Links have long been the major ranking factor to optimize, but search engines may have just found a more accurate signal to rely on.
So, you've got a list of potential linking partners, but how do you qualify them? Columnist Ryan Shelley shares his process.
This week, we pay a special tribute to the late SEO pioneer Eric Ward. His link strategies formed the foundation of many of today's smartest approaches to links, and in this Whiteboard Friday, Rand covers several that are as relevant today as they were when Eric first started talking about them.
In SEO, Google’s ranking factors are the stuff of legend.
There are rumored to be more than 200 signals which inform Google’s rankings (although this statistic originated in 2006, so it’s probably safe to say things have changed a bit since then), and the exact factors which make up this list, as well as their order of importance, is the subject of perennial debate.
While we at Search Engine Watch can by no means lay claim to a complete list of Google ranking factors (and anyone who says they can is lying to you – yes, even if they’re from Google, probably), we’ve delved into the subject a fair bit.
Last year our intrepid editor Christopher Ratcliff wrote a ten-part series examining a number of important Google ranking factors in detail. This guide will summarize the key insights from that series for your referencing convenience, with links to the full explanations of each ranking factor.
From content freshness to content quality, internal links to backlinks, we’ve covered off the major points that you need to hit for a solid Google ranking, and how to hit them.
So without further ado, let’s get started.
- Part 1: On-page factors
- Part 2: Keywords
- Part 3: Quality content
- Part 4: Content freshness
- Part 5: Duplicate content and syndication
- Part 6: Trust, authority and expertise
- Part 7: Site-level signals
- Part 8: Internal links
- Part 9: Outbound links
- Part 10: Backlinks
- BONUS: RankBrain
Part 1: On-page factors
The first part of our guide to Google ranking factors looks at the simple, technical elements that Google uses to rank your page: title tags, H1 tags and meta descriptions.
These are all elements that you have total control over, and have a significant effect both on how Google ranks your site and how your site appears in the SERP. Therefore, it’s incredibly important to learn how to optimize them properly.
Some key points on how to optimize your title tags, H1 tags and meta descriptions for search:
- Include any keywords you want to rank for in the title tag. The closer to the start of the tag the keyword is, the more likely that your page will rank for that keyword
- With that said, make sure your title tags are written for humans – that means they still need to make logical sense and not just be stuffed full of keywords
- Don’t duplicate title tags across your website, as this can negatively impact your visibility
- Your target keywords should also be in the H1 tag, but your H1 can differ from your title tag
- You can generally only use one H1 tag per page, but H2 and H3 tags can be used to break up your content further
- While meta descriptions are not strictly a ranking signal, a good meta description can vastly improve click-through rate, so make sure you use it wisely!
For even more depth on how to write title tags and meta descriptions for SEO, check out our two separate guides:
Part 2: Keywords
Part 2 of our ranking factors guide looks at that eternal subject of SEO discussion: keywords.
Although the role of keywords in SEO has changed greatly since the early days of search, with the evolution of long-tail keywords and natural language search, the humble keyword is still one of the fundamental building blocks of search optimization, and an important Google ranking signal.
But as we covered in the last section, just because keywords are important doesn’t mean you should stuff them in like crazy. Here are some highlights from our guide to Google ranking factors about how to use keywords wisely:
- Keyword relevancy and placement is far more important than frequency. Your keyword or key phrase should appear in the first 100 words of your page, if not the first sentence
- Google prioritizes meta information and headers first, then body copy, and finally sidebars and footers
- Try to ensure the key phrase is an exact match to what the searcher will type into a search engine. This means phrasing your keywords in a conversational fashion if you want to optimize for natural language search queries
- Excessive repetition of keywords, and using keywords that are irrelevant to the rest of your content, are likely to earn you a penalty
- Having keywords in your domain URL can also give you a small SEO boost.
Part 3: Quality content
You’ve no doubt heard the phrase “quality content” thrown around as a way to get your blog or site ranked highly by Google: “Produce quality content”.
Well, that’s all very well and good, but what does it mean in practical terms? How can you know if the content you’re producing is high-quality enough for Google?
In Part 3 of our guide to Google ranking factors, we give 14 tips for gauging the quality of your content, covering everything from spelling and grammar to readability, formatting and length. Here are a few of our pointers:
- As we’ve covered previously, make sure your content is written to appeal to humans, not just algorithms, and don’t saturate it with keywords
- Check the readability score of your content with the Flesch reading ease test, and aim to get above 60%
- Keep your sentences and paragraphs short, and break them up with line breaks (white space makes much for a much nicer reading experience on mobile) and subheadings
- While you want your sentences and paragraphs to be short, your overall content can be as long as you fancy – in-depth content is a big indicator of quality.
Part 4: Content freshness
Continuing with on-page content signals, how recently your webpage was published is also a ranking signal – but different types of searches have different freshness needs, such as searches for recent events, hot topics, and regularly recurring events.
Google’s algorithms attempt to take this all into account when matching a search with the most relevant and up-to-date results.
Last year, Moz published a comprehensive look at how freshness of content may influence Google rankings, which forms the basis of our insights in Part 4 of the guide to Google ranking factors. Some key takeaways include:
- A web page can be given an immediate “freshness score” based on its date of publication, when then decays over time as the content gets older. Regular updates to the content can help to preserve that score
- An increase in the number of external sites linking to a piece of content can be seen as an indicator of relevance and freshness
- Links from “fresh” sites can help pass that freshness on to your content
- The newest result isn’t always best – for less newsworthy topics, an in-depth and authoritative result that’s been around longer may outrank newer, thinner content.
When is it acceptable to republish someone else’s content on your website, or to re-use your own content internally? The SEO community has a shared horror of accidentally running afoul of a “duplicate content penalty”, and advice abounds on how to avoid one.
To be sure, stealing and republishing someone else’s content without their permission is a terrible practice, and doing this frequently is an obvious sign of a spammy, low-quality website. However, as Ann Smarty explains in her FAQ on duplicate content, there is no such thing as a “duplicate content penalty”. No-one from Google has ever confirmed the existence of such a penalty, and nor have there been any “duplicate content” algorithm updates.
So what are the dangers with publishing duplicate content? In short, they concern search visibility: if there are multiple versions of the same post online, Google will make a call about which one to rank, and it will likely have nothing to do with which was published first, but rather with which site has the highest authority.
In the same vein, if you have multiple versions of the same internal content competing for rankings (this includes separate desktop and mobile versions of the same site), you can wind up shooting yourself in the foot.
