Try as we might outsmart search engines, Google and its competitors have only one job. Their sole mission is to deliver relevant search results — and they’re very good at it. Link building you ranks you higher for the right searches, leading to direct revenue.

Search engines figure out whether you’re worth featuring in their top results by evaluating how many other credible websites feature links to your website (these are called backlinks). A backlink from a highly-ranked external website will boost domain authority, thereby increasing your odds of appearing on the first page of a Google search.

You can’t just buy links (well, some people do, but it’s against Google’s terms of service, and we don’t recommend it). Instead, if you want to build valuable links, start with these five link building tactics.

Tip #1: Create Linkable Content

The very best way to get links is to create content worth linking to, such as:

Look to your competitors for inspiration. Find a piece of content you think might have backlinks, and use Ahref’s free backlink checker to see how many external websites link to it.

Example: We used Ahref’s backlink checker to see how many external websites linked to the backlink checker itself (yep, very meta). Here were the results:

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That’s an impressive list of referring domains and backlinks, meaning that this tool is highly effective for link building. In other words, if you’re one of Ahref’s competitors, you might consider making a similar tool.

Note: 22% of the backlinks were “dofollow” links, which means Google uses them to bolster’s domain authority. The remaining are “donotfollow” links, which means they do not bolster’s ranking because they were posted on parts of the web (e.g., a forum, on the comments section of blogs) that the website owner has no control over. This ensures that people who spam comments sections with their own links won’t receive any benefit in terms of domain authority.

Pro Tip: While you can’t pay to buy links, you can pay to promote content that might land you some valuable backlinks. Again, just be sure to produce something your target audience will find valuable, otherwise, you’re wasting your advertising budget.

Tip #2: Guest Blogging

Reaching out to companies in a similar space with a highly ranked website and offering to write a guest post is a solid technique for getting a backlink — assuming you produce quality content. Search engines can usually figure out whether your content is valuable based on a complex algorithm, so if you’re not going to take the time to produce something worth reading, don’t bother. A lot of people are in the guest blogging game. It’s a crowded field, but there’s always room great content.

Tip #3: Feature Influencers in Your Content Marketing

Consider producing posts about influencers within your target market or related industries, and feature them in your blog posts and other forms of content marketing. For example, you could conduct interviews with innovative thinkers who are reshaping your industry, then ask each of them to link to the content once it’s published.

Tip #4: Broken Link Mining

Broken links are links that go nowhere on a website. Sometimes they were meant to lead to internal links (links within a company’s own website), but many once led to external links (page on other companies’ websites) that were taken down.

One link building trick is to:

  1. Find popular, broken external links to valuable content on websites your audience frequents
  2. Figure out where the content once led using Wayback Machine
  3. Recreate similar content (without infringing on copyright laws)
  4. Contact anyone featuring that broken link and ask them to replace it with a link to your newly created content

Take a look at Moz’s Broken Link Building Bible for details on how to do this.

Tip #5: Follow up on Unlinked Brand Mentions

If you’re a mover and a shaker in your field, people are talking about you. And sometimes, they talk about your company without linking to your website.

Set up a Google Alert to get notified whenever someone mentions your company across the internet, and follow up with them to see if they’d be willing to link to your website.

The Value of Consistency

Make no mistake about it — link building is hard work, and just like with SEO, you won’t see results overnight. That said if you focus your attention on creating valuable content that your target market wants to read, and you consistently work to build relationships with people producing similar content, you may be rewarded with more backlinks and better search engine rankings.