Ultimate Guide to Backlinks

You’re Richer (in backlinks) Than You Think

Link building is not dead – far from it.

You know what is dead? Spammy links. Dodgy links. Bulk links. Bought links. Links from fake social media profiles and low quality, low authority websites. Any backlink that you didn’t earn. I emphasize “earn” for a reason: Because earned links are the bedrock of good link building and ultimately, strong SEO.

However, this article is not meant to explain what link building is – if you are reading this, you (more likely than not) already know. There already exist plenty of good articles on the topic.

It is also common knowledge that backlinks are important to SEO. But building/earning backlinks is time consuming. It’s hard. It’s frustrating.

The “Lassie Links” Strategy - How to leverage existing backlinks (that you didn’t even know you had)

Google cares about backlinks. In fact, links are one of their most important search engine ranking factors.

Using what we’ve coined as our “Lassie Links Strategy” (as in, Lassie Come Home) we will take you through a series of tactics which will enable you to find and leverage already existing backlinks to your website. 

This strategy focuses on these 6 link tactics:

1. Find broken backlinks to your site – and fix them

First, let’s focus on finding broken backlinks to your website, then fixing them. There are a few reasons why you might have broken (also referred to as dead) backlinks to your website:

  • You may have migrated to a new website and/or a new URL;
  • You may have deleted or moved a page that has existing backlinks – for example, you may have merged two similar blog posts into one overarching post (and forgotten to do 301 redirects);

The website linking to you may have made a mistake when adding in your URL – for example, they might have included or excluded an extra character or letter in the URL.

Top tools to check broken backlinks

Google Search Console

Google Search Console includes a broken link report option for monitoring websites for content with broken links. This broken link checker identifies any internal 404 errors, or web pages linked to your web pages using incorrect URLs, and pages with external links returning 404 pages.

How it works: When using this broken link detector provided by Search Console, you can see broken links displayed by going to “Coverage” and you will be able to see Errors appear on the right side.

SEO Site Checkup

This incredibly simple, free tool is a favorite as it doesn’t even require a signup, not even for a free trial. You simply type in your URL and hit checkup.

How it works: Simply type your website’s URL into the box, choose ‘Backlinks Test’ from the drop-down menu below the box and hit the orange ‘Checkup’ box to the right. You can do the same process for your competitors’ websites and then capitalize on their broken links – see ‘Broken Link Building’ Strategy.

2. Find unlinked mentions – or lost links – and link them

Finding unlinked mentions to your website or product is a fairly simple, proactive process that can yield good results.

There are times when your brand, company, specific product or website may be mentioned online, but there is no accompanying link. Press releases are a prime example of when this may happen – the press may tell your story, but they may not bother giving you a link. When this happens (and it happens more than you think) you’re going to want to remedy it. All it usually requires is a courteous phone call or email asking the author or editor to add a link to the relevant page or product on your website.

But first you have to find those lost links and bring them in from the cold.

Top tools to find unlinked mentions

Google Alerts

Ever heard of Google? We thought so. They have this incredibly simple tool called Google Alerts which allows you to set up as-it-happens, daily or weekly alerts (however often you want an inbox bombardment) for whatever it is you want to be alerted about!

How it works: Simply type the term (for example, your business name, your product name, your own name) you want to monitor into the query box.

Then, from the ‘Show Options’ dropdown, choose how often, how many and which sources you want to monitor, type in your email address (which will already be populated if you’re logged into your Google account), and hit ‘Create Alert’. Now, whenever another website or online source publishes any sort of content mentioning your tracked term, you’ll get an email notification alerting you to the mention. Check it out, and if they don’t link to your site along with the mention or citation, reach out to them to rectify the oversight.

3. Find lost links – and reclaim them

Also known as link reclamation, the process of finding lost links and restoring them can be simpler than cultivating altogether new platforms and creating new content for backlinks.

What is link reclamation? At its simplest, the process looks like this: once upon a time you had a link on xyz.com. Then you lost that link. XYZ.com, for some reason removed your link – be it on purpose or by accident. Maybe the author updated and refreshed their content and in the process, removed your link.  Whatever the reason, all you care about is that you worked hard for that link and want it back.

Top tool to find and reclaim your lost links

MOZ.com Lost Link Tool

MOZ.com offers a ton of great SEO tools – some paid, some free. One in particular I enjoy using is the “Discovered and Lost” link tool. Their index has millions of links in it and they can help you find links that you had at one point but that are no longer there (for a variety of reasons).

How it works: For this particular tactic, you will need a MOZ account. 

Navigate your way to their Link Explorer Tool and type in your URL. You will find a host of valuable link data. From here, look for the Discovered and Lostitem in the right hand menu. This will provide you with links that have been found for your website recently, as well as those you have lost. Those lost links can be a treasure trove of link opportunities, particularly because websites that we’re once linking to should in theory be great link prospects to go after.

