Reverse engineering (on link building terms) is the process of checking what a certain website has created or acquired from other pages outside their web properties (i.e. from another non-owned website).
This approach has been a standard practice in the search marketing space often executed at the initial phase of the link development campaign to get an idea of the types of links acquired by other websites (i.e. competitors).
Reverse engineering starts by identifying who your competitors are. Some link developers fail to get results from the process because they dive in right away to exporting backlink reports to any webpages ranking for their target industry keywords.
Identify the right competitors to ensure that you’ll derive quality insights and reports from your reverse engineering activity.
These are competitors who directly compete with your products or services.
For agencies, it is best to initiate asking your clients who their competitors are, before or at the start of working on their link building campaigns.
In most cases, their competitors are the ones they are competing with for industry head terms (check their head term on the meta title on the site’s homepage).
When using Ahrefs, it is best to use the domain level feature to only look at all of the links to a competitor’s domain.
There’s also an option to remove links pointing to subdomains (e.g. blog.domain.com) but this would filter out some relevant link opportunities, so I recommend you choose the “domains with subdomains” level.
These are pages competing for secondary keyword terms (categories). For example, if you’re selling incontinence products, these are your category competitors who are competing for the industry term “incontinence supplies”:
Category competitors also include sub-pages of big content assets, such as www.domain.com/guides or www.domain.com/glosary with linking chapters or definitions beneath.
Use Prefix level feature of Ahrefs site explorer to see all links pointing to a certain section/category of a competitor’s site (for example, www.domain.com/productcategory).
Maximize the aforementioned link building tool by identifying generic and category competitors with their “Competing Domains” or “Competing pages’ features. It shows sites or pages ranking for similar keywords to your domain.
Tip: Remove large domains and exact match domains from your lists. These sites may just add noise to your analysis. For the example above, remove sites like nih.gov and cdc.gov.
These are information-driven pages that include webpages competing for “content asset” keywords (non-commercial industry terms).
For example, this “substance abuse guide for parents” competes with the following content pieces:
One strategy I’ve been using quite often is prioritizing link opportunities based on the number of competitors they’ve linked to.
Coined by Garrett French, co-citation is when a single web page links to two or more related domains.
Co-citation analysis is a process of organizing domains or URLs by the number of outbound links to sites relevant to your content/site (for this discussion to your competitors).
The logic behind is that if a page has linked to three or even five relevant sites, they’re much more likely to add a link to your content than a page that has linked to just one related page.
Here are the different options to execute co-citation analysis on your competitors’ backlinks:
Citation Labs Co-Citation Tool
This web product is freely available for Windows users. Here’s a tutorial video that walks you through the process on how to use it.
Unfortunately, the tool only works for Windows users. For those who are using Mac, proceed to the second option.
Manual Co-Citation Analysis
If you haven’t grabbed a list of all your competitors’ backlinks, you can do so with Ahrefs or MajesticSEO.
It will leave you several CSV files which you want to combine into a big excel spreadsheet.
For Mac users, the “Terminal” tool has the capacity to merge all CSVs into one database.
Go to Applications – Terminal.
Pull up your Desktop by typing the following command and then pressing your “enter” key button: cd ~/Desktop (make sure all your CSV files is located in the same folder on Desktop).
Type the command to open the folder on your desktop containing all of your CSV files and press the “enter” button again:
For example, my folder is called “NetAddictionCompetitors” so I type this command: cd NetAddictionCompetitors
Finally, type in the following command to automatically merge all of the CSV files in that folder.
cat *.csv >merged.csv
You can read this quick tutorial by Trent of Watchman Advisors.
Remove unnecessary columns from the list and only remain the column for “Linking Pages”.
Next is to transfer it in a Google Spreadsheet.
Then create new columns for “Domains” and “Occurrences”.
Include this formula below to strip off page URL to its root domain.
=IF(ISERROR(FIND(“//www.”,A2)), MID(A2,FIND(“:”,A2,4)+3,FIND(“/”,A2,9)–FIND(“:”,A2,4)–3), MID(A2,FIND(“:”,A2,4)+7,FIND(“/”,A2,9)–FIND(“:”,A2,4)–7))
Assuming the Linking page is on A2, this would be the formula (to be put into B2 cell).
For the “Occurrences” column, insert this formula to check how many times a certain page URL has occurred in the spreadsheet.
Now you can sort “Occurrences” column by descending order to display highest to lowest number of occurrences.
Resource pages, for example, linking to three or more of your competitors have a higher probability of linking to your content when you pitched for link requests.
Ahrefs’ Link Intersect
For link builders who have a higher subscription plan than Lite plan of Ahrefs, you are authorized to use their link intersect tool.
Simply follow the process shared by Tim Soulo in this tutorial video:
The next thing that you can do after getting backlinks from co-citated pages is to analyze how your competitors were able to get links in your industry.
Check link types of their inbound links to assess their previous and current link acquisition strategies.
Filter links based on the following link acquisition approaches:
You can quickly determine the linker’s approach by identifying “clues” on the page/site.
Submission-based websites like directories normally have “submit your page” or “submit your site” pages on their navigation menus.
Supplying the webmaster with details about your website/blog is a requirement to get listed on their pages.
Several factors that may indicate if a linking page (mostly in a form of resource page) has been approached by a link request pitch are:
Here are a few examples of link-request resource pages.
Non-commerciality of external links
Tip: Use QuixApp lastmod command to check the page’s last modified date.
The fastest way to determine if you can obtain a link from a resource page is by checking the closest relevant section on the page and the types of links included in that section.
For example, a video gaming addiction for parents guide can be best fit (highly relevant) in Mental Health and Addiction section.
Tip: Use inbound/outbound and followed/no-followed overlay features of Mozbar to quickly check links’ attributes and pointing sources.
This is probably the easiest approach to spotting on given that you only have to check if there is an author’s description with a link to another website (not the guest blog site itself) contextually placed within the blog post or author box.
This could be in a form of sponsored article or a non-paid guest post.
Several things that may indicate if a link of a competitor has been earned organically:
Exclusive interviews (e.g. podcast and individual interview).
Recommend lists of industry personalities, groups, brands or tools
Serves as a reference for further reading
Roundups (group interview)
Mentioning the brand to check as additional sources
While not all links with aforementioned indicators are perfectly naturally earned (i.e. interviews being pitched to a future guest), most of them couldn’t be replicated easily by requesting for links.
Further Reading: How to Build Authority Links through Branding and Content
Creating a huge list of existing links of your competitors is the first surface level of link opportunities.
Expand your database of link targets by taking a deeper look on their other important link data, such as:
High-performing linkable pages
It is best to determine what formats of content have proven to be effective for your competitors in garnering relevant links.
Sort top pages of your competitor’s site by link growth (best by links feature of Ahrefs) to see what pages have received the highest number of inbound links.
This approach can help you get insights on linkable content formats your competitor has been focusing on – which you can replicate if you’re initiating a new content-based link acquisition strategy for your clients.
For example, WineFolly has consistently found success in obtaining links using infographics in the wine industry.
You don’t necessarily have to reinvent the wheel always, particularly for new websites you’re trying to build links to.
Pro tip: Always be on the lookout for broken pages of your competitors with lots of inbound links. Check if you can create a version of the page and do proper outreach to linkers of dead content.
Further reading: How to Build Backlinks Using Your Competitors’ Broken Pages
Recurring backlink sources
Websites that send targeted traffic constantly to a website through recurring backlinks (placed within different linking pages) are strong signals that search engines can use to reward them with better search rankings.
Export link data of competitors and sort it by highest to lowest recurring backlinks (Total Backlinks column).
Repeat this process for all of your competitors to surface regular linkers in your industry that you should start building relationships with.
If you liked this post, you can follow me on Twitter @venchito14.
by Venchito Tampon Jr
Authority links are links found on a webpage with an established trust and authority to drive targeted traffic to a website that can help the brand achieve its business objectives.
Getting these authority links is tough. It requires hard work, creativity and persistence to find, pursue and connect to publishers and industry linkers who are interested in citing or referencing your content as a trusted resource to follow.
Link building is not for the faint-hearted marketers.
After all, if a link can be easily acquired by everyone else, it shouldn’t be called an “authority”.
However, despite its difficulty, online marketers still pursue this type of links as it can positively impact a website in many ways, such as:
“Authority” is pretty much subjective depending on what factors you consider.
But whether it is relevance or benchmark metrics such as Ahrefs DomainRank, it is important to understand what types of links are deemed to be authoritative. Given that this will be the roots of your link building approaches – your “how” in getting links.
The legitimacy of an educational and governmental institution/organization being able to register a .edu/.gov domain is a way of the Internet preserving the authority and trust of this type of websites.
