlike a traditional blog post, you have dozens of sites that you can reach out to on day 1.

Plus, when you curate a list of awesome resources, you have a piece of content that’s super valuable… and worthy of links.

For example, earlier this year I published this list of resources to help people learn SEO:

Learn SEO Fast post

Even though the post is largely a list of links to other content, it’s already racked up links from 84 domains.

Pro Tip: Don’t just copy and paste a list of links. Organize your links into sections. Outline why you included each piece of content. And make it easy for people to find the content that will help them most. This increases the value of your curated post.

Curated Rankings


Ranking scores of people, companies, teams, or just about anything can garner some serious links.

The list can be objective (like the Fortune 500 list).

Or subjective (like ESPN’s NFL Power Rankings).

Either way works.

Curriculum Links


Reach out to universities and let them know about your expertise in a given area. This works best for high-tech topics because most Universities are 10+ years behind the curve.

You can either help create or improve the curriculum for a course. Or offer your site as a course resource. Here’s an example:

Curriculum links

Dead Content Recreation


This takes Broken Link Building one step further.


Well, with this approach, you recreate the content that was hosted on the broken link (you can usually find the old content on archive.org). Obviously, don’t straight up copy the content. But stick to the original format (for example, if the dead content was a list post, don’t write a case study on the same topic).

That way, when you reach out, you have 1:1 replacement for the dead link.

Debunk Myths


If there’s a myth that most people in your industry believe, debunk it. If the myth is big enough, you can get some serious attention.

For example, this list of 9/11 myths has over 15k backlinks:

Debunk myths

Do Something Shocking


Keep in mind that “shocking” doesn’t mean “controversial”.

For example, the “Will it Blend” series got a ton of links and eyeballs to Blendtec’s site:

Will It Blend?

Drawings and Illustrations


Illustration and drawings aren’t just for comic strips and memes.

In fact, they work GREAT in B2B.

For example, this drawing that outlines how RankBrain works has been shared (and linked to) dozens of times:

Drawings and illustrations

Ecommerce Partnerships


In a nutshell, you’ll be finding other ecommerce sites that sell complimentary (but non-competing) products. Then, partnering with them to promote each other’s stuff.

Although they aren’t Ecommerce, VividSeat and ESPN have a similar partnership. Schedule pages on ESPN links to VividSeat’s page that sell tickets for that page:

ESPN / VividSeat partnership



It’s a fact of life: people like to look good. And if you feature a person or community on your blog, you’ll at least get on their radar screen.

(And in many cases, if you put them in a really positive light, they’ll happily link to you)

Emotional Content


Moz recently analyzed 759 content marketing campaigns that were designed to build backlinks.

The result?

Highly-emotional content got 70% more links than content that didn’t elicit any emotions:

Emotional content gets more links

Event Recaps


Recaps of important industry events can turn your scribbled notes into solid backlinks. Especially if you make your recap post super interesting and actionable (like a blog post or ultimate guide).

For example, this “6 Key Takeaways from SXSW” got 19 backlinks:

Event recaps

Why does this work? Well, there’s a surge of content that comes out after a conference. And if you write an awesome lists of tactics and takeaways from the conference, you have a link magnet that people will happily share.

Pro Tip: Promote your recap with the conference hashtag so it gets in front of the conference audience.

Evergreen Content


Your content doesn’t always need to be on a hot topic.

In fact, evergreen content usually works BETTER over the long-term.

Why? Well, you can promote evergreen content for years. And if it ever gets out of date, you can easily give it the ol’ update.

Plus, evergreen content tends to rank well in Google. Which means more people will see your stuff… and link to it.

For example, I published this post 5+ years ago:

Evergreen content

According to Ahrefs, this evergreen post still generates about 150-200 links every single month.

Expiring Domains


Buying expired domains is definitely black hat if you’re just going to 301 redirect the domain to your site.

Fortunately, 301ing isn’t the only way to use expired domains for link building. In fact, there are plenty of white hat approaches.

For example, you can find expired domains that still have links pointing to them. Then, use archive.org to create similar content on your site. Finally, reach out to people that still link to the expired domain and ask them to replace the link with a link to your site (aka Broken Link Building).

Find Influencers in BuzzSumo


One of the hardest parts of link building is finding people that will want to share your content.

Lately I’ve been using BuzzSumo’s cool “Influencer” search.

BuzzSumo influencer research tool

And if you’re only interested in finding people to link to you, the tool gives you the influencer’s SEO stats (Moz’s Domain Authority and Page Authority).

Find Link Opportunities With Reverse Image Search


This works for guest post target, columns, interviews, podcast appearances, speaking engagements… just about anything.

All you need to do is grab a headshot of an influencer in your niche. Then, pop it into reverse image search.

And you’ll find sites that the person appeared on as a guest or contributor:

Reverse Image Search link opportunities

Find People Using Your Images


You can easily find other websites using your images or infographics with a reverse image tool (like Google Images).

For example, here’s a site using one of my images without attribution:

Backlinko image used without attribution

If this happens to you, politely ask them if they could link back to the original source (your site). Most people will be happy to hook you up.

Finding Malware


Use ScrapeBox to find sites with malware, then reach out to webmasters and let them know. They’ll usually thank you with a link.

Remember: don’t go to their site! You might get a virus. Use a whois lookup to find contact info.

Forum Posting


Forums aren’t as big as they used to be (thanks largely to Reddit). That said, you can usually find a handful of active forums on just about any topic.

For example, when I first started Backlinko, I was an active member of online marketing forums.

Brian - Active in online marketing forums

Sure, I got a few links. But more importantly, my content got in front of people… people that eventually linked to my stuff.

Get Covered in Local Newspaper Sites


Everybody and their mom wants to get featured in the New York Times. But you might not realize how EASY it is to get featured in your local newspaper site. Most local sites are starving for stories. And they’re happy to feature anything remotely newsworthy that your business is up to.

Pro Tip: Local papers and news sites LOVE covering events (like a fundraiser). It’s an easy story to write.

Get Interviewed on Podcasts


Podcasts >>>> guest posting.


They’re faster.

They’re easier.

And your link isn’t a devalued “guest post link”.

For example, I’ve appeared on over 50 podcasts over the last few years. And I got a link from almost every single one of those podcast appearances.

