Link acquisition and link building are terms that are used interchangeably. Simply put, done correctly, link acquisition is an ever-evolving process that involves obtaining external links to your website from other credible sources while adhering to Google’s guidelines to avoid penalties.

Gaining credible backlinks is a crucial aspect of SEO. Implementing an effective link acquisition strategy can improve your visibility across search engines, drive referral traffic, and boost your online presence.

So, let’s find out how it’s done.

Understanding Link Quality

While some links boost your website’s reputation, some can ruin its credibility, so you must stay aware and learn how to identify them.

Different elements of a backlink determine whether it is of good quality or not. Quality is also relative. What you’d consider a ‘good’ link for one site’s content would be ‘excellent’ for another site. 

We’ll talk about this in a bit. 

To begin with, Google’s search Quality Rater guidelines assess Google search results for content quality, authority, and relevance to ensure users receive accurate, non-misleading content.

According to these guidelines, Google independently calculates EEAT— experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness — to evaluate content authority.

  • Experience is where the author writing the content has firsthand or life experience on the topic.
  • Expertise focuses primarily on content with high-level knowledge and is written by a subject matter expert in a specific field. For example, YMYL topics such as medicine, law, finance, etc., require format expertise from an industry professional.
  • Authoritativeness covers the reputation the website has garnered among other industry experts and influences, which means the evaluators will search the web for other authoritative websites or experts backing your content for its credibility.
  • Transparency, accuracy, and legitimacy comprise the evaluating factors of Trustworthiness. This includes the location and time of the published content, contact information, content relevancy, and citation of credible sources from a website.

Many don’t pay attention to these rules and create generic content to build links, which can hamper a website’s progress. So before you start building links to your content, make sure it’s helpful to users.

Now, here’s how you identify good and bad links:

Identifying Good Backlinks

Link building boosts your brand’s online credibility by associating your website with other leading websites in your industry. For these links to matter, they must come from high quality domains. 

Good-quality websites follow search engine guidelines, have decent authority levels, and share niche-relevant content, which means backlinks from such sites are also high quality and significantly improve your website’s ranking.

There are common characteristics of a high quality links and they can be any (or all) of the following:

  • High-authority.
  • Well-optimized, niche-relevant websites.
  • Referring domains that have “real” traffic, which means it’s not just a content dump to manipulate search engines, or a site made to rank for junk keywords like torrents, adult terms or other irrelevant and low-value terms.
  • Sites with high-standard, tightly industry-related content, that offers genuine advice to their readers – not spammy content with mixed categories like technology, business, fashion, etc.
  • A website with good editorial standards that links to other good quality sites contextually – rather than a site made only for selling links (i.e. a link farm)

TLG takes pride in strictly using white-hat techniques to ensure Google loves the websites we work on. If you want to boost your backlink profile with healthy links, look no further than us!

Identifying Bad Backlinks

Everyone wants as many external links as possible to maximize their SEO efforts. However, links received through black-hat practices pose a threat to your site.

Resorting to black-hat techniques can bring in large amounts of links, which is why many consider this option. For short-term goals, these unnatural links may boost your backlink profile, but they are low value and don’t have any positive effects in the long run. They could also potentially harm your website’s rankings.

While the link still adds to your overall number, it is a short-term win that will get you in trouble because Google will detect spammy links and content.

Here are a few common traits of bad backlinks you must watch out for:

  • Over-optimized sites with spammy keywords and anchor texts or keyword/link stuffing developed only to manipulate search engines and SEO.
  • Spam comments on blogs just to insert backlinks; these are usually irrelevant or repetitive
  • Spammy links that come from syndicated content or some kind of automated link building method. While it won’t always cause immediate, immense damage to your SEO, it can be a negative ranking factor, due to it looking unnatural.

The Only 3 Ways For Link Acquisition That Matter

Link acquisition is possible through three broad categories: manual outreach, digital PR, and link earning.

