Neil Patel

How to Build High-Quality Backlinks when Nobody Knows Your Name

So, you found out about the power of backlinks.

Maybe a marketing friend told you how backlinks can benefit your SEO and drive traffic to your website.

Or maybe you read an online article that briefly mentioned the word “backlink.”

Whatever the case, you’re intrigued.

And you’re not just intrigued. You’re interested in building a backlinking strategy.

But you also recognize a serious problem:

No one knows who you are.

So why would they link to you or your website?

After all, the number of backlinks you actually need to land on the first page of Google results is enough to make most marketers give up.

Even the ninth and tenth positions have an average of over 30,000 backlinks.

And the relationship between linking domains and rankings tells a similarly discouraging story.

Won’t that take years to build?

Well, the short answer is yes. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t start right away with your unknown name and website.

In fact, despite the opinions of other online articles you’ve read, you don’t actually need to be famous to build backlinks.

There are lots of different ways to build backlinks, and many of them don’t require a celebrity’s status.

But before we look at eight different ways that you can build backlinks when no one knows who you are, let’s first take a quick moment to discuss why high-quality backlinks rather than low-quality backlinks are so important.

Why you should aim for high-quality backlinks

It’s tempting to hire a black hat SEO agency to build backlinks for your website.

But there’s a reason marketers call it “black hat.”

It’s the dark side of SEO.

By that, I mean that black hat SEO strategies are risky, largely unethical, and don’t necessarily help your rankings.

Black hat SEO tactics link your website to a variety of other websites that are low-quality domain authority, spam, or completely inactive.

The problem here is that linking to too many of these websites can actually hurt your website’s rankings.

Think about it this way: Black hat SEO tactics are a way of trying to trick the search engines into ranking your website and content better than they deserve.

And while you might get away with it for a while, when the search engines find out, they will do whatever they can to punish you.

Namely, they’ll drastically decrease your rankings and never give you a chance of moving back up.

That’s a crappy deal for your business.

White hat SEO, on the other hand, strives to build backlinks and rankings through well-trusted websites with high domain authority.

And that’s good because the top three factors that Google looks at when choosing where to rank your website are the authority of your domain, external link anchor text, and the strength of those external links.

Here’s the point: It’s tempting to build backlinks quickly through shady black hat SEO methods, but it’s far better and less risky to build them over time from high-quality websites.

Yes, it will take longer to build your domain authority, but you won’t run the risk of destroying your website’s rankings altogether.

Now, let’s turn to eight ways you can build high-quality backlinks when no one knows your name.

1. Leverage public relations

Building relationships is one of the best ways to build backlinks.

In fact, relationships are ultimately the way you’re going to generate high-quality backlinks to your website.

When people don’t know who you are, they won’t link to your website.

So, while public relations won’t immediately increase your rankings, it will set you up for future success.

You’re prepping the wood for the fire rather than lighting it. But you can’t light a fire if you don’t first prepare the kindling.

So leveraging public relations is perhaps the most necessary step in your backlinking journey.

One great way to start building relationships and establishing yourself as an expert in your industry is by being active on social media.

Here’s a post from Michaela Alexis, for instance.

What does she do well here?

First, she keeps her personality intact. The last thing you want to do is post stuff on social media that feels boring and bland. Rather, insert a bit of yourself into each statement.

She also does a great job of being transparent.

She doesn’t muddy the waters with fluffy language. Instead, she admits to being tired and frustrated and excited.

People can’t connect with you if you’re not honest.

So always include transparency. Your audience will appreciate it.

And this isn’t just speculation.

Michaela Alexis has built her following organically over the last few years to a whopping 92,000 people by posting this sort of content.

As you stay active on social media, you’ll start interacting with a variety of people.

You’ll have the opportunity to meet others in your industry and maybe even guest blog for them or hop on a video call.

When the opportunity comes, don’t pass it up.

