Link building is a core part of any successful SEO strategy. Yet – it’s often one of the most misunderstood aspects of search engine optimization.
Many companies think that if they get many other sites to include a hyperlink to their site’s pages – they’ll see SEO results.
Proper link building is NOT about spamming other site’s content with irrelevant links. Instead, it’s about tracking down high-quality, authoritative, relevant links.
For example, one link with a domain authority of 60 is far more potent than six links with a domain authority of 10.
It’s exponentially more powerful – not linear. So if you think you’re going to build authority by spamming tons of links – you won’t get very far.
As you can see – it’s a more complicated issue than it seems at face value. That’s why many companies choose to outsource their link building to an SEO professional. Outsourcing frees up a lot of time for their staff, too.
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How Quality Link Building Strategy Leads to Clients’ Success + Answers to the Top 8 Questions I Get Asked
I’m an expert in the link-building needs for enterprise-level organizations. Thanks to the winning link-building strategy I devised, the following clients saw higher rankings, more SEO traffic, increased sales, and new leads.
1. What Does it Mean to Outsource Linking & What are Link Building Services?
Outsourcing linking is trusting your link building to an SEO agency or consultant. You see – not many companies have the time or the staff necessary to build quality links.
That’s why the link-building profile of so many organizations is so poor. They lack the expertise and understanding to do it properly.
That’s not their fault, either.
Link building and SEO are highly specialized tasks that take years of training and hands-on experience to understand.
That’s why outsourcing link building pays off. It saves time so that staff can focus on other tasks. It saves money too – as it’s often more expensive to hire staff and buy the software to do it yourself.
It will also free you of the stress of worrying about it. If you don’t feel like stressing over a link building project – you don’t have to – just call an SEO professional.
Link building goes far beyond simply getting other sites to insert links on their pages pointing to your pages.
Instead, proper link-building requires a campaign and a strategy. It takes a healthy backlink profile – a strong analysis of competitors – and so much more.
2. Link Building Campaigns: Are They Illegal & Can’t I Just Buy Links?
That’s a very common misconception about link-building campaigns. No, they are not illegal if you do them right. Here’s what you SHOULD do for a link-building campaign:
- Strive to find a few links that have high domain authority. Beyond that – look for links on relevant sites/pages to your niche. Even if a link has high domain authority – it won’t matter if it’s not pertinent to your content.
- Convert brand mentions into links. Are there mentions of your brand out there on the web? If so, you should convert them into backlinks. That will help strengthen your backlink profile – a core part of any link-building campaign.
- Use your targeted keywords as anchor text (sometimes). But don’t overdo this; mix it up and do some naked urls & keywords that aren’t your SEO keyword.
Here’s what you SHOULDN’T do for a link-building campaign:
- Don’t use PBNs. A private blog network (PBN) is a network of websites used for link building. While that may sound beneficial – it’s precisely the opposite. Google considers PBNs as link schemes – and that can penalize your website.
- Avoid the quantity over quality approach. Take a look at your strategy. Does it focus on going after 100s or 1,000s of links? If so – then you’re doing more harm than good. Remember – it’s all about quality over quantity. A good rule of thumb is to aim for a handful of quality links from other sites to 1 of your pages.
- Don’t use links with high domain authority but low SEO traffic. You shouldn’t use a link if it gets little to no SEO traffic. That’s true even if it has a stellar domain authority. Avoid these like the plague; Google is indicating this is not a good sign.
Here’s a glimpse at which practices Google considers link schemes.
Remember – you should always read between the lines on anything Google says. More nuance will always be involved than what you see at face value.
Google frowns upon buying links – and they often rarely work. Not only that, but they often do direct harm to your website. Paid links are NOT quality backlinks – so steer clear.
What are Some Examples of Quality Link Building Strategies?
There are hundreds of link-building strategies out there. Yet, just like link building itself, it’s about quality over quantity. Creating a solid link profile is all about spreading the love – or not putting all your eggs in one basket. If you pick up some links from 1 of the strategies below, don’t stop there. Keep diversifying…
Perfecting a few reliable strategies will do more for you than trying to use them all. Here’s a look at eight of my favorite link-building strategies that have worked for me the most.
- Skyscraper: My top recommended link-building technique is the skyscraper. What’s that? It’s a way of visualizing the top links on Google. The top 10 spots (1st page of Google) is the tallest skyscraper in your field.
First, make sure those top 10 ranking pages have a strong backlink profile. Next, what you want to do is review their content – outdo it (provide more value, add video, create more insights) and then get some of the backlinking sites to link to your page (in addition to the current link, don’t ask to replace the existing one). Since your content is superior – they’ll likely add you instead.
