What Is Link Building?

link building


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George Panayides

Digital Marketing Specialist

What Is Link Building?

Because Organic Growth is Overrated

Quick summary:

Link building is the practice of securing links from external websites to your own. It enhances how search engines interpret and rank your site, particularly when you focus on linking to key pages. This results in a more structured website and improved search visibility. Benefits include better rankings and user navigation. Link building strategies involve outreach, reviews, broken link building and more. Niche sites might rank easier with targeted links, while broad sites require a wider link profile. Search engines read links as signals of relevance and authority, influencing your site’s ranking.

How Does Link Building Work?

Link building works by getting external websites to link and point back to your own site. This is usually in the form of a hyperlink and it’s a great way for users to navigate to your website from another. It also helps Google and search engines as these links are the pathways to which they crawl the web.

diagram of how link building works

Why do experts do link building?

The primary goal of link building is to improve your website’s search engine rankings. Links are a key ranking factor for most search engines, including Google. The more high quality links you have to your site, the better rankings you will get.

How do experts build links?

Link building specialists are creative in getting external links. They might do this through many different strategies which we will cover shortly, from outreach, socials or guest posting.

When should you start link building?

Most website owners will start link building at some stage of their SEO strategy and it should be an ongoing process as part of your regular search engine optimisation. Link building is most effective when it’s been done consistently over time rather than a one-off.

It’s best to begin link building when you actually have a decent amount of content to your site to allow opportunities and create a large link for link prospects. Also people will start to naturally link to your content if it’s helpful.

Definition of Link Building: At its core, link building is the process of getting other websites to link back to your site. It’s a core part of an SEO strategy and is important to search engines because links help to discover new web pages, and they help to determine how a page should rank in their results. All marketers and business owners should be interested in building links to drive referral traffic and increase their site’s authority.


Types Of Link Building Strategies 2024

I’ve been building links for almost 4 years now and of course, it doesn’t seem to get any easier. However, as resilient link builders, we band together to come up with creative strategies to build links.

So, I’ve got together some of the most effective link building strategies in 2024, and not just the old ones, the new strategies that are working right now and are a bit more “thinking outside the box”.

Outreach link building

This strategy is age-old but has adapted to the new use of SaaS tools and automations. I personally use this strategy to connect with other website owners and ask them to link to my content through the Skyscraper technique. I would still say this is a very effective strategy in 2024 and if automated, it’s especially effective.


Outreach is one of the better link building strategies because of its personalised approach and scalability. It also allows for a very targeted approach compared to other link building strategies. You can focus on quality over quantity by only selecting the websites you want to get links from. 


Research is most important in your outreach link building strategy. This involves finding and creating your link prospects which can be done by useful link building tools that we will cover shortly. Building relationships through compelling outreach email copy is extremely important as well.

email outreach template for link building

Reviews link building

This is quite a newer link building strategy. This has still been around for a while, but blown up alongside SaaS products. Many link building experts will create content around reviewing SaaS tools or products. Then you will reach out to the owner of the product via outreach or social media to request a link.


For SaaS companies, reviews from credible sources can significantly enhance their online visibility and credibility. The best thing about this strategy is that it works well for both of you. If you rank, then they get better sales.


When creating this type of review content, make sure you emphasise the value it brings to the company in terms of exposure, user trust, and potential conversions as well. This value proposition is crucial in your outreach efforts. Make sure you always give a good review as well 😆.

HARO link building

HARO Help a Reporter Out (HARO) link building has been around for a while, I’ve been using it since 2021 however the last 1 year I’ve especially seen how popular it’s become and how much harder it is to get featured. However, this is still an amazing way to build free links to your homepage. 


Simply put, HARO link building is a strategy that connects journalists and content creators with sources who can provide the valuable insights and expert commentary they need for their stories. It’s fantastic for building your EEAT profile on Google.


Keep your answers short and make sure your answers are unique. So many others will be answering the questions and most of the time it will be larger companies with a big online presence. Don’t give up with this link building strategy, it’s good for the long hall.

HARO PR link building

Social media link building

Social media platforms are a goldmine for link building. I actively share content and engage with my audience, which often leads to natural backlinks as the content is shared across these networks. You can also leverage the power of the no-follow links to indirectly signal better rankings.


Social media platforms are excellent for promoting content to a wide audience. High-quality, engaging content has the potential to go viral, significantly increasing the likelihood of it being shared and linked to from other sites. This can naturally pick up links but also signals to Google that the content is trustworthy.


Create content that is shareable and engaging for your target audience on social media. This includes visually appealing posts, infographics, videos, and blog articles that provide value. Optimising content for shareability can encourage more links back to your website.

Parasite SEO

Parasite SEO is where you post your articles on another hosted website to link back and funnel through juice and traffic to your site. This has been around for a while, but since Google’s helpful content update, this has been exploited. I’ve got a full article on parasite SEO here.