Guest blogging can quickly turn into a backlink, and establishing yourself as an expert can do the same when people ask you for a quote on a particular topic.

Finally, you can also use social media to slowly build your email list. And with a bigger email list, you build more relationships, which means more opportunities for backlinks.

If you’re wondering where to host your email list, MailChimp is a great service. And it’s free until you have 2,000 subscribers or send 12,000 emails per month.

But what do email lists and social media and building connections have to do with backlinking?

The fastest way to build backlinks is through building relationships.

That means that the more people you consistently engage with on social media and on your email list, the more opportunities will naturally flock to you.

2. Write competitive content

At the heart of generating backlinks is creating great content.

If you don’t have content worth linking to, then, well… no one will link to you.

It’s really quite simple.

Writers only want to use images or examples from pieces of content that are compelling and interesting.

When websites sport content that is dull, familiar, overly simplistic, and wordy, it does nothing for that website’s SEO because no one cares to link to it.

That’s why, for your backlinking strategy, you must start by crafting great content.

So you need to write content that is better than other content in your industry.

Here’s how you can analyze the competition.

Type the topic of whatever keyword you’re looking to target into Google.

Then, ignore the paid results and open a new tab for each of the organic results on the first page.

Here’s one of the articles I clicked on, for instance.

Then, browse through each article and look at these different factors.

Then, follow up with these tactics in your own article.

Essentially, your goal is to analyze the competition and all of these factors, then do everything better.

Once you have, don’t just publish that awesome piece of content on your website. Publish it on other good sites, too.

Put it on Medium.

Publish it on Quora.

And share it on LinkedIn.

Doing so will give your piece of content more reach and more backlinking potential.

And since you’ve created the best resource for a certain topic, other websites are more likely to link to your content.

3. Do an original study

Doing an original study is another great way to create content that inspires backlinks.

If you have data that no one else on the Internet has, that makes you a valuable resource.

And when other writers and content creators want to reference your study, they have to link to where they got it.

That means you’ll get a backlink.

But a lot of times, doing your own study seems like a massive amount of work.

After all, you’re no scientist.

So how can you go about running a survey?

Well, lucky for you, Google Forms has the answer.

Click on the “Go to Google Forms” button.

Then, you’ll see this screen.

Click on the big plus sign button with the word “Blank” under it.

Now, you can give your form a title and a description.

You can add as many questions as you like to the form with multiple-choice answers.

Once you’re done adding all of the questions you want to ask your audience, look in the top right corner. You’ll see a button that says, “Send.”

Click it.

This screen will come up.

If you click on the link button at the top, this page will appear.

All you need to do to start collecting answers is copy this link and send it to whoever you want to fill out the survey.

This is a simple way to create an original study, collect your own data, publish it, and encourage backlinks.

After all, if you’re the only one with the data, then people will have to link to you if they want to use it.

4. Create an infographic

People love infographics.

Since they are visual and easy to scan, readers love to browse through them. That means content marketers love to share them.

And if you create an infographic for your website and someone shares it on their website, they have to link to your website.

You can create an infographic for free or a small price (depending on the graphics you choose) with Venngage.

Here are a few examples of the types of infographics that you could create with Venngage.

Once you create and publish your own infographic, you can even reach out to other blog spaces in your niche and ask them to share it if it’s pertinent.

When they do, you’ve won your website a backlink.

5. Write testimonials for other websites

Writing testimonials or reviews for other products or services within your industry might sound counterintuitive.

After all, you don’t want to increase their ability to steal your customers or clients.

But doing so might actually be a good idea for your SEO and backlinking strategy.

When you do this, the website will often include a spot for a backlink.

This is a simple way to generate backlinks.

And while it feels like you’re helping the other business generate leads and conversions, you’re also helping your own website’s rankings.

That’s well worth the small contribution of a review or testimonial.

6. Link externally and then reach out

Why would you spend time linking to other people’s websites?

You’re not trying to help their SEO. You’re trying to help your SEO.