Although there remains a debate over the true value of .edu and .gov extensions, I strongly believe that what makes these sites authoritative is the information found on their pages. Incorrect, spammy or misleading details may lead to some drastic consequences on its end users (website visitors).
Authority .edu and .gov sites are hard-to-replicate links. Restrictions as to how relevant your page/site is to their own resource page make it more difficult for your competitors to get the same types of links – unless they’ve created a better version of your content or is associated in the same organization your brand belongs to (e.g. for local professional organizations).
The most powerful links on the web are the ones that can directly send relevant traffic to your site.
Ranking pages for targeted industry terms are great sources of new traffic from searchers looking for relevant information.
Acquiring links from them can drive consistent visitors to your site (not just one-time off – as what happens to a one-time guest post publishing).
Here are a few tips to getting links from rankings page:
Target relatively new resource pages. They are more receptive to outreach pitches than old links pages that haven’t been updated for year.
Given that they have just started curating topical resources/references, they are open for resource link requests.
Start your search with queries like, “inurl:resources “keyword” or “inurl:links.html “keyword”. Then set a time to past year/custom range (Tools – Time).
Contribute early to new industry publications. Investing early on topically relevant blogs (with high potentials for audience growth) by supplying them with regular content is a great technique to scale your link development efforts.
Because you’ll get higher approval rates as a columnist to contribute to low-authority (with high velocity for growth) publications compared to a high-tier news site in your industry.
Check the blog’s potential for growth using Ahrefs or SEMRush organic data.
Begin this approach with your typical guest blogging queries. Then do the same process above (set a time to past year/custom range) to filter recently published “write for us” pages.
(hat tip to Jason Acidre for this technique)
Further reading: Definitive Guide to Guest Blogging
Offer to update a static page. Informational content ranking for highly-searched terms should constantly be updated to satisfy its searchers’ intent, especially if the content requires the timeliness of the information (i.e. 2017 trends/updates).
This is where you can add value to the content creator by helping him update the page with new information and by adding other content formats (visuals, transcripts for video/audio, tables, etc..) – needed to make it 10x better than its competitors.
Getting featured on A-spot blogs (media sites) can’t easily be replicated by your competitors because it requires relationships to make it happen.
If you have built connections with existing contributors from top-tier news sites, it’d open opportunities for your brand to be referenced as an authority expert in the industry.
Links coming from them (top-tier news sites) like Forbes is a great way to establish your brand’s authority.
You can also add social proofs to your signature or email pitches when reaching to mid-level or high-tier blogs for content partnerships to build your site’s
Consider a prospect page’s relevance to your site above everything else. You’ll find pages hosted on domains with low Moz DA but should be considered as highly valued link prospects since they can pass human’s eye tests – great user experience, satisfying content and with promising search traffic growth (which can be measured using SEMrush/Ahrefs).
See this DA11 finance blog as an example.
I liked the three primary reasons Jon Cooper listed why SEOs and link builders should consider prospecting for relevant blogs/sites:
You need to start prioritizing relevance today as your primary metric in link prospecting.
Links that are sending qualified conversions to your website are link types and sources you should replicate over time – as they directly affect your online business’ revenue growth.
Aim to get recurring links from these websites to increase more assisted conversions generated in your brand.
Authority links are hard to get. But if you’ll able to acquire them for your site, it would tremendously impact your site’s search rankings – helping you dominate the market you are competing in.
Authority link development requires either branding and/or content.
Summing them up is a powerful combination for link authority.
There are online businesses that don’t need 10x content to start getting brand awareness and establishing brand authority, as they have built it already using offline marketing platforms, such as advertising on billboards, television ads, and other offline marketing channels.
They have branded searches which enable them to generate leads and sales offline without having to depend purely on organic industry rankings.
If you are a consultant or an agency, getting clients who are widely known in a particular niche is a clear advantage on your end to develop authority links.
Because people are aware of the brand’s name, pitching publications and authority sites (.edu and .gov domains) for guest blogging, resource inclusion and broken link building are much easier to facilitate.
Ways to use perceived authority to get links:
Find publishers who have mentioned your brand or product but haven’t linked to you. You can use BrandMentions to track them.
Then politely pitch them and ask for link attributions.
This technique has been covered many times, so here’s a guide you can check out that walks you through the entire process.
Use your branding to cover more interview opportunities wherein you can also obtain authority links to your site.
Make your existing press mentions and features of your brand as social proofs when pitching to industry publishers who’re looking for guests on their show (podcasts). The more credible you are as a brand, the higher the probability they’ll get you (or your client) as a guest for their show.
If you’ve had a huge fan base in your social accounts, you can start using it as a value proposition when reaching out to bloggers in your space. Ask if they’d be willing to be featured on your social profiles (as long as their content feature provides useful information). In exchange, get an authority link from one of their pages.
If your client is into public speaking, it’s best to check if you’re getting natural authority links from speaking pages/profiles of event organizers’ websites. There’ll be times where they’ll be linking to broken URLs/domains.
You can also monitor publishers who link to your client’s slide presentations and Slideshare profile and ask if they can cite your client’s website as a source.
Chris Dyson wrote a guide on how to reclaim links from content creators that used your visual assets.
More reading: Using Brand Building Strategies to Improve Link Building
If perceived authority is missing in the formula, you can still get authority links by producing 10x content assets.
Smaller brands can win over big brands with an effective strategy to produce more content assets that can attract organic links.
As coined by Rand Fishkin, 10x content simply refers to content that is 10 times better than the best result that can currently be found in the search results for a given keyword phrase or topic.
Jason Acidre wrote a great piece on his own 10x content creation process (I advised you to check it out).
Here are a few effective techniques to acquire authority links using content:
Broken link building is a concept of pointing out broken links to webmasters, with the hopes that they’ll be open for requests to add your link, whether as a direct replacement for a previously broken link or as a new addition unrelated to the broken ones.
Here are some useful resources to get started with broken link building:
Maximize this link building approach further by observing what other similar resource pages have been getting organic links (quietly) in your space. They’ve gotten links you haven’t acquired yet that I’ve found, in most cases, can’t easily be found through Google search.
Track dead content (broken links) on resource pages using LinkMiner.
Set the options to display the number of referring domains for each external link.
Check if the link is broken and if it does, do research further if it’s just a specific URL or prefix that isn’t working or the whole domain itself.
For instance, this video addiction content that I’ve found on a links page is part of the whole domain that isn’t working.
Gather resources/links pages pointing to the whole domain, not just to the specific broken content. Because there are other content in the site that gained high-authority links from other linkers as well – which provides you more link opportunities at one hand.
You can filter the results by link type (educational) to quickly extract .edu resource pages. Also, do quick searches for “link” or “resource” on Ahrefs referring domain search bar to easily get the same type of link opportunity (links pages).
Reach out to webmasters letting them know of the broken content they’ve linked to from their pages. Then suggest your relevant content as a replacement to their defunct link.
To increase the efficiency of your outreach management work, it’s best to stalk your A-list sole operator webmaster and see if they have social accounts you can pitch to – straight to get their personal email addresses.
I’ve found this effective for personal blogs (with only one webmaster/operator) and for sites with no visible email addresses.
Instead of sending follow-ups to receive a response, you can directly ask them for a contact email they regularly use. Because other webmaster has more than one email address – you may be pitching to one that isn’t working anymore.
Plus, this allows you to see their interest to get help from you in providing errors found (broken links) found on their webpage.
Then acquire links:
Reverse engineering other people’s content assets has been a standard practice in the link building space.
Since publishers/content creators have linked/shared a competitor’s content (or a website with a similar content of yours), you’ll have better chances of acquiring a link to your content – especially when your content is 10x better than what your competitors have.
Start by finding competitors’ content that are similar to the assets you already have.
But don’t stop from there. Find other non-competing but relevant websites with high-performing industry guides (those that received a substantial amount of high-quality backlinks).
Analyze their backlink growth further by checking the page’s link velocity. This approach allows you to get insights on how long have they’ve been building links or have been picking up links organically.
Because if they’ve acquired authority links just recently, their existing linkers are still at the stage of updating their pages/sites. When you reach out to them, you’ll have a higher probability of receiving positive responses.
You might also find other linkable audiences where they’ve been able to secure links that you might as well consider for link prospecting.
Linkable audience is a group of resource curators who would benefit from specifically tailored information on a topic.
Starting a link development campaign by identifying linkable markets in the space can give you a better idea if a particular content topic is worthy to pursue for content creation. It is a guarantee on your end that there are audiences willing to link to your content asset, once it’s been created.
There are two ways to assess linkable markets in your industry:
Check the number of unique referring domains to ranking pages for industry terms
You can use Mozbar to see if there are pointing links to pages ranking in search results.