Essentially, you are publishing your article on a high authority site such as LinkedIn. I actually use this strategy myself, but not really for link building. Mostly to get another position in Google. By publishing on someone else’s website, you are sucking through their link juice to your website and ranking quickly.


Use sparingly. I wouldn’t go and post all of my content across every parasite website. I’d likely optimise for the most effective ones. Also avoid using affiliate links or over monisting your content. Remember, you don’t actually own the content anymore, so it can get taken down whenever.

parasite seo being used on Harvard website

Journalist stories link building

This link building strategy focuses on the creation of stories and insights for journalists to take from you and feature you in. For example, you could have an interesting story about the future of your industry, or a big change that is coming in your industry. 


Share your stories with journalists who will then feature your comments as the specialist in the industry and credit you with a valuable backlink to your homepage or website. This will carry high authority and gets picked up by other news outlets who republish with another free link. 


You will have to come up with compelling stories and ideas but what tends to work best are reports, studies, insights or predictions in your industry. This works effectively during time of change or uncertainty where people look to the news to find out more. 

Free tool link building

This is an amazing strategy but it has its limitations. Simply because of the development time and costs it takes to do this. However, the idea is to develop a tool in your industry that is free for everyone to use. Naturally people will link and share this around.


By creating a free tool people will get a lot of value from it, they will feel obliged to link to your tool and share it across their community or network. This naturally builds free links to your website and I’ve seen this strategy used by Neil Patel with UberSuggest back in 2018-2019 when that was free.


You need to be patient with this one, as it could take time and you’ll also have to promote it somewhere whether it’s in Facebook groups or through outreach or things like this. However, if it blows up, your site will become ultra credible and generate a lot of links. 

uber suggest free tool for building links

Guest posting

Another link building strategy that has not only been around for a long time, but is also tried, tested and proven in the industry. Again, this is likely because it’s a reciprocal favour right? You’re proving the webmaster with free content and in return, they will link back to yours. 


Guest post link building works through creating free guest posts or content for a website, and giving it to them so they can publish it live on their website. They then get a free, quality post and in return you get a link back to your website from the content you created. This keeps the topics under your control and relevant as well.


Gone are the days where guest posting is free, most of the time you will be expected to pay for your post on someone else’s website. Likely because it’s become so popular. Try to find newer websites who are in need, but understand they won’t carry as much authority.  

Broken link building

Now, we’ve all probably heard of broken link building. This has been around for a long period of time and still works effectively due to its valuable and helpful proposition in nature. Both the linker and the linked gain something from this, so it works perfectly. 


Head over to a link building tool like Ahrefs, find some broken links on a website that you want to rank for. Either create new content or adapt your content to fit the link purpose. Finally, reach out to make the website aware of the broken link, and offer yours as a quick replacement.


You need to be quick at this. There aren’t a large number of broken links just sitting on everyone’s website. Speed will help and having good content will help. I think it also makes sense to get the right person’s email here as well.

broken link report in ahrefs

Tiered link building

Tiered link building works through creating layers (tiers) of links. Some go to your page, others go to the pages linking to you, and so on. This is a great way to ensure you have control over your link profile, and boost your overall website rankings. 


I’ve got a full blog on tiered link building here, but as a quick run down; In this approach, the first tier consists of high-quality backlinks to your site. The second tier then links to those first-tier backlinks and each designed to pass on link equity and reinforce the tiers above.


Make sure you are only getting high quality links across all tiers for this to be super effective. With that being said, it is likely hard for Google to even tell the difference between a really good link vs an average link. So maybe test it a little bit.

Link Building For Broad Websites

Link building for broad websites is quite easy, and I’d recommend doing outreach. This can be easily scaled, and because the website is broad it will naturally have a larger audience which produces more link prospects.

The same applies with broken link building. Because you naturally have a broad audience, you can find many more broken link opportunities across more websites that fit your product or service.

Broad websites are super easy to build links too, but of course work inside a much more competitive industry. So that generally means, although it’s easier to get links, you’re going to need a lot of them to rank well online.

Generally speaking in link building, the more link prospects, the more competitive the industry. This can be a good or bad thing, but overall if you keep consistent with your link building the results will come.

link prospects in broad niche

Link Building For Niche Websites

On the other hand, link building for niche websites is a different story. This is where you need to get more creative and rather than looking for existing link building opportunities, you go and create your own.

This is where reviews, HARO and guest posting really have a positive effect. You may also use outreach, which I do even in niche websites, but after 6-12 months you do begin to exhaust your link prospects.

However, with niche websites although there are less links, it means it’s less competitive so link building has a bigger impact on your SEO. Anyone who is doing link building in niche websites will have a very positive impact, and likely rank #1.

