How To Rank Better Without Link Building

By Matt Zajechowski

Before I tell you how you can rank better without building links, I want to clear something up. Link building is awesome. If you want to see SEO results, then creating content and using it to build links should be at the top of your list of priorities. However, sometimes you might not have the time or budget to link build, or you might want to focus more of your resources into alternative SEO strategies.  In fact, taking care of your onsite SEO while continuing to build links will only magnify your SEO results. So given this, how can you rank better without building links? To do so, you need to build up the authority of your domain.

Having your domain viewed as an authority is a crucial step to take when trying to improve your digital marketing efforts.  We’ve explained the importance of Domain Authority (DA) previously, but put simply, building your DA is essential if you want your website to be found in the search results.  This is especially true in highly competitive verticals.  The more authority your domain has, the more likely it is to show up in the search results for queries relevant to your business. DA can be difficult to influence directly since it’s an aggregate of other SEO metrics. Because Google uses so many ranking factors in deciding how to rank sites, any metric that tries to approximate Google’s algorithm needs to incorporate many factors as well. As we’ve explained recently, backlinks are still the biggest ranking factor. However, there are plenty of steps you can take to move the needle without building links.

Develop Great On-Site Content

Producing highly informative and useful on-site content is a great way to strengthen the authority of your domain. SEO aside, people are more likely to view you as an authority if you are able to provide in-depth and educational resources that provide answers to the questions they are seeking. People use Google to seek answers to questions. That is the main service that Google aims to provide.  Domains that are able to provide answers to questions in a meaningful and credible way will be seen as authorities on that particular subject matter. Furthermore, developing unique content – from blog posts to resource pages – will also help your website attract links organically. On-site content should be highly informative, unique, entertaining and most importantly, easy to share.

Be Active on Your Social Media

Social media is a great way to not only amplify your on-site content but it also a great medium for building authority. Having a large and engaged social following is a great signal to Google that your domain is an authority within your field. I would even wager to say that having an engaged social following is more important than just having a large number of followers. An engaged social audience has a higher tendency to comment on and share your content within their network. Make the effort to engage your audience and to actively build your social following. An engaged and active social audience conveys authority without the need for external backlinks.

Non-Linked Mentions Provide Value Too!

There are many instances in which your brand is mentioned online without a backlink to your domain.  There is still value in this when building authority for your domain. Having your brand mentioned on a high authority website like the New York Times provides both credibility and authority for your domain as well as great exposure for your brand.  You are being sourced as an authority regardless of whether or not you are linked too. These mentions provide great value. A great way to build up mentions for your brand online is by responding to interview requests from local news publications and also industry publications relevant to your brand.  Help A Reporter Out is a great online service that allows you to build brand mentions. These mentions provide branding value as well authority building value.

Keyword Research and Mapping

Last but absolutely not least, keyword research and mapping will not help build your authority, but it will absolutely help you rank better for the keywords you care about. Telling search engines what your pages are actually about by doing simple things like optimizing your title tags and your page copy can give any page a good boost. Here are a few articles to help you get started on your keyword mapping journey.


While building external backlinks is a great way to strengthen your site, there are plenty of other SEO strategies you can follow to improve your rankings. By creating great on-site content that is easily shareable and actively promoting it on your social media channels, you help to strengthen the authority of your domain without spending the time and budget needed to build links. If you’re thinking about getting started on an SEO campaign, you’re probably interested in understanding how long it’ll take you to see results. Check out our e-book to find out.

Successful SEO Doesn’t Happen Overnight. Learn more about the factors that affect each phase of SEO with our collection of case studies illustrating how long it takes to see SEO results.