How to Build High Quality Backlinks for Free
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No matter what any guru or attention-grabbing article circulating the blogosphere may say, there is no denying that high quality backlinks to your website are still the most important factor for ranking and will be for the foreseeable future (read: link building benefits).
Because of the importance of backlinks and the difficulty in getting high quality backlinks, one of the most common topics we see in the community is how to get high quality backlinks for free.
While it’s true that most of the more powerful backlinks (PBN, Niche Edits, Guest Posts) will most likely end up costing you some money, or take years to accumulate, free SEO backlinks can still do a lot of good for your link building strategy and are still a necessary part of the ranking process.
We are excited to bring you this list of what we believe are the most useful and effective ways to get free backlinks to your site that actually help you rank in a natural way (without using a free backlink generator to create backlinks).
Let’s get into it.
Forum and Blog Comments
All of our data confirms that forum and blog comments still have a place in SEO link building strategy today and are not just some overused relic of the past (they actually provide quality links).
However, these free backlinks must be deployed in a natural way. The best way to achieve rankings with long term success is to simulate natural backlink profiles from real sites – but do it better when getting backlinks to your site.
The amount of blog comments and forum posts you make linking back to your site should fall into a range that search engines like Google deem natural for your specific site and industry. For example, a small town plumber site isn’t likely to be mentioned in thousands of blog comments.
The bigger the project and site, the more blog and forum comments you can build safely. Also remember to be mixing them in alongside other types of quality links to keep your backlink profile diverse.
To get these kinds of free backlinks, find a relevant forum or blog post, sign up if you have to, and then leave a reply with a backlink to your website in it.
You can find these forums and posts in the search results by using Google search engine manually, with Google Search Operators to make the job a bit easier (Keep reading until the end for more info on these), or snooping on your competitors with website SEO tools such as Ahrefs.
Once you’ve found a good target and are ready to leave your comment, be sure that you’re providing some kind of value. If you’re not providing any kind of value, your comment or post runs the chance of being considered spam and being removed or deleted. Quality links always add value.
Here’s an example of a good blog comment that uses a real name and provides value:
And here’s an example of a bad blog comment. This comment isn’t relevant to the article, uses a spammy exact match keyword for their name, and has another exact match keyword link within the comment:
Join the conversation, help people answer questions, or give information they will find useful. This will help your free backlink stick and add topical relevance.
We still use blog comments on almost every site we rank. These free backlinks are easy to get and make great links for pillowing, diversifying, and adding relevance to your website. Don’t even consider using a free backlink generator tool to autogenerate low-quality spam links or anything like that.
Google owns YouTube, and although they say they don’t give special consideration to backlinks coming from their own properties, we think they’re lying.
Our experience shows that linking from Youtube has very noticeable positive effects.
Yes, the links are nofollow. Yes, nofollow links can still be great.
The first step in the YouTube link building process is to publish a video. Some SEOs think making videos is too much work, but you could make something as simple as voice-over text on Fiverr for just a couple of dollars.
After you post your video, leave backlinks for your site, inner pages, and social properties in its description, and be sure to give it a good, relevant title. It can be natural to leave quite a few backlinks for your site in the description:
Leaving backlinks free for multiple pages throughout a site can really help to establish trust, relevance, and authority throughout your website.
But wait, there’s more you can do.
You can embed your videos on the pages you linked to, and you can also try to rank the videos on page 1 to take up an additional space and generate more organic traffic (They tend to rank easily due to their high DA).
For the time invested and benefit gained, link building with YouTube videos using your website URL is one of the best pound for pound free backlink options available.
A broken link is a backlink that is linking to a page that no longer exists.
Maybe the other website has been taken down, or maybe they just changed the URL for that specific article. Whatever the case, the link is broken, and this is an opportunity for you to earn a free backlink.
It’s easy to disregard a broken link building strategy as a source of incoming links. Some people may even consider broken links as low quality backlinks. This is not true. Depending on the website you source them from, they can turn out to be very high quality backlinks that generate traffic.
First, you will need to find a website that is relevant to yours that may contain some broken links that you can convert into incoming links. Resource websites, list pages, and educational articles about your topic make good targets to search for broken links.
You can easily find these websites the same way as we discussed previously – manually, with Google Search Operators, or competitor research (more on both of these later).
Now that you’ve found some pages, it’s time to find a broken link. To do this without wasting a ton of time, download a Google Chrome extension such as Check My Links.
This plugin is free and easy to use. When activated, it will highlight all the backlinks on the page you are looking at. Green means they are working as intended, and red means they’re broken.
