Mega Guide On Natural Link Building

Max Panych
Max Panych

Hi there! It`s Max from Akita Digital again!

I’m going to give you the know‐how 💪🏻 to:

  1. Land high‐quality backlinks.
  2. Combine visuals with data

 You will gain access to backlinks from popular companies like:

So, let’s get you started on the path having high-quality links for your niche! 💼

Links & Trust

This is what I envision when I plan a link building campaign:

1. Boosting the site’s “link juice”/authority

Let’s say you are skimming through this article on Ahrefs blog about link building. I think everyone knows that you need links in order to get a good 99rank in Google.

See, there’s a relationship between ranking status on Google and the number of links that point to a site.

Look at Tim’s cool chart for the Ahrefs study. It reveals that the relationship between ranking status and links quantity…

Ahrefs’ Domain Rating (DR) shows us how many links are connected to the site and the search traffic history.

Domain Rating (DR) for, in Ahrefs Site Explorer

2. Building trust with Google

There’s nothing simple about Google’s algorithm. There could be 100, 300 or maybe thousands of factors that affect ranking. Even if you have RankBrain, you will get different collections of factors that affect search results.

But there is one thing that is constant about Google algorithm:

You’re not going to get increased traffic to your site until Google trusts you.

Links help legitimize your site.

OK… What’s The Difference?

Let’s keep this simple by showing you some of The Ahrefs’ key metrics: DR and UR.

Let’s have a vocabulary check:

DR (Domain Rating):  the weight of a website in Google’s ranking system. This weight (or authority) of a site considers all the site’s backlinks.

UR (URL Rating): the strength of an URL that considers all the direct backlinks and the site’s authority.

So, how do you make sense of this?

You can have low DR but still be a successful website if you have links from a site with high UR.

Sounds confusing? Well, check out these examples:

This one is a link from a DR91 site.  Looks like the linking page has UR of 31.

This one comes from a DR 63 site. However, the UR for this one is 42.

How can we tell which one is the best link?

On the surface, both are awesome links. But how good are they when we only consider metrics and disregard relevance…

For “link juice”: the high UR link (provides a faster ranking and instant power to pass)

For “trust”: the high DR link (a long-term increase of site’s authority)

Google tends to trust us as a resource when we can get high authority sites to link to our site.


Want more understanding of Google’s complicated algorithm? Check out their patents.

SEO By The Sea was placed in our discussion on the best SEO blogs because Bill Slawski is a guru when it comes to figuring out the impact of Google’s patents on SEO.

Bill discovered that the 2006 patent for the updated PageRank algorithm for Google was being continued. This patent allowed Google to establish which pages would serve as seed pages for a variety of topics

You can determine a link’s power by virtue of how far removed the link is from one of the established seed pages—kind of like backlinks version of the 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon.

This diagram may not be easy to follow, so read Bill’s blog if you want to get a better understanding of how it works. For those who want to keep it short and sweet, just think of it like this:

The fewer steps between your page and a “seed page,” the better your page’s rank.  In other words, you want as low of a Bacon number as possible.

Do we have a sure idea of what the seed pages are? Nope, but we do know these pages are well-established and trusted sites.

So, what are we saying?

Getting links from websites with well-established authority is a sure-fire method of building trust on Google. And since trust is important when using Google, that means establishing links to seed pages is also important.

Not so complicated after all, is it? Perfect. Now, let’s get on our way to obtaining high DR backlinks with established authority.

The 5‐Step Formula To Getting High‐Quality, Trust‐Building Backlinks

Link building is not an easy task.

However, we can simplify the process by adopting the following formula:

  1. Trending topic
  2. Research and analysis
  3. Unexpected (unusual, or unique)takeaway
  4. Simple visual
  5. Tactical promotion

Yep, we call it the TRUST formula because it promotes just that!

Here’s how it works.

Step 1: Find Niche-Related Topics That are Currently Trending

Cold calling with outreach emails can be a disheartening task.

You send out 200 emails, get 10 responses and maybe 2 links (that’s if you’re having an exceptional season)… Not very promising, is it?

Pitching to journalists is no better because they are already swamped with marketers trying to get them to work with them.

So, what’s the best—and less discouraging—approach to finding relevant niche content?

