Before we get started with this post, you need to understand that if you are looking for SEO software that automatically generates backlinks for you for free without you having to do any work, that doesn’t exist.
If it does exist, it is 100% black hat and you will be risking getting banned by Google, not to mention the backlinks you build with a tool like that will be worthless. Not a smart way to grow your startup business.
Let me show you the real backlink generator, or to phrase it better, let me show you how to use these link building tools to generate backlinks for your website on your own.
I’m assuming that if you’re here reading this then content marketing is your main marketing strategy. Most web startups fall into this category.
But building the right backlinks will help you build trust with Google faster and thus your content will rank more quickly.
It will take a little effort but it will save you thousands of dollars and give you long term free traffic.
Not all backlinks are created equal. You need to understand that there are many types of backlinks and so many of them have little to no value.
Let me quickly go through the different types of backlinks and how much SEO value they have and then you will be able to better decide where you should spend your time as you work generating backlinks.
First let me explain one technical term “domain authority” also known as DA. If you’re new to SEO or link building you will see DA all over the place. It is just a scoring system from 1-100 given to a website to show how much SEO authority it has.
Most websites on the internet (outside of spammy sites) have a DA score of 20-40. If you can get links in this range that is good and it will help your rankings. Obviously higher is better.
Links anyone can get
It is in our human nature to try to get backlinks in the easiest way possible. So when we hear of websites that give out links easily we flock to those sites to take advantage, especially if the site has a high DA.
For example, you can go to blogspot.com right now and start a free blog. You can write a few pages about any topic and then in the content of those blog pages you can link to your website. It’s easy, it’s free and blogspot is a DA 80+ site. That’s an amazing backlink right?
Wrong. Google is smart. They know how easy it is to get a backlink from a blogspot blog so unless you build a bunch of backlinks to that new blogspot blog you set up, the one link you get to your website is basically worthless.
And if you’re going to spend time building links to a blogspot blog just so it will pass SEO value to your site, why not skip the blogspot blog and just build all of those links to your own site? It will be exponentially more effective.
Links from social media
People ask me all the time if they place a link to their website on one of their social media accounts if that will help with SEO. The answer is no. It has no value.
Links from spammy sites
Because people in the SEO world have figured out the value of a backlink inside of content, and they know people will pay for them, tens of thousands of websites exist only to sell links in their content.
The content is usually written by someone where English is not their native language and the articles are around 300-500 words.
These websites are adding no real value to the internet and for Google it leaves an obvious footprint that make it easy to devalue these links.
Links from low DA generic sites
We’re now starting to move into the link categories where most of the backlinks live. There are many blogs out there that cover all topics and are legitimately trying to build a blog that has good content and adds value to the internet.
But these are new sites or sites that haven’t built up their Domain Authority. I don’t love these blogs for backlinks but they are better than free sites, spammy sites or social media links.
Links from High DA generic sites
To qualify this, when I say a high DA site I’m referring to something above a DA45. It takes enough work to get to a DA45 that you can trust that the site will pass some SEO value.
But because the blog is a generic blog and doesn’t focus on a single topic, you lose a lot of relevancy which hurts the amount of SEO value you will get from the backlink. It is a more valuable link than the previous four link categories.
Links from low DA relevant sites
For me and my 20+ years of SEO experience, I would say that relevance is the most important factor in determining the value of a backlink. The closer the overall content focus of a website is to the content of your website the more valuable that link will be. Always look for relevance first, then sort the relevant blogs by Domain Authority.
Links from high DA relevant sites
Generating a backlink from a blog that covers the same topic as your site and has a high Domain Authority is going to pass the maximum amount of SEO juice to your site. These are the types of backlinks you should spend most of your time trying to get.
You need to really try to get as granular as you can when you are trying to match relevance.
For example, if you own a website that is all about German Shepherds, getting a link from a website about pets is good, but a link from a website just about dogs is better and a backlink from a website that is just about German Shepherds is the best.
But don’t fret if you have a hard time finding other blogs or websites that cover your exact topic, just do the best you can and know that your competitors are having the same issues that you are.
Now before I teach you the most effective white hat SEO strategies to get authority backlinks I need to provide full disclosure.
I have built almost all of these backlink generating methods into our outreach platform at JustReachOut.io.
So I will tell you how to go about using these methods on your own and then I will show you how to do it much faster using our backlink tools at JRO.