When you find a broken link, you should send an email to the website owners notifying them of the issue and informing them of a new page they could link to: your page!
See our article on cold email templates for a detailed explanation of how to do this, as well as a template you can use for your emails.
The emails to site owners will not always result in you earning a free backlink, but keep your chin up! There are plenty of broken link opportunities out there that can really end up being some very powerful backlinks for your website.
Web 2.0s are online platforms that let users create their own mini-websites or blogs, usually for free, as a subdomain on their site. They take the hassle out of buying a domain, paying for hosting, and learning how to make a website.
This gives us another opportunity to create backlinks from relevant content. Some people use Web 2.0s very heavily, but we only create around 3-5 of these mini-sites per link building campaign we are working on.
Once you’ve picked your platform, start creating content related to the website you plan on linking to. You can create multiple pages. Be sure to use outbound authority links as well as linking to your own site (just link to yourself once or twice per Web 2.0).
You can write the content yourself or have it written for you somewhere such as iWriter. Have at least one page with 300-500 words (having more pages and content will look more natural but isn’t always necessary). The quality content should be relevant, have a purpose for the reader, and have good spelling and grammar.
Web 2.0s aren’t the strongest links on their own, but they have high domain authority (DA) and are safe which is why they make great pillow links and are used as a tool to diversify backlink profiles. So they are definitely quality backlinks in their own right depending on how you use them.
They become much stronger when you point other more powerful links such as PBNs at them to power them up. Doing this uses the high domain authority of the root domain as a safety filter and a shortcut to higher page power. Web 2.0 backlinks really shine when powered up like this.
Like with any other kind of backlink, be sure that you’re not relying on only Web 2.0s to do all the work and that you’re mixing in other types of backlinks alongside them.
This is one of the simpler ways to get free backlinks, but it also requires that people are already talking about your website or company.
You can find people talking about your business either using a paid marketing SEO tool like BuzzSumo (which is a bit expensive) or by doing it the good old fashioned way – Googling your business / domain name and sifting through the SERPs for articles mentioning you.
Read more: BuzzSumo vs Ahrefs.
When you find an article that mentions your website/business without a link, go ahead and send them an email using one of our outreach templates.
If all goes according to plan, you will turn a good amount of your unlinked brand mentions into quality backlinks free to your website for just a few minutes of work.
Social signals are when people link to (share) your website on a social media platform such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit, and so on:
While social signals are not as powerful as regular backlinks (and Google even says that they are not counted), we have found that they do have a positive effect on helping websites or a page to rank. We’ve even heard stories of social signals being the cure for websites that wouldn’t budge in the SERPs.
To get social signals for free, you can simply ask your friends, family, coworkers, or satisfied customers to link to your website on whatever social media platform they prefer. If you have more time, you can market your site and content to other relevant people or businesses in your industry that might be interested in sharing it. You are basically using your social network as a natural, free backlink generator!
Social signals must still be used alongside normal backlinks as well, but they are very useful for building trust to your site. If you are being linked to by regular websites and blogs, chances are that people will also be talking about your business on social media.
Social signals are free backlinks that provide social proof for your link building campaigns, are a healthy part of any ranking project, and are another great way to create backlinks free without resorting to a low-quality backlink builder.
Content, Content, Content
As the old saying goes, content is king. Although we don’t agree with it, using your content to get free backlinks is very useful for those who have the time.
First, you need some content before you create backlinks. You can look at similar content from competing sites and articles to draw on their information to create your own content, but try to bring something new to the table to differentiate your content from other sites.
The better your content is, the easier it will be to get quality backlinks free. If you decide to create content yourself, make sure it’s well-written and visually appealing (pictures, videos, charts, infographics). If you’re having it written for you, be prepared to spend at least $80 for a good writer who has at least a basic grasp of guest blogging for SEO.
Now that you have an awesome piece of unique content that people want to read, you have a few options for using it to create inbound links (self-publishing or guest blogging):
1. Put it up on your site, and wait for a number of links to come. This works for more established sites with dedicated readers and high organic traffic, but not so much for the new guy, no matter how much some SEOs want to believe it.
2. Put it up on your site, and actively market it to get a quality backlink. Resource lists, broken links, social media, Google search operators, and competitor research all all good ways to look for sites who are already linking to similar content that might also like to link to your new article. This type of free link building can take a good amount of time and networking, but it can also pay off hugely in the form of free high-quality backlinks.
