relevant backlinks

How to Build Relevant Backlinks and Improve Rankings

Keith Desphy
Keith Desphy17 Nov 2023 • 7 MIN READ

Do you already have volumes of high-quality content but still struggle to rank higher on search engines? Sometimes, all it takes is relevant backlinks to see significant results! 

Unfortunately, backlinks are now a commodity. Natural backlinks are scarce. What you need is a proactive strategy to help you build relevant backlinks. We’re here to help. 

By the end of this guide, you’ll be able to learn the following:

  • Are backlinks necessary?
  • Realistic backlink-building strategies
  • Backlink building best practices

Are Backlinks Worth It?

Short answer?—Yes! They signal search engines like Google that your content is valuable, authoritative, and worth sharing. 

The issue is not all backlinks have the same value. Some may even harm your site. That’s why routine backlink audits are essential in every SEO strategy

You want backlinks relevant to you, your audience, and your content. Imagine being a SaaS company with dozens of backlinks from lifestyle websites. It’s not a good look. 

But with relevant backlinks boosting your domain’s prominence, you’re on your way to significantly improved rankings. You just have to know the right strategies to get them. 

Relevant Backlink-Building Strategies

The strategies we’re about to show are a mix of content-driven approaches, outreach, and prospecting. It is tedious work, but the payoff will be worth it. 

So, find a strategy that resonates with you, test it out, and adjust as necessary. Here are 12 strategies that can help you build relevant backlinks no matter the industry:

Link Prospecting

Link prospecting is a proactive approach to backlinking. It follows the same principles as any sales prospecting strategy. But instead of customers, we’re looking for potential link partners.

With backlink-building tools such as Ahrefs, prospecting is as easy as three steps:

  1. Find relevant websites open for link-building
  2. Finding the web admin’s contact information
  3. Contacting web admin’s and sending your link-building pitch

We’ve made an in-depth link prospecting guide using Ahrefs. If you want to prospect manually, avoid link farms at all costs. They typically appear when you search “keyword + guest blog.”

These sites often cover multiple niches and exist solely to sell backlinks. You’d be better off spending that money on a HARO subscription instead. 

Help a Reporter Out (HARO)

HARO is the perfect place to look for high-quality backlinks from journalists, news sites, print publications, and universities.

You can create a free account that offers media opportunities thrice a day. Or, pay for a subscription to get filtered keyword alerts. 

how to build relevant backlinks

The platform works as a middleman for reporters and sources (what you want to be to get a backlink here). You can send a pitch once you find a media opportunity relevant to your niche. 

Remember, these reporters need credible sources. Include citations, quotes, facts, or specific details in your pitch to improve your odds of being accepted.

Unfortunately, getting the right media opportunities is sparse, especially on a free account. If you want something more immediate, you can start by creating linkable content.  

Creating Linkable Content Through Topical Authority

Backlink building is easier when you can publish quality content in high volumes. Establishing topical authority helps with just that. 

Topical authority means covering every angle on a topic. For example, if you’re in SaaS selling an email marketing tool, you could write topics on:

  • Email marketing tools
  • Cold email best practices
  • Metrics to track in email marketing 

Use keyword themes to find supplementary content from those initial topics. Cold email best practices could have a subtopic about email warmup and so on…

Exhaust every topic as much as possible without cannibalizing keywords. With a robust content library, your audience benefits, and you get more chances of getting backlinks naturally. 

However, there will be times when your site or content is cited without a proper backlink. When this happens, there’s no harm in asking for credit where credit is due. 

Asking Credit From Unlinked Mentions

Sometimes sites will cite information from your research or give credit, but don’t link back to the source. It happens a lot. A quick reminder can quickly remedy this issue. 

We can find these brand/business mentions through tools like Google Alerts, Screaming Frog, or Ahrefs. Don’t hesitate to reach out once notified of an unlinked brand mention. 

They’ve already cited you as a source. Chances are, they’d be happy to link back to the original material.

But whether or not they respond is out of our control. What we can control is the type of content we publish. Make sure that it includes original research, case studies, and insights. 

Publishing Original Research/Case Studies

Relevant data is one of the most valuable things you can offer in exchange for a backlink. Think case studies, infographics, or unique strategies. 

