Few concepts are as controversial in online marketing as “link building.” While some site owners completely ignore it, others resort to spamming blog comment sections thinking that’s the best way to get backlinks. Needless to say, this approach could destroy your entire SEO efforts.
At the same time, link building is a powerful ranking factor and a cost-effective strategy. Not only that it can help your pages to rank high in Google’s search results, but it can also send more referral traffic to your site.
The purpose of this small guide is to show you how to build a link building campaign from scratch without violating any of Google’s guidelines. By the end of this article, you should have a good understanding of modern link building and all the knowledge you need to get started.
Let’s jump right into it, shall we?
Set Your Goals
Building a link building strategy without clear goals is like sailing without a compass. Sure, you are taking action, and you might eventually get where you want, but it will take longer than necessary. By establishing the goals of your link building efforts from the beginning, you ensure that the strategy you’ll create gives you the best possible chances of success.
As a rule of thumb, always make sure that the goals of your link building efforts are in line with your business’s objectives. For example, “build 15 links in three months” isn’t a smart goal if building 15 links doesn’t have any real impact on the overall success of your website. Instead, try to think about the long game and set goals like increasing organic traffic and driving more leads to your website.
Identify Your Assets
One of the most common mistakes website owners make is thinking that content is their only asset. Sure, high-quality content is an essential part of link building, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the only value you could offer.
Assets vary from business to business, and you need to identify those that are the most relevant to your audience and can advance your link building efforts. Examples of assets can include content, products, data, services, people, etc.
However, never use money as an incentive. Buying links is frowned upon by Google, and it can get you a harsh penalty and loss of traffic.
What Types of Links Do You Need?
As I said, you need to be smart about link building if you want to maximize the benefits of this online marketing strategy. Linking to your homepage without knowing what types of links you actually need won’t do your website too much good.
Use tools like Open Site Explorer to do a detailed analysis of your site and see how you rank for certain keywords. Maybe you’ll discover that you have no inbound links that contain your main keyword pointing to your website. In this case, you’ll need to focus on building links that contain your main keyword. Or maybe you’ll discover that there are no links pointing to your product pages, in which case you’ll need to concentrate your efforts on solving this problem.
An analysis will show you the best opportunities for improvements. Therefore, instead of just throwing darts in the dark, you’ll know exactly what your target is.
Create a List of Sites That Appeal to Your Audience
The key to a successful link building campaign is contacting the influencers who are most likely to be interested in your content. If you just reach out to random bloggers without a clear understanding of their niche and audience, your chances of getting a response will decrease significantly.
Ideally, you should have a rough idea of who you think will be interested in your content and a good understanding of the best link building methods that could help you achieve your goals before you begin any work. For example, if your website isn’t getting any traction, the Skyscraper method, where you find popular topics in your niche and improve them, might help you get the attention of thought leaders in your industry.
The bottom line is that you should always ask yourself who would care enough about your content to share it. There’s one thing to get people to read your content and a completely different thing to convince them to link to it
But, let’s imagine that you don’t know who might be interested in your content. How do you go about finding relevant blogs in your niche? Here are a few ideas:
- Google Search: Imagine that you want to find thought leaders in the travel industry. Go to Google and type “list of travel bloggers.” Then use the Scraper plugin, right click on one of the URLs in the list, and then click the “Scrape Similar” button to see the scraped content. You can then copy the list in your Google Sheets.
- Find Blogger on Twitter: You can use tools like Followerwonk to search Twitter bios for certain keywords and find relevant profiles. For example, you can use this tool to search for “luxury travel bloggers” and see if anyone mentioned this key phrase in their bio.
- Advanced Search Queries: This search method can help you filter out sites that might not be relevant to your needs. For example, if you want to find new sites with similar content to a website you already know is good for your link building efforts, then you can use the query: “related:domainname.com” (replace domainname.com with the URL of the site.) You can find more tips here.
Now comes probably the most difficult part of your link building campaign: reaching out to people and asking them to link to your awesome content or products/services.
Keep in mind that the people you’re contacting are extremely busy and receive tons of similar requests every day. Make sure that your message stands out and catches their attention. That doesn’t mean that you should use click-bait subject lines to get them to open your email. Instead, you need to personalize your message so that they don’t reach for the spam or delete button the second they see your email in their Inboxes.
Use a concise subject line that explains what the email is about (examples: “Your Data Featured in Our Last Report” or “Interested in New Infographic about Best Luxury Vacations?”)
Avoid using a generic introduction line like “Dear Sir or Madam.” Instead, use their name and mention something specific about their work to connect with them.
Example: “Hi Christine,
I’m reaching out because I’m an avid reader of your work on the DomaniName.com blog and I loved your latest article about luxury travel.”
Last but not least, don’t skirt around the subject for too long (remember, these are very busy people) and tell them what you want them to do: share your content on social media, embed your infographic or video, accept a guest post from you, etc.Don’t forget to use a proper email address and a signature to make your email look professional.
Industry experts and popular bloggers receive tons of email every day, so it’s not unlikely that yours will get buried and forgotten pretty soon. If you don’t get a reply within a week, send a follow-up email. Make sure to keep it short and to the point. You’ve already mentioned all the details in the first message, so there’s no need to repeat them again. Be nice and polite and never criticize the blogger for not answering to your previous email.If they still don’t reply, then it’s best to move on and focus on other contacts.
There’s no question about the fact that link building is hard work. But, in a digital world that’s overcrowded, establishing yourself as an authority can help you go a long way. Hopefully, this guide will give you the knowledge and tools you need to build a successful link building campaign from scratch.