You may have to analyze further these links to see if they’re coming from legitimate websites/pages.
Intersect existing linkable audiences to your brand’s theme
Garett French created a list of 601+ linkable audiences whom you can serve with your content. If you can intersect your brand’s mission with different linkable markets, you’ll be able to generate more link opportunities for your website.
For example, this drugs rehab site published several pieces of content targeting different linkable audiences.
1. A Substance Guide for Parents
Linkable audience: Parents of teens who are struggling with substance/drugs.
2. Bullying and Substance Abuse: Who It Affects and Why
Linkable audience: People concerned about bullying in schools.
3. Degrees for Mental Health and Addiction Professionals
Linkable audience: Job seekers in the mental health and addiction niche
4. LGBTQ+ and Addiction
You may notice that these audiences served by resource curators (not necessarily bloggers/journalists, etc..) fall into one of these categories:
If your clients have content pieces that are targeted to specific linkable audiences, you’ll have higher chances of acquiring consistent amount of authority links every month.
We couldn’t deny the fact that links remain to be a vital part of the search marketing landscape. As Penguin 4.0 comes, businesses and site owners are becoming more careful and critical as to how they would approach link building as a whole, not as a side-hustle project but as a core part of what they do this link building 2017.
When I started my link building company, I knew since then that I’m targeting a huge pie of the market. Brands with in-house SEO team who have insufficient resources to build the right links for their businesses, and SEO agencies who struggle with scaling their link building processes significantly became the large portion of our client base.
Outsourcing is great if you partner with the right company who will drive significant results for your clients’ businesses.
More than one year since we started a link building campaign for a micro-site of a big eCommerce brand.
It wouldn’t take too long to see some results, even the six-month link acquisition can do so well.
There’s growth in search traffic even in three-month period. .
We did it again..
We’ve been asked a lot of times if we can drive significant results for a new website. Below is just one example of a website we started link building from scratch.
I like how Jason Acidre covers having the right mindset as the first attack in link building. If you have a team and they don’t know why they’re building links, it’d largely affect how they’d approach every single aspect of link acquisition.
Six solid reasons why you should build links:
Set your team’s agenda properly on the above focus points before diving into the right link building strategies and processes.
Despite seeing repeated statements by so-called SEO experts that “guest blogging is dead”, you’d still find this link building tactic commonly used in blogging-heavy industries.
Because the additional benefits that another website’s blog could generate to your brand is invaluable. Imagine starting a new website from scratch – no networks, no email subscribers, no potential customers and no brand followers at all.
Guest blogging makes sense for you to capture a portion (small/large) of the audience of another blog and bring them to your own tribe – email list, potential customer base, etc..
If you’re getting started with guest blogging, you can check out the following resources:
If you are building links for quite some time now, you know that there are improvements that you should make. Here are some tips to make this link building strategy work more effective for you.
Invite guest bloggers to your space
Regardless of your search traffic growth, you can create your own “write for us” page (thanks to Viperchill! for this tip!). It’s a linkbait strategy where you, instead of reaching out to potential linkers, are now attracting them to semi-automate inbound link acquisition for your site.
There are many ways to maximize this opportunity. These include:
You can start this by checking if there are active linkers in your industry pursuing guest blogging opportunities.
Go to Ahrefs or SEMRush to check if there’s a good number of search volume for a guest blogging query (e.g. “write for us” “industry).
Note: See this resource for a complete list of link building queries for guest blogging.
Then create your own “write for us” page and try to rank for that keyphrase by building initial links to it from other internal pages of your website.
By doing this, you’ll soon receive five to ten pitches from active publishers regularly. Get at least two of them to link to you.
These are natural gold mine opportunities that make you earn relevant backlinks for your brand.
Target non-evergreen content on industry blogs
Reach out to industry bloggers and offer to update their old “2016 posts”. Target those “need-to-update posts” (e.g. career resolutions for 2016) and use it as your unique proposition in your pitch. This is a more time-preserving approach than entirely writing new articles for other blogs (like what you do in guest blogging).
“Link rot” is considered to be “gems” for link builders since webmasters and publishers are always updating “resource pages” on their sites. It becomes an easy access for link builders wanting to acquire resource links pointing to their “10x content”.
I predict that sooner or later, you’ll find a lot of webmasters resisting to replace broken links in their resource pages, since they will get tons of “broken link building pitches” day in and day out. However, this link building tactic still gives way for SEO agencies to scale link acquisition.
Broken link building starts by finding available resource pages (or links pages) in your industry. The more evergreen the niche is, the more you can look for this type of link opportunities. For example, in the addiction space, you’ll find a lot of “addiction resource page” that if you care enough to create content on it, you’ll surely build quality links to your site through broken link building.
If you’re getting started with broken link building, you can check out the following resources:
If you think you’re an advanced link builder, you’ll probably ask this question, “how can I improve broken link building even more?”
Faster prospecting through reverse engineering
If you’ve hit an industry with huge “resource page” opportunities, there’s no doubt you’ll get hundreds of link targets every hour.
While this may just take time, we’ve found a better way to automate this through this broken link building tool (thanks to Jayson Bagio!).
One way to approach resource page prospecting faster is to reverse engineer “similar” resource pages. You don’t have to start over again by using search operators (i.e. “industry” inurl:links) to get those “link gems”.
By using tools like Ahrefs, you can reverse engineer similar resource pages and download results of inbound backlinks in CSV file.
When done, sort the list to get only the “high Ahrefs rank” resource pages.
If you prefer to do it manually, use the search function of Ahrefs to find “only-resource pages” (terms like “resources” or “links” will filter results to just that link type).
Unlike guest publishing where it’s a requirement to create new content pieces to get individual links from each industry blog, targeted outreach focuses on the existing pages of the site.
What’s the value here?
Existing pages of website/blog that gets search traffic consistently, because they rank in top positions of search results, are best to acquire links from. Though you won’t come across these pages all the time, but if you take the whole domain and see that it’s getting tons of search traffic using SEMRush SEPrice/data as your basis, you can ensure that links coming from them can drive trust and authority to your brand.
Following the tactic I’ve shared above this post, you can check out if they have non-evergreen content pieces that could possibly be updated to make it a more robust content asset.
If other publishers aren’t willing to accept your pitch, you can still publish it on your own blog anyway and reach out to similar content’s current linkers.
Podcasting is now becoming a hit in non-English countries like here in the Philippines. A lot of the industry bloggers are pushing their content on this medium.
Besides the awareness it could give to someone’s brand, being a guest on a podcast undoubtedly raises your authority as an expert in the field, brings a lot of subscribers (if you nail it) and links within blog posts (if they happen to republish their episodes on their blog with transcripts, which most podcasters do).
I was on the LionZeal show last year, and it generated good number of leads for my business plus an authority backlink to SharpRocket.
How did I get that?
It simply started with a simple conversation on Facebook (screenshot below)
Though it’s not scalable in nature, doing this for a thought-leader type of client or a personal brand you’re doing SEO for can bring massive results for his/her online business (thanks to Dan Shure for this tip).
How to get started?
Go to podcast directories or ITunes and search for “[keyword] podcast”. Check which podcast are getting a lot of subscribers and some good ratings and quality reviews (these are signs of engagement/community in the show).
Listen to the recent episodes of the Podcast and be a fan of it. Get familiar with the program so you can personalize your pitch better.
Because a lot of people are pitching guest blogging proposition, you’d have an edge of being a guest on the show if you could personalize your pitch better (familiarity breeds value).
Users are more likely to engage in updated posts and reviews online.
Instead of typing, “link building strategies for 2016”, you’re obviously looking for recently updated articles and search for. “link building strategies for 2017”.
Though some posts are evergreen that it could stand a test of time giving value to its target audience, there are topics you can take advantage early on to drive initial and massive amount of organic visits targeting timely keywords.
This strategy came from Glen Allsopp, where he pointed that there are a lot of ways you can maximize 2017 TERMS JACKING.
For instance, if you’re in the web hosting industry, you can update your 2015 or 2016 page for hosting reviews page and make it solid for 2017.
To find what queries people are searching for the latest trends/updates, use Google Keyword Planner and Google suggestion box.
You can also add these queries to your keyword (add “2017” as well) to discover timely keyword potentials for content.
How can this help you get more links?
You won’t build initial links as soon as you publish it.
Start by acquiring inbound links to your timely content by reaching out to industry bloggers. Those few initial backlinks can help it hits the first page.
When it does, you’ll start seeing results.
Link earning will come into play.
Researchers and publishers will start to use your page as references for their own content works (finding it a good source)
For example, my “link building 2015” post hits the first page as soon as I published it.
