Category Archives: Science and Technology

HOW TO KNOW WHEN YOUR PHONE HAS BEEN HACKED

by Natasha Stokes on May 01, 2019

Techlicious editors independently review products. To help support our mission, we may earn affiliate commissions from links contained on this page.

From email to banking, our smartphones are the main hub of our online lives. No wonder that smartphones are starting to stack up to computers as common targets for online hackers.

Security researchers recently revealed one attack campaign that released malicious Android apps that were nearly identical to legitimate secure messaging programs, including WhatsApp and Signal, tricking thousands of people in nearly 20 countries into installing it. These apps were downloaded via a website called Secure Android, and once installed, gave hackers access to photos, location information, audio capture, and message contents. According to EFF Staff Technology Cooper Quentin, of note is that the malware did not involve a sophisticated software exploit, but instead only required “application permissions that users themselves granted when they downloaded the apps, not realizing that they contained malware.”

Malware is often downloaded from non-official sources, including phishing links sent via email or message, as well as malicious websites such as the Secure Android site mentioned above. (While security experts recommend always downloading from official app stores – like the Apple App Store or Google Play – some countries are unable to access certain apps from these sources, for example, secure messaging apps that would allow people to communicate secretly.

Across the board, mobile malware has been on the riseup – in part due to an increase in political spies trying to break into the devices of persons of interest. Once this malware is online, other criminals are able to exploit compromised devices too. Malware can include spyware that monitors a device’s content, programs that harness a device’s internet bandwidth for use in a botnet to send spam, or phishing screens that steal a user’s logins when entered into a compromised, legitimate app.

Then there are the commercial spy apps that require physical access to download to a phone – often done by those well-known to the victim such as a partner or parent – and which can monitor everything that occurs on the device.

Not sure if you may have been hacked? We spoke to Josh Galindo, director of training at uBreakiFix, about how to tell a smartphone might have been compromised. And, we explore the seven ways your phone can be hacked and the steps you can take to protect yourself.

6 Signs your phone may have been hacked

1. Noticeable decrease in battery life

While a phone’s battery life inevitably decreases over time, a smartphone that has been compromised by malware may start to display a significantly decreased lifespan. This is because the malware – or spy app – may be using up phone resources to scan the device and transmit the information back to a criminal server.

(That said, simple everyday use can equally deplete a phone’s lifespan. Check if that’s the case by running through these steps for improving your Android or iPhone battery life.

2. Sluggish performance

Do you find your phone frequently freezing, or certain applications crashing? This could be down to malware that is overloading the phone’s resources or clashing with other applications.

You may also experience continued running of applications despite efforts to close them, or even have the phone itself crash and/or restart repeatedly.

(As with reduced battery life, many factors could contribute to a slower phone – essentially, its everyday use, so first try deep cleaning your Android or iPhone.)

3. High data usage

Another sign of a compromised phone is an unusually high data bill at the end of the month, which can come from malware or spy apps running in the background, sending information back to its server.

4. Outgoing calls or texts you didn’t send

If you’re seeing lists of calls or texts to numbers you don’t know, be wary – these could be premium-rate numbers that malware is forcing your phone to contact; the proceeds of which land in the cyber-crim’s wallet. In this case, check your phone bill for any costs you don’t recognise.

5. Mystery pop-ups

While not all pop-ups mean your phone has been hacked, constant pop-up alerts could indicate that your phone has been infected with adware, a form of malware that forces devices to view certain pages that drive revenue through clicks. Even if a pop-up isn’t the result of a compromised phone, many may be phishing links that attempt to get users to type in sensitive info – or download more malware. The vast majority of such pop-ups can be neutralised simply by shutting the window – though be sure you’re clicking the right X, as many are designed to shunt users towards clicking an area that instead opens up the target, sometimes malicious, site.

6. Unusual activity on any accounts linked to the device

If a hacker has access to your phone, they also have access to its accounts – from social media to email to various lifestyle or productivity apps. This could reveal itself in activity on your accounts, such as resetting a password, sending emails, marking unread emails that you don’t remember reading, or signing up for new accounts whose verification emails land in your inbox.

In this case, you could be at risk for identity fraud, where criminals open new accounts or lines of credit in your name, using information taken from your breached accounts. It’s a good idea to change your passwords – without updating them on your phone – before running a security sweep on your phone itself.

SOS steps

If you’ve experienced any of these symptoms of a hacked smartphone, the best first step is to download a mobile security app.

For Android, we like Avast, which not only scans for malware but offers a call blocker, firewall, VPN, and a feature to request a PIN every time certain apps are used – preventing malware from opening sensitive apps such as your online banking.

iPhones may be less prone to hacks, but they aren’t totally immune. Lookout for iOS flags apps that are acting maliciously, potentially dangerous Wi-Fi networks,  and if the iPhone has been jailbroken (which increases its risk for hacking). It’s free, with $9.99/month for identity protection, including alerts of logins being exposed.

Who would hack your phone?

By now, government spying is such a common refrain that we may have become desensitized to the notion that the NSA taps our phone calls or the FBI can hack our computers whenever it wants. Yet there are other technological means – and motives – for hackers, criminals and even the people we know, such as a spouse or employer, to hack into our phones and invade our privacy.

7 ways your phone can be hacked

From targeted breaches and vendetta-fueled snooping to opportunistic land grabs for the data of the unsuspecting, here are seven ways someone could be spying on your cell phone – and what you can do about it.

1. Spy apps

There is a glut of phone monitoring apps designed to covertly track someone’s location and snoop on their communications. Many are advertised to suspicious partners or distrustful employers, but still more are marketed as a legitimate tool for safety-concerned parents to keep tabs on their kids. Such apps can be used to remotely view text messages, emails, internet history, and photos; log phone calls and GPS locations; some may even hijack the phone’s mic to record conversations made in person. Basically, almost anything a hacker could possible want to do with your phone, these apps would allow.

And this isn’t just empty rhetoric. When we studied cell phone spying apps back in 2013, we found they could do everything they promised. Worse, they were easy for anyone to install, and the person who was being spied on would be none the wiser that there every move was being tracked.

“There aren’t too many indicators of a hidden spy app – you might see more internet traffic on your bill, or your battery life may be shorter than usual because the app is reporting back to a third-party,” says Chester Wisniewski, principal research scientist at security firm Sophos.

Likelihood

Spy apps are available on Google Play, as well as non-official stores for iOS and Android apps, making it pretty easy for anyone with access to your phone (and a motive) to download one.

How to protect yourself

  • Since installing spy apps require physical access to your device, putting a passcode on your phone greatly reduces the chances of someone being able to access your phone in the first place. And since spy apps are often installed by someone close to you (think spouse or significant other), pick a code that won’t be guessed by anyone else.
  • Go through your apps list for ones you don’t recognize.
  • Don’t jailbreak your iPhone. “If a device isn’t jailbroken, all apps show up,” says Wisniewski. “If it is jailbroken, spy apps are able to hide deep in the device, and whether security software can find it depends on the sophistication of the spy app [because security software scans for known malware].”
  • For iPhones, ensuring you phone isn’t jailbroken also prevents anyone from downloading a spy app to your phone, since such software – which tampers with system-level functions – doesn’t make it onto the App Store.
  • Download a mobile security app. For Android, we like Avast and for iOS, we recommend Lookout for iOS.

