link building 2017

 

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.  

november 2015 client engagement

It wouldn’t take too long to see some results, even the six-month link acquisition can do so well.  

august 2016 client

There’s growth in search traffic even in three-month period. .

october 2016 client

We did it again..

october 2016 client 2

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.

october 2016 client 3

MINDSET OF LINK BUILDING

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:

  • For branding
  • For traffic (relevance matters here)
  • For trust/authority (targeting high-tier or A-level sites)
  • For conversions (can your links bring value to pages being linked to)
  • For crawl budget
  • For rankings

Set your team’s agenda properly on the above focus points before diving into the right link building strategies and processes.

IMPROVE YOUR EXISTING LINK BUILDING PROCESSES

GUEST BLOGGING

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.

Why?

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:

  • Build content partnerships with people (take it your advantage if both of you are still in the process of building your own brands). Distribute your content to theirs, as well as let them write posts on your blog.
  • Pass on contacts for more guest blogging opportunities. If he had approached you for that certain purpose, he’d be receptive for new handful of list links. Exchanging contacts of “blogs that accept guest posts” can be an advantage on both sides (remember that not all blog owners accept unsolicited guest post pitches). Tip: introducing him to your own set of guest blog contact can increase his likelihood of getting his post published on that new blog (let him do the same for you).

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).

write for us page health

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).

career resolutions search query

BROKEN LINK BUILDING

“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?”

Here’s how:

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!).

broken link building spreadsheet

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.

resource page reverse engineering

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).

resources filter ahrefs

MORE LINK BUILDING TIPS IN 2017

TARGETED OUTREACH

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.

semrush metric targeted outreach

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.

PODCASTS & GUESTS

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.

lionzeal show

How did I get that?

It simply started with a simple conversation on Facebook (screenshot below)

fb conversation with daryl

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).

2017 JACKING

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.

web hosting 2017 content

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.

  • top
  • greatest
  • fastest
  • newest
  • oldest
  • strangest
  • cheapest
  • most expensive
  • easiest
  • unbelievable
  • weirdest
  • best
  • shortest
  • tallest
  • biggest
  • smallest

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.

link building 2015 backlinks

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 AUTHENTICITY

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.

same topic outreach email

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?”.

SCHOLARSHIPS

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.

HOW TO IMPROVE LINK BUILDING PROCESSES

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:

  • Systems
  • Automation
  • Hiring

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.

DOCUMENTATION THRU VIDEOS 

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.

SET JOB SKILLS ABOVE PAR   

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:

  • Above average communication skills in writing.
  • Attention to small details (replacing tags in email templates, i.e. { NAME }, and qualifying prospects using certain metrics and deeply understanding domain-to-domain and page-to-page relevance, which is a common sense, btw).

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.

CREATE A MASTER SPREADSHEET TO MONITOR LINK BUILDING CAMPAIGNS 

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.

campaign tracker

We complete all the following details in that “Client Brief” tab:

  • Client Name
  • Type (direct client, i.e. business owner/niche blogger, or a client of a marketing agency)
  • Client metrics requirements (depends on the agreement with the client, there should be threshold set by your team for every client).
  • Client industry
  • Client target blogs
  • Client target pages (include all new informational pages/content of the client)
  • Remarks

A few benefits of including above details in your tab:

  • Reduces wastes of time due to “back-and-forth” questions of team members to managers, regarding client metrics and target industries or blogs.
  • Identifies which client should be prioritized first.

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.

client tab

Here are column titles we always include in those tabs:

  • Client name
  • Target link prospects (which is computed by dividing the number of target backlinks by the number of average no. of link prospects). It is best if you can track your link acquisition or conversion rate per each client that you’re working on.
  • Campaign duration (how long does it take you to build those links? – Estimated duration.
  • Campaign Status (have we started with prospecting, are we done with outreach, do we need more research or have we sent the report to the client).
  • Research Start Date
  • Research Completion Date
  • Email Start Date
  • Email Completion Date
  • Handled by (Prospected by) – so you can easily delegate campaigns to link prospectors who can do best to those certain clients.
  • Emailed by – who are the outreach specialists assigned?
  • TL (Total links)
  • RL (Remaining links)
  • BL (Built links)
  • Remarks

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).

CREATE SPREADSHEETS TO TRACK EACH LINK BUILDING CAMPAIGN 

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.

link building campaign spreadsheet

Here’s what we always include in the columns section:

  • Website
  • DUP (duplicate checker) – Yes if it’s a duplicate of another link prospect, NO – let it be there.
  • Prospected by (if you have multiple link builders working on one campaign, this gives you an idea how many prospects each one is finding daily).
  • SEMRush / DA – depends on which metric do you use
  • Name (contact person)
  • Emails (contact person)
  • Linking from page (if targeting to acquire links from existing pages)
  • Linking to page (target pages on the website building links to).
  • Site Remarks (additional information that aids to personalize outreach further).

If you still want to go deeper with your link prospecting phase, then create another master spreadsheet for “Team Research Reports”

CREATE “TEAM RESEARCH REPORTS” FOR LINK PROSPECTING PROGRESS 

We create team research reports for two main reasons:

  • Track each link prospectors’ productivity (e.g. how many prospects can they find every hour?)
  • Identify new combinations of keywords and advanced search operators (untapped search queries for certain industries).

Each link prospector has their own tab where they have to insert the following details as they go after each search query:

  • Month
  • Status
  • Client URL (they can simply just copy and paste it as they prospect more)
  • Advanced search operator
  • Search term
  • Google query (combination of advanced search op and search term)
  • DUP (to check if google query is a duplicate of previous queries)
  • Time started
  • Page reach (they don’t need to go to page 20 or so if they haven’t found any qualified prospect from page 6 to 8, for example).
  • Time finished
  • Number (#) of prospects
  • Remarks

team research reports

There are a lot of benefits we can obtain from creating this spreadsheet, some of them are:

  • Organizing your “used” link prospecting phrases (search operators + keywords).
  • Helping avoid multiple use of one link prospecting phrase by 2 or 3 link builders (literally saves time!)

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.

YOUR TURN

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.

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