SEOs often end up spending a lot of money on tools and services that give them a competitive advantage.
But they don’t have to bring out their wallets to get backlinks.
That’s right. There are ways to build backlinks for your website for free.
In this post, we’ll go over some of the techniques and talk about the benefits of free backlinks.
If you want to establish the link profile of your website but don’t want to pay for it, this post is custom-built for you.
That said, let’s jump right in and get started, shall we?
Table of Contents
- 1 Defining “Free Backlinks”
- 2 Submit to Blog Submission Sites
- 3 Use HARO
- 4 Submit to Product Hunt
- 5 Find Unlinked Mentions of Your Brand
- 6 Join the Do-Follow Link Sharing Facebook Group
- 7 Bonus: Create Infographic Embed Codes
- 8 Conclusion
Let’s get one thing clear:
If you think this post will get you backlinks without moving a finger, you’re wrong.
You’re thinking of organic backlinks.
That’s when people find your content online, find it useful, and link to it from their website without external pressure forcing them to do so.
Free backlinks refer to quality links you acquire without spending money. But you still end up spending something.
I’m referring to time and effort.
Let’s break down further what makes a backlink “free” in this context so you can decide if this is the right strategy for you.
Here are the qualities of free, high-quality backlinks. Pay close attention.
They Don’t Require You to Spend Money
At no point will you have to pay anyone for a backlink.
That means you’re going to have to put in the legwork. You could end up sending emails, doing research, or publishing linkbait content.
You are put in a position where you have to go out of your way to getting noticed by people who matter.
It’s only “free” because you’re not paying anybody to do anything. You’re not spending cash to directly secure link placement.
Below is an example of an agency that you pay money to secure inbound links.
We’re not going that route.
You may have to pay for SEO tools that will make the job easier.
However, if you’re here, there’s a good chance that you’re already paying for them anyway. We’re referring to keyword research tools and email outreach.
If you’re not comfortable writing original content, you may have to hire a freelance writer to make one on your behalf.
But as for the free link building tactics in this post, there are no overhead costs. These are strategies you can pull off on your own.
Even rubbish site owners can get links using these strategies.
They Are Crawled
There’s no point in getting backlinks that search engines don’t crawl.
So you won’t be seeing tips on how to get on someone’s Facebook About page or Twitter bio. These links are not being indexed as links by backlink checker tools.
Don’t get us wrong:
These links can generate referral traffic. And that’s good. But that’s not our focus right now.
What you want to get out of this are do-follow backlinks that Google can find and index.
These sorts of links get your pages to rank in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
If you end up with pages that can’t be crawled, search engines will be unable to vouch for your website. That’s one of the reasons why despite being shared throughout social media, some pages just can’t get themselves on Google’s first page through organic traffic.
We want to avoid that from happening.
They Are Not Acquired Automatically
Automated backlink acquisition tools are commonplace. They’re everywhere.
We’re not getting anywhere near these tools.
Instead, we’ll be focusing on backlink strategies that are not automated. No automation tools necessary.
The tactics listed below will require good old-fashioned hard work.
Won’t automation makes things way easier in half the time? At the end of the day, won’t we be achieving the same results?
Yes and no.
Using backlink automation tools like SEnuke and XRumer can get you started with a click of a button.
But what you want are links that are contextually relevant and useful.
These tools have a tendency to add pages to unrelated sites.
When search engines detect this kind of activity, it puts your site in their watchlist. If they confirm that you’re acquiring backlinks through nefarious means, you’ll end up getting penalized.
This results in losing your spot in the SERPs.
By doing it manually, you’re able to acquire backlinks that won’t stab you in the back.
They Are Easy to Acquire
This is the most important factor to consider.
Promising that something will be easy can be tricky. We all have our own definition of what’s easy. The term can be pretty subjective.
We can say that the link building tactics in this post will take less time to blossom compared to other traditional backlink strategies.
Let’s use an example:
It’s not unusual for SEOs to send out emails when they publish new content. They will then ask people to possibly link back to the said post. It seems simple enough, right?
But did you ever stop and think about whether this tactic is actually effective or not?
First, you’ll have to send out emails to a lot of people to increase your conversion rate.
Second, there’s no guarantee that they will ever link back to you.
Oftentimes, the recipient wouldn’t even bother!
The strategies below will get you backlinks almost immediately if done right. In some cases, all it takes are a couple of tweaks to help you passively generate links.
Let’s now talk about all the strategies you can implement to get started.
Submit to Blog Submission Sites
Let’s start with an easy one.