Get interviewed on podcasts

Get People to See and Read Your Content


People won’t link to your content unless they see it.

(Thanks Captain Obvious!)

But seriously. It’s not only important to get your content in front of people. You need to get it in front of the right people. 

This is where social media, content marketing, connections and brand awareness come into play. These can all help your content spread like wildfire.

I also want to point out that you don’t have to limit yourself to sites in your niche. You can also promote your content to related industries that might be interested in your content.

For example, as part of this SEO campaign, Mike Bonadio created an infographic for a client in the pest control industry. But Mike didn’t promote his content to other pest control sites. Instead, Mike got his content in front of gardening bloggers.

And it worked:

Get people to see and read your content

Glossary of Industry Terms


A glossary of industry terms and acronyms is a GREAT way to attract links.

Most industries are full of jargon that newbies can’t understand. So when you curate these terms into a glossary, you have something that people will HAPPILY link to.

For example, this glossary of internet terms has landed 9,200 links from over 1,200 root domains (imagine if you made an updated version!).

Glossary of industry terms

Green Content


Certain industries (insurance, gambling) are REALLY hard to build links in.

And other industries (like the green niche) are on the other end of the spectrum.

Why? First off, there are LOTS of untapped topics in the space. Second, green bloggers and environmental organizations are usually happy to link to great content.

For example, this list of 100+ ways to save water has been linked to 25 thousand times.

Green content


Help a Local Non-Profit


This can be in the form of a donation, volunteer work or a company outing to lend a hand. Sometimes the non-profit will write about people and local businesses that have helped them… and link out.

Help A Reporter Out (HARO)


HARO, or Help A Reporter Out, connects journalists with bloggers and industry experts.

It’s not easy to get mentioned (there’s A LOT of competition for every request). But if you grind it out, you can get some legit links from major newspaper sites and blogs.

For example, here’s a backlink that I got from HARO a few years back:

HARO request

Help College Clubs


Most colleges have a wide range of clubs, and if you help the club with technical help (like lending a hand with the club’s website) or to organize an event, they’ll sometimes mention you on the site.

And because the club’s site is hosted on an .edu domain, that link will carry some legit authority.

Pro Tip: When you search for clubs, think “general”… not specific. For example, for this blog, I’d look for marketing clubs rather than SEO clubs.

Hire Industry Veterans


Relationship building is HARD. Especially if you’re brand new to a given industry.

What happens when you work with a well-known person in your industry? Well, you just cut out months of outreach and legwork.

You can hire an industry veteran in any capacity that makes sense for your business. It can be as a consultant, guest writer, interviewer, interviewee or as an advisor.

Host Other People’s Events


You don’t necessarily need to host your own event to reap the rewards. If you have space suitable for events, offer it to other organizations to use for free (or really cheap). This is an easy way to earn links to a directions or “event info” page of your own website.

Host other peoples' events

This is especially powerful for businesses like hotels, retirement communities, restaurants, bars, and other similar local business sites that can be tricky to build links to.

How-to Guides and Tutorials


It might surprise you to find out that how-to guides are awesome for link building.

Here’s why:

When someone mentions a topic in a post, they usually don’t have room to dive into all the details. So they usually link to a tutorial that outlines all of the steps.

Here’s an example:

How-to Guides and Tutorials



A parody, spoof, or list of industry jokes can result in some serious links.

(Especially if it hits on a hot topic)

For example, this “story” from The Onion has attracted over 100 backlinks:


Sure, you may not work on a mega site like The Onion. But it goes to show that humor can work as linkbait.

Icon Sets


Icon sets are pretty easy to make. And if they catch on, you’ll find yourself with links from a ton of design blogs.

For example, this mobile icon set has over 500 backlinks:

Mobile icon set

Pro Tip: Make sure your icon set is relevant to your niche. For example, if you run a sporting goods ecommerce site, create an icon set of baseballs, soccer balls and footballs).



Do infographics work as well as they used to?

Heck no.

But they CAN still work. The key is to create an infographic that’s truly remarkable. It’s kind of like a blog post. In 2006, a 500 word post would work. Today? You need to pump out amazing stuff to get noticed. And it’s the same with infographics right now.

Here’s an example of the type of infographic that I’m talking about:


And to make it easy for people to embed your infographic, check out this handy embed code generator.



Instructographics are infographics that teach you how to do something.

Here’s an example:


Like any infographic, their power comes from people embedding them in their content (and linking back to you).

But as a nice bonus, Instructographics work really well on Pinterest too.

Internal Links


Internal links are HUGE. That’s because, unlike external links, you control everything about them… from the location on the page to the anchor text.

That said, one piece of advice about internal linking: don’t automate it.

Instead, go through all of your older content. Then, when it makes sense, add links between pages on your site. And don’t forget to mix up your anchor text.

For example, I usually use about 5-10 internal links per page:

Internal links

That’s all there is to it.

Interview an Expert


Interviewing an industry expert can net you a handful of decent links. For example, this Tim Ferris interview by Jeff Goins netted him 50 backlinks:

Interview an expert

Pro Tip: Feature easily-shareable quotes on your interview page. This gives bloggers something easy to reference from your interview.

Linkable Images


Most bloggers struggle to find relevant images to use in blog posts. Especially when it comes to visualizations or anything that requires a graphic designer.

In fact, that’s one of the main reasons that I invest in professional images, like this:

Linkable images

Yes, these images make my content easier to follow. But they also create passive link building opportunities. That’s because bloggers and journalists use my images in their content (and link to me when they do).

In fact, I’ve racked up 500+ links from images on this blog alone.

List of Stats


Here’s where you curate a list of statistics on a given topic:


The funny part is this: even though you’re collecting stats from other sites, most people that use a statistic from your list will link to your page… not the original source.

Pro Tip: This works 100x better if you get your page to rank for “X statistics” keywords.

After all, who do you think searches for these terms? Bloggers and journalists that are looking for stats to include in their content!


Live Blogging


If you’re at an industry event, blog about everything that you see. If you’re the only one doing it, you can get a ton of traffic (and links).

I know it’s Wired, so it’s a little unfair, but hopefully you can learn how it’s done from this example (451 links from 140 root domains in 3 months).

Also, check out this fantastic guide on live blogging.

