How to Earn High-Quality Backlinks with Content Marketing [2021 Update]

Domenica D'Ottavio
By Domenica D'Ottavio
April 19, 2021

To improve a website’s ranking in search engines, you need to earn high-quality backlinks to the site. High quality backlinks are an important ranking factor that Google's algorithm takes into account when deciding where your page should appear in the SERPs. 

When many links point to a website, it signals to search engines that the page is essential, it has valuable information that people recommend, and it should appear as a primary search result. So, if you want to be on page one on Google Search for a query, you need diverse, high quality backlinks. 

While there are many methods for building links, one tactic has proven to be the most effective: content marketing paired with strategic digital PR.

Here's how Fractl earned links from 931 unique domains for our client in just  12 months.

Publishing linkable on-site content is one of the best ways to attract quality backlinks and diversify your backlink profile. Brands and businesses can publish high-quality content and then use a link building strategy / digital pr strategy to earn press and links to their site.

Step One: Create the Type of Content That Attracts High-Quality Backlinks

To create links through content, you must start by creating highly valuable and interesting content. You're aiming for the type of content you see on quality sites within your niche. If you want a robust and diverse link profile, think about what links you'd like to see, and read their pages to get a feel for the type of content they publish. Linkable content must stand out and capture attention by offering something surprising or valuable. This type of content often fits into one or more of the following categories. 


When public attention is focused on a specific news story, you can use this as an opportunity to create linkable content. Put your spin on any popular story to inject your content into the conversation. 

By creating content that touches on a news story, you can catch some of the already buzzing attention around the topic. And because many other websites are also covering that news story, you can offer a relevant take that other publishers may link to in their coverage. 

In the middle of a heated political campaign, The New York Times used newsjacking to produce linkable content by creating a webpage that curated over 598 Donald Trump Quotes. When many news outlets and websites are covering Trump’s language, The New York Times provided linkable content that was featured in many news stories covering the topic.

Trending Topics in Pop Culture

Just as you can leverage newsworthy topics to create linkable content, you can also tap into pop culture topics to join trending conversations. When a game, movie, TV show, or celebrity catches and holds the attention of millions of people, it’s the perfect time to tie your content into the trend. 

You don’t need to cover or reference the topic directly; instead, you can spin the topic so that it relates to your industry or brand. This allows you to create content that references the topic but remains relevant to your target audience.  

We took this approach when we teamed up with the real estate resource website Movoto. With the booming popularity of Marvel Comics, we created the Marvel Origins infographic that showed the homelands of famous superheroes and characters. The content, which was tied to both a trending topic and the client’s core offering, became the feature of 365 stories, with referring domains including from Yahoo, Mashable, MTV, Sploid, MentalFloss, Nerdist, and more.

Google looks at links from these types of high-authority publishers at trustworthy and your search rankings will skyrocket because of them.

New and Original Data

With so much information online, you often need to do something special to stand out from all of the noise. One way to do that is to provide new and original data. When you share online information that can’t be found anywhere else because you produced it, you create exceptionally linkable content. 

Publishers love to share new and interesting data, and it’s part of their best practices to link back to the source of the data. If you can provide helpful and unique stats, you will likely garner links from other websites citing your piece of content.

Using new and original information to create linkable content is the approach we often take here at Fractl. We perform original research (or pull from internal data resources) to produce content that features interesting, new stats. Our STUDY of 500 journalists creates linkable content that is covered by hundreds of publishers. 

When hundreds of high-authority sites cover your data, that shows the Google algorithm that your site is trustworthy and authoritative, too, and your seo ranking will rise because of it.

In-Depth Guides

Websites often link to the sources of their facts and statistical data. When referencing a topic, best practice, or authoritative stance on a topic, publishers often link to information that reinforces their position. This is why publishing in-depth guides on specific issues is also a good strategy for creating linkable content. 

Creating a guide that digs deep into a topic creates resources that audiences love and use and that publishers will also reference and link to. 

SEO Moz used an in-depth guide to build links back to their site (and provide value for their readers) when they published THE MOZ BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO SEO. The guide is ten chapters long and includes highly detailed information about SEO, from start to finish. Because it is the most thorough guide on this topic, it is typically the go-to resource for SEO guidance, leading to more than 2,500 links, according to data from Open Site Explorer.

How-To Resources

Like informational guides, how-to guides offer useful, evergreen information that appeals to readers and publishers. A step-by-step guide that solves a problem or teaches a skill is highly linkable content. If you can create the best instructions for how to do something, your website will become the go-to resource on the Internet and will be referenced by other web pages. 

Green smoothies are at the core of the Simple Green Smoothie brand, so they used a how-to resource on the topic to build authority and promote their brand in the health food space. Their Green Smoothie 101: How to Make a Green Smoothie post is often an essential resource on the topic, garnering links from other publishers and gaining plenty of audience attention.  