Blog submission sites are exactly as it sounds. These are sites that allow users to post articles or posts in exchange for backlinks.
The site owner gets free content that they can get revenue from (through ads or other means) while you get backlinks that can improve your SERP ranking. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.
This practice has another benefit — exposure.
You get to find new people to promote your posts and even interact with them and foster a relationship.
Posts that are published through blog submission sites are indexed by search engines. That means your site authority can grow as link juice flows through your site.
Here are a couple of sites that are open to blog submissions.
DoSplash lets users submit their entries to gain exposure and secure backlinks.
They are an aggregator, meaning blog entries are not stored on the site. You’re going to have to post them on your own domain and provide the DoSplash with a link.
Once live, DoSplash users can vote on your articles or blog posts. It’s reminiscent of how you upvote entries on Reddit.
Posts are given categories so they can be served to the right audience.
The site allows entries that are about goal setting, success, beauty, blogging, business, food, marketing, e-commerce, education, gadgets, home decor, home improvement, love, hobbies, travel, and many more.
To submit stories, you’re going to have to register first. You need to provide your name, email, and blog URL. You’ll also be asked to enter a username for your account.
After that, you should be able to start submitting posts to the site.
Do note that it will take anywhere between 24 to 48 hours before your account becomes active.
GrowthHackers is a hub for content creators everywhere. People can sign in and receive or post Q&As, AMAs, growth studies, and more.
You can even log in and promote your posts.
Signing up is simple. All you need to do is sign up using an email or a social media account. After that, you can immediately start posting.
You just need to add a title, enter a summary, and provide the URL of the post as well as tags to help users find your content faster.
If you’re looking for tag ideas, GrowthHackers shows all the most popular (if not all) tags on the homepage.
If you don’t have any content to promote, you can do an AMA instead. It will not only make you come off as an industry expert in your niche, but you also get to have your backlink added as part of your bio.
BizSugar is a community where business owners can come out and learn from each other.
It hosts online events, self-guided courses, and monthly challenges.
They also have a section where you can post business- and marketing-related articles.
Because the site attracts a specific kind of audience, BizSugar is not for everyone.
But if your content caters to entrepreneurs and marketers, this is a great place to get backlinks from.
Registration is a quick process. All you need is to enter a username, email, and password. Those three things would be enough to set up an account with BizSugar.
After that, you can start sharing posts about tech news, human resources (and other components of running a business), finance tips and strategies, online marketing (social media, direct marketing, advertising), and related entries.
Scoop.it is an online curation service that finds all the relevant pages to the topic you submit and posts them on your topic boards. (I will explain what topic boards are shortly)
It works similarly to Pinterest.
You create a topic where you store a curated list of posts that are related to it. Other users can follow your content if it’s of interest to them.
Use this tool to create backlinks to your site by submitting stories (or scoops as they’re referred to on the platform).
Sign up for an account and create a topic board.
It will ask for your name, email, and password. You could also choose to upload a profile picture.
Afterward, a confirmation email will be sent to your inbox.
Once confirmed, you can head on back to the site and create a topic board.
You’ll then be asked to enter keywords that represent your topic. You will also be asked to connect your social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, and/or LinkedIn) where you plan to share the content you curate.
Once that’s done, you can start sharing your scoops on the site.
When other users find your post, they too can post in on their own boards to share with their audience. Pretty cool, right?
Just a note:
The free version of the tool limits you to one board. Also, you can only add up to 50 submissions. So use it to promote your own posts instead of random articles you find online like most of their users.
Serendeputy is a project of solopreneur Jason Butler. It’s relatively new having only been launched a couple of months ago (2019).
It’s described as a newsfeed engine for the open web. It will index and classify links from a Twitter feed (and other sources) and organize them.
Since it’s not meant for publishing content, you’ll have to link a Twitter account to your Serendeputy profile for it to go live on the site.
The tool shows a lot of promise. However, it’s still currently in beta testing so it could still undergo changes before it’s fully operational.
HARO stands for Help A Reporter Out. It’s an online resource tool for journalists who need sources for a story they’re working on.
It’s used by media outlets like Reuters, Fox News, Wall Street Journal, Mashable, Time, and The New York Times.
Here’s how it works.
You go to the site and sign up for an account.
Aside from the typical signup requirements, you’re also going to provide your phone number, company, and annual revenue.
Remember: When you use HARO, journalists will be quoting you in their articles as a source. So you need to be credible. It’s also important to come off as a subject matter expert. That’s why it’s important to provide accurate details during registration.
HARO has a list of rules that sources have to abide by. You can read the rules here.
