Building links to your site is quite easy if you’re willing to resort to dodgy tactics, however thanks to Google’s Penguin updates it’s becoming less likely that these links will actually benefit your SEO in the long term.

Interflora is a high profile example of what can go wrong if your linkbuilding strategy isn’t whiter than white.

So to avoid being exiled from Google, SEOs need to direct their efforts into building sustainable links.

At Distilled’s LinkLove event on Friday Hannah Smith ran through a series of tips and tactics for building valuable links that your site can be proud of and that Google will look kindly on...

1. Get blogging

Blogging has proved to be a very successful tool for linkbuilding for many businesses, including Econsultancy, but it can be difficult to get your content shared if you don’t have a well-recognised brand.

To help gain exposure and build links, Smith recommended a paid-for tool called Zemanta that recognises the main themes of your blog posts and puts it in front of bloggers who write about a similar topic, thereby giving them suggestions of content they might want to link to.

In past 12 months Smith built 257 links for a client using Zemanta at the cost of about $14 per link.

2. Make use of photos

If you have decent images on your site then it’s likely that other people are already stealing them, therefore you should take advantage of this by making them embeddable.

Smith suggested a tool created by Paddy Moogan that makes all images embeddable, so whenever somebody tries to pinch a photo they are automatically given an embed code containing a backlink.

Site owners should also consider placing all their images on Flickr and licensing them through Creative Commons so people can use them under the condition that they link back to your site.

A perfect example is this eye-catching image of Econsultancy CEO Ashley Friedlein at our Innovation Awards a few years ago, which is published in our Flickr stream.

Econsultancy Innovation Awards 2010 Dinner

3. Stop talking like an SEO

When asking people for links, you need to bear in mind that they probably aren’t au fait with the latest SEO jargon.

So for example, if you’re asking a journalist for a link back from a photo they’ve used, ask for an image credit rather than an attribution link.

Similarly, you don’t want to guest blog, you would like a byline.

4. Make sure you’re actually getting those links from photos

There is a new tool called Image Raider that allows you to find out who’s using your photos and whether or not they’ve linked back.

Then you can seek out the people that haven’t linked back and ask them for an image credit.

5. Using video

If you’ve worked hard to create video content that people want to share and embed then you need to make sure you aren’t just building links back to your hosting platform (e.g. YouTube or Vimeo).

You can find out who has embedded your content using the video statistics tab in YouTube, then go and politely request that they add a link back to your site.

Furthermore, Distilled’s SEO consultant Phil Nottingham has created a video embed link generator, which automatically creates a backlink each time the content is embedded on a third-party site.

6. Working with existing communities

A common tactic for SEOs and marketers is to try to interact with a relevant online community so they might consider linking to you.

Unfortunately they tend to be alert to it and don’t want people trying to exploit their communities, so how can you approach them without being shunned?

Smith said that in the past she bought advertising in online communities, not for the links or any SEO benefit, but to get relevant traffic that is likely to convert.

Also, after paying for advertising they might be more open with you, as you’ve given them some money.

7. Getting PR coverage with no links?

More often than not publishers are wary about linking to a homepage or promotional landing page as it’s seen as being too commercial.

However they don’t have the same qualms about linking to ‘people’ or ‘about’ pages as it is seen as providing context and information. Therefore it’s a good idea to create profile pages for your employees.

8. Can’t find someone’s email address?

Smith recommended using Gmail plugin Rapportive, a free tool that helps you to find people’s email addresses.

9. Make sure to follow up

Just because a blogger has agreed to add in a link that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will actually get around to doing it.

Unfortunately people are busy, so you need to give them a nudge to remind them.

Smith recommended Gmail plugin Boomerang, which allows you to schedule emails for later, gives follow up reminders, and alerts you if you haven’t heard back from a particular contact.

10. Great content will help secure guest blogs on great sites

Guest blogging is a great way to build valuable links back to your site, however it’s difficult to secure bylines from top tier publishers.

To make your request stand out from the crowd, you need to product high quality, useful content that the site will be eager to publish. This might be new research, a best practice guide, or tips for how to achieve a certain goal.

It does require some commitment to keep coming up with interesting ideas, but the returns make it worthwhile.

The ultimate goal is to become a regular contributor, as that delivers greater returns and requires less effort than scrabbling around for low-level guest blogs every month.

Incidentally, at Econsultancy we firmly support Smith's views on guest blogging, and would like to take the opportunity to point you in the direction of our post detailing 15 tips to help you become a brilliant guest blogger.

11. Make use of all available data

If you want to produce an infographic but don’t have any of your own data, then simply source some from the internet.

Distilled created an infographic using data available on The Guardian’s website, then contacted one of its journalists to let them know. This resulted in a link from The Guardian to the client’s website.

David Moth

Published 18 March, 2013 by David Moth

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

1719 more posts from this author

You might be interested in

Comments (8)

Save or Cancel

Nick Stamoulis

"The ultimate goal is to become a regular contributor, as that delivers greater returns and requires less effort than scrabbling around for low-level guest blogs every month."

That's the advice I always give my clients as well. When you become a regular contributor that blog's audience gets used to seeing your name and brand and you start to build a stronger presence.

over 5 years ago


Thomas McMahon

As a link builder, I use Boomerang daily and it's been a fantastic tool. Rapportive has been another great Gmail tool that lets me see more information about the person I'm outreaching to.

Great follow up and point by Nick too - fittingly enough we're both regular contributors to a shared site as well.

over 5 years ago



First of all thanks for such great resources. second accidently or what you have linked the incorrect link in "1. Get blogging" paragraph.

Anchor text Zementa is linked to the Bloomberg website.

over 5 years ago

David Moth

David Moth, Managing Editor at Barclaycard

@Ron, thanks for commenting, but the link is working correctly for me.

over 5 years ago


Carlo Pandian

Helping targeted webmasters with their broken links also lead to acquiring links

over 5 years ago


Rajesh Magar

Nice indeed. But I have one question in mind from long time. (Hope you will address out)

As you explained the way people used images from other sites and embedded in their own one, So is it OK if I used images from repository sites like shutterstock or something and in fever just mentioned their credit link at just with image box or at the end of the article? (Like almost every big blog-sites are doing)


over 5 years ago


Jemma Taylor

Guest posting is a great way to build links, I assume thats what you mean. I have done it a lot in the past and I always receive a lot of traffic, plus a little link juice to sweeten the deal!!

about 5 years ago

Emily Westing

Emily Westing, Content Strategist at

Some excellent link building strategies listed here.

I think tip 6 "engaging with existing communities", as an example in a popular online forum in your niche is an underused strategy.

This can drive actual targeted traffic and enquiries, but too few inbound marketers want to invest the time nor have the patience to build a relationship with a community, sharing real content and expertise.

I'm definitely seeing more marketers shift towards broken link building as a strategy, especially with a plethora of tools out there such as:

Screaming Frog
Xenu Link Sleuth
Broken Link Finder From Citation Labs

Last but not least the browser add on pinger is great way to quickly find broken links on a page.

Cheers, Emily

almost 5 years ago

Save or Cancel

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Digital Pulse newsletter. You will receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.