Can we get real for a minute?
Most link-building just sucks.
Whether it’s done by a full-on agency or by buying links on Fiverr.
And that’s a problem, because it is absolutely essential in SEO. No one in the industry disputes this.
It’s also the #1 misused tactic in the industry. From blog networks to link wheels, we’ve seen it all, and quite frankly it’s a little embarrassing to see people still falling for such aged (and obviously spammy) tactics.
But the point of this isn’t to point fingers or virtue signal – we know just as well as anyone that there are plenty of “gray hat” tactics that are still financially viable.
The point of this piece is to describe exactly what we do for each link-building client. If you had the time and resources, you might just be able to do it yourself, re-create this system, and get tons of great quality links.
That said, most of you would rather focus on your business than reaching out to hundreds of sites to get backlinks. If this is the case, we might be a good fit
The first thing you’ll notice about us is that everything is completely transparent.
If you’ve worked with this industry before, it can be really secretive and “secret sauce(s)” abound.
You get to work directly with us all the time (not some junior analyst at a giant marketing firm). Believe me, we’ve been on the other side of the fence– the junior analyst, having to stutter his way through a monthly call because the correct systems weren’t in place and results weren’t achieved.
You’ll love having 100% access to the person who is actually doing the work.
Just to make good on our promise of transparency, we’re going to go through just how our process works, which should answer most of your questions– also to prove why our service kicks the crap out of 94.7% of SEO agencies in the country (that’s not a scientifically calculated number, btw).
Let’s Start at the Beginning
Since we’re still fairly small, we’re limited in the number of clients we can take on. The nice thing though is that if you become a client, you will get our full attention.
Initial Audit / Analysis
The very first step is to plug in your url, do some industry research, and make sure we’ll be able to help you. No point in wasting both our time.
Assuming we get going, we’ll create a personalized gmail account with the business owner’s name.
Reaching out in this way works much better than as a marketing agency (obviously), people are much more apt to help out a business owner.
Access to the Essentials
We’ll get access to your Google Analytics and Search Console accounts, which will be a help me judge how well the keywords and traffic are doing.
Also, we’ll get to know any keywords that are doing decent (positions 7 -35) that have the potential to get you a significant amount of traffic.
Anchor Text Ratio
Using Moz Pro, Majestic, and other tools, we’ll analyze your backlinks and anchor text ratio. Unnatural or spammy looking link profiles are easy to spot, which have a high chance of getting flagged by Search Engines like Google.
If we see anything like that, we’ll create what we call “pillow links” to dilute the anchor text = make it look more natural.
We’ll use basic anchor texts like “click here”, branded, and naked urls.
Audit Content and Onsite SEO
We’ll need to perform an audit of your current site health. If there are some glaring issues, We might just take the first month or two and fix them before we start solely building links.
We’ll let you know if this is the case and share with you the plan of attack.
So we’ll assess what I can work with, the number of social shares the content has, and if you have any distribution channels like a social media following or an email subscriber list.
We’ll try to leverage whatever positive things your business already has and capitalize on it.
We’ll create a list of your best content and look for link targets according to who would be most interested in that particular piece.
However, if you don’t have any extremely good quality content, we can advise you on some ideas that would be relevant to your industry.
Alternatively, you can pay someone to write it or have us just do it (but it’s an extra cost to you, and not a little either).
We literally want to have something on your site that puts the rest of the industry to shame.
Check Spam and Start Input
We’ll make sure you have a “natural” keyword ratio and there are no spammy or unnatural links bringing it down.
We’ll make sure you have a “natural” keyword ratio and there are no spammy or unnatural links bringing it down. We’ll check your metrics, whether its Trust Flow, Citation Flow, or Domain Authority and Page Authority.
We could also uncover anything that isn’t being used to its full potential.
Input the Info- We’ll record the content we’ll be using into my spreadsheet (e’ll share this with you so you can track my work in real time) and which keywords we’ll be targeting for each content piece.