After you sign up, you’ll receive up to three emails a day — one in the morning, one in the afternoon, and one at night.
The emails will contain a list of articles that journalists are currently working on.
These are articles you can contribute to. Scan the list and find a subject that applies to you and your business.
Clicking on a link will reveal more details including what the reporter needs from you.
When you get these emails and want to contribute, don’t waste any time. Most, if not all, of these requests have a deadline. So you’re going to have to act fast.
The only downside to using HARO is that there’s no real guarantee that your response will be used in the post. Also, it’s up to the reporter if your link will be a do-follow or a no-follow.
So you’re taking a chance.
But on the upside, you could potentially earn backlinks from legitimate news organizations that have higher link equity than a regular site. It may very well be worth the effort.
To improve your chances, it’s best if you only stick to niches or topics you’re knowledgeable in. You’re also going to have to recognize which sources are more likely to reward you with a do-follow backlink.
You can accomplish this by going to the organization’s website and inspect their links. If links have a no-follow attribute, it’s better to help another journalist.
When answering questions, you’ll have to put a lot of thought into it. They must be good enough for publishing on a news site. Review your answers and see to it they’re free from typos before you submit.
You must be wondering:
Is it worth the trouble?
Well, that depends on you. You’ll find some users online who’d tell you that you’re better off using other tactics. The uncertainty of HARO is too much for some people. You have no control over your links, after all. It will be left up to the reporter how your link will be added to the report or if it would make sense contextually.
But even sources like Luana Spinetti who published a case study for Monitor Backlinks and said that HARO is not as fruitful as you might think received quality, do-follow backlinks.
And despite Luana’s complaints, she did end up saying that she’ll continue to use HARO for the time being (but with reservations).
Some users are more positive about the results of their link building efforts through opportunities presented by the press.
Neil Napier of JobRack explains in this JustReachout article how he used HARO in his link building efforts.
Instead of hiring a PR firm, they decided to handle the PR themselves and save money in the process.
So the team set up a HARO account and started answering questions from journalists.
They were very careful when answering questions. When answering questions, they had a guideline to follow to increase their chances of success.
This includes personalizing their replies, establishing who you are and your credentials, a brief summary of their thoughts on the matter, and providing means of communication so reporters can contact you should they have follow-up questions.
During their first week of using the tool, they immediately got two backlinks from 70+ DA websites.
Filtering the HARO results made it possible for Neil to go through the results much faster.
Of course, they do note that success would depend on your niche. Some topics don’t come up as frequently as others. So depending on your industry, you may end up spending a lot more time on the platform before you see significant results.
Submit to Product Hunt
Product Hunt is not for everyone. It’s a site for developers and creators who have recently launched a digital tool that they want to promote.
So if you don’t have a digital product to promote, you may want to skip this section.
But if you think this site fits your needs, please do continue.
Like some of the other sites we’ve featured in this guide, Product Hunt aggregates all the latest tech software and services and puts them all in one basket.
When you submit a product, you are given space to describe it in detail. Other users can then choose to upvote the page and leave their comments.
Even better, you can leave a link to your site right in the sidebar.
Are these links crawlable?
We went to Ahrefs and checked fellow.app, a site that’s been linked to in this Product Hunt page.
Not only does Ahrefs recognize the backlink on this page, but it also sees other backlinks from other pages throughout Product Hunt.
Note: Newly published Product Hunt pages won’t reflect immediately in Ahrefs. You need to give it time.
But it’s not all about backlinks.
There are other advantages to using Product Hunt outside of link building.
To access all the features, you will need to set up an account. Doing so is easy. You can use your Twitter or Facebook account to register. Or you can log in through Google. There is also an option to log in using AngelList.
You will be asked for a few details including your role in your company and topics you may be interested in. You can leave them blank for the time being if you wish.
Once you submit your answers, you’re in!
You can now start posting your products… well, kind of.
First, you need to create what they refer to as a personal account.
If the account you’ve set up qualifies as a personal account, you’re good to go.
Newly created accounts need to sit for one week before they can start posting. You can use this time to explore Product Hunt and get to know the platform and the community behind it.
When you eventually get permission to post, just click the plus icon on the main dashboard to feature a product.
Some content creators mention brands in their posts but forget to link back to the brand’s website.
Fortunately, there’s something you can do about it.
You can find all these missed opportunities and get the author to update the post to include a backlink.
Using Product Hunt to Increase Mentions
Product hunt is a great tool to increase your brand’s mentions. Ideally, by adding specific information about your product and the site — which I describe below — people who come across your product on Product Hunt, will cite it with a link back to you.
