Link earning is highly connected with trustworthy content and creative digital marketing strategies. It’s all about that type of content that has so much value that bloggers, publishers or specialists in the field can’t stop but link to it.  Your piece of content must be not only newsworthy, but also connected to your brand so it can tell a story and, therefore, earn links.


Link Earning - a Tale of 21 Unique Strategies to Creatively Build Links


Link acquiring tactics doesn’t mean writing great pieces of content and then crossing your fingers hoping people will come to your site. It doesn’t work like that. Also, it doesn’t imply the death of link building. And although there are many articles written on the theme of link earning vs. link building, I think that the two of them should be managed together and not torn apart. 


We’ve thought of some unique strategies to build or get links and help you along the process in a creative way. We do not guarantee that if you follow the strategies developed below your ranks will reach the skies. However, you will be learning how getting links tactics work, how you can “revive” your linking strategies and even how to go from link building to link acquiring. And, by having some great strategies at your disposal, you will earn links, great online presence and why not better traffic and ranks.


In order to generate traffic and earn links you need to think in multiple directions: organic search, quality content, emailing, algorithm updates, local SEO,  social media, influencers, content syndication, time and money and so on. But remember that strategies come first. Follow the next 21 unique strategies and earn links on the go:


  1. Write Data-Backed, Long-Form Resources and Get Better Ranks
  2. Create Engagement Within the Community Through Contests and Giveaways
  3. Ask Experts Questions Through an Interview to Stand Out and to Win Links
  4. Drive Growth and Strong Online Presence Through Personalized Web Experiences
  5. Establish Your Awesome Content as the Go-To Resource
  6. Give for Free Resources to Get Loyal Followers Who Will Link to Your Site
  7. Use Data Visualization to Improve Readability
  8. Get Inspired from Other Industries to Display Quality Content in a Unique Format
  9. Create How-To Guides with Creative & Amazing Content
  10. Conduct Case Studies About Well Known Brands
  11. Get Influencers Involved to Drive Awareness and to Obtain Links
  12. Create Tools and Give Them for Free
  13. Debate a Long Time Controversial Topic
  14. Outreach for Reviews and Early Looks
  15. Build Social Amplification for Building and Link Earning
  16. Newsjack a Story to Create Buzz & Links to Your Website
  17. Reward Loyalty & Make Your Devoted Customers Talk About You
  18. Engage Your Audiences with Real Time Information Through Live Blogging
  19. Get Quoted by a Journalist or an Editor to Build Authority
  20. Build a Recognizable Personal Brand & Use It as a Link Building Technique
  21. Provide Insights for Your Industry and Win Organic Links



1. Write Data-Backed, Long-Form Resources to Have Better Ranks

A couple of months ago we conducted a study on 300k randomly chosen pieces of content to see which type of content length ranks better. After we analyzed the results we saw that, as a rule, long-form content is more often associated with better ranks. We all know that content is king, yet, long-form content is not for everyone. For some businesses it might not work. In the end, everything you write should be useful content not to mention that each piece of content should match your audience’s needs and interests.


Yet, how can long-form content be a link earning tactic? Awesome content also brings awesome traffic and ranks. A longer piece of content might better target audiences, will rank better for many keywords and, if highly documented, it will surely be seen as an authoritative work.  Therefore, people will be more tempted to link to it.  Let’s take for example the article 53 untapped ways to boost your email open rates, written on our blog. It is a long piece of content (over 10.000 words), it is ranking for many keywords and has great traffic in comparison with other pieces of content written on the same theme but with fewer words. The content needs to be exceptional as well and the length of an article will not replace its quality; yet, it’s important to know that long form resources can help you earn valuable links. 


long article graphic



2. Create Engagement Within the Community Through Contests and Giveaways

A unique link earning strategy is to create contests and giveaways. Create a contest plan and then implement it. Publish it on your site and then promote it online on social channels or social networking sites to reach your audience. Staying in touch with your community and cherishing their interest can offer you a great advantage in front of your competition. You can ask them to share the information with your targeted audience and it’s a matter of time until it boosts your online presence. 


You can ask other websites that host contests to share yours as part of their online marketing strategy. It’s a good strategy to boost your contest and reach other audiences to gain engagement and reach a larger market.


