Backlinks are essentially like votes — the more you have the better. All other factors equal, a site that has more backlinks will outrank a site that has no backlinks.
Sure, things like creating comprehensive content still matter as you can’t publish subpar content and expect it to rank. But backlinks continue to be one of the most important ranking factors, especially for affiliate marketers.
Don’t believe me?
One industry study found a direct correlation between backlinks and rankings — sites in the first position had 3.8x more links than sites in the lower positions.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you can simply spam your pages with links and call it a day. Taking that approach will likely lead to a ranking penalty.
Instead, you need to take a more strategic approach to link building if you want to rank in Google and increase your affiliate earnings.
So how do you go about it?
You’re in the right place, friend! In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at the top link building strategies that affiliate marketers should know in 2021.
Here are the link building strategies we’ll cover here:
- Help Webmasters Fix Broken Backlinks
- Publish Guest Blog Posts on Industry Sites
- Conduct Email Outreach
- Publish Original Research
- Conduct Competitive Link Analysis
- Create an “Ultimate” Guide
- Master Your Homepage
Link building is one of the more challenging aspects of SEO. But by the end of this article, your mind will be brimming with ideas.
Let’s get started.
1. Help Webmasters Fix Broken Backlinks
Broken link building involves reaching out to websites with broken outbound links and suggesting they replace it with a link to one of your pages instead.
This strategy works well because you’re helping webmasters fix broken links, which improves the experience for their visitors. Many will be more than happy to link back to you.
First, put together a list of websites that are relevant to your niche. Simply search Google for your target keywords and compile a list into a spreadsheet.
Then click through each website and manually search for broken links…
Or use Ahrefs’ handy Broken Link Checker tool.
Enter a domain and click the “Check broken links” button.
Here are some broken links that show up for NeilPatel.com:
The free version only lets you view 10 broken outbound links. You’ll need a subscription if you want to see the full list.
Reach out directly to the webmaster and suggest that they update the broken link with a page from your site.
Here’s a short template you can use:
While browsing your site, I came across this page: [Page with a broken link]
However, I noticed that this link leads to a 404 page: [Broken link]
I recently published some awesome content that I think would help your visitors and be a good replacement: [Insert link to your page]
Hope this helps!
Keep your email short. You may only get a few responses, but that’s perfectly okay. Even a few strong links from relevant sites can be a huge boost for your affiliate site.
2. Publish Guest Blog Posts on Industry Sites
Guest posting is exactly what it sounds like — it involves writing a piece of content and getting it published on another site, ideally one that’s related to your niche.
This strategy helps you:
- Build quality backlinks from relevant sites
- Generate referral traffic from those sites
Guest posting also benefits publishers as they get quality content they can publish for their audience. This link building strategy requires more effort than some of the others on this list, but it offers a powerful way to boost your rankings.
Start by finding sites that accept guest posts. Type the following search operators into Google:
- [Your topic] + “write for us”
- [Your topic] + “guest post”
- [Your topic] + “become a contributor”
- [Your topic] + “become an author”
Here’s an example of how this looks:
Most websites that accept guest posts will typically include an email address of who to contact to submit your article.
Then send a personalized email stating that you’d like to contribute a blog post. Be sure to include several topics that you feel would be a good fit for their blog.
If you can’t find the right email addresses, you can also try using LinkedIn. When reaching out for a guest post opportunity, it’s important to have a catchy LinkedIn subject line. This will increase the chances of your message getting opened.
Once you find a website that’s willing to accept your guest post, be sure to carefully check any guidelines before writing your content. Then create and submit the post once you’re done.
Alternatively, buying backlinks is another effective link building strategy if done right. For example, you can work with an agency to help you secure guest posts on popular sites in your niche.
3. Conduct Email Outreach
This link building strategy is more old school, but it still works. It involves reaching out to people via email with the goal of getting a backlink to your site.
Conducting email outreach is easier said than done, of course. Making matters more difficult is the fact that only 8.5% of outreach emails ever receive a response.
This low response rate is hardly surprising.
People are busy and they have little incentive to respond, especially if they don’t know who you are. But get this link building strategy right and you’ll be able to boost your search engine rankings for your affiliate sites.
Start by creating a spreadsheet to track your outreach efforts. This doesn’t need to be anything fancy as you can simply use Google Sheets for this.
Then get to work on compiling a list of people you can reach out to.
If you’re breaking into the extremely competitive (but lucrative) credit niche, you might do a search for best credit repair companies and request that they also mention your site.
Using a template can be a huge time-saver here, but be sure to personalize each one. If you don’t hear back, follow up again in a few days to increase response rates. If you still don’t get a response, simply note it down in your spreadsheet and move on.
Finding the right emails isn’t always easy. Consider using an email finder tool to find the right people to contact.
