Link Building For Startups: Strategies And Pitfalls To Avoid

Having a unique product or service as a startup is awesome. Unfortunately, you might have all the sweets. Yet, the ants won’t find you.

Who are the ants?

Your ideal customers.

They (the customers) need to know about your “unique” products. Otherwise, you won’t make sales, let alone attract the audience to raise a seed fund.

Bottomline: you need to dangle the sweets (demos, promotions, etc.) in the face of “the ants.” And one of the most effective ways to do that is to build links.

What if your industry has no competition?

Whether you are a buyable, scalable, or offshoot startup, it doesn’t matter; you need link building. It will help your company stay relevant in search results.

So, how can you go about this “link building” as a newbie?

This article can help. It contains the top strategies and tips designed to help startups in their link building campaigns.

Shall we begin already?

Before we delve into the strategies, let’s discuss the rudiments of link building.

The success of your link building campaigns, regardless of if you’re a startup or an industry giant, relies on two factors:

  • Content
  • The links pointing to & within your site (through the content.)

Content forms the foundation of your entire link building campaign. Without quality articles that engage, inform, and persuade the audience, you won’t get GOOD links from external sources.

Here is a little heads-up: not all links are good. Some will do more harm than good to your startup’s reputation.

How about the “link” factor?

We’ll talk about the strategies in full later in this article. But note this:

The quality of a link being “good” or “bad”  depends on four elements.

  • Type — links are either “dofollow” or “nofollow.” The latter has zero to no contribution to your campaigns.

Google bots don’t even crawl such links. That’s your cue.

  • Relevance — your links must be placed in relevant, industry-related posts. Otherwise, they won’t count.
  • Editorial — even if the placement is relevant to your niche, the “where” is also critical. Links from blog comments, directories, and social media are not as good as editorials.
  • Authority — like editorials, links placed on authority sites in your niche will fetch you more ranking juice.

Now, the basics have been handled. Let’s discuss the strategies promised from the start.

And don’t fret; the tips are not difficult to grasp. We made them snackable.


While the strategies below are streamlined for startups, you can still adopt the tips for established businesses. They will work.

Guest Posting

Guest posting means posting on someone else’s site as a guest. The site will benefit from your expertise. In turn, you’ll get exposure and a backlink.

Why guest posting?

Guest posting is the easiest way to build links to your site. Plus, several websites are looking for guest post submissions.

So, you’ll never run out of places to post.

The “where” is settled. How about the “what”?

What will you post?

As a startup, you can start by educating the public on how to use your product. Write instructional guides on how your service works.

Also, you can write roundups of products. Then, include yours as one of the new alternatives. 

Lastly, create users’ stories. Write around the testimonies you got from your demo. These types of articles are unique and will get easy backlinks.

But ensure you reach out to the RIGHT sites.

Linkable Assets

Just as the name suggests, linkable assets are exceptionally valuable resources that compel other websites to link to them. Consequently, this generates credit in the form of backlinks, all directed back to the source—your website.

But what exactly are linkable assets, you might wonder?

The GOOD NEWS is that linkable assets encompass a wide array of content, ranging from ebooks, comprehensive guides, calculators, and reports to FREE tools.

Here’s a clever strategy: pinpoint a straightforward problem within your niche. Then, craft a valuable asset designed to resolve it. This becomes your linkable asset.

Uncertain about what to create?

Here are some prime linkable assets that can drive substantial traffic and amplify your link building efforts:

  • Awards and Rankings: Showcase any awards or rankings your blog post has received, garnering the trust of your target audience and improving your website’s credibility in the eyes of search engines.
  • Infographics: Take a page from KISSmetrics, who’ve masterfully harnessed this technique. Regularly employing infographics, they effortlessly amass an abundance of backlinks, making it an astute investment in their digital marketing strategy.

By producing such linkable assets, you can not only attract more traffic but also establish a strong presence on relevant websites within your niche, supercharging your overall link building efforts.

Pro tip:

Create a variety of infographics for the best results. These variations include GIFs, maps, and interactive infographics.

  • Coined terms — the “Skyscraper technique” coined by Brian Dean is an example.
  • Statistics & reports — Muck Rack has several “State of XXX.” They often release them (the resources) annually. Those generate a significant amount of backlinks.
  • Software or tools — Ahrefs Rank Tracker, Headline Generator, and Grammarly are typical examples.


HARO, which stands for Help A Reporter Out, offers a valuable service to journalists by connecting them with reliable sources for their stories.

These interactions can result in the sources receiving valuable links back to their content.

But why is this significant?

HARO links are considered high-authority editorial links, which are often recognized as the “good guys” in the realm of link building. Now, you have the opportunity to secure one for yourself.

Curious about how HARO operates?

To begin, you’ll need to create an account as a source. Next, you can select the niches that align with your interests.

Then, three times a day (morning, afternoon, and evening), you’ll receive queries posted by journalists.

Your task is to identify the queries that match your ideas or expertise and provide valuable insights in response. If a journalist likes and selects your input, you’ll receive a valuable backlink.

It’s important to note that this link building strategy does require some patience, as results may take time to materialize.

Nevertheless, the rewards in terms of valuable links, improved content creation, enhanced ranking factors, and a better user experience for your audience are well worth the wait.

If you’d like to cut the “waiting time” by half, read this article on HARO link building.

PR, Press Release, links are similar to HARO. Here, you are still getting backlinks from journalists. The only difference is that you don’t necessarily use the HARO service.

So, how does this work?

  • Write a newsworthy press release.
  • Reach out to a journalist about the possibility of publishing your PR
  • If the journalist fancies your story and publishes it, other media houses and reporters will follow suit.

The only issue with this strategy is generating a story that journalists will fancy. It can be tricky because journalists are picky.