How can you avoid all of this? Part 5 of our Google ranking factors article covers how to manage duplicate and syndicated content to make sure that Google only indexes your preferred URL. Some points include:
- Setting up a 301 redirect if you have duplicate content on your own site, to make sure Google indexes your preferred page
- Using a responsive website instead of a separate mobile site
- Using a rel=canonical tag or a meta noindex tag on syndicated content to tell Google which article is the original.
Part 6: Trust, authority and expertise
We know that websites with a high level of authority carry greater weight, particularly when it comes to link-building campaigns. But exactly how does Google evaluate your website’s levels of trust, authority and expertise?
In Part 6 of our Guide to Google Ranking Factors, we examine the factors that make up your site’s Page Quality Rating, as well as how Google calculates authority, trust and expertise. Some key points include:
- Content quality, content amount, and website information are all factors in your Page Quality Rating
- A logical site architecture can help with a higher level of authority
- Starting a blog can help showcase that your business is relevant and trustworthy – as well as helping with content freshness
- Negative customer reviews won’t necessarily impact your Page Quality Rating, particularly if you have a high number of total reviews. Google tends to check reviews for content, rather than the actual rating.
Part 7: Site-level signals
Moving away from on-page content, Part 7 of our Guide to Google Ranking Factors looks at site-level signals.
What factors does Google take into account at a site level that can affect your ranking? Here are a few…
- HTTPS: Google announced in 2014 that it was starting to use HTTPS as a “very lightweight signal”. While it’s unknown whether it has strengthened since then, using HTTPS is also just good practice generally, particularly if your website handles financial transactions
- Mobile-friendliness: Mobile-friendliness has been a significant factor in Google search results ever since the initial “mobilegeddon” update of 2015, and the signal has only strengthened since then
- Site speed: Take the time to assess and optimize your site speed, particularly on mobile, and you are likely to find that your search ranking improves.
Part 8: Internal links
Parts 8, 9 and 10 of our ranking factors guide all deal with the nervous system of the internet: links. How do different types of links help your site rank well in search?
First: internal links. According to Jason McGovern of Starcom, internal linking is one of the few methods we can use to tell Google (and visitors) that a particular page of content is important. So how should you go about linking internally to other pages of your website?
Part 8 covers off how internal links can help your site improve its metrics and user experience, including “hub pages” and how to build them.
Once you’ve digested the important points, be sure to check out our full guide to Internal Linking for SEO: Examples and Best Practices.
Part 9: Outbound links
Outbound, or external, links are links pointing outwards from your site to another website. They pass along some of your own site’s ranking power (without any detriment to you, unless the links go to a super spammy website) to the site you’re linking to.
But how does this benefit you? Why should you be giving out what are essentially link juice freebies to other sites?
In actual fact, as we reveal in Part 9 of our Guide to Google Ranking Factors, outgoing links to relevant, authoritative sites benefit your ranking. Other key points about outbound links and SEO include:
- Pagerank retention is a myth – it’s not possible for your site to ‘leak’ link juice by having more external than internal links
- In fact, outbound links count as a trust signal – if you’re linking to references to back up your data and research, you’ve clearly done your work properly and can be trusted
- Affiliate links are also fine, but make sure you use a nofollowmeta tag in accordance with Google best practice.
Part 10: Backlinks
Why are backlinks (links from a third party back to your site) important to SEO? Well, as we just covered, external links from your own site to another website pass along some of your ranking power – so the reverse must also be true.
Links back to your site from elsewhere online are an important way to improve your search ranking; in fact, as revealed by Andrey Lipattsev, Search Quality Senior Strategist at Google Ireland, last year, links pointing to your website are one of the top three ranking factors.
Small wonder, then, that there is a booming trade around link-building in SEO – both in advice on how to build links, and in buying and selling links themselves. However, paid link-building is considered black hat SEO and is likely to incur a penalty.
Google has clamped down on different types of paid links, such as links on blogs exchanged for free gifts, at various times. This has made many SEOs wary of the practice of link-building altogether. But Google has nothing against link-building in principle – on the contrary, Google relies on links to know what websites are all about, and how much preference to give them in certain searches.
So how can you go about earning backlinks the right way? Here are some pointers from Part 10 of our Guide to Google Ranking Factors:
- Needless to say, the number of individual domains referring to your website is an important factor in Google’s algorithm – but so is their authority. Having fewer, authoritative backlinks is worth more in terms of SEO value than having lots of low-quality links (except in local SEO, as Greg Gifford will tell you).
- Backlinks from relevant sites in your niche are also worth significantly more than irrelevant sites or pages
- Links from a diverse range of websites are good, as too many links from the same domain can be seen as spammy
- Links within long-form, evergreen content are also more valuable than links in short, news-based posts.
BONUS: RankBrain and SEO
While not an official part of our Guide to Google Ranking Factors, I thought I’d include Dan Taylor’s excellent guide to RankBrain and SEO as part of this round-up, as Google has officially named RankBrain as one of the three most important signals that contribute to a website’s ranking.
In his guide, Dan Taylor breaks down and untangles how RankBrain works, as well as what machine learning is, and the concepts that underpin Association Rule Learning (ARL).
He then explains “optimizing” for RankBrain (hint: it’s not as complicated as you might believe) and how RankBrain differs from “classic algorithms” like Panda and Penguin.
Question: Which would you rather have — more organic traffic or better rankings?
It’s a trick question for most of us — we’d actually rather have both. That’s because we know that both search engine metrics can make a huge difference in our businesses.
As you probably already know, Google tends to rank pages higher in search results based on the authority of that page. In modern SEO, links build up the page’s authority and improve its SEO value. In the same arena, duplicate content gets penalized.
The right key word search term can mean the difference in traffic and rankings.
What if you could access the most updated resources that would help you build the right links? You’d feel like the ultimate demon of search engine power, right? What difference would that make in your investment, considering that about 37% of business owners spend between $10,000 and $50,000 per month on link building?
There is actually a submission SEO tool called Ultimate Demon to help build links to increase traffic. Do make sure you understand how a tool works because they often are a baseline that you need to tweak to get the results you really want: juice from search engines.
Over the years, I’ve come to understand that a link building campaign with useful content and quality anchor text phrases is easier than most people think.
If you can develop and document your strategy, you’ll ultimately generate more authority links for your pages. Both content marketing and link building are like those interconnected steel rings magicians use — the ones that can’t be separated.
In this in-depth post, I’ll show you 9 link building software resources that you can tap into any time that you want to.
Download a PDF version of this 9 link building software resources that’ll increase your search ranking.
