How to Create a Link Building Campaign
Backlinks to websites continue to be one of the strongest ranking factors you can influence in regards to SEO. In this lesson, we’ll walk you through the proven process that we’ve used to consistently drive backlinks for our clients.
Key points you can
learn in this lesson.
Guest Post Link Building
Learn how to run a guest post link building campaign to gain backlinks to your site
Key Linking Opportunities
Learn how to to find high-value linking opportunities and prospects
Outreach and Opportunities
Discover how to effectively perform outreach to acquire and fulfill guest post opportunities
Our key metrics increased. More importantly, we implemented a lot of new tactics and test scenarios, which will boost our company’s future prospects.
In this lesson, we will break down how to utilize link building strategies to amplify your brand’s authority and become more discoverable through search engines.
What is link building?
Link building in SEO typically refers to acquiring links from other quality websites that lead back to your own. A link is a way for users to navigate between pages on the internet. Search engines use links to crawl the web between the pages on your site and your entire website as a whole. The more quality, high-domain authority (DA) links you have leading back to your site, the more credible Google thinks your website is.
Why is this important?
Link building is not just “another tool in your toolbox”. It’s an imperative aspect of your entire SEO strategy. Here are some reasons why:
Builds Your Link Equity and Organic Website Traffic
Research has shown that links are still a major factor in how Google ranks web pages. The more quality links you receive from other high-DA websites, the more credible your site appears to Google, which often helps push your pages to the top of the search engine result page (SERP).
The higher you are ranked on the SERP, the more likely it is that visitors click on your site after searching. The more often they click on your site, the more likely they are to link back to your site or take another desired action, such as filling out your form or completing a purchase.
2. Build Your Brand Credibility
Show your audience you are an expert in your space by being discoverable in digital media, showing up where your target audience consumes content as much as possible. Link building is an SEO tactic utilized in Digital PR.
Keep in mind, not all links hold the same weight. Obtaining numerous links from spammy sites will not get you the credibility you’re looking for, and Google will not reward you for these links. In your early stages, set goals on how to acquire links from respected and relevant sites. Note that while it may take time in the beginning, it will be worth it in the end.
What you’ll need:
- Ahrefs (to check backlinks, content explorer tool, find prospects, keyword research tool) Pricing: $99-$999 per month (7 Day Free Trial Available)
- Moz Link Explorer (to explore the quality of links, keywords, and brand mentions)
Pricing: $99-$599 (30 Day Free Trial Available)
Pricing: Hunter – Free to $399 monthly fee depending on goals. Clearbit – Free up to 100 prospects, the cost will vary after that.
- LinkedIn account (for outreach through messaging and finding backlink opportunities)
Pricing: Free to have a personal account. *I recommend having a Premium Business account for a better response rate – Premium Business: $59.99/month
- Pitchbox (for personalized outreach to large lists of prospects)
Pricing: Pricing must be requested per case; starts at $95 per month
- Buzzsumo (to analyze content engagements, find relevant prospects, and brand mentions)
Pricing: $79-$239 per month (7 Day Free Trial Available)
- Link Building Prospect Database Template
- Link Building Tracker Template
- Guest Posting Outreach Template – Email Template
Link building can be time-consuming; however, when it is done correctly and strategically, quality links you acquire can better your brand’s discoverability online.
To start, we’ll go step-by-step through our most successful link building tactic, guest posting. After we break this strategy down, we’ll finish up by providing the next steps and giving a preview into other link building tasks you can try.
Guest blogging is an extremely beneficial link building tactic to add to your SEO strategy. Here, a thought leader from your organization (or your clients’ company) creates a guest article for a high-DA blog for publication on their website. This piece provides value for the media outlet and includes a relevant link (or links) back to your site to build brand awareness and link equity.
Step 1: How to Find Relevant Guest Post Opportunities
There are many ways to find relevant blogs and publications for guest posting opportunities. Here are some of our go-to methods:
Search For Top Lists
Within Google, search for “top”, “best”, “greatest” blogs in your industry. For example: “Top Ecommerce Blogs”. Within those lists, notate which blogs appear relevant to your business, and add them to the company name and company website list on the Link Building Prospect Database sheet.
BuzzSumo Most Shared Topics
Buzzsumo is a search and reputation management platform, and it’s helpful in finding trending articles around a specific topic. Additionally, the tool has the ability to filter results by the time frame.
