5 Ways To Get Legitimate Backlinks Without Paying For Them

By March 27th, 2017


When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), backlinks are still the most effective way to increase your rankings and get search engine traffic. While many experts suggest creating great content as a way to get a lot of traffic, most people quickly find out that content itself will rarely work. It always needs to be complemented by quality SEO.

Since backlinks are still the way to beat your competitors, the next question is how do we get good backlinks without resorting to black hat methods such as buying links?

Here are a few ways to get quality backlinks.

1. Use Resources Such As HARO

HARO stands for Help a Reporter Out. It is basically a service that connects reporters to experts and content providers. The idea is that reporters usually cite their sources, and if you become their source, you almost automatically get a mention or a free backlink from a reputable media website.

When you sign up with HARO as a source, you start receiving daily emails from them that include all the reporters that need a source for their articles. The emails include a brief description along with contact information, deadline, and media outlet.

The emails look similar to the image below.


2. Search For Articles In Your Niche

The next way to get a backlink is to search content such as best of articles, link roundups, and topic resources based on your topic and suggesting your website to the article author. This method was made popular by Backlinko a few years ago.

The best way to find such content is to perform a simple Google search using any one of these combinations:

Finding Best Blog List Articles

  • “best (YOUR TOPIC) blogs 2017”
  • “best (YOUR TOPIC) blogs 2016”
  • “my favorite (YOUR TOPIC) blogs”
  • “best (YOUR TOPIC) blogs to read”

Finding Link Roundup Articles

  • “your keyword” + “link roundup”
  • “your keyword” + roundup
  • “your keyword” + “best of”
  • “your keyword” + this week

Finding Educational Resources

  • site:.edu “your keyword”
  • site:.edu “your keyword” + “resources”
  • site:.edu: “your keyword” + “other sites”

Finding Articles In Your Niche

  • “fitness” + “resource page”
  • “fitness” + “resources”
  • “fitness” + “recommended sites”
  • “fitness” + “links”

Once you find the articles where you think your website would fit in nicely, the next job is to simply contact the author and suggest your website. You can do it using any method such as email, Twitter, Facebook, or even a quick phone call.

Remember when you make contact, it is always a good idea to give some positive reinforcement to the author before suggesting your content. Something like “Just read your article ______ and found it to be very interesting especially since I have a website in a similar niche. Feel free to check out my website at _____ and share with your users if you think it would be helpful to them.”

3. Become A Guest Author On Popular Blogs

Just as I am a guest author on several websites such as this one, Forbes, and AllBusiness, you too can become one on popular blogs as well. The key is to stick to the niche that you know well. You need to be an expect in a niche in order to write articles that are helpful to their users.

So what’s the best way to find blogs that allow guest authors? We will use our handy Google search for this task again by performing searches such as:

  • “your topic” + guest post
  • “your topic” + guest author
  • “your topic” + write for us
  • “your topic” + guest article
  • “your topic” + guest contributor

Once you find blogs that you believe are a good fit for you, the next step is to contact them and ask to write for them. If you’ve written for other blogs previously, it is a great idea to show those links to the editors of blogs you want to write for as that shows experience and trust.

If you have not published on any blogs yet, then it’s a good idea to write one article or outline that you think would fit great on their blog and send it to them for suggestions and feedback.

4. Search For Broken Links

Another method popularized by Backlinko is the one where you search for broken links in your niche and suggest your link as a replacement. I’ve had mixed results with this method because it is generally not easy to find broken links unless it is for a very popular niche.

These are some of the Google queries you may perform to find broken links:

  • “your keyword” + shut down
  • “your keyword” + out of business
  • “your keyword” + rebranded
  • “your keyword” + service no longer available
  • “your keyword” + this resource no longer updated

When you find some pages where you think your link will be a great replacement, then next step is to contact the author or webmaster and suggest your link. As already mentioned before, you do have to be courteous, kind, and somewhat of a sweet talker in order to get people’s attention and cooperation.

5. Answer Questions On Q&A Websites

Although this method will not necessarily get you high quality backlinks, it will still get you decent and legitimate backlinks. And while some of them might be no-follow, they still have some impact on your overall SEO strategy and success.


Quora is one of the most popular Q&A websites that usually has answers provided by experts in their respective niches. That’s where you come in. You are an expert in your niche (I hope) and that’s why you can answer questions that users might have. Register an account and fill out your profile completely and then search for topics that are in your niche that you can provide a good answer for.

Yahoo Answers

Yahoo Answers was the most popular Q&A website before Quora came along. Even though it was pretty useful for its time, it always had a lot of spam and questions weren’t necessarily answered by experts. Either way, all it takes is a Yahoo account and you can start answering right away. Just as with Quora, you simply search for topics in your niche that you can answer.

And remember, don’t add your answers to ridiculously old questions unless they were never answered.

With Yahoo Answers, the links you initially post will be no-followed until you build a decent reputation and gain points.

Other Q&a Websites

Here are some more Q&A websites you may try to register for and contribute by providing answers to the questions their users have. Keep in mind some of them are niche-specific so you won’t fit unless you’re an expert in that niche.

Answers.com – General Q&A website.

StackExchange – A lot of different communities, but the most popular ones are IT and programming related.

Experts Exchange – Mainly IT-related.

Question.com – General Q&A website.


* Adapted lead image:  Public Domain, pixabay.com via getstencil.com

About the Author: Haris Bacic

Haris is the lead of design and development at AdFicient, a full-service search engine marketing (SEM) and business development agency. AdFicient helps clients get more out of their advertising with conversion optimization, search engine optimization, search engine marketing, and web design.



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