And giving other websites a backlink doesn’t help, right?

Well, not directly.

But think about this scenario.

You link to another website’s content and then reach out to let them know that you enjoyed their article so much you shared it on your own website.

Interactions like this are valuable touch points.

You’re not just building brand awareness. You’re building a relationship.

And since you gave them a backlink, it’s not unlikely that they’ll give you a backlink in the future.

As you can probably tell, I link to a lot of websites in my blog posts. Here’s a time when I linked to a Copyblogger page.

If I wanted to build a relationship with the editors at Copyblogger in hopes of building a backlink, I would have emailed them something like this.

Hello, [name]!

I just wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed your [blog post you linked to]. You’ve been creating content for quite a while, and I’ve always found your information valuable to my business.

In fact, I enjoyed the particular article so much that I linked to it in [the article you wrote]. Let me know what you think of the piece!

I’ll keep doing what I can to share your remarkable content with my audience in the future.

Thanks again for all the awesome insight.

[your name]

This might sound like it’s just a compliment to the editors, but it’s much more than that.

This email is a way to build a relationship with the other business and take the first step in a healthy backlinking relationship.

Sometimes, you have to spend time backlinking to other people before they will backlink to you.

It’s a tit-for-tat kind of game.

7. Comment on other relevant blog posts

Another great way to start building the relationships that backlinks require is by commenting on other pieces of content.

Now, before you go off and start passionately commenting on other blog posts and throwing out backlinks every which way, let me explain something.

While you might occasionally have an opportunity to tactfully include a backlink in your comment, more often than not, the comment needs to be for the primary purpose of building a mutual relationship with the author.

Let’s look at a few examples of great comments.

In the above comment, Mandie does a nice job of flattering the author.

And who doesn’t love to be flattered?

If you don’t know what to say, make the author’s day.

If you want to share something a bit more insightful, though, here’s another example.

Flattery is powerful, and Don uses a bit of it in his above comment.

But he also adds some meaningful insight into the topic at hand.

If you want to craft a comment that merits a response from the author and helps build the relationship, then add your own commentary to the discussion.

Brian Dean from Backlinko does this with his comment.

As you can see, your comments don’t need to be extravagant. You can simply write a comment that compliments the author and adds insight into the topic.

That’s a recipe for relationship building, which is a recipe for backlink building.

8. Align social signals

If you’re serious about building out your backlinking strategy and rising through the ranks, then aligning social signals is a must.

Social signals communicate to search engines how active and updated your website is.

And the more active your website, the better your rankings.

I’m not saying that you need to be active and updated on every single social platform. But the reality for your rankings is that the more places you engage, the better.

For some of you, though, you simply don’t have the time to leverage every single social platform.

In that case, just choose one or two that you can keep up with.

It’s far better to choose a few that you can manage than to choose too many that you can’t keep up with.

However you do it, building social signals needs to be a checkmark on your backlinking to-do list. Here’s the correlation between rankings and social network presence.

Simply dedicate yourself to posting at least once every day on the platforms you’ve chosen to leverage.

Also, make sure that all of the information on your social profiles matches with your website’s information.

Things such as company name, address, and phone number need to be aligned to communicate to search engines that your website is up to date.

This is a simple but effective way to build your rankings with very little extra work.

That makes it an essential strategy for the those who are not yet well-known.

Conclusion

You want to build backlinks.

But no one knows who you are.

Let me ask our original question once more. How can you possibly build backlinks when no one even knows that you or your website exist?

Well, there are eight ways: leverage public relations, write competitive content, do an original study, create an infographic, write testimonials, link externally and then let the other website know about it, comment on other blog posts, and align your social signals.

All of those strategies ultimately revolve around one thing: Building backlinks by building relationships.

Since no one knows who you are, the best thing you can do for your backlinking strategy is to tell them.

Then, and only then, will they be able to give you the SEO credit you and your business deserve.

What backlink strategy do you find most useful when only a few people know your name?