How I build links for your business.
For high-quality, relevant links my process is usually:
Great content -> Highly Targeted Outreach -> Solid Links
My focus lies on finding out what will make you stand out from your competitors, and how to motivate a site owner to give you that link.
I believe any link building client should be fully informed of how links were earned and where they come from. So to keep my work transparent and me 100% accountable, here’s exactly what I will do for you:
First, I listen.
Because I need to know your business and market. The questions I ask depend on your website and audience. Here are some examples:
- What has been your link building strategy and how did you experience it?
- Who is your perfect buying persona or visitor?
- Can you give examples of sites you would like links from?
- Which keywords do you want to rank for?
- Which topics does your audience respond to?
- What is the life-time value of a customer/client?
- How many more customers can your business handle?
- What are your expectations from link building in 1 month, 3 months and 6 months?
Then, I plan.
Once that is all clear, I’ll set up a custom-tailored plan with our goals and expectations for the agreed upon term. This will include one or more link building campaigns that result in a natural looking, diverse link profile.
What will I use for our link building campaigns?
The tools and systems that will support the execution of our plan are:
- An email (either a domain email with your name or a persona email from a domain that is very similar)
- Screaming Frog
- A Google Sheet Project Tracker, 24/7 accessible
In the project tracker you can see all the prospects that I reach out to, the links that are live/agreed, content ideas, login info, and more.
Now, let’s build some links!
Step 1: Competitor Analysis
I want to see which direct and indirect (business and SERP) competitors are ranking for your relevant keywords.
By reverse engineering I can determine which parts of their link building strategy to use to catch up, and which strategies to use to get ahead of your competition.
These can be actual businesses, and your direct competitors. But they can also be sites that just happen to rank for the same keywords you are targeting, but are not offering the same products or services as you.
There are several methods I use to compile a list of direct and indirect competitors:
Identify your keyword competitors on domain-level
A domain-level competitor targets a large amount of the same keywords you want to rank for. Here’s how to find them:
- Check “competing domains” for your domain in Ahrefs. This can be done by analyzing your URL in the Site Explorer, and then clicking “competing domains” on the left side. An example:
Find your page-level keyword competitors
Some sites may only compete with you for a single keyword, with one or more pages. Here’s how to identify these:
- Analyse the search term in the Ahrefs Keyword Explorer that you want to rank for, and check which sites are competing with you on page-level. Here’s an example, for the term “led projector”:
Find even more competitors: SEMrush
Analyze one or more keywords in SEMrush with the keyword overview, and list the organic competitors that roll out:
Analyzing your competitors backlink profile
Now I will find the link opportunities that are right for your site:
- Check the backlink profiles of the resulting list of domains
- Filter the backlinks on quality & sort on priority. We don’t want spammy, low-quality links or go after unrealistic/expensive links.
- Find out why and how the quality links were established, and determine how to copy this (and how to go beyond).
Step 2: Content Audit
Link building is ideally a content marketing strategy intended to speed up a natural link earning process.
I will go through your existing content to see if it’s usable for my outreach. This can be anything from articles, lists, news, infographics or video. You might be sitting on a goldmine of content that is just begging to be seen. In that case, my role is to simply dig it out and make it shine, in front of the right eyes.
Which pieces I use, depends on my own method of qualifying them, but I also take into account your opinion on content value. The steps are:
- Based on competitor analysis and the intake questions, list which specific topics and content qualities could be beneficial for outreach in your niche
- Check your content on:
- Content proven to work for competitors or related sites (list in step 1)
- Relevancy to your audience and potential prospects
- Quality (in depth and engaging)
- Publish date
- Traffic amount, quality and behaviour
- Social shares
- Links (backlinks, external and internal links)
- Formatting and graphics (readability and attractiveness, desktop and mobile)
- Does it buzz? (This is a very subjective aspect)
The articles that check most of these boxes and look promising, are added to a link building campaign. Some might need some editing or adding of extra elements, like an infographic.
