Wrong email or password! Try one more time.

Forgot password?

An account with this email already exists.

An email with a confirmation link has been sent to you.

Did you forget your password? Don't panic. Enter your email address,
and we will email you a link where you may create a new password.

If this address exists, we will send you an email with further instructions.

Back to authentication

What are some effective techniques for building links?

What are some effective techniques for building links? - answered by Matt Cutts

Matt's answer:

Okay, we have a question from Pulkit Agrawal. And Pulkit asks, “Organic link building, according to me is one of the most difficult tasks for SEOs. Can you please list five effective ways of organic link building other than building great content?”


Well, I think that’s kind of a false dichotomy because you do want to build a great content, and building great content is often what brings you those links. So I’m not going to say, “Oh, I’m going to leave out all the ways of getting good links that involve having good content.”

I’m just going to talk about a few other ways, and I don’t know whether it’s five or more or less of thinking of getting good organic links.

First and foremost, I’ll start with the worst one, which is controversy. A controversy is, you know, one of these hooks, one of these link-paid ideas where no matter what you say, “This person sucks,” or you pick one company or you pick one person that you hate and you really pick on them, there’s a few people that have made a profession out of hating everybody, which might do well for them. But, boy, it’s not always fun to hang out with them. So you can do that a little bit, but think of it more like the leavening or the spice that you do every so often. It can be fun to uncork a good rant whenever you’re really frustrated because somebody’s had bad customer service or something like that. But you don’t always want to be going for the controversy or you’re like the boy who cried wolf. You just always saying, “Look at me, I’m being loud. You have to pay a lot of attention to me.” And over time, people will end up paying less attention to you. There are a lot softer ways to do that whether it involves a humor or bringing something original to the table. So I wouldn’t rely on controversy all the time.

One of the best ways to get links is to participate in the community. And I’m not talking about signing up and spamming a bunch of blogs or forums, but rather, showing up and–a good example is answering questions. If you have something of worth, some value that you can add by saying, “Hey, you know what, I know the answer to this. This is how you configure .htaccess to do a 301 redirect.” Somebody appreciates that and somebody will remember that you answered their question. And they’ll be more willing or more receptive to link when you realize, “Oh, that’s their site. They have a whole pile of interesting articles about how to do good things with 301 redirect or .htaccess.” So I think participating in the community, answering questions that help other people can be a big way to do it. Going back to what is building great content but is still super important?”

Original research, to this day, you know, if somebody does even a little bit of work to dig into a subject, they are a lot more likely to get links. So one of my favorite examples is Danny Sullivan compared how well different webmail services were able to de-Spam his inbox. And all he did was for a like month or so compared how much spam he got and what the false positive rate was. He got good data out of it, which he then blogged. And a lot of people linked to that. Just earlier today, for example, Google released Google Public DNS, which is a DNS server that anyone, anywhere around the world can use, so it’s public for everyone. And there was a guy, a man who does j.com, I believe, who rather than just read and rehash the blog post, took it and tested out. Open DNS versus his ISP’s DNS versus Google Public DNS. And he found out that we were especially good for international domains where sometimes DNS resolvers were a little bit slower. Just that original research makes it that much more likely that I will link to him. It will stick in my mind, all those sorts of things. So, original research can really make a big difference.

Newsletters, you know, if you have people already coming to your blog, make a little bit easier for that sort of information or article to show up in their inbox because then that can drive traffic and drive conversions.

Social media, you know, participating on a forum or a blog is one thing but then participating on Twitter or FriendFeed or Facebook can be another great way. Think about where people spend their time. If they spend five hours a day on Facebook, then maybe you should spend some of your time on Facebook. Because getting to know those people can pay off in lots of ways, not just links, maybe you get to present at a conference. I guarantee if you’re doing a conference presentation, that’s a great way to get links, because people will live blog it, they’ll link to your website, all those sort of things.

Along with controversy, one of the weaker ones I consider is lists. So, for example, if you will go to Google and say, you know, “50 ways to build backlinks.” You will find those articles, right, and those things tend to get dug and link to and all that sort of stuff. So, they tend to get a little tiresome after a while. It’s almost like the candy in your diet, you want to have a little bit of spinach and substance as well, but writing a few every so often is not such a bad thing.

Good piece of advice, which I was talking about this question with my cameraman Wysz before this, get a blog and establish yourself as an authority, right? There’s no excuse for a company these days not to have a blog and for most people to not have a blog because you don’t have to update them all the time, and if you want to you can use Tumblr or Posterous or something. We don’t have to maintain the software. But it’s really not that hard to do.

If you see a funny picture or something like that, you post it on your blog. You can get a lot of links very quickly. More likely, you’ll probably use your blog to establish yourself. It’s your online business card, your profile. And you can use to project how you want to be on the Internet, so just building that up as a resource of good articles.

Another good example is how-tos and tutorials. So, I recently a while ago had to figure out, how to change the default printer in Firefox on Linux, and when I was done, I said, “Okay, I’m going to write down those steps, so that I can remember it,” but more importantly the people searching for it can remember it. And even if you don’t get a ton of links to that post, sometimes you don’t need a ton of links, sometimes that long-tail content is enough where the other people who are searching for it will find you even if you only have two or three links to it.

So, it’s not always about links, it can sometimes be about having a resource that nobody else in the world has.

Talking about resources, another thing you can do is run a service that people find really useful, or even make a product and release it for free or give it to the community.

So, a Firefox extension or Chrome extension, something that improves your Apache experience, or makes things easier for WordPress, WordPress plug-ins, stuff like that. Services are good because people will come to you to try things out, but open source is also fantastic because then people can download it. They’re grateful that they got something for free. So you can do the work once and then lots of people downstream can be grateful and some of those people will link to you.

Another good piece of advice, kind of make sure that your site has good site architecture. You’d be amazed at how many people don’t handle things like, “Can my site be crawled? Can my site URLs be bookmarked?” And so, “Can Google get to all the pages on my site?” You might think it sounds remedial but you’d be amaze at how many websites messed that up.

So, make it easy to link to your site or to individual pieces of content on your site, like individual blog posts.

That’s almost everything on my list, but I’ll make one final one, which is make a few videos. It turns out making videos can be a really easy way where you’re just talking but people can watch it at any point. They can get a lot of value out of it, and hopefully it’s enjoyable.

So, you, again, do that work once and then it’s useful all the way down the line. So, those are just a few tips and different ways to try to build links, not necessarily always content but it can be really helpful and it can be a good way to try to get some good links.

by Matt Cutts - Google's Head of Search Quality Team


Original video: