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How to Build Links in 2024

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Let’s talk about one of the most important things on the internet – links.

They’re like the money of the web.

If a webpage has a lot of links pointing to it, Google thinks it’s important and gives it a high ranking. In 2024 backlinks have never been more important. If a page doesn’t have any links, it might as well be invisible. So, make sure your pages are linked to other authoritative sites to get those sweet high rankings!

Our guide is designed specifically for people like you, so don’t worry about feeling overwhelmed with technical jargon.

We’ve included loads of practical tips and tricks that you can start using immediately, without any fear of getting penalized by Google. So, let’s get started and start seeing those results!

Link Building Basics

What is Link Building?

Basically, it’s the process of convincing other websites to link back to your website.

The goal of link building is to improve the “authority” of your pages in the eyes of Google.

When your pages have more high-quality links pointing to them, they tend to rank higher in search engine results, which can bring in more traffic to your website.

Why is Link Building Important?

Google’s Andrey Lipattsev has stated that links are one of the top three ranking factors that affect a website’s position in search engine results. This means that if you want your website’s pages to rank highly in search, you’ll almost certainly need to have a strong backlink profile.

Search engines like Google view links from other websites as “votes” for the quality and relevance of your website’s content. These votes help search engines identify which pages on a particular topic deserve to rank at the top of the search results, among thousands of similar pages.

In general, pages that have more high-quality backlinks tend to rank higher in search results. So, building a strong and diverse backlink profile is an essential part of any successful SEO strategy.

Links Are a BIG Help - But Not All There Is

While link building is a clear factor in determining the authority of your site and how well you will rank,  it’s not the only factor that Google uses to rank your site.

You’re going to want to take a look at these other articles to help you cover every angle in ranking the best you can:

How to Build Links

Most link building strategies and plans fall into one of these four categories:


1 - Adding Links

If you go to a website that isn’t yours and put your link there yourself, it’s called ‘adding’ a link. The things people usually do to add links fall into this category:

  • Making social media profiles
  • Leaving comments on blog posts
  • Sharing on forums, online communities, and Q&A sites
  • Submitting to business directories
  • Creating job listings for people to find

Those tactics are pretty simple to pull off. But that’s exactly why Google doesn’t think much of them. Sometimes, they might even get marked as spam.

Plus, these links don’t really give you much of an edge over your competitors. If you can put your link on a site, your rivals can do it too.

That said, you shouldn’t just forget about those tactics altogether. They can still help your business out in other ways beyond just boosting your SEO.

Let me provide you with a couple of examples:

  • Business directories – If you’re trying to get more people to notice your restaurant website, make sure you put it on popular directories like Yelp, Tripadvisor, Allmenus, or Grubhub. Those links aren’t the strongest, but you could get some actual customers from them.

  • Industry forums – If you know some forums or online communities where your target audience hangs out, get in on the conversation there! But don’t just spam your links all over the place. You need to add something useful to the discussion or they’ll kick you out.

Each of these strategies can make a real difference for your business.

But if someone tries to sell you a shortcut like registering your site on a hundred directories or making a hundred social media profiles, don’t fall for it.

Those kinds of “hacks” are a waste of money at best and could get your website in trouble at worst.

2 - Asking For Links

Asking for links is exactly what it sounds like – you reach out to the website owner and give them a good reason to link to you.

That ‘good reason’ is what makes or breaks your link outreach efforts.

Let’s face it – the people you’re contacting don’t really know you or care about your site (unless you’re famous, of course). They’re not just gonna promote you out of the goodness of their hearts.

Before you ask for a link, put yourself in their shoes and ask, ‘What’s in it for THEM?’

Here are some key link building tactics to attempt and their “good reason” that they’re based off:

  • Guest Posting – Write something useful for their site.
  • Skyscraper Technique – Show them a better resource than the one they’re linking to.
  • Link Inserts – Share a resource that has more info on something they mentioned briefly.
  • Ego Bait – Give them a mention in your own content and say nice things.
  • Testimonials and Case Studies – Tell them how much you love their product or service.
  • Link Exchanges – Promise to link back to them if they link to you.
  • Resource Page Link Building – Show them a cool resource that fits in with their existing stuff.
  • Broken Link Building – Help them fix a “dead” link with a good replacement.
  • Image Link Building – Ask them to give you credit for using your image.
  • Unlinked Mentions – Ask them to make a mention of your brand clickable.
  • Link Moves – Ask them to change an existing link to point at your website.
  • HARO and Journalist Requests – Give them a good quote for their article.
  • Press Release and News Sites – Give them a juicy or interesting story to cover.

These strategies all sound pretty solid, don’t they? But when you start sending out those email requests, you’re gonna find out the hard way that your “good reason” might not be all that good after all:

  • Your guest post isn’t compelling enough
  • Your resource isn’t worthy of a mention
  • They’re too busy to fix their broken links

Here’s the thing: convincing strangers to link to you is really, really tough.