Why not try pitching fresh ideas about topics they are already focused on in their writing?

So, how do you find trending topics? No rocket science here. Just “Google” it.

Go to Google news and type the name of your topic or keyword.

Want an even better resource? Try Ahrefs Content Explorer. You can get updated statistics on how many links and shares a piece of content has.

Try giving yourself a 7-day post range to see what’s currently trending. Set the language to English—especially if your French is limited to two words …

Mixing golf with Donald Trump would spark a lot of people’s interest.

What topic did I choose?

For starters,  I know what’s popular in golf (whether you like golf or not), and that’s Tiger Woods. And he’s back on the green again… Are the people tired of reading about Tiger? Nope…

The choice is obvious.

Now, for step 2.

Step 2: Find Some Interesting Data Concerning Your Topic

You can find free data all over the web

Once you find it, you need to analyze it and see what kind of interesting revelation you get from it.

For this project, I kind of went backwards.

Since I needed a map to display Tiger’s stats all over the US, I had to sit down and think about how I was going to approach this feat.

I realized it would be great to show Tiger’s stats for each state since his career began.  So, was there a place where I could find this type of collected information? Sure was: Wikipedia. There was a list on there that had combined all Tiger’s earnings and performances.

I must admit I still had my work cut out for me putting it all together.

But, thanks to Google sheets and a host of other places where I got my research (and buckets worth of coffee!), I came up with a data sheet that showed stats for every state Tiger had made stats.

This guy has made some mad dough all over the place!

Step 3: Create Your Headline

Now that you’ve compiled your data, it’s time to create a good headline for your pitch.

In this example, we give you “Here’s How Much Tiger Woods Has Earned In Each US State.”

That’s alright, but that title is basically a summary of the data.

We were looking for a one-liner, a simple takeaway that would stay with our readers. Here are some possibilities:

“We worked out {X}.

Did you know that {Y}?”

From my own experiences,  I know that people tend to gravitate to the second one-line takeaway.

Our data reveals that Tiger Woods had made earnings in at least 50% of the  50 US States.

So, could say…

“We worked out the number of earnings Tiger Woods made in each US State.


Did you know that Tiger Woods has earned money in exactly half of all the 50 US states?”

Voila!  There go two versions of your one-line takeaway!

Step 4: Creating Your Visual

Now we’ve got a popular topic with interesting data and a great takeaway. The visual—as I mentioned earlier—is the map I wanted to create showing some cool Tiger Woods stats.

But how do we get the map created?

Easy. Just check out these three possibilities.

Option 1: The Image Tool

You can find lots of online tools that will help you create visuals like maps and infographics.

Which tool do I like the most? Visme

This post gives you detailed tips on how to create maps using Visme

Select the free account option, choose the new presentation option, select infographic and choose the “Blank” template option.

Select the option to insert a map under the data tab.

Use the search tool to get a map of the country you are using. Click “Edit This Map” to add your data.

Input your data on the map where needed.

For a heat map, just select “Map Setting” and switch on the “Show Legend” and “Area Value Map” option.

Adjust the settings until you achieve the look you want. Then click “Insert”.

You have two options for sharing your document. You can either download it as an image or get a link to embed the map.

It’s just that simple when using this software tool.

Option 2: Software to Create Your Own Map

You may know how to use Photoshop/Illustrator (or have access to a graphic designer who does). You can use this program to create maps and have them designed exactly as you want it.

This is how I created my map for my stats.

Just take a look at it, and then I’ll show you what all it took to make this map.

I used a blank map from since I have so-so Photoshop skills (I didn’t want to chance drawing my own map.

Just FYI

 I have freepik’s premium subscription, so I can use the map without having to cite them as my source. You can still use the images from freepik with a free account, but you must not forget to credit them for being the source (and please do it the way they suggest you do it).

After getting a blank map, all I had to do was go to Photoshop and put in my information.

And later, add it to the website with a brief copy.

Want to see the finished project? Just go to this link

Option 3: Making Maps with CSS/jQuery/SVG Coding

If you’re comfortable with coding, you can use CSS jQuery with an SVG map.

Check out this example dealing with Youth Tackle Football legislation

You will get some excellent results using this method, but you’re going to have to know your way around coding to make it happen.  For those comfortable with coding, you’ll have yourself one responsive map.

