As the digital world has evolved over the years, so has the practice of link building.
If you are asking what is a link building strategy, let’s explain better. What was once a simple link building tactic to improve search engine rankings has transformed into a complex and nuanced strategy that requires a deep understanding of a website’s backlink profile, industry trends, and user behavior. In order to understand how to create a link building strategy from scratch, you need to understand how links work.
To oversimplify it, think of it this way – the easier for the user to link, the less the reward. You can leave a comment in less than a minute with a link on a website. But to publish a guest post, you need to research, write, edit it, format it, and wait for the editorial team of that specific website to publish it. This can sometimes take up to a month. Hence, the more time you invest, the greater the reward.
The history of link building can be traced back to the early days of the internet, where simply having more links pointing to your website would help it rank higher in search engine results. As search engines grew more sophisticated, so did the practice of link building. Here are some important updates in the history of link building:
- Google’s Penguin algorithm update in 2012 cracked down on websites with spammy or low-quality backlinks, forcing SEO practitioners to focus on building high-quality links from reputable sources.
- The rise of content marketing in the mid-2010s led to a shift in the way link building was approached, with a greater emphasis on creating shareable content that would naturally attract links.
- The introduction of Google’s RankBrain in 2015 further emphasized the importance of creating content that is relevant and valuable to users, making it more important than ever to approach link building as part of a larger content strategy.
In today’s digital landscape, link building remains a crucial part of any comprehensive SEO strategy. By building high-quality links from reputable sources, website owners can improve their search engine rankings, drive traffic to their sites, and establish themselves as trusted authority in their industry.
So how to prepare a link building strategy for a successful link building campaign? Just follow these steps to make sure you benefit from the link building.
Good research is the core of any process, the same applies here.
Before you approach any of your clients with offers regarding link building strategy, you need to confirm the industry that the client is in and the topic category it belongs to. Here are some most common topic categories that your client might fit in:
- Business & Tech
- Law & Finance
- Health & Fitness
- Food & Travel
- Fashion & Lifestyle
- Home & Construction
- Family & Kids
- Animals & Pets
- Science & Industrial
- Arts & Entertainment
- Sports & eSports
When you write and publish a guest post, you need to write the whole content of it around a single keyword that we use as anchor text for a link to your client’s website. The more content around that link, the better the “explanation” to search engines of that keyword and that link’s target. To give relevance to that keyword, you need more text around it to describe it. So, to connect that search query with your client’s websites, the content that you use for guest posts must fall in the same topic category.
To elaborate I’m going to show you an example.
We had this client that offers a business data management solution. For us to make links and add relevancy to this client’s website, we needed to publish content that can fit the “business data management solution” keyword as an anchor text for a link leading to that client’s website.
First, we come up to 20 headlines such as:
- How Web Tools Can Improve Your Project Management
- 8 Ideas for Using Data to Improve Workflow Efficiency
- 5 Ways to Use Data to Accelerate Your Business Strategy
Then we research the list of websites (up to 100) that have these topics covered. Usually, these websites have “Business” and “Technology” categories listed on their blog.
The reason why we aim for topic category/client industry fit is to have the most impact from topic relevance. So, if a client falls into the “Business/Technology” category we aim for blogs that have those topics covered in the majority.
If a blog covers anything from “Parenting”, and “Lifestyle” over to “Business”, “Finance” and “Tech”, we are not publishing anything there to avoid “watering down” the impact we get from topic relevance. We call blogs that cover a range of topics “Generalist blogs” and we never publish on them.
Therefore, before you offer link building to our clients, you need to understand the topic category/client industry fit.
Once the client is fully onboarded, we do a full SEO audit to decide about the link building strategy we will use to get the best possible results. For a deeper dive into backlink management, you can check out our comprehensive backlink managing article. This resource provides insights into effective backlink monitoring and optimization techniques.
Setting Goals and Tracking KPIs
The main KPIs for link building strategy are:
- domain rating of the website
- number of keywords and their positions
- organic and referral traffic growth
- number of referring domains/pages
Example of the Goal: Create and index X new backlinks in Y months via articles on websites with over N Domain Rating to increase the Domain Rating of a client’s website and traffic gained from search engines for Z% (Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, etc.)
Deliverable: X backlinks made on websites with over N Domain Rating.
Onboarding The Client Into Your Link Building team
This step varies from company to company as everyone has their way of organization, so some of them are going to use the combination of google sheets with a channel-based messaging platform like Slack. Other businesses might use link building tools such as Buzzstream, or have their customized outreach CRM. The point is to inform your team about the client, get them on a call, and explain to them everything about the client so they know the exact business model and can develop the feeling of which websites work the best for the client before they start prospecting.
Make sure to plan, progress, track and achieve the goals you set for each of our clients. Don’t just say it, show it to your clients by creating a personalized data report of your progress. You can do that by creating spreadsheets you can share with your clients, or even go beyond that and create some visuals. For example, you can use Google Data Studio to do it. Here is an example of how we did it.
That will be helpful if your client can easily filter by date and get a display of all the links we built in that specific period.
This is another idea where your report can show the exact number of links that targeted a specific page, and on the right side, there is a chart showing how many backlinks were built on which domain ratings. This information can help you and your client figure out how many backlinks are made for each page on the website.
With a setup like this, the client can live-track your progress and stay updated.
But there is more, the link-velocity report
The point of this report is to track the competitors, and their monthly link-building investments and even predict the organic traffic of your website in the next three months. Many clients will love to see this link building information, so go wild and create yours.
The screenshot from above shows the current website metrics and the performance month-over-month. The charts below display the total number of links built in the last 12 months by your competitors and your client. It sorts the number of backlinks according to the domain rating scope of the linking websites.
The link velocity report from above helps you to understand what competitors are doing and identify their investments in link building, so you can match or surpass them. You can easily do it on the spreadsheet by pulling out the list of new referring domains that are being made in the current month. Make sure to remove duplicates as you don’t want to count sites where your client already has backlinks made in the past.
This is the advanced traffic prediction forecast that can predict your website’s organic traffic three months in the future. It can become one of the main key performance indicators tracked every month, as you can rely on the numbers and promise your client the exact number of organic traffic he wants to achieve by working with you.
Keep in mind that around 35% of the links get lost in a single year. Do something about that to help your clients keep their links permanently. You can use the Ahrefs API to perform link checks every week and get this percentage below 5%. Ahrefs API can be expensive, so there are other ways to do it. For example, you can create a spreadsheet script that visits the linking article and looks for the anchor texts that you’ve used for backlinks. This way, you ensure that all the clients get lifetime security over what they paid.
I hope you learned something useful today!