4. Publish Original Research
Content creators such as journalists, authors, and bloggers are always looking for facts to back up their viewpoints. It’s hard to make an argument unless you have data to support your claim.
Publishing original research is a highly effective way to get quality backlinks.
Robert Katai, a B2B content strategist who previously worked at CMI (Content Marketing Institute), found that 4 of the top 10 posts were all based on research.
CMI’s top blog posts based on original research are bolded below:
Publishing original research not only helps you attract more links, but it also establishes your site as an industry authority.
Savvy Sleeper, a site that provides reviews and comparison guides on mattresses, regularly conducts sleep studies to help their visitors improve their sleep quality.
They’ve also included a section on sleep research with links to content that provide a full breakdown of the research they conducted.
If you’re thinking, “That sounds like a lot of work,” you’re right.
Putting together original research means gathering raw data (either through surveys or other data collection methods), conducting a full analysis, and reporting on it — a process that can easily take weeks or even much longer.
But it can mean the difference between struggling to crack the first page of Google and absolutely dominating your niche.
5. Conduct Competitive Link Analysis
Other affiliate sites in your niche are most likely building links to their pages, especially the ones that are ranking on the first page.
This may sound intimidating if you’re entering a new niche or just getting started with affiliate marketing, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Why? Because it means that those sites have done a lot of the heavy lifting already in finding sites to link to them.
If a site has linked to a resource on a competing site and you have similar (or better) content you want to rank, there’s a good chance they’ll link to it!
Let’s say that you created an excellent guide that compares the best schools. What you want to do next is search for that target keyword and look at what sites are already ranking.
Then use a backlink checker like Ubersuggest to analyze a competing site’s link profile.
From here, note down any links that you can replicate. You’ll have greater success with your outreach efforts if you reach out to people who have linked to similar content in the past.
Keep track of your efforts in a spreadsheet and personalize your emails. You may not be able to replicate all of the links from your competitors. But you can at least get more than a few with this link building strategy.
6. Create an “Ultimate” Guide
Webmasters receive tons of backlink requests.
If you send an outreach email requesting a backlink, then you better have a remarkable piece of content that’s actually worth linking to.
A 500-word article that looks like it was put through an article spinner (a tool that rewrites content) won’t cut it.
This is where an ultimate guide comes in or a piece of content that comprehensively covers a topic.Here’s an example of an ultimate guide from
GoAura that provides an in-depth overview of online arbitrage — the practice of buying products in one market and selling it in another at a higher price.
The guide from Go Aura provides tips for beginner and advanced sellers. It also covers a ton of useful tools for those interested in pursuing this business model.
Here’s an example of an ultimate guide to blogging that we published on Nichehacks where we cover everything about starting a blog from picking a niche to choosing a domain name and much more.
It’s important to make one thing clear here — creating an ultimate guide is often a painstakingly long process. It involves targeting the right keywords, gathering data, sourcing images, and writing the content itself.
But when done right, these guides can drive tons of organic traffic to your site and attract quality backlinks.
Start by picking a keyword in your niche.
Ideally, it should be a keyword that gets a decent amount of search traffic. Use a keyword research tool like Google’s Keyword Planner to check search volume.
Don’t be afraid to target more competitive phrases. It’ll take some time, but your content will gradually rise in rankings once you start to build quality links to it.
Then get to work on creating your guide. In the meantime, consider working with a graphic designer to create eye-catching graphics. Quality images will help to increase engagement and reduce bounce rates.
Look at how Buzzsprout have created this detailed guide on how to start a podcast. The guide is over 5,000 words with videos and internal links to other relevant content.
Notice how they created bookmarks for each section at the top of the page. This saves readers time from having to sift through irrelevant content and results in lower bounce rates for the page.
7. Master Your Homepage
What does a homepage have to do with link building?
To illustrate, imagine landing on a site that looks like this:
If your site resembles anything like the above, you’ll have a hard time getting links. Even with excellent content on your site, webmasters likely won’t link to it.
The site looks spammy and doesn’t appear legitimate, which is an immediate red flag.
In contrast, have a look at this homepage from PandaDoc:
The difference between the two sites is night and day.
PandaDoc has a professionally designed site with a clear structure and plenty of white space — the space around the text and images on a page.
Most importantly, the design communicates trustworthiness. Webmasters are much more likely to link to this site than the first site.
Invest in a professional design for your homepage to attract quality backlinks. Consider working with a web designer to get the right look for your affiliate site.
Whether you’re getting started with affiliate marketing or you have more experience under your belt, link building remains more essential than ever.
Without quality links to your affiliate site, your rankings will remain stagnant. Implement the link building strategies as outlined here to boost your earnings.
Do you have any link building strategies that have worked for your affiliate site? Feel free to share them here!
Featured Image Credit: unsplash.com
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