Here is a brief summary of what each of these means:

Manual Outreach

Manual outreach for link building involves contacting authoritative websites, bloggers, or influencers to give your website a relevant backlink.

Start by ensuring that you have content that offers comprehensive and topical expertise insights that make people want to link to it. The next step is to identify high-quality web pages using Google Search, social media, or other tools or scraping methods, to collect relevant lists of sites.

Once you find the right websites, you should manually contact them (or via semi-automated tools) using personalized emails that explain necessary details concisely and clearly, stating your request for a backlink without sounding spammy.

Some examples of manual outreach used to get links include requests for resource pages, broken link building, guest posting, and tactics that leverage competitor backlink analysis. We have elaborated on these below.

Digital PR

Digital PR differs from traditional PR because it solely deals with online platforms for bloggers, journalists, podcasters, YouTubers, industry publications, etc.

It increases your brand awareness and credibility and results in backlinks from authoritative sites. However, its direct focus is on gaining social and online media coverage, which indirectly helps with your link-building efforts.

The process involves identifying your objectives, understanding the audience and competition, creating newsworthy content, developing strategies to get backlinks, and measuring and monitoring your results.

Some examples of digital PR include data-driven and high-quality case studies, opinion pieces, influencer outreach, guest posting, and more, which we elaborate on further in this article.

Link Earning

Contrary to traditional link building, link earning is a high-quality, natural link acquisition technique that involves creating valuable, trustworthy content (or linkable assets) that are self-promotional and passively acquire links.

Its passivity is because this content has original research, data analysis, actionable insights, and in-depth expertise. It aims to provide accurate information that does not resemble an advert promoting products or services.

This method of link acquisition is one of the safest as far as Google’s guidelines are concerned because you genuinely earn links with compelling content – although it does have the disadvantage that you lose some element of control over the velocity of link acquisition, or being able to build links from specific sectors.

Some content that can naturally earn links include original research, interviews, building free tools, visual content, trending topics, and interactive assets.

10 Effective Link Acquisition Techniques in 2024

Guest Posting

If you’re looking to improve your online presence while receiving valuable backlinks, guest posting is a great option; all you have to do is write a high-quality article, publish it on relevant websites within your industry, and naturally place a link back to your site. These backlinks must be helpful to the readers and contextual to the piece you’ve written.

How To Implement This Strategy?

  1. Find relevant high-authority blogs using tools like Ahrefs or Moz’s Site Explorer.
  2. Prospect relevant websites, and send outreach. Include content ideas that will resonate and be useful to the host blog’s audience, and explain why you/your brand is suited to write it.
  3. Ask for the website’s editorial guidelines to ensure your article is accepted.
  4. You can build and maintain relationships with these blogs for future opportunities, and also do future outreach campaigns based on the sectors that responded well.
  5. You can also track the impact of your guest post with Google Analytics.

Broken Link Building

There are countless numbers of broken links out there, and you can take advantage of them by finding ones with similar content to yours. As usual, ensure the website is relevant before you approach it to use your resources to replace the broken links. While this technique may take some elbow grease, it can boost your SEO and network within your industry.

How To Implement This Strategy?

  1. Find broken links within relevant sites using the site audit feature offered by Semrush, or the Broken Backlinks feature in Ahrefs. Or like the screenshot above, you can use plugins like “Check My Links”, to manually find links within resources at the prospecting level.
  2. Identify your content related to the broken link or create content that can replace it.
  3. Craft concise, informative, and helpful outreach emails to share your resource suggestions with the site owners.
  4. Be consistent with follow-ups, but don’t overdo it and come off pushy.
  5. Once you receive a live link, monitor it and check the results of your broken link building efforts. Some may link to you without informing you, so keep an eye out for those as well.

Content Marketing

Link acquisition through content marketing may be lengthy, but it can yield high-quality backlinks. Once you identify trending topics in your industry, choose your preferred content format and create your piece. After that, you can promote this content across different platforms to gain exposure and build links.

