The Ultimate Guide to Link Building in 2011

You’re here because you know how important link-building is for your website, blog, business, or brand. Links are the currency of the internet, payable by Google.

Here at Single Grain, we thought we’d let you in on our own link-building strategies, as varied as they might be. If you are a beginner or have just created a new site, you can use this guide as a checklist. On the other hand, if you’re an experienced link builder, see if you can spot anything we’ve missed and add them in the comments section. Peruse at will, or jump ahead to one of these categories: social media, viral content, guest posts, news, interviews, competitions and community, reviews, link requests, local links, e-mail marketing, paid links, or face-to-face. And don’t worry about getting them all done in one day – keep this as a reference so you can check back and see how you’re doing!

Social Media

  • Create profiles on social media sites: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or any of your other favorites. (here are a lot more sites to choose from)
  • Use those profiles to spread additional links to your own content, tastefully interspersed with other informative articles and interaction (not spam!).
  • Invest in a social coupon deal. Even if subscribers don’t purchase the actual deal, they are still exposed to your brand.
  • Create multimedia presentations and post them on any of the following viewing sites:  SlideShare (presentations/slidedecks), YouTube (videos), or iTunes (podcasts).
  • Become a member and interact with social bookmarking sites starting with digg, StumbleUpon, and Delicious.
  • Answer questions and establish your “authority” on sites like LinkedIn and Quora.
  • Interact with forums in your market. Be useful and human – not spam!
  • Comment on blogs and join conversations to help strengthen your online network.

Viral Content

  • Write tutorials and complete how-to’s.
  • Create beautiful, useful infographics.
  • Show off photos and artwork.
  • Create an informative ebook or whitepaper.
  • Present a case study…
  • Or take it a step farther and be a case study! Put your analytics to good use and show off your business strategies. Explain what has helped your site or business grow, complete with steps so others can follow your lead.
  • Host free tools.
  • Give free advice.
  • Create free design templates for WordPress or Blogger (complete with credit to your URL at the bottom).
  • Make a free app (for multiple platforms).
  • Make a free browser extension (for multiple browsers).
  • Just give stuff away for free; The more it’s worth to them, the more it’s worth for you.
  • Create lists. Especially huge, exhaustive, comprehensive lists. Or create lists that will provoke a reaction, like lists of iconic people.
  • Write about other people. Be mindful about what you say and remember that whatever you post on the internet is permanent. This is the case whether you want to be a ranting, angry critic or a raving, boastful fan.

Guest Posts

  • Write authoritative guest posts within your niche. Make sure your particular angle is showcased through the article, so it doesn’t just blend in with the regularly scheduled posts.
  • Write broad, interesting guest posts outside your niche. Tie your specialty to their niche markets in unexpected ways. For instance, ‘keep fit while freelancing,’ or ‘be zen while doing SEO.’
  • Accept guest posts from other authors on your blog. Some guest posters tell their audiences when they have written a guest post.
  • Let your articles be published in ezines or newsletters of other organizations with attribution.


  • Make your business newsworthy; Have a successful marketing campaign, fundraise for a charity, or tell your own personal success story, from day one until now. Of course, you could also go bankrupt or get involved in court all in the name of ‘news’… but those strategies don’t come highly recommended.
  • Create a high-quality press release.
  • Contact national news, local news, and industry news with your story. Don’t forget about newspapers, radio, TV, and internet news outlets.
  • Volunteer to be an “on call” expert in your field. Be known as the one who can define industry jargon so that anyone can make sense of it.


  • Get interviewed on other sites.
  • Interview others on your site.
  • An interview on the news is great, too!

Competitions and Community

  • Ask questions in blog posts or social media outlets. Listen to the answers. Keep people engaged.
  • Survey your followers. Know who is listening to you.
  • Create banners or badges for fans to include on their blogs or sites (with a hyperlink back to your site).
  • Create a give-away or drawing that encourages blog comments, retweets, and sharing.
  • Run a competition for the best multimedia created for the contest, linking back to your site – videos, blog posts, infographics.
  • Create badges for winners of “best blog” or “best site” contests.
  • Sponsor a charity, conference, or sports team. Thinking bigger? Get an event named after you.


  • Solicit reviews of your products and services.
  • Create an affiliate program to encourage others to promote you.
  • Give testimonials for others (contractors, consultants, providers). Give permission for the testimonial to be posted on their website with a link back to you.
  • Solicit testimonials from others, and cross-post them on your site and theirs.

Link Requests

  • Routinely link to other helpful pages.
  • Find lists of niche or local sites, and ask to be listed.
  • If you have a blog, look for blog directories to be listed in.
  • If your site has beautiful CSS, submit it to a CSS style directory.
  • If your site is standards compliant, submit it to a standards compliance directory – you get the picture!
  • Ask for links from employees and friends with websites, especially if they are looking for a way to help your business grow.

Local Links

  • Trade reciprocal links with neighboring restaurants and businesses.
  • Join the local business bureau or chamber of commerce.
  • Look at the city website (or help create one). Request to be listed as a local business.
  • Find out if your local library has a directory of local websites or businesses.
  • Complete your business profile on DexKnows, YellowPages, and other business directories.
  • Complete your business profile on Google Hotpot, Yelp, and other review sites.
  • Encourage and respond to reviews (both positive and negative).
  • Notify your alumni association, or other schools or colleges you are associated with, about your business. It’s possible to be listed in an alumni directory, a newsletter, or other online materials with a link back to your site.


  • Attend conferences.
  • Have business cards, carry them, and use them.
  • Write about the conferences and events on blogs and social media.
  • Take pictures. Let people know they will be posted online – with this you’ll be giving them disclosure and a reason to visit your site.
  • Follow up with contacts (wherever they are made).
  • Arrange times to meet local professionals in your field.
  • Join a networking group or organize your own networking event.
  • Be helpful. If you give the up-and-coming a helping hand, it’s not just a one-way street.

Final Thoughts

If you want to see how far link-building has come, check out some pretty comprehensive lists from 2007 and 2002. Some of these tips have aged quite well while others, well, haven’t. This list here will grow old eventually as well, but until then, if you’ve thought of any additional link-building advice that could be included in our list above, please let us know in the comments- we’ll add it with attribution. What a great way to get links to your site!

By the way, now that you know how to start building links, don’t forget to be smart about it. Associate your links with important keywords (but not always the same keywords). Make sure your site is ready to “grab” new visitors – you only have a few seconds! Brush up your design, create a landing page, and suggest a category or an article to get them introduced to what your site is about.

Measure the results of your link-building. Run analytics, and annotate important events. This will help you discover which audiences converted well, and let you focus your later efforts more productively.

Go forth and build links!

Back to Top