It is important to have a reason for every contest or giveaway you start. Here are some examples you could follow:

  • a limited edition product;
  • a product/collection launch;
  • gift cards;
  • store opening or website launch;
  • travel offers;
  • a once in a lifetime opportunity.

A great example of a contest, named the DNA journey, was designed by Momondo, a free global travel search site with the help of AncestryDNA. You could participate by ordering a DNA kit. After you received it, you had to take a saliva test and then mail it back to the laboratory. Once you saw your results, you had to shoot a short video, which was the ticket to winning a journey. The results allowed you to compare your DNA against populations from different cultures and backgrounds to see which part of the world is the closest match to your DNA. The winner of the contest was taken on a journey based on his DNA. Below, you can see a presentation video:



The project had such a strong impact on people. Two of them who took part in the video discovered they were cousins and didn’t even know about it. It got a lot of publicity and good press around it. The news was taken by a lot of sites such as, Tnooz,, The Copenhagen Post, NYCTalking and many more.


The idea behind the contest was to show to the world that each person is a part of many stories. The DNA tells the truth behind ourselves and let us know that we might be a part of other cultures more than we think.  


3. Ask Experts Questions Through an Interview to Stand Out and to Win Links

Having interviews with experts is a good strategy to earn links. You can create an impactful interview by choosing pertinent questions and talking with specialists. Besides that, it is an easy way to build relationships and do networking. An open question can help you lead the discussion and find interesting facts. For an interview to be effective, you must have open questions that will allow the interviewer respond in a more elaborate way rather than a simple yes & no.


Here is an example of an interview of this kind.


4. Drive Growth and Strong Online Presence Through Personalized Web Experiences

Another unique strategy to earn links in a creative way is to create personalized content. Studies showed that personalized content drives results.  For instance, Forbes conducted a study of 380 chief marketing officers and discovered that marketers who deliver personalized web experiences see a 100% return in marketing performance and response. Sharing personalized examples of success or failure can bring you closer to your audience. See an example of a blog post about a personal experience below where one of our users shared his experience on a highly controversy subject, Google Penguin Penalties. This case study stirred the spirits but also received a lot of attention from our readers.


Personal example

Through personalized web experiences you can show the strengths of your product or service, success stories about your customers and other important features. In the end, you get mentions on other websites. And with mentions come organic links as well.


Sometimes it’s hard to define organic links or manual link building strategies that will do you more good that harm.  The truth is that when it comes to inbound links and sites’ ranks, we are facing the (re)birth of link earning. And we are saying “rebirth” as SEO industry faced so many deaths by now.  


5. Establish Your Awesome Content as the Go-To Resource

Writing in-depth blog posts is an excellent way to be defined as the go-to resource because your website has all the information in one place and the reader doesn’t feel the need to go and look somewhere else. You can capture attention for a longer period of time and entice the visitor to read other posts and maybe, turn him into a customer.


Having the best information in one place makes it far easier for people to cite your website and earn a link. That piece of content can cover more on a subject and gather more traffic. And you should always use the most valuable resource  (such content vs links, link earning vs link building) to stick to it for the long run.


An example of a go-to resource is Moz, that has created an exclusive page about Google Algorithm updates since 2000. It is the most comprehensive list of Google’s algorithmic update.  See a screenshot below:

Moz go to resource



6. Give for Free Resources to Get Loyal Followers WhoWill Link to Your Site

Giving for free resources will offer users a taste of what to expect when they’ll work with you. A free sample can show to people that you value them. You need to have something that will attract them. Specialists say a free resource is a lead magnet. As the name says it, the lead magnet is a lead generation idea and could take form into an ebook, course, checklist or something similar.


A free resource is also a statement, and it can offer you authority in the domain if it’s well documented and has a clean design. If visitors see you have content overflowing with valuable information, they will consider you an expert. Here is a list of resources categorized on the domain of interest.


7. Use Data Visualization to Improve Readability

Using data visualization to make a scientific topic be easily understood is a way to improve readability. Visuals are a great way to create links bait for a piece of content that is hard to grasp. For example, take a look at Xkcd’s Radiation Dose Chart below:

Xkcd's Radiation Dose Chart


Through this visual presentation, it is easier to understand and to visualize how much radiation a person can absorb from different sources. The chart uses units for absorbed dose named “sieverts” and measures the effect of the radiation on the cells of our body. The targeted audience might be tempted to share this kind of info. 