It gave me opportunities from content creators in the SEO, blogging and internet marketing space who are looking for references to link to and even just cite it as a validation for their work.
Outreach specialists should now be authentic with how they conduct their email outreach campaigns. The lack of honesty can make or break someone’s email – either it could be deleted immediately or could be converted into a link.
See some of these examples:
If you’re my big fan, you should know my name.
Why is your content comprehensive? Just because you publish a similar content, does it mean I should link to your page?
If you’ve got these kinds of emails, you probably won’t believe even one of them, unless they shared their own opinion about one part of your post (which they would only encounter if they skim/read the entire article).
Linking to, sharing, and writing a similar post won’t construe an obligation on the other side (the linkers).
What most outreach specialists lack is being true to what they say plus showing how their content can provide value to the end users or audience of the linkers.
Always answer, “why should the potential linker care about your content?”.
Scholarship link building has been around for many years, and it has been used extensively by SEOs and link builders who want to scale link acquisition from edu sites.
There’s no doubt that a single edu link can pass authority and link juice to your page, but achieving this is easier said but done.
You’ll mostly see link builders execute this type of link building in the legal space. As they find it hard to build links from domain-to-domain relevant legal blogs, they would resort to creating scholarship programs and promoting it to its respective audience.
For starters in scholarship link building, I’ve covered this link building strategy in this post.
Let me first define what a process is (getting this definition from Mr. Processes, Grant Merriel).
”A “process document” or “process” is a written document that is used as a guide to ensure a level of quality is maintained within a product or service delivered to a customer.”
In setting up processes, consider these three important elements:
If you get these three setup properly, you’re on your way to scaling your business (agency/marketing/in-house).
In this post, I only cover link building processes, but principles can also be applied to other SEO processes.
If you are managing a remote team, the difficulty of training your virtual assistants is pretty common.
Either you do everything yourself as the manager, fixing all mistakes of your VAs if they’ve fail to execute your process, or be able to scale your business with the right process documentation.
One way to scale processes is to do video recording yourself while doing every exact phase of link acquisition. For example, you can record yourself as you prospect for potential guest blogging opportunities and qualify them based on certain metrics. Another video is designed for email outreach wherein you show what tools you’re using for sending emails. So on and so forth.
Once done, send it to your virtual assistants. For text-based documentation, you can let one of them create a step by step guide based on what they see in the video. This can help them easily grasp each step without the need to entirely watch the video.
While most skills in link building can easily be learned through proper training and experience, if you’re starting to build your own in-house team, it’d be best to put the right people on the bus.
This means that you’ve got to have standards when hiring new (potential) link builders in your team.
For example, you need at least the following skills for link prospectors or outreach specialists:
While you can get low hourly prices, averaging $3 to $5 per hour for freelance virtual assistants, it’d still best to hire the best ones. After all, if you’re going for long-term, you will need one of them to lead the remote link prospecting or outreach team.
Set exams as simple as writing an email to a blogger to share one piece of content (give them a case study for example). See how they communicate in native English, so you won’t be having any trouble when qualifying their email templates for outreach.
If you’re an SEO agency, this is for you.
Organization is the key to scaling your client link building campaigns properly.
You can start by creating a tab for client brief. This will give your link builders proper orientation of each of your clients.
We complete all the following details in that “Client Brief” tab:
A few benefits of including above details in your tab:
Your next tabs should be an overview of each of your month cycle. In our experience, it’s vital to update this tab every day so everyone can keep a loop of what’s happening on their current campaigns, if it’s progressing to outreach or does need more prospecting hours to complete the links.
Here are column titles we always include in those tabs:
You can customize this based on your needs. But this sums up all details required for you to monitor your link building campaigns (on a larger view).
Go with the specifics. Create spreadsheets for each website you’re building links to.
A simple sheet with multiple columns are needed to ensure each of link prospect added is being maximized until they’ve been converted into links.
Here’s what we always include in the columns section:
If you still want to go deeper with your link prospecting phase, then create another master spreadsheet for “Team Research Reports”
We create team research reports for two main reasons:
Each link prospector has their own tab where they have to insert the following details as they go after each search query:
There are a lot of benefits we can obtain from creating this spreadsheet, some of them are:
As you start with your link building campaign, it’s imperative to document everything and organize your link prospects as you go through the outreach phase and to actual acquisition of links.
Much has been covered in this post, but there are still more opportunities, tips, and techniques that we haven’t figured out yet. They will be shared in my next posts. If you have any insights or thoughts to add to this post, leave a quick comment below.
I’ll be more than happy to reply to comments and answer questions.
Link roundups are curated content of the recent and most outstanding content of industry publishers and content creators published either daily, weekly, monthly or annually.
Here are a few examples of links we’ve got for Digital Philippines (my own link building blog):
Unlike any other any other content creator whom you will pitch for link inclusion, link roundup creators are actively looking for great content to include in their regular list.
It’s hard to consistently produce link roundups in your niche as you have to actively find the latest and valuable content from bloggers, otherwise, visitors of regular link roundups won’t come back.
In this case, you are actually initiating the favor for them. By giving your own great content, you’re helping them to find the best posts in your industry.
What I liked about link roundups is that once you’ve established relationships with these content curators, you could get consistent recurring links from them. This consistency obviously depends on the quality of content produced by your brand.
Your potential links won’t end there. When industry publishers find your content in one particular link roundup that might be an additional link on your end, when they start to reference yours in their own content work.
First burst of links to get your site
If you’re mainly targeting for long-tail keywords or a non-competitive keyphrase, those first set of backlinks you’ve acquired from link roundups can help you reach the second page or even the first page of search results. These may lead you to earn more links from industry researchers on your topic.
There are three easy ways to find link roundups in your niche or in a thematically relevant industry.
1. Use Twitter to find link roundups
Twitter is one of the underestimated search tool when looking for regular link roundup curators. With a quick search on link roundup queries, you’ll get a handful of bloggers curating full-links content like this one.
2. Google search queries
Besides Twitter, you’ll obviously would get tons of results from search engines themselves.
Go to your favorite search engine and use any of the following search queries
More link building search queries: Search Engine Queries Cheatsheet
Qualify them based on a number of things and put “industry link roundups” to your spreadsheet (head over to “how to quality link roundups” section of this post).
3. Reverse engineer top industry blogs
If you’re trying to search more link roundup curators in your space, try scraping top blogs and see their latest backlinks.
Hand a top industry blog’s URL over to Ahrefs.
See their newest backlinks by going to Backlinks section and clicking “New” (see image below).
You can customize the time period so you can see more results in the backlinks section. For example, I’d try to click on November 1 then on January 11 (which is the current date today). This way, I’ll be able to see results of recent backlinks of Neil Patel’s blog for the past 3 (almost) months from November 1 to January 11.
To find the goldmine link roundups in the newest backlinks section, simply type “roundup” or “best” (for “best of the day” or “best of the week”) in the search function to filter only recent backlinks with “roundup” in its title or URL.
Once you do that, you’ll get to see a couple of link roundup curators that you wouldn’t just find simply through Google search or Twitter function.
A couple of examples of link roundups I came across on Neil Patel’s recent backlinks.
I highly recommend that you qualify link roundups as you go searching for them. This way you’ll incorporate to your list of blogs (on a spreadsheet) ONLY qualified link roundups.
Here are my qualifiers for link roundups?
External not internal links
Include in your spreadsheet link roundups that point to external links (or at least half of the links should be external). Don’t bother to outreach someone that curates his/her own resources alone.
Informational content not products
Your VA or a link builder might include every link roundup in your space. But not all of them will be useful for your link building campaign. Those link roundups with all items and products listed isn’t a good use for outreach – you won’t acquire a backlink from them unless you promote a product yourself.
Frequency of link roundups
Not all link roundups are usually curated regularly, other industry blogs stopped doing so. Make sure each link roundup you’ve listed has the most recent link roundup on their blog (if it’s weekly, make sure they’ve posted a full-link content a week ago).
If you’ve found one old link roundup (e.g. “best of posts” “industry” September 2016), check it on Google and change the “all time” search function to past week/month (depending on the frequency of the link roundup).
See if there are results that pop up which shows that they still curates best articles and blog posts in your niche.
Documentation is key to scale this link building process to all of your clients. Though it’s no guarantee that this link roundup strategy can be used to any verticals, having a list of industry full-link content can help you easily acquire links for a new client in the same industry as your other ones.
No rocket-science when organizing a link roundup spreadsheet. The only details you need are:
*Read further for finding contact information tips.
Pitching to link roundup curators is no different from other outreach campaigns: finding contact information, customization and other factors that would make your emails get opens and responses.