The best way to make sure that people from Product Hunt link to you whenever they mention you, make sure you fill out all the details that Product Hunt wants you to.
The site will ask you to provide the following details:
- URL — The landing page of the product you’re trying to promote (the page you’re trying to get backlinks for).
- Product Name — There’s a separate section for the product description. So the product name should suffice.
- Tagline — A brief description of the product. A phrase that will encourage users to keep on reading.
- Thumbnail — An image that will hype up readers. You can use GIFs. It’s best to keep it simple.
- Status — Let everyone know if your product is still in beta or if it’s ready for launch.
- Gallery — Use this section to insert images of your product.
- Description — This is where you explain the product and its benefits in detail.
- Schedule — When can customers expect the product to be made available to everyone.
Of course, there are other fields you’ll need to fill out but they are all self-explanatory.
Product Hunt will then show its users what you have to offer. Users can upvote your product which will expose it to more people.
Getting upvoted will do you wonders. You want to get upvoted as fast as possible.
By getting tons of upvotes, your brands exposure increases, increasing the likelihood that it will feature on the viewers own respective sites.
If you filled out the information above, as I mentioned, these views and subsequent mentions SHOULD turn into backlinks. By linking to you, it should help user navigation on their own site — moreover, it helps establish a working relationship as it will encourage you to exchange links.
If people decide that they love your product, it can lead to having high-quality backlinks that point to your site.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Often, people will forget to link to you…
We still need to find unlinked mentions of your brand online.
To do this, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with Google Alerts.
Google Alerts notifies you whenever certain keywords you set are mentioned in blog posts and articles.
It was intended to report back news about a person or company. It’s also used for branding and improving public relations.
However, SEOs quickly realized that it can also be used for link building.
Setting up a Google Alert is not only uncomplicated, but it’s also absolutely free.
Go to Google Alerts and sign in.
On the main screen, enter the keyword you want to track. In this case, you’d want to enter all possible variations of your brand/company name.
Let’s use a fictional ice cream shop called Freezy McCold’s Ice Cream Parlor.
After you enter your keyword, you’ll be given options. You can set how often an alert comes in, what sources (blogs, articles, videos, etc.) to use, language, region, quantity, and how you want the alerts to come in (through email or RSS feed).
Once you’re done, click Create Alert.
From this point on, you will receive an alert every time the keyword is mentioned on the web. You can continue adding keywords as necessary. You can even use your name so you know when a site is talking about you.
When you get an email alert, check the site and search for any instance that your brand was mentioned. If they are not linking to your site at all, you can reach out to the webmaster and kindly ask that they update the page to include a backlink.
And because you’ve already been mentioned, there’s a good chance that the author is already aware of who you are and will be more accommodating to your request.
Most websites have a contact page that you can use to reach out to the webmaster. But if they don’t, you can use a third-party tool like Find That Lead to see people you can get in touch with.
Note: If you want to learn more about Find That Lead, we’ve covered it in another post, How To Get Powerful .EDU Backlinks In Minutes!
Once you’ve gathered a list of unlinked mentions, you can start drafting your outreach email.
There are several things you need to remember.
For one thing, there’s no reason to be pushy. If you come off as overly aggressive, you’ll give the recipients a reason to ignore your request outright.
Think about the post you saw. Even though it does have an unlinked mention, does it make sense to add a backlink to it?
If not, maybe it’s best to leave it alone. Do not force the issue if it’s not necessary.
Besides, there are times when you don’t want to be linked to. If the article puts your brand in a negative light, why would you want to be associated with that?
If you do see the potential in having a backlink from the site, remember to offer the webmaster something in return.
It could be as simple as mentioning the post in your social media accounts. Or you can provide suggestions on how the post can be improved or finding typos that went unnoticed.
Here’s a sample email that you can tweak and use:
I’m [Your Name] from [Your Company].
I found an article that mentions my company. Here’s the link: [Insert Link]
I just wanted to say thanks for mentioning my company in the post. Also, I was wondering if it’s possible to link [Keyword] to this page: [Your Domain/Page]
Your readers might appreciate it if you made it easier for them to find our site.
By the way, I’m definitely sharing this post with our followers on social media.
Please reach out to me if you have any questions.
You should do your best to personalize the email. Mention details that apply only to the author and his post.
That way, the author knows that this is not just some boilerplate email you’re sending them. Make them feel special.
This method takes some effort but it’s one of the most straightforward strategies in link building. It’s definitely worth a shot.