- Internal links: Do you link internally to your other product pages and blog posts? You should because it’s a powerful way to transfer the authority on existing pages to others. You also get the chance to funnel the traffic internally (and improve the user experience in the process). This is also the easiest link-building technique as you already have everything you need.
- Scholarship (.edu): Another option is to acquire links from educational organizations like universities. You see – Google has a highly favorable view of these websites (reliable, trustworthy, and hard to get). That’s why their links are so desirable.
Here’s a strategy for obtaining .edu links – set up a page on your website promoting a scholarship related to your field. Build a list of universities that ONLY have an existing page for listing/linking to outside scholarships, then reach out to them and ask if they would list/link your scholarship page there.
- Local SEO (citation/directories): If you have locations in various cities, and you want to be found for “car rental Green Bay” (or something like that), you should also try to incorporate some local links into the mix. You can sponsor a local business, get links from directories, and get links from your local chamber of commerce or convention/visitors bureau. Remember – your goal is always related to acquiring more links to your local landing page(s).
- Guest post: If you’ve read any type of blog before – you’ve likely seen a guest author writing a post on a site that’s not their own. These are common for a couple of reasons. For one, it adds variety to the blog and gives readers insights from an outside professional. For two – it’s a fantastic link-building strategy.
- Broken links: Beyond seeking out new links – it’s crucial to keep up with maintenance as well. You should periodically check for links from other sites to competitor sites that no longer work. Then you can pitch them on why they should replace the broken link (bad user experience) and replace it with your resource.
- Infographic: Creating detailed infographics is a great idea for any website. It will yield many benefits – including generating quality backlinks. Infographics are extremely easy for users to digest – and they’re very easy to share. If you create an informative, relevant infographic, you can pitch them to media sites (high quality links) and get some big, fat, juicy backlinks.
- Unlinked brand mentions: This involves scouring through other people’s sites that mention your brand name (or personal name) but have no link. Search for your company name, flagship products, and employee names. If you find a desirable unlinked brand mention – send an outreach email politely asking for a link. It’s crucial to be a bit picky here, only do outreach if the link will add significant value (think quality) to your profile.
4. What Does Link Building Empirically Improve?
Why should you even engage in link building? You should since it gives your SEO a jumpstart boost.
As with anything related to SEO results – it’s more of a correlation than causation. Yet, many consultants (such as myself) have run tons of experiments that confirm these benefits.
- Higher SEO rankings: A robust link profile will increase your domain authority (and specifically grow traffic to those pages that have more quality links). These links add a lot of credibility to your website in the eyes of Google. The results? Higher SEO rankings that increase with continued effort.
- More SEO traffic: Higher rankings generally means an overall increase to your traffic. If you’ve written + designed your page for a good UX, that will lead to more conversions, sales, and customers.
- More referral traffic: More backlinks means more traffic will visit your site from other sites. That’s a huge plus – because they’ve already shown interest in what you do by clicking on the link. That gets your content in front of new people while earning a visit from a trusted domain.
5. What Does Your Link Building Process Look Like?
While everyone is different, my backlink strategies start with highly targeted email outreach. I’ve had a significant amount of success with this tactic – but it all comes down to the preparation and consistent execution. This strategy isn’t one that you can rush.
The formula goes like this:
High quality link targets + improved email deliverability + better email response rate (via more engaging copywriting) = more quality links.
That involves a lot of in-depth preparation that takes a bit of time. It’s about slowing down now so you can speed up later.
Also – the goal is only to build a handful of quality links for each targeted page. Want to know the fundamental principle of link building? Again, it’s about quality over quantity every time.
Here’s a breakdown of my link-building process.
- Kickoff meeting. Here, we get the chance to lay everything out for the road ahead. I’ll go over the steps of my strategy with you, and you’ll get the chance to ask questions/give your input.
- Other discovery as needed (meetings, emails, etc.). This phase is about solidifying the rest of the strategy so we can move forward. This is your chance to ask any final questions you may have.
- Review client articles and identify link targets. I take a deep dive into the articles the client wants me to focus on. I also identify competitor pages that have an appropriate number of link targets. Then I make my recommendations based on the best opportunities.
- Recommend additional “striking distance” articles. If the client’s articles don’t yield enough outreach targets – I’ll go for ‘striking distance’ articles. These are existing articles that are within ‘striking distance’ of much more SEO traffic. That means with a few tweaks and a few more links – you’re able to ‘strike’ and capitalize on the link.