Let’s first gather contact information. A few tips to find it:
A few other places where you can find contact details if they’re not in the about/contact pages:
Tools to find direct emails:
Further reading: How to Find Any Email Address: Seeking Email Superheroes
After you’ve completed contact information in your spreadsheet, you’re now ready for outreach.
You can use this exact email template below or have your own but make sure you follow these quick tips:
Subject: Content for [LINK ROUNDUP TITLE]
I saw that you’re doing a [FREQUENCY] round-up post on [BLOG NAME].
Would you mind seeing my recent post about [TOPIC]? It’s a good fit to your weekly post as it tackles [WHAT’S IN YOUUR CONTENT].
If you want to see the post, here’s the link: [LINK]
Please let me know your thoughts about the post, [NAME OF THE BLOGGER]
[ NAME ]
Do you have any questions about link roundups?
Or maybe you have any insight or thought to add?
Either way, leave a quick comment below.
As a company who loves building backlinks, it’s a must to do for us to come up with new innovative link building tips, not for the sake of posting something new here on the blog, but for keeping continuous improvements on how to get backlinks to our clients.
Here is a list of link building tips for 2017 that may not be new to some link developers, but you’ll actually find a different angle that is worth considering to generate more results for your own process
You might have used “list-type” of queries to find backlink sources. However, the problem with some directory sites listing “top industry blogs” is that they are outdated and often include bloggers’ other websites (private blog network) – when overlooked, this might actually lead you to low-quality backlink prospects.
Instead of getting quick backlink sources from “top x” blog prospecting, you can look for author’s personal recommendation of websites by using simple Google searches like “personal [industry] blogs I recommended”. With this, you’ll find an updated and topically-relevant list pages of recommended blogs. This is actually part of personalizing search queries for a targeted link prospecting approach.
Adding a few lines to your email like, “I stumbled upon a list of personal recommended blogs from domain.com and saw that you’re part of it” could make outreach significantly more effective. When you are giving people an idea where you got their contacts, you are instantly building connections with them.
Using footprints to make backlink research easier has been a common practice in the internet marketing space. If you typically prospect with “guest post-related queries”, it becomes less hassle to find blogs that are accepting contributed content pieces.
Of course, do this sparingly if you don’t want search engines to detect backlinks with only one keyword in place – i.e. “guest post finance”.
That’s not to say that footprints aren’t of good use for link builders. The best practice is actually using them as a backlink qualifier.
For example, you probably have seen blogger attributions at the footer section of every website (“powered by blogger” or “powered by wordpress”). Websites with this type of attribution are personally developed by sole bloggers or those who are at their newbie blogging phase – not with company sites, they’ll likely remove this default attribution and replace it with something else, “Designed by [Web Company” or “Copyright 2017”.
If you’re seeking blog opportunities, you can use CMS attribution to separate blogs from company sites – giving you better response and link acquisition results.
When you send pitches to webmasters and get automated responses, it’s fairly easy to ignore them and proceed to another prospect in the list. However, if you spend time finding these potential backlinks, it would be best to reconnect again and build bridges to them.
For this reason, you can check the exact date the person is likely to return to work – 100% of the time, this is visible in their automated emails (see the email above).
Schedule follow-up emails at return dates, and use the same value proposition you’ve initially pitched.
Marketers talk about using Twitter solely for content promotion all the time. However, on a link building perspective, you can actually use this social platform to prospect for blogs that aren’t just giving you social shares, but also qualified backlinks.
Start your Google search with query, site:twitter.com inurl:lists inurl:members inurl:finance “finance blogger” and prioritize Twitter lists that are labeled with recommended experts, influencers, top bloggers and titles alike, so you would spend less time qualifying linking websites from Twitter profiles in lists based on link metrics.
This works more efficiently if you can automate this link prospecting process using URL Profiler. You can check out this step by step guide to scrape Twitter lists to for bulk prospecting.
James Norquay introduced me to this idea of generating content ideas through the use of Facebook page. A simple trick like asking a relevant question to thousands of followers (if the client happens to maintain this growth) can ease the difficulty of brainstorming a content theme that resonates a target audience.
Having said that, this is a powerful workflow a content marketer can repeatedly execute, not only for content creation, but also for increasing the chances of promoting the content. If you aggregate answers from followers, you can effortlessly ask them to share the content piece, once published.
Facebook allows for more content visibility when people get nudged for every comment that is added to the post, as it pushes back to the timeline every time – giving some feedback to every answer, i.e. saying thank you also provides extra nudge.
Generating backlinks from web communities is tough. If your main strategy is creating individual profiles from each of these community sites and inserting backlinks to your brand, you’re missing out huge potential equities you could derived from them.
The best 2017 link building practice is to impress members with contributed content, interesting questions and immediate submission of 10x content. If you repeatedly do this, you’ll create a flywheel effect that builds an impressive online presence, which will eventually result to backlinks.
One pro tip here is to observe Ask Me Anything-like opportunities and become the first one to grab it – while moderators qualify based on expertise, there is a higher probability to be included in their line-up of AMA experts if you become the first to pitch them.
This strategy works for us at SharpRocket, as we’re able to build high-quality backlinks from Reddit (DA70) and Inbound.org (DA90). Not a surprise – this drives converting visitors to our sites who became our current clients today.
Content matters, but it’s not actually the king – value proposition is. What keep pages ranked for a long time is their ability to satisfy users with information they’re looking for.
When you stumble a keyword with high search volume, but with high content gap from any ranking pages, you have spotted a goldmine there. This tip is actually inspired by Dan Shure’s post on Twitter – that is executable when targeting informational searches with nothing to compete in the SERPs.
By giving content chances to rank in low-competitive non-commercial keywords, it’s very possible that many publishers and researchers will pick up the page when it gets ranked and use it as a reference to their content works.
If you can create different content pieces that easily rank in search, of course, you earn high-quality editorial backlinks over time – doing less efforts in outreach.
If you’re pitching webmasters with right timing – early morning on peak days of the week, you probably see good results in your outreach response and conversion rates. Even if content can speak for itself, when an email isn’t read on days and hours when people are likely to see it, you potentially lose the likelihood of hitting a link.
Having said that, there’s also one best practice that supports right timing – that is, aligning outreach with high traffic periods.
If your most visited days in your newly published content are Tuesday and Thursday, it would be best to reach out to people where there’s higher probability that the relevant outreach market is ready to link to your page. If you’ve got an access to client’s analytics, track the highest traffic periods and match this up when scheduling emails. You can check out this guide for a complete setup on the blogger outreach process.
When working on a round-up post, it’s pretty easy to start emailing industry influencers with a question – what is your best X strategy in 2017?, then end the email with a straight call-to-action, “mind sharing the post?”. This strategy works for some content marketers, but there’s a higher probability that this may not resonate to verticals who understand what this game is – influencers might answer the question but won’t be enticed to share the curated piece.
However, there’s a more advanced way to come up with round-up posts that are likely to result to shares and high-quality links – which only a few content management teams dare to create…. success stories.
Have you encountered a case study that walks you through the entire process on how to do a thing? This immediately takes you to action, right? and encourages you to share the piece to others even without testing it first.
Combine success stories with a round-up post and you’ll end up with a 10x content that is worthy of social shares and high-quality links.
One best example of this is the annual success stories (2013, 2014 and 2015), produced by the content marketing team at PageOnePower. These linkable assets combine different success stories from top link building experts on areas of content promotion, relationships, publicity and mentions, innovation and creative and business-oriented links.
Success-type curated content is unique, comprehensive and repeatable – there’s unlikely contributions will be the same since they’re based from own experiences. Experts combined into one post make the content also comprehensive – making it repeatable given that there are actually new stories to tell every year.
The ability to construct productive Google search queries will separate success from failure in link prospecting. The more concrete and specific a search query is, the better search-driven pages it would yield – after all, it’s about the quality, not quantity. If you see 5 million results from a particular search query while not being sure if most of them pass your link metrics, then it would make sense to get more particular with your link prospecting keywords to discover high-quality link targets instantly.
In our day-to-day tasks of finding and qualifying blog targets for our clients (an average of 500 each client), we’ve noticed that list-type of content dominate the search results.
If you take a look at them, they are constructed in such a way like this:
The secret to expanding a list of outreach prospects is using above keyword-formats along with the intitle:”1..300” advanced search operator (hat tip to @pointblankseo)– the first and last number serves as the start and end point, respectively. For example, if you’re looking for blog posts with 10 or more photography tips, you can use the search query: intitle:”10..300 tips” “photography”.
Take advantage of this when you have content – product or resource that is perceivably useful to the audience, which is likely be included in a list-type of content.