You either need something super impressive that blows them away, or you need to be a well-known name in your field and get some special treatment.

AuthorityHacker ran a campaign for backlink outreach that reached out to 600,000 websites and managed to get 4,200 referring domains

So basically, out of every 100 emails you send, you’re lucky to even get 2 responses – and most of them will be a flat-out ‘no.’

But don’t be too discouraged, link building can also be a numbers game. Nowadays, there are many affordable email senders and email finders to make mass mailing doable.

That’s why lots of SEOs started looking for ways to sweeten the deal and give the other party a reason to link to them.

Some of these tactics include:

  • Giving them a shoutout on social media.
  • Blasting their website in an email newsletter.
  • Offering free access to a premium product or service.
  • Trading links with them.
  • Offering them some CASH.

Unfortunately, offering these kinds of “extras” can put you in a grey area when it comes to Google’s guidelines on what they call a “link scheme.”

But, I wouldn’t worry too much about that as Google can’t really tell the difference between if you’ve paid for a link or if they have just given it your website naturally.

So there you have it.

The honest way of asking for links doesn’t have a great track record.

But once you start trying to bribe people, you’re walking into a “minefield” according to Google.

Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t try any of these tactics. What I’m saying is, make sure your content is top-notch before you start reaching out to tons of people.

3 - Buying Links

First things first: let’s be clear.

We do NOT recommend buying links!

Unless you really know what you’re doing, you’ll probably end up wasting your money on links that won’t do a thing for your rankings – or even get your website in trouble.

Look, we’re not saying you shouldn’t do it, but we’d be doing you a disservice if we didn’t tell you that a lot of people in the SEO industry buy links in all kinds of sneaky ways and don’t get caught.

But let’s be real, if you’re willing to take the risk and buy links anyway, you’ll have to look somewhere else for advice on how to do it “safely.”

4 - Earning Links

You “earn” links when other people link to your website pages without you even asking.

And that only happens when you have something so impressive that other website owners want to mention it on their own sites.

Even if you’ve got the coolest page in the world, nobody’s gonna link to it if they don’t even know it exists. That’s why you need to invest in promoting it. The more people see your page, the more likely it is that some of them will end up linking to it.

Later in the guide, I’ll share some tactics and strategies that’ll help you make content that’s worth linking to and get it in front of the right people who might just link to it.

What Makes a Good Backlink?

Nobody’s quite sure how Google decides how valuable a link is.

But there are some general ideas that the SEO community thinks are probably accurate when it comes to evaluating links:

  • Authority
  • Relevance
  • Anchor text
  • Nofollow vs. follow
  • Placement
  • Destination

1 - Authority

Like we’ve said before, Google sees links as “votes” for a page to rank higher.

But let’s be real – a link from a huge site like TechCrunch is gonna carry a lot more weight than one from your buddy’s personal blog (unless, of course, your buddy is Tim Ferriss).

Google’s always said that they don’t have a website authority metric in their system. But lots of SEOs still think that the idea of “website authority” just makes too much sense to ignore completely.

But what really matters is the authority of the specific page that links to you.

Getting mentioned in a TechCrunch article is one thing, but it’s a whole different story if that article goes viral and gets referenced on a ton of other big news sites.


Basically, a page that already has some strong “votes” of its own will give a more powerful boost compared to a page with no “votes” at all. This is basically the foundation of Google’s famous PageRank algorithm.

Once upon a time, Google even had a browser toolbar that showed you the PageRank of any URL you visited. But that toolbar got discontinued over 10 years ago. And that’s left an opening for SEO tool companies to create their own authority metrics to fill the gap.

2 - Relevance

Imagine you wrote an article about how to grill the perfect steak, and you want it to rank high on Google. Would you rather get a link from Joe Rogan or Jamie Oliver?

I’m guessing you’d want the link from Jamie Oliver. Sure, Joe Rogan might have a bigger following, but he’s not a famous chef like Jamie. So there’s a bigger chance that Joe could be giving you bad cooking advice.

And it seems like Google takes that into account when deciding how to rank pages. Links from sites that are related to yours are seen as more valuable than links from completely unrelated sites.

3 - Anchor Text

In case you haven’t heard the term before, “anchor text” is the clickable text that links to another page. Usually, it gives a quick idea of what the linked page is all about.

Of course, it’s not surprising that Google looks at the words in the anchor text to figure out what the linked page is about and which keywords it should rank for. 

Actually, Google’s Page Rank patent talks about this specifically:

“Google employs a number of techniques to improve search quality including page rank, anchor text, and proximity information.”

So how can you use anchor text to your advantage when you’re building links?

Well, it’s actually better if you don’t try to control how other pages link to you.