2. Phishing by message

Whether it’s a text claiming to be from your financial institution, or a friend exhorting you to check out this photo of you last night, SMSes containing deceptive links that aim to scrape sensitive information (otherwise known as phishing or “smishing”) continue to make the rounds.

Android phones may also fall prey to messages with links to download malicious apps. (The same scam isn’t prevalent for iPhones, which are commonly non-jailbroken and therefore can’t download apps from anywhere except the App Store.)

Such malicious apps may expose a user’s phone data, or contain a phishing overlay designed to steal login information from targeted apps – for example, a user’s bank or email app.

Likelihood

Quite likely. Though people have learned to be skeptical of emails asking them to “click to see this funny video!”, security lab Kaspersky notes that they tend to be less wary on their phones.

How to protect yourself

  • Keep in mind how you usually verify your identity with various accounts – for example, your bank will never ask you to input your full password or PIN.
  • Avoid clicking links from numbers you don’t know, or in curiously vague messages from friends, especially if you can’t see the full URL.
  • If you do click on the link and end up downloading an app, your Android phone should notify you. Delete the app and/or run a mobile security scan.

3. SS7 global phone network vulnerability

A communication protocol for mobile networks across the world, Signalling System No 7 (SS7), has a vulnerability that lets hackers spy on text messages, phone calls and locations, armed only with someone’s mobile phone number. An added concern is that text message is a common means to receive two-factor authentication codes from, say, email services or financial institutions – if these are intercepted, an enterprising hacker could access protected accounts, wrecking financial and personal havoc.

According to security researcher Karsten Nohl, law enforcement and intelligence agencies use the exploit to intercept cell phone data, and hence don’t necessarily have great incentive to seeing that it gets patched.

Likelihood

Extremely unlikely, unless you’re a political leader, CEO or other person whose communications could hold high worth for criminals. Journalists or dissidents travelling in politically restless countries may be at an elevated risk for phone tapping.

How to protect yourself

  • Use an end-to-end encrypted message service that works over the internet (thus bypassing the SS7 protocol), says Wisniewski. WhatsApp (free, iOS/Android), Signal (free, iOS/Android) and Wickr Me (free, iOS/Android) all encrypt messages and calls, preventing anyone from intercepting or interfering with your communications.
  • Be aware that if you are in a potentially targeted group your phone conversations could be monitored and act accordingly.

4. Snooping via open Wi-Fi networks

Thought that password-free Wi-Fi network with full signal bars was too good to be true? It might just be. Eavesdroppers on an unsecured Wi-Fi network can view all its unencrypted traffic. And nefarious public hotspots can redirect you to lookalike banking or email sites designed to capture your username and password. And it’s not necessarily a shifty manager of the establishment you’re frequenting. For example, someone physically across the road from a popular coffee chain could set up a login-free Wi-Fi network named after the café, in hopes of catching useful login details for sale or identity theft.

Likelihood

Any tech-savvy person could potentially download the necessary software to intercept and analyze Wi-Fi traffic – including your neighbor having a laugh at your expense (you weren’t browsing NSFW websites again, were you?).

How to protect yourself

  • Only use secured networks where all traffic is encrypted by default during transmission to prevent others from snooping on your Wi-Fi signal.
  • Download a VPN app to encrypt your smartphone traffic. ExpressVPN (Android/iOS from $6.67/month) is a great all-round choice that offers multi-device protection, for your tablet and laptop for example.
  • If you must connect to a public network and don’t have a VPN app, avoid entering in login details for banking sites or email. If you can’t avoid it, ensure the URL in your browser address bar is the correct one. And never enter private information unless you have a secure connection to the other site (look for “https” in the URL and a green lock icon in the address bar).

5. Unauthorized access to iCloud or Google account

Hacked iCloud and Google accounts offer access to an astounding amount of information backed up from your smartphone – photos, phonebooks, current location, messages, call logs and in the case of the iCloud Keychain, saved passwords to email accounts, browsers and other apps. And there are spyware sellers out there who specifically market their products against these vulnerabilities.

Online criminals may not find much value in the photos of regular folk – unlike nude pictures of celebrities that are quickly leaked– but they know the owners of the photos do, says Wisniewski, which can lead to accounts and their content being held digitally hostage unless victims pay a ransom.

Additionally, a cracked Google account means a cracked Gmail, the primary email for many users.

Having access to a primary email can lead to domino-effect hacking of all the accounts that email is linked to – from your Facebook account to your mobile carrier account, paving the way for a depth of identity theft that would seriously compromise your credit.

Likelihood

“This is a big risk. All an attacker needs is an email address; not access to the phone, nor the phone number,” Wisniewski says. If you happen to use your name in your email address, your primary email address to sign up for iCloud/Google, and a weak password that incorporates personally identifiable information, it wouldn’t be difficult for a hacker who can easily glean such information from social networks or search engines.

How to protect yourself

  • Create a strong password for these key accounts (and as always, your email).
  • Enable login notifications so you’re aware of sign-ins from new computers or locations.
  • Enable two-factor authentication so that even if someone discovers your password they can’t access your account without access to your phone.
  • To prevent someone resetting your password, lie when setting up password security questions. You would be amazed how many security questions rely on information that is easily available on the Internet or is widely known by your family and friends.

6. Malicious charging stations

Well-chosen for a time when smartphones barely last the day and Google is the main way to not get lost, this hack leverages our ubiquitous need for juicing our phone battery, malware be damned. Malicious charging stations – including malware-loaded computers – take advantage of the fact that standard USB cables transfer data as well as charge battery. Older Android phones may even automatically mount the hard drive upon connection to any computer, exposing its data to an unscrupulous owner.

Security researchers have also shown it’s possible to hijack the video-out feature on most recent phones so that when plugged into a malicious charge hub, a hacker can monitor every keystroke, including passwords and sensitive data.

Likelihood

Low. There are no widely known instances of hackers exploiting the video-out function, while newer Android phones ask for permission to load their hard drive when plugged into a new computer; iPhones request a PIN. However, new vulnerabilities may be discovered.

How to protect yourself

  • Don’t plug into unknown devices; bring a wall charger. You might want to invest in a charge-only USB cable like PortaPow ($6.99 on Amazon)
  • If a public computer is your only option to revive a dead battery, select the “Charge only” option (Android phones) if you get a pop-up when you plug in, or deny access from the other computer (iPhone).

7. FBI’s StingRay (and other fake cellular towers)

An ongoing initiative by the FBI to tap phones in the course of criminal investigations (or indeed, peaceful protests) involves the use of cellular surveillance devices (the eponymous StingRays) that mimic bona fide network towers.

StingRays, and similar pretender wireless carrier towers, force nearby cell phones to drop their existing carrier connection to connect to the StingRay instead, allowing the device’s operators to monitor calls and texts made by these phones, their movements, and the numbers of who they text and call.

As StingRays have a radius of about 1km, an attempt to monitor a suspect’s phone in a crowded city center could amount to tens of thousands of phones being tapped.

Until late 2015, warrants weren’t required for StingRay-enabled cellphone tracking; currently, around a dozen states outlaw the use of eavesdropping tech unless in criminal investigations, yet many agencies don’t obtain warrants for their use.

Likelihood

While the average citizen isn’t the target of a StingRay operation, it’s impossible to know what is done with extraneous data captured from non-targets, thanks to tight-lipped federal agencies.