My best strategy for niche link building

As mentioned above, I would use outreach to some extent. I’d find link prospects through keyword research in Ahrefs. I’d also put my competitors’ sites in to analyse their link profiles.

I’d use HARO for niche websites as well and reviews of tools or products. Niche sites are great to build link building partnerships with others in different countries or areas.

Really, creating journalist stories is excellent for this as well, especially if you are the only one willing to do it in your niche industry. You’ll skyrocket your link building.

Best Link Building Tools

Of course, now we need to run through what are the best tools for link building. Well, I’ve actually done another more complete article on this here. But for now, I’ll just cover the basic tools that you can use effectively for link building.


This tool is amazing for finding link prospects, viewing competitors link profiles and finding keyword gaps or keywords to create content around specifically for link building. It’s also great for optimising anchor text and internal links.

ahrefs backlinking tool


Similar to Ahrefs, SEMRush enables users to conduct a competitive analysis to see where rivals are earning their backlinks, identify potential link sources, and evaluate the quality of these prospects. I love their spam feature as well, to identify spam backlinks. 


ScreamingFrog is primarily an SEO crawling tool, but it can be instrumental in link building efforts by auditing your own site to find broken links (which can be replaced with valuable content) and mapping out your site’s existing link structure.

screamingfrog external links report

Roxhill Media

Roxhill Media is probably the best PR and media database tool in the market right now. It’s extremely useful for link building through press and media outreach. It allows you to identify journalists and publications within your niche, get their contact details and pitch your story.

Featured / HARO

Featured seems to be performing better for me than HARO. However, HARO likely has higher domain authority websites as it’s more popular and well known. These seem to be the best two tools I use to connect and answer queries to land a link to my homepage. 

featured link building tool for journalists


I love Lemlist! It’s an amazing tool for email outreach. It has a feature called Lemwarm which even warms your email accounts to prevent them from landing in spam. It’s awesome. This is probably the best outreach tool I’ve found automating and scaling your outreach.


Hunter.io is my go too tool for finding email addresses for my link prospecting. Although it might be more expensive, I’ve found that it does a better job at finding more email addresses that don’t bounce and are going to go through.

hunter tool for finding emails for link building


Amazing software for LinkedIn outreach for link building. It’s seriously impressive what I can do with this tool such as view profiles, connect, and finally start a sequence of reaching out. It’s a must-have tool for automating your LinkedIn link building efforts.

Real Examples Of Parasite SEO

Now onto the best practices in link building. This can range between doing good, white hat link building or focusing on doing black hat link building. I’ve seen both work, and many people argue for both.

The truth is, Google wants you to go to white hat because if everyone did black hat link building, it would mess up their algorithm. With that being said, I’m going to be sharing the best and worst practices in link building.

White hat link building

White hat link building is the practice of acquiring backlinks ethically and in accordance with search engine guidelines. It focuses on creating high-quality, relevant content that naturally attracts links from reputable websites. This approach is sustainable and aims to build a strong, long-term foundation for your website’s SEO.

Here’s some white hat link building best practices:

  • Crafting informative and engaging content that naturally encourages other sites to link back.
  • Participating in guest blogging with well-respected industry websites.
  • Building relationships with influencers and industry leaders to earn mentions and links.
  • Utilising broken link building by replacing dead links on other sites with active links to relevant content on your own site.
  • Creating infographics or research studies that provide value and are likely to be shared and linked to.

Black hat link building

Black hat link building, on the other hand, involves practices that violate search engine guidelines. These can include buying links, participating in link farms, or using automated programs to create links. 

Here’s a list of black hat practices to try and avoid;

  • Purchasing backlinks from link farms or through other transactional means.
  • Engaging in link exchanges that are solely for the purpose of cross-linking irrespective of content relevance.
  • Using automated programs or bots to create links across various platforms.
  • Implementing hidden links or sneaky redirects that deceive users and search engines.
  • Spinning content or using duplicate content across different sites to create multiple backlinks.
spammy link farm list example

The Importance of Link Building in SEO

Well, based on SEMRush 2024 study of ranking factors, link building is still in the top 10. We all know as well, link building means a lot. And now that content can be easily created with AI, link building may become more important.

Not only does it help users on their research in topics, but it also helps search engines navigate across topics and sites to understand their relevance, helpfulness and overall rankings in the search results.

From my perspective, link building should be approached as a means to enhance your website’s authority and to signal to search engines that your content is valuable, credible, and worth ranking highly.

If your SEO strategy does not contain link building, you may struggle to see effective rankings over time. In fact, you may just be publishing and praying…

Benefits of link building

Link building in SEO offers a multitude of benefits that can significantly enhance your website’s performance and visibility. Here are some key advantages:

  • Improved search engine rankings: Quality backlinks from authoritative sites signal to search engines that your content is valuable, which can boost your rankings.

  • Increased website traffic: Strategic link building can drive more organic traffic to your site, as links from high-traffic websites can lead their visitors to you.