These resources provide scalable link-earning techniques, tips and best practices that are proven to work. When you implement them, your search engine rankings and site traffic will both improve.
1. Broken Link Building Bible (source)
All links are created equal, right? Actually, no.
Link building used to be easy. You could set up a few PBN (private blog network) sites and get a bunch of links that’d push your organic rankings to the top. But does it still work?
The honest guys says you shouldn’t do it. Ditch the idea of a PBN. Sooner or later, Google will catch up with you and push your rankings to page 107 or de-index your pages altogether regardless of how popular your search term is.
Instead, to get links that’ll actually improve your search listings, increase your search term traffic and get you a higher click-through rate (CTR), you need to study the Broken Link Building Bible.
Broken link building is a white-hat and scalable tactic for getting the right kind of links.
At its core, it’s a content-focused strategy for any link building campaign. You simply find dead (or broken) links, analyze the page for relevance and create more valuable content to replace the broken content. This helps site owners, editors and webmasters improve their site user experience by replacing broken links with a link to your page based on a search term.
With the right approach, you can create an link building campaign and automate broken link building, which will continually build momentum for your site with this simple link building software.
As you go through the Broken Link Building Bible, you’ll discover why broken link building is perhaps the most effective white-hat link building strategy to come along in years.
However, understand this: Your success at getting the right links will entirely depend on how willing you are to research and analyze or audit different websites.
Broken link building is all about making an impact. It’s about helping webmasters and making the web a better place.
Webmasters are always happy to fix broken links – if they find them. They know there’s a relationship between Google rankings and links but, on big sites, finding broken links isn’t easy.
You’ll also want to make sure you aren’t linking duplicate content.
A dead link — that is, a link that no longer works — doesn’t do the user or the site any good. In fact, too many broken links can have a negative effect on a site. Webmasters hate doing all the keyword search term work and link building to have this happen.
Having too many broken links on a page is a sign of a neglected or abandoned site. The Google Search Quality Raters General Guidelines view broken links as one of the ways to measure a homepage’s quality. It’s one SEO tool.
According to Moz, broken link building is a strategy that constructively addresses many of the competing interests in our industry: content vs. links, link earning vs. link building and inbound vs. outbound.
2. Advanced Guide to Link Building (source)
I’ve had my fair share of SEO struggles. I struggled to get other sites to link to my posts. I struggled to keep up with Google updates. I struggled to reach the expected quantity and quality of links necessary to rank highly in Google.
Those struggles taught me that achieving success online takes time. You have to be patient and you’ve also got to create content that’ll help people get closer to achieving their goals.
One of the best steps I’ve taken since I started blogging is the creation of The Advanced Guide to Link Building, which I shared with the digital marketing world for free. This isn’t link building software but helps you understand the steps necessary for success regardless of what building software you choose..
If you’ve struggled to build the kind of links that Google loves, the way I did in the beginning, you should study this guide. It’ll show you:
- How to go about finding and getting those “perfect links”
- The right way to create epic search term content that’ll help you build relationships with the leaders in your industry
- How to identify and approach the authority sites you can get links from in just a few minutes
- The hidden secrets to getting hard-to-come-by .edu and .gov backlinks
- The step-by-step method of link-building outreach that walks you through the process of initiating and building a relationship with influencers and pro bloggers
3. Using Educational Linkbait to Get Valuable .Edu Links (source)
This resource was written way back in 2011, but it’s been consistently updated to match modern SEO best practices. It’s not your typical long-form post — it’s pretty short, actually — but it’ll show you:
- Why educational links matter
- How to create content that attracts .edu links
- How to build relationships that help you get these links
Link building has evolved significantly since 2011. Lots of tactics that used to work have since fizzled out — e.g., article directories, duplicate or barely-rewritten content, etc.
But educational sites have remained a viable source of high-quality links for any site.
Incoming links from educational websites are often perceived as the most powerful links you can get and getting a bunch of these links can skyrocket your search rankings.
It’s true that .edu links aren’t the only kind of powerful incoming links. There’s no proof that Google rates them universally higher than all other kinds of links. John Mu, a webmaster trends analyst at Google Zürich, clarified the issue:
However, educational backlinks are powerful — just like links from any other high-authority domain would be.
Educational backlinks are hard to get. Your link building software can only help if you have high quality, respected content. According to Felix Tarcomnicu,
The harder it is to get a backlink, the more value it will have.
Sites with .edu domains typically have high authority as they’ve been around for a long time and have many trusted quality sites linking to them.
That’s why many of these sites are viewed as authoritative by Google. Therefore, getting links from these authority top-level domains improves search performance.
Wordstream’s guide on using editorial linkbait to get .edu links is a must-read. It uses anecdotes to explain the relevance of educational links and to show how you can create .edu link bait.
Link bait is simply content on your site that other sites link to willingly because the content solves a problem. This is the type of content people will tag with a social bookmark.
When people link to your content page on their own initiative, it means you’ve created a linkable asset. The intersection between link bait and linkable asset is your sweet spot for converting your prospects into customers.
It can be a blog post, a viral podcast, an infographic or a helpful ebook. Ultimately, you want people to view your site with the same authority and want to tag it with a social bookmark as well.
How to get educational backlinks: High quality links make the difference. After Google launched Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird algorithm updates, quality became the defining factor of a link, as opposed to quantity.
It’s no longer a question of how many links you need to rank. The challenge that most SEOs and site owners face is actually getting these quality links (e.g., .edu links). This is where high quality, easy to use, link building software makes life just a bit easier.
The vast majority of educational sites from top universities and colleges don’t accept guest posts. The ones that do accept guest articles are stricter than you can imagine. You can’t just write any post you want and get them to publish it.
Also keep in mind that guest blogger or contributor content may be available through various domain names as it could by syndicated. Check links to make sure it isn’t duplicate content you are using and making a social bookmark with.
So, guest blogging is perhaps not the best or most effective way to get .edu links. But there are other ways that are proven to work.
You can use advanced search modifiers to find education sites in Google. Your goal is to narrow your results down to educational results pages. Some of the search strings you can use are:
a). site:.edu – shows you search results containing educational result sites only
b). site:.edu “blog” – returns search results for educational blogs only
c). site:.edu “forums” – if you want to participate in an educational discussion board
d). site:.edu “comments” – for educational blogs with comments sections
e). site:.edu “log in / create account” – returns .edu blog extensions that allow you to sign up as a user for the purpose of commenting or other kinds of participation
f). site:.edu inurl:blog “seo” – for educational blogs that understand SEO and would be interested in learning more about search engines
Let’s try one of the search strings:
As you can see, the search result contains only educational sites. But, it’d be difficult to get links from those sites. It’s much easier to get a link from a blog than a static web page. This is the nature of almost any link building campaign.