How to protect yourself

  • Use encrypted messaging and voice call apps, particularly if you enter a situation that could be of government interest, such as a protest. Signal (free, iOS/Android) and Wickr Me (free, iOS/Android) both encrypt messages and calls, preventing anyone from intercepting or interfering with your communications. Most encryption in use today isn’t breakable, says Wisniewski, and a single phone call would take 10-15 years to decrypt.

“The challenging thing is, what the police have legal power to do, hackers can do the same,” Wisniewski says. “We’re no longer in the realm of technology that costs millions and which only the military have access to. Individuals with intent to interfere with communications have the ability to do so.”

From security insiders to less tech-savvy folk, many are already moving away from traditional, unencrypted communications – and perhaps in several years, it’ll be unthinkable that we ever allowed our private conversations and information to fly through the ether unprotected.

20 MOST DANGEROUS PHONE APPLICATIONS

20 most dangerous mobile apps: How to best mitigate the risk

John P. Mello Jr.,
Freelance writer

Mobile apps can be a nightmare for IT. There are millions of them, and most were developed without any concern for security. Some IT organizations have tried to counter potential threat from mobile apps by blacklisting programs they deem risky, but that’s not always effective.

Here are the top pitfalls of blacklisting, and alternative approaches to controlling the chaos that can result when a company’s employees are working on mobile devices connected to the company network.

The 20 most-blocked mobile apps

An analysis by Appthority of the blacklists of its enterprise customers is revealing. For example, here are the top 10 Android apps blackballed by enterprises:

  • Poot-debug(W100).apk
  • AndroidSystemTheme
  • Where’s My Droid
  • Weather
  • Wild Crocodile
  • Star War
  • ggzzversion
  • Boyfriend Tracker
  • Chicken Puzzle
  • Device Alive

In its analysis, Appthority ranks risk on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the lowest risk. Eight of the apps in the Android top 10 had a risk score of 9, primarily because they contained malware. The other two apps—Boyfriend Tracker and Chicken Puzzle—scored a 6 because of data issues or privacy concerns.

On the iOS side of things, these apps were blacklisted the most:

  • WhatsApp Messenger
  • Pokémon GO
  • WinZip Utilities
  • CamScanner Productivity
  • Plex
  • WeChat
  • Facebook Messenger
  • eBay Kleinanzeigen
  • Netease News
  • Device Alive

The seven riskiest apps scored a 7. Their sins included sending SMS messages or sensitive data without encryption. Three programs—Pokémon GO, Plex, and Device Alive—scored a 6 because they did things such as access address books and cameras without permission and tracked a phone user’s location.

Blacklisting’s deficiencies

While these 20 apps were the most commonly blacklisted, there were plenty more in Appthority’s list of 100 enterprise apps that were as risky or riskier to use. Many of those apps ask for permissions that can be a prelude to risky behavior—the ability to read and send text messages, for example, or access a phone’s camera, microphone, and address book.

Leigh-Anne Galloway, cybersecurity resilience lead at Positive Technologies, said the proof was in the permissions.

“Users should avoid installing apps that require too many dangerous permissions. The more permissions an application has, the more risk it presents in the case that it’s hacked.”
—Leigh-Anne Galloway

The sheer volume of apps available to users can make blacklisting problematic. “Blacklisting apps has never had much success in stopping breaches in the PC world, and I don’t see it as working in mobile either,” said Georgia Weidman, CEO of Shevirah, a provider of tools for assessing and managing mobile device risk.

“If you blacklist an app, a million more with those same issues will take their place. Taking a set of apps and blacklisting them isn’t going to solve any particular problem.”
—Georgia Weidman

What’s more, one enterprise’s risky app is another’s anointed app. “WhatsApp is on the list of bad apps,” Weidman noted, “but a lot of organizations use WhatsApp or a similar secure, encrypted messenger for corporate communication.”

We can’t look at every application deeply enough to say yes or no definitively about whether its risky behavior is due to a sloppy developer or someone with malicious intent, she added.

Shadow IT complicates security

Making matters worse, employees often use productivity apps without IT’s knowledge. Referred to as shadow IT, this practice has become prevalent within the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) culture, where people use their personal devices and download apps without informing IT, explained Michela Menting, digital security research director at ABI Research.

This is not always done maliciously by the employee, she said. Often they do this in good faith, to increase their productivity or facilitate their work in some way, she said.

“They forget that by not telling IT, they can put their organization at risk.”
—Michela Menting

By keeping IT in the dark, mobile users broaden the attack surface available to an organization’s adversaries. “BYOD extends your corporate environment to your employees’ homes, vehicles, neighborhoods—and then enables them to bring whatever they picked up into your environment,” said Devon Kerr, principal threat researcher at Endgame, a maker of cybersecurity solutions for enterprises.

“It is an inheritance model that is being taken advantage of by threat actors to gain a foothold in otherwise resistant organizations.”
—Devon Kerr

One of the riskiest apps for an enterprise may not appear on any top 10 list at all: email. Email is risky for two reasons. Corporate credentials are needed to access a mailbox, and email is used to share a lot of sensitive corporate information.

Whitelisting apps can help

If emails or credentials are stored somewhere other than on a device or are accessible to a third party, in any way, the business is at significant risk, said Matt Hathaway, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Uptycs.

“The most important action for IT staff to take around email apps is to evaluate the most common, whitelist those that are secure, and configure their email servers to decline authentication attempts from any apps which aren’t on this whitelist,” Hathaway said.

For external programs, whitelisting should extend beyond email apps to all external mobile apps, added Positive Technologies’ Galloway. “IT must also create rules” for the use of personal devices that can be used for work, she said.

Another approach is to host all applications accessible to a user’s phone. Then when employees attempt to access corporate resources, they can do so only through the hosted apps. That essentially makes the phone act like a remote desktop client.

Daniel Kennedy, research director for information security and networking at 451 Research., said that in a true BYOD environment, IT’s ability to control risky apps is limited. Enterprise mobility management or mobile device management tools provide part of the answer by allowing for capabilities on employee-owned devices, such as access revocation, conditional access, data wipe, additional authentication, and data separation, he said.

“Blocking access to company data or blacklisting certain apps based on risk are other options.”
—Daniel Kennedy

Gautam Aggarwal, CMO and head of products at NSS Labs, a security testing, enterprise research, and threat analysis company, agreed that keeping a tight rein on access is a key to reducing mobile app risk. “The best approach to mitigate potential risks is to establish access-control policies that govern the use of mobile applications and, specifically, access to high-value applications and data on the network,” he said.

“Regardless of your organization’s size, maintaining visibility into the types of devices accessing applications on the network is crucial to maintaining a proper security posture.”
—Gautam Aggarwal

Thwarting threats with SIEMs

That kind of visibility can be obtained through the use of security information and event management (SIEM) software. SIEMs collect information from multiple network sources and analyze that data for potential or existing threats.

The tools monitor network activity and can generate alerts when suspicious activity is encountered, said Avast researcher Martin Hron.

“When used properly, a SIEM can notably reduce the risk of an enterprise network being infiltrated by malicious mobile applications installed on employees’ phones.”
—Martin Hron

To fully address mobile threats, though, a SIEM may need additional help. For example, some tools can track security issues on mobile devices and make that information available to a SIEM through APIs. This allows the SIEM to centralize both device monitoring and incident response.