Make It Easy to Link


If you want people to link to you, make it easy for them.

For example, if you found a resource page that would be PERFECT for your content, let the site owner know exactly where your link makes sense.

Or if you’re promoting an infographic. Send people an embed code they can use to add your infographic to a WordPress post.



Maps are a VERY underrated form of visual content.

Maps combine two powerful pieces of linkbait: statistics and visuals.

For example, this very simple map of the top exports brought in over 450 backlinks:




Getting a link in a newsletter is a GREAT source of highly-targeted traffic (in other words: visitors that are super-likely to link to your site). It can be your own newsletter… or someone else’s newsletter.

For example, I (obviously) link to my stuff in the Backlinko newsletter. But I’ve also been featured in big newsletters in the SEO niche (like the Moz Top 10), which led to a huge spike in traffic…


…and a few days later, links to that post.

Niche Communities


Niche communities are an untapped way to get traffic and links.

Obviously, most community links are nofollow. But some aren’t. Either way, they’re a great source of traffic and exposure.

For example, back in the day I was an active member of (the now dead) Inbound.org.

Brian Inbound.org post

And this helped get my content in front of people that ran blogs in my niche. Powerful stuff.

Offer Discounts


Offering discounts to faculty, teachers, and students can get you (easy) links from pages like this.

Student discount

If you run an ecommerce site, and your products are something that students might be interested in, then these links are a no-brainer.

Or let’s say you’re a local business. Well, there’s usually a college or two within 100 miles that have a discount program. Plus, these links would be super authoritative and highly-relevant.

Paid Reviews


If you’ve got a product or service you want reviewed on a blog, you can pay for one. In fact, there are even entire websites (like PayperPost.com) that connect you with bloggers that review products. Obviously, if you want to comply with Google’s guidelines, these links should be nofollowed.

Podcasts Lists


If you have a podcast, you can snag some links by sending your podcast to websites that have “Best of” podcast lists in your industry.

Podcast lists

Press Releases


Google has said that they “ignore” links from press releases.

That said:

A newsworthy and timely press release CAN lead to legit, dofollow links. That’s because syndication can get your release in front of journalists… journalists that can pick it up and write about your story.

Previous Linkers


If someone has linked to you in the past, chances are they’ll be more likely to link to you in the future. But don’t just pitch them links every other week. Instead, thank them for the first link. Get to know ’em. And keep them in the loop with your content.

For example, I have a small list of folks that get early access to upcoming content. And I even let them know what I’m working on weeks in advance.

Product Comparisons


Here’s where you publish an in-depth analysis that compares two competing products, services or tools.

As a nice bonus, lots of people search for “X vs Y” in Google. So you’ll get eyeballs on your content even after the initial buzz dies down.

For example, this comparison of Aweber vs Mailchimp has been linked to 50 times:

Product comparisons

Quizzes and Tests


As BuzzFeed proved years ago, people love taking (and sharing) quizzes.

But what you may not know is the right quiz or test can attract backlinks from bloggers in your niche.

For example, the “Could You Pass a US Citizenship Test” has attracted 50+ links:

Quizzes and tests

Quoteable Text


This is similar to coining a new word, phrase or strategy. But instead of a punchy name, it’s usually a 1-2 sentence phrase.

For example, a few years back, Gary Vaynerchuk famously said: “marketers ruin everything”.

Quotable text

Today, a search for that phrase (in quotes) brings up 18,700 results.

The only catch is that your phrase really has to resonate with people. For example, the Gary Vaynerchuk quote is hilarious because it has an element of biting truth to it.

And if your phrase catches on, it can generate links on their own (for example, lots of people link to garyvaynerchuk.com when they say: “marketers ruin everything”).

If you want to take this even further, Google your phrase every week. Then, see who used your quote without linking. And gently remind them that you coined the phrase.

Research Competitors


I spend a lot of my  time poring over other sites’ link profiles. Basically, with this approach, you piggy back off their link building success.

To be fair: a good chunk of a site’s links are unique opportunities that you won’t be able to copy (for example, a random mention in a news post or a link from a close friend’s blog). But sometimes you can find legit diamonds in the rough (like a local directory or resource page).

Pro Tip: Don’t stop at your direct competitors. You can also look at how indirect competitors in your vertical (for example, if you offer piano lessons, look at sites that offer guitar lessons). If you’re local, look at other sites in your area. If you’re ecommerce, look at how other ecommerce sites are getting links to the same types of pages you’re having trouble with.

Resources/Links Pages


Resource pages are a link builder’s dream. After all, the point of the resource page is to link out to useful content.

So if you have a piece of useful content, you’re in a good spot.

Unfortunately, getting links from resource pages isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Your content (and outreach) really needs to bring it. Otherwise, it’s not worth the person’s time to add your link.

(It also helps if you know the person that runs the resource page)

With all that said, resource pages remain one of my favorite ways to get links.

Reverse Guest Blogging


Get an influencer in your space to write a guest post for your blog (or sit down for an interview). Not only will they share the content with their audience, but people are more likely to link to it because it’s from an influencer they know and respect. This is especially helpful if you’re just starting out.

Review Something New


If you’re the first person to review something, you’ll get a ton of traffic (and links).

For example, the first reviews that come out for the new iPhone almost always go viral in the Apple community.

Second Tier Link Building


Building links to pages that link to you is a VERY underrated link building technique.

The big plus of this approach is that people are usually MUCH more likely to link out to authority sites than rinky dink blogs. So if you scored a link from an authority site, you can feature THAT page in your outreach.

Also, promoting a third party site in your outreach is a Jedi mind trick that makes people more likely to say yes.

Second tier link building isn’t only for outreach. For example, you can “build links to your links” from guest posts. And because you’re not linking to your own site, the link will fly under the editor’s radar.

Social Platforms for Outreach


Sometimes email isn’t always the best way to get in touch with someone.

In fact, I’ve used Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and even Google+ (RIP) for outreach. Depending on the niche, these platforms can sometimes convert better than email.

Speak at Universities


Most universities announce speakers on their website, and when they do, they sometimes link back to you from the event page.

Pro Tip: You don’t need to actually physically speak at the school. Instead, offer to do a webinar for students… and get a link in return:

University speaking link

Start a Petition


If you and your community are passionate about an issue, start a petition. If the petition catches on, news outlets will start covering your petition as a story.