So let’s drill down our search to focus on blogs:
These results are more specific to educational blogs related to marketing. If your site is related to sales or marketing, those educational blogs are your targets.
Broken link building is the easiest way to get your links from educational portals. All you’ve got to do is find dead links on these blogs and suggest better content — your own — to replace it.
Broken link building works. For example, Michael Chibuzor, founder of contentmarketingup.com, generated 27 links from .edu domains in 90 days.
Brian Dean has taught broken link building and his students are seeing great results. Recently, one of his students, Emil Shour, set out to rank for his most profitable search engine keyword.
He leveraged the skyscraper technique and created an in-depth, long-form article in the employee wellness niche, entitled “121 Employee Wellness Program Ideas for Your Office.”
Richard researched industry blogs that are relevant to employee management, found broken links and sent outreach emails to all of them.
By doing this, Richard was able to push his post into a number #1 ranking and generated $100,000 in revenue. Richard also boosted his organic traffic by 348% in just 7 days.
So how do you find dead links on educational blogs that you can capitalize on to get incoming links?
It’s easier said than done, but it isn’t impossible. Here are the step-by-step instructions:
i). First step: Go to Google and search for educational resource pages. These pages contain lists of links to external sites and contents.
This time, let’s find educational resources for small businesses.
The search string I used is “site:edu “resources” + blogs + small business
And here’s the results screenshot:
You can see that the search results are relevant to small businesses only. This makes them viable.
ii). Second step: Choose one of the resources and click on it. Here’s the page, with all of the resources:
Some of the outgoing links on this page may be dead, but you can’t tell just by looking and clicking on all of them one-by-one will take lots of time.
Instead, use a tool designed for checking dead links …
iii). Third step: Go to deadlinkchecker.com. Copy the resource page address as it appears on the browser.
Then paste the site address into the search bar and click the “check” button:
Out of the 142 out-going links analyzed by the dead link checker tool, 8 of them are dead. Those are the links that return any of these error messages: 404 not found, 400 bad request, -1 not found, etc.
Next, prepare your content. Remember that since you’re concerned about small business, your content needs to be relevant to that topic. Otherwise, it might be difficult to convince the blog editor or administrator to swap out the dead link for your page. Search term research helps here to ensure it is relevant in today’s search engine realm.
iv). Step four: Send a personalized outreach email. I’ve received several outreach emails that are obviously form letters. Sometimes, the exact same email I receive went out to 10 or more other bloggers.
Don’t do that. Instead, personalize your email subject lines when reaching out to educational blogs. This is key to better email open rates.
Often,these people are academics and any slight error or hint of deception will result in your email being deleted without being read.
To “personalize” means that you give it a personal touch. If you know the name of the person you’re writing to, address them by their first name.
Not everyone understands how to write persuasive emails to site owners and bloggers. If that’s you, don’t worry. Just use the email templates below and add the person’s name, if you know it.
When using any email template, keep these things in mind:
- Write lowercase subject lines – I do this all the time because I want the email to seem casual as if it’s from a friend, not a robot.
- Be creative – emails that are boring and lack emotional appeal won’t get opened or responded to.
- Personalize – you have to include the person’s name and the website name in the email so it doesn’t come off as spammy.
Here’s a broken link email template you can model:
If you didn’t find any dead links on your targeted educational resource page, don’t give up. Instead of sending a broken link email, you can simply send a basic link request email.
If broken link building seems like a lot of work, or too difficult to tackle, there are other tactics that I’ve personally used to get .edu authority links:
- Blog comments
- Create a case study that’s relevant to the subject matter
- Blogger recognition
- Leveraging alumni news
- Local resource pages
- University discounts
- Improve a section of a site
As you can see, link building software may help but isn’t necessary.
You can learn how to apply all these link earning tactics in Chapter 5 of the Advanced Guide To Link Building.
4. Linking Out Instead of Link Building to Rank in Google (source)
This helpful resource shows you why linking out is a strategy, not a tactic — because when you build quality anchor text phrases to outsiie sites, you also get these benefits:
- Enhanced awareness for your site and brand
- Opportunities for other sites to link back to your page
- Search engine awareness that you have a timely and useful resource
- More helpful information for your readers
And so on…
Developing a link building strategy isn’t a cakewalk. Heck, even SEO experts sometimes fail at a link building campaign.
Link building software and tools help, but you still need to split test everything.
Outbound links or links that point to external web pages from your own site can actually impact your blog authority. Make sure the pages your links point to are relevant, useful and have good standing with Google.
At the heart of effective an link building campaign is the concept of giving.
In other words, you link to other sites, pages and case studies willingly.
“Linking out instead of link building to rank in Google” is a helpful resource that doesn’t follow traditional advice. Rather, it capitalizes on the principle of reciprocity.
According to Wikipedia, “reciprocity is a social rule that says we should repay, in kind, what another person has provided us. That is, people give back the kind of treatment they have received from you.”
For example, if you’re writing a guide to SEO, you should link out to authority sites that have addressed the topic before. As much as you can, link out to pages with high page authority – it’ll have a dramatic impact on your search performance and online visibility. Use simple search term phrases for anchor text when possible.
Reciprocity is one of the most vital of Cialdini’s 6 principles of persuasion. We humans are basically hard-wired to pay back our debts, help those who offered us a helping hand and generally treat others as they’ve treated us.
I’ve applied the principle of reciprocity to grow QuickSprout to over 700,000 monthly visitors and generated tens of thousands of quality backlinks. I give away tremendous value in my content.
When I write a post, I link out to anywhere from 5 to 20 external web pages that contain helpful and relevant content.
I don’t claim to know it all – that’s why I include the views of other expert’s in my posts. It’s also helped me earn more links and increase revenue since 2007.
Here’s one of my recent posts on neilpatel.com. I linked out to more than 20 external web pages that offer additional information to my readers.
Linking out to relevant pages not only earns you editorial links, but it also improves your search rankings. A survey of major newspapers on the web found that those who link out tend to outperform others who don’t on several performance metrics.
Check popular sites like Digg, Reddit, Twitter & Tumblr – they all link out excessively, and yet they still have millions of visitors coming back again and again.
If you’re worried that linking out will harm your rankings, do you have any proof of that?
I’ll keep looking, but so far I haven’t seen any proof that linking out to relevant and informative sites/pages that users will benefit from actually hurts my long-term rankings and revenue.
