It’s time we redefined the way we get backlinks. It’s time the internet was run by humans, not algorithms. If you want to know how to get backlinks naturally, and you believe in the internet as a sociable and human place, this article is for you.
Have you ever wondered how to get backlinks naturally from real people? Links that actually mean something, rather than those auto-generated spam comments?
You know you need high-power (high Domain Authority) backlinks for your site to improve in the search rankings. But you may have noticed that it’s far from easy to get those links. Competitors don’t give out links for free, you are not allowed to buy them, and you’re penalised by Google for unnatural linking strategies. What do you do?
In a moment, I will show you how to get backlinks from influencers while making them love you (yes, it’s possible). But first, let’s investigate the reasons why it is hard to get backlinks.
I am assuming that you have a good idea about what backlinks are and why they matter so much. I won’t go into this here, because this is not strictly an SEO site, rather a copywriting one. If you would like a technical definition of a backlink I highly recommend MOZ’s guide.
So, we know the technical definition of a backlink. And this is where so many people go off and build backlinks automatically by creating spam comments and using all sorts of Black Hat SEO tricks. They spend months doing this, and then they realise that they have a Google penalty for unnatural links. C’est la vie.
The truth is, when you look at backlinks from a technical perspective, you miss the entire point in backlinks in the first place.
Backlinks are not a technical thing. They are a human thing.
The reason why it is hard to get backlinks is because you are not approaching the right people on a human level.
It’s hard to get backlinks from high quality sites because you do not know the people who own them / run them. So why in the heck would they bother helping you out, especially when you are a competitor?
To get backlinks, you have to make people want to give them to you.
Forget for one second that you need backlinks. Instead, realise that you need real people (and mostly strangers) to do you a favor.
When we say “getting backlinks” we really mean, “asking someone we don’t know to do us a favor”. Just run with that idea for the remainder of this article because this is going to completely change the way you see backlink generation.
Now that we are looking at backlinks as a natural and human thing, the whole picture changes.
We now understand that we need real people to help us, and that lots of those people are strangers.
So how do you make a stranger do you a favor?
Thankfully, for the past 81 years there has been one definitive source to making friends with strangers. That source is Dale Carnegie’s indispensable How To Win Friends And Influence People.
First published in 1931, this book is the go-to resource for anyone who needs to build, which is precisely what you need to do to build backlinks.
If you have never read the book, you can pick up a copy on Amazon.
Now, let’s take a look at how we can use the wisdom in Dale Carnegie’s book to build backlinks naturally from real people (your influencers), while making them love you at the same time.
How To Build Backlinks Naturally, The Human Way
The steps in this process are based on Dale Carnegie’s points. There are 30 points in the book. Here I have focused on the points applicable to building backlinks. Consider these points when planning your next blog post.
- Become genuinely interested in the other person (and their site)
How many times have you received a message from someone asking for a backlink or a review or some other service with absolutely no introduction?
The other day I received a message from a book publisher asking me to write a story about their client’s new novel. They didn’t even say hello or introduce themselves. And it was obvious that they didn’t have a clue about me and that they didn’t care either. Why on Earth would I bother creating an article for someone I don’t know who hasn’t even bothered to introduce themselves to me? I wouldn’t and I didn’t.
The funny this is, this is precisely how lots of people go about building backlinks. They simply ask for them.
It’s fine to ask a friend for a backlink. A stranger, on the other hand, is not going to just give you a link for no reason, especially if you do not show genuine interest in them.
So, the first thing to do, is to become genuinely interested in your influencers (the people you want links from). Follow them on Facebook and Twitter, get involved with their site, and make it very obvious that you genuinely care about their success.
When another site owner feels as though you genuinely care about them, they will naturally take a look at your site, and if they see content they like, there is a very good chance they will link to it.
So step 1 is to become genuinely interested in the people you want links from. Don’t ask them for a link (or anything). Just take an interest in what they are doing. Get involved in their blog. And leave very high quality comments. If you are genuinely helpful they will be interested in you. They will then look at your site and will naturally link to parts of it that they value.
- Give honest and sincere appreciation
You know what people love? Knowing that they are appreciated. Much how your significant other cooks you a wonderful meal when you show how much you appreciate them, a blogger will likewise be generous when you show them appreciation.
When you tell your influencers that you appreciate the work they do, they will love you for it, and when they love you they will want to help you, which means free backlinks.
Try this. Find five to ten bloggers whose work you genuinely love. Find their email address. And write them an email.
This morning I sent this email to one of my favorite bloggers:
Hi, it’s Paul Harrison from PMHarrison.com. I just wanted to send you a quick message to say thank you for all the great work you do on your site. You’re a real inspiration and I want you to know it.
That is the entire message. I didn’t ask for a backlink. I didn’t ask for anything. I just sent a message saying thanks and subtly dropped my own email there.
How do you think this person will respond?
Personally, I am excited to find out. I literally sent that message while writing article, so I obviously haven’t heard back yet. But I’ll tell you one thing. They are certain to like the message. Why wouldn’t they? It’s entirely positive. It just says thank you. It asks for nothing in return. Just like a good friend.
The individual in question right now is probably looking at my site just out of intrigue, and if they find something they like? They will be very likely to link back to it. And it will be a natural link from a high quality site. And all it took was being nice to a actual human instead of trying to play the Google Game.
As an aside, the message I sent was entirely legitimate because I truly do appreciate the work the blogger in question does.
The recipient is also likely to message back. And the moment they do that you will have a direct line of communication with an influencer, and you will have an opportunity to follow-up on the original message, which we will do in just a moment.