1. Journalist Pitch Requests
Did you know there are at least 6 major sources where journalists actively are requesting pitches from experts? Most likely you’ve heard of the most common source HARO. I don’t want to spend a ton of time teaching you how HARO (Helpareporter.com) works because we’ve already written about that here. And frankly, it’s a really simple system.
Just go to helpareporter.com and create a free account as a source for reporters. Then inside of your account choose which categories you want to be a source for and HARO will start emailing you several times a day with requests from reporters for quotes from professionals.
Each time I would get one of those emails I would quickly scan the requests to see if any of them were relevant to my skill set and if so I would provide the answer the reporter was looking for by replying to the email. It is that easy.
But there are other amazing sources for pitch requests apart from HARO and because they are less popular you don’t have to compete with so many people pitching the same request.
I have been able to get a large handful of really strong backlinks using all of these sources combined and because they all have a free option it really is the easiest way to generate backlinks for your brand.
The most annoying thing about getting links in this method is that you have to filter through hundreds of reporter requests to find maybe one that is relevant to you.
That’s why we built our own pitch request tool that brings in all reporter requests and then makes them searchable by keyword. So I can instantly find all requests that mention the keyword I am targeting such as “SEO” and respond inside of JustReachOut and blow the reporter’s mind with my SEO advice.
But it’s not just HARO, we pull journalist pitch requests from four other sources making our tool the ultimate source for getting amazing backlinks from authority websites.
With HARO you are left at the mercy of the reporter as to what the anchor text of your backlink will say but typically the backlink will link to your homepage and the brand name will be the anchor text.
2. Broken Link Building
After Brian Dean of Backlinko introduced the SEO world to the Skyscraper technique of link building it became one of the most popular forms of link generation on the internet. That also means that with massive over saturation it wore out its welcome on the internet and stopped being an effective way to build links.
I even heard from Brian Dean himself that the Skyscraper technique doesn’t really work anymore but said that the most effective replacement for this strategy is broken link building.
Broken link building is simply the strategy of finding broken links on relevant websites and then reaching out to those websites and telling them that they have a broken link on the page.
Ideally you would look for broken links that were linking to a website or an article that is just like one that you have on your site. That way you can offer your link up as a replacement for the broken link.
Check out this example of a broken link pitch email.
This method works so well because it is such an easy ice breaker when you reach out to a blog owner.
The manual way to do broken link building is to literally click on every single backlink in an article and see if any of them are broken.
Obviously no one is going to do that.
You can use a desktop scraping software like Screaming Frog that will scan any website and find the broken backlinks. But you have to manually enter the websites that you want it to scan which can be a big bottleneck.
At JustReachOut we built a broken link building tool that scans the top 100 results of Google for any key phrase you enter into the tool.
Click on the video below to see how it works:
It then scans every single page that ranks in the top 100 and checks for broken links on those pages and creates a list of all of the broken links with all of the data you would need to decide which ones you should reach out to.
You can reach out to each one inside of JustReachOut and even set up automatic follow-ups inside our tool in case they don’t read your email the first time.
It truly is the best broken link building tool on the internet.
3. Podcast Interviews
This one works really well for founders, especially if you have had some success with your current business or a past business.
Reaching out to podcasts in your niche and pitching yourself as a potential guest has many benefits apart from generating backlinks for your website.
You get the credibility of being a thought leader as you give advice and tell personal stories of your success.
You also get a captive audience for 15-60 minutes, where you can build amazing trust and pitch your startup.
Where else can you find a place where your target audience will just sit and listen to you talk about your business and the pain points it solves?
Other than speaking at a conference being featured on a podcast is the only way.
And as I mentioned before, you will get backlinks from the show notes of each episode you are on.
This one to me is a no brainer.
How Do You Get Booked On Podcasts?
The key to success is in the pitch.
What is going to make you as a guest more interesting than the other 50 founders pitching to be interviewed?
Before we talk about the pitch make sure you do these things first:
- Search for podcast in your niche – you can use a tool like ListenNotes to find podcasts.
- Once you’ve found a podcast you like, listen to 1-3 episodes to get a feel for the format and the host.
- If you still feel like it’s a good fit, reach out and pitch yourself.
This is a template I would use to pitch yourself and your company.
I’ve listened to your show for a while, really loved the episode about working a 4 hour work week.
I’m down to 12 hour work weeks and it’s amazing.
