Getting high-quality backlinks is very challenging. That’s because a link from another website is like an endorsement, and the higher quality the website, the more difficult it becomes to get that type of recommendation. Yet, backlinks are listed among Google’s eight most important ranking factors, so it’s not something you can afford to ignore.

But how do you go about implementing an effective backlink strategy that is legit? The LAST thing you want to do is pay money to have your links included on websites or attempt other not-so-ethical practices. You’ll want to earn your links, which can only happen if you’re willing to roll up your sleeves, get your hands dirty and be a little creative with your approach.

The good news is, you don’t have to have a Ph.D. in search engine optimization to win at this piece of the puzzle. You just have to focus on building thought leadership and pair that approach with some specific strategies.

Here are a few above-the-board tactics to get you started and earning high-quality backlinks in no time. 

Claim Unlinked Mentions

This one’s probably the easiest and fastest way to start ramping up your backlinks. All you have to do is find out who’s mentioning your company online. The simplest way to do this is by setting up a Google Alert or using tools like BuzzSumo, Mention or Ahrefs Content Explorer so that you’ll get a notification any time your business is mentioned. When you find a mention that doesn’t link back to your site, reach out to the blogger or website owner and ask them to add your URL. Easy peasy.

In these instances, it typically makes sense to have your website homepage be the URL added, however, if something specific is being mentioned, like your company blog, a product, or a specific article, make sure you request a link back to those items directly. That will help drive traffic back to important pages and also contribute to those pages ranking for specific terms in the anchor text.  

Pair High-Quality On-Site Content With An SEO Strategy

When you consistently create high-quality content that addresses your audiences’ needs and offers valuable education, you’re showing the world that you’re someone leading the conversation in your space. Having robust blog content shows your on-site visitors that you’re a valued resource and have a lot of insight on various topic points within your industry. But that’s just half the battle. You need to also make sure you have an SEO strategy so the content you’re creating ranks in search engines. 

First, create a list of keywords you want your content to rank for. These keywords should be based on phrases or words your audience is using when searching for more information online. Then, make sure you have a blog post designated for each term. These are typically considered pillar posts, or longer-form posts that are in-depth and thorough. Use those keywords within other blog posts and on-site content as anchor text, linking to the designated pillar post. Do so consistently, and you’ll gradually increase the search results for the pillar posts you’re linking to. When those pieces of content continue to climb in search results, you’ll be increasing your online footprint and getting more awareness for your brand. In turn, you’ll increase the chances of your content popping up when other content creators are searching for similar content to link to in their pieces. It’s not a guaranteed method for getting backlinks, but it’s a great way to put your content front and center so that it can be considered more for backlink opportunities. 

Create Guest-Contributed Articles

If you aren’t familiar with guest-contributed articles, basically, they’re articles you write and get published in online publications. While they’re part of a robust content marketing strategy, they aren’t the easiest to achieve. There are publication guidelines to consider, as well as getting the attention and appealing to online editors so that they actually accept your content and publish it.

However, getting your content published online is great for your backlinking strategy. When you create this content, while you don’t want to be promotional, you can find opportunities to link to your on-site content within it, as long as that on-site content offers up more valuable information. So, choose one of those valuable pillar blog posts link to link to, using the designated keyword or words tied to it. Once that article is placed, you’ll get that quality backlink back to your blog and contribute to your SEO strategy. 

Get Mentioned Online

You’re awesome at what you do, right? Your product or service is second to none, correct? Then, why not make a concentrated effort to get more brand mentions? Brand mentions are when your brand is included in some “Best of” lists written by other influencers and thought leaders. Because list and comparison posts tend to perform extremely well in the search engines, getting a mention in these types of articles is a great way to reinforce your brand through third-party credibility, get more prospects to consider trying your product or service and, of course, earn more high-quality backlinks.

Since these articles perform well, thought leaders and content creators compile them often, which means they’re always looking for high-quality companies to mention. Have your team reach out to these influencers (or facilitate this outreach yourself) and provide them with a quick elevator pitch of your company and product to see if they’d be willing to include you in their next article. Make sure you are willing to offer them something in return, perhaps a link to what they do in one of your articles (if it makes sense) or to share something out for them on your social channels. 

Leverage Directories

Online directories are still relevant! Provided it’s a quality, trusted and high-ranking site, directory listings remain one of the easiest and most impactful ways to increase your backlinks. When we say quality, we’re talking sites like Google My Business, Yahoo and Yelp. That’s not all, either. Here are a few additional resources to help you locate relevant directories for your business:

Make sure you’ve created a profile on these directories and that all the information on them is correct and up to date. When brands and influencers are looking for experts within a certain industry, often they’ll start with directories. From there, they’ll check out the company’s website and online content to make sure they’re active in the space and to vet them further. Being included in these directories is very important because you never know what kind of opportunity can come from it. 

Getting more backlinks to your website isn’t always easy, but given the results quality links can provide in terms of traffic and SEO ranking, it’s a task that’s well worth your time and effort. The tips above should help you get off to a good start.