5. Low Hanging Fruit: Linkbuilding with Screaming Frog (source)
To a large extent, valuable content makes it a lot easier to convince webmasters to link to you. According to MarketingSherpa, “53% of businesses view content creation as the single most effective SEO technique.”
There are lots of opportunities to grow your site, if you just study your Google Webmasters Tools data and pinpoint the links coming in to your site.
Go to Traffic > Links to Your Site:
Next, go to “More”:
Finally, download latest links (limit is 100,000):
Getting the right links may seem difficult, especially when you’re not producing enough content.
But if you consider the impact those links will have on your search rankings, you’ll invest in content creation and promotion.
The old way of creating content and expecting customers to just show up is no longer feasible. You need to spend about 70% of your time and resources on promotion – that’s the new and better way.
“Low Hanging Fruit: Link Building with Screaming Frog” is an in-depth post that reveals opportunities for getting the right links using Screaming Frog, a premium SEO tool for link reclamation and link analysis.
Screaming Frog is invaluable as link building software for architecture research. You can also use it to initiate relationships with bloggers and reporters, among other things.
The tool can analyze your links and show you ways to pass more SEO search term value to your web pages.
Knowing when to increase your link building efforts or slow down with that mission is critical. This is the whole essence of link velocity, which measures the rate at which other sites link to you.
There’s no single rule on how fast you should get links to your site. SEOs have differing opinions, but Google hasn’t commented one way or the other.
The best approach is to create more content and increase your site authority. Content growth can solve your link velocity problems.
For example, it doesn’t matter how many links Moz.com or HubSpot.com generate this week; Google won’t view those links as manipulative, because both sites have good authority and thousands of pages already.
6. Your Link Reclamation Sucks Like Irene’s Dyson (source)
Link reclamation is the easiest way to earn editorial links to your pages from referring sites that mentioned your brand but didn’t link to you.
Whether you’re a B2B or B2C marketer, there are three sources of links you need to reclaim:
i). Brand mentions: This means aspects of your brand such as your site, events, courses, etc. Other sites could be mentioning your site, without linking to it. Brand mentions are the future of link building. Through link reclamation, you can request actual links be added to mentions that already exist.
ii). Product mentions: Several sites, media portals and discussion boards could be mentioning your product without linking to your sales page or homepage.
If you’ve got a great product, I can almost guarantee that you can reclaim 10 or more unclaimed links today. You don’t need link building software for this. You can use the Rank Tank’s brand unlinked mentions finder tool to find these product mentions across the web.
iii). Personnel mentions: What about your team, your name, your nickname or your professional title?
All of these provide another opportunity to reclaim unlinked personal mentions and boost your search rankings based on your company or you being the search term. You want people to view your site with the authority to use you as the social bookmark.
If you want to dominate social media and claim brand mentions easily by building relationships with social media power users, site owners and bloggers, this guide — “Your Link Reclamation Sucks Like Irene’s Dyson” — will help you.
In an earlier Whiteboard Friday video, Ross Hudgens showed that that you can reclaim links from brand misspellings, brand monitoring and moving links to primary domain, etc.
7. Ultimate Guide to Link Building (source)
Without a doubt, links connect the web together. Links exist because there are websites, pages and portals that need to share information with users, rank pertinent content, push the drivel aside and prevent plagiarism or duplicate content where possible. That is the job of search engines and every SEO tool must play in their realm.
Who links to your site and how they link to it are more important to Google than virtually any other Google ranking factor. Data from Searchmetrics suggests that the number of backlinks is the third most important factor in the UK Google ranking factors.
In this book, Ultimate Guide To Link Building, Eric Ward shows you:
- How to build links
- How to gain authority and credibility for your website
- How to increase your site traffic and rankings
Ward teaches with a deep understanding of link profiles, what makes them good and how to maximize the quality of links that point to your site. Understanding this means you won’t need expensive link building software but you may still take advantage of tools to make you more efficient.
Ward uses illustrated case studies, expert interviews and helpful resources in this book to drive his message home. You’ll find that getting backlinks can actually be fun, once you master the art of networking with bloggers.
Using some of the outlined whitehat backlink techniques, Dom Wells, founder of Human Proof Designs, built 59 quality links to his new site in 10 weeks.
And Inflow used email outreach (a tactic for connecting with site owners and getting them to reference and link to your page) to gain 96 links from 43 domains.
8. Link Building for Startups – Find Unlinked Brand Mentions at Scale (source)
Most startups waste time trying to get the right links when there’s a far more accessible opportunity right under their noses.
More links will improve your search performance, increase leads to your business and increase your revenue. If you don’t get links to your site, your search rankings, traffic and leads will suffer. Your startup will fail.
If you’re a startup entrepreneur, you’ll agree with me that you need to contend with a lot of competition.
According to Club Z, about 80% of startups fail to see projected return on investment, frequently due to a lack of planning and experience.
Before you can drive targeted visitors from Google and benefit from your site, you need to build quality links to your pages.
For example, I could cite your domain name (e.g., dodocase.com) without linking to it. Before someone can visit that site, they’d have to copy and paste it into their browser or look for it via a search engine.
But if the domain name was hyperlinked, when someone clicks on it, they’ll visit the startup site.
If you’ve been consistently creating fresh and useful content and promoting your site through social media, there’s no doubt that other sites are mentioning your brand name. Don’t let these mentions be a waste; reclaim them and be your own best search term.
If you’ve built links before, then you know about the inevitable brick wall that you hit once you’ve run out of link prospects.
One of the two main ways of finding prospects, backlink analysis, yields some really low hanging fruit, because you’re finding pages that you already know are linking to the same / similar thing as you. But the well runs dry far too quickly.
However, a spark lit in my head recently that completely changes how I look at this part of prospecting; not in a way of improving what I’m already doing, but instead, being able to do more of it.
The reason you look at your competitors first when prospecting for pages is because you already know they link to someone who does the same thing. That same reason is why most of us don’t look at broader industry resources, just because if they link to them, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll link to you.
But what if you knew that a page linked to two general resources, that are equally distant in relevance that you are to them? That would mean their scope of relevance would allow for you to also qualify for that page.
So let’s give an example. Let’s say you were a niche eCommerce retailer that sold truck parts. You might come across other retailers that sell Jeep parts, but if you look at all their links, there’s a good chance that a lot of them might be linking to them because they’re Jeep-specific.
But you also come across those who sell SUV parts, and you run into the same issue. Sure, you could look through ALL their links, but what if you wanted to more quickly find the ones that you know have a high chance of linking to you? Or what if you wanted to do this with sites that have MUCH more links than a few niche eCommerce retailers?