- To get backlinks quickly, use the other person’s name in your articles
Human-beings are vain. We have ego. And the average person who works online likes to see their name on the screen. Take advantage of that by inserting the name of influencers in your articles.
Writing for SmartBlogger, Ketherine Di Cerbo says, “Linking to your target bloggers’ posts from your own blog lays an important foundation for later steps because it gives you an excuse to ask for a share or even a link.”
Whatever topic you are writing about on your blog, find other people who have written about the same thing. Then include their name in your article. That way, the next time that individual Google searches their name, they will see your article. Also talk about their work by using quotes in the article, and provide honest but favorable comments about it.
When you do this, you will have an article that the other person is already interested in, that talks about the other person, using their name, and also compliments them. Eh voila! you have an article that the other person is very likely to share.
- People will backlink to any article that makes them look important
One of the strangest things about working online is that despite social media, the internet is a very lonely place.
When you have ten people in the office you’re going to get some feedback on your work and you’re going to feel at least somewhat important. But many bloggers work alone. And they rarely get acknowledgement.
If you give other bloggers acknowledgement and make them feel important, they will naturally want to link to you because a) they will like you, and b) they will want to show their readers that another blogger sang their praises.
This is very easy to do. And it is honest. And it is a win / win. All you have to do is find good arguments that other people have made in their blog posts, and share them on yours, with attribution. Simple.
Bloggers want to link to content that makes them look like the authority. Give people that and you will get lots of backlinks quickly.
- Tell them that your blog post idea was inspired by them
One of the main points in How To Win Friends And Influence People is:
People love it when they think that they were responsible for an idea.
For instance, let’s say you have written a novel about a character that goes into space (just bear with me on this because this will pay dividends big time). So, you have written a novel about a character who goes into space. And you know your novel would perform well if only you could get a real-life astronaut to talk about it / link to it. But why would an astronaut link to a book written by someone they don’t know.
The answer is: They will link to it and talk about it if you tell them that they inspired the idea.
Using Twitter, Tweet at that astronaut: Just released my new book, which was inspired by the real-life story of Mr X (your influencer).
Or, to put another, non-astronaut spin on it. Let’s say you’re writing this very article about backlinks, and you want Moz to link to it. Your best bet is to say, “Rand Fishkin inspired this entire thing”. Obviously, this is not going to work in this instance (because my strategy is abundantly obvious), but you get the idea.
If people believe they had something to do with creating a piece of content, they will naturally want to link to it.
- Get backlinks by appealing to the nobler motives
People naturally want to link to things that make them look like a good person. If, for instance, you happen to have an article about saving the lives of abandoned cats, people will want to link to it because it makes them look like a good person.
Now, the cats idea is a very obvious and easy one. How do you make this idea work for a less-fluffy subject? How would it work for this very article, for instance?
To start with you have to ask who the influencer is and what they care about. My article (this one you’re reading), is about SEO and copywriting. And it’s about making backlinking more human. And that in itself could matter a lot to someone who works online. They want the internet to be more human and less of a machine. Most bloggers can connect with that. So I’ll use it (plus, it is my entire purpose with this article anyway).
So, I now know that the “nobler motive” (the purpose) is to make the internet more human by making backlinking a social thing rather than a techie-thing.
Next thing to do is to state that purpose in the heading and the first paragraph. That way, the second you read this article you understand the deeper purpose, and if that purpose connects with you there is a good chance you will share it.
Of course, the other point here is that you should have a noble motive in the first place. And if you do, you will be in a good place to start.
- People will link to you if you challenge them
People cannot resist a good challenge, especially when it is a challenge in an area they excel in. Good at spelling? You probably love spelling bees. Professional athlete? You probably love it when people challenge you to a race.
We want a chance to win. And when we win we like to share it with other people. That is entirely why all those quizzes are popular on Facebook. Because they give you a chance to say, “Look at me! I’m awesome!”
Of course, your influencers are not the same as most people. They are experts in their fields. If you give Rand Fishkin a pop quiz of ten easy SEO questions, he’s not likely to share it because, hell, he would obviously be able to answer the questions so what’s the point?
You need to challenge your influencers in a way that makes them look good to their readers. How are you going to do that? Let me show you.
At the end of this article I have included a couple of questions that are moderately-difficult to answer. And those questions happen to be directly above the comments box. I’ve done this so that people can answer the challenging question and leave a comment. And if they are very happy with the answer they provide, there is a good chance they will link to this article if only to show their readers the answer they wrote.
Set your influencers a challenge to make them want to link back to your article.
- Get backlinks by helping to improve other people’s content
The key here is to create a piece of content that helps to improve your influencer’s content.
Let’s say for instance that you’ve just read an article about producing content for backlinks (which is obviously very closely related to this very article). In the article the author makes a good point but does not back it up with statistics, facts, or evidence. You feel this article would be better if it provided that evidence.
Your job is to go and produce the content that will make that article stronger.
For instance, in an article for NicheHacks.com, Jawad Khan said that Links from .Edu sites carry more weight. And while this can be a good point, it can also be improve upon because only specific pages on .edu sites carry more weight, as John Mu said that only certain .Edu pages carry more weight.
The objective here is to have the influencer link to your article in order to improve their own. You have provided additional information to a point they are already making, so there is a good chance they will link to your article.
In this article, we’ve looked at how to get backlinks naturally from real people and in a social, human way.
My objective here is to make the internet more human by making backlinking a more personable thing. If this is a purpose that matters to you, share this article on Facebook and Twitter and link to it from your site.
Questions for you experts:
Is it possible to beat your competitors using purely natural backlinking strategies?
What other natural backlinking techniques can you name?