Generate Large Lists of Search Terms using our custom spreadsheets with the keywords we identify from your industry and geographic location.
These search operators will allow us to find just the right targets for the links we’m looking for. For example, if you’re building links in the “dog training” niche, you could use the search term “dog training inurl:resources”.
This will throw up results in Google about dog training, where “resources” is in the URL. Chances are, most of these will be resources about training your dog and will be suitable targets for whatever piece we have.
Our guess is that we won’t have to go through all 132,000 results to find someone to give you a great link .
Select Link Types
Whether its using Guest posts (placing our content directly on their site), Resource pages/Broken links (getting a link on their “Resources” or “Useful Links” page), Local bloggers or various other types that I use, we’ll select the link types that will perform best for your site and become the foundation of our link-building campaign.
For example, in an industry which is perhaps not so interesting and difficult to create content for, we could concentrate mainly on links from local bloggers or businesses that are in the same location, and businesses which are somewhat related to yours, but not in direct competition (e.g. a chiropractic clinic linking to a yoga studio).
Prepare a Plan Moving Forward
So now we’ll know:
-The keywords to target
-The content we can use to get links
-The types of links to aim for
The search engine operators to create a target list.
We call this next process “prospecting”. This is an ongoing process and from day to day, the targets and status of this section of the spreadsheet will change.
We’ll ideally be trying to get a personal contact email of the owner rather than just a general enquiry email address, as it yields a better success rate.
Tired Yet? We’re Just Getting Started.
Now we have to reach out to the targets that we identified to actually get the backlinks.
Getting the Links
We’ll be sending personal emails to each opportunity – depending on the type of link, the content and the website’s niche I will pitch each target accordingly and send a personal email to the person or team in charge of inserting links, using their name when possible.
A side benefit will be possibly getting the content shared on their social media accounts.
Follow up with Leads
One email rarely yields much success. We don’t want to pester people, but We’re just as guilty about forgetting to respond to an email as anyone. A gentle reminder is a great way to increase the chances of an open, a reply, and a live link.
The better content on your site, the more able we are to get links to it.
If it is already performing well, even better for link-building purposes.
People will be clicking on these links because they’re interested in the content and want to know more. This is usually a targeted backlink from whence the buyer come. If your website is set up right, you can make direct profits from this.
Search Engines use these links as a way to raise the authority of your domain. They will see (crawl) the relevant content and links, and reward you with more traffic and usually better rankings. (Which increases your traffic even more)
Quality is the name of the game. There used to be a time when link farms and spam links were really easy to create in order to influence Google and other search engines.
There are still SEO’s that make these tactics work, but in our opinion, it isn’t worth the risk (and it has gotten super complicated!) We tend to get 10-20 links per month using my system, which match or surpass most popular agencies. It all can vary, however, depending on the site content, budget, and the targets that we come up with.
Keeping Track of Everything
Live Spreadsheet – the coolest things about our system is that you can track how things are going anytime you want. This means that we are putting in consistent work, not just scrambling at the end of the month to make it look like we did a lot. This real-time view of your campaign makes it all the more worth it to invest with us. (Here’s an example of a Project Tracker)
Monthly report – On your billing day, we will send you a quick report showing any other useful info, including site stats and traffic.
So How Much Do I Charge?
This depends on what you need done.
We have a chart below which will give you an idea…
It should be really clear at this point what I do (and that we know what the heck we’re talking about).
If you want to read about the specific links that we will be targeting, you can keep reading.
Even if you just have 15 minutes, let’s jump on the phone and talk about growing your business.
If you like what you’re hearing so far and don’t need to read all the technical details…
Or you can watch a retro video of Dan from when he first started.
I may not be able to grow a beard… but I can help you grow your business .
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Here are the links that we’ll be going after.
Usually we won’t use every single link type for every project, but the ones that are relevant and helpful to your industry.
Resource Pages /Broken links
This is an important one, and very under-utilized. You have a resource or in-depth blog post on your site.