SIEMs can help detect malicious activity from mobile apps if the company also uses an enterprise mobility management solution, which accumulates mobile device data, Positive Technologies’ Galloway explained. “In those cases, a SIEM helps detect incidents such as theft of a device or confidential information.”

Nothing’s perfect

A word of warning for SIEM shoppers was voiced by Endgame’s Kerr: “A SIEM is only as good as the human beings who are monitoring it and the procedures those human beings developed. If your organization is already struggling to monitor social media, monitoring mobile devices is going to be exceptionally challenging.”

“Mobile device management, enterprise mobility management, mobile antivirus—pick your poison—they all provide value in controlling mobile apps,” added Shevirah’s Weidman. “But just as we still see PC malware, none of these products are going to 100% protect you.

TERRIFYING PLACES ON THE INTERNET THAT WILL STEAL YOUR SLEEP FOREVER

 

13 Terrifying Places on The Internet That Will Steal Your Sleep Forever

They say that the internet that is visible to our eyes is only 5% of the entire network: a tip of the iceberg. The remaining 95% is a place you would never, in your wildest dreams, want to find yourself. Also known as the Deep Web, this almost invisible web surface cannot be accessed through the usual search engines like Chrome, Safari or Firefox, and harbors the most grotesque, deranged and despicable things known to mankind. Those that are capable of making your blood curdle and sending chills down your spine. Active drug markets, child pornography, human experimentation, red rooms and cannibal forums. Everything and anything is possible on the Deep Web. Following are some of the many horrifying things users have found on the Deep Web, those that still haunt them every single night.

1. How to Cook a Woman

While there have been many reports of forums full of people swapping tips on having humans for lunch. But perhaps the most chilling is the one lucky individual who stumbled upon a detailed guide on how to butcher and properly cook women. This page had information on what body types to use for specific cuts, how to prepare these cuts, and how to cook the girl so she lives as long as possible. It horrifies me that people way worse than the freaks on Criminal Minds exist.

2. Stillborn Babies Collection

A deep web user happened to stumble upon a forum where mothers shared photos of their stillborn babies. It is a site for women who can’t deal with the fact that their babies had been stillborn. It was filled with pictures of dead fetuses dressed up and had this really sad, creepy song playing as you scrolled through. I don’t think a forum could get more depressing and creepier than that!

 

3. Human Leather

Yes, that’s right: HUMAN LEATHER! This website is filled with products made from human flesh like food, wallets, belts, etc. If you fancy products made out of human skin, what am I saying, of course we all do! If you understood I was being sarcastic then good for you, if you didn’t then this site is probably for you!

4. Living Sex Dolls

This deep web story is sick and disturbing.  It is not for the faint-hearted.  If you are a sensitive person, you should stop reading right here. Continue at your own risk.

It is believed that a surgeon living in Easter Europe sold something peculiar on the Dark Web: Live Sex Dolls. He would adopt several young girls between the ages of 6-18 from a local orphanage that was happy to get rid of any extra mouths to feed. He would then take them home and surgically remove all of their limbs and sexually torture them.

The girls were only fed from a bottle minimum, their teeth were removed and a rubber was inserted in their mouths to maintain beauty and to assist with fellatio. The girls were then physically and mentally abused to turn them into unquestioning, unfeeling slaves. They were electrocuted, their genitals were sliced and were beaten regularly by the surgeon. The doctor destroyed their sense of hearing by playing extremely loud music and sounds on headphones, and used laser to blind the girls.  Almost all of their senses were destroyed to make them more docile. He tortured them for months preparing them for their new owner before they were ready to be sold for $40000 on the Dark Web!

5. Dead Girls

Well this is one disturbing site the does exactly what it says on the tin, lots and lots of photos of dead girls. The site is supposed to be full of photos of girls ranging from 5 to 16, all dead from various ways and means. While that’s just morbid there are a number of creepypasta stories surrounding the site and the subsequent madness that followed with seeing all those dead girls.

6. Hitmen for Hire

Yes, there are websites on the Dark Web that offer Hitmen for hire. These websites also post pictures as proof that these guys actually mean business. Getting someone killed is as you expect not cheap but from the looks of it, they’ll get the job done.

7. IRL Cannibal Forums

What may sound like Hannibal or Silence of The Lamb fan forums, are actually real life cannibal forums about eating people and being eaten by people. Some members even chat and arrange meetups there to eat each other like, “I need someone to eat my fresh meat. I am juicy and tender.” And all that crazy shit.

8. Child Pornography

Of the most deranged things found on the Deep and Dark Web, child abuse seems to be the most prevalent. Although many of these websites have been shut down by the authorities, there still remain an array of predators and pedophiles operating anonymously on the Deep Web.

9. Human Experimentation

This unholy creep fest is a room on the deep web. The guys who run this site believe that not all humans are equal, and to prove their point they find homeless people and perform dark and possibly painful experiments on them, similar to the likes of the Japanese unit 731 that existed during World War II. Experiments range from water/fluid restriction, injecting pregnant women with bleach, starvation, radiation exposure and even sterilization. Fake or not, it is bone-chilling and some of the experiments that were documented were creepy. Yep, told you it was a sick place.

10. Summoning Demons

Don’t think you’re having enough fun at your regular party? Worry no more, you can go ahead and summon a demon and get that party going! Yeah, but jokes aside, very creepy!

11. Drug Markets

Perhaps the most famous thing about the deep web is the fact that you can get every and any drug ever made. Ranging from premium quality marijuana to pills and acid, the Deep Web is laden with websites that engage in the sale of drugs. ‘The Silkroad’ was a very popular and the most credible source for some fine bud or anything else until it got taken down very recently.

12. Professional hackers, Fake ID’s and Credit Card Fraudulence

There is a whole bunch of sites where you can find people to hack anything for you, be it is your ex’s account or a top secret government website. These guys are up for anything. The deep web is also home to anonymous sellers who advertise their goods on topic-specific forums like copied credit cards on a credit card fraud board. Apart from forging credit cards, people can also purchase fake identification too. An American passport could cost you around 700 Euros, or 973.91 USD.

13. Red Rooms/ Live Torture Streams

While the existence of such rooms has not been proven as of yet, people have repeatedly claimed to have found terrifying live streams. Some guy stumbled on a live stream where a girl was sitting in a chair and commanded people from a chat window to tell her what kind of abuse she should do to herself. After many cuts, bruises, eye gouging, the girl eventually killed herself on the live stream.

This is not the only case where people have brought harm to themselves on a live stream on the deep web. These live streams are popularly known as “Red Rooms”: a place even ISIS is believed to have started using as a platform to conduct beheadings and murder.

25 WAYS TO BUILD BACKLINKS TO YOUR WEBSITE FOR FREE

Build Backlinks to Your Website

With enough website builders and content management systems (CMS) available to fill a book, and almost as many web hosting companies, developing an online platform has never been easier. But therein lies the problem many new bloggers and businesses now face.

There are more than 7.5 billion people alive at any given moment, and more than half of them are online. This means that, excluding those who don’t have access to the internet (and those too young or too old to use it), almost everyone has some online presence. For many, this may be limited to social media accounts and a smattering of subscriptions, but there are still billions of business websites and personal blogs.

So no matter the nature of your online platform, you need to be smart and resourceful if you want your site to be visible. The days of simply posting online and adding a few keywords are very much long gone. The world of search engine optimization has evolved to a point where even most novices know that there are hundreds of factors that contribute to your ranking.

Some of these factors—especially keywords—are very well known. The problem is, with the rise of voice search, keywords are no longer the dominant SEO tool. Many SEO experts have stepped forward and stated that keywords are somewhat outdated. And while they’re not likely to ever fall away altogether, relying purely on keywords is suicidal. That’s where backlinks come in.

What Are Backlinks?

Backlinks are probably one of (if not the) most important SEO factors. Unfortunately, they’re also pretty high on the list of SEO metrics that you don’t have very much control over—but we’re going to help you with that in a moment.

Simply put, a backlink is an external link that directs users’ attention away from one site and to another. You certainly want to include some backlinks in your content, but most importantly you want there to be backlinks acting as an incoming redirection. In other words, you want to have other sites and pages referencing yours with a link.

Backlinks go hand in hand with organic traffic, which is when someone accesses your site or via the search engine’s results page (SERP). That’s because search engine website crawlers look for backlinks in particular when building their search engine index, so the platform can better understand how your page(s) are connected. More importantly, the backlinks also tell search engines how your content relates to other websites and pages on the internet. This helps in placing your page on the SERP relevantly so that you can attract organic traffic for the right search queries.

The way search engines index and display your pages is in turn related directly to the quality of your backlinks. All backlinks will help search engines to index your content according to relevancy, of course, but that alone doesn’t have much effect on your ranking.

That’s why it’s important to generate backlinks to and from authoritative websites. These are recognized sites that already rank well for topics similar to your own.

Generating quality backlinks can be hard work, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are 25 ways to build (or earn) backlinks.

1. Internal Backlinks

In our introduction above, we mentioned that backlinks are the term best associated with external links to your site and pages, but internal links also match the term. All backlinks contribute to the way search engines interact with your website because they help the site crawlers used to develop and update search engine indexes understand how your content relates to content on other websites.

Internal links contribute to developing a great user experience because visitors can easily navigate your site and find relevant articles that add to or match the page they’re already viewing. This is paramount in SEO because it allows you to retain visitors: instead of typing in another search query to find additional, relevant information, you’re providing a means for them to find it on your site.

One of the most common ways this will play to your advantage is if your content contains technical terms relevant to your industry. You want readers to understand your writing, but adding a definition to the first instance of every technical term makes for a messy content structure.

That’s why you’ve got another page going into detail on that term because it’s relevant to your industry and your target market. Turning the first instance of a technical term on your page into anchor text containing an internal backlink to the definitions page, you ensure that your readers have everything they need right at hand.

Be careful not to overload your pages with internal links, though. A good rule of thumb is to keep backlinks per page down to below 100, and you want to include external links to the count (you’ll see why in a bit).

2. Guest Posting

It may sound like you’ll just be helping another site build their resources and generate more views for themselves, but this is very much a case of helping each other out. After all, guest posting is very different from ghostwriting. As a ghostwriter, you get no credit for the content whatsoever. But every guest post is entirely credited to the writer, not the hosting site.

Of course, this does help the host site to generate views, but that’s okay for the guest writer because more often than not it includes a backlink to your site. Guest posting is one of those cases where it’s not only about generating a backlink to improve your search engine index ranking for SERPs, which shouldn’t be your only focus at all. This is a great way of getting your name out there, making your content available to new readers and winning increased online visibility. Guest posting, most especially for authoritative sites in your industry, builds your reputation online in a big, big way.

But it can take a long time to find opportunities to create guest posts if you go about it the wrong way. One sure means of discovering fresh, relevant opportunities is to make use of sites like Twitter. By using the search function, you can quickly find authoritative sites that are looking for guest post contributors on a regular basis. Just type “your niche” + guest post (for example “SEO” + guest post) and scan the results for new opportunities.

3. Help A Reporter Out (HARO)

Help A Reporter Out (HARO) is a fantastic online resource for generating backlinks on authoritative news sites. All you need to do is sign up as a source, which takes less than a minute to do, and you’ll get three emails a day every Monday through Friday (at 05h35, 12h35, and 17h35 ET). These are the source requests, which is a list of articles that reporters need information for.

Each one includes a summary (usually the intended headline for the article), the topic category, and the email address of the journalist (which is where you’ll be sending the information to). It will also include the name of the site where the article will be published, the reporter’s deadline, and a description detailing what kind of information they need.

Of course, you’re not going to be able to contribute to every single query. For one thing, there can be over a hundred per email you receive, and not all of them are going to be relevant to your industry. All you have to do is scan through the list to find ones covering your area, and then send a contribution pitch to the reporter’s masked email!

In your pitch, you’re going to include your answer to the journalist’s query and your contact information—which can include a link to your site.

You’re not guaranteed to get a backlink from every single HARO query you answer because the journalist might not use the information you provide. After all, he/she is going to be receiving many responses, and some may be more relevant than others. But more often than not, you’ll be rewarded with a backlink on a high-ranking site.

4. Blog and Forum Comments

Everybody finds themselves turning to the blogs they follow for information, but sometimes readers want or need something more than what the post has to offer. This is where you step in. Find blogs that cover your industry, whether directly or by posting on some of the products and (or) services that form part of your own, and start following them. There are a lot of reasons for you to do so, and we’ll talk more about them later on in this article, but one of the easiest ways doing so can help you build backlinks is by going through the comment section.

Many bloggers (and we’re including vloggers on sites like YouTube) often invite their readers to ask questions or add their opinions, stories, and ideas in the comment section. Questions are often responded to by the original poster themselves, and most bloggers will try to answer to every comment, but often some of the best answers come from other readers. And this is where you step in.

First off, if you notice there’s information missing or that isn’t covered very well in the post, you can make a suggestive comment providing that information. And by reading through other readers’ questions, you can also find opportunities to provide answers.

Sometimes, you’ll find that the answer another reader is looking for is too long to post as a comment. Use these opportunities to provide a summarized answer, and end with a link to your article.

Another place the public turns to are forums such as Yahoo Answers and Google Groups, as well as industry (or even product) specific options. These offer much the same opportunity as the blog comment section does.

5. Testimonials

All companies, big and small, love showing off the testimonials they’ve received from their clients. In fact, you’ll notice that most business sites showcase a few select testimonials on their homepage, and a few have whole pages dedicated to customer reviews (which always have a link on the homepage—usually something like “customer success stories”). Here’s an example of what a testimonial page looks like.

So how do you turn this into an easy method for earning quality backlinks for your site? The first step is to sit down and make a list of products and services you’ve used recently. A good rule of thumb is to think of those you’ve used regularly (or started using) over the past six months. This can take some time, and will likely be an ongoing process, but it’s by far the longest part of this method.

Next, you’ll want to see whether or not their sites have a testimonial page. If they do, spend a few moments writing up a short, positive review of your experience using the product or service, and reach out to them. Most sites have a feedback feature or will include an email account for testimonials on their contact page.

And that’s it! You won’t even have to ask for a link because almost every single time they’ll include it automatically—just to prove that you’re a real person. Be sure to mention that they’re allowed to use your testimonial on their homepage, as that’s where your link will get the most exposure.

6. Blogger Reviews

Testimonials on other sites are an excellent way to generate backlinks, but there’s also an equally good option that allows for testimonials on your product or service to be a backlink source to your site.