3. Don’t put it up on your site, shop it around for guest blogging instead. If your content is good enough, you will be able to find guest posting opportunities in exchange for a free backlink to your own site. This is also time consuming, so be sure you read our article on guest post outreach (with templates) to make sure you’re maximizing your chances of success.
However you decide to go about it, content marketing / guest blogging are time consuming yet effective free SEO techniques to get free backlinks for your website.
Spy on the Competition
Spying on competitors’ backlinks is one of our favorite ways to create backlinks free.
First, head over to Google and search for the top ranking websites for the keywords you want to rank for. Put their websites into Ahrefs or an Ahrefs alternative marketing tool.
Once you have their site pulled up, go check their backlink profile. Look for the most relevant, high quality links that you would also like to have. Be sure to check out our article on link relevance for more help with this.
If you’re a beginner, the process of finding a certain number of links can be a little time consuming until you are able to more quickly tell types of links apart. Particularly distinguishing low-quality backlinks from high-quality links. Until then, just check out each linking page one-by-one.
Look around the sites to see if there is any way you can go about getting your own article, information, or inbound links on the site. Some will be very straightforward while others might take some digging and/or emailing.
You can repeat this free link building method for as many sites in your niche as you’d like, and you’ll end up piling up all the best free backlinks from your competitors, thus giving you a huge advantage for your search rankings.
Social and Forum Profiles
There are thousands of different forums and social sites out there for you to create free profiles on, and many will allow you to add a free backlink to your profile.
Some of the biggest examples of these types of sites are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. These are some of the main social profiles that every business has, but there are many, many more out there.
It’s a pretty straightforward link building process to acquire natural, quality backlinks: sign up for the social site or forum, fill out your profile completely, and put a free backlink to your website in it.
To take even fuller advantage of this easy way to create free backlinks, you can play around with adding your keywords into your username instead of using your business’s name. Often, those keywords will get added to the title of the page that is created for your profile which will add some extra relevance to the incoming links pointing to your website. We don’t advise doing this with your main social profiles – only with the smaller more insignificant ones.
Many of these backlinks will be nofollow, but we continue to see a very positive effects from using this method – especially for new sites that are still in the pillow-linking stage.
We often get 100 or more of these profile links in the beginning stages of a link building strategy for ranking sites due to their safety and naturalness – new companies will often grab up every social profile they can with their business to save for later use.
Check out our favorite free social bookmarking sites.
Directories and Citations
Directories are listings of businesses or websites. Citations are directories that allow you to list your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number). Some directories and citations are paid, but many are free.
As far as free high quality links go, directories are some of the most useful – especially for local SEO link building. But much like blog comments, be sure not to make these in a super-spammy way like people used to do in the past (e.g. using a backlink generator / backlink builder).
You can find niche directories with Google Search operators as well as with competitor research, and getting listed is as easy as signing up and submitting your business’s information.
Citations are the lifeblood of local SEO link building and should already be a part of your link building / ranking process. You can do citations and directories for affiliate sites as well, but they aren’t crucial – they just make good pillow links (quality backlinks that insulate new websites for free).
We usually do at least 50 citations and directories when starting a new website and think they make a great, free addition to any site’s backlink profile.
Bonus: Google Search Operators to Help Find Free Links
As we’ve mentioned previously in this article, Google Search Operators are special commands that you type into Google search engine to help refine your search in ways that will be very helpful for finding sites to get free links from.
Here is a video from Ahrefs explaining how to use these useful search engine commands:
We’ve compiled a huge list with over 400 search operators that will help you find free link building opportunities and accomplish other search engine optimization tasks much more efficiently.
One of the first things on our downloadable list is a search engine operator to help find blog comments. You can enter into Google Plumbing “1 comment,” or Plumbing “2 comments,” and so on to find sites related to plumbing that have comments already posted.
This one is helpful because it lets you find niche-relevant articles where you can get backlinks free, and you already know that they are accepting comments (and not just denying them all).
This is just one of over four hundred search operators that you will find in our free download here:
You’ve now learned how to build quality backlinks for free that we think are some of the most useful for ranking sites and that we use on a regular basis. It’s always a great idea for website owners to get as many free backlinks as they can wherever they’re available. It would be foolish to pass up the opportunity to create backlinks to your website for free in order to bolster your backlink profile, improve rankings, and generate traffic.
You’ve also got a huge list of search operators to help you on your journey. Use them wisely.
Hey I'm Chris, one of the founders here at SirLinksalot. I'm into building internet money machines (affiliate websites) and specialize in building backlinks. Find out more about me and my link building team.
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