Links are vital for search engine optimization (SEO). Google looks at each link leading back to your content from a high-quality website as a vote of confidence. When your site gets quality backlinks, you can rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs). Backlinks also help introduce your content and expertise to a new and broader audience.
However, not all links can give you these benefits. For example, Google doesn’t give weight to links in comments and forums because it sees them as artificial. You should also steer clear of suspicious-looking sites that offer backlinks in exchange for payment. Both types of links can hurt your site’s search rankings.
To improve SEO, you should strive for good, natural links from high-quality websites. How can you get those? With a combination of quality content and link building. One of the best ways to achieve that balance is to pitch and write high-quality guest posts for other sites in your niche.
Why Many Link Building Campaigns Don’t Succeed?
While link building was very easy back in the early days of the internet, Google has made it a lot more difficult over the years. If your site isn’t doing well in search rankings, you might not be doing your link-building campaigns the right way.
Here are some reasons your attempts to build backlinks aren’t very effective:
1. Your links are from irrelevant websites.
Google looks at website relevance to determine whether a backlink really belongs where it is. For example, if you run a travel website, linking back from a medical website probably won’t do much for your search ranking, unless your guest content is about medical tourism.
2. You don’t have enough referring domains.
It doesn’t matter if you get ten links from just one website. The number of referring domains (or unique websites linking to you) plays a larger role in your search performance.
3. You have slow link velocity.
Link velocity is the speed at which you’re gaining links. If you’re losing backlinks faster than you’re acquiring them, Google might see this as people losing trust in your content. If you’re getting links too quickly, Google might think you’re doing something you’re not supposed to. In other words, aim for the middle ground.
4. Your competitors have better links.
If your competitor has a better ranking than you do, it might be because they have better backlinks. It always pays to research which websites link to your competitors. Try to get those sites to link back to you, too.
Sometimes, the reason you’re not reaping the benefits of your link building efforts is beyond your control. For example, you may have lost backlinks along the way because some webmasters deleted them, or maybe the website closed down for good. Fortunately, you can use a tool like Ahrefs to discover which backlinks went missing.
Aside from backlinking, you need to pay attention to other SEO factors. Although links are one of the most important ranking factors, Google uses over 200 ranking factors, so don’t just focus on building links. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly and loads quickly, and don’t forget the all-important on-page SEO.
Is Link Building Still Effective?
Link building works if you do it the right way. Studies have shown a connection between the number of referring domains and a website’s ranking on Google. Here’s a great graph from Backlinko that illustrates this point:
With link building, you can also establish yourself as an authority in your niche. That happens when you use guest posting to generate those backlinks. When people see your name on high-quality articles related to your industry across different websites, they automatically perceive you as an expert they can rely on for quality, fact-based content. Link building also enables you to get referral traffic, which can translate to paying customers.
In other words, when you build links, you don’t just keep your website search-friendly. You reap other benefits for your brand, too.
Scaling Up Your Link Building: The 6-Step Approach
When we say link building works, it doesn’t mean you can build ten backlinks to your content and then consider your job finished. Link building is a continuous process, which means you will probably need help at some point. You can hire a team (either employees or freelancers) to help you with writing content, discovering new target sites, performing outreach, or coming up with content topics.
Here are six steps to help you scale your link building to stay ahead of your competitors.
1. Look for Sites for Your Guest Posts
Before we show you how to find sites, you have to know some of the standard website metrics you should check to determine whether a site is worth your time. These are:
– Domain Authority/Domain Rating:
Moz’s Domain Authority and Ahrefs’ Domain Rating refer to how likely a website will rank on search engine results pages. A website receives a score from 0 to 100. The higher the score, the greater the page’s ability to rank.
– Trust flow:
The website trust flow is the proportion of good backlinks to “spammy” links. A website can score from 0 to 100, based on Majestic’s ranking metric. According to Monitorbacklinks, a trust flow score of 50 and higher is considered excellent.
If most of your backlinks come from websites that are within your niche, you’re likely to rank higher than sites that have links from irrelevant sites.
– Website traffic:
The more traffic that a website has, the better. This means more people will get to see your content and click your links.
Now that we know the metrics to track, here are the parameters I look for when I reach out to websites for link building opportunities:
- A DR/DA of 50+
- Site traffic of over 5000 per month
- Trust flow of 18+
You can create your own parameters, but the ones above should be a good starting point. Once you have a set of parameters, make a list of websites that are relevant to your niche. Use a premium SEO tool to analyze each site’s backlink profile.
Export the list of referring domains and remove from the list those that don’t fit your parameters. Also remove any that are obviously not suitable for link building, such as Facebook and Wikipedia. Voila! That’s your list of websites for outreach.
2. Reach Out to People in Charge of Site Content
Now it’s time to look for the people in charge of each website’s blog.