I wanted to reach out and ask if you’re taking guests?
I’d like to apply to be a guest on your show and focus on these two ideas for our interview:
I have been interviewed on a number of podcasts, here are just some of them:
Here is a bit about me and my accomplishments:
* Impressive accomplishment #1 which relates to the podcast show
* Impressive accomplishment #2 which relates to the podcast show
* Impressive accomplishment #3 which relates to the podcast show
Curious to hear your thoughts.
Keep up the awesome work on the show!
If you haven’t been on any podcasts then my recommendation is to start with smaller podcasts and then you can leverage those to get on bigger shows.
Our podcast outreach tool inside of JustReachOut app lets you search podcasts, listen to episodes and then reach out all inside the app.
I recently sent out 6 pitches to podcasts and got back 3 confirmed interviews within a few days.
This really is such a great way to promote a business especially a tech or SaaS company. If you’re not doing it your leaving money on the table.
Why don’t you give JustReachOut app a try and start growing your business with these awesome outreach tools.
4. Guest Post Outreach
Guest posting is probably the most common form of link building in the SEO space but it is also the most misunderstood and therefore mostly a major annoyance to everyone on the internet.
Let me guess, last night you received at least one email from someone you don’t know at all asking if they can write a guest post for your blog. The email was super impersonal and you get several of these every single day.
And so does everyone else on the internet that has a blog with a DA over 20 (here is a pitch I got that actually convinced me to let them guest post).
If you were really smart and wanted to be super successful on how to pitch a blog owner for a guest post you would do the following in order:
- Read several blog posts on their blog to get to understand what they write about and their tone of writing.
- Comment on the blog posts.
- Reach out to the blog owner through email to make a connection. Ask a question, give feedback, offer help. (DO NOT PITCH A GUEST POST)
- Wait for a reply.
- Reply back to that email.
- Wait a day.
- Email them again with a message like, based on our conversation I thought you might be interested in having me write a post about…
In other words you need to establish a relationship.
I know you’re asking yourself, “but what if the blog says it accepts guest posts? Do I still need to go through all of those steps?”
Your success rate will be exponentially higher if you follow those steps.
One of the hardest parts of this process is finding the right email address for the blog owner. Our guest posting tool inside of JustReachOut not only curates a list of blogs you can reach out to, but also finds the email address of the blog owner so you can easily reach out right through the tools itself and then automatically send follow up emails if they don’t respond.
5. Unlinked Brand Mentions
This is by far the easiest backlinks generator in the world. It only works if you have an established brand name that people might be talking about online.
What you are doing is looking for blog posts on the internet that have mentioned your brand name, but didn’t link your brand name to your website.
When you find them you can easily reach out and say something like:
Hey blog owner, I saw your article where you mentioned our company. Thanks for the shoutout, I really appreciate it.
Would you mind making that mention of our brand name a link to our website? Here is the url: https://justreachout.io
It is a very easy and friendly way to reach out to people who already know about your company and like you enough to talk about you.
The success rate on these is extremely high.
You can find brand mentions by signing up for Google alerts and just enter your brand name for the alert.
JustReachOut also has an Unlinked Brand Mentions tool that will search for you and allow you to reach out to the blog owners right from the inside the tool and also automatically follow up if they haven’t responded.
You can see more in the video below:
6. Get Published On Big News Outlets
This is where traditional PR and SEO collide. There is massive benefit to having an awesome PR strategy both in link building, traffic generation and brand recognition.
This method is by far the most work but the payoff can be really great and help you establish some massive brand authority with Google. Brand authority is how Google views your brand inside of your niche. It comes from authoritative news outlets mentioning your brand and linking to your website.
For example, who do you think has the most brand authority in the ecommerce category? Obviously it’s Amazon. Did you ever notice that Amazon ranks on page one of Google for almost every single search for a specific product? They have massive brand authority.
The best way to establish brand authority is to get big news outlets to talk about your brand.
But how do you do that?
There is a real art form to this which is why PR firms exist and charge a lot of money. But you can do it on your own.
I’m going to way oversimplify this for brevity purposes. Check out this PR pitch post we wrote.
Or if you want to take a masterclass on doing PR outreach like a boss just sign up for JustReachOut and you get the masterclass for free.
Step 1: Do your research. You know what type of article you want the news outlet to write so go read a bunch of similar articles. Make a list of the journalists who write those types of articles. Pay attention to the story angles they use.
