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How to Get Natural Backlinks
(Passive Link Building)

Imagine this…

You close your outreach program and logout of your inbox.

Your link building days are over.

Instead of grinding away at building links, other sites just link to you.

Day after day, you get more backlinks while you focus on other tasks.

It’s obvious why this idea is so appealing. Link building can be a major grind and results are slow, but natural backlinks don’t happen on their own.

In fact, “natural” is kind of a misnomer.

You have to plan and design your content properly to attract links naturally.

In this post, you’ll find five different tactics for creating content that will build natural backlinks to your site.

But first, we need to get something straight.

Building natural backlinks is not finger-crossing

When most beginners hear about link attraction, they think, “Great! I don’t have to build links anymore.”

Well, that’s not exactly how it works.

While you can rank a site without link building, it requires you to publish the right kinds of content.

Furthermore, while it’s certainly possible to rank a site entirely with passive link attraction, there’s no reason to completely give up on active link building.

If you combine link attraction with active link building, you’re going to see results faster.

Now, as I just alluded to, link attraction requires specific types of content to work, and I have five different strategies outlined for you below.

Top 5 link attraction strategies

I discovered these strategies by using SEMRush to analyze the backlinks pointing to my site, Compete Themes.

These are all techniques that have worked for me, and I haven’t included any strategies that I have not used myself.

For that reason, this is not an exhaustive list of link attraction strategies. You can find even more strategies by analyzing your own links and those of your competitors.

Now let’s kick things off with the most successful technique for attracting links.

1. Create free products

People love free stuff.

If you create a valuable product and release it for free, it’s bound to attract links.

That is partially why Compete Themes has nearly 25 million backlinks.

To be clear, the vast majority of those links are footer links from the design credit, but the themes also attract editorial links from list posts and reviews.

Bloggers copy each other a lot, so once you show up in a few list posts, you’re likely to show up in all or most future posts.

That’s also why you should promote your product and even do some manual outreach for the first few list post placements. Once you’ve gotten the word out about your product, the natural backlinks will pick up and work for you.

You can find an email template in my post on email outreach examples.

A great example of this strategy paying off is CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer, which is a simple one-page app that scores the effectiveness of an article’s headline.

It was so successful that it attracted an insane 133,000 links! I wouldn’t expect that level of success, but it demonstrates how effective this tactic can be.

This first tactic is really high-effort, so if you want something easier, try this next idea.

2. Publish lists of free stuff

It’s a lot easier to create a list of products than to make your own product.

List posts are actually great at attracting links, even when they’re filled with paid products and affiliate links. You might be happy to hear this if list posts are already a part of your normal content mix.

If you want to attract even more links, publish lists posts of only free products.

These posts aren’t as easy to monetize, but they tend to get more traffic and attract more links.

Since this is such an easy type of content to create, you can easily plan it in your content calendar and schedule a few each month.

The next tactic can be applied to any articles you’re already publishing.

3. Create beautiful graphics

Most people don’t know how to create nice graphics for their articles, and it’s a lot of work even if they do.

The result is that bloggers frequently check Google images and copy graphics straight from there. Sometimes, they include a link to the source, and sometimes they don’t.

If you create beautiful graphics and optimize them to rank well in Google, they will get copied, and you’ll get your links. To get links from bloggers that don’t include a credit, you can use Image Prospector.

Image Prospector

Image Prospector utilizes Google’s reverse image search tech to scan the web for copies of your images. Then you can reach out and ask them to link to your site as the image source.

This tactic converts much better than your average outreach email, and the prospecting is totally done for you.

You can also sign up for a service like Kimp to have high-quality graphics made for your site, improving your content quality and the amount of reverse image search link building you can do.

If graphic design isn’t really your thing, you might prefer this next tactic instead.

4. Answer very specific questions

Every blogger does research while writing new content.

If they come across a concept that is hard to explain or takes too many words to teach the reader, they’ll defer to another site.

For example, this brief tutorial I wrote on finding the ID of a page in WordPress gets links from tutorials, support forums, and documentation sites.

It’s not a hard question to answer, but it’s hard to answer clearly without a video or marked-up screenshot, and most people don’t want to take the time to do that when they could spend 5 seconds linking to my article.

Since bloggers are quickly looking for a reference page to link to, it’s also important that your page ranks well in Google. By answering specific questions, you are automatically targeting a longtail keyword and improving your chances of ranking highly.

5. Praise a small creator

This last tactic isn’t as scalable as the rest, but it can still attract a few links.

Big companies get mentioned a lot, but small creators are often aware of every site that’s mentioned their products.

If you write a product review for a small niche company, you will likely get a backlink from them. They’ll link to you from the sales page, a press page, or in an article where they can brag about it.

While this post is all about link attraction, it doesn’t hurt to reach out to the creator and let them know about the review. This will increase your chances of getting a backlink.

If you want to scale this further, write list posts that include multiple products from small creators instead of writing reviews. This way, you can get links from multiple sites for mentioning them.

Ultimate guides: the 1 bad strategy

The five strategies listed above take advantage of the psychology behind why people link.

Unfortunately, the most common tactic to build a “linkable asset” is to ignore all the psychology and make a very big blog post. This is something newbie SEOs do a lot. They waste tens of hours creating a massive article that is exactly the same as the other 100 “ultimate guides” already published on the topic.

This might have worked well six years ago, but it’s totally dead now.

You have to be different if you want links, and a really long article isn’t a good way to stand out.

Add attraction to your backlinking

When your link attraction works, it’s wonderful.

You get to create amazing content and reap the rewards of steadily increasing search traffic.

While I think passive backlinks are awesome and a crucial element to any site’s SEO strategy, I don’t think you should abandon active link building altogether.

For better, faster results, pick a few backlinking tactics to complement your natural link attraction strategy:

5 Repeatable Link Building Tactics That Real Companies Can Use

Combining both active and passive strategies will give your site a more robust link profile.

Thanks for checking out this guide on how to build natural backlinks. If you learned a thing or two and want to share it with someone else, please use the buttons below.

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