How so? By offering it to bloggers in your industry free of charge. While this isn’t exactly a free means of building backlinks, the cost is very minimal, and the results should pay for themselves rather quickly.

So what you want to do is search for bloggers who do provide some reviews for products and services in your industry. Narrow the results down to the most official ones before moving onto the next step.

This is where you want to make an offer. Follow this guide:

Start off with a friendly greeting, and mention that you were looking for articles on your topic when you found their post. Compliment them on their content, and then let them know that you provide a product or service that matches the subject. Mention what you usually charge, and then say that you’d like to offer it to them free of charge. All you’d like in return is for them to consider making a mention of your business on their blog or possibly do a review.

If they’re interested, they’ll get back to you. One thing you should be aware of is that this method isn’t guaranteed to work every single time because you can’t force the bloggers to write a positive review—you’re reaching out to them in good faith. You want to be very careful in the way you contact them as well because explicitly asking for a link (or even a review) is a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

7. The Moving Man Method

The Moving Man Method is one of the easiest ways to build high-quality backlinks to your website from authoritative sources. Sometimes, a big name company or service provider goes out of business. This process can happen for any number of reasons, including internal politics or bad management. Sometimes the company name is linked to the founder, and the business shuts down after they retire or pass away.

While they were operational, however, they provided quality content on their site, which generated a lot of backlinks from other websites. Usually, these sites are shut down as well, and the domain name isn’t renewed, but some companies (primarily recognized leading experts) have registered their domain names a couple of years in advance. When the business goes bust, the site remains online, but usually, the content will be removed. This means that the backlinks they’ve built will still work, but will direct users to blank pages.

At other times, the site content remains online but is no longer being updated.

To find examples, you’ll need to find authoritative sites that contain a lot of links to other pages. Using Domain Hunter Plus, you can see which of these links lead to sites that load blank pages. Next, you’ll use a program like Ahrefs to download a list of all the backlinks pointing to that site.

This is where you start generating backlinks to your site. If you’ve got content that caters to the same demand that the defunct site used to, you can reach out to the sites containing backlinks to them and let them know that the link is no longer operating correctly because the other site has been taken down. Offer them a resource on your site as a replacement, and chances are very likely that you’ll be awarded a quality backlink.

8. Broken Links

This technique is very similar to the Moving Man Method, except instead of looking for links that are old or blank pages you’re looking for links that give a 404 error. If you’ve spent any time on the internet at all, the chances are high that you’ve come across a 404 error a couple of times at least. When a site has been taken down entirely, existing backlinks on other sites will result in a 404 error. We call these “broken links”—and they’re bad news for SEO on the site hosting them.

Once again, you’ll want to find resource pages for your industry and check them for broken links. We don’t expect you to click every link in the hopes of finding one—just use a browser extension like Check My Links for Chrome. Broken links will be highlighted in red, making them easy to find at a glance.

Your next move is the same as with the Moving Man Method. You’re going to send the resource page site owner an email to notify them of the broken link, making sure to tell them exactly what the broken URL is as well as where on their page the link is found. To do so, you may want to include the anchor text they’ve used, as well as the URL for the page containing the broken link.

Once again, you’ll inform them in a friendly manner that your site has relevant content that covers the same topic. Offer them a link to your pages to replace the broken link, and in most cases, you’ll have earned yourself a new backlink.

9. Link Reclamation

Sometimes, your business or brand will get mentioned online without any link to your site. This step is usually due to human error, but the good news for you is that it can be a new source of backlinks.

Link reclamation is simple but very powerful. Usually, you’ll find that someone has mentioned you on their blog because they like one (or many) of your products or services. The post isn’t always a review per se—in some cases, they’ve brought your brand or business up as part of a larger narrative.

All you need to do to find these mentions is use a tool like BuzzSumo, which generates a content alert every time someone writes about you. Most of the time, you’ll find that they’ve already included a link to your site, which is great news, but sometimes the link is missing.

Instead of sitting there wishing they’d added a link, send them an email! Thank them for mentioning your business in their article (bonus tip: it helps to compliment the post as well), and ask if they would consider adding a link to your site. Mention that it can help their readers to find you if they want to.

Don’t insist on having the link added. Put in a friendly request, repeat your thanks, and wish them well before signing off. Almost every time, you’ll get a positive response, and you’ll have earned a new backlink.

Sometimes, link reclamation will get you some of the most powerful backlinks, and if you stick to our guide as to how to go about asking for the link, you’ll probably find they’ll give you a positive mention again in the future—this time with the link already added.

10. Helping Hacked Sites

Thanks to series like Mr. Robot and movies such as Blackhat (2015), more and more people are becoming aware of how often websites get hacked. Recently, the ransomware attacks have caused quite a legitimate panic worldwide.

But thousands of sites get hacked on a daily basis in a far more subtle manner. Some hacks cause your site to start spamming emails that you can’t find in your outbox, or add pages that promote and sell prescription drugs.

When a site has been hacked to add pages quietly, it’s not so great for the site owner—especially because they’re not likely to notice it themselves unless they’re constantly on the look-out for them. But if you can find hacked sites in your industry, you can turn it into an opportunity for a backlink.

To find such sites, all you need to do is use a inurl:keyword + “keyword” search string. Inurl:fitness + “Viagra” is a typical example of how to find hack pages in the fitness industry.

Next, you’ll let the site owner know about the page, providing a link to it so they can see quickly find the hack in the backend of their site builder or content management system and get rid of it. Sometimes, as a token of gratitude, they’ll ask if there’s any way they can repay you. This is where you mention that you’ve recently published an article that they may be interested in, and ask if they would mind adding a link from one of their high ranking pages. It’s as simple as that!

11. Website Feedback Sites

An excellent way to not only generate backlinks but also get input on how to improve your site’s user experience is to submit your website to one of the many, many feedback sites.

These are designed to help site owners make the most out of their site’s potential regarding layout and conversion. Sure, usability evaluation techniques are an excellent way to do so as well, and we certainly recommend that you perform one at least once a year (and most especially when you’ve only recently launched, or you’re planning a redesign). But these don’t often result in backlinks, so when it comes to hitting two birds with one stone—improving your UX as well as your SEO—website feedback sites are the way to go.

All you need to do is create an account on one or more of these sites, and then submit your site for review. Add a little description of how you think or would like to improve it, and that’s it!

The best website feedback sites automatically add a backlink to your site. It seems like an obvious feature, because it allows contributors to find your site easily, but some of these platforms don’t inherently add the link.

So if you’re looking for a great feedback site that will automatically generate a link for you, these are some of the most authoritative ranking ones.

12. Get Interviewed

Online interviews have become a popular trend lately, and they offer an easy way to earn some backlinks. It takes time to become considered an authority in your industry or niche, but when you do you’ll probably find you’ll be getting a lot of interview invitations. Until then, you’ll have to take the first step in finding opportunities to be interviewed.

One way to go about this is to be on the lookout for websites—especially blogs, and even vlogs—that run online interviews. It doesn’t have to be focused on your particular niche, but in that case, you should narrow the list down to those that cover a range of topics. You’ll be wasting your time trying to get an interview on a site that isn’t relevant to your industry at all, and even if (by some miracle) you do land one, the backlink isn’t going to do much for your SERP ranking.

Once you’ve found a relevant site, send them a friendly email and let them know that you’d like to participate in their project. Always be sure to include an overview of the type of knowledge you can offer as a contribution. It’s a little like guest posting and providing resources via HARO, but as a blend of the two—you’re providing a source of information that someone else will translate into content for their site.

