“Build Links” We hear it all the time. So I’m going to skip the speech about how links are important and will remain the top ranking signal in Google’s algorithm as we approach 2021. Surprise — they are still important and will continue to be, just as I have said a million times.

Now, more than ever, you have to make an effort to continue to build links if you want to move up in the SERPs, as well as maintain your current position. Competition across all niches is getting intense, and we can thank COVID and the global pandemic for this.

More businesses are shifting to a 100% online presence, and those that already were active online have stepped up their SEO to make up for lost revenue and opportunity offline. I predict that competition will reach an all-time high in 2021 and the biggest differentiating factor is going to be links.

Securing a handful of high authority links is great, and will help you build a strong backlink profile, but you also need to attempt to earn links regularly — on autopilot so to speak.

Now, you can’t expect to just sit back and watch the links come in. But, if you put in some work and be proactive there are things you can do that can help you attract links — and from some of the best sites.

To help you get a headstart on your 2021 SEO here are a dozen strategies that have the potential to earn you links while you sleep. I highly suggest you put in the effort to implement as many of these as possible. Now more than ever you are going to need quality links on a very consistent basis. The competition for an organic presence on Google is about to become more intense than ever before.

Let’s build links to your sites and dominate in 2021!


1. Consistently Publish Useful Blog Content

This has been considered an SEO best practice for several years now, but going into 2021 there is going to be an even larger opportunity to build links simply by publishing excellent pieces of content regularly.

With more businesses focusing on SEO and online marketing in the coming year it means more content produced, which means more searches for resource links. This is why posting case studies, data, or any other information related to your niche is a very smart strategy.

The saying, “If you build it they will come” applies here. The amount of Google queries related to information searches strictly for blog content is going to skyrocket. When you do this correctly, you will see inbound links with anchor text like “this blog post” or “referenced here” — and this is the type of relevant 9and natural) links that Google loves and rewards.



2. Link to Targets You Want to Acquire Links From

This is a very straight to the point approach — “I scratch your back, you scratch mine.” You are already publishing content on your blog, so make sure to link out (it’s good SEO practice) to relevant websites and blogs that you would love to have a link from.

You don’t even have to reach out to them to let them know. Most businesses and blogs are well aware of SEO and they track all links, so they know when you link to them.

Also, when you don’t reach out, it appears to be natural and you are more likely to be rewarded with a link back when they don’t think you only did it for them to reciprocate. If you link out to ten sites and score two back, that is a huge win. Heck, even one link out of ten is strong — and it costs you nothing.


3. Build Free Tools and Host Them on Your Website

Before you say, “But this won’t apply to my niche” I want to stop you from thinking this way. Take a step back and get creative. Here are a few examples to help massage your brain:


  • SEO Agency: Top 10 SERP Checking Tool
  • Car Dealership: Car Trade-In Value Estimator
  • Realtor: Mortgage Rate Calculator
  • Fitness Blog: Calorie Counter and Tracker


As you can see, there is a solution for every niche under the sun when you get creative and think about what would appeal to your specific audience and target market. Create something helpful and watch other blogs and websites reference it with a link.

An interactive element also helps attract repeat visitors. Remember, most traffic will not convert during the first browsing session, so this helps to get them back to your website.


4. Publish Reviews (Vendors, SaaS Tools, Partners, etc.)

Need ideas for blog content? You can kill two birds with one stone here. Put together a list of every SaaS subscription you have, every vendor you use, and essentially every company you pay money to in exchange for the use of their tool or software.

Then, write a review and publish it. Pro tip: you can even backdate it so it doesn’t show up on the front page of your blog. Make sure to include the name of the product/service/software in the title.

As I mentioned previously, most businesses are on top of their SEO and have notifications set up to alert them anytime their company is mentioned online. If they see you wrote an excellent review (and even link to them) there is a very good chance that they will return the favor without you having to ask.

Some SaaS and software websites have unbelievable authority and their links are do-follow. These can be a huge win and they are often links your competition will not have.


5. Sponsor Industry Events (Both In-Person and Virtual)

Event sponsorships have always been a decent way to get links, but now due to COVID, the number of virtual events is staggering. There are many opportunities to partner with these events and sponsor them — and since they are virtual and web-based you have the opportunity to snag links.

Look for organizations that plan to take full advantage of this new virtual trend and host multiple different events a year. I have noticed that organizations doing this have separate websites for each, so by establishing a long-term agreement you can automatically score new links each time a new event is announced and a new site rolled out.

You might be surprised at just how inexpensively you can participate. This is not only great for links, but you can also introduce your business to a huge audience this way. Creative marketing and promotion will often lead to natural links — and with more focus on virtual events because of the pandemic, there are many new opportunities for all niches.



6. Distribute Press Releases to Announce Company Information

When you have actual business news to announce, distribute it via a press release through a legitimate distribution network. Doing so can earn you links from heavy hitters like Business Insider and NBC News.

While the low-tier networks will allow announcements regarding anything (even made up), the premium distribution channels that go to the Associated Press are far more strict. But, there are ways to take ordinary business events and turn them into press-worthy announcements.