If you try to stuff all the “right” keywords into your backlink anchor text, Google might think you’re trying to cheat and hit you with a penalty.

So it’s usually best to just let the person linking to you decide how they want to do it.

4 - Nofollow vs Follow

A “nofollow” link is an attribute that tells Google that the linking page doesn’t want to give any “votes” to the page it’s linking to.

Here’s how that looks like in page code:


Back in the day, Google said it didn’t count any “votes” from “nofollowed” links. But in 2019, they switched to a “hint” model, which means that some “nofollowed” links might actually have an impact on your search rankings.

Along with that announcement, Google also added two new link attributes:

  • If a link is user-generated, like a comment on a blog or forum post, it should have the attribute rel=”UGC”
  • If a link is part of an advertisement, sponsorship, or some other compensation agreement, it should have the attribute rel=”sponsored”.

Usually, you want to aim for “followed” links, which don’t have any of those attributes we talked about earlier. These are the ones that are supposed to have the most impact and cast the strongest “votes” as they pass the most “link juice”.

Even though “followed” links are usually better, if you have the chance to get a “nofollowed” link from a high-authority page that’s relevant to your content, go for it!

Wikipedia is a good example of this. All the links on Wikipedia are “nofollowed”, but getting a link from them is really difficult. That’s why a lot of SEOs believe that these links are really valuable to have in the eyes of Google.

5 - Placement

Google has a patent called the “reasonable surfer patent” that talks about how the chance of a link being clicked can affect how much authority it passes on. Interestingly, where a link is placed on a page can also affect how often it gets clicked, and therefore, how much authority it passes on.

Imagine a webpage divided into three sections: content, sidebar, and footer. Generally speaking, links placed within the content block tend to get more clicks since that section typically grabs the most attention from visitors.

The placement of a link can also impact its click-through rate. For example, links at the top of an article are more likely to get clicked on than those at the very end.

6 - Destination

When you’re creating links for your website, you have three options for where to direct them:

  • Your homepage.
  • Your linkable assets.
  • The specific pages that you want to rank higher on Google.

The pages you need to rank well on Google are often the most challenging ones to get links to. This is because people generally prefer linking to informational pages where their audience can get value for free rather than commercial pages where their audience is expected to make a purchase.

Therefore, one of the most common questions in SEO is this: “How do I get links to my boring pages?”

To get links to uninteresting pages, there is no definitive answer, but the power of internal linking is widely recognised as an effective strategy to boost their rankings.


Best Link Building Strategies

So, we’ve listed a bunch of link building tactics and strategies for you to try out in the “How to Build Links” section, but you might be wondering which ones are the most effective.

At Bastion, we strongly recommend the following four link building tactics:

  • Tracking down competitors’ links
  • Creating linkable assets
  • Content promotion
  • Guest posting

Tracking Down Competitors' Links

Checking out your competitors’ links is super important when it comes to link building. Basically, if a page is ranking at the top of Google for a particular search term, it’s because it’s got some killer links that convinced Google it’s the best. So, by looking at those links, you can get an idea of what you need to do to get similar links and beat them at their own game.

And this is where an SEO tool like SEMRush is absolutely indispensable.


Just put in your competitor’s URL into the Backlink Analytics tool, sort by referring domains and export them as a CSV or Excel file.

From here, your course of action would be to:

  • Determine how the competitor got their backlinks
  • Develop a strategy to acquire the same links

Creating Linkable Assets

In the field of SEO, we use the terms “linkable asset” or “linkbait” to refer to content that is created with the intention of attracting links. These linkable assets can take on many forms:

  • Online tools and calculators
  • Infographics
  • Awards and rankings
  • Studies and research
  • Industry surveys
  • How-to guides and tutorials
  • Definitions and coined phrases or terms

Even in the most mundane industries, you can always create an engaging piece of content that will draw in links. So it’s worthwhile to examine your competitors’ websites and find any linkable assets that could serve as inspiration for your own.

To do that, this time we will be sorting by “Backlinks” rather than “Referring Domains” and this will show you the pages that are most authoritative, the page title (so we can see the type of content) and the anchor and target URL.


Based on the photo above, you could determine patterns, look into the type of content that’s being made and they’ve chosen to link to. This can give you a good idea of how to develop your strategy.

Content Promotion

Alright, so even if you’ve got the most amazing linkable asset out there, nobody’s going to link to it if they don’t know it exists. That’s why promotion is key to getting those valuable backlinks.

When it comes to promoting your content, you’ve got three main options in your toolbox:

  • Reaching out to influencers or communities
  • Running ads to get your content in front of more eyes
  • Building up your own audience over time
1. Targeted Communities and Influencers

According to Rand Fishkin, the amount of exposure your content gets depends on one key question: “Who’s gonna share it and why?” So if you want your stuff to go viral, you gotta think about who your influencers are and how you can get them to spread the word.

