First up, let me say that I think when it comes to building links transparency is very important.
Many SEO agencies and Link Providers mask what they do with good reason they don’t want you to really know how they gain links (I wonder why…).
Here things are different. I spend a huge amount of time talking to clients and potential clients about how we go about link building. Many have a completely wrong idea about how links are acquired and are also confused by the whole disparity in pricing.
So I decided to outline here exactly how we work as a Link building agency. For two reasons:
1. Simply, I want you to hire my team and me. I know my system is second to none and will deliver relevant links, rankings and traffic. If you like the way we work, great, just CONTACT ME and we can discuss your campaign and your goals.
2. Alternatively, if you’re so inclined, have huge amounts of time and a team in place you can follow this system yourself.
OK, so if you’re reading this you already understand the importance of links.
If you’re not completely sold on link acquisition then go and read this first.Top three ranking factors
My Link Building System
Relevance is key.
And it’s becoming more so. As the guys over at Yeah!Local stated in a recent post, Trust Flow and Relevance are now highly important.
With this in mind we focus on outreach to sites that have genuine traffic rather than just focusing on a link opportunity based purely on a great DA. Over time these links will send the right sort of traffic to your site.
Part 1 – Analysis and Preparation
Google Analytics & Google Console
This is the first step and highly important. Access to both gives us an insight into your website, visitors and current content. We can see how your visitors interact with your site, where they spend time and what sort of content is proving popular.
Google Console provides data on what keywords you currently rank for and how much traffic they drive. You can also see the most popular queries; pages, countries and devices people have used to visit your site.
It also gives us an overview of what links you already have in place and what anchor text has been used.
For this we use AHrefs, which is a fantastic tool for looking at the full picture of your Keywords and your links.
HERE is a great post on why there data is so good.
We now focus on potential keyword targets. we are looking at:
- If you have any keywords with great potential – these are normally keywords ranked 5th-3oth which have a great potential for low traffic.
- Whether you have any ‘low hanging fruit’ – keywords ranked in the top 30 which have low competition, where we can raise rankings and see a strong impact, and therefore a strong ROI
- What Keywords your competitors are ranking for, are they viable targets?
We then carry out a thorough audit of your current links.
Is your domain clean? No spammy or unnatural links.
Is anchor text ratio clean? Not over optimized
Check your metrics, TF (trust flow), CF (citation flow), DA (domain authority), link history for any blips, links from relevant websites, this allows me to see if there are any pages that aren’t being utilised to their full potential, or identify some that are already earning links.
Ahrefs will give us a full picture of all your links and will help me to see if any are toxic and may need removing or disavowing. Here’s some info on why this should be done
Ahref will also help to build a picture of what your competitor’s backlinks and content looks like. That way we can see what is entailed in outranking them, this is not an exact science, but it helps.
Remember ‘knowledge is power’.
Next stage is to look at your current content and see what we have to work with:
Are you actively creating content?
Do you have a content creator?
How many social shares does each piece of content get?
Do you have distribution channels built out (email list, social following etc)
Are you willing to invest in content creation?
I will come to this later when we look at Link Selection but the key thing to remember is Link Campaigns live or die by the content you have or produce.
Brian Dean over at Backlinko talks about Power Pages, these are ‘hubs’ of unique content around your niche/market that answer all the key questions and provide valuable information.
I can work with you to put together a content plan that will be of interest to your target audience.
From that, we can either use someone from within your own team or use one of our content providers.
The best-case scenario is that you provide a content budget to produce quality content and for potential placements.
Add content to Target Tab
I then make a list all good content URL’s within the Project Management sheets. Note* This reporting document is updated in real time and can be accessed any time you want to.
Outreach Persona Creation
It’s important to understand that perception is highly important when it comes to outreach. Webmasters can look negatively at outreach from SEO companies whereas a well-crafted mail from someone who works at the company comes across a lot better.
Depending on the size of the company we like to set up as either the business owner or content manager.
GMail or company email Setup
The first step of any and all campaigns is to create a Gmail or company email account. We will then use this email for all outreach.
One of the key benefits of social media persona creation is when it comes to outreach. Accompanying an outreach mail with a ‘like’ or ‘follow’ to the person helps to build a personal relationship, which is hugely important in outreach.