Information is beautiful. You just got to know how to present it.


Another example of visual data you can see on the site Vision of Humanity by Institute for Economics and Peace.

Vision of humanity

For each index (Global Peace Index, Terrorism Index) and each factor, you will see an interactive map. You can click on the country you want to see the facts for, and there will appear a new window on the left side of the screen with the info you need.


Always make sure you adapt your content to your readers. If you have content for designers, make sure you use visual data and real examples/photos from the tool. Take for example the next photo:

Annotated Screenshot


Don’t you think the second picture is clearer and more concise? Besides that, it is easier to share it and to link to it. With a little effort, you can earn links.


You must create content that people will read, content that is not easy to quit. Having this type of visual data on your site will increase readability, and it will be easy to share and to earn a link if it’s catchy.


8. Get Inspired from Other Industries to Display Quality Content in a Unique Format

Getting inspired from other industries to display content in a unique format is another great link earning strategy. I’m not talking about infographics, although it might be a good way to write the content. It is an overused topic. Of course, there are exceptions. Look at the following infographic for example:

A tale of two cows


This infographic is an example of visual storytelling you could get inspired from. It is easy to understand the explanations, and it illustrates a joke from the 1940s.


You can use the periodic table for other domains such as content writing, SEO, marketing signals, web design process, typefaces. For example, see the picture below:

The Periodic Table Of SEO Success Factors


For plans or a content structure, you can use MindMeister. Below you can see an example of a structure for the content marketing process.

Content Marketing Process

Find the whole mapping idea here.


9. Create How-To Guides with Creative & Amazing Content

When you decide to write something, you shouldn’t always play by the rules. Be creative, try new ideas, formats, but always test them before launch. A new idea could come in the shape of flow charts for how-to guides. Hubspot created a flow chart based on a question that has been debated for a long time.



The flow chart can be displayed in a portrait format, as well. Check the next screenshot about The No Hype, Buzzword-Free Guide To Creating Good Content For Your Business:

Flow chart


Presenting the info in a user friendly way can make all the difference; not to mention the links you might be earning. 


10. Conduct Case Studies About Well Known Brands

Case studies are a valuable asset, but finding the best examples with well known brands is hard. Through case studies, you can establish proof that you offer value. Chose well-known brands so you could have a great effect. On the other hand, you could be more personal and chose impactful examples from brands that aren’t so popular. People react to familiarity. You should have a dedicated case studies page (see the next picture).


Case Studies Well Known Brands


Get inspired by Google. Below you can see a screenshot from a very well structured case study from Think with Google.

Think with google case study


11. Get Influencers Involved to Drive Awareness and to Obtain Links

Influencers control niches. They are the best friend of link bait. If you involve influencers in the process of promoting your content, you will see a lift in your article’s traffic, ranking and bring you quality, organic links. Most of the times, using influencers is a success.


You don’t need special talent to convince an influencer to do an interview, but you require an extra effort to make them notice your request. There are various ways to talk with an influencer. Send an email, contact them through different events, on social media, on webinars or podcasts and so on.


12. Create Tools and Give Them for Free

A freemium tool is a great idea to create something valuable and earn links. A free tool has a lot of potential, and you can get a lot of attention with it. It’s also a great opportunity for you to appear among the first in the search results. Not only that,  it will be a good start to make a tool you can monetize, afterward. Keyword Tool, a keyword research tool or the free alternative to Google keyword planner as they marketize themselves,  is an example of a powerful free tool. Not only that, but they have around 555,821 links coming from 6,348 referring domains. Great tool, great marketing and great link earning strategy. 

Keyword Tool example is a great example in this case. It is a simple tool for beginners to find out what snowboard they should ride. As Max, the founder, says, the need started when he realized there are many long, wordy guides but no tools. It is pretty simple to use. You have to fill in a few information about your height, weight and foot size and what type of ride you prefer. 


Trillo free app


After you fill in that information, you’ll get a short receipt that you’ll have to show to the shop to get the snowboard suited for your needs. 

Snowboard picker



13. Debate a Long Time Controversial Topic

If you want to make a statement, you need to come up with a new approach. A controversial or uncommon topic is a unique link earning tactic. If you want to break the noise, you need to think differently and raise your head up from the crowd. Make people wonder. If you succeed, you’ll see them talk on your blog, share reactions (hopefully they are the ones you desired) and then earn links.