For example, this petition about open access in the EU resulted in nearly 4k backlinks:

Start a petition



People love a good personal story. Whether it’s crazy, funny, or embarrassing, stories strike an emotional chord… which makes people more likely to share and link.

For example, this fascinating true story has picked up links from over 300 root domains.


Student Blogs


Students are sometimes allowed to create blogs on their respective college websites. They’re a lot easier to get links from then a regular college webmaster. In fact, back in the day I created a “College Blog Awards” for the sole purpose of getting links from student blogs. And it worked GREAT.

Target Link Roundups


I love getting links from roundups. Why?

Because it’s one of the EASIEST link building strategies out there. For example, here’s a backlink that I got from a link roundup:

SEO Tools – Roundup backlink

Pro Tip: Don’t be pushy with the person that run the roundup. First of all, there’s no need. Second, these are awesome people to build relationships with. You can literally have a Rolodex full of people that you can send new content to and get an almost-guaranteed link.

The Moving Man Method


This strategy is really similar to Broken Link Building.

The main difference is this:

With broken link building, you focus 100% on links that aren’t working (usually pages that 404).

But with the Moving Man Method, you’re looking for links to pages that aren’t relevant anymore. For example, maybe the content they linked to changed to something completely different. Or maybe the content now redirects to the site’s homepage. In both cases, the link still “works”. But the link isn’t relevant anymore. Which means it’s ripe for a replacement link (yours).

The Skyscraper Technique


I first wrote about The Skyscraper Technique in 2013.

And it still works GREAT.

(In fact, I have a stack of emails in my inbox from people that had success using this strategy)

The one downside of The Skyscraper Technique is that it takes A TON of work. Especially now that people started publishing higher-quality stuff.

But if you’re willing to put in the work, this is still one of the best link building strategies out there.

Timely/Seasonal Content


The right content at the right time can get you a TON of attention. For example, this GDPR checklist came out weeks before the new law went into effect:

Timely, seasonal content

And it generated 3.1k backlinks within a few months.

The same goes for seasonal content. Whether it’s Valentine’s Day, Christmas, or Halloween, you can create holiday themed content that gets a bump in interest (and links) every single year.

Transcribe Content


Find bloggers who publish podcasts and videos on their blog… but don’t transcribe the audio.

Then, get the content professionally transcribed. And send it over to them.

99% of the time, if they use your transcription, they’ll link to you. No need to even ask.

Translate Content


Most websites aren’t accessible in different languages. And auto-translation tools like Google Translate leave a lot to be desired.

So when you translate a piece of content that could use an international audience, you’ll often get a link in return.

Here’s an example:

Translate content

Pro Tip: Host the translated content on your site. That way, the author needs to link to your page for them to read the translated version.

Video Embeds


This works just like promoting an infographic, chart… or any other type of visual content.

Just send bloggers your video with an embed code. When they embed your video, they’ll usually link to you.

Backlinko – Embed content

And if your video is hosted on YouTube, they’ll at least link to your video page.

Web Tools


Creating free online tools (like a calculator) is a fantastic way to attract links. And they DON’T need to be fancy. As long as it’s useful, people WILL link to it and share it.

A great example of a simple free online tool is this embed code generator from Siege Media:

Web tools

It’s netted over 1k links from 280+ root domains.



Webinars are great for building your email list. And they can also help you building links.

Just make sure to have a page on your site solely dedicated to webinars. You can even host your recordings there.

For example, HubSpot’s webinar page has links from 160 domains:


White Papers


White Papers are kind of old school. But they still work.

For example, this white paper by Cisco is a backlink MACHINE.

(20k+ backlinks in 18 months. Insane.)

White papers



This used to be a super popular (and effective) link building strategy. But Google has put the hammer down on widgets in recent years.

In fact, they’ve even come out and said that they’ll penalize sites that use widget link building… unless they nofollow the links.

Google penalizes widget link tactics

Your Commenters


People that leave a comment on your blog are SUPER likely to link to you.

For example, a while back, I got this comment on my blog:

Link from blog comment

I reached out to Danny to strike up a relationship, which ultimately led to an interview on his site.

Your Twitter Followers


Don’t limit your outreach targets to sites that come up with Google searches (like intitle:resources). You probably have a ton of solid link prospects right under your nose.

Speaking of, your Twitter followers are an awesome source of link opportunities. After all, if they follow you on Twitter, they clearly like your stuff. Which makes them super likely to link to you.

(Obviously, this approach isn’t limited to Twitter. It also works for Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest etc.).

Advanced techniques

Be First


This strategy is simple in theory… but tough to pull off. The goal is to be the first person to cover or analyze a hot story. Or at least one of the first.

For example, you probably already read about the Google Medic Update.

Well, Marie Haynes quickly published this post with her findings:

Be first

That post racked up 300+ comments, an insane amount of social shares… and 400+ backlinks within 6 weeks.

Blog Network (White Hat)


Here’s where you build a “network” of similar non-competing blogs. Agree to share each other’s content, swap strategies, and leave comments. This helps get your content in front of more peeps.

Important caveat: this isn’t a link exchange because you’re not swapping links. It’s more of an Avengers-type relationship. You’re all independent. But once and a while you come together to help each other out.

In fact, some of my best strategies and insights have come from a little group of bloggers that I’m friends with.

Browser Toolbars and Extensions


Toolbars aren’t as big as they used to be. But they still work if the toolbar solves a pressing need.

For example, Hunter.io is only a few years old. And their extension page already has 409 backlinks:

Hunter – Chrome extension – Backlinks

Buy Existing Websites


Existing websites have assets (namely, content and links) that every site could use more of. And if you acquire a site, those assets are now yours. You can either continue to run the site independently or redirect it to your existing website.

Pro Tip: Look for sites that haven’t been updated for a while. This is usually a sign that the person that runs the site has lost interest… and might be willing to sell.

Cobranded Content


Cobranded content makes the entire content development and promotion process 2x easier.

First, you can split up the work that goes into creating a piece of content. And you both team up to spread the word.

How about an example?

A while back I teamed up with HubSpot to make this infographic:

Brian HubSpot infographic

And because HubSpot was a partner, they happily promoted it to their massive following.