Here’s what you’d do:
- Find all the links to all retailers who are specific to Jeep parts. Combine them into a single spreadsheet, and remove duplicates.
- Find all the links to all retailers who are specific to SUV parts. Also combine them into a single spreadsheet, and remove duplicates.
- Use a COUNTIF formula in Excel to see if any of the Linking From pages are found in BOTH ranges (meaning: they link to both a SUV & a Jeep parts retailer).
What you find is that these will be much more likely to link, because you know they’re not linking specifically for SUV, or specifically for Jeep parts on that page.
But even if they’re not already mentioning anything Truck parts-related, there’s a good chance that they’d be open to it given the scope of relevance of what they’re currently linking to.
Taking It Further
The above was just a simple illustration, and chances are, you may want to look through all their links anyways, given how closely related those sites are to you. But in much more broader cases, this becomes a practical way of finding tons of new opportunities, especially ones that your competitors don’t find.
Just think broader. Go up & up the hierarchy that your site falls in, and do this with sub-niches that are equally distant in relevance. No, these pages won’t be super-relevant to your business, but using link metrics you can easily sort out the ones that are still going to have a huge impact.
Did that make any sense?
I hope it did. This isn’t a typical post here, just because I usually like to lean on longer, more in-depth pieces, but I thought this concept was worth highlighting for the more advanced crowd.
Thoughts are appreciated in the comments below! I’m traveling this weekend for a conference, so I may or may not get back right away, but I almost always do eventually. Thanks for reading!
As we all know in the SEO trade backlinks are an important factor in how your site is ranked – and submitting to business directories is one part of the process for building your website’s backlink profile.
Not only do most business directories provide a link to your site but they also help with citations – search engines (especially with Google) get to recognise your business, it’s location and the niche of your business.
Below is a list of UK business directories which come back as backlinks within Google. All loved and quickly indexed once submissions are live.
Plus, what’s more they’re free. So enjoy!
Remember, when submitting to these directories always search and find if your business is already listed. It saves everybody’s time.
Applegate www.applegate.co.uk Pinbud www.pinbud.co.uk City Listings www.city-listings.co.uk Scoot www.scoot.co.uk Cylex UK www.cylex-uk.co.uk BizBuzz www.bizbuzz.com Qype UK www.qype.co.uk Local Data Search www.localdatasearch.com Touch Local www.touchlocal.com Biz Wiki UK www.bizwiki.co.uk Hotfrog UK www.hotfrog.co.uk 192.com www.192.com 118.com www.118.com www.linkedin.com Yelp www.yelp.co.uk Yell www.yell.com BrownBook www.brownbook.net Opendi www.opendi.co.uk FreeBD www.freebd.co.uk B99 b99.co.uk Enter UK www.enteruk.co.uk UK Local Search www.uk-local-search.co.uk Look Trade www.look-trade.co.uk Business Line Directory www.businesslinedirectory.com Yalwa UK www.yalwa.co.uk
Getting dofollow backlinks is easy but getting high-quality backlink is not that much easier as you think. Today I’m going to reveal 9 awesome high quality do follow backlink tricks that no blogger said before.
9. Get Free dofollow backlinks from comments
Getting backlink from comment section is old trick but it still works I’m not saying to get backlink from post whatever you see, find the website where comment section is enabled with do follow.
8. Submit your post to Directories.
Submit your blog post in Directories find only rich directories which has high page rank example PR 4+
Example: https://www.somuch.com, http://www.allthewebsites.org/
7. Find the do follow forum and submit your blog post.
You can find the forum and answer for the question with your website link to your site.
Note: Don’t use signature in forum because Google will easily find out that you’re a spammer.
6. Submit your link to Dmoz.com
Dmoz is a very old blog submission site it’s pretty tough to get backlink to your site, if you get a backlink from DMOZ then your site will rock it for sure.
Step 1: Visit DMOZ.com and select the categories which is your website is about.
Step 2: Select the inner category, you can also find your competitor link over there.
Step 3: Then click suggest URL from top menu finally enter your URL, Title, description and click submit that’s it all done.
5. Do follow backlink from onemission.com
This website is pretty old one but getting backlink to your website is very easy and you can access the whole site once you get the editor roll.
Step 1: Visit the site choose category.
Step 2: Register for Editor Roll here.
Step 3: once you complete then all done you can add your backlink to onemission.com easily.
4. Use Inbound.org to get massive do follow links.
Inbound is really fantastic marketing community, this website will really help you to boost your website you can also get do follow backlink from this website easily.
Step 1: Sign up for inbound account
Step 2: setup the basic information and your profile.
Step 3: write your biography and about section with your website link.
Whenever you share a post in inbound.org simply add a link in your post description, this will help you to get do follow link from your every post you share in inbound.org
You can do 26 things in inbound.org find here
Participate in other groups and community increase karma, create your own group and add members then automatically your website will become popular.
3. Infobarrel.com for huge do follow link
This website is a free content submission website where you can share about any 370+ content and get 2 free backlink to your website on every share. Addition to that you can also get a backlink from your biography page.
2. Use Microsoft Answer website
Answers.microsoft.com is a really good website to get do follow backlink easily.
Tips: You can drive traffic to your website easily by finding solution for the problem, there are bunch of problems waiting and it need to be resolved. Choose a problem and find the solution post a blog in your website then submit that link in the question.
Also read Forum Website to Get Better SEO
#1. Get Free dofollow backlinks from your Google plus account.
get free dofollow backlinks
Google plus is a powerful website we can easily get do follow link from google plus profile. If you have google plus account already then follow this step, if you don’t have simply sign up now and follow this below steps.
Step 1: Go to your Google plus account and edit about section.
Step3: Edit about section with few text along with your website link.
There is no restriction to add link in your about section you can add many backlink as much as you want.
- Before getting backlink to your website make sure that you can edit your given backlink any time.
- Do not build much backlink to your home page, try to get maximum backlinks to your inner post and page.
- Build your backlink campaign slow and steady you can’t build a home in a single night.
"Backlinks," meaning sites that link to your site, are, for most search engines, the supreme ranking factor. So is getting more organic traffic.
Because that traffic is directly related to the quality of the backlinks your website has, the more authoritative websites that link to you, the better rankings and traffic you’ll get.
And of course you want to keep an eye on your Google rankings. When crawling the web, Google looks in particular for your website’s backlinks, to understand how your pages are connected to one other and in what ways. Certainly there are hundreds of ranking factors. But backlinks represent the most important metric for SEO.