How To Implement This Strategy?

  1. Start by doing a Google search of the topics you can write about based on your expertise and finding the top-ranking articles.
  2. Use the backlink analysis feature (from Semrush or Ahrefs) to find at least the top ten articles with the most number of high-authority links pointing to them.
  3. Watch out for highly shared content from blogs that display the number of times their article has been shared on different social platforms.
  4. Create guides, round-ups, surveys, etc., based on your insights into what the audience likes to read and what you can best offer.
  5. The next step is to promote this content on social media.
  6. Now, you can approach relevant websites with your content and request relevant backlinks. You can do this with strategies like broken link building, resource page links, resource links, etc.

Competitor Backlink Analysis

This method involves examining your competitors’ backlinks to understand where they acquire links. It helps you identify high-quality, relevant, and reputable sites that may mention your website link. You can also examine your competitors’ backlink profiles to incorporate strategies that work for them in your link acquisition campaign.

How To Implement This Strategy?

  1. Conduct a competitor backlink analysis using Ahrefs, SEMrush, or Majestic.
  2. These tools also provide website metrics, so use this feature to identify high-quality link sources among your competitors’ links, and cut through the noise created by low quality/junk links.
  3. When you find good links, analyze the context of the competitor’s backlink and try to extrapolate a strategy based on the ‘link pattern.’ Repeat this process until you find a bunch of strategies to test.
  4. Create personalized emails based around each strategy you identified in number 3.
  5. Constantly monitor changes in your competitors’ backlink profiles to receive regular insights about their practices.
  6. You can use this to develop all-inclusive strategies, learn from their mistakes (for instance, content they created which lacks any backlinks), and avoid repeating them in your link building campaign.

Resource Page Link Building

Approaching an authoritative site with niche-specific resource pages is a fantastic way to gain high-quality links. These resource pages are a collection of useful links, guides, or tools within a specific industry. If you have valuable content that applies to their page, you can find relevant resource pages willing to link to your site. This way, you’re also contributing to the target audience’s needs on other websites.

How To Implement This Strategy?

  1. Conduct a Google search of niche-specific terms like “keyword + inurl:resources,” “keyword + inurl:useful links,” “Keyword inurl: useful resources,” “Keyword intitle:links,” links, etc.
  2. Check the results to find websites with resources that align with your content and fall within your expertise; your resource must be useful to the audience.
  3. In a concise email, explain why the site owners should consider including your link.
  4. If you are still waiting for a response, follow up, maybe 2, but respect their decision if they don’t accept your resource.
  5. For the ones that agree, go back and prospect more of these types of resource pages and repeat the process.

Image Link Building

No one can deny that visuals are the most creative way to attract a target audience. Image link building is a method for acquiring links using attention-grabbing visual content such as illustrations, photographs, and infographics. If other websites find your imagery valuable, they’ll use it in their content and credit you. This way, you’re earning more backlinks and boosting your link profile, capturing the attention of search engines as well.

How To Implement This Strategy?

  1. Create engaging and useful visual content with the help of tools like Adobe Spark or Canva – or your brand may own copyright on professional looking photos.
  2. Share these images on platforms like Creative Commons or Flickr. This will naturally earn some links as people find them.
  3. Find websites that share similar content or could benefit from your images. Contact them with your image and its relevance to their content and ask for a credit link in exchange for using the image.
  4. You can also monitor the images you create using Google Reverse Image Search to identify unauthorized use of your images, where they haven’t credited you. Use this information to track these websites and ask for image credits.
  5. Although fairly new, you can also collaborate with influencers to create visual content and spread awareness about your brand to a large audience.

Local SEO Link Building

Local businesses can also benefit from local SEO link building. This drives regional traffic to their products or services and boosts rankings for local search terms. It’s safe to assume that some local sites may not give you backlinks due to competition, but there are ways in which many would be more than happy to direct more organic traffic to your website in return for the same.