For example, if I have a new business book I’m trying to promote, I would look for articles that review or talk about business books. I would then make a list of the journalists.
Step 2: Craft your story. Once you have read these articles and see what journalists are writing about in your niche, you need to craft your own story. This doesn’t mean you need to write the article, it just means you need to create a hook for your story that you can use to pitch the journalist.
For example, one hook that I have used in the past is how I used a blog article I wrote that bashed Marcus Lemonis’ TV show to get his attention. I then convinced him to hire me to SEO on several of his businesses. When he fired me I realized there was a huge hole in the SEO process and built a SaaS company to solve the problem.
Do you see the hook there? Marcus Lemonis is a famous TV business man and people like reading about him. So I use his name and connect it to my SaaS business.
I can’t tell you what your hook needs to be but the easiest hook is data. Journalists love data. If you have some research in your niche that isn’t widely known then use that as your hook.
If you don’t have research data, another good model to follow is found on reality TV. The people they choose to be on reality TV shows always have a strong backstory. A person’s mom died of cancer. A person was homeless for five years. A person was stabbed. A person’s spouse contracted a debilitating illness and this new thing is dedicated to them.
Do you see what I’m talking about here with the hook. What makes your story unique? Why would an audience care?
Step 3: Make your pitch. When you have the hook for your story dialed in, it’s time to start reaching out to journalists.
Side Note: It’s super easy to reach out to journalists through JustReachOut. We keep an updated database of journalists and we even find the most accurate email address for each of them. You can use our journalist outreach tool to reach out and to set up automatic follow ups.
Here is an example of an effective pitch that resulted in a big PR win:
You can see how Remy used personalization because he had done his research and then quickly talked about his hook and how he could help the journalist out with new data.
Step 4: Follow up. Journalists are super busy. They will probably forget about you. So you need to follow up with them if you don’t hear back. Give them a week or two before you follow up but do follow up. If they liked your pitch they will appreciate the reminder.
7. Steal Competitors Backlinks
I’ve had good success generating backlinks by looking at my competitors’ links and then reaching out to those blog owners.
One of the reasons I like this technique is that if you have a competitor that outranks you, you can level the playing field by getting links from the same places that they have links. It neutralizes the advantage they have over you.
Here is how I do it.
Using a backlink checker or a tool like SEOJet or Ahrefs, I get a list of a competitor’s backlinks. SEOJet is my preferred choice because they will give you all of your competitor’s backlinks but leave out any sites that also link to your website.
I will then go through all of the pages that link to my competitors and see what type of backlink it is. I gravitate to links inside of blog posts. Based on what the topic of the blog post is, I will choose a relevant page from my site and then reach out to the blog owner with a pitch more or less like this:
I read your blog post about (topic) and saw that you link out to one of my competitors.
I would love to have JustReachOut added to the article.
What is it going to take to get us added?
I am happy to write the blurb so it’s no extra work for you.
I realize that by phrasing it this way I am probably going to have to spend money to get the link placed but as long as it’s reasonable then it is probably worth it. Oftentimes though they will just add it for you.
8. Get Added To Listicles
If you do a Google search for any type of software you will find that many of the search results look something like, “Top 25 Outreach Software Platforms” or something similar. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of these blog posts.
A super fast way to get relevant backlinks is to find these blogs and reach out to them.
I would pitch them something like this:
I saw your list of the top outreach platforms.
I would love to have JustReachOut added to the article.
What is it going to take to get us added?
I am happy to write the blurb so it’s no extra work for you.
By offering to add content to their site and all they have to do is upload it I am removing all of the friction points. Plus it will make their blog post better with more good content.
Keep in mind that many of them will ask you to pay to be added but it should be a small amount and if the site has good domain authority it is worth it.
I’ve been in the SEO world for over 20 years and can tell you that the most natural and effective way to build backlinks to a website is using the strategies I have outlined in this article.
Obviously I was self promotional talking about our link generating tools that help you do your own outreach.
I believe in our outreach tools so much that I invested my own money to become a co-owner of the company with Dmitry Dragilev last year.
Too many companies are only getting backlinks from crappy blog posting companies and are leaving a major footprint for Google to find and penalize.
When Dmitry showed me all of the tools he had built I knew I needed to get involved because for the first time I had found a great way to build amazing backlinks naturally.
Want to start generating your own powerful backlinks for free?