Now, needless to say, quality backlinks are hard to get, but they shouldn’t be. In fact there are smart ways to build or earn backlinks, to get authoritative websites to link to your online business. Here are ten:
1. The broken-link building method
I love the broken-link building method because it works perfectly to create one-way backlinks. The technique involves contacting a webmaster to report broken links on his/her website. At the same time, you recommend other websites to replace that link. And here, of course, you mention your own website. Because you are doing the webmaster a favor by reporting the broken links, the chances of a backlink back to your website are high.
So, to use the broken-link method, first find relevant websites in your niche that have resources pages. Find them by using these search queries in Google:
- your keyword + links
- your keywords + resources
- keywords inurl:links
For example, if I have a parenting website, I'll search for parenting + links.
To easily find broken links on those pages, download and install the Google Chrome plugin called Check my Links. Using this plugin, I quickly discovered all 404 links from this page:
Now, back to that webmaster: When reaching out, be friendly and introduce yourself. Tell this individual that he or she is linking to some resources that are no longer available. Always provide the exact location of the broken links, so they can be easily found. Give some alternatives to replace those links, including your own website. Try to be helpful, not greedy to get a backlink. Often, this method will work, but there will be cases when the webmaster will refuse to link back to you.
2. Backlinks through infographics
Infographics are one of the most popular methods for bringing traffic to your website and gaining valuable backlinks. They're also great because they're easy to understand and share. Everyone loves visual data, right? That's why the demand for infographics has increased considerably. Consider that influential online publications like Mashable publish numerous infographics from all over the Internet.
Now, choose your infographics carefully: Each one should include a unique and interesting story for your audience. To make your selection, follow currently trending topics and see what people are looking for, then create your infographic using statistical data.
To get started, research and gather data for the content. Then find someone to make your content visual.
There’s a misconception that creating an infographic is expensive; that's not always the case. Figure on an average price between $150 and $300. Assuming you may earn 10 backlinks per infographic, you'll be paying $15 per link. For five backlinks, the price will be $30 per link. That’s very cheap for backlinks earned through webmaster moderation. And if your infographic goes viral. you win even more.
Try using Dribble to find designers with good portfolios. Contact them directly by upgrading your account to PRO status, for just $20 a year. Then simply use the search filter and type "infographics." After finding someone you like, click on "hire me" and send a message detailing your needs and requesting a price. Fiver is another place to find great designers willing to create inexpensive infographics.
Next, once the infographic is ready, you need to make it easy for others to share it. To do this, create your own embed code using Siege Media generator.
Once everything is in place, and your infographic shines on your website, it’s time to distribute it. There are numerous infographic directories where you can submit yours. For example, here is a list with more than than 100 places to submit your infographic.
Last but not least, do email outreach to people who have previously linked to similar infographics or have shared them on social media. Ask for feedback on your infographic, but never ask for a link directly. If they like your infographic, they'll know what to do.
3. The advantage of guest articles
Guest blogging is the most effective way to reach new audiences. By publishing articles on other popular websites, you'll get your content in front of new readers and win more exposure. Sometimes, it’s not just about the backlink, but about increasing your online reputation or your social media followers.
Guest blogging helps you leverage your relationships and expand your audience. In case you have doubts about guest posting, consider that even Google accepts guest contributors on its Google Analytics blog. Here’s a tweet from Google showing this:
Numerous ways exist to find websites that accept guest articles. Here are three::
Use Google search queries to find blogs accepting guest contributors:
- your keyword + inurl:write-for-us
- your keyword + guest-posts
- your keyword + inurl:guest-post-guidelines
- your keyword + become a contributor
- your keyword + bloggers wanted
- your keyword + submit an article
- your keyword + want to write for
- your keyword + contribute
- your keyword + become an author
- your keyword + guest post by
- your keyword + now accepting guest posts
Find influencers publishing guest posts on a regular basis and try to contribute on the same websites they've had in the past.
Consider the example of a profile by freelance writer Kristi Hines. From her Google Plus profile, click on "About," then scroll to the contributor section, where you can see a list of all the websites she has contributed articles to.
Repeat the process with other influencers, and you’ll find endless opportunities to publish content on third-party websites.
Use social media to discover other options.
On Twitter, search for "guest post," "guest article" or "guest author." To automate the process, use Topsy to set alerts for the keywords you want to track.
When publishing a guest article, always make sure you are linking to your social media profiles. If someone enjoys your post, he or she can easily follow you for similar future articles.
4. Spy on your competitors.
If you are serious about getting more organic traffic, staying up to date with your main competitors' online marketing strategies is mandatory. You have to spy on your competitors on social media and look for their link-building or earning techniques, as well as their content-marketing methods. Here are some tips:
Set yourself up for alerts when competitors are publishing new content on their websites.
Subscribe to their email newsletters or follow them on social media. Another smart way to catch up with their new content is to create a Google alert for the keyword “site:yourcompetitor.com." For example, if my competitor is TechCrunch, I can set a Google alert using the keyword: site:techcrunch.com
Know when and what backlinks your competitors are building or earning.
This will help you replicate their best backlinks and better understand what methods they are using to promote their website. If they are getting links through guest blogging, try to become a guest author on the same websites. If most of their links come from blog reviews, get in touch with those bloggers and offer them a trial to test your tool. Eventually, they might write a review about it.
My favorite tool to spy on my competitors' backlinks is called Monitor Backlinks. It allows you to add your four most important competitors. From then on, you get a weekly report containing all the new links they have earned. Inside the tool, you get more insights about these links and can sort them by their value and other SEO metrics. A useful feature is that all the links my own website already has are highlighted in green, as in the screenshot below.
Using this technique, I can easily determine new link-building opportunities. With Monitor Backlinks, I can keep track of all the backlinks my website is earning. Each time my link building campaigns are successful, I can see all the new backlinks I’m getting in my dashboard.
5. Build internal links.
Internal links are a key factor for running a successful blog. They are passing link juice, and you can use your anchor texts. With a good internal linking structure, you can help users easily navigate through your website and increase the overall user experience.
There are tools that can automatically create internal links on your blog, especially if you are running Wordpress, but you should do this manually. Microsoft's Matt Cutts has recommended that webmasters keep their number of internal links per page below 100, for both usability and SEO.
6. Promote your content.
Great content won’t get you backlinks unless you know how to promote it right. You have to get out in the world and do email outreach to promote your best articles.
One of the best strategies to do this is to contact bloggers or websites running weekly or monthly roundups. Again, you can use Google and search for queries like “keyword + roundup.” Make sure you choose, in order to see results only from the past week or month.