Jonah Berger and Zoey Chen debated the controversy topic in the research When, Why, and How Controversy Causes Conversation, and they discovered that:

[Data] shows that controversy increases likelihood of discussion at low levels, but beyond a moderate level of controversy, additional controversy actually decreases likelihood of discussion.

More controversial topics are more interesting to talk about. Remarkable things are named uncommon or unusual. Here comes the Toilet Paper Strategy. See the next picture and stick it in your mind.

The toilet paper strategy

Which is the right way? This is a hotly debated topic on the globe. There’s even a post on Wikipedia about the “toilet paper orientation”. It worked so well because everyone can relate to the topic. For a thing to be controversial it doesn’t have to be silly, but rather to present facts in comparison or to include other share-worthy elements such as geographic angles, timeliness, shocking insights.


14. Outreach for Reviews and Early Looks

Putting a little effort and starting contacting people to talk with them and build relationships is priceless. Not to mention that outreach for reviews and early looks is an effective link earning strategy.


Online you can find outreach management software to help you establish relationships that allow you to manage and grow a large volume of campaigns. Buzzstream is an example of such tool. Besides that, through these types of tools, you could give influencers an early look, a preview of new features. This strategy works very well to engage with experts and build links creatively. Not to mention that is always important to have an opinion from a user, to know if you need to make improvements or if your product delivers the results you wanted. Afterward, good reviews will follow, and this will bring you popularity in your industry.


However, although the “fight” for link earning and link building it’s tough, whenever you create a new piece of content or an inbound link, you should ask yourself how you would feel if you knew that Google’s former head of web spam team, Matt Cutts was looking at your site. If you’re feeling totally relaxed about it, then you have nothing to worry about. If you’re having second thoughts then you should reconsider your link building or link earning strategies. 


15. Build Social Amplification for Building and Link Earning

Creating social amplification is a great strategy that leads to on-going returns. In the online world, there is a concept of creating media storm based on a highly captivating marketing idea. It is named social link bait. We know that link bait is not a recommended technique, but that is not the case here. In this case, we are talking about viral and social amplification. This strategy will bring social shares, mentions and links will follow, building a natural link profile.


You must think ahead and promote those pages that will catch the eye of the public. An excellent example will be to involve the audience in taking part in your campaign to drive awareness and get more exposure. Social amplification, by its definition, refers to the viewer’s behavior of taking a positive action towards a post and sharing it far wide. The #icebucketchallenge is an example of a successful social amplification idea.



There is also the option of paid social media amplification, which means creating sponsored stories/posts on Facebook, promoted tweets and trends, Google Plus post ads and many other. See the next screenshot from the infographic from Gryffin with the complete list:

Paid Social Amplification



16. Newsjack a Story to Create Buzz & Links to Your Website

If you want to newsjack the right way, you need to know the lifecycle of a news story, before you start. If you start at the right point, you’ll generate buzz. Then let the links come to you.



On top of that, you need to track relevant news by:

  • monitoring Google Trends;
  • tracking keywords and mentions through Brandmentions;
  • following journalists and specialists in your industry;
  • follow trending hashtags on Twitter.


As the internet is continuously developing, we change the way we consume news. You can create a special section on your blog with news. The blog posts can be short. Make sure you express the whole idea to became newsworthy. Search Engine Land offers this type of content.  


After you newsjack a story and you publish it on the blog there are a few things you need to do:

  • tweet the blog post and use trending hashtags;
  • share on other social media platforms;
  • contact a journalist or help a reporter out;
  • hold short live videos;
  • hold a webinar to talk about big changes and big news;

17. Reward Loyalty & Make Your Devoted Customers Talk About You

Brand loyalty is something that every business owner wants. It is a strong feeling to incite. Loyalty comes naturally and as long as you preserve this powerful feeling you’ll have a long-term relationship with your customers. The hard part is maintaining your loyal customers. Rewarding loyalty and making your devoted customers talk about you is one of the successful link earning strategies.


MailChimp nailed this through their Christmas gift. They rewarded their users, giving each a pair of red socks and a Christmas card.

Mailchimp socks reward loyalty


 This reward system got them mentions, social shares, and links, earned links. Below you can see a screenshot from a blog with a link to Mailchimp about the reward.