Like in other areas of digital marketing, maintenance is critically practiced in link acquisition to ensure link values won’t deteriorate. Backlinks could potentially lose their values for many reasons, such as:
When link value depreciates, the overall backlink profile could negatively affect the site’s top ranking pages – pulling them down to lower pages of search results. This often happens when backlinks is a differentiating ranking factor to compete in a certain vertical.
Having said that, lifetime link value considers to be a standard metric when qualifying if a link on a particular page/site can offer long term value to the linking brand.
Making the above reasons opposite are the exact tips to ensure backlinks appreciate in its value:
When you can predict the lifetime link value of a backlink from a particular domain/page, it’s easy to prioritize outreach prospects – looking at the highest return of investment you could get even from a single backlink.
I’ve been using Linkclump for almost a year now, and it’s a guaranteed of big help for link builders trying to expand their link lists in less time. The tool enables you to open links on search results or custom lists in new tabs or new windows – with a simple drag using the right mouse button on the target area.
Linkclump also allows multiple links to be bookmarked or copied to clipboard for immediate or future use. Smart select opens done this way, when combined in several minutes is a huge time saver for bulk link prospecting.
There is still one particular use of Linkclump that others aren’t familiar with, but definitely provides great value – filter links that contain or exclude particular words. For example, if you’re working on a guest blogging campaign – with no particulars on sponsored posts, you can add the words, sponsored post, sponsored, paid post as words to be excluded when manipulating link lists. With this, you won’t open links that contain particular words that aren’t relevant to a link building tactic you’re using – another time-saver tip.
Content reusage, commonly termed as content curation coined by Aleyda Solis, is the process of organizing and presenting outside content in a new, meaningful way either through updating, expanding, reformatting, curating and refocusing a particular content piece.
Utilizing content reusage as part of your entire link acquisition campaign drives significant advantage to determining an outreach market. For example, an outdated content piece with 100+ referring domains linking to it, can be revisited and plugged in to a favorite backlink research tool (Ahrefs, OSE or CognitiveSEO) to see which of the links are obtainable. Once the updated version of the content has been published on your site, it’s easier to build backlinks to the page given that there’s an available and qualified backlink prospects to reach out and to acquire backlinks from.
There is one advantage when competing in non-marketing heavy verticals – some bloggers and webmasters aren’t taught of non-indexing pages to avoid duplication issues and help the website maintain only quality pages as part of the site’s search-driven pages.
While this is unfortunate to some publishers, you can use this to your own advantage by constructing search queries with taxonomies, such as tags and categories.
Based on our internal research, we’ve found out that using the above search queries generate more qualified backlink prospects than using normal searches like how to x in industry – being more specific with keywords when using inurl:tag (i.e. inurl:tag “startup tips”) are more topically relevant than generic tag keywords.
Comment marketing is one of the overlooked and misused link acquisition techniques, primarily because most SEOs don’t see the benefits one can gain from this simple link building trick like setting yourself as an expert in the industry, being invited to become a guest contributor, building relationships with other authority publishers, so on and so forth.
Most importantly, one comment nudge from community-based blogs like this and this can generate hundreds of referral traffic to a site, which may lead to actual assisted conversions without actually spending much time to execute the entire link building tactic.
Be the first one to comment on an authority blog (use RSS feeds plus email to get you notified immediately if there’s a new post that has been published) and make it as part of your regular content efforts with the intent of getting clicks from blog readers (see example above).
Target pages that are likely to rank in search – content assets that are targeted with keywords or content themes instead of plain theories, so when you build a link from these pages, you can constantly send relevant traffic to your site.
Increasing visibility in search results through proper link building while getting leads from referral visits (conversion link building) is hitting two birds with one stone. While this may not always happen, but if you can actually anticipate that links built from a relevant site/page could drive potential customers/clients to your brand, this is something you must prioritize in your link development campaign.
Find and participate on topically-relevant discussions that people are actually searching for when looking for recommended products/services. Here is a list of example Google search queries that you can try:
Another link building trick here is to find commonly-asked questions with commercial intent on AnswerthePublic and utilize them as search queries with combined search operator inurl.
Additionally, if you’re targeting multiple verticals or you’re handling a set of clients with the same target audience (i.e. Australian-focused), you can acquire backlinks from multi-category forum sites like Whirlpool. This type of sites often get visited by people who can easily be converted into customers/clients – so it’s a big win to earn backlinks from them.
Link prospecting consumes a lot of hours, three times more than time spent for outreach. So it’s a definite need to use link prospecting tools that filter sites better in less time but still providing relevant pages.
There are a lot of this kind of tools, but one I highly recommend is MillionShort. From the name it derives, it ignores the 1 million most popular websites on the internet, which makes it easier for link builders to find less-authoritative blogs. Needless to say, this is not actually fit for high-level development campaigns, specifically targeting huge online publication sites.
MillionShort has a drop-down list that also provides you the option of removing only the top 100 or the top 100,000. Definitely fit for low to medium-level link development campaigns, the search engine tool helps the entire link prospecting process focused on pages derived from long-tail searches.
When you can predict if backlinks are obtainable from a certain page/site, it’s actually easy to decide whether or not that link prospect is worthy to spend minutes of outreach. While there’s no guarantee of exact percentage of link probability, you can estimate it based on a number of indicators, which are listed below:
Consider the context of a link and purpose of page when qualifying prospects. The page may be exactly relevant to your vertical (gardening to gardening) but only offers to demographic-based visitors. For example, in this particular resource, you’ll have less chances of acquiring a link from it if you have a Texas gardening resource page given that the purpose of the page is to provide research-based information to Georgia gardeners – take note that cities of USA have different gardening and landscaping atmospheres/areas.
Another indicator to look at is link type – determining if link is local, national or general-focused, contextual or site-wide, resource page link or blog link. If you have an AU-focused html page and is itching to get a link, you will immediately reach out to the owner of this resource page and request for a backlink. But you’ll likely end up in failure because the page mostly links out to pdfs and publications sites.
Make sure these considerations become part of metrics so you can save time in your outreach process and most importantly, helps you personalize outreach emails with the right context.
Publishers and content creators often reference co-authors in their content assets by mentioning their social profiles (see image above). These social content can actually earn more backlinks than any page in the website, which is a lost equity if you have many of those but are not pointing to your website.
With the use of link tracking tools (see image below), you can discover pages currently linking to your social profiles. Some social links aren’t convertible into editorial links, such as those that are included in a list-type content (top 50 SEOs to follow on Twitter).
However, there are backlinks that of good use like those that referenced your content, quotes/statements – Brian Dean shared an actionable advice to… and stolen your assets – copied infographic that linked to your social profile, not to your website.
Once you’ve filtered high quality domains that can benefit your site, you can use this email copy to reach out to them:
Hi [Name],I noticed that you mentioned my content about [topic] in one of your blog posts at [SiteName]. I appreciate you linked to my Twitter profile.Just wondering if there’s any chance you can link instead to my profile page in my website. Thank you again,[Your Name],
I noticed that you mentioned my content about [topic] in one of your blog posts at [SiteName]. I appreciate you linked to my Twitter profile.
Just wondering if there’s any chance you can link instead to my profile page in my website.
Thank you again,
The key here is to create a branded page in your website so it’ll be easy for publishers to link to you.
Not all backlinks remain for a long time, some are actually lost or deleted due to webmasters’ preference – either they removed the link in the content or replace it with another content source.
Lost backlinks aren’t easily recovered since the webmaster may actually abandon the site – leaving no rooms for re-engagement. While removed backlinks can still be recovered by doing an outreach to webmasters and asking if they can add back your link or acquire another link from a different page in the same website – both are best ways to get backlinks.
You can start this link building tactic by using Ahrefs to grab websites that removed your backlinks and put them in a list – since these links are normally labeled removed, you can easily identify them in the Ahrefs dashboard.
Once you’re done with the link list, you can get their contact details and reach out to them. A few ways to make your outreach works more effective:
Given that you’ve built previous relationships with these webmasters in your initial pitch, you would get a better response rate compared to pitching cold emails to new outreach prospects.
Guest blogging still works, but how it is practiced differentiates great content marketers from newbies. If you’ve been prospecting in search using the same and only footprints in 2012 (guest post by, sponsored post, etc..), you are missing out a lot of other opportunities that could easily be converted into links.
One way to prospect for guest blogging opportunities is through the use of web mention tools like BrandMentions or Mention to find recently published guest posts that are relevant to your industry.
Finding these link targets makes a lot of difference in your link acquisition results given that they are more receptive to outreach compared to domains gathered through search footprints.
In a content-based link acquisition process, it always start with finding the available resources a client/business have. Whether it’s online or offline, these assets if used extensively, can entice publishers and niche-like content creators to link to your site.
