Backlinks remain one of the most important things for SEO. In any semi-competitive niche, you need backlinks to show Google that your site is an authority in its field. The more authoritative these backlinks are, the better.
So what if there was a way you could earn free, organic backlinks from some of the internet’s most popular websites?
There is. This post will share a seven-step blueprint on how to do it, using a real example. It requires minimal active link building, with a potential payoff that could transform your site’s domain authority on autopilot.
How One Post Earned Backlinks from Amazon, The Guardian, Business Insider, and More
Backlinks from high-DR websites are highly coveted in the SEO industry. Backlinks from sites with a DR of 90 or more are outside the reach of what many websites will ever attain.
SEO professionals and website owners would do crazy things for a single backlink from one of these sites.
But this post we’re using as an example today did just that. Check out its Ahrefs data here:
Here’s a list of the top referring domains (all to a single, non-homepage article):
This includes do-follow links from:
- Amazon – 96 DR
- The Guardian – 93 DR
- Business Insider – 92 DR
As well as authoritative sources such as:
- Financial Post
- Toronto Sun
- Montreal Gazette
The best part? These links were all generated on autopilot. None of these powerful links resulted from an active link building campaign, partnership, or any relationship with the sites shown above.
How? By producing a data-driven, quotable article.
The idea is to create a post based on interesting facts, statistics and/or data.
When content writers or (even better) journalists research the topic they’re writing about, they come across your post in Google. If you’ve constructed it well, many of these people will link to your post.
We can call this the “Quotable Article” link building strategy. You’re not writing so much intending to generate conversion-optimized traffic. Instead, your main goal is to get organic backlinks.
It doesn’t work every time. But if you hit on just one post, it creates a powerful flywheel that keeps working for you. The more links your post gets, the higher it will rank, and the more people will see it and potentially link to it in the future.
How to Execute the Quotable Article Link Building Strategy
Let’s walk through each process step to show you how you can replicate this for your site.
1- Identify your topic
The first step is to figure out what you will write about.
This is probably the most important step. If you choose the wrong topic, your chances of generating links will be done from the start.
Here are some things you’re looking for:
- A quotable topic. You want to produce a post that presents data that will add value to other writers’ posts.
- Keyword(s) with search volume. You want people to be able to find your post in Google, which means you need at least one keyword that people are actively searching for.
- Low, or manageable difficulty. Make sure you know you have a chance of ranking for your target keyword(s).
- A topic that’s relevant to your niche. Ideally you want this post to build topical relevance within your industry.
A common approach is to write a general statistics post about a topic. When writing an article, a lot of people search for [topic] statistics to find interesting data to link to in their posts.
- SEO statistics
- Online business statistics
- Content marketing statistics
- Ecommerce statistics
As you see, all these examples come up with a decent number of searches:
You can also see that these keywords have high competition. That’s because this strategy works.
Just take a look at the top sites for “ecommerce statistics”, and the massive number of backlinks generated by these posts.
Ideally, you’ll want to find less competitive topics, with less powerful sites to contend with.
Alternatively, you can answer a question. For example:
- “How many sites use Shopify”
- “How many businesses are registered in Ohio”
- “What is Amazon’s market share”
This is a little harder, as you need to guess which questions people are searching for, and find questions with search volume. But it’s a more direct way to generate backlinks quoting your article.
2- Gather data
The next step is to gather the data that will make up your post.
If you can get this data and provide it first-hand, that’s great. The best results will come if you can conduct market research, surveys, or find another way to compile original data.
If you can’t get original data, though, that’s fine. Most sites that benefit from this strategy don’t generate their own data. Instead, they find statistics from all over the internet, and compile them in a single post.
Let’s check out a couple of examples.
This post presents curated statistics as their own heading, with a paragraph to explain.
This post also gathers data from various sources, presenting them in a bullet-point list.
Though the data in these statistic roundup posts is curated from external sources, many people end up linking to the roundup post itself, instead of digging up the original source.
Just be aware that, if you’re not using your own original data, it’s important to quote your sources. Don’t present someone else’s data without giving them credit, or you may open yourself up to legal or plagiarism issues.
3- Organize your data (make it easy to skim)
Once you’ve got the data, you need to organize it.
This is mostly relevant for statistic roundup posts. Instead of simply dumping data haphazardly in the post, make it as easy as possible for people to digest.