4. Find your uncredited images – and get the credit and link you deserve!

With millions of images online, it’s inevitable that many of those images are being used without proper copyright or at the very least, some sort of citation and credit.

There are a few online tools you can use to find your images online, see where and how they are being used. This knowledge gives you the power to then take back control of your images.

Top tools to find your uncredited (and/or unlinked) images

Google Reverse Image Search

Google’s reverse image search is a basic, but extremely effective, free way to find your images online.

How it works: Go to images.google.com, click the camera icon on the right of the search bar, and either paste in the URL for an image you’ve seen online, upload an image from your hard drive, or drag an image from another window. Google will then show you everywhere that image has been used, enabling you to reach out to people in places they’ve used it to request credit and link back to your website.

Pixsy

Pixsy is another great tool for doing reverse image searches. Pixsy searches over 50,000,000 images daily and uses an advanced image scanner as well as AI to find accurate matches of your images online. 

How it works: Pixsy allows you to import your images instantly from popular image platforms to sync your images and start monitoring for matches online. It also allows for manual uploads from your computer. Once you’ve found your images, you can either reach out yourself to request appropriate credit and linking, or you can make use of Pixsy’s legal “Resolve Copyright Infringement Claims”.

5. Find your uncited and unlinked content

Can anyone say copyright infringement? Some say there is no longer any original thought. We can see that. We’re all playing in the same field, trying to tell you the same thing. But there are original ways to express a thought. And if people aren’t at least trying to add their own unique voice to the mix, instead choosing to flat-out copy yours, then that’s just lazy. Not to mention illegal.

While we aren’t proposing you go around suing all and sundry for copyright infringement, we are inclined to tell you to find those who are using your content without citation, and telling them to pony up. If sites are using your content, that’s a compliment. However, if they aren’t citing you, or linking back to you, it’s an insult. Here’s how to find instances of your content being used online sans citation, sans linking.

Top tools to find your uncited, unlinked content online

Google Exact Search

Start with Google. Type in an ‘exact match’ search term or phrase into Google’s search bar for some of your specific content and see what comes up. You’d be surprised at how often people will copy complete sentences, paragraphs or sections of your articles.

How it works: To search for an exact match phrase or sentence, enclose the entire piece of content you want to search in quotation marks – for instance, “you’re richer (in backlinks) than you think”. This tells Google to search for those precise words in that exact order. If you come upon any content copycats, simply reach out to them and ask them politely to cite your article, with appropriate backlinks.

Bonus Google Tool: You can also use Google Alerts (again) to set up alerts for content related to specific blog titles which you have written.

Copyscape

Copyscape is a really simple tool which scrapes the web using “a free plagiarism checker for finding copies of your web pages online”.

How it works: Simply type your website URL into the search bar and hit the blue ‘Go’ button. Copyscape will proceed to scrape the web for content copycats and report on which sites are reposting your content. The premium version also allows you to set up “automatic plagiarism alerts” with ‘Copysentry’. Once you’ve found the non-citing, non-linking (insert rude noun for dodgy copycats here), you have every right to reach out and ask for the proper credit.

6. Find your loyal fans – get them to link to you!

Social media can be both awesome and awful. You can find the best and worst of humanity there. Either way, social media is where your customers live… and where they are talking about you. You can leverage social media by monitoring the conversation and joining in whenever and wherever appropriate.

Your existing followers (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.) represent people who have already essentially ‘voted’ for you by liking your page and following your content. So take advantage of that! Don’t just post to those platforms, but share your content and interact with your followers by offering up direct links to some of your website’s most important links – whether it be your most recent article or a news piece – it’s a fantastic way to build links quickly by leveraging your established audience. It’s like a “link blast” and this can reward you with very valuable backlinks.

Top tool to leverage social media and create linking opportunities

Mention.com

How it works: Mention.com monitors the media – both regular and social media – and allows you to set up alerts to “listen closely to the entire web (to) see what’s said by them – and about them – anywhere online.” This also works well for monitoring your customer chatter and what’s being said about you, allowing you to respond to reviews, complaints and compliments quickly and effectively.

In Conclusion

The above link building opportunities are great ways to build links because they represent links that, in some ways, you already have. Now that you’ve found all your “Lassie Links”, it’s time to bring them home!

What to do next

Did you know that an Authoritas platform account gives you firehose access to Majestic’s backlink database and a set of tools to help you with some of these great link building strategies.

Authoritas also crawls every backlink and analyses the content, to check the link is still live and to add an Influence and Relevance score for each backlink to your site and your competitors’ sites.

Couple this with our influencer discovery database and campaign and contact management tools and you’ve got a complete suite of tools to help you grow your backlink profile. Why not try us today?

Jonathan Kelly

Link acquisition specialist for 1stOnThelist.ca

Jonathan Kelly is a link link acquisition specialist for 1stOnThelist.ca, a full service boutique SEO and Web Design Company located just outside of Vancouver, Canada. Jon brings over 16 years of experience in SEO and specializes in merit-based, white-hat link building methods.

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