Go to each site on your list and see if they have a team directory there. Sometimes a quick Google search can help you get the names of the people you will need to contact if you want to build links. Once you have the names you need, you can use an email finder to look for their email addresses. There are lots of email finders on the market.
LinkedIn is also an excellent platform for outreach. Just type the site details into the search field. Let’s assume I sell HR software, and I’m looking for the contact details of the person in charge of the BambooHR site. Here’s what I get when I input those site details:
Next, I would check the LinkedIn members who are employees of that company. To do that, go to “People”, then search for titles like “editor” or “content manager”. While some LinkedIn users indicate their email addresses in their profiles, you can always use an email finder if they do not.
Next, write your outreach email. You can use a template, but make sure you still personalize each email by using the recipient’s name and the name of the website you’re targeting. Here’s a sample template you can use:
I hope all is well with you. My name is [YOUR NAME] and I’m the [JOB TITLE] for [YOUR WEBSITE NAME]. I’m interested in writing a guest post for your website, [WEBSITE NAME].
If you’re open to receiving guest posts, I’d love to pitch you a few ideas. What would be the best way to do this?
All the best,
P.S. I can assure you of the quality of my work. You can check out some of my articles at [BIG SITE] and [BIG SITE].
You can modify this to your liking. Once it’s ready, you can start sending your outreach emails. Remember that not everyone will respond, and it’s fine to send a polite follow-up after a week or so. If you still don’t hear back, assume it’s a no and move on.
Outreach is a never-ending process. If it gets overwhelming or repetitive, hire people to help you.
If you stop link building for too long, your website SEO will most likely suffer, and you will end up lagging behind your competitors. Hiring people to help you means there will always be time to prioritize link building.
3. Look for Keywords to Rank For
Let’s imagine a site owner or editor replies and tells you they’d be happy to hear your proposed topics. Now you need to do your research to find suitable topics to pitch. That research includes looking for the right keywords.
Since your goal is to get the website editor to approve your suggested topics, you must target keywords that are relevant to that website and that it is not targeting already. These can be keywords that people search for, but that website doesn’t rank for, or keywords that its competitors rank for. There are many tools you can use for this.
For example, Keyword Planner can help you see the keywords the target website doesn’t rank for, while Ahrefs can help you check the keywords for which your target website’s competitors are ranking.
Keywords Everywhere is another useful tool that will give you alternate keyword suggestions when you perform Google searches. You can cross-reference these keyword suggestions with your other findings to determine the keywords you can target.
4. Come Up With Great Guest Post Ideas
Once you have your list of keywords to rank for, you need to come up with your guest post ideas based on them.
Start by doing a quick search of the topics related to those keywords that the target site has already covered. Just use the search string “Site:website.com keyword”. Here’s an example:
Based on what you see, come up with topics aligned with that keyword and which the target site has not covered. You can use a tool like Buzzsumo to check if the topics you come up with enjoy the significant social engagement. Come up with a list of at least three proposed guest post topics, then pitch them to the site editor.
5. Write Excellent Guest Articles
Congratulations! A website editor has approved one of your proposed topics. Now, it’s time to write. A mediocre or sloppy article won’t cut it. While the website editor-approved your proposed guest post idea, they still have the option of rejecting your piece if it doesn’t hit their editorial standards. When that happens, everything you’ve done so far will have been in vain.
Besides, your reputation is on the line, too. If you submit a low-quality piece filled with grammatical mistakes, you will just annoy the website editor and get yourself blacklisted. If that editor tells others in the industry about your mediocre output, you’ll have difficulty getting another guest post opportunity.
Make sure you put your best foot forward. Create an outline of what you plan to write and do your research. If the website has a set of contributor guidelines, follow it religiously. Finally, run your content through a grammar and spelling checker.
You want to produce a high-quality article that provides value to that website’s readers. In return, the website editor will give you the backlinks you need, along with the possibility of writing for that site again in the future.
6. Scale Up Your Guest Posting
As we’ve mentioned, link building is an ongoing strategy that should never end. That’s why you will probably need to hire other people to help you once you get your guest post-operation going.
Hire writers who will create quality content for you. Hire the best writer you can afford, and you can expect quality output. You can also hire people to do email outreach or keyword research, or to review and edit the content before submitting it to editors.
When you find the right people and design a system that works, your link building will go smoothly and you’ll be able to enjoy all the benefits of those high-quality backlinks.
If you want to succeed in the online business world, link building should be part of your SEO strategy. Studies have shown a direct link between the number of quality referring domains and a website’s Google ranking. And then there are the other benefits you can get from link building: increased brand authority, more referral traffic, and recognition as an expert in your industry.
But link building isn’t a one-and-done strategy. You need to scale your link building and target high-authority sites if you want to stay ahead of your competition.
With effort, strategy, quality content, and the right people to support you, you’ll reap those link-building benefits, and your company will be on its way to success.