This way you can see who covered a topic most recently and what kind of engagement it got in social media. The top results are typically your best targets. Once you discover a relevant site you might want to reach out to for guest posting, add them to the company name and company website list on the Link Building Prospect Database sheet.
Ahrefs Content Explorer Tool
Utilizing the Ahrefs’ Content Explorer tool, you can find prospects in bulk for your outreach.
For example, let’s say you’re looking for blogs that discuss “SEO optimization”.
Head to Ahrefs’ Content Explorer and search for this topic. Be sure to select that the keyword is in the title and that you’re looking for only live pieces.
After you search, you’ll have a list of top articles that discuss “SEO optimization”. Click on each relevant link and find out who the writer or editor is for this piece.
*Keep in mind, oftentimes only editors will be able to answer your guest posting outreach questions. Why? Many of these writers are guest post writers like you’re aiming to become. They will work from various companies and not be able to assist you if you reach out for guest post opportunities.
Additionally, you can observe how credible and relevant each site is, based off of a DR score (Ahrefs’ version of DA), how many referring domains are connected to pieces that similar to your topic, what the organic traffic is, what the traffic value is, and the social media engagement for each piece.
To make it easier to review the data and decide what opportunities you want to work with, export all of the information from your search into a spreadsheet. Find the button on the upper right side of the page that says “Export”.
From this export, you’ll find detailed information that you can utilize for your own guest post goals. See below.
After scanning through your results, you can add the most relevant and authoritative sites to the Link Building Prospect Database sheet.
Utilize Google News Search
When searching your keyword in Google, (i.e. top digital marketing podcasts), check out Google News.
Most likely, you’ll find a fresh set of content with new publications and editors you can reach out to for guest posting.
After scanning through the sites you’re most interested in, you can add the most relevant and authoritative ones to the Link Building Prospect Database sheet.
Step 1.5: Domain Authority of Guest Post Prospects
Once you have built a list of relevant sites that you can potentially guest post for, it’s important to understand the potential SEO value you can gain from a backlink from each site.
As lightly touched on above, to better estimate the credibility of each guest post prospect, a trustworthy way to check this is through Moz’s Link Explorer to identify domain authority. This is based on a 1-100 scale with closer to 100 being better.
After opening the link explorer, enter any website URL to get a general idea of the overall site’s domain authority. See an example below using Directive’s site:
After inserting the URL, copy the Domain Authority into your Link Building Prospect Database sheet for every publication. Ideally, you want to get links from sites that have a higher DA than your own.
Now that you’ve identified guest post prospects and checked the domain authority of each site, it is time to learn how to contact your prospects.
Step 2: How to Find Prospect Contact Info
While there are numerous ways to find prospects’ contact information, we have found that one of the simplest and most consistent ways is by utilizing Clearbit.
The paid version of ClearBit has various functions; however, for prospecting, utilize the free Chrome extension version. The first 100 prospects you pull are free.
After you find the contacts, you’ll add them to the appropriate industry sheet in the Link Building Database, which we’ll break down later.
It works like this:
- Download the Chrome extension for Clearbit.
- Make sure it’s connected to your Gmail.
Start Pulling Prospect Contact Information
- Clearbit connects to your email inbox and asks you to enter a company name (usually the name of the company the blog is found on). For example, if someone wanted to reach out to be featured on Directive’s blog, they would type in “Directive” in the search bar below.
- Search the contact’s name who you are looking for or a specific job title in the search bar. Unsure of the name or job title? You can scroll through the options listed for that company and look for yourself.
- Click on the correct prospect from the company and copy their email address. Paste that email address into the “email” column in the Link Building Prospect Database sheet.
What if you still can’t find the right prospects or the contacts you’re looking for are not on Clearbit?
- Check Hunter, an easy-to-use and different prospecting tool. Hunter also has a free option.
- Check LinkedIn.
- Once you’re inside the LinkedIn platform and search the company you’re looking for, click “See all X employees…” on the far right side of your screen.
- Utilize the filters provided on the side and filter by title or keywords such as “content”, “editor”, “marketing” or “manager”.
- Pick the most relevant role; “editor” is best if it’s available.
- Once you have found the right person, utilize Clearbit or Hunter to obtain his/her email.
- If you still can’t find an email, you can reach out via LinkedIn message.
3. Using colleague email addresses as a template.
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