Regardless of what people say, building up your link profile is a necessary part of your B2B marketing strategy. For most businesses, however, the process of establishing a backlink strategy and then going out and actually getting backlinks can be incredibly daunting.
There is a TON of value in building up your link profile. We attribute a lot of our organic growth to our backlink strategy. In fact we used to have a role here specifically for writing guest posts (8 a week if you can believe it). That’s how much we believe in it.
There are a lot of ways to get backlinks, and some require more work than others. So in this article I’ve tried to break down tactics by three separate categories according to how much effort they’ll entail:
- Outreach (minimal work)
- Submission (some light work)
- Exchange (heaviest amount of work)
I recommend using a nice mix of tactics spread across these three categories. As with most things in life, the links that require the most work are usually the more authoritative, and will have the biggest positive effect on your organic rankings.
So without further ado, let’s dive into the actual tactics. Here are 10 B2B link building tactics you can start implementing today to help get you more backlinks.
Offer a Scholarship
This is a really cool way to give back to students, while also acquiring some high-quality backlinks. Google knows that .edu and .gov URLs are trustworthy and usually highly authoritative (seeing as not anyone can just go out and purchase a .edu or .gov backlink). This is actually a common thing that a lot of businesses do.
All you need to do is create a scholarship page on your site, then create an application form (we did this through Google Forms). From there we hired a data miner from Upwork to find contact info for someone in the Financial Aid office, as well as in the Marketing/Computer Science program, at over 180 universities. For your own scholarship, reach out to whatever field your company works in.
This is a great way to quickly earn links, and can be done in a few hours. All you need to do is build a page, create a form, and send out an email cadence to your list of contacts!
Here’s an example of our scholarship page, and below you can see that we already have 22 links from high-authority sites pointing there, and we’re still acquiring more every week!
Wikipedia is a great way to get high-authority links to relevant blog posts. Essentially, you want to do a quick Google search for relevant keywords. Comb through the Wikipedia page that ranks for your keyword to see if there is any missing information that you’ve touched on or answered in a blog post.
If you haven’t edited a Wikipedia page before, here’s a great guide to get you started. There’s no guarantee that all links will get approved, but as long as your citation adds value to the page, there’s a good chance it stays up!
If your company has a designer (in-house or outsourced, it doesn’t matter), have them create some custom icon packs for your brand. There are a number of different sites that allow you to upload icon packs for download. Just make sure that you tell people to link back to your site somewhere on the page where they use the icons. There’s a good chance that not everyone will do so, but this tactic requires very little work up front (especially if you already have custom icons for your site), so it’s worth it even if only 50% of people who download the icons link back to your site.
Before you just go ahead and upload icons, however, make sure they are actually original and your company owns the rights to them. Here’s a helpful article from Shopify on 12 trusted places to download icon packs – the majority of which also allow you to upload your own!
This is another tactic that doesn’t require much heavy lifting (although it does require some outreach and data mining). Essentially, reclamation is the tactic of going after uncredited brand mentions, either in text or image, and reaching out to ask for a link back to your site.
There are a few ways you can go about this, depending on the amount of time you have. This Ahref’s blog post describes it in detail, but you can do a quick Google search that looks something like this:
“Brand/Company Name” -ownsite.com -twitter.com -facebook.com -google.com
This will pull up any site that mentions your company, and you can manually go through and see which sites are linking back to you and which ones aren’t. Again, this would be a great task for an Upwork freelancer, and you can usually get someone to mine these websites (for brand mentions as well as contact info) for around $8 an hour.
Another way to do this is to set up Google Alerts or another mention monitoring tool to send you an email anytime your brand or company name is cited. This allows you to stay up to date with any brand mentions that aren’t linked back to your site.
The Google Alerts dashboard is super easy to use, and looks like this:
Affiliate Link Building
The final tactic in the “Outreach” category is pretty similar to Brian Dean’s “skyscraper technique.” We like to do it in a slightly different order than Dean’s method though.
After we write any piece of content, we do a quick search for that article’s primary keyword on BuzzStream and find 25 (if possible) articles on that subject. BuzzStream then highlights the authors and you can immediately add them to a “project.” For instance, let’s say we’re using this tactic for an article we wrote about link building. We would create a link building project in BuzzStream, and then add authors who have recently written about link building.
We can filter by articles written in the past month, domain authority, location, categories, etc.
From there we can send out emails – we recommend individual emails for each author, as this increases the likelihood of earning a backlink. Here’s an example of one of our outreach emails, written for a CTA analysis post:
I put this tactic under Outreach (even though it does take some additional data mining work), because a great place to start is through old blog posts. You don’t even have to write new content, but make sure the post you’re trying to earn a backlink to is high-quality and would actually provide value to another site’s readers.