How To Implement This Strategy?

  1. Create a Google My Business (GMB) account and enter your profile details to appear on Google Maps, local search results, and Google Search Knowledge Panel.
  2. Ensure your website’s UI/UX is well-optimized for smartphone use. Most local searches involve “near me” queries made via phone.
  3. Ask customers to leave reviews of their experience with your product or services and respond to them in a professional tone.
  4. Make a list of other local websites in your niche. For example, local news channels, charity platforms, community forums, business groups, influencers, bloggers, tourist websites, supplier websites, etc.
  5. Treat each opportunity individually, and do not send out uncustomized emails. Remember that these professionals are around you, and personalizing your pitches will help build a connection and improve your network.
  6. Partner with them to host events, launch fundraisers, offer reviews, or even sponsor local sports teams to build your brand awareness.
  7. Once the collaboration is finalized, you can create content surrounding it to inform your audience, and both parties involved can publish it on their websites with a backlink.

The Acquisition Method

The link acquisition method involves building links using a 301 redirect, which signals to browsers and search engines that a webpage has permanently moved to a new location. “301” is the HTTP status code for this redirection type. 

This is a powerful way of maintaining a strong backlink profile because it transfers link equity and link juice by preserving the backlinks from the redirected website to yours. You can utilize 301 redirects in different ways, but since it’s still a grey area in Google’s eyes, it’s important to use this strategy correctly and with caution.

How To Implement This Strategy? 

  1. You can either buy a domain or find an expired one and redirect that entire domain to your site or point specific pages at relevant pages on your site.
  2. Check the backlink profile of these domains or web pages to identify any toxic links from spammy or low-quality sites that can harm your site’s rankings.
  3. Next, you should run a check to see if the website has been penalized by Google. Look for algorithm updates or manual actions that can affect the redirecting site.
  4. After all the checks, it’s time to set up the redirect. To do that, you should start by buying a cheap website hosting plan and installing WordPress.
  5. Go to the cPanel (software provided by the hosting platform), locate the file called htaccess in the public_html folder, and edit the file by using the following:

Redirect 301 /oldpage.html to http://www.example.com/newpage.html 

Save the changes, and your redirection is successful.

  1. For those who are less tech-savvy, you can use a dedicated WordPress plugin for redirection that automatically performs these steps for you. However, ensure that all the redirects have the 301 code.
  2. Lastly, you should verify the redirects with a specialized tool called Redirect Checker; type in the “old” expired domain URL, and when you see the “301 Moved Permanently” notification, it means the redirect is successful.
  3. You can also use Ahrefs to check expired domain backlinks and look for the 301 redirect tag.

For example, Backlinko.com bought a single webpage about “Link Building Strategies” from Pointblankseo.com and then redirected that specific page to the relevant page on their website. Here, instead of buying the entire website, they bought a 301 redirect slot from them, especially since it’s the same as their article, and the old webpage probably was an asset with decent traffic and links.

The old webpage: http://pointblankseo.com/link-building-strategies

Redirected to: https://backlinko.com/link-building-strategies

Brand Mentions

Brand mentions follow a similar method to tracking down unauthorized image use. You must identify websites mentioning your brand without a link back to your site and request they include a clickable backlink. This is a subtle but impactful way of link acquisition that also shows your website’s credibility.

How To Implement This Strategy?

  1. With the help of tools like Google Alerts or Mention, you can set up alerts that notify you about your brand mentions.
  2. When choosing sites with unlinked brand mentions, focus on ones that have mentioned you with a relevant and positive context.
  3. Be sure to politely ask the site owners to include your link in the mention and maintain the relationship for potential collaborations in the future.
  4. As you acquire links, keep track of your brand’s online reputation to identify new opportunities for mentions.