Coin A New Term


Coining a new term in your industry is one of the best ways to get passive links. It definitely takes work (and a little bit of luck) for the name to catch on. But when it does, you can find yourself with dozens of links per month pointing to your site… without needing to do any outreach.

For example, my original post about The Skyscraper Technique now has 11,000 links:

Skyscraper Technique backlinks

And I haven’t done anything to promote that content in years.

Pro Tip: Set up web mention alerts for your new term. That way, you can reach out to people that use the term… but didn’t link. If you reach out right after the post goes live (while the content is still fresh), you’ll find that people are more likely to update their content with your link.

Complete Guides


Complete guides are one of my all-time favorite link building strategies.

The downside is that they’re REALLY hard to make.

For example, this guide to Google RankBrain probably took me 30 hours to write:

Google RankBrain SEO post

But less than a year later, it already has over 1,000 backlinks. Not too shabby.

Pro Tip: Keep your guides up-to-date. That way, people will still link to it YEARS after it originally came out.

Contrarian Content


If most people in your niche share the same view on a topic, don’t be afraid to publish a post with an opposing view.

Doing this right can lead to A LOT of exposure.

For example, Derek Halpern published this post about “The Content is King Myth”.

People that agreed with Derek (namely, designers) linked to the post. But more importantly, Derek got a ton of links from people that disagreed.

In total, this contrarian post has accumulated over 900 backlinks:

Contrarian content

Create an Awesome WordPress Theme


Designing WordPress themes can land you some killer links.

For example, the Sage theme website has links from 7,900 websites:

Create an awesome WordPress theme

Even if your theme isn’t world-changing, you can still submit it to the WordPress.org theme directory. This will get you a couple of high quality nofollow links (not to mention some free exposure).

Create Something Controversial


Controversy can be a great way to attract links. The people that agree with you will share your content like crazy. And the people that disagree? They’ll share it too!

GoDaddy’s SOPA fiasco is a great example. GoDaddy originally supported SOPA (which created a firestorm). Then, they pulled a 180 and said they opposed it (which created even MORE controversy).

Data and Research


Data can be a link building GOLDMINE.

Why? First, people love data-driven content. But more importantly, data is something that’s easy to cite.

For example, when someone wants to say that “longer content ranks best in Google”, my ranking factors study helps add credibility to that statement:

Data and research

Pro Tip: Turn your findings into visuals. This can be a chart, graph or infographic. These visuals give bloggers an easy way to share your data with their audience.

Design and Coding Help


If you’re good at graphic or web design, reach out to ask people if they’d like any of the above services at no cost.

Or maybe you notice that a site’s CSS is broken. Send them a fix for free.

Word of warning: Exchanging anything (including services) for links is a big no-no in Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. So the goal of this strategy is to get your foot in the door…. and hope that relationship pays off with a link or two down the road.

Filling Gaps in Content


Is a site in your niche missing something… something that you could easily fill in for them?

If so, let them know and offer to fill in that gap. Obviously, you’re walking a tightrope here. You want to emphasize that their content is great. But it could be even BETTER with a little something extra.

In fact, this is exactly how I got this link a few years back:

Fill content gaps

Get Your Own Column


Yes, one-off guest posts have their place. But also look for opportunities that could win you regular contributions on an authority site in your niche.

Why are column links better than guest posts? Well, for starters: the links look more legit, you can get multiple links per month, and having a column on a site like Forbes gives you instant credibility.

Plus, if the site has a decent audience, the links will send you some targeted traffic.

Get Your Own Wikipedia Page


Having a Wikipedia page about you or your company is an SEO goldmine. Why?

First, it helps build up your E-A-T.

Second, it makes you and your company seem more credible and legit, which leads to more links over time.



So you created an infographic. Now what?

Well, you need to actively promote it. And I don’t mean spamming your infographic to 1000 blogs. Instead, try Guestographics. It’s a way to strategically promote your infographic… without being spammy.

Here’s the step-by-step process if you want to learn more.


Have an Influence


You can use your influence to reach out to big name bloggers, get your emails opened, and increase your outreach conversion rate.

That doesn’t mean that influence=easy links. As someone that’s built up a solid following in the marketing world, I can tell you from experience that outreach is still REALLY hard. My influence has probably increased my link building outreach success rate by 5-10% MAX. So it’s not a magic bullet. But it definitely helps.

You can also use your influence for a ton of things outside of straight up outreach. For example, Tim Ferriss landed an insane amount of features on news outlets and blogs to promote the 4 Hour Chef because, well, he’s Tim Ferriss.

Use your influence to get mentions

Host Your Own Events


Hosting meetups and conferences can land you links from two sources:

First, blog posts dedicated to events (like “Best Conferences in ___ Industry” lists).

And if your event is a hit, people will link to you in their recap blog posts.

For example, the Brighton SEO conference site has 11,000 links from 1,000 domains:

Host your own events

Interactive Content


Lots of people think interactive content is “the next big thing” in content marketing. And they might be onto something.

For example, this cool interactive piece about “Avengers: Infinity Wars” was shared thousands of times:


After all, VERY few people are doing interactive content because the barrier to entry is really high. You usually need to work with a designer and developer to create your interactive content.

But that’s an advantage if you’re willing to invest in a cool piece of interactive content.



Quirky little microsites are an underrated link building strategy. There’s something about creating an entire site about a topic that gets people linking like crazy.

For example, this microsite from Dominos resulted in 1k links:


Most people will link directly to your microsite. So make sure to add at least one link from the microsite to your main site.

Mobile App Lists


You can easily turn your app into a few easy links. (Or, if you want, create an app just to get these links).

If your app is cool enough, submit it to people that run lists of the best apps in your industry, like this:

Mobile app lists



Instead of trying to cover news first, take advantage of hot topics. In other words: you find a big story and write a blog post on that topic. There’s a few different Newsjacking approaches:

  • Just the story itself – If it’s early on in the story’s life, you can basically curate the information that’s out there (and keep it up to date).
  • Quick commentary – Give a new spin or commentary on the topic.
  • Delayed recap – Now that all the details are out, write a full recap of the event or story.
  • Detailed analysis – Once the dust has settled, do a deep dive into everything that’s come out, and analyze each point. Do your homework to uncover new, interesting facts that are out there, but not tied to this particular story.

