How to get your first 100 backlinks

How to get your first 100 backlinks

Backlinks are undeniably the lifeblood of higher Google rankings. I often see new sites that start by building low quality backlinks with comment spam, forum links and links from coupon sites. And sometimes, these backlinks are enough to move the needle initially. But building low-quality links can be a dangerous game to play because they can literally wipe your site off of Google.

So, you’ll have to learn how to build high-quality backlinks to your site. While these can vary from niche to niche and even from page to page, there are a few tried and tested tactics that can work for anyone with minimal experience. They are:

  1. Links from organizations, communities or clubs that you’re already part of
  2. HARO
  3. Guest blogging
  4. Podcast interviews
  5. Outreach

1. Low hanging fruits - go for known sources

The best way to start is with links from organizations, communities or clubs that you’re already part of. If you're a part of one of these organizations and it's relevant to your site, ask for a link. So let's get into our second tactic. And that's to use HARO to build authoritative links to your homepage.

2. HARO - Help a reporter out

HARO stands for Help a reporter out. It's a service that connects journalists with sources and sources with journalists. After you've signed up as a "source," you'll get emails with a list of queries from journalists at various publications. Now, there are tons of requests that come in on a daily basis and the majority won't be relevant to you.

Now, even though we've filtered down the results to relevant ones, it doesn't mean journalists are going to cite you just because you responded. So to increase your chances of getting mentioned, look for queries where they're likely looking for multiple experts on the topic. Now, the description is even more clear that they want multiple experts. Bottomline, HARO is a super-easy way to get high quality backlinks because the journalists are the ones that are soliciting sources and not the other way around.

3. Guest posting

The next tactic is to do some guest posting. Guest posting is when you create content to be posted on another website.

While some sites won't allow you to link to yourself within the content, most will, as long as it makes sense and adds value to your guest article. So the first thing you need to do is find websites that are likely to accept guest posts. To get started, you can use Ahrefs Content Explorer, which lets you search through billions of pages and get SEO metrics for all of them. Just search for a topic related to your niche and run the search.

Next, let's set a Domain Rating filter to weed out both very low and very high authority websites. Finally, I'll set the "Published" filter to the past 90 days, which will help us narrow in on websites that have published or republished content in the last 3 months. Now, we still have around 90,000 websites to pitch, which is just way too many. So let's head on over to the Websites tab, which will show you the top 100 websites from your results.

And to get a better idea of which sites would more likely accept guest posts, let's sort the table by Authors, because if there are multiple authors on that site, then there's a higher chance that they have guest contributors. Now, it's just a matter of looking at the domain names, visiting ones that look relevant, and pitching your guest posts. Now, it's important to note that while guest posting can be a great way to build links, what often gets overlooked is that when you write for reputable sites, you have the opportunity to demonstrate your expertise to an audience that someone else has built.

4. Podcast interviews

Much like guest posting, being interviewed on a podcast puts you in the spotlight as an expert in front of someone else's audience. Now, the thing I love about podcasts as a link building strategy is that it only takes around an hour of your time and links are almost a given if you choose your podcasts appropriately. A lot of podcasts have "Episodes" pages on their websites. And these pages almost always include a link back to the guest's website.

So to find podcast prospects, you can simply reverse engineer a podcast interviewee's homepage backlinks. So assuming you were in the SEO niche, you might look at Ahrefs' backlinks because a few of us have been on some podcasts. So just go to Ahrefs' Site Explorer and search for ahrefs.com and set the search mode to URL since again, podcast links usually point to the guest's homepage.

Next, go to the backlinks report. Now, since Ahrefs is a pretty established brand, you'll see links from various sources. So to narrow in on just links from podcasts, just search for "podcast" in the Include box, and set the filter mode to search in the URLs and titles of referring pages. From here, you can sift through the results, visit relevant pages, and pitch yourself as a guest when appropriate.

Another great thing about podcast interviews is that oftentimes, hosts will also link to other resources that are mentioned in the interview. The benefits to being on podcasts goes way beyond links.

5. Outreach

The final thing I recommend you do is email outreach for your best content. There are so many ways to do outreach for links and your approach will vary depending on the topic and angle you'll be taking. It's a lot easier to promote something that's unique or insightful versus something that's informative, but generic.

For example, let's say you have a personal finance site and you have some unique data on how the pandemic affected credit scores across the nation. That's interesting and it's probably something that people in your niche will actually want to be contacted about. And if they're impressed by your content, they'd probably link to you in existing or future content.

Summary

You might be wondering, how long will it take to get my first 100 backlinks?

There really isn't a definitive answer and I don't think speed should be your goal especially when you're just starting out. It may not be the most exciting or delicious, but just as broccoli delivers essential nutrients to your body, links deliver trust and authority to your website, which results in higher Google rankings. So what's important is that you stay the course, implement these tactics and iterate on them as you get hands-on experience. Getting high quality backlinks isn't easy.

This is a summarized version of the transcripted YouTube video, courtesy of Ahrefs