Can we stop calling them backlinks?

Links are nothing more than the by-product of good relationships. Add value, create relationships and links will come naturally.

Can we stop calling them backlinks?

Links still form the basis of off-page SEO so it’s important to decide how your business or app is going to get quality links. Without them, you will not grow organically. So how do you get them?

There are many ways depending on your business. Here are the most common.

  1. Content
  2. Embeds
  3. Paid
  4. Guest posting
  5. Moving man method
  6. Partnerships

The list goes on.

The most effective methods have a common thread… they add value. When you add value, you have the chance to form a relationship. Links are the by-products of relationships.

Good content adds value. You design content for an audience. If it’s good enough and resonates with them, they will recommend or link to you. This creates a relationship between creator and consumer.

Partnerships are by definition relationships and only work if they add value.

Content and partnerships are the most effective ways to build links. They are the hardest ways… but the most effective.

Ever notice how the hard way and the right way always point in the same direction? — Zig Ziglar

Relationships are the key. Focus on adding value and you will get links.

Here’s a way you can do that.

  1. Identify a niche that you would like to get more links from.
  2. Come up with three ways that your company or content can add value to companies or influencers in that niche.
  3. Using a tool like BuzzSumo, make a list of 50 top influencers in that niche using some targeted keyword searches.
  4. Write 5 different intro emails with different tones: Direct. Indirect. Playful. Aggressive. Experimental. (You can pick your own tones, but the idea is to experiment). Optimize subject lines first, then move onto email content.
  5. Keep track of which emails you send to which people and use a tool like Signals or Yesware to see what people are opening.
  6. Look at the open and response rates and decide which tone is working. Apply that template / email drip to the rest of the people in the list.
  7. Wait patiently.
  8. Cultivate the people that respond and start a relationship with them. Triage the responses based on where you can each add the most value.
  9. Wash, rinse and repeat for more niches.

Here is how you know you are doing it right. Your responses might look like this.

“Hey there Kent, This sounds interesting but we have a deal with XYZ Company..”

“Hey there Kent, Would love to pursue this but don’t have time right now”

“Hey Kent, Not interested at the moment but thank you for the email.”

“Not interested at the moment thanks.”

Those are all wins! That means that you simply haven’t given them enough value.

If you get a lot of this:

“Fuck off.”

“Take me off your list.”

“How the hell did you get my email…”

Then you are being WAY to aggressive and are likely focused on the link not the relationship. Add value or stay home.

If someone responds to you and says no politely, the sale is not lost. That just means that you haven’t shown them enough value yet. Regroup and sell yourself, and your company harder. If you are adding value, they will enventually see it. If not… well then, what the hell are you doing anyway?


These days, quality trumps quantity when it comes to links. The best way to get quality links is stop thinking about the links and focus on adding value. Make a list of companies that you can add value to, form a relationship with them and links will follow. Make a habit of adding value and links will take care of themself.

You’re awesome.

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