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How to build links

Sebastian Burchell from NovosSebastian Burchell in Digital PR, SEO

6th January, 2022

Link building in 2021


Whether it’s producing highly relevant content, or getting technical and repairing 404’s, building strong authoritative links has always been challenging. The best methods of building links change over time, as the media landscape becomes more complex, and Google becomes increasingly sophisticated. In this article, we’ll explore which methods are currently working for Digital PR’s and how to get follow links on top tier publications.

Prominent methods

When I first started working in link-building, some theories, approaches, and methods were slightly looked down on. For instance, paying for content, content marketing campaigns about ‘the evolution of….’, and ‘blog post’ type pieces that simply listed information without any original data or sophisticated design. 


It goes without saying that a couple of those methods (and many others) have been reborn. Specifically, there has been a return of the listicle, where PRs simply take information from their clients’ in-house experts and list them one after another – ‘6 ways to transform your garden for under £50’, or ‘What to eat for a good night sleep – 5 foods from the sleep expert’. Incredibly simple, and effective, but why does it work?

The reasons – perhaps an oversaturation of content over lockdown? Maybe, people are feeling the effects of time poverty and need to digest their information in 10 succinct and informative points. Alternatively, we might just be getting lazier and can’t be bothered to read a full 1500 word article. However, these reasons can only be speculations without hard data.

Case Studies

Another noticeable tactic that has been widely used is identifying and communicating press-worthy business case studies, for example, highlighting products, companies or even industries themselves, that are disrupting and adapting in the times of COVID-19. Take eCommerce brands like florists Bloom & Wild, and bakers Konditor who took on same day delivery to instantly brighten up people’s day in certain parts of the country.

Guest Posting:  Finally, a method that our team always stands by is the stigmatised guest post – but not as so many SEO agencies know it. Google has frequently stood by the claim they’ll catch out people who use high Domain Ranking guest post content banks, and it’s fair to say that certain ubiquitous traits among these websites will at some point raise suspicion. For instance, a lack of an actual address and contact, an overload of targeted keywords in articles, and a variety of topics which are all tenuously related. 

Nonetheless, guest posting in the right way can reap serious rewards. If you have the ability to guest post, preferably in the style of a freelance journalist, you can acquire coverage for your clients by writing articles for almost any website – all websites employ freelance journalists in some capacity. 

After sourcing your publication of choice, take note of their submissions guidelines, including the style, headline and length of their content and try to replicate that in a succinct pitch. Next, write an article of genuine value for that publication, and use a quote or a case study from your client as an example for your point. For instance, you could highlight the innovation of your clients’ high-tech products or even something more simple such as their environmentally sustainable approach to packaging. 

Sneaky follows

Anyone who works in Digital PR, or Outreach, will be able to tell you that follow links can be hard to come by these days. Many moons ago, follow links were the norm, and journalists, bloggers, and domain owners alike would happily pop a link when and where requested.

Fast forward to today and almost all of the mainstream broadsheet and tabloids will either nofollow link, use an affiliate network, or simply provide a citation to your brand, product, or content marketing campaign. Despite some SEO value emanating from citations and no-follows links, as outlined by some commentators, the holy grail is still a follow link from a high DR website. 

Thus, the question begs, is there any way we can get affiliate loving, no-follow mad, ‘citations only’ publishers to link to our content? 

Although many top tier publishers and publications will almost always say they’re unable to, links seem to sneak into these publications one way or another. After analysing hundreds of articles, we’ve found a running theme with all these outgoing links – make your content indispensable to the journalist! 

Whether it’s your design assets, or simply your content, try and ensure the journalists have to link to it, to supply genuine value to the reader. Take this piece called Unknown Tourism by expedia, where the online travel company created a series of tourism posters illustrating extinct animals. Although The Guardian easily embedded the posters, the piece required a link back to the original post to provide more information to the reader.

In conclusion, although building links seems to be getting trickier, it is possible to still acquire linking coverage on top tier sites – all it takes is finding the right methods and a can-do attitude. 


Whether it’s your design assets, or simply your content, try and ensure the journalists have to link to it, to supply genuine value to the reader.
Sebastian Burchell from Novos
Article by Sebastian Burchell
NOVOS' Digital PR Manager, Seb has extensive experience working in the PR industry. He has worked in-house for brands as well as at PR agencies. He specialises in digital PR for eCommerce and B2C brands and has been behind some amazing award-winning PR campaigns.

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