Join the Do-Follow Link Sharing Facebook Group
There is a Facebook group that pays dividends to your link building campaign. That is if you play your cards right.
The group is called DoFollow Link Sharing.
We’re not going to lie.
It’s tough to get in. Or at least that’s the case if you’re not willing to give as much as you take.
You see, this group is a community. Everyone has to contribute.
Members will willingly give you backlinks. But in return, you’re asked to do the same.
DoFollow Link Sharing has strict rules. Before you’re allowed to join, you must provide two pages/websites that you own where other members can get do-follow backlinks from.
You will also be required to share two new pages per month.
You need to prove that you are the owner of the sites you submitted by including metrics for each site.
After you submit your two pages in a post, you’ll then have access to the Discussion page where other members have done the same. You can then take your pick of do-follow pages and find ones that are close to your niche.
However, just because you shared two sites that let you build dofollow links, don’t think for a second you’re already in the clear.
You have to be sure that the sites haven’t been mentioned in the group before.
If you repeat a site, expect to receive a gentle reminder from the moderators:
As you can see, they aren’t playing around.
So you truly need to send over two unique sites where members can play dofollow links…or else!
As for some of the entries, each tends to focus on a really specific niche. So you’ll have to dig deep to find ones that you can use.
Some of the users share links to directories and submission sites. But in our experience, these rarely provide the kind of link equity you want.
Not following the rules will get you banned from the group.
Bonus: Create Infographic Embed Codes
This strategy won’t give you backlinks in an instant.
This is a great way of utilizing unused infographics you may have lying around.
I mean, you can put them to good use instead of just having them lying around on your site.
Now, if you don’t have an infographic yet, you can convert your high-quality posts into infographics using online tools like Canva.
If you are unfamiliar, infographics are visual resources that present facts and information in a more palatable form.
And because they’re way easier to digest than articles in plain text, more people are inclined to link to these resources rather than the actual post.
Take this infographic from the University of Maryland.
This is such a well-designed infographic. It’s very likely that people have shared this on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social media sites.
It’s no surprise that a lot of sites have linked to the infographic including some notable domains.
According to Ahrefs, there are over 168 domains that have linked to this infographic.
It’s currently being used to explain emotional IQ in different contexts. Take this one from Forbes as an example.
Canva features the infographic in their roundup of the best infographics.
Can you imagine the kind of link equity the original post has after getting all these backlinks from reputable sources?
Imagine if you have an infographic just like that.
You’ll be able to rank in Google with ease.
Converting your well-performing posts into infographics won’t require that much effort. You already have the words. All that’s left to do is use a tool like Canva or hire a graphic designer on Fiverr to commission an infographic.
Graphic artists are offering their services for as low as $5 on Fiverr.
But if you’re sticking to free resources and don’t like using Canva for any reason, there are other services that allow you to make an infographic at no cost.
Companies like Piktochart and Venngage offer free use of their tools. But do note that since both of these companies offer business plans, their respective free plans have limited features. However, it should still be enough to get the job done.
Once you have an infographic, what else can you do to ensure that users are able to share it easily?
One solution would be to include an embed code.
This will let webmasters or authors copy-paste the infographic as an HTML code. There’ll be no need for them to make minor adjustments just so they fit into their web pages.
So how do you create an embed code for your infographic?
It’s not as complicated as you might think.
First, you’re going to save your infographic twice. One file must be saved in full resolution. The other should be resized to fit your web page.
You have to upload both files to your media library.
Use the resized version on your page. Add a link to the full-resolution version.
There are a couple of reasons why you want to do it this way:
- The resized version will have a smaller file size. This will help your page to load faster.
- The link to the full-resolution infographic will give readers an option to view that instead in the event that infographic text and other details become hard to read.
- You can use the full-resolution version to generate an embed code. Not all sites are equal. Some have specific image size requirements.
Once that’s settled, use an embed code generator like the one Siege Media offers.
Fill in all the details. Don’t forget to add the link to your image URL (the high-resolution one).
Don’t forget to set your image width. You can use the same size you use on your site. Embed codes can be edited by anyone before they’re used so long as they’re familiar with HTML.
As you fill in the details, a preview of the code is generated. Once you’re finished, you can copy the code and place it on your site.
The strategies above will not boost your search engine rankings on their own. It’s supposed to be used in conjunction with other link building tactics.
However, the free backlink profiles you can get using all the tactics mentioned in this post allows you to establish the link profile of your site pages.
Besides, the fact that they’re free should make them appealing to SEOs who are on a tight marketing budget.