If you're like most start ups, link building is at the bottom of your overflowing to-do list.

Fortunately, you don't need a full-time hire or a pricey SEO firm to bring your site the search engine traffic it needs to thrive. In fact, you only need to set aside a few hours of work per month to take advantage of these these quick and dirty link building opportunities.

1. Turn Brand Mentions Into Links

You'd be surprised how often bloggers and media sites mention your site without actually linking to your website. While a mention can help get your name out there, you'll land significantly more referral and search engine traffic by turning these brand mentions into live links. The easiest way to do this is to use Mention.net.

Mention is similar to Google Alerts, but has more filtering features and robust reporting. Just enter your brand name into Mention and it shows you your latest mentions on blogs, news sites and social media outlets. If you find a mention in a blog post that's not linked, reach out to the blogger.

Thank them for the mention and ask them if they'd be willing to change their plain text mention into an SEO-friendly link.

2. Get Busy Guest Blogging

Guest blogging is a bread and butter SEO strategy that lands you links, referral traffic, and important relationships. According to Search Engine Watch, Buffer App took their business from completely unknown to 100,000 paying customers largely through guest blogging. It's important to note that the Buffer team published a whopping 150 guest posts over a 9-month period to reach this kind of growth, something that may not be possible for your startup.

Even if you don't have the resources for industrial-scale guest blogging, it's a must-have in your marketing mix. Just use search strings in Google like: keyword + "write for us" in order to find sites in your vertical that openly accept guest posts.

3. Amaze With Infographics

If you're on a tight budget, infographics can hook you with you the marketing ROI you're looking for. Neil Patel notes that the 47 infographics that he published for his startup, KISSMetrics brought him more than 2 million visitors and 40,000 backlinks.

The best part?

Each infographic only set him back $600 on average.

If you don't have a design person on your team that can crank out infographics, consider hiring a freelance graphic designer at sites like Elance or Odesk.

If you provide the data, you can usually snag an attractive infographic for less than $400. Once it's done, post it on your company's blog and send it to top blogs in your industry. If it's great, they'll usually happily post it on their site (with a link back to you of course!).

4. Leverage Local PR

The old business adage "go where they ain't" applies to PR-focused SEO as well. Every startup on Earth is gunning for a link on the Huffington Post. But the same can't be said for local newspaper websites like the Lafayette Courier and the Providence Journal. Despite their humble locations, these newspaper websites often pack serious SEO authority. Unlike multinational heavyweights, local newspapers typically have a small staff of beat writers they're typically easier to build relationships with. This means that you don't have to join the screaming masses at HARO to get some press attention. And because these local newspapers are on extremely tight budgets, they're usually open to free content in the form of op-ed pieces written by local business owners like you.
May 21, 2013

Brian Dean is the link building expert behind Backlinko, a growing hub for link builders and SEO pros. There he posts expert insights, powerful link building strategies, and exclusive case studies to help business owners and SEOs get more search engine traffic. He's been knee deep in SEO since 2008. Since then he's launched a number of profitable authority sites and consulted for businesses of all shapes and sizes. When he's not link building for his sites or for his clients he's usually backbacking through Asia or Europe. If you want to read cutting edge SEO content you should follow him on Twitter.


"local newspapers typically have a small staff of beat writers they're typically easier to build relationships with."

Local news sites can become a startups best friend. They may not reach 100,000 readers but they have their own loyal audience and are great if you are trying to connect with a local market. Even if you are a national business use the hometown advantage when you are starting out!

Great insights, Nick. It seems that most people strike out with SEO-focused PR because they're swinging for the fences. As you've said before, you need to celebrate those little wins in SEO.

Great blog. To add to the infographics point, if you are just a little bit savvy with keynote or Excel then you can make pretty cool infographics yourself, and there free infographic software available too. Starting out always has a budget!

Great point, Kat. There are a lot of fantastic free infographic tools out there to take advantage of.

With the Penguin updates, these tactics have been harder to do as everyone is trying to do these things but I think that the key for any of these options is creating content with value that people will want to share.

That's true, Jared: more people are using these white techniques post-Penguin. I agree with you 100%: they only work if you produce top-notch content.

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Search Engine Guide > Brian Dean > 4 Untapped Link Building Opportunities for Startups