We reach out to similar sites and pitch them on using that resource on their page in order to get a link.
These are often high-performing links that are very valuable. We usually pair this tactic with broken link-building, which means that we identify broken links on their site, and pitch them on a link to ours, as long as the content or resource is quality and in a similar niche.
These are pages where content about a specific subject have been compiled and placed on one page.
For example, finding a page titled “The Best Link Building Posts of 2016” and showing the owner an innovative article about Link Building, in order to get a link.
Another dog training example:
Useful when you don’t have a lot of usable content. We reach out to site owners in your industry and create a relevant, high-quality post with a contextual backlink to your site.
These will cost money, as these site owners know the value of having good links on their site.
They will charge for a link placement (and/or a product sample). It is a useful and fast way of getting links however.
We recommend having a small retainer of a few hundred dollars a month that can be used for these types of posts. We’ll let you know if there are quality ones worth pursuing.
These can be great links because they are typically from real sites with real traffic, and the post goes live immediately.
Useful if you have a long standing history of content that is already known. We’ll find any sites which have mentioned you in the past but have removed the link, and we’ll remind them to attribute your content. And we can also find sites which mention your brand/product without linking, and ask for a link.
Bridge Tactic (Location)
Find sites in your local area and ask for mutual link placement.
Bridge Tactic (Niche)
Find sites in related niches (non-competitors) and request a link.
“Real” Public Relations
This has been used forever, but recently it all seem like spam. What I want to do is legit Public Relations.
If something happens that would get journalist’s attention on major news sites, we can ask for a link to our site or add our link to an existing article. Even though they will usually cost money, these are high-quality, geo-centric links that will help your site a ton.
Many companies do charity work as well- this is an opportunity to be featured in local news stories.
There are bloggers in your area that aren’t making money from their online writing. Most of them are willing to help a local business and feature you or at least provide a link to your site.
Local blogs are hyper-relevant due to geography, and usually if they accept it will be a great addition to your link profile.
Student University Blogs
Students often have the opportunity to write articles on the University site. Since they are hosted on .edu domains, they are very authoritative and carry a lot of weight with regards to how Google views them.
We use these purely to diversify the links and dilute your anchor text, allowing your link profile to appear as natural as possible.
Manufacturer Links (ecommerce)
If you sell a product produced by another company, you can often get a link on their site as a distributor/notable affiliate. And if they don’t have a page for this purpose, its usefully not too hard to convince them to create one.
If you have any video content for your brand, we can distribute it across sites such as Youtube or Vimeo and insert a link in the description box.
If there are directories specific to your industry or business type, you should be listed on them.
If you are a member of an organization which is related to your business, you can often get a link on their page. This can also be added to your site as a user “trust symbol”- a logo or brand that the user is familiar with that will make them trust YOUR brand more.
Conferences and other events, could be another opportunity for a link.
Blog and Forum Commenting
Can be used in a spammy way by some SEOs, but done properly, can build links, direct referral traffic and build useful relationships with other content producers. The key here being to post relevant and well thought out replies.
One of the best sites in the world to get a link on. However, the link needs to be extremely relevant and useful.
Reverse engineer competitors
Can be useful to analyze the link profiles of your competitors and emulate what they have. However, we will always concentrate on getting you links which they don’t have.
If you’re in an industry where you can accumulate an interesting set of date or statistics, infographics can be a very visually appealing and compact way of sharing them. Any related sites which like the infographic will often embed the image on their site and link back to you.
An oldie, but back in fashion thanks to Brian Dean!
Simple put, you find some content which has a ton of links, create some content which is better or more up-to-date and approach everyone who linked to the original piece, showing them your better piece.
Broken Link Building (alternate method)
We already discussed this type, but we can use another method. Find content which has a lot of links, but that no longer exists. We’ll then create our own version of the content, approach everyone who linked to the original and show them our piece.
This is very effective, as they will generally be very appreciative that you’ve pointed out a broken link on their site and offered them an alternative link which they can quickly replace it with.