Research Papers and Data Studies

One of the most sophisticated approaches to acquiring links and improving your site’s authority is to publish industry white papers or data studies. This is because you’re conducting detailed research to create content that offers a comprehensive analysis and in-depth insight into a specific topic, which in return will attract high-quality links from industry-specific sites, or even digital PR coverage in top tier publications.

How To Implement This Strategy?

  1. Select a topic based on your area of expertise, the lack of information on a subject, or to fill the gaps in existing research with new perspectives.
  2. While conducting your research or gathering data for case studies, keep it thorough and well-documented. Ensure to conclude it with actionable insights.
  3. Publish the case study or research paper on your website, and if suitable – platforms like Google Scholar or ResearchGate.
  4. Use social media and professional networks like LinkedIn to promote your research and help it gain visibility.
  5. Reach out to editors or writers at editorials in your industry (or related sectors) and show them your study. For added credibility, make sure you give them access to the data so they can see your methodology. If its something suitable for the general public, then you may find it suitable for mass media, and that can help you secure coverage in higher volume.

At TLG, we have in-depth expertise in different link acquisition techniques and only use the ones that produce high-quality results for your website. Why not see for yourself by opting for our services?

Advanced Considerations for Link Acquisition Strategy

As discussed above, creating content that compels people to link to it, is a very effective method of link acquisition. 

These are creative but 100% white hat link acquisition practices that most may overlook, but the pros will support

Build Free Tools

We have all used online tools like meal planners, template generators, and calculators. Did you know you can build links and generate new leads by creating one yourself?

Start by doing keyword research using “tools,” “templates,” or “generator,” and finding what type of tools appear for your industry. Identify the top 10 search results and check which has the most backlinks.

Your job is to use your expertise and build something similar; try to make it way better in terms of design, user interface, customization, filters, etc. For example, if you’re a financial expert, you can create calculators for interest rates, eligibility, credit scores, and more for your website as long as you have the professional knowledge to make them. Here’s an example of a calculator aimed at the ecommerce sector below.

You will gradually find people appreciate linkable assets and credit you for creating them. You can also proactively send outreach emails to websites that will benefit from mentioning your tool, especially resource pages.

Get Mentions In Listicles:

Consumers love “10 Best XYZ” articles because they offer many options and comparisons of products, movies, restaurants, etc. You can also get your spot among these list mentions.

Conduct a simple Google search for popular listicles or round-ups in your industry. Collect the most relevant and authoritative prospects based on their DA/DR, healthy link profile, referral traffic, spam score, and other metrics.

Once you have this information, create a short pitch to the editor explaining why your backlink deserves a mention in their article and how it can help their readers. Be concise and persuasive, and customize the details to make your request stand out.

Offer Info For Other Publishers

If you’re an industry expert that can offer very nuanced advice or have access to unique data that isn’t accessible elsewhere, you can become a source for journalists and bloggers.

However, these writers receive hundreds of requests, so you must impress them with your ideas. One of the best ways to do this is through HARO (soon to be Connectively), which is a service that connects credible journalists by updating you with their writing queries.

You can pick one that resonates more with your brand and respond to it with your pitch or article. If you’re selected, the journalist will let you know. This way, you’ll get quality links from high-DA websites and build relationships in your industry.

Publish Comprehensive Guides

Emphasizing the “comprehensive” aspect of these guides, they’re mentioned to provide all the information about a specific topic in one article so the reader doesn’t have to go elsewhere to find out about the subject.

Guides work well for backlinking opportunities because they explain complex topics. This means that whenever another blogger or journalist mentions a concept, they can link to your guide as a reference and for more context.

For example, an article about “Top CRM Software in 2024” lists HubSpot CRM as one of the options. The article title suggests its purpose is only to inform readers about the available options, not teach them how to use them. Instead, the writer can link to a “Getting Started With HubSpot” guide in their article.

So, if you create an all-inclusive guide covering everything about a topic with research-backed information, you can receive a backlink.