  • Enhanced website Authority: Links from reputable sources can increase your site’s authority, making it more trustworthy in the eyes of search engines and users.

  • Long-term SEO value: Unlike some SEO tactics that may fluctuate with algorithm changes, the benefits of a strong link profile tend to provide enduring value.

  • Better visibility and Exposure: Being linked to from various sources can increase your brand’s visibility and exposure to potential customers.

  • Referral traffic: Aside from search engine traffic, backlinks can also bring in users who click on those links directly, leading to higher referral traffic.

  • Networking opportunities: The process of link building often involves reaching out and connecting with other industry players, which can lead to valuable partnerships.

  • Competitive edge: A robust link profile can give you an edge over competitors by positioning your website as a leader in your niche.

  • Increased credibility: When other credible sites link to you, it can enhance your own credibility, as users perceive recommended sources as more trustworthy.

  • Support for other marketing efforts: Link building can complement and amplify other digital marketing strategies, such as content marketing and social media efforts.

How Search Engines Evaluate Links

Firstly, search engines assign trust and authority scores to websites based on the link profile. That means the more natural and high quality your link profile is, the more trustworthy your site. This is especially important for link building to know only to go for high quality links.

Now, search engines also use sophisticated link analysis algorithms, with Google’s PageRank being one of the most famous examples. This shows the importance of link building within the overall rankings in search engine algorithms.

These algorithms have evolved to distinguish between natural linking patterns and those that appear manipulative or unnatural. Be aware in link building that search engines can easily pick up the rates at which a site acquires links, the diversity of linking domains, the anchor text distribution.

Beyond just analysing the link itself, algorithms now understand the context around the link. This has been a big move at Google as well. This involves semantic analysis to evaluate how the content of the linking page relates to the content of the linked page.

So overall, the search engines understand link building probably better than we do. This just goes to show the importance of link building in SEO and when you can understand how search engines read links, you can get better at building them.

Metrics To Track In Link Building

If you are doing link building or looking to start, then here’s some metrics I also focus on tracking to get the best quality links and seeing what type of impact link building actually has on my SEO.

Domain rating

Domain rating is a metric that reflects the strength of a website’s backlink profile compared to others in a ranking system. It’s crucial to aim for links from high domain rating sites, as they pass more authority to your site. Make sure you are tracking your own domain rating increase as well. 

domain rating metric in ahrefs

Website traffic

Monitoring the traffic from the website that you are trying to get links from is also important. It’s not just about the number of backlinks but the quality of traffic they bring. You want to get traffic from a backlink, and make sure their site is favoured by Google. This can indicate its relevance and value in link building.

Anchor text

It’s important to use natural, varied anchor text that aligns with your SEO keywords without being overly repetitive or spammy. Track and test which anchor text is working best for your link building and optimise this as you continue to build links. 

No. of backlinks

While the sheer number of backlinks is a factor, it’s the quality that truly matters. A few high-quality backlinks can be more beneficial than numerous low-quality ones. With that being said, ensure you are tracking the quality of your links and only try to build links from high quality sources.

ahrefs backlinking tool

Do follow links

‘Do follow’ links are the ones that pass on link equity and are valuable in SEO. Tracking the ratio of ‘do follow’ versus ‘no follow’ links is important, as ‘do follow’ links are generally more beneficial for improving your search rankings. Aim for do follow links instead of no follow links for better results.

Page traffic

Analyse the traffic to the specific pages that are being linked to. High page traffic from backlinks can indicate that those links are effective and that the content is engaging for the audience. Also, it’s a great metric to track in link building to see what difference it actually makes.

Link placement

The placement of a link on a page affects its potential to drive traffic. Ideally, links should be placed within the main content body rather than in footers or sidebars, as they tend to carry more weight in terms of SEO value.


So there you have it. Everything there is to know about link building. This is a big old article so hopefully you all find it helpful. In conclusion, link building is a pivotal SEO tactic involving the acquisition of hyperlinks from other sites to your own.

Search engines use links as signals to rank your content and link building is essential for boosting your site’s authority and visibility.

By employing the link building strategies I’ve mentioned above, and focusing on creating high-quality, shareable content, you can effectively enhance your link profile.

Still coming into 2024, link building plays a very crucial role in SEO as a whole. Don’t forget it, learn to master this skill and grow your website to be bigger than anyone elses.

Please share your thoughts in the comments below, and if you have any questions I’ll get back to you as quickly as possible.


About The Author

George Panayides is a digital marketing specialist, focusing on SEO, Google ads, Social media marketing, website development and link building. He’s looking to help other freelancers or business owners become a master in their industry and move towards a better, more successful future.

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Hey, it's George. I'm giving away my marketing secrets (because apparently, I'm just that nice 🙄). You can thank me by linking to my content ha ha.

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