There are a few other post tactics for this, but these are by far the most popular. For a more detailed review of newsjacking, see this.

Non-Brand Mention Monitoring


There are LOTS of ways to use mention monitoring for link building (outside of unlinked brand mentions).

For example: product mention monitoring.

Setup alerts for your products or products in your niche. For example, if people are discussing your product in a forum, join the conversation, answer some questions, and  include a link.

You can do the same thing with competing products. Find where your competitors are getting mentioned. And contact the authors who wrote about them to let them know more about you (aka Drafting Technique).

Non-WordPress Themes


Yes, WordPress themes can generate lots of links. But why stop there?

Drupal, Joomla and Shopify need themes and 3rd party applications too.

And they have a community of bloggers that might be happy to share your theme with their audience.

Plugins and Extensions


Plugins and extensions can get you some serious links.

(Assuming that it’s useful)

For example, the ShareThis plugin has received links from … wait for it… 41 thousand different websites.

ShareThis – Referring domains

PR Outreach


Good ol’ fashioned PR still works. That is, assuming you’re doing something newsworthy.

To be clear: “newsworthy” doesn’t have to mean the front page of the New York Times.

For example, when I published the results from our search engine ranking factors study, I got featured on some huge authority sites in the business space:

Backlinko Forbes backlink

Publish Educational Content


Want to get links from colleges and .gov sites? Then you need to create content targeted at that specific group.

In other words:

Instead of tackling the content creation process from a top-down approach (creating content, then finding link opportunities), go at it from a bottom-up approach. That way, you end up creating content on topics that you KNOW big sites will link to.

Research Papers


Diving deep into a subject is a great way to establish yourself as an industry leader. It’s also a great way to attract a few links. And if you make a major discovery, you’ll get at least a few citations from scholarly websites.

This one, which attracted 16,000+ links from 3,100+ root domains, might look a little familiar to SEO peeps.

Reverse Engineer Linkable Assets


You probably already reverse engineer your competitor’s content.

But you can do the same thing with infographics, visuals, video, tools and software.

For example, I saw that this on-page SEO infographic from Moz was good… but outdated.

Moz – Bad infographic

(They’ve since updated it)

So I made a bigger and better version. And because I reverse engineered something that worked, it’s racked up 6 thousand links.



This strategy is getting abused like crazy. But scholarship link building can still work. So I had to include it on this list.

Here’s how this works:

First, create a decent sized scholarship (at least $500). Second, create a page that lists out the requirements for your scholarship (this is the page that people will ultimately link to). Finally, reach out to colleges that list scholarships and let them know about yours.

Pro Tip: Don’t limit your scholarship opportunities to search strings like “site:.edu scholorhips”. Instead, plug all the scholarships you can find into Ahrefs. You’ll usually uncover 2-5x more scholarships than you would with search strings along.

Speak at Conferences


Yes, you usually get a link from the conference website.

But more importantly, you get links from people that write about the event too. In fact, you can sometimes get 10+ links from a single conference.

Plus, if you crush your talk, people that attended will mention your talk in blog posts, podcasts and videos:

Brian conference mention



Using surveys for content and link building is a two-step process:

The first step is getting people to participate. If you have an audience, and you’re not picky about who responds, you can ask people to participate in your survey. If not, there’s always Google Surveys.

The second step is to collect and release the results. Do you find something controversial? Highlight that in your survey. Controversial or interesting findings are KEY if you want your survey to get featured on news sites.

For example, one survey found that YouTubers were more influential to US teenagers than musicians or actors.


And because the results of this survey were surprising, a ton of sites linked to it (811 referring domains to be exact).

Tap Into Holidays


Tapping into holidays is a tried-and-true PR tactic that also applies to link building. You just need to tie your company (or content) into the holiday.

Sure, there are the obvious holidays (like Thanksgiving). But did you know there’s a Chocolate Day, Selfie Day… even a National Peanut Butter Lovers day?

In other words: there’s probably a holiday that ties into your business.

And if you can create something newsworthy on that day, you’ll find that bloggers will happily talk to you.

For example, StarWars.com ran a Valentine’s day quiz called: “Which Star Wars Character Should Be Your Valentine’s Day Date?”

Tap into holidays

According to BuzzSumo, this simple quiz has been shared 42 thousand times on social media. And it has 45 backlinks.

Update Old Content


This is the Broken Link Building approach applied to outdated content. First, find content that could use an update. Then, reach out and offer to update it.

Most site owners WANT to keep their stuff up to date. But they’re too busy (especially if they have thousands of posts).

This obviously works best in an industry with lots of changes (like SEO). But I’ve seen it work in all sorts of different industries.

Here’s a great example of an article that could use an update (it hasn’t been changed since 2011).

Update old content

The author even states in the article that he needs to update it! If I knew Danny a bit better, I’d reach out to him with an updated version of the content.

Obviously, add your link to the updated content. We are building links, right? 🙂

Video Infographics


Infographic + video= Video Infographics.

In other words, an infographic in video format.

The best part? People can easily embed them in their content (just like with an infographic).

Here’s an example:

Anything I Missed?

Now I’d like to hear from you.

Did I miss one of your favorite link building strategies?

Or maybe you have a question about something.

Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now.

The post Link Building Strategies: The Complete List appeared first on Backlinko.

17 Ways to Get More YouTube Subscribers (2019)

17 Ways to Get More YouTube Subscribers (2019)

How to Get More YouTube Subscribers

In this post you’re going to learn how to get more YouTube subscribers in 2019.

In fact:

These are the exact strategies I used to grow my channel from zero to 188,100 subscribers.

Backlinko YouTube subscribers increase

And today I’m going to show you how I did it…

…and how you can do the same thing.

1. Use “Power Playlists”

“Power Playlists” are like regular playlists… but better.

Here’s exactly how they work:

You see, most playlists are organized by topic.

Power playlists

But Power Playlists are different.

Instead of topics, Power Playlists are organized by outcomes.

Here’s an example from my channel:

Backlinko – Power Playlist example

As you can see, the title of that playlist is an outcome:

Backlinko's Power Playlist title gives an outcome

Which makes people MUCH more likely to watch my playlist… and subscribe.