This also works really well, if you can create a guide aimed at a specific audience, that you know is particularly responsive and likely to link to you. Angle a resource aimed at that audience, and then reach out to sites in that sector. Here’s an example about animal charities that picked up a lot of links. 

Update Old Content

If you come across outdated research or articles, find out how many backlinks point to those pages, and if you see that it has an abundance of them, you’ve hit the jackpot.

The key is to find an outdated article within your industry to use your expertise that can provide a better and more up-to-date version of it. Write a fresh piece on that topic and publish it on your website.

Once the content is live, contact the referring domains of the outdated articles and inform them about your updated articles. If they like it, you’ll get a good backlink. They might even want to collaborate on other projects if they like your work.

8 Tools and Resources for Link Acquisition

Acquiring links requires extensive data research to identify good sites from bad ones, which means calculating different metrics. Sounds complex.

Several link-building tools provide end-to-end services, such as website analysis, outreach, and link prospecting, to relieve you of these daunting manual tasks.

Here is our curated list of the only tools you’ll keep to support your link building efforts:

  • Ahrefs: As an all-around SEO tool, Ahrefs offers numerous features to help you find healthy linking opportunities. Some of its prominent functions include checking competitor backlinks. You can see which pages attract the most links, view specific domains, and find websites that link to your competitors but not you.
  • Semrush: With features similar to those of Ahrefs and Moz, Semrush also offers all-inclusive SEO features. Some of their advanced features for building links include backlink analytics, backlink audit, and link-building tools. With these, you can compare backlink profiles, collect high-quality link building opportunities, and monitor your backlink profile.
  • Majestic: Majorly used for backlink monitoring, Majestic offers extensive “link intelligence” by crawling and mapping the web. It gives you an overview of what’s going on with your backlinks and has a massive database of URLs to help you compare your SEO performance. You also have access to metrics such as trust and citation flow to identify the quality and quantity of your links.
  • Pitchbox: Once you find relevant contacts and email addresses of your target websites, you can launch large-scale outreach campaigns using highly personalized emails to approach your targets. You can also schedule follow-up emails and track the metrics by checking the email pipeline for each target. Pitchbox also keeps track of every single metric and can be integrated with essential software such as Ahrefs, Majestic, Moz, and more.
  • Moz: With its wide range of features, you can perform keyword research, competitor analysis, website checks, and find spam scores. The Link Explorer tool helps review URLs for low-quality links pointing to your site, and you can also use this to check your competitors’ backlink profiles.
  • Mailshake: Similar to Pitchbox, you can send out outreach campaigns, but what sets Mailshake apart is its pre-made templates, virtual phone dialer for sales outreach, and email copy analysis to improve deliverability and engagement.
  • HARO/Connectively: This platform is used by journalists, especially those working with high authority publications. Sign up as a source on HARO’s website, choose your area of expertise, and you will receive daily emails for relevant requests from writers with a summary of what they want written. Once a writer decides you’re their source, they’ll publish the work, and you get high-quality backlinks.
  • Monitor Backlinks: This software does exactly what its name suggests; its main feature is to monitor and help you manage your website’s backlinks, identify potentially harmful links, and you can use their disavow tool to export a list of them (just keep in mind disavowing/‘toxic links’ comes with many caveats). It also alerts you whenever a site removes your links and tracks your keyword rankings.

An Ethical & Sustainable Approach to Link Acquisition

Link acquisition will constantly evolve as strategies and Google’s guidelines change, and website owners need to stay updated with industry best practices to ensure they’re making the most of their backlinks.

The entire process is a complex mix of multifaceted approaches because sticking to one method will get you nowhere. The techniques mentioned in this article will help you create a healthy backlink profile.

If you’re new to SEO, navigating these waters may confuse you. Thanks to TLG, you don’t have to worry about these complexities; let our experts build safe and healthy links for you.