Link Like Lincoln: 4 Honest Link-Building Strategies

Don’t fall into the group of people chasing the next big tactic. Build a solid foundation with these link building strategies rooted in best practice.


How are you earning backlinks for your website?

I hope you’re not still submitting your site to hundreds of article sites or lame directories. You’re not spamming blog comments are you?

You shouldn’t rely on one single tactic to get links to your site. You’re so much better off building a diverse link profile by getting links from various legitimate sources.

Here are four honest ways you can earn high quality inbound links for your site–the types of links that Honest Abe would be proud of.

1. Create Content That Is Highly Shareworthy (Here’s How)

One of the best ways to earn inbound links is by creating content that is highly shareworthy. This tactic outranks the others because with one piece of content you can earn hundreds or thousands of backlinks.

A great example of this that I can remember comes from a pair of infographics that Wordstream created in 2010 (principles still apply).

These two particular infographics earned Wordstream 3,500+ inbound links with 79 of those coming from sites with a PageRank (PR) of 4 or higher.


Some of these inbound links came from highly authoritative sites like CNN, Fortune.com and TechCrunch.

Not only did Wordstream receive a ton of inbound links from the infographics but they also received hundreds of new leads! It doesn’t get any better than that, does it? You can read the full Wordstream case study here.

So, how do you create content that is highly shareworthy?

John Bell, Global Managing Director of Social@Ogilvy, gives seven design principles for creating shareable content.

social design

This is what the good folks at Upworthy suggest for creating shareable content:


One of the Wordstream infographics that earned the company thousands of backlinks contained a well-known “villain”: Google.

Ken Lyons at Wordstream says that they knew the topic for the infographic had to be “compelling, informative and even provocative” if they were to get lots of backlinks. Thus his team decided to create an infographic about Google flopping.

According to Lyons, the Wordstream team decided to go with Google’s failures because:

● People hate Google – success breeds hate and jealousy
● People take pleasure in the failures of others

The second infographic Wordstream created was on Internet Privacy.

Once again Wordstream worked the “villain” angle and created content on a topic that angers viewers but also entertains them (the ideal formula for virality).


You don’t need to create infographics to earn inbound links. You can write a blog post, create a video, publish a guide or create any other kind of content you want.

The important thing to remember is that you should have some kind of hook in the content. Something that grabs the reader, applies to a wide audience and makes viewers want to pass it on.

Remember that the best way to create such content is by including:

  • A hero
  • A villain
  • An emotional story arc
  • A super inspiring meaningful message
  • The right time and the right place

When you create content that includes one or more of these elements, not only do you increase the likelihood that people will share it via social networks, but also that media outlets will want to publish it earning you high quality backlinks.

This tactic worked really well for Wordstream and it can work for you too.

2. Respond to Press Inquiries

One really simple way to obtain new inbound links is to respond to press inquiries.

You can sign up for a free service like Help a Reporter Out (HARO) that will send you a list of inquiries from reporters/bloggers looking for sources.

Once you receive your first HARO email scan it for any topics that fit your industry.

For example, here is a HARO inquiry for someone in the food & wine industry:

haroIf I wanted to obtain an inbound link for my site I would reply to the email address listed and provide my credentials + a quick quote that can be used in the article.

Reporters are often working on tight deadlines and may not have the time to reply to your email if it only says, “Hi, I’m a wine expert, let me know what questions you have.”

Instead, reply with something that will make the reporter sit up and take notice, like:


I own Wine Company, a 5 year old business located in City, StAte. You can learn more about us at www.SITEURL.com.

When it comes to aged wines, I always recommend… Include tip.

If you have any questions feel free to call me at 555-555-5555 or email me and I will reply as quickly as possible.

Thank you,


You may not be selected for each inquiry you respond to, but in my experience if you include a well thought out quote in your response to the inquiry you will have a high acceptance rate.

Remember to start your reply with a credibility statement, then write a short but detailed quote that could be easily used in an article (no one likes generic, fluff quotes), and make yourself available for a follow up.

Oh, and of course include your URL if you hope to get a link!

3. Leverage Already Popular Content

Jason Acidre originally posted the idea to leverage already popular content for your blog on Moz.

In his post, Jason says you can search Facebook and Tumblr for content (related to your industry) that is getting a lot of likes/comments/shares. Then copy and paste that content into a blog post.

Jason says, “Republishing/reporting has been a norm in the social space – and is always ethical if you’re giving attribution to the original source.”

For example, Jason found this post on Facebook:


And then also found that a small blog had republished the post:


And the blog post received 288 links from 81 linking domains.

backlink graph

Definitely not bad for taking a few minutes to copy/paste some text from a Facebook post.

I would add that if you don’t want to copy/paste directly from other people’s updates, then you should look for viral videos, infographics or images related to your industry.

You can then embed the video/image into your blog post and write up your own story to go around it.

Just make sure that you receive the author’s permission to cross-publish this content.

4. Check out the Competition

One easy way to identify some websites you can get a link from is by checking out who is linking to your competitors.

You can quickly and easily conduct this spy work using Open Site Explorer (OSE).


Simply type in the URL for your competitor’s website and OSE will show you a list of sites that link to them along with the pagerank for those inbound links.

For example, let’s say you own a cupcake bakery in Fort Lauderdale, Fl. If you did, one of your competitors would be Sweeter Days Bakeshop. You can easily pop their URL into OSE and see who links to them:


Once you have a list of inbound links you can filter down the list to the sites that you would love to also get a link from and then reach out to each site own to start that discussion.

In this example, you might reach out to the Project Wedding website and pitch a guest post idea on the most creative cupcake ideas for winter weddings (or whatever).

You can repeat this same process for all of your competitors thus increasing your chances to not only gain some visibility on sites that had previously only written about the competition – but also to earn those all-important backlinks.

How Are You Building Links?

Hopefully this list of link-building strategies gave you some new ideas for earning inbound links in an honest, sustainable way.

What ways are you currently link-building? Leave a comment below and share. We would love to hear from you.

responses to “Link Like Lincoln: 4 Honest Link-Building Strategies”

  1. Spook SEO says:

    Hi Dave. I was confused a bit about your #3 tips which is Leverage Already Popular Content. Do you mean republishing or spinnig some contents that you don’t owned?

  2. Lisa Tagaloa says:

    Ooh, learned some new things I can try out! Thank you Dave 🙂

  3. Michael Templeman says:

    Great refresher. Stop trying to game the system. Google has tens of billions of dollars, you don’t. You won’t fool them for any significant length of time. It’s behooves you to take part in honest techniques like these. Thanks, Dave.

  4. noxsterorange says:

    I can experiment the new things i have learnt here. Thank you for sharing. Keep it up.