When publishing these types of content, think about context. Do your unique insights benefit your audience? If so, in what way? 

Answering these questions helps you package dense data into contextually understandable pieces of content. It’s great for building backlinks and supporting “ultimate guides.”

Ultimate Guides

Ultimate or definitive guides provide massive value to readers. These are long-form content that covers the A-Z of a topic. Of course, you want to prove that your “ultimate guide” works. This is where your original research, case studies, or infographics come in.

Backlinko and BuzzSumo did a study suggesting “why,” “what,” and “how to” posts, along with infographics, get the most backlinks. All are perfect for ultimate guides. When writing, go in-depth.

Cover everything you can about a topic. This is much easier with a robust library of linkable content and original data. With such a large volume of information, you must also create contextual internal linking structures in your guides.

Of course, your guide would take a while to rack up traffic and get backlinks naturally. So, why not share it with peers on social media?

Social Media Outreach and Engagement

A huge part of link-building is outreach and establishing relationships. One of the best ways to do both is by being active on social media and building an online presence. 

Let’s say you’ve finished writing a high-value guide. The next thing you can do is promote it on social media platforms like X. But you don’t just want to share a link to your article. 

Instead, package it in a way that makes sense for the platform. In X’s case, this comes in the form of threads. Bite-sized snippets of your ultimate guide. 

how to buildbacklinks
Chris Tweten on X @ctwtn

This thread is an example of a link prospecting guide repackaged for a social media audience. 

You also want to engage with your community while posting your content. Comment on other people’s posts or Tweets. Provide value. Offer solutions to problems. Build relationships. 

Doing so will make it easier for you to build relevant backlinks through guest posts or resource citations. 

Creating Linkable Roundup Posts 

Roundup posts are articles on the “best, top, and must-haves” in an industry or niche. First, find a topic that can be turned into a roundup post. 

For example, “Best Lead Generation Tools to Look Into In 2023.” The concept is simple, you write about the best tools you could find and make sure it’s link-worthy. 

Don’t just run through the features of each tool. Focus on how it benefits the users. Find unconsidered needs or unique strategies using the tools. 

Then, reach out to the websites you’ve linked. They might share your article with their audience since it’s something valuable. Of course, for outreach, we recommended going with email.

Email Outreach for Guest Posts

Email outreach will be your go-to strategy for contacting web admins for a backlink or guest post. Most of these web admins probably don’t know you or your brand. 

This means you must learn about cold email marketing strategies specifically for backlink-building. As a quick rundown, all you need is:

  • An email list of web admins to send a guest post pitch to
  • Solid email copy 
  • Volumes worth of linkable content

Cold emails for backlinking are more effective with the help of email tools like If you want to do things manually, that’s fine as well. Just remember to hyper-personalize each email. 

Your goal is to have web admins publish your article. So, look at your pitch from their perspective. What are the benefits your article gives? Is it relevant to their audience? 

To answer these questions, research your link-building prospect’s website. Find the type of content they publish and find gaps you can fill with yours.

Be specific with how you found them and how you can benefit them. After that, it’s time to draft your pitch. Here’s an example template you can use:

Hey, {{first name}}, 

I recently saw your LinkedIn post on {{topic}}, and I loved your insights—so I had to check out more on your site! I noticed you regularly post about {{industry}} best practices.

I’ve been in {{industry}} for {{X years}} now and have a lot of insights I want to share, especially on {{niche topic}}. I think {{prospect’s website}} is the place to do so. 

I believe your audience can get a lot of value because of:

  • {{value proposition 1}}
  • {{value proposition 2}}
  • {{value proposition 3}}

I’d love to send you some of my previous work if you’re interested. 

Thank you for hearing me out. Looking forward to hearing from you soon. 

{{your name}}

Key Takeaways

Building relevant backlinks significantly improves your authority, signaling search engines that others are vouching for your content. This ultimately results in improved rankings. 

But if you want to build relevant backlinks, you need to use strategies like the ones mentioned above. To make the most out of these strategies, follow these best practices:

  • Leverage backlink prospecting tools like Ahrefs to find opportunities faster
  • Join platforms like HARO to connect with high-authority publications
  • Build a robust library of linkable content, ideally with original data
  • Find unlinked mentions using tools like Screaming Frog
  • Build relationships with prospects through social media or email outreach