Guest Posting

Guest posting, or guest blogging, is one way to promote your how-to resource. If you don't have many resources, writing a how-to guide and sending it as a guest post to publishers in your niche is a beneficial way for you to boost your brand and build links on a tight budget. Marketers like to guest post because you are building backlinks while also building your personal brand authority. You're also directing organic traffic back to your site. 

Be careful when guest posting. You should always offer value when asking to guest post. Too many emails or an off-brand topic can be seen as spammy and actually damage your reputation. It's a marketing strategy many in our industry rely on because it works, but only if done well. 

If you have even less time, HARO might be a good tactic to invest in. Help a Reporter Out will send you emails every day with requests from journalists looking for expert advice across all niches. If you can answer a query, you will likely be featured in a great article, and can even earn a brand mention and a relevant link back to your site.

Free Courses & Challenges

You can also turn how-to content into a free course or challenge to create linkable content. Content that challenges audiences to follow a step-by-step approach over a period of time is popular among readers and publishers. Bloggers, influencers, and publishers who participate in a challenge or course that they enjoy will likely share that resource with their audience by covering it on their blog or website. created a simple push-up challenge that offered straightforward directions to teach people how to do 50 push-ups. The 50 Push-Up Challenge isn’t a lengthy resource, but it gives audiences an accessible, clear map for accomplishing a goal, which is why it has remained popular with readers and publishers alike.

Even something simple as a one-page challenge can get you on the first page of Google when executed correctly.

Massive “10x Resource”

Producing guides, case studies, and how-to directions are great ways to create linkable content, but something works even better: building a massive resource. Extensive, highly comprehensive resources are often referred to as “10x content,” meaning they are ten times better than other resources on the topic. 

When you create “10x content,” you improve the odds that your content will be the resource that other websites link to. Providing the most in-depth information on that topic will make you stand out and become the leading resource. 

The social media management app Buffer is known for creating massive resources; their great content rarely touches on the surface of a topic. Instead, they choose to create “10x resources” that stand out and attract many links (and social shares too). One of their recent resources, A Complete Guide to Instagram Marketing, shows how they take one topic and dive deep into it to create a vast resource. The article is over 5,000 words and features dozens of charts, images, and examples.

There are multiple ways to create linkable content that will naturally lead other publishers to reference your website. But you shouldn’t simply post your content and then sit back and hope that other publishers will find it and link to it. You should promote your content so that publishers and influencers notice it and cover it on their websites.

[Case study: How we increased our client's backlink count by 7,400%]

Step Two: Promote the Content to a List of Targeted Publishers and Influencers

The next step in using content to build links is publisher outreach. Once you’ve created your content, you need to promote it to targeted publishers and influencers who will likely share your content with their audiences and link to it from their website. 

There are a few things to keep in mind as you enter this stage of your content marketing.

Find Publishers Likely to Reference Your Content

Pitching the right people is extremely important. Don’t waste your time reaching out to every publisher you find. Instead, do your research before you reach out to publishers. Only reach out to publications that:

  • Have linked to similar content before
  • Regularly link to content related to your topic
  • Cover the industry that your content is related to

When a publisher’s habits show that they are likely to provide coverage for topics like yours, add them to your potential outreach list. You wouldn't reach out to a health site about your fashion campaign, and you wouldn't want those links anyway. Make sure the site already has covered relevant content pertaining to your project.

Find Publishers With a High Domain Authority  

As you search for publishers, also take a close look at their website’s authority. While all links offer some value, the best links are do-follow links from websites with high domain authority. To ensure you build high-quality backlinks and not low-quality links, look for websites that have these two attributes:

  1. A high domain authority. You can use the Moz Pro Link Explorer to find a site’s authority ranking. Domain Authority is a good metric to check out. Anything about 50 or above is generally worth it.
  2. Typically use do-follow outbound links. Do-follow links, as opposed to no-follow links, are a type of link that passes SEO value and authority to the site it leads to.

Find Publishers With Influence Over Other Publishers

A benefit of having high-authority websites feature your content is that it creates a trickle-down effect. When authoritative websites share a story, many other lower-authority websites see the story and also cover it on their site. 

Links on influential websites usually trigger more links from other publishers

So as you look for publishers during your outreach efforts, target websites that are leaders in their industry and field. By focusing on a few big blogs, you will likely create more links than if you had focused on multiple smaller blogs. 

Links connect content throughout the web. They direct readers, guide search engine results, and build website authority. So as you attempt to improve the visibility and notoriety of your website, focus on the best strategy for building links: content marketing

Create engaging, trendy, and original on-site content that publishers want to cover and link to. Then, make sure publishers are aware of your content by using innovative outreach efforts that target influencers. This proven seo strategy can get your content featured on reputable sites and earn authoritative high quality links back to your website. 

Find out how we have used this two-step strategy to create thousands of links for our campaigns and clients.