Step 2a: Content Ideation (if necessary)
When you do not have linkworthy assets at the ready, I will research and pitch ideas that can position your business front and center. These can be articles that are very close to what you’re selling, but they can also be related in another way to your audience. This depends on your niche, and on the prospects I will be outreaching to. These are usually the steps:
- Check the “best pages by backlinks” of your competitors (Ahrefs)
- Check the most linked to and most shared articles for topics related to your audience (Buzzsumo)
- Find similar pages based on the results of the previous steps that have a lot of backlinks (Ahrefs)
- Find additional content ideas with the Content Explorer (Ahrefs)
- Find questions around a keyword (AnswerThePublic, Quora)
- Check for news results in SERP around related topics
- Based on the steps above, come up with 5 content ideas and pitch them to you
- Once we have chosen a topic and angle, have it written up.
Preferably you have a quality in-content creator who delivers fast. If not, you can hire a freelance creator, or I can hire & manage the content creator for you.
Step 3: Create a prospect list
I will compile a list of prospects, usually starting with 200. Which sites these are, depends on:
- Your audience: which blogs and other sites do they follow?
- Your products and/or services: what is the connection of these with the prospect?
- The link tactic: is it guest posts, resources, expert roundup, etc?
- And the type of content I will be outreaching for: commercial, informative, entertaining, newsworthy, video, text?
The targets will all be high-quality businesses and/or influencers, that are relevant to your audience and keywords.
I also check link behavior: who are they linking out to? Are they linking out to shady, spammy sites? Is it too easy for anyone to get a link?
I don’t focus that much on metrics. A lot of great prospects have low metrics, and some blogs will grow over time.
But if you prefer, I can keep in mind some minimum metric values. I can check each prospect candidate in terms of Domain Rating, traffic, and backlinks (Ahrefs), and social media following.
The prospect list can be a homogenous group of similar sites, but it can also be a mix of topical blogs, partners, e-commerce, industry organizations etc.
In some niches, it is necessary to look beyond the obvious and over-targeted prospects and find creative angles for link opportunities.
The result is one or multiple spreadsheets with prospect data, like prospect type, first name, and email. It will also contain login data for the email I will be using for outreach, so you can follow the conversations I have with prospects.
Like all project documents, this list will be yours, so you can use it in the future for more link building campaigns and other collaborations.
My steps are usually as follows:
- List which potential link partners you already have in your network
- List which sites mention your domain/brand
- List qualifying prospects based on the previous competitor analysis
- Search for footprints for guest posts, resource links and skyscrapers. I use a list of Google search operators for this. For instance, a footprint for guest post links about skin care would be: skin care “Write for us”.
- Collect prospects from relevant facebook groups, instagram, forums, influencer networks and other platforms.
- Add all the lists into Pitchbox for email and name capture, clean up and compile into final prospect list. This will be sorted in priority based on link goals.
Step 4: Run outreach
I do not email thousands of people with the same canned message. I believe in approaching only those people who are very interested in your content piece.
Each email will be customised and personalised, with full attention and respect to the person behind the address. This not only increases the chance of “getting the link”, but also opens up the opportunity of approaching that person again for future collaborations.
My steps are:
- Create an outreach template, add 3-5 personalised elements (if unknown niche, test two different templates)
- Email in batches of 25, track open rate, response rate & click rate (if there is a link)
- Tweak the email according to results for the following 25
- Follow-up 1-2 times
- When the response arrives, summarize it in the project sheet (which is available to you 24/7). Negotiate according to the conditions we have set in the plan.
For some “big dog” sites and specific niches, it will be necessary to send out unique emails. These take more time, but the conversion is much higher.
These are some of the types of link I do outreach for:
If a prospect looks at your site and sees value for their audience, the chance of getting a guest post are much higher. This will also be a point I consider in the content audit. My role is to show the value connection in a natural way.
Depending on the niche and the type of people I will be reaching out to, I decide which style of approach to use. In some niches, you can ask for a guest posts quite directly. In others, you might suggest to collaborate. A value proposition will certainly help.
A lot of bloggers get outreached all the time with the same emails, full of flake flattery. But they know by now that hardly any link builder looks at their site, will follow their guidelines or deliver high-quality articles.
I make a point of being genuine and sound different from other link builders, while at the same time be clear and direct about what I want.