Mailchimp link earning


18. Engage Your Audiences with Real Time Information Through Live Blogging

Grab the attention by engaging your audience with real-time information through live blogging. Participate in live talks to build your business and personal brand. Offering live content gives you a significant advantage because it offers you the possibility to interact in real time with followers. To make things interesting, you can respond in real time to questions from participants and get massive coverage if your topic is long debated. Afterward, you can and get links and mentions. There is an option to build a blog post around the live video.


When your brand is “on air” your followers will know where you are. Your brand will be associated with relevancy, and they will see you as a reliable source of information.


19. Get Quoted by a Journalist or an Editor to Build Authority

It is a strategy proved to have success and earn links, as Caleb McElveen, inbound marketer and SEO Manager for Listing Power Tools, says in one of his articles. If you don’t have a HARO account, you should. Help a Reporter Out is an online service to help add value and deliver quality information to a publisher. The service was created for journalists to connect with people that have the expertise to provide relevant information. If you help, you might be surprised by the powerful force of the internet. You’ll get the chance to get quoted, and this means you’ll earn links.


20. Build a Recognizable Personal Brand & Use It as a Link Building Technique

Make a name for yourself. You’ll thank me later. A personal brand creates buzz, in case you’ve done your job right. A personal brand means that people know who you are, you have authority in your industry. A personal brand will help you grow your business and enhance your reputation.


Be original, always look to offer quality and relevant content. For example, Kevin Lee is named “the godfather of SEM” as spot on Search Engine People, ShayCarl is pioneer of “vlog videos”. Take a look at people who will always be associated with a brand, like Steve Jobs. When you hear his name, you think Apple. Or when you hear Mark Zuckerberg you think Facebook, for Larry Kim is WordStream and so on. It will be easy for people to connect your name with your brand, and earn links on the long run.


Another important aspect to keep in mind is to have a mantra. Like a brand mantra, it is something that defines you, is a descriptive modifier. Like glasses, John Lennon had a unique type of round glasses, different from those that Elton John wears. Audrey Hepburn has another type of glasses. Take a look at the next picture:

Famous iconic glasses


If we talk about mustaches, the iconic Charlie Chaplin has a toothbrush mustache, Salvador Dali has his unique mustache. Rand Fishkin has an Italian mustache, as you can see in the picture below:



People tend to remember visual elements better and associate them with a name. Having something that sets you apart is important nowadays, to stick it in people’s minds.


21. Provide Insights for Your Industry and Win Organic Links

Highlight competitors and capture the attention. Offer insights and secrets in your industry to become a leader and increase trust. Followers will come because they’ll know your content embodies value. Providing insights is not only an effective link building strategy but also an organic traffic generator. 


Think laterally, which practically means to think of a way to resolve problems through a creative approach. This means to let your imagination look at a problem in an unusual light.

You cannot solve a problem with the same mindset that created it. – Albert Einstein

A content of this kind might bring you numerous social shares, mentions on sites within your industry, other blogs, and news publications.




Creating ah-mazing content isn’t everything if you don’t nurture the relationship with your readers, so they share your quality content and make them return to your website. Respect is earned, right? Well, just like respect you need to do something good in order to earn links. The strategies we’ve pointed in the list discussed above can help you with this. Of course, there is not a single “pure” strategy; link earning strategies can combine social media marketing, SEO link strategies, the proper use of anchor texts, guest posts, content strategies, and much more. Regardless if it’s you how’s doing all the work or you let some SEO companies do this for you, you need to keep in mind that the SEO industry can be ruthless when it comes to SEO link building or link earning. 


To wrap out you should stop looking for gimmicks. You should look for the outcome and not catch “tricks” to build links through link schemes or low quality content ideas that don’t keep count of the Google algorithm update. Look for value in everything you do. Follow the advice from SEO experts and go for the best in class content. And remember that a good content strategy (like evergreen content or qualitative guest blogging) is always a solution.


This is not a beginners guide, yet anyone can start getting links by taking into consideration these link earning tactics. We totally agree that a single strategy won’t increases traffic overnight; yet, combined and creatively used, even with the help of some SEO tools or a small but dedicated SEO team, might help you start getting links.


Let us know what you think about these linking strategies and tactics. 



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