Another option is to reach out to online publications that are located in your vicinity, and let them know you’ve recently started up. Ask if they’re interested in doing an article on local businesses, and offer to be one of the interviewees. Whichever method you use, you’re guaranteed to earn a few backlinks over time.

13. Google+

If you haven’t already created a Google+ profile account, we recommend you do so, because it’s an easy way to build a backlink to your site. All you need to do is sign up for free, add a link to your site in the Introduction section, and start interacting with other Google+ users. The more time you spend communicating and sharing, the more exposure your backlink will generate for your site, so like all SEO practices, it’s going to be an ongoing, long term process. Over time, you’ll be getting more and more referrals via your Google+ profile, making it an increasingly powerful backlink.

One important thing to take note of is that you have to be logged out of Google+ to be able to see the link as a link, otherwise known as a dofollow link. It’s a little weird, but the link shows as nofollow when you’re logged in, meaning the backlink exists and is present on your profile, but doesn’t show as a link and can’t be clicked on to redirect users.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do add it though. There is bound to be users who won’t be logged in when they come across your profile—if it pops up on a SERP, for example—so they’ll see the link and hopefully follow it. Besides which, having that backlink available will help search engines (Google most obviously, but Bing and Yahoo will also pick it up) to index your site and improve your SERP ranking.

14. Social Media

This is something of an extension to the above section on Google+, which we felt deserved its spotlight. Other social media platforms can be just as important as a platform to generate backlinks for your site and to promote your content. In fact, it’s so viable and popular an option that people have made a career out of being Social Media Marketing Managers.

You don’t have to hire one when starting out of course because you should be able to run your social media platforms by yourself without any difficulty, but in the long-term, you’ll probably turn to one too.

How it works is this: you create a Facebook page for your business, where you can interact with users, promote your company, and share your content. You’ll also find yourself sharing content from other sites, of course, and they’ll usually return the favor. Your followers can get regular updates on new content, products, and promotions, and they’ll be able to share your posts with their friends to—creating a ripple effect of backlink opportunities.

The same can be said for Twitter, which we already mentioned as a great platform for finding opportunities to guest post on other sites. Another popular trend (more for product oriented businesses, although service providers should also consider finding ways to utilize the platform) is Instagram, which will allow you to promote your brand and share advertising campaigns such as competitions with a wide range of followers.

15. Create Quality Content

To generate backlinks on social media, through guest posting, and pretty much most of the methods we’ve mentioned, you need to have quality content on your site. You certainly won’t be able to use the broken link method with any success if your site doesn’t provide quality content!

And genuinely, having quality content makes it more likely for other sites, and especially bloggers, to make reference to your site without your having to approach them first. Others in your industry will also be following other websites, such as yours, so to earn a backlink from them you need to make sure you’re worthy of one.

Needless to say, you want your content to be unique, but you also want to provide a truly unique experience (known as having unique value). Most pages online are unique, and many of them contain valuable information, but few can offer truly unique value. To do so, you need to provide content that enhances your user’s’ experience in a way that no other website page does.

This is imperative in generating social media shares and other backlinks. Your content is one of the few ways you can directly control your likelihood of earning backlinks.

What we suggest is to, before creating a page, imagine yourself as someone visiting your website. Picture the type of page that gives you something that doesn’t only meet your demands (which is the backbone of good content), but is also different to most of what you find online already.
Once you have that picture in your head, you need to sit down and create it, publish it, and then promote it.

16. Spy on Your Competitors

To help you create good content that will earn your site backlinks, you want to spy on your competitors. Why? Because the chances are that they’ve got great content that is already ranking well and has generated a lot of backlinks.

The easiest way to do so is to follow their pages on social media because that’s where they’ll be sharing their most fruitful and relevant content. Having access to this content will come into play in a big way in our next section, the Skyscraper Method, but it’s important in other ways too. Knowing what your competitors are doing on their social media platforms will give you an idea of the type of people and companies that follow them, people that you can reach out and market to as well. Not only that, but you’ll also be able to stay in touch with the marketing methods they’re using to earn backlinks, information that you can adopt and adapt to your brand.

So what you want to do is not only follow them on social media but sign up to any newsletters they send out. Google Alerts is another great way to receive notifications as to when they’re posting new content on their site.

One of our favorite tools for discovering when and how your competitors are building links is Monitor Backlinks. This will give your direct insight on the techniques you can replicate to earn your backlinks in the same industry: specific sites that you should offer to do guests posts for, bloggers you can ask for reviews, and nearly every other method we’ve mentioned.

17. The Skyscraper Method

The Skyscraper Method is a super efficient means of generating content that is not only of high quality but if done correctly will also help you create uniquely valuable pages that are sure to earn you backlinks from authoritative sites. And the best part is, you won’t have to spend any money on finding resources or developing the content either!

We’ve already explained the first step of this three-step process: spying on your competitors to know what content ranks well and generates the most backlinks. In our previous section, we mentioned some tools for finding out where and how these backlinks are being built so we won’t repeat ourselves here. What we are going to do is tell you what else you can do with this content.

This is step two of the Skyscraper Method: using the foundation of existing content to create your own. What you don’t want to do is simply rewrite it, because then you won’t be likely to earn additional backlinks or implement step three (which we’ll be getting to in a moment). Remember that the content you’ve now curated is meant to serve as a foundation, not a framework.

On this basis, you want to present the same information in a new, better way, and most importantly add to it. Find new sources, updated and vague information, find new ways of informing your readers of something that your competitors are talking about. You’re looking to expand on the existing content, so if (for example) your competitors have a high-ranking article on the top ten products, offer your readers an alternative that ranks the top fifteen.

Finally, you want to promote your improved version of the content. Once again, this was partially covered in our previous section: following up on the opportunities you found that your competitors used to generate links.

18. Lists

There are three major ways that you can use to create content that will rank well and generate backlinks in terms of how you present the information, and the first of these is to create content in the form of lists.

It sounds a little odd at first, but people love long lists of information. For example, there are a lot of articles online that only give you the top ten ways to build backlinks, and those include some options that are going to cost you (like offering scholarships and donating to charities). Even some of the most authoritative SEO sites stopped at less than twenty.

By implementing the first two steps of the Skyscraper Method and combining it with this one, we’ve been able to provide an article that lists 25 techniques. And the reasons for doing so is simple: when you create a longer list, you’re able to be more thorough and cover more alternatives. The same is true no matter what your topic!

Creating a longer list as a means of using the Skyscraper Method also means you can create longer content. Many of the top names in SEO say that longer content is perfect for backlinks because you have the space to be detailed.

The list format is an excellent way to do so because it automatically structures and divides your content into easy-to-read sections, which act as stepping stones for readers to follow.

19. Infographics

Infographics are the hot new trend in SEO, and they’re a great addition to your content in general. In fact, considering how many SEO experts promote the use of infographics, it’s surprising how few people are implementing them in their online strategies!

This is probably because most people think it’s going to be expensive to make one, but it doesn’t have to be. By using sites like UpWork (previously Elance-oDesk), you can easily find a graphic designer with infographics experience for seriously affordable rates. And while it’s always better to find someone who’s done infographics before, it doesn’t have to be a requirement—in our experience; the textual content is more important than the design is.

