The truth about passive link building 

In this episode, we’ll look at when passive link building is a good idea, and when it is not. Marketers don’t understand what it really means to have passive links, as they’ve been reading a lot of SEO articles in the past and don’t have much clear understanding of the term. 

At the end of this episode, you’ll get one takeaway that will change your mindset when it comes to link building. 


Passive link building. 

The ability to position your brand as an authority in the space to earn market share through link earning – getting people to link to you from their websites.

That’s the basic definition of passive link building.

Passive link building happens when:

A content creator – whether a blogger or a publisher cites you in one of his or her content works, meaning he or she founds value in your content and could consider being a good reference for his or her readers. 

Passive link building happens when your product or service is so good that it gets the attention of content creators creating a round-up post for the best [service or product]. You don’t have to reach out to be included, though if you’re still on the list, you can, typically you get part of the list without manual outreach.

When people search for a keyword, they found your page on one of the top pages of search results, bookmark your content, get a quote/statement from your content asset, make it part of their content and give you a credit for that.

What marketers don’t understand is that passive link building doesn’t happen instantly without any active initiatives.

Here’s why…

Building a brand requires intentionality

To get to the point where people would recognize you and make you as a reference to their content is simple, but not that easy. 

It would take a lot of effort to get to the point where your brand, product, or service gets noticed in your content, especially in this day and age where most businesses are invested in content marketing.

The competition is high, but the visibility for content and brand is very promising.

Here are more truths about passive link building:

“Build it and they will come” is a myth.

For the most part, when you are building a solid portfolio of content assets on your website, you’re likely to end up creating new content pieces on a regular basis. 

For each content asset, there may be an existing audience ready to promote it – such as your email subscribers or your social followers. 

But if you’re thinking of growth, you want new people to see it — a new set of eyeballs. 

People have to see it so you build the content and promote it with your best efforts. After conducted hundreds of outreach campaigns, the idea of “build it and they will come” is not a sustainable idea. 

So instead of waiting for links to come like what most marketers think when passive link building comes to mind, why not ask for links.

Ask for links from target publishers you’ve mentioned on your content asset, from people whom you think will be interested to distribute your content, and from those people who have the capacity of linking – editors, resource link curators, webmasters.

The second truth about passive link building.

Competitors are ahead of the curve in actively building backlinks

As a link building agency working with enterprise brands. We’ve seen a dramatic increase in the amount spent by these big companies. 

And take note they’re not just hiring one link building vendor, meaning one agency to work towards their link building campaigns, but have 2 or 3 different link building vendors performing simultaneous link building strategies to build a high-level number of links.

If you stay with the mindset of “build links, they will come”, you will be left behind in the competition.

Businesses, even local ones are now investing in link building to get to the top spots of search results for their target keywords.

Yes, links aren’t the only ranking factor, but it is the main ranking factor.

So if you’re not actively promoting your content through link building, there would come a time when your competitors will beat you up with their active link building campaigns. 

Passive link building isn’t controllable

You can’t control the time when would a link builder will link to you, whether it is active or passive. You cannot also control how they would want to link to you.

With passive link building, you’ve got the brand and you can reach out to whenever possible for some changes in anchor text and the type of page they should be looking at. So for example, instead of them linking to your homepage, it is best for them to link to your product category page, as it is more direct to their target readers on a specific editorial context on their page.

With manual active link building, as you are into the conversations with potential linkers, you can persuade them the proper anchor text that you want, may not always be an exact match to your keywords, but a mix of brand, partial and referential keywords. 

You can check my other episode on 9 types of anchor texts to discover more about these anchor texts.

Anything that isn’t controllable is hard to measure in the long run, you would want to create systems to get consistent results with your efforts. 

Passive link building is good, but you have to consider different factors to get there. 

Push more of your content assets in the proper way of manual outreach and engaging in your online communities. 

Seek more promotion from your team. Get into the habit of actively building backlinks to pages that you want to rank, so you can sustain more performance from organic search.

So there you go, you have discovered 3 truths we revealed about passive link building, that marketers don’t understand so well. 

Before you go, I have a special gift for you.  if you want done-for-you email templates, simply go to the description of this podcast episode. Go to the link that I shared there. These are email templates for link building strategies that you can easily copy and paste and get results for your outreach campaign. 

For more link building and content marketing tips, be sure to subscribe to this podcast to get notified of the latest episodes. Just click the “Follow” button. See you in our next episode.