I always show that I paid attention, and thought about what I have to offer that can help a blogger and their audience. Someone who has put a lot of effort in building their site and their audience will appreciate the attention to their labor.
If other value propositions do no work for guest posts, a prospect might ask for payment. In that case, it depends on your budget and prospect site quality whether or not I place the post.
The advantage of a sponsored post is that you usually have full freedom to promote your product or brand, which will also generate referral traffic. In some cases, bloggers might be part of an influencer network.
The negotiations will then be done with the account managers, or at a fixed price. This can be beneficial, but I always make sure to avoid link hubs, by checking external links and the other qualifying aspects.
Even if you don’t want to pay for links, I will always keep notes on sites that asked for link fees. That way, if you change your mind later, you can use these prospects as you wish.
Collaborations with related businesses, and existing business relations
Often overlooked, but standing relations can be a great opportunity for solid, and fairly easy links. Your company might have suppliers and other connections in your CRM system. Or you might have personal connections who could give you valuable links.
Professional and Industry organisations
Your business can belong to organisations that regularly link to companies, or have their own directory. In that case, I will add your link to their site. Sometimes it’s also possible to become a member of organisations, for a small fee.
Linkable Assets (resources, viral posts, tools, etc)
A linkable asset is content on your site that I can help create, and do outreach for.
It will be something that’s so valuable to link prospects, they will link out to it.
I can do content ideation for these types of content. Usually, I research topics with Ahrefs’ Content Explorer, filtering on metrics as referring domains, traffic, and social shares.
But we can also look at upcoming trends in industry news, Google Trends, and other sources.
I have a background in Social Media Marketing and am specialized in Pinterest. I have a health-related affiliate site where I have been able to create viral posts, some received up to 59k repins. If it’s relevant to your audience and business, I can research possible assets that will do well on Pinterest.
I’m a member of several facebook blogger groups around certain topics, mainly health, beauty and parenting. These are populated by real bloggers, who collaborate with each other for promotion and support.
They are well organised and supervised, and usually wary of SEO specialists. But because I’m also a blogger, and genuinely interested in these topics, I am allowed in and can use these groups for regular link opportunities.
Resource pages and broken links
With the Google search operators, I can locate popular resource pages around relevant topics. If you have content that is a good fit, I will reach out to the owner. And if you don’t, creating that content is a great option.
In some cases, the resource page can point to content that no longer exists (broken link). I will then suggest to substitute that link with yours.
There are many spammy directories, but there are also directories that only allow real and relevant businesses to have their link on their site. I will research if any are available and what the conditions, and reach out to establish the link. This is a link pillowing tactic, and should not be your main link source.
Though there are similarities within and between niches, a business and its customers can have unique qualities and circumstances. During outreach, I will always be very open to changing my strategies, in case it’s needed.
That is why complete transparency and accountability are so important. Because you always have access to my ongoing project tracker and check my link progress, you know exactly where I am in your link progress.
Pricing & Terms
For a typical campaign I deliver 10 links for 4000 USD from relevant, quality sites. This includes content costs, for instance for guest posts and linkable assets. If it’s a complicated or giant linkable asset, there will be additional costs (discussed beforehand).
Especially with big brand sites, it can take some time for a link to go live. They usually have an editorial schedule that is set a month in advance. The first period for hitting 10 links might also run between 4 to 6 weeks, due to set-up and tweaking the process. But on average, the number of live links will be 10 per month.
Payment is done upfront. The next invoice is sent before the end of the month.
Ideally, I reach out based on high-quality, informational content on your site. If you don’t have any linkable assets, I can help with content ideation.
If you don’t have a content team to create it yourself, I can also manage the content creation.
If you don’t have quality content on your site and don’t want to create new content, we can stick to guest posts, as they function based on the quality of the guest post itself.
For various reasons, I focus on getting links for “free”, in exchange for content or other non-monetary value. But some clients want to pay for links as they are in niches where it’s the only way to get ahead of their competition.
If a prospect site is a healthy site, that should not be a problem. In those cases, the link fee is not included. I will, however, haggle for you.
Have a Question?
Feel free to contact me!