Offline events like trainings and seminars have slide presentations that are ready to be uploaded to Slideshare. If you’ve got a client with these assets, you’re reaching a goldmine others won’t consider in their own link acquisition campaigns.
If you take a look at Rand Fishkin’s Slideshare profile, he had 100 different slide presentations on his account, which if you’ll plug in over to your favorite link building tool, you’ll discover 3,778 total links from 252+ different LRDs – linked by publishers in three different ways:
Export a list of linking sites or create your own and filter them based on quality. Once done, you can brainstorm link building tactics on what to execute for each filtered domain, below are some examples:
The main advantage of these slideshare link opportunities is that they convert better than other asset link sources, as some (event participants) had actually interacted with your client.
If you know a person runs a website but can’t find a particular email address, you’ll likely send a generic outreach email to a generic email address – asking the person if he can forward your email to the right person. You won’t be aware but this type of emails often get deleted instantly. The webmaster may only be using the generic email address for personal conversations.
Additionally, if you are not doing outreach for generic emails and proceed to another prospect on your list, you’ll miss out the link that could be converted through a conversation with the person behind the generic email-ad.
Needless to say, always use the name of the webmaster or publisher as part of your greetings – personalizing your email even for generic email addresses.
Want to take your link building to the next level – — but don’t know where to start, and are feeling overwhelmed by this post.
We are here to help you. SharpRocket is a team of link building specialists who love building high quality backlinks.
To learn more about how we can help, take a look at the services we offer.
Link reclamation is the process of identifying and fixing broken links on your website and getting links from other publishers who mentioned your brand or content but didn’t linked to your site. This is perhaps the most effective link building tactic that can drive initial set of links to your website with ease – it won’t require new published content, you utilize your existing web assets for link reclamation (website, images, text, article, etc..).
Let’s also see how other link building experts define link reclamation.
Link reclamation is the process of fixing broken links on your company website and other websites that link to yours.
Razvan, Founder of CognitiveSEO and BrandMentions
Reclaiming links is a process that happens when you’ve either lost links and want them back or when you’ve not been properly linked to, such as with a broken link or a non-linked mention. Links can vanish for multiple reasons. Sites get moved, pages get removed, and your link isn’t always foremost in a webmaster’s mind. Keeping an eye on lost links and non-linked mentions is a fantastic way to keep and add to the good links you want in your profile.
Julie Joyce, Founder of LinkFish Media
If you’re asking whether or not link reclamation is the right tactic for your business, the answer is – it depends.
Link reclamation is best utilized by brands who have already established authority in their industries whether through word of mouth marketing, content development, press publication and other branding initiatives. Given that link reclamation requires tracking of existing publishers who mentioned the brand in any form, authoritative brands (i.e. Fortune 500s) that have a set of content followers would more likely benefit from this link building tactic.
For newly established brands, link reclamation isn’t the initial link building technique that could be easily implemented right away, unless they have content assets readily available on their sites that can potentially earn links from time to time.
Coined term is a word or phrase created by a publisher or content creator used to refer to a new thing (an event, strategy, place, tip, etc..). The term has been mentioned a lot of times by other industry publishers in their content pieces – exposing the word/phrase to an existing audience and using it as well in their daily conversations (whether online or offline).
Almost every industry has its own coined term. Whether you are in finance, health and even in search, you’ll notice a lot of words that are mere creation by influencers and by highly respected SEO publishers. In fact, the topic of this post, link reclamation, is just a coined term created by Eric Ward way back in 2004.
So how can you leverage coined term creation in acquiring links?
First, you’ll have to think of something new to contribute to the industry – i.e. a tip or trick that would highly benefit a specific group of audience. It shouldn’t be a copy of another principle, but is unique or a revised or twisted version of a thing.
For instance, Brian Dean coined the term, “Skyscraper Technique” on his SEO blog, Backlinko. It has been used multiple times on other marketing blogs as one of the effective SEO strategies for ranking a website on Google and acquiring consistent traffic from search engines.
Once you created a coined term, it’s time to promote them to your audience. Here are a few ways to get traction to your coined-term-based content:
Finally, if you’ve seen high interest to your coined term from your web community, you can track which publishers and content creators have used your created term in their own content pieces. Tools like BrandMentions and Mentions.net can aid you with this.
Reaching out to webmasters through email outreach and asking them to credit references by linking to the original creator works effectively for most of the link builders out there – 50% or higher is the usual conversion rate.
However, if you nudge potential linkers with pre-acted efforts i.e. distributing their content on content promotion platforms, you’ll receive more responses and more links reclaimed for your brand.
One way to show that you initiate connections with these potential linkers is to actually share their content on social media sites even before you reached out to them via email. Notify these publishers by adding social handles to your social updates to make them aware that you shared the original post.
Putting email postscripts like, “I’ve shared your post on Twitter already, twitter status is here: www.url.com” to your pitch helps build enough trust to get them link to your website.
Not utilizing images for link acquisition is an opportunity lost especially if you have multiple images uploaded on your site (i.e. ecommerce branded product images).
Those images particularly branded images intended for distribution (i.e. infographic), should be monitored regularly to see if there are websites that have already linked to you as their source. However, if they’re linking to the file location (i.e. domain.com/images/photo.png) instead of the page that image is uploaded (i.e. domain.com/blog-post/), then content creators who linked to you this way should be asked to change their destination link.
Monitor file location links using Ahrefs, CognitiveSEO or OSE and ask content creators to change the destination link – from file location link to the linking page.
One of the difficulties when finding pages to reclaim links from, particularly for enterprises, is seeing several pages in search results with the need to further filter out irrelevant pages – i.e. those where content are not owned by you.
For instance, if you are reclaiming links from content creators who uploaded your infographic from their sites but not having link to you as the source, then doing a search for [ blogging ] [infographic ] would reveal branded visuals from other publishers.
At SharpRocket, our main qualifier for exact branded image reclamation is the use of allintitle – advanced search operator. This helps Google drives out pages with page titles that are not similar to the title of the branded content.
One thing to keep in mind, if your visual titles aren’t unique (i.e. it’s the most common keyword others are trying to rank for as well), then there are filtering efforts you still have to do in search results.
Even having unique visual titles, there is a ~10 to ~20% inefficiency here since you’ll also weed out pages from allintitle search but happen to be the pages where your content has been placed on, examples are:
For 90% of the time, using allintitle search operator for image link reclamation helps you easily target pages that used your branded content. And when they haven’t credited you as the source, reach out to them with tested copies and secure those links (sample outreach copies in the latter section of this post).
Short form text is a small piece of content that is worthy of mention on other publishing sites for reference to a certain topic. This varies in many kinds, such as:
Having a few short form texts in your website doesn’t only increase brand exposure but also help you gain editorial links from other publishers who’ll be referencing your small content from their blogs. If fortunately they’ve linked to your site, reach out to them and send a simple “thank you” message. Building a rapport with these content creators would amplify additional links in the future – as they can also refer to your short form text from their content pieces on other blogs (their guest posts).
If in case some publishers didn’t credit you as the source, you can pitch them to reclaim unlinked mentions of your content.
If you are starting out to build your our own brand and don’t have a set of followers yet to spread your short form texts on the web then here are some ways to promote these small pieces of content:
Building short form content assets isn’t scalable. You can’t force your brand to create this type of content if it’s not totally remarkable. Otherwise, it will serve as a plain text in your page without any publishers stealing your content.
The solid gold process for creating remarkable short form texts is to think of something unexpected hook in it – the “amazing thing” that initially captures the interests of majority of industry publishers.
The growing industry of content marketing creates new types of content that helps consumers read, see and digest information easily on the web.
One form of content asset that I noticed became popular and useful these days is GIF-based quick tutorial. It is almost similar to the traditional video tutorials created by startup agencies and bloggers trying to entice customers or clients to purchase their products or services. What only differs is that they are easy to consume as you don’t need to click the play button to watch the full tutorial, it automatically runs even without initiatives from the user.
So how can you maximize the use of GIF-based quick tutorials for link acquisition?
Before anything else, let’s first understand that not all quick tutorial GIFs could get you earn additional links. In most cases, this type of content is actually a portion or one step in a whole definitive guide or resources. Unless, the content can stand on its own – i.e. it doesn’t need other quick tutorials to support its idea, it isn’t a feasible content to be promoted.
How to come up with ideas for useful GIF quick tutorials:
When you are done brainstorming for topic ideas, you can use any of the following tools to create your own GIF quick tutorial:
Once content is published, spend time monitoring publishers who have used your quick tutorial in their own webpages. You can use Tineye to track websites that stole your branded GIF, which you can reach out to reclaim unlinked mentions.
Image optimization is one of the best practices in search marketing as it helps sites’ branded visuals to rank for targeted keywords and absorbs additional search traffic from organic source.