And that leads us to…

2. Publish LONG Videos (10+ Minutes)

Yup, this goes against conventional wisdom.

But stay with me.

I recently did the largest YouTube ranking factors study ever.

YouTube Ranking Factors study

In that study we analyzed 11 factors that might help video rank in YouTube’s search engine.

And we found something surprising:

Longer videos rank better in YouTube’s search results.

Longer videos tend to rank better in YouTube

For example:

A few months ago I published this video.

As you can see, my video is almost 14 minutes long:

Backlinko YouTube video length

And that’s one of the main reasons that it ranks #1 in YouTube for the keyword: “backlinks”:

Backlinko YouTube video – Ranking for

3. Promote Videos In Your End Screen

Here’s the deal:

The more of your videos someone watches, the more likely they are to subscribe.

The question is:

How do you get people to watch 2, 5 or even 10 of your videos?

Promote another video in your End Screen.

Here’s an example from my channel:

Backlinko End Screen – Next Video

This simple “Next Video” has led to TONS of bonus views and subscribers:

Backlinko – End Screen – Extra views and subscribers

Here’s how you can do the same thing:

First, include 10 seconds of time at the end of your videos specifically for your End Screen.

Here’s what mine looks like:

Backlinko – End Screen template

Then, use YouTube’s End Screen editor to add a link to a related video:

Backlinko – End Screen editor

That’s all there is to it 🙂

4. Branding Watermark = Subscribe Button

This is the ultimate YouTube subscriber hack.

You probably know that you can add a Branding Watermark to your videos.

Branding Watermark

This watermark lets viewers subscribe to your channel inside of your video.

Branding watermark with Subscribe button

Unfortunately, most Branding Watermarks are completely ignored.

For example…

Last year I added this watermark to all of my videos:

Backlinko – First watermark

And it did absolutely nothing.

So I decided to try something new.

Instead of a watermark that looked cool…

…I used one that looked like a normal YouTube subscribe button.

Backlinko – Latest watermark

And it worked!

My new watermark generated 70% more subscribers than my old one.

Backlinko – New watermark success

Pretty cool.

5. Focus On Quality… Not Quantity

When I first started my YouTube channel, I read the same advice over and over again:

“If you want to grow your channel, you need to upload videos on a regular basis”

As it turns out, this is HORRIBLE advice.

I’ll explain.

When I first started my channel I published videos on a consistent schedule…

…but no one watched them.

Backlinko – Low YouTube view rate

And the few people that watched my videos didn’t even bother to subscribe.

Backlinko YouTube channel – Low subscriber conversion

It was REALLY frustrating.

So I decided to change things up.

Instead of quantity, I decided to focus 100% on quality.

And this “quality over quantity” video marketing approach worked like magic.

Flash forward to today and my channel generates over 200k views per month from only 24 total videos:

Backlinko – 200,000 views per month

And because I pour my heart and soul into every video, 7k+ people subscribe to my channel every month:

Backlinko – 7,000 monthly subscribers

6. Reply To EVERY Comment

This is one of the EASIEST ways to get more subscribers.

In fact, YouTube’s internal data has found a clear correlation between replying to comments and subscribers:

“When creators take the time to interact with their loyal community, it can encourage audience participation and ultimately result in a larger fanbase.”

Why does this help?

Well, most YouTubers never reply to comments.

Which means you instantly stand out when you do.

Brian replying to YouTube comments

That’s why I do my best to reply to as many comments as I can.

(Especially right after a new video comes out)

7. Write a Compelling Channel Description

Your YouTube Channel Description is HUGE.

(Especially when it comes to video SEO)

Sadly, most Channel Descriptions look something like this:

Bad YouTube Channel Description

Imagine that you’re considering subscribing to that channel.

Is that description going to make you lunge for the subscribe button?

Probably not.

Contrast that weak description with this one:

Good YouTube Channel Description

This about page works because it:

  • Tells you what the channel is all about
  • Gives you important information on the channel (like the upload schedule)
  • Includes a strong call to action to subscribe

Here’s a template to help you write your own Channel Description:

YouTube description template

Pro Tip: Sprinkle in a handful of keywords in your description. This can help your channel rank better in YouTube search.

For example, I sprinkled in a few different relevant keywords that people searching for my content would use…

…like “SEO”, “link building” and “content marketing”.

Backlinko YouTube channel keywords

8. Funnel People to “Subscriber Magnets”

This is working GREAT for me right now.

Here’s the step-by-step process:

First, head over to your YouTube Analytics.

And click “Subscribers” → “YouTube Watch Page”.

Next, identify the video that brought you the most subs last month:

Identify the video that brought the most subscribers

(This video is your “Subscriber Magnet”)

In my case, this ONE Subscriber Magnet from my channel brings in as many subscribers as 13 other videos from my channel… combined.

Subscriber magnets

Why is this important?

Your Subscriber Magnet video is PROVEN to generate subscribers.

And if you can get these video in front of more people, you’ll get more subscribers

Here are 3 ways to get more eyeballs on your Subscriber Magnet.

First, feature that video in your End Screen.

Feature your Subscriber Magnet on your End Screen

Second, make a playlist that starts off with that video:

Make a playlist that starts with the subscriber magnet

Finally, promote that video in a card:

Promote video in card

You can even make your Subscriber Magnet your channel trailer.

For example, Evan Carmichael uses his high-converting Steve Jobs video as his trailer:

Evan Carmichael – Trailer

That way, Evan’s high-converting video gets in front of everyone that visits his channel page

9. Use an Awesome Channel Icon

Your Channel Icon shows up EVERYWHERE on YouTube.

Channel Icon

Your icon is like a custom thumbnail… for your entire channel.

That’s why it’s really important to use the right one.

So if you’re a personal brand, use a high-res headshot:

Personal brand – High-res headshot

If you’re a company channel, use a version of your logo designed for YouTube.

For example, ESPN rounded their logo so it works perfectly as a Channel Icon:

Company Channel Icon

10. Create a Channel Tagline

Let’s face it:

Most YouTube channels do NOTHING to stand out.

And hey, I’m not judging.

In the early days of my channel I completely ignored my channel’s positioning.

Backlinko – Old YouTube channel

And it was one of the main reasons that I struggled.

Once I started to strategically position my channel, my monthly views and total subscriber count shot up like a rocketship.