- Prioritize articles that yield the quickest results. I’m always looking to secure ‘quick wins’ for my clients. That’s why I always prioritize link targets that will see the fastest results. That way, we see some more immediate results while prepping our long-term strategy.
- Set up an email for email@example.com.
a. Add user profile image thumbnail to email account
b. Give you instructions to set up authentication steps (SPF, DMARC, & DKIM) with your domain registrar (and validate those) to ensure solid email deliverability of our outreach campaigns instead of landing too many in spam/junk folders.
- Set up an ongoing automated email warming service (also improves email deliverability). Since your email address is brand-new, it needs a little warming up. An automated warming service will help you increase your email sending limit. It will also establish the reputation of your new email account.
- Set up personalized link tracking subdomain (clear to ESPs so we don’t trip spam filters). The last thing that you want is for your outreach emails to wind up in a spam folder. To prevent this issue – I set up a link-tracking subdomain for the email account.
- Set up a domain on https://postmaster.google.com/ to track spam rates. To keep an eye on emails that do get flagged as spam, I set up a Postmaster account to track them.
- Sign up for a number of email newsletters.Taking this step will mix up your inbound emails. It’s crucial to try to make the account look as real as possible and not just for sending outreach emails.
- Run an ongoing automated email warming service. In order to continue building the new email sending reputation, I employ a warming service and increase the email sending limit over time.
- Use the Skyscraper technique. Now it’s time to use the skyscraper technique mentioned earlier. I will use the primary keyword to find relevant competitor articles. I’ll outdo their content, build a list of the sites that link to them, and then attempt to get a few of their backlinks.
- Build link prospect list. I will create a robust email list of these most likely prospects for obtaining links and backlinks (mentioned in skyscraper technique).
- Run a verification tool to remove emails likely to bounce. A handy verification tool helps us remove emails that will likely bounce (and show ESPs that we are sending to old/undeliverable emails, which is not good). That will help stay out of the spam folder.
- Run a cold email outreach series. Now that the email address has a solid reputation – it’s time to start sending some cold outreach emails. These are the emails asking for links for unlinked mentions, asking for skyscraper links, and more. Remember – email is your most powerful tool for link building.
- Manual email follow-up. Once people respond to an automated email, I send a manual follow-up (or several) to ensure we get the link.
- Documenting links built (spreadsheet). Staying organized is crucial here. That’s why I always create a spreadsheet containing all the links that I built through outreach.
- Following up on promised links. The final step is to hold promised links to their word. So many times, people promise a link and just forget to place it. I will visit each site to make sure that they added the links they said they would.
6. Should you Outsource to a Link Building Agency or Consultant?
You’ll need to decide if you want to outsource your link building to an agency or a consultant. There are pros and cons to each – so it’s imperative to know what will fit your needs.
Here’s a quick look at the advantages and disadvantages of both.
SEO Consultant: A consultant is an expert advisor that will guide your team through a link-building strategy (like me). Their primarily role is to act as an advisor for your SEO techniques and strategies.
- Pros: A successful consultant is a great addition to have and can add tremendous value to your operation. You have direct and immediate access to them (not through an account manager). They can spin up fast to help you gain new quality links without having to make significant changes to your operation.
- Cons: There may be a limit to how much they can scale, but with good systems and efficient processes, it is possible to get larger campaigns. So ask them about their capacity if you have a larger need.
Link-Building Agency: A link-building agency is an entire team of professionals that will not only recommend strategies – but also implement them for you.
- Pros: The agency usually has a large team to work on your link building campaigns.
- Cons: Your work may get handed off to a junior level person with little experience, your timeline may get pushed back when other clients become a priority, or you may get delayed and/or have miscommunication going through a gatekeeper (account manager) rather than the person doing the work.
7. How Much Do Link Building Campaigns Cost?
Generally, the cost for quality link building is thousands per month depending on the number of links you need. Pricing depends on the size, scale, and timeline involved. If you only have a few pages, the cost will be less than if you have dozens or even hundreds of pages.
Plus, it’s important not to simply focus on the expense, but how much more revenue could it generate by building quality links. It’s important to focus on the outcome as well as the cost of execution.
8. What Link Building Software Tools Do You Use?
There are some core tools of the trade for link building. I tend to rely heavily on 6 different software tools in my efforts.
Since I focus on email outreach for link building, I use many tools related to emails. Here are the links to my preferred software tools.
10 Convincing Benefits to Outsourcing Your Link Building Efforts
Now that you’re familiar with what goes into link building, why should you bother? Is it really worth going to the trouble to outsource link building?