Step 5: Strategic Promotion

This is by far the most important part because it makes no sense to have awesome content if no one ever looks at it, right?

So, how do we go about making sure it gets seen?

You might want to test the social waters prior to pitching.

Here are some ways to get your social feet wet:

  • Do a few FB ads and promote on other social media networks like Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus, etc.
  • Don’t forget StumbleUpon and a subreddit related to your topic

You may get lucky and your visual will rack up in views and get links just from testing the social waters.

But, let’s face it…

It’s going to take some hard work to get premium backlinks.

(Hard work is not pitching thousands of emails, though.)

Sounds good? It should be!

What you’ll soon find out is the prospect list is easy to make because all you need to do is check out Google news to see which, journalists and bloggers are writing on our topic.

And next up, we’ll run a Google search with the date range set to the past week.

I set my Google search to 100 results per page, and I’m only looking at results that occurred within the past week.  My results show that there are over 200 articles on Tiger Woods within a 7-day window.

Here’s a juicy TIP for you: Use AHREFS ALERT to get “REAL TIME” BACKLINKS

You should always strive to stay on top of trending articles on the internet, and here’s how you can…

Use an Ahrefs alert.

This will allow you to get emails every day that will contain new articles that have the keywords you used when you set up your Ahrefs alert.

This is how you set up your daily Ahrefs alert.

Alerts > Mentions > “+ New Alert”

Type in your keyword in the “Search query” box, and then select “Add”.

It’s just that simple.

Now, you can receive daily insights right in your inbox on relevant journalists and bloggers.

Sounds really sweet, doesn’t it?

You can keep track of your findings by making a spreadsheet and adding:

  • Each page’s URL
  • Journalist/Blogger’s name
  • Journalist/Blogger’s email address.

You may be asking, what if they don’t include their email address with their article? What then? How do you get their email address?

Thanks to Ahrefs’ Nick Churick, you now have access to powerful tips on how to discover their email addresses.  

Take it from me. Most journalists and bloggers won’t have their email addresses blasted all over the place. But you can use find it.

Use’s Finder tool and input the author’s name and article URL.

Cool, isn’t it? Verified emails will have a green checkmark next to them.


Try not to send an outreach email to an unverified email unless that’s the only way you have of remotely trying to reach them.

There’s an advantage to direct contact that brings a joy like no other.

Now about that pitch…

Forget everything you’ve heard when it comes to doing outreach emails.  

Why? Because journalists really don’t have much time to waste—let along read emails all day. So, what’s going to make them want to read a lengthy email from you trying to convince them to check out your visual?

You are not writing a novel. Your best option is to keep it simple.

If you have the type of content or takeaway that they are looking for, then you will get a response. If not, then you won’t get a response even if you have one of the best takeaways around.

Look at what I put in my outreach email:

In case you want to use something similar, let me quickly break it down.

  1. Use their first name.
  2. Be very polite.
  3. Tell them you read their content.
  4. Tell them what you type of content you have.
  5. Attach a link to your graphic.
  6. If they like your content, they will share/promote it without you having to ask.

NOTE. Are there times when point 6 needs to be broken? Sure. If they respond and tell you they like it but did nothing else with it, you may want to go ahead and ask for a link. They may surprise you and use it after all.

It’s OK to Follow Up… Once

If they don’t respond to your first email, wait a few days and do a follow-up email. In the follow-up, make mention of other publications that used your content.

Here’s a suggestion on how to word it:

“Just checking in to see if you had time to look at {X}? We’ve been getting a great response, and it’s being used by {Y, Z} already.”

After this email, leave it alone.

You don’t want to be the nagging automated guy who will send stuff every day until the world comes to an end. That’s just plain out aggravating. And plus, who will be around to see your content (or even need it) after that point (unless there’s some cybernetic being out there that evolves from us and repopulates the earth)?

Enough of that. Let’s see how well we did with our map…

The Results of This Campaign

So, did my map do well?

Um, let’s just say I got placed in some reputable places.