Views and subscribers rising from strategic positioning of channel

Fortunately, you don’t need an MBA to position and brand your channel.

In fact, all you need to do is create a simple tagline.

Here’s the 3-step process:

First, identify ONE thing that makes your channel unique or different.

Maybe you’re a busy mom that can deadlift 500 pounds.

Maybe your channel teaches software companies how to grow their blog.

The exact “thing” doesn’t matter.

As long as it’s different than the other channels in your niche, you’re set.

For example:

My videos teach people marketing strategies they can use to grow their business.

Backlinko videos

But if I made my tagline “I teach marketing strategies” or “I help you grow your business”, I’d blend in with thousands of other channels on YouTube.

So I decided to focus on the ONE thing that my channel focuses on:

Higher rankings and more traffic.

Second, put that tagline in big font on your Channel Art.

Here’s mine:

Tagline in Channel Art

Finally, say your tagline in your Channel Trailer.

Say tagline in channel trailer

11. Heart Awesome Comments

A while back YouTube launched “Creator Hearts”.

YouTube creator hearts description

Creator Hearts make it easy to highlight awesome comments from your community:

Backlinko – Creator Heart example

Now for the interesting part…

When you heart a comment, that person gets a notification:

Brian hearting a comment

And according to YouTube’s own data:

“We’ve found that viewers who have received a heart on their comment are three times more likely to click on the notification (than with other types of notifications), potentially leading more viewers back to your channel.”

That’s right:

Heart notifications get 300% more clicks than average.

So whenever someone leaves a solid comment, hook them up with a heart:

Brian hearting a comment

As you just saw, this will bring them back to your video… and make them VERY likely to subscribe.

12. Make a Killer Channel Trailer

You probably know that a channel trailer can help you get more YouTube subscribers.

Here are 3 tactics for making a channel trailer that converts:

Kick things off with your tagline

Start your trailer off with your channel’s tagline.

(Don’t have a tagline. Check out technique #10 from this post)

For example, I say my tagline (“Higher Rankings and More Traffic”) within the first 5 seconds of my trailer:

Tagline in the first 5 seconds of the trailer

Stick to 60 seconds (or less)

YouTube themselves say that shorter trailers convert best:

Shorter trailers convert best

That’s why I made my trailer about a minute long:

Backlinko's trailer is about one minute long

Show off your best stuff

Your trailer is a GREAT opportunity to promote your best content.

That’s why the middle of your trailer should be a 20-30 second highlight reel.

For example, my trailer includes LOTS of clips from my other videos:


That way, viewers can quickly get a feel for the type of content that I publish.

13. Create Videos That CRUSH Watch Time

Yup, Watch Time is a massively important YouTube SEO ranking factor.

And not just for YouTube SEO.

Videos with high Watch Time numbers get promoted more often on the YouTube homepage:

YouTube watch time promoted

And in the Suggested Video sidebar:

YouTube watch time sidebar

That’s why YouTube states that:

“The longer you can keep people watching on YouTube because of your content, the more your content may get surfaced.”

Question is:

How do you maximize Watch Time?

Use lots of Pattern Interrupts.


Pattern Interrupt



An event that changes a person’s thought patterns.

Pattern Interrupts make your videos more dynamic…

…which keeps people watching.

That’s why I use TONS of Pattern Interrupts in every video.

Including graphics:


Jump cuts:


And corny jokes:



Pattern Interrupts don’t need to be anything fancy.

For example, check out this video from Safiya Nygaard:

Safiya uses lots of super simple Pattern Interrupts (like camera angle changes and simple graphics) to keep things fresh.

Safiya pattern interrupts

14. Embed YouTube Videos In Blog Posts

Your blog is a HUGE untapped source of views and subscribers.


Well, if someone’s reading your text content, they clearly like your stuff.

Which means they’re primed to subscribe.

That’s why I embed lots of videos in my blog posts.

Sometimes the video makes up an entire step or tip:

Video as an entire step

But I also embed videos as a way for people to learn more about something from the post:

Embed videos to impart extra information

Either way, these embeds get my videos in front of more people.

And not just random people.

I’m showing my video content to people that are SUPER likely to subscribe to my channel.

15. End Videos With a Strong CTA

When someone get to the end of your video, they think:

“What’s next?”

And unless you give them something to do, they’re going to click over to another video from another channel.

User clicking on another channel's video

So tell them to subscribe to your channel.

And don’t be afraid to tell people exactly what to do.

For example, here’s how I end all of my videos:

Video ending captions

I literally tell people to click on the subscribe button below the video.

That way, there’s no guesswork or thinking involved.

And that’s one of the main reasons that so many people subscribe right after watching one of my videos:

People subscribe after watching Brian's videos

16. Promote Your Channel In Ebooks, Webinars, Presentations and Lead Magnets

The next time you create ANY piece of content, ask yourself:

“How can I funnel people from this content to my channel?”

For example, I include a link to my channel in every lead magnet:

Link to channel in lead magnet

I even promote my channel in podcast interviews:

Brian promotes the Backlinko YouTube channel in podcast interviews

17. Optimize Your Channel Page

When someone lands on your channel page, two things can happen:

  1. They leave right away
  2. They watch more of your videos and subscribe

And I can tell you from experience that an optimized channel page can increase your subscribers by 2-5x.

For example, my channel used to look super unprofessional:

Old Backlinko YouTube channel – Unprofessional

Needless to say, VERY few people that landed on my page decided to subscribe.

That’s when I decided to put more time and effort into my channel page.

Specifically, I hired a pro designer to make my Channel Art:

Backlinko Channel Art

And I organized my videos so that my best stuff appeared at the top:

Backlinko YouTube channel – Best things at the top

That said:

There’s no “perfect” way to organize your Channel Page.

But here’s a template that I notice a lot of top YouTubers use:

Top YouTube users template

Bonus #1: The “Social Media Preview”

I used to share my videos on social media like this:

Brian – Old style of social media video sharing

And my posts got BURIED.


Because Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media sites want to keep people on their platform.

Which means they don’t like posts that send people to YouTube.

Well, I recently discovered a way around this problem:

The “Social Media Preview”.

And this simple strategy has helped me get INSANE views on social media:

Social media preview – High number of views