You want people to be able to click through to your article, skim it, and quickly come away with interesting data points to quote for their own post.
It’s a good idea to bold key parts of sentences, such as the actual figures. You can also present it in bullet points, and separate it with headings related to specific topics.
Another good idea is to put a summary of the key statistics, before expanding later as in this example:
If you’re creating a post about a singular topic, the key thing to get right is to call out the specific data point clearly and early, such as this post does:
If your target keyword is a question, directly answer that question straight away, before getting into content.
Remember, this is what you want people to see – data points that look interesting, and which people are going to take away and quote in their own article. Don’t make it hard for people to find this data.
4- Write your SEO-optimized article
Now it’s time to add context and fill out your article. You’ll need to optimize your on-page SEO to rank in Google for your target keyword(s).
Check the other results to know what word count you should aim for and what topics, headings, and terms these posts use.
A tool like SurferSEO is great for analyzing SERPs and optimizing your on-page SEO.
You may need to boost up your word count. If so, think about what kind of context you can write to explain the data shared in your post.
This is also a great way to make your post more interesting and valuable with original content, instead of fully regurgitating 2nd-hand data.
Ensure you have all the on-page SEO basics covered, such as proper heading structure, a meta description, an optimized SEO title, and URL slug.
5- Add internal links
To ensure you get the biggest benefit from your article if it’s a success, add some internal links to high-value, relevant content in your post.
The backlinks you get from this post will have a spillover benefit for your overall SEO, by boosting your domain’s authority. However, you’ll get more benefits for specific posts if you can share some of the powerful link equity that this post is going to generate.
Adding internal links from your data-driven post to other articles should provide a smaller boost to their SEO. But if you get some powerful links to the original post, this secondary “link juice” may end up being extremely valuable.
Make sure you build internal links to your quotable article to increase your chances of ranking it. Just follow SEO best practices here for the highest chance of success.
6- Build external links to your article
Now we get to the point where you need to do a bit of manual link building.
You probably need to send some backlinks to your post to get it to start ranking in Google.
The number of links you need to build depends on the difficulty of your target keyword and the strength of your domain. But you may need to build a few to generate momentum.
Once you start getting traffic, you can stop manually building links. But before this happens, send some guest post links or run an outreach campaign for a few link insertions to get the ball rolling.
7- Promote your article (social media, email)
Finally, promote your article as much as possible. Get it to your email list, social media audience, and anywhere else you can think of.
This is another way to get initial visibility to your article and a few backlinks. Cast a wide net, and you’ll likely get your post from some content writers or industry professionals.
If just a few of these people link to your post, it will be well worth the time invested in promoting it.
Why This Link Building Strategy Works
There are a few reasons why this strategy works so well.
First, it provides value for the people you want to link to your post. That’s not the case with a lot of link building strategies. The data from your post actually adds value to the person’s post, so you don’t need to beg or bargain for people to add you link.
It’s also the flywheel effect of this strategy, which is extremely powerful when it kicks in.
The main difficulty is getting your post to the first page on Google. But once you do that, there’s a circular effect that continues to work in your favor:
- People search and find your post
- They link to it in their own post
- Those links increase your page’s rank
- It ranks higher, more people see it, and the cycle continues.
You can’t underestimate how powerful this flywheel is. For the amount of time and effort it takes to gather data and create a post, the potential payoff in value is far, far greater.
Link flywheels are one of the best things you can do for your site’s SEO.
Just look at the results from the example we shared above. Amazon, The Guardian, Business Insider, and national news sites. That’s what’s possible with the Quotable Article link building strategy.
It may take trial and error, and a few tries to get a post that works. But when you do, you’ll build more authoritative backlinks than any other link building campaign you’ve ever done.
To sum up, here’s the 7-step process to execute this strategy.
- Identify an interesting topic, with at least one keyword people are searching for.
- Gather data, either on your own or by compiling external sources.
- Organize your data and make it easy for people to skim and digest.
- Write an SEO-optimized article for your target keyword.
- Add internal links within your post to other content you want to rank.
- Build a few external backlinks to your post to generate momentum.
- Promote your article as much as possible to increase the chance of people linking to it.
Anyone can do this, whether you’re running a niche site as a side hustle or doing SEO for a big brand.
The results are real. Time to execute and make it happen.