How to Earn Backlinks from Sites like Reader’s Digest, American Express and More

Link Building Link Equity August 21st, 2021

What is a backlink?

If you are asking yourself this question, we recommend you preface this article with the following:

If you don’t have that much time, here’s the seriously abbreviated info:

A backlink is a clickable hyperlink between two websites.

Why do backlinks matter?

Google and other search engines use backlinks as a way of understanding and navigating the web. Search engines use backlinks to understand how trustworthy and reputable other users find a specific website. Essentially, the more backlinks you have, the more trust you establish with the search engines.

Backlinking in 2021

OG’s to the backlinking game have seen several industry changes throughout the years. It comes as no surprise that earning high-quality backlinks has become increasingly difficult as search engines crackdown on spammy link practices. To secure value adding links in today’s digital landscape, link builders need to:

  • Follow best practices
  • Focus on how your links can add value
  • Incorporate traditional PR strategies

Strategies for backlinks

Links builders utilize a variety of strategies to secure new backlinks. Link builders need to be increasingly creative as inboxes become inundated with hundreds of backlink requests.

From fixing broken links, to pitching resource-style content, to guest posting, there’s a lot that’s considered tried, true and tested. Here’s a quick overview of the strategies we utilize here at Inseev:

Any of the above strategies (in theory) could yield backlinks from highly reputable sites. We are going to breakdown the campaigns that have the best potential for securing these types of links.

Strategies for backlinks from sites like AMEX, Reader’s Digest, and more

Your best bet for building valuable links is focusing on strategies that fall under the thought leadership umbrella. Thought leadership strategies have the best potential to drive value to the page that you are contributing to. This is the reason why they can result in links on extremely reputable sites. Below we will break down our most effective thought leadership link building campaigns.

Expert Quotes:

This method is tried and true and there are numerous industry tools that can assist with placing these expert quotes. The most popular and well-known platform being HARO. We’ve been using HARO for almost 10 years and have seen the platform undergo several changes. Right now, 1 million experts use the platform to only 75k journalists. That means that there are roughly 15 experts for every journalist, making it saturated and difficult to secure placements.

To negate this market saturation, you’ll want to ensure that the tips you provide are well-written, concise, clear, and most importantly, unique. Journalists are generally seeking sources for one of two reasons, to either legitimize their article or source new and creative ideas. Make a point of providing an original position on the topic and watch your placements grow.

To combat the competitive aspects of HARO, multiple new competitors have entered the market, our current favorite is Terkel.

PRO TIP: Work to establish relationships with reporters who end up using your quote. There’s a good chance they contribute content across multiple publications.

Educational Opportunities:

This is a relatively labor-intensive strategy, and it has the potential to make a big impact on both your backlink profile and brand presence. Conduct outreach to parties who host relevant conferences, webinars, and other types of events and express your interest in participating as a speaker, panelist, or hosting a workshop. See if there are any non-profit organizations in your industry that you can partner up with. They may have connections with collegiate organizations and local publishers who can help increase the exposure these opportunities present. While this approach requires some heavy lifting, it could result in multiple backlinks if the initiatives generate attention with the press.


Start a Mentor Program:

Helping budding career professionals get started on their professional development is a worthwhile cause, link building or not. With that said, we’ve found that efforts that speak to an individual’s pathos make for great linkable content. You can build a landing page on your website, attracting applications for your program. You can find pages that provide resources for new professionals in your target industry and position your program as a helpful addition to their page. There are a variety of ways you can leverage a campaign of this nature to generate links (don’t be afraid to get creative)! A program of this nature could even generate more traditional press and is another great way to connect with colleges and other educational programs.

Find ways to give back to the community:

Think of ways that you can give back to your community. If you already have a cause marketing team, have them join forces with your outreach department. If you don’t, now is a great time to start one. Businesses with a cause have grown increasingly important to consumers. Based on data from Engaged for Good, 80% of consumers feel that companies should play a role in addressing societal issues. This applies across all channels that businesses market in.

An example of this in action is moving company, Bellhops. In July 2018, their CEO gave a car to an employee who walked 20 miles to get to work and back each day. The story garnered attention from publications like People, Washington Post, News Week and ABC News.

In addition to having the story picked up by major news outlets, when looking at their backlink profile in Ahrefs, we can see a strong correlation between their referring domain growth, aligning with when the story broke. While they were clearly experiencing growth prior to this public recognition, this helped to significantly scale that growth.



Now, we aren’t by any means suggesting you do good deeds simply for the prospect of potential backlinks, BUT it’s an added benefit to keep in mind if you are thinking of running a cause-focused campaign.

Wrapping up

The creative approaches you can take with thought leadership outreach is nearly endless. Act from a place of sincerity, be committed to providing real value, build partnerships and the backlinks will accrue naturally. As the nature of earning backlinks becomes more regulated, nuanced, and riddled with additional challenges, outreach teams need to be on the forefront of these link building approaches to stay relevant.

While this will change the inherent nature of linking as it requires involvement from leadership teams and additional overhead expenses, trust us, the juice is worth the squeeze!

Noelle Fauver

Noelle Fauver is the Associate Director of Agency Marketing at Inseev Interactive. She has a B.A. in Communication Studies from California State University, Northridge and experience in marketing, copywriting, and small business management. She is the President of the San Diego American Marketing Association, helping local marketers in the area develop their professional expertise and connect with other professionals. She loves curling up next to the fire with a good book on a rainy day with a bowl of homemade soup. But most of all, she loves marketing.

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