Regardless, the following tips can help:

  • Follow your desired journalist on social media. React to their posts and build a relationship.
  • Write and structure your story or PR in a way the journalist likes. Check their shared articles for clues.
  • Pitch your idea from a personal angle.
  • According to Muck Rack’s State of PR, 2021, journalists reply to pitches on Tuesday. So, send your messages on that day.

Need more help?

Read this extensive guide we wrote on PR backlink building!

Unlinked Mentions

At this stage, your startup must have gathered some acclaim in the industry. Your guest posts and features on media channels should have shown results.

Not seen any changes yet?

Revisit the strategies again and add more effort.

Afterward, leverage your popularity. Here is how:

Because you’re still new, the chances are that several publications will not link back to your site when they mention you in a post. That’s an unclaimed backlink.

Fortunately, you can claim the unlinked mentions and get additional backlinks. How?

  • Reach out to the author/website that mentioned your product or company’s name — but with no backlink.
  • Appreciate the mention.
  • Then, tell them you’d appreciate a link back to your site.
  • While at it, share your recent article with the author. Ensure you share what is relevant.

So, how can you find your unlinked mentions?

  • Use Ahrefs Content Explorer
  • Type in your keyword and search
  • Filter the search by “highlight unlinked.”

So far, the focus has been on getting traffic to your startup. Now, try something different: help others by fixing their broken links.


Fixing broken links for your sources helps them retain customers and convert prospects. More importantly, it ensures that their rankings are not reduced because of the increased bounce rate.

Plus, helping others show that you care beyond yourself. As a result, you’ll easily “earn” the backlinks instead of the pitches that might not be as effective as your domain authority increases.

So, how does this strategy work?

You can use several tools. Ahrefs is chief among them all.

About the exact steps to take,

check out this article we wrote about broken link building. It contains everything you will need to master this strategy.

Content Promotion & Repurposing

This marks the final phase for expanding your link-building campaigns, and it’s your moment to shine.

Take to your social media platforms and engage in conversations about how your products are revolutionizing the market. But don’t stop there!

Share images and video testimonials to captivate your audience’s attention, creating a dedicated following for your products and services.

Still with me?

Now, keep your audience informed by sharing snippets from your guest posts and your published PRs.

In essence, spread the word about your contributions on other websites. This includes mentioning the incoming links you’ve secured, especially those of high quality, and highlighting the pieces of content that have proven to be relevant in this journey.

Now, let’s delve into the concept of “repurposing.”

Content repurposing means you don’t need to craft entirely new posts for your social media. Instead, reformat your existing resources into content that will grab attention on social media platforms, ensuring that it’s the right type of content for your audience.

As a startup looking to build organic traffic and attract potential customers through high-quality content and various kinds of links, you may encounter link farms.

When approached by link farm owners, it’s advisable to politely decline their offers. Here’s why:

Unlike the legitimate strategies discussed earlier, link farms employ “unnatural” methods of link building. True to their name, these websites serve as breeding grounds for links primarily designed to deceive Google bots.

Significantly, Google strongly disapproves of link farms, to the extent that their bots don’t even bother crawling these sites. In other words, investing your time in link farms would be futile.

In the worst-case scenario, your website might face penalties or temporary exclusion from search results.

Such consequences can tarnish the reputation of your startup and deter potential customers from becoming part of your customer base.

If you want to delve deeper into identifying whether a source is a link farm, there are methods to explore.

Want to learn more about how to know if a source is a link farm?

We have a robust piece on everything link farm entails. Check it out!


Private Blog Networks (PBNs) bear resemblance to link farms, with the sole distinction being that these websites have thus far remained undetected by Google Search.

So, what exactly are PBNs?

In line with their name, PBNs represent covert networks of websites primarily utilized to mass-produce external links directed towards a business or website.

Frequently, these networks are constructed upon matured domains, strategically employed to outmaneuver Google’s scrutiny.

Interestingly enough, PBN backlinks have shown their effectiveness. Nonetheless, their long-term viability is questionable, as Google will inevitably uncover these sites.

When this transpires, your website is at risk of losing its search rankings.

When considering a content strategy for successful startups, it’s essential to steer clear of relying on PBNs, as they can lead to the accumulation of dead links.

Instead, a more sustainable approach involves focusing on creating engaging visual content to attract organic external links and maintain a favorable position in Google Search results.

Further reading:

Everything You Need To Know About PBN Backlinks.

Grey & Black Hat SEO Strategies

Strategies like link farms and PBN backlinks are unacceptable practices. They are all grouped under either gray or black SEO.

There are more obscene techniques, like hacking into a site to insert backlinks. These extreme methods are all black-hat SEO strategies. Avoid them by all means.

On the other hand, gray-hat SEO strategies are mild. They boost the natural link building processes with black hats.

As a result, gray-hat strategies are equally BAD. Avoid them as a startup.

Instead of gray and black-hat SEO, focus on the strategies discussed earlier. They are white hats. With them, your site is safe.

Generally, link building takes time. In fact, it is the bulk of the work in SEO.

For starters, you will do link prospecting. That in itself is a lengthy process that will take days.

Yet, you will qualify the prospects. Then, you’ll launch outreach campaigns.

Of the lot, outreach takes the most time. It can run into weeks — and even months.

With that understanding, can you understand why acquiring backlinks so quickly to your site is suspicious?

You can build backlinks naturally and steadily. But it won’t be fast. And for that to happen, you need expert link builders in your corner.

Linking Building Is Crucial For All Businesses

It doesn’t matter if you are a startup or an industry giant. To reach the first pages of search results and maintain them, you must build quality backlinks to your site.

Link building is even more critical to the growth of a startup. Otherwise, no one will hear about your products/services, let alone use them.

In summary, you must actively plan for link building as a startup.

Need help with getting started?