People love sharing infographics (or at least good ones). In fact, HubSpot has written THREE blog posts on how to create awesome, shareable infographics.
Infographics are a great way to scale out “guest blogging” opportunities, while requiring much less work than creating an entirely new guest post for every site you reach out to.
Here’s how to do it. Start off by creating an awesome infographic. Then, just as you would for a guest post, send out an email asking if relevant sites would like to post that infographic (as you have similar audiences, and their readers may find it insightful). You can even offer to write a quick intro paragraph to explain the infographic as well.
This is a lot easier than writing original 2,000-word guest posts, and you still get an awesome backlink from it!
P.S. While these aren’t really infographics, David McSweeney wrote an awesome blog post on using maps to earn backlinks. I highly recommend checking that out!
Let me start by saying that if you are going to use this tactic, your main priority should be providing insight and help to any forum you’re posting to. If your main goal is to plug your own site, you’re going to run into some issues:
- You’ll earn yourself a bad reputation, and pretty soon your answers will be downvoted into oblivion.
- The site moderator may just start deleting your answers.
That being said, forums are still a great place to expand your link profile. A great way to start is just by answering questions on Quora, Reddit, Inbound.org (if you’re in the marketing space), Growth Hackers, etc. Don’t necessarily plug your content in every answer, but build up a following as a helpful contributor.
If you run into a question that can be answered by a recent post you’ve written, go ahead and link to it, but do it naturally. Here’s a great example from Neil Patel, who links to his own blog post in a Quora question asking about how to properly build links on Quora. (Linkception!)
In my opinion, guest blogging is the link building tactic that can have the biggest impact on your organic rankings. As I mentioned, we dedicated an entire employee on our growth team strictly for guest posts.
Much like forum posting though, the goal of guest posting should not be to plug as many links as possible. If you do, you’ll most likely upset the editor, because he/she will have to go through and delete them all while still trying to make the post flow.
Your goal when guest posting should be to share new and innovative tactics.
There are different ways to go about earning guest post opportunities, but I’ll dive into the way we did it here at Directive Consulting. (For an in-depth look at our process, check out this article we published on Moz, where we talk about raising our response rate from 8% to 34% on our blogger outreach emails.)
First, we hired a VA from Upwork to find two different categories of sites. We wanted sites in our industry of digital marketing (such as Moz, WordStream, CrazyEgg, Kissmetrics, etc.), because we knew some of our topics would be a great fit for their audience. We also compiled a list of companies that sponsored a few of the big B2B conferences (since those blogs are most likely what our target audience spends its time reading). We had the VA get the names and emails of the managing editors for these sites.
We then sent out an email at scale (via Pitchbox) with these three main components:
- A background of our writer and area of expertise
- Previous sites we had been published
- Topic suggestions for our guest post (broken down into Primary and Focalized)
Component 1 + 2:
It was super effective for us.
HARO stands for Help a Reporter Out, and it’s a great way to diversify your backlinks across a number of different sites. HARO is used by both writers and contributors. The best part is it’s free to be a contributor. If you sign up to be a contributor, you’ll get three emails a day with a number of different queries that writers are trying to write articles on.
All you need to do is respond to the query with a short paragraph. If the writer likes your contribution, they’ll use it in their post and give you a backlink. Make sure you have an enticing subject line (or something that directly answers their question). These writers get tons of responses, so you need to make sure you can stand out. The below format is simple, concise, and earned us quite a few backlinks!
This last link building tactic is definitely the most expensive. So while it doesn’t necessarily take a whole lot of time or work, I put it in the “exchange” category because you do need to exchange a portion of your budget.
That being said, sponsoring conferences is a great way to earn backlinks from high-authority sites that are incredibly relevant to your industry. Many times, a sponsorship also comes with a free pass to the conference, so it can be a direct lead generator as well (depending on how good you are at networking).
It can be difficult to determine which conferences you should sponsor, but we like to split our sponsorship opportunities into three categories: Local, Industry, and Target Audience. Local sponsorships are a great way to improve your local SEO. Industry conferences are great for building awareness and potential partners. And target audience conferences get your brand and website directly in front of your ideal clients.
Link building takes time, and while it’s usually not the most glamorous job, it can pay massive dividends when it comes to your organic rankings. That being said, you won’t necessarily see the fruits of your labor immediately. But if you’re diligent and consistent with the 10 tactics mentioned above, you will see organic growth.
Now go out there and start getting some links!
About the author
Sean Thomas Martin is the Growth Marketing Manager @ Directive Consulting, an industry thought leader based in Southern California, specializing in a unique blend of SEO, PPC, content, and social.