Link Building Guide: When You Have No Links

Link building. The majority of the strategies below are cleanup strategies that will last for only a few months, but then you'll be back to the drawing board. Coming up with an evergreen asset that can continue to build links and provide value (and revenue) in the long run should be your goal. That being said, cleanup and gain incremental value with some of the ideas in this link building guide & get that low hanging fruit.

Moz Link Explorer:

Need to know where your competitors are all getting links without you? Moz Link Explorer will compare four competitors against your site. You'll see where you and your competitors both have links, but you'll also see where you're left out.


Find the technology behind the site you're optimizing, then go out and see if those sites have customer testimonials, case studies, or customer lists where you can gain a link. Go out and participate in a case study (if you want to do RCS) or just look for the easy testimonial or customer link, which is probably less valuable in the long run.

Give That List To Me:

If you want a list of companies that already to this, I've compiled that for you. I'm alright sharing this because most of these companies have software/solutions that can cost several thousand a year, so spamming them without being a customer will fall upon deaf ears.

Here is that list. 80+.

Post Jobs & Internships:

Lower quality links with a short lifespan will come of this strategy, but you can post your open job/position on sites that will link back. I would not expect to see a lift from this unless you post to industry specific sites.

This should not be your only strategy to get links as gaining 50 links with the word "job" in the URL could set off some alarms if your site doesn't already have a lot of LRD. Speaking of jobs.


Pull Social Following Links:

Pull the backlinks of your social profiles. This could be Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, go so far as checking GlassDoor. Are sites linking to your social profile and not your main site? Sounds like some opportunities.

Alumni Links:

Find where your client went to school. Find the schools of as many alumni as possible who are willing to do a short interview. Once you have that list, start picking off each school by searching for their alumni section. It might be an alumni spotlight, alumni stories, alumni notes, alumni news, alumni promotions, etc.

Image Stalking:

Start with your logo and throw that into ImageRaider. Let that software do the rest. It will alert you when it finds your logo on another site AND tell you if it's linking to you. Best part of ImageRaider - it's free (limited use.) If you have a number of product images, infographics, bio headshots, you might need a paid account.

One note when you reach out - be nice. It's surprising when you contact a site using your image and you THANK THEM for using the image, then ask if they can credit your website. 4/5 will give you a link, the other will post your site without the link. Don't be too aggressive.

Create A Bio Page:

If your company is vocal at all, there's probably a C level person who is mentioned across news outlets or blogs. When you build them a bio page (with real information that's valuable to someone looking for them), you're able to have that referenced for linking instead of a wikipedia page, Facebook page, Twitter handle, etc. Wikipedia, Facebook, and Twitter don't need any more links, you need that value.

One example I've highlighted previously is Adam Audette's profile page. It ranks second for his name (below Twitter) and has 29 domains linking to it.

Rebranding Linking:

It's likely that your logo has been rebranded at some point in the last 5-10 years. This is an immediate ice breaker to get back in touch with something of value to a site that has used your logo previously. You'll be doing two things; first, you'll be getting on the good side of strict marketing folk at your company by making sure branding is one cohesive message/logo. Second, you'll be emailing the new logo and then pitching the latest news, an interview, a guest post (yes, guest post. See below), or an update on whatever they last covered. That logo is your in.

Guest Posting:

This shouldn't be your only strategy. This shouldn't be half or a third or a quarter of your strategy. You shouldn't ask for a "Adam Melson works for SEER Interactive, an SEO Agency providing SEO Services for people looking for SEO in Philadelphia and beyond!" bio, either. Really sad anchor text with really sad links.

Start by providing value. No one will want to read your article and Google will probably pass little to no value to you if the site you're guest posting on doesn't get shared via links, doesn't have social shares, and is just SEO copy with zero interactions.

Find Old Properties:

I like to use either ahrefs or WebStatsDomain to find sites redirect (302 or 301) to my clients. These sites may be 302 redirecting, they might all 301 redirect to a single page, they might have left some pages out of the redirect process that were valuable. Link reclamation can be one of the easiest ways to pass on some value to your site.

One item to check - are there any sites redirecting to the sites redirecting to your site? The larger the company, the more likely there are daisy chain redirects occurring. They could also be expiring and no one is directly responsible for them. An old daisy-chained site could expire, the redirect value is lost, and suddenly you have no idea why there is a traffic drop.

Build An Asset With Links Already Seeded:

The title sounds shifty, but you want to build an asset that upon launch, already has people ready to share it. Go grab your follower bios via Followerwonk. Export them, drop the content into a tagcloud. You might find that your followers have your main interests prominently displayed in this cloud, but you will notice fringe topics and those are key. If we took the first 5000 followers of @seerinteractive, I'd find that there are some large tags like SEO, Google, and Search. I'll also see there are smaller, but critical, tags that say Mother, Family, Mom, Mommy. Could we create a post asking how to balance working and being a great mom? (Disclaimer: don't read into that, some of the most strong and successful moms I know are stay-at-home. This is just an example.)

It seems like there's a full audience to tap into to get their advice. SEER doesn't have to cater 100% of our blog posts to an SEO/PPC/Analytics market, we can also cater to a very tangible issue of balancing work and kids. We can create that article with the opinions of our followers, then highlight them. Be careful not to try and make this egobait, but make a useful post that shows how people solve a very real issue.

Contact Your Old Referrals:

I wrote a post about this here, but you'll basically find out who sent traffic to you in 2011 and didn't in 2012. Who sent traffic in 2012 that didn't send any in 2013? You can pull data out of GA from both years, compare referral traffic where there's a 100% drop off, then sort by what sent traffic + converted. Then go back to your trusty outreach to reconnect. WARNING - do a site: search on their site for your brand. I almost did outreach to a site that had an unreasonable distaste for a client. Contacting them would have prompted a post on their site and hurt our relationship. Go in with the expectation that for every 50 site that aren't sending traffic anymore, one of them might just not like your client. You can leave them off your outreach.

You might also find that this won't work well if you've issued a ton of coupon codes or have a large affiliate base. If those don't fit you, this could dig up some gems.

Did We Sponsor That?:

If you have a number of branches or franchises, this issue will absolutely come up. Use the Google "Search This Image" addon, right click your logo and search. Now, replace that with the word sponsors or donors or partners etc. Here's an example with TD Bank. It is shocking how many sites have forgotten to add a link to your logo OR have linked your logo accidentally to another website. Shocking. Go out and find where events that your company is sponsoring or companies where you are a partner and not getting credit.

If you want to do this even faster, use Outwit to scrape those results and drop them into Screaming Frog. From there, use the "Does Not Contain" and put in your website. Now you have a list of all the search results that don't contain your URL. If you want to find out really smart ways to use the software, go check out Aichlee's Screaming Frog post. It. Is. Intense.

Last One. Misspellings:

If you're a larger site, go find the versions of your site that are misspelled. You could find some nice surprises of links pointing to a non-existent site. Three tips here:

1. Look at different extensions of your site. That includes .co (for the actual .co TLD and for people who forgot the "m"), .net, .org, etc. 2. Additional letters and hyphens 3. Forgetting letters. The longer your domain, the more likely someone left a letter out.

I'll be updating this to make it a true link building guide vs 14 points. Will update once 3 or more are compiled. Would love to hear any suggestions you have as well!

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Adam Melson
Adam Melson
Assoc. Director, Business Strategy