Then contact the webmasters and give them a quick introduction to your website. With your message, send a link to one of your best tutorials or guides. If they find your resource useful, they may link back to you in their next weekly roundup.These bloggers are constantly looking for great content, so they definitely want to hear from you.
As with the other techniques, make sure you do not abuse your relationship with any webmaster by asking for a link directly.
7. Write testimonials.
An easy method to earn quality backlinks is to write testimonials for websites you are using. You'll spend only a few minutes, and you can earn a link from the homepage of an authoritative website. As long as you are a customer of that product, there’s a high possibility you can get a link in exchange for a testimonial.
List all the tools you are currently using and reach out to discuss the likelihood of featuring your testimonial on a desired website.
8. Contact journalists and important bloggers.
To get links to your website, you have to spread the word about your business. And what better way to do this than email outreach to journalists and influencers from your niche? Fnding someone’s email address can be challenging, but there’s no reason to be discouraged. Here’s how to find anyone's email address:
- Over 90 percent of the email addresses at publications and websites are formatted like this: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. So, try sending your pitch to these emails directly.
Alternately, you can send your message using social media, with Google Plus or Linkedin.
Also consider that every pitch should be short and to the point. No one has time for long and boring emails from strangers.
Yes, you can earn backlinks by donating to nonprofit organizations. This method is quick and straightforward. All you have to do is find websites in your niche that accept donations and link back to sites that have donated. Simply submit the amount of the donation you want to make and write your website URL.
Finding these websites requires some searches in Google. These are some queries that usually give good results:
- contributors page + donate + your keyword
- donation + contributors + your keyword
- contributors page + your keyword
10. Get interviewed.
Online interviews are hot right now, and a great and easy way to earn backlinks to your website. Once you become the authority in your niche, you'll get lots of interview invitations, but until then, to get started, you have to make the first step. Look for websites that are running interviews and tell them you would like to participate and what knowledge you can contribute.
Earning quality backlinks can sometimes be challenging, but you can easily find link-building opportunities by using the right resources and methods. Finally, remember that keeping your backlinks is as important as building them. So, keep track of the backlinks your website is getting, by using tools like Monitor Backlinks, Ahrefs orMajestic.
We all know building backlinks is one of the most important aspects of any successful SEO and digital marketing campaign. However, I believe there is an untapped resource out there for link building: finding your competitors' broken pages that have been linked to by external sources.
Allow me to elaborate.
Finding the perfect backlink often takes hours, and it can can take days, weeks, or even longer to acquire. That’s where the link building method I've outlined below comes in. I use it on a regular basis to build relevant backlinks from competitors' 404 pages.
Please note: In this post, I will be using Search Engine Land as an example to make my points.
Ready to dive in? Great, because I'm going to walk you through the entire link building process now.
First, you need to find your competitor(s). This is as easy as searching for the keyword you’re targeting on Google and selecting websites that are above you in the SERPs. Once you have a list of competitors, create a spreadsheet to put all of your competitors on, including their position in the rankings and the date you listed them.
Next, download Screaming Frog SEO Spider [a freemium tool]. This software will allow you to crawl all of your competitors website, revealing all their 404 pages. To do this, simply enter your competitors' URLs in the search bar one at a time, like this:
Once the crawl is complete, click "Response Codes."
Then, click on the dropdown arrow next to "filter" and select "Client Error 4xx."
Now you'll be able to see the brand's 404 pages.
Once you've completed the step above, simply press the "Export" button to export all of their 404 pages into a file. Next, import this file into to a spreadsheet in Excel or Google Docs. On this part of the spreadsheet, create tabs called "Trust Flow," "Citation Flow," "Referring Domains," and "External Backlinks."
Now that you’ve imported all of their 404 pages, you need to dissect the images and external links if there are any. A quick way to do this is to highlight the cell block by pressing on the specific cell at the top, then press "Filter" under the "Data" tab.Look for the drop-down arrow on the first cell of that block. Click the drop-down arrow, and underneath "Filter by values," you will see two links: "Select all" and "Clear."
Press "Clear," like this:
This will filter out all external links and just leave you with their 404 pages. Go through the whole list, highlighting the pages you think you can rewrite.
Now that you have all of your relevant 404 pages in place, run them through Majestic [a paid tool] or Moz’s Open Site Explorer (OSE) [a freemium tool] to see if their 404 pages actually have any external links (which is what we're ultimately looking for). Add the details from Majestic or Moz to the spreadsheet. No matter which tool you use (I use OSE), hit "Request a CSV" for the backlink data. (Import the data into a new tab on your spreadsheet, or create a new spreadsheet altogether if you wish.)
Find relevant backlinks linking to (X’s) website. Once you've found all of the relevant websites, you can either highlight them or remove the ones that aren’t from your spreadsheet.
Please note: It's worth running each of the websites you're potentially going to be reaching out to through Majestic and Moz to find out their citation flow, trust flow, and domain authority (DA). You may only want to go for the highest DA; however, in my opinion, if it's relevant to your niche and will provide useful information, it's worth targeting.
With the 404s and link opportunities in hand, focus on creating content that’s relevant for the brands you hope to earn a link from. Find the contact information for someone at the brand you want the link from. This will usually be clear on their website; but if not, you can use tools such as VoilaNorbert and Email Hunter to get the information you need. Once you have this information, you need to send them an email similar to this one:
Hi [THEIR NAME],
My name is [YOUR NAME], and I carry out the [INSERT JOB ROLE – i.e., MARKETING] at [YOUR COMPANY'S NAME or WEBSITE].
I have just come across your blog post regarding [INSERT THEIR POST TITLE] and when I clicked on one of the links on that post, it happened to go to a 404 page. As you’re probably aware, this is bad for user experience, which is the reason I’m emailing you today.
We recently published an in-depth article regarding the same subject of the broken link you have on your website: [INSERT YOUR POST TITLE].
Here's the link to our article: [URL].
I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind linking to our article instead of the 404 page you’re currently linking to, as our article will provide your readers with a better user experience.
We will be updating this article so we can keep people provided with the very latest information as the industry evolves.
Thank you for reading this email and I look forward to hearing from you.
Disclaimer: The email example above is just an example and should be tailored to your own style of writing.
In closing, remember to keep detailed notes of the conversations you have with people during outreach, and always follow up with people you connect with.
I hope this tactic helps your SEO efforts in the future. It's certainly helped me find new places to earn links. Not only that, but it gives me new content ideas on a regular basis.
Do you use a similar process to build links? I'd love to hear about it in the comments.