The Big Lead (part of USA Today): Domain Rating – 74

The Score: Domain Rating – 75

Golf Digest: Domain Rating – 81

BroBible: Domain Rating – 74

FHM: Domain rating – 73

Yahoo Sports: Domain rating – 89

These links are premium-quality, and they all come from majorly-trusted domains here.

These are the ones you want to target when you have content like this.

And here are more tidbits to really make the most of your pitch…

Bonus: Use the “1-2 Punch” Strategy to Get Even More Premium Backlinks

Question: Is two still better than one?

Answer: Yes, it is when it comes to having two pieces of content getting a high volume of premium backlinks.

This is the nature of the “1–2 Punch” strategy.

I know you’ve been taught that establishing relationships with possible leads is the best way to get links to your site, and that is partially true.

But there’s something else you need to know about landing potential linkers…

This map wasn’t my first time around with developing stats related to golf. It was the second.

I had this content getting links a few months before the Tiger map:

Stats for Tiger were added, too…

The visual was a chart the first time I did content on golf.  However, the content and promotion still used the TRUST formula:

  1. Trending topic: New golf season + Tiger Woods.
  2. Research and analysis: Research on how much each golfer earned per shot from my analysis of PGA tour data.
  3. Unexpected takeaway: Tiger Woods has the highest earned per shot numbers than any other golfer.
  4. Simple visual: Displaying complex data in easy-to-read charts.
  5. Tactical promotion: Journalists covering Tiger Woods and the current golf season.

You should be familiar with some of the sites that linked to our site…

CityAM (DR83), and (DR90) picked it up, also.

The Express and The Daily Record also mentioned our content.

Why Use the 1–2 Punch?

Now, you’ve established a relationship with reputable editors and journalists.

Backlinks to your site are already in place.

So, it makes sense the backlinks will allow them to search your site for even more related content.

… and you get some more links from reputable sites.

What Makes the 1–2 Punch so Special?

You want to be trusted on Google.

Getting backlinks from reputable sites is the best way to achieve that.

But here’s the catch:

That piece could have been a one-hit wonder.

Google might have had a great time with us, but we didn’t get the go-ahead for an album yet.

Now, we need to let Google see us consistently making relevant content that attracts the attention of reputable sites.

So, if it’s not broken, don’t reinvent it. Stick with what works…

…and let the “1–2 punch” strategy for building links work for you.

Pro Tip: Use the FOMO Technique

You can also try another proven technique for convincing potential journalists to pick up your content.

It’s known as the “Fear Of Missing Out” (FOMO) technique.

If at first,t you don’t succeed in getting a potential publication to pick you up, you can bait them by making mention of their competition picking you up.

Check this example out…

“A couple of months ago, we published {X}. It did very well that {competitor} and {competitor} picked it up.

Just letting you know that we’ve just published new research on {Y}”

To reel them in, you may want to add:

“I would love to give you an exclusive on this one if you wanted to cover it”.

With a bit of luck, you will get that link!

The Effect of Trust Building, High Quality Backlinks

Let’s cut to the chase.

People want premium backlinks to increase Google traffic.

So, did our content help make that happen?


Ahrefs Site Explorer shows us the impact of various quality links and increased search visibility.

When the first piece generated backlinks, the site went from no visits to 350–400 organic visits a day.

NOTE. If you’re a Google sandbox enthusiast, I should add that this site just launched back in August 2017.

So, what’s the takeaway of all this? The links we got gained significant traffic.

Will This Link Building Tactic Still Work a Year from Now?

Link building tactics have been a dime and a dozen.

And it should be no surprise that when a strategy works, some people spam it out and burn it out (Remember, scholarship links?)

But white hat link building doesn’t have that problem because of it’s an authentic link building.

You get a trending topic. Make some awesome content. Then put it in the face of people who will put you on the map.

Believe me when I say that technique will never go out of style.

Now, it’s Your Turn

Are you ready to see how the TRUST formula can generate premium backlinks for your site?

Do you have an idea for a great graphic?

Feel free to ask us anything about getting started on your way to successful backlinks. Please check out our noob friendly guide on link building for more information.

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Max Panych is a digital marketing entrepreneur, investor, and digital PR specialist with 9+ years of industry experience. He loves no-fluff, data-driven marketing, and running his own tests. Founder at AKITA, he helps companies scale by earning premium press links at scale.