Rand Fishkin says that if you want your content to get a lot of exposure, you need to answer two questions: “Who will share it?” and “Why will they share it?”

The first question is about finding people and communities in your industry who can help get your content in front of a larger audience, while the second question is about creating content that’s actually worth sharing.

2. Advertising

There are a couple of ways to drive traffic to your content: paid advertising on platforms like Facebook, Google, and Twitter, or partnering with influencers and content creators in your industry and compensating them to share your content with their audience.

For some, the idea of spending money to promote their content may seem unappealing. This can lead to the question: if they don’t want to spend money, why did they spend time creating the content in the first place?

If you create content with your business objectives in mind, justifying spending money to promote it to people shouldn’t be a problem.

3. Building Your Audience

After you publish and promote your content, you’ll inevitably attract some people who will appreciate it or find it useful.

Losing touch with these people would be a missed opportunity, right?

You gotta build your audience, good sirs! There are a few ways you can do this:

  • Ask them to subscribe to your email list
  • Ask them to follow you on Twitter/LinkedIn/Instagram/TikTok
  • Invite them to join your private community on Discord or Facebook
  • Retarget them with Facebook/Twitter/Google ads
  • Actively encourage community engagement and content creation

As you keep releasing new and exciting content, your audience should grow larger and larger.

This means that you’ll have to do less manual promotion because the followers will automatically share and spread the word about your content.

Guest Posting

As per the findings of a 2022 survey conducted by Aira, guest posting ranks as the third most popular link building tactic among SEO professionals.

Remember how I said earlier that just asking for links without offering anything in return doesn’t really work anymore?

Well, guest posting is a different story.

It’s like a win-win situation: you provide a high-quality piece of content to the website you’re posting on, and in exchange, you get to link back to your own website. It’s a fair trade-off that’s actually effective in building links.

Here are two simple tips that will help you get published in the top blogs of your industry:

1. Start From the Bottom and Work to the Top

It’s like building a ladder of success in guest posting. You start by pitching smaller blogs to build a portfolio of published content, then move on to bigger and better blogs to reach the top of the ladder. 

So before you go all-in and pitch to the big dogs with a DR80+ blog, it’s a smart move to have a solid portfolio of published content on slightly smaller blogs with a DR70+ to showcase your skills. And for a DR70+ blog… well I’m sure you get where this is going!

Now, we can go back to sorting by “Referring Domains”.

From there, we can filter the domains to contain “garden” in their name and also sort by authority score to get a better idea of who we should be contacting.

2. Create an Offer They Can't Refuse!

What’s the ultimate desire of blog owners? Boosting traffic to their blogs, of course!

So if you can convince them that your guest article will be a hit and drive a steady stream of search traffic to their blog, they’ll likely be eager to publish it.

And that’s where the previous tip is a game-changer. If you can show some real-life examples of your past guest articles that are ranking high, I bet you’ll seal the deal without any trouble.

Here’s a sneaky little guest posting tip: find a lackluster article on their blog that’s not ranking well in Google and offer to give it a total revamp to boost its traffic. Chances are, the blogger will be more than happy to accept your offer.

Link Building Tools

While it is technically possible to build links with just a bit of brain power and a Gmail account, there are a number of link building tools that will help make the process of acquiring links much easier.

Here are some no-cost options:

  • Ahrefs’ Webmaster Tools – This nifty tool lets you see all the websites that are already linking to your own site, and it lets you organize and sift through them by various key SEO stats.
  • Ahrefs’ Free Backlink Checker Shows the top 100 links pointing at any website or URL.
  • Google Alerts It alerts you whenever a particular term or phrase is mentioned on a newly published page, making it an effective method to identify potential high-quality link opportunities.

And here are some paid options:

  • SEMRush’s Backlink Analytics – Get access to a backlink builder tool that uses a massive and speedy database to help you find and track incoming links to your website.
  • SEMRush’s Bulk Analysis Tool – Take your list of potential link building targets to the next level by analysing your competitors across a wide range of metrics.
  • Ahrefs’ Alerts – Similar to Google Alerts but tailored to meet the needs of SEO professionals.
  • Instantly – Email outreach tool. This is the tool Bastion personally recommends for outreach.
  • – These are the email lookup services that assist you in locating contact information for websites on a larger scale.

Time to Bring This to a Close

Well, we’ve come to the end of this guide, and it’s been a wild ride of over 3,800 words.

But the truth is, we’ve only just started exploring the vast world of link building.

If you want to go deeper, check out our other articles on this topic. I’ve included links to them throughout this guide.


James - Senior Developer

James - leads the development team, ensuring high-quality code while staying up-to-date with the latest tech trends. Outside of work, he enjoys rock climbing, fuelling his passion for adventure and challenge.

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