• You will have much more success if you warm them up before you reach out to them
• Follow them on social
• Share a couple of their latest posts
• Comment on a couple of their latest posts
• Optional: personal compliment email
Link type Selection
The link type that we pursue are based on Content and Budget – Many clients don’t have a lot of content so we often have to start with a guest posting campaign (still a hugely successful strategy IF done correctly).
This should only be a temporary solution until we can generate some awesome content.
I would advise that you look at building Power Pages as I discussed above.
This will enable us to build different type of links such as:
Broken Link Building
Resource Page Link Building
Create a Link Building Campaign Plan
It’s now time to build out our outreach campaign plan.
As I have already mentioned we use a reporting spreadsheet that tracks target site opportunities and won links. This spreadsheet will be on a Google Drive and accessible by you.
In your reporting document I create a project management tab that will show you exactly what will be done over the next 3 steps, this is very detailed and items will be updated in real time as “assigned”, “ongoing” or “completed”.
Part 2 – Prospecting
I cannot overestimate the importance of prospecting.
Yes it’s time consuming, yes it’s tedious but without proper prospecting a link building campaign will fail.
I create a list of targets based on the link types we have already decided upon.
This is a constantly ongoing process, so if you ever look into your reporting sheet, you will see all of the targets and their status, this will change on a weekly basis as I update it in real time.
I really focus on finding a personal contact email as well as the name of the person that I am contacting; in fact I obsess about this. Why?
Have you ever received an unsolicited ‘Dear sir’ or ‘Dear business owner’ does this make you want to read more? I bet you don’t.
A real name means you can build a real relationship with the contact. It will set you apart from the vast majority of outreach mails the contact receives.
Part 3 – Link Building Outreach
For each of the targets I have found I will then send a personal email, using their name if possible and the most appropriate type of email based on the type of link I will be asking for.
The approach for a content placement is very different to the approach for a resource link for example.
These types of interactions often result in a relationship being built with the target, meaning that I have something that can be mutually beneficial and utilised in the future. As well as a link, it is common practice for a target to share your site socially, which is an added bonus.
I spend a lot of time focused on outreach and the initial contact with a prospective link opportunity. I have found that the more you can personalize your contact the better the response rate.
I also keep my mails relatively short and to the point. Key factors:
• Say what you have to offer.
• Why it will be of interest to their audience.
• What you want them to do next.
Outreach Follow Up
Probably one of the most important parts of the process, and arguably overlooked by many that conduct outreach.
People get hundreds of emails every day; it’s extremely easy to ignore them when you are so busy. Even if you are interested in something you have been sent you may forget to follow it up.
That’s why I always send a simple follow up email a couple of days later.
It’s a significant percentage that responds to this second mail.
I also track email opens, so that I know who has opened an email and not replied, and who just hasn’t seen it yet, these people receive completely different follow up messages.
Link Building Tools
To build links at any type of scale you not only need a process you need the right tools.
We have tried a variety of software tools and products and now use three key ones.
- Link Analysis and Competitor Analysis – As I have already mentioned Ahrefs is our tool of choice here.
- Content Discovery – For this Buzzsumo is the best tool out there. Its ability to find the best content and the most shared is second to none.
- Outreach & Project Management – There are a number of outreach platforms that can handle this but for us Pitchbox is the best. It’s not a cheap solution but it allows you to build highly personalised outreach campaigns at scale.
Link Building Campaign Results
This is how we measure success. We focus on three main criteria:
Links Generated – This is the key one, more links from strong relevant sites equates to increased rankings.
Referral Traffic – This comes from people clicking on your link because they are interested in your company or service. This is extremely targeted traffic and providing you have your site set up properly for conversion it will lead to new clients or sales.
Organic traffic – The key reason people create links. With relevant, quality sites linking to your website your rankings will improve. Better rankings MORE traffic!
How much does our Link Building Agency charge?
As you can see from by the way we conduct link building, its a time intensive process.
That’s why we have link packages that reflect the time and effort that goes into securing really good links.
- 10 Links – £1,400
- 20 Links – £2,500
- 30 Links – £3,600
- 40 Links – £4,600
- 50 Links – £5,250
Honestly, we are not for everyone, here’s a couple of things to bear in mind:
- You should have your onsite and technical SEO nailed down already.
- You must be willing to invest in great content (if you don’t already have it).
- Actually want to grow your business and understand that good links can push the needle.
If so, great! get in touch and we can arrange a telephone conversation.