Things like hiring a new employee can be made more interesting by putting a clever spin on the news, whereas something as simple as securing a new line of credit from your bank can be turned into exciting new funding news.

When you distribute through legitimate AP channels your PR won’t be picked up by a lot of outlets, nor the same ones every time, but consistently doing this can help you earn links from strong sites consistently. Also, work out deals with distribution channels for volume rather than paying the full price per release.


7. Release Co-Branded PRs

If the cost associated with distributing press releases on the top-tier networks is too much for your business consider partnering with others. This can benefit everyone and greatly reduce the cost and everyone benefits by earning links.

As long as the businesses partnering up aren’t direct competitors there are ways to create newsworthy releases that include all. Most PR distribution outlets allow a minimum of three links, and some even more.

I always suggest using press releases to build brand name anchor links or naker URL anchors, so there are creative ways to make everyone involved fit naturally. If it’s all local businesses the release can talk about local fundraising, charitable work, community involvement or initiatives, etc.

With multiple businesses included it gives you more to talk about and the more creative and interesting the release is and the news included, the more outlets you’ll be able to attract. Remember, journalists and writers are always looking for newsworthy stories or information, so try a variety of unique titles and see whose attention you can grab.


8. Publish Roundup Posts

Roundup posts (or ego stroking posts as I call them) are great for scoring links, but it’s definitely a long-term strategy as it can take a while for the participants to link back, and some simply won’t.

This is a good strategy if your blog’s audience will enjoy reading insight and options from other thought-leaders and influencers. From your point of view, it’s best if they aren’t direct competitors, as you don’t want to push your potential clients to a competitor on a silver platter.

So, if it makes sense try to do one of these per month and shoot for 25-30 or more participants. This ensures the post will receive a lot of social shares online, which is the real value here. If you’re able to earn a link or two that is a nice bonus.


9. Newsjack Breaking Information

If your website has a little authority you can use a newsjacking strategy to publish content relevant to breaking news in your industry. If you are one of the first to publish the post on the topic and your website is indexed quickly you can reap the benefits of other media outlets and blogs linking to your post and referencing it as one of the early sources of information.

If your business is doing well and you can afford to hire a full-time blogger, this is a strategy that you can take full advantage of. A combination of Google alerts and constantly monitoring the top news outlets can help your writer be one of the first outlets to announce news and information.

This is a strategy many small sports blogs use, and they quickly boost their authority because they are constantly referenced by large sites like ESPN and large mainstream media sites.



10. Start a YouTube Channel

“Build links from YouTube videos? Are you insane?”

Hear me out. If you are in a niche that provides you with the opportunity to easily create video content and upload it to a YouTube channel you can leave this simple line of text in the video’s description:

“This video falls under creative commons, and you are free to publish it on your website providing you link to (www.yourwebsite.com) and credit (Your Company Name).”

When you upload the videos make sure they are classified correctly by marking them with the CC license. Select the ‘Creative Commons Attribution license’ on the video description page.


11. Giveaway Samples, Trials, or Free Product/Service to Journalists

This is what I call sympathy link building, and it’s something I encourage all of our e-commerce clients to do. Curate a list of the top journalists that cover your niche at the media outlets you want to grab links from.

Get their email address, but also make sure you have their physical address as well (the address of the outlet they write for) and put them on a gift and promo mailing list. By sending them free trials, sneak peeks, or even discount codes to redeem samples, you will see many take full advantage because you are providing them with something they will enjoy as well as write a story on.

I’ve seen companies try to buy their way onto a website with no luck, but by sending a journalist a $50 product that cost them $10 to manufacture it resulted in a nice review and link.


12. Start a Local Charitable Initiative

If you want to do something good and give back to your local community, while also driving awareness and build links, this is a no-brainer. Start an initiative related to something you feel strongly about and make sure all of the local news stations and websites know about it.

Hold monthly or quarterly events, and each time you can be sure you will be mentioned and often linked to. To help the chance of earning links every time, create a page on your website that volunteers and the general public can access for more information.

This gives the news sites and blogs a URL to reference that they won’t even associate with the dirty ‘link building’ word.



Nobody said that link building was easy — I’ll be the first person to tell you straight up that it is difficult, hence why so many businesses hire my agency to handle their link building. If you have the time and patience to implement the above strategies the reward can be highly beneficial to your rankings.

It’s one thing to build a strong website and authority to your domain, but it’s another thing to continuously add to that link profile and authority. Not only does this help to strengthen your current position in the SERPs, but it also allows you to inch up towards the next spot.

While SEO in 2021 will remain fundamentally unchanged from this past year, the competition is going to be amplified greatly. Prepare now and take action immediately if you want to level up and position your business for success.

Do you have any questions about the strategies explained above? What is your favorite and what ones are you going to try? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Tommy McDonald

Tommy is an SEO professional with years of experience running highly successful SEO companies, founded SerpLogic after noticing there was a major void when it came to options for SEO agencies needing a reliable and professional one-stop outsource solution.You can read all about me in the “About” page here on our blog!

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