Given that content creators are using search engines to look for high quality images, ranking highly for image search also allows your visuals to be featured on other relevant blogs. – and if they’re not linked to you as the source, you can pitch them and ask for a link.
Here’s a quick checklist of points to complete for each visual:
When building links to new domains of your brand, one tactic that search marketers often overlook is reclaiming links built to old web properties. These are links pointing to hosted sites like WordPress.com and other free platforms or links to old owned domains. You may have started blogging using these old/hosted sites and received several links to it, but sooner have a blog on your own domain or have bought a new one.
The optimal process is to check your old web properties and see if there are other websites (not owned by you) pointing to your old website. Get these links changed by asking existing linkers to link to the right destination pages or you can permanently (301) redirect old pages to their equivalent landing pages in your new website. This is very important since you don’t want to redirect all pages from old site to new site’s homepage only unless it’s relevant and beneficial to do so.
A few more tips to keep in mind when requesting to change links from old domains to new websites:
There are a hundred options of tools on the web that helps link builders track unlinked mentions, identify broken pages in their websites or initiate conversations through email outreach, but here is my own recommended toolset that can assist you in a link reclamation workflow.
This is probably the most accessible tool in the market that supports in-house and agency link builders for tracking existing mentions – whether linked or unlinked. This free tool also allows viewing websites’ data – domain authority, page authority and number of linking root domains, which makes it easy for search marketers to prioritize outreach prospects that might generate the highest link value.
Agency link builders can execute link reclamation at scale by renaming Google sheet with their own labels of clients’ campaigns.
If you are lowering costs on premium SEO tools, then this one might be a good option to add to your link reclamation toolset.
Note: Google is a bit slow returning data in the spreadsheet, but aside from that, the tool works pretty well.
Brandmention’s main value from a link reclamation perspective is sending email notifications whenever a mention of your content has been tracked. It enables you to monitor branded mentions in real time while doing your other marketing tasks. This keeps you on loop for new publishers you can get in touch for content partnerships.
What keeps this tool distinct from other mention tracking products are its notable features – language filtering and location-based sifting. This allows you to prioritize mentions from certain audiences where you could further analyze why and how these mentions had been placed.
If you’re tracking open rates in outreach, MailTrack.io provides a free option to guarantee reporting for that said key performance indicator. If you play in an industry where publishers aren’t responsive in emails, open rates enables you to counteract communication issues. Options might include switching to another subject line that captures immediate interests from recipients or adding more personalization straight to subject lines in order to nudge email opens from prospects.
It also allows you to know when content creators read your emails, giving you a framework for optimal email scheduling times. If you’re using emails for link reclamation outreach, you need to be using MailTrack.io.
Tineye might be the most underrated image reclamation tool that exists on the web. It enables you to track websites that stole your branded visuals – whether it is a logo, infographic or company staff photo and when these publishers haven’t refer to you as their original source, reach out to them and reclaim image-source links.
Additionally, if you are working in an image-heavy space where every section of the content requires photos, you might consider adding Tineye to your link reclamation toolset for image reverse engineering purposes.
Siegemedia’s Embed Code Generator is a simple but powerful tool for distributing visual content to other publishing websites with the full guarantee of linking to you as the original creator.
Aside from its customization features which include image and embed box resize, it enables you to see the preview of embed code straight from the platform itself. The tool gives you lower probability that other industry content creators will not link to you as the main reference for customized images.
Mention.net is the next-best option in terms of uncovering mentions of your brand based on various sources such as social, news, blogs, videos and forums. The difference-maker of this tool is its capability of filtering web mentions using sentiments (neutral, positive and negative). This aids you to easily see negative mentions that you can counteract immediately through proper response.
It also allows you to filter results by tags which you can use to sort data according to industries, keywords and content properties.
301 Redirects is a simple and free tool for WordPress users. For introductory link builders without a set of programming skills or access to FTP files, this plugin enables you to permanently redirect links to corresponding webpages.
On a link reclamation perspective, this workflow helps you preserve a smooth flow of link equity through your website by minimizing internal broken pages.
The main course of link reclamation is outreach, which is basically asking publishers who haven’t linked to you as the source, to get them attribute to your content asset by linking to it.
Conversion rates using this workflow normally gets 50% and even goes up to 100% if everything is executed correctly.
To get the best results for your link reclamation outreach, below are a few outreach strategies with examples of email templates that you can test for yourself.
Once you tracked all publishers who’ve mentioned you or grab a certain content asset (but didn’t linked to you), you can reach out to them and ask to give you credits as references.
Being aggressive – i.e. using copyright law or license as the initial paragraph in your pitch that doesn’t sounds polite often decreases response rate. Though this is not the case maybe for publishers whom you’ve built relationships with before as they would normally take time to go to their site’s dashboard and give you links from their pages.
The best practice still is to make your pitch sound that you actually want to spark connections with them and being kind to ask for links from their websites.
Here’s an outreach template for asking links from publishers who haven’t credit you as their references:
Subject: Thanks for mentioning [ SITE/BRAND NAME]Hi [ NAME ],Hope you’re doing great day.I would like to drop a quick message to say thank you for mentioning [ BRAND NAME ] in your post – [URL].I noticed that you hadn’t included details of our brand and was wondering if you would be kind to include a link pointing to our website, so your visitors would see more information about your reference.Thanks againKind regards,[ YOUR NAME ]
Subject: Thanks for mentioning [ SITE/BRAND NAME]
Hi [ NAME ],
Hope you’re doing great day.
I would like to drop a quick message to say thank you for mentioning [ BRAND NAME ] in your post – [URL].
I noticed that you hadn’t included details of our brand and was wondering if you would be kind to include a link pointing to our website, so your visitors would see more information about your reference.
[ YOUR NAME ]
The request to change destination pages in links pointing to your old properties, sad to say, is often ignored by bloggers and content creators. What we’ve tested that best nudge these publishers to take an action is to give them reasons why doing so is useful for their websites.
Here are a few points that you can add to your pitch that increases the odds to get bloggers change links’ destination pages:
Here’s an email copy to use for email outreach.
Subject: Broken link on [ SITE NAME ]Hi [ NAME ],Hope you’re doing well.It’s [ NAME ] from [ BRAND NAME ]. I noticed that you were linking to one of our old page, which has now been moved.The link is on this page [ URL OF THEIR PAGE ] and is pointing to [ OLD URL ] using the phrase [ ANCHOR TEXT].I’m wondering if you could possibly update the link to [ NEW URL ].Your readers would benefit from this as they can now see the information they are actually looking for.Thanks for your time.Best regards,[ YOUR NAME ]
Subject: Broken link on [ SITE NAME ]
Hope you’re doing well.
It’s [ NAME ] from [ BRAND NAME ]. I noticed that you were linking to one of our old page, which has now been moved.
The link is on this page [ URL OF THEIR PAGE ] and is pointing to [ OLD URL ] using the phrase [ ANCHOR TEXT].
I’m wondering if you could possibly update the link to [ NEW URL ].
Your readers would benefit from this as they can now see the information they are actually looking for.
Thanks for your time.
One of the most obvious but often overlooked strategies in link reclamation is finding publishers who had misspelled your brand or product name in their mentions and asking them for spelling corrections. This process may be useful to a few cases where brand names are spelled incorrectly:
There are still other cases where brand names could be misspelled aside from what’s mentioned – use this tool to generate misspelled variations of your brand name.
Once you’ve identified misspelled mentions, it’s time to reach out to publishers using this email template:
Subject: Could you edit this?Hello [ NAME ],It’s [ YOUR NAME ] from [ SITE NAME ].We noticed that your page [ ENTER POST URL ] is linking to [ SITE NAME ] – thank you so much for the love. Unfortunately, the link is spelled incorrectly and we’d like to ask you for a favor if you could correct this – so your readers could easily find our website.The proper spelling of our website is [ SITE NAME ].Is it possible to update the link?Thank you,[ YOUR NAME ]
Subject: Could you edit this?
Hello [ NAME ],
It’s [ YOUR NAME ] from [ SITE NAME ].
We noticed that your page [ ENTER POST URL ] is linking to [ SITE NAME ] – thank you so much for the love. Unfortunately, the link is spelled incorrectly and we’d like to ask you for a favor if you could correct this – so your readers could easily find our website.
The proper spelling of our website is [ SITE NAME ].
Is it possible to update the link?
Additionally, you can monitor misspelled variation of your brand name with the highest number of mentions using tools like BrandMentions. This workflow, when found to be successful over time, can also be added to your link reclamation process.
There are several other options you can try to get backlinks from other content creators besides aforementioned link reclamation methods.
We are here to help you. SharpRocket is a team of link building specialists who love building high quality links.