Infographics present information in a visually aesthetic way that is sure to generate shares online. All you need to do is have the idea in mind, write short, concise blocks of information (there’s the list method coming into play again!), and hire a designer to bring it to life. If you prefer, you can even do it yourself with tools like Piktochart (which is why we’ve been able to include infographics on our list of free methods to build backlinks).

Next, you want to share your infographic on your social media, and more importantly on sites like Visual.lyDailyInfoGraphic.com, and AmazingInfoGraphics.com.

Last (but certainly not least), you should also offer your infographic as a guest post to established bloggers in your industry. When marketed correctly, a single infographic has the potential to generate over 100 backlinks!

20. Audio

Another largely ignored solution for building backlinks is to create audio files. While just about anything will do, it’s obviously going to be better if you’re doing audios that are relevant to your industry.

One idea that’s great is to record yourself (or someone else) reading your posts out loud and embed the file on the relevant page. This is because a lot of people absorb information better when they’re able to hear it, both instead of and even while reading it too.

Another reason this can increase your page views is that, for users with dyslexia, long posts can be rather daunting, especially when they involve technical terms. Many of them use text-to-speech assistive programs such as NaturalReader, but some of these software options require users to upload the text in a document.

Longer text ranks higher, but you don’t want to lose potential visitors to your site because they have to copy your content into a Microsoft Word document and then upload the file to their assistive program to get through the whole article. While not providing an audio option isn’t exactly discrimination, it would be nice to start a trend in making audio versions of your content available for those that need them. As you can probably guess, this is also an excellent way to offer content with quality value.

Vocaroo is a great online tool that you can use to do voice recordings via your browser, and you can download the file in a mp3 format to embed in your site. To help you build backlinks, you can also upload the files to audio sharing sites.

21. .edu Resource Pages

It’s a well-known fact in SEO that links from .edu sites are always guaranteed to boost your ranking and generate a lot of traffic for your site. A lot of site owners feel that earning a .edu link is next to impossible though, but it isn’t. All you need to do is provide something that universities will want to link to, which is a lot easier than most people think.

One way of doing so is to offer a scholarship. While it’s a fantastic means of earning .edu backlinks, it does involve a fair amount of money—something you don’t necessarily have when starting out.

Luckily for you, there’s another way to build .edu links free of charge. Most universities have a resource page for their students and the public to use. These pages are full of links to websites that publish content relevant for their students and faculty members to refer to. The links are categorized and usually sorted alphabetically so as not to give any one link overt preference.

What you want to do is find these reference pages and find a post on your page that best matches what they’ve already listed. Reach out to the webmaster via email to introduce your site and mention your resource in a friendly manner. Suggest (but don’t insist) that your post could be a valuable addition to their references page.

Be prepared to send out a lot of these emails and only have 5-10% result in a backlink, but also remember that even one .edu link can (and will) make a substantial difference in your SEO.

22. Blog Aggregators

Blog aggregators are sites like Alltop that host a list of quality blogs in various industries. These aggregators can be a great and easy way to build backlinks to your site free of charge, and because they’re authoritative the link alone will already bode well for your SEO. Aggregator sites have a lot of followers too, so you can be sure that the backlinks you’ve built on them will generate a fair amount of traffic too.

There are four easy steps you need to follow to earn a dofollow on any of these sites:

  1. Sign up for a free account with the aggregator site
  2. Submit your site as a suggestion for their list
  3. You’ll receive some HTML code that you need to add to your site so they can verify the submission and confirm that you’re the owner
  4. A representative from the blog aggregator site will take a look at the site within a few days to verify the submission. Once your request has been approved, a dofollow link to your website will be added to their pages.

Other blog aggregators include BizSugar.comBlogEngage.comBloKube.com, and InBound.org. Go ahead and find as many as you can with a quick Google search. The same process as above rings true for most of them—it’s as easy as —so try to add your site to as many of them as possible. These are truly powerful backlinks that will help boost your SEO rating significantly.

23. Scoop It

Scoop It offers a simplistic solution to those looking to curate content as well as earn quality backlinks. It’s a common tool among industry leaders, and especially those looking to develop their brand on professional networks. You can think of it as another blog aggregator, except it’s so much more than just that.

On Scoop It, users can build their online magazines of content from across the web that they enjoy, for the purpose of sharing the curated content with other industry members and clientele. The software’s quick search methods ensure that users find quality content from reliable sites, so adding your name to the mix will do wonders for your site’s SEO.

Think of it as a second platform to publish and promote your content, and match it with other relevant content available on the web—creating backlinks for other sites that may be persuaded to do the same for you. You’ll also have the freedom of sharing your Scoop It content on your social media platforms.

There are a couple of packages to choose from, and the free option is quite helpful for starting out. You may want to explore some of their paid plans in the long run, but when you’re just beginning to stretch your legs online making use of the free version is an excellent way to start building backlinks to and from your site.

24. “Best Of” Blog Posts

There are a lot of blogs and websites that publish “best of” lists where they provide readers with a comprehensive breakdown of the best blogs and sites in a particular niche or industry.

While you may not be able to convincingly do one of your own, which would create backlinks to other sites that you may be able to persuade to do reciprocate, you can use the existing links to find blogs and platforms to pitch your own. This one of the easiest ways to do so, because you have a list of the best possible sites in your industry already laid out for you—no further research needed.

Of course, you shouldn’t limit yourself to only one site’s lists. A good rule of thumb is to find at least three that you can compare, and compile a list of your own. This list is what you’ll be using to develop your email marketing strategy.

You should also be on the lookout for relevant local sites that you aren’t likely to necessarily find on “best of” lists. The reason for this is simple: voice search is changing the way search engines interact with users, and take location into account when generating SERPs. Having links to other, more established local businesses can help you to rank well not only for text-based search queries but the increasingly popular conversational voice search query too.

So how do you turn this list into new backlinks with an email marketing strategy?

25. Make a Pitch

Using the methods we’ve outlined already, you’ve managed to earn yourself a host of new backlinks, but in some cases, you have to make a good pitch.

The most direct way to build new backlinks is to simply ask. But it’s not likely to work (though when it does, it’s probably the easiest link you’ll ever earn!)

So what constitutes a good pitch?

Firstly, you need to remember that you’ve got to give a little to get a little. Backlinks are usually given out when you’re able to offer the other site something that they can use to their advantage too. So what do you have to offer other than a replacement for old and broken links, and a heads-up on hacks?

They want the same thing you want, so make sure you’ve created quality content that is relevant to their site and is created using the guidelines we’ve detailed above.

So let them know that you’ve already created a backlink to their site—and give them a link to the post so they can see for themselves.

Secondly, you need to remember that most people get almost a hundred emails a day, so keep it short—but not leave out relevant information.

Your subject line needs to be attractive. About 69% of emails marked as spam is because of a bad subject line. The body of your pitch needs to be detailed, but concise—and most importantly, friendly rather than pushy.

If you’re struggling, take a look at some templates or use Pitchbox.

Your pitch is ultimately going to be the breaking point in deciding whether or not a site awards you with a backlink. It’s the most basic, but also the most important, means of generating these links. Remember that, and remember our guide, and you’ll soon see your SEO ranking increase astronomically.

Garenne Bigby
Author: Garenne BigbyWebsite: http://garennebigby.com
Founder of DYNO Mapper and Advisory Committee Representative at the W3C.