It’s worth it – mainly because of all there is to know + execute on. Most companies simply aren’t equipped to do link building in house properly. It takes a lot of experience to do it well at scale and consistently.
That’s why it’s worth outsourcing it to professionals that know what they’re doing. You’ll see far more benefits as a result, such as these 10 listed here.
1. What You’re Currently Doing Isn’t Working
If you’re even reading this article, the chances are high that your current link building efforts are failing. If you don’t succeed with your link building, leave it to the professionals.
A trusted consultant will know what to do to achieve tangible results. If you’re putting your staff up to link building and aren’t sure what to do – you’re wasting time and money.
2. Faster Link Building
While nothing is truly fast in SEO, a consultant knows how to hit the ground running. Beyond that, we can achieve quick(er) wins for your business.
These are minor tweaks you can make to see results within a few months, but the outsized benefits come from the long haul of employing link building consistently over time. If you’ve yet to see any fruits from your own efforts – it’s time to outsource.
3. Cheap(er) High Quality Links
If you’re using an inexperienced crew – achieving one high-quality link will likely cost you hundreds or thousands of $. And since time is money, yu=ou don’t want to pay for months of clueless meandering. For this reason, hiring a consultant is an excellent way to get high-quality links and get your money’s worth.
4. Consistent & Predictable
Working with inexperienced link builders is like finding a needle in a haystack. They may stumble upon a nut every once and a while – but it’s few and far between if ever. And more often than not, they are building a bunch of low quality, spammy links that will hurt your SEO more than help.
Inconsistency is terrible for SEO, so it’s time to stop wasting your money. By hiring a professional, you’ll enjoy consistency and predictable results. That will help you plan your budget for link building accordingly.
5. An Experienced Expert is Needed
An experienced expert will have worked across multiple industries. As such, they’ll have a variety of different tactics for each scenario. Speaking from my own experience – I’ve worked with all sorts of companies across all industries. I’ve done SEO for e-commerce, manufacturing, higher education, and so much more.
Thanks to that experience, I know what to do in any given situation. That will speed things up and lead to higher quality results.
6. Avoiding Spammy Links in Favor of High Quality Ones
Unless you’ve done this successfully for a while, it’s hard to know the difference between spammy links and high-quality ones. You want to avoid spam links like mad – they will just waste your time + money.
You need a professional that knows how to determine the quality of a link. If it has an abysmal domain authority, low SEO traffic, or if their own link building is rising but their SEO traffic is stagnant – you don’t want any part of it.
7. Educating Your Internal Team During Consulting Engagement
A savvy consultant will do more than provide strategies. Instead – they’ll actively engage and educate your staff. Consulting engagement sessions are highly beneficial for your company. It’s where your entire team learns the ins and outs of link building while I’m executing my process.
The more people you have in the know at your company about link building – the better. That helps you educate other company leaders as to the importance of consistency, quality and it takes time to see results.
8. Builds Relationships with Sites in Your Industry/Topic
As you can tell by my detailed strategy above – a consultant will build relationships on your behalf. In the case of my process – it will help build relationships with other sites within your niche.
The results? You’ll earn more awareness, links, backlinks, and traffic to your site. It pays to have a pro consultant on your side who knows how to mingle with other businesses.
9. Lower Your Expectations & Commit to Long-Term
There are no shortcuts in SEO. If you want to do things right – then you’ll need to get your expectations in check. No matter what a guru told you during a YouTube ad – proper link building and SEO takes time. It’s not something that you’ll be able to achieve in a week or two.
Especially when it comes to link building, slow and steady always wins the race. You’ll start to see actual results when you commit to the long-term game plan.
10. You Want to Reduce Risk (Increasing Odds in Your Favor)
Lastly, hiring a consultant will help reduce your risk. Using an inexperienced team is a risky endeavor. The inconsistent results are a gamble – and you’ll likely end up losing money or worse harming your site.
To tip the odds in your favor – do the smart thing and hire an experienced consultant who will get you business results fast(er). You’ll pay more short-term but save a lot of money long-term; then you’ll grow leads and earn more revenue due to the increased traffic, leads, and sales.
6 Tips When Outsourcing Your Link Building Process
Now that you’re sold on why you should outsource link building – it’s time to start doing it. To help you out along the way, I’ve prepared six helpful tips to guide you down the right path.
1. Do Your Homework
If you’ve learned anything so far – it should be to do your due diligence. You should never spend money on anything that you haven’t fully vetted. That’s why you need to do your homework related to building links.
Read over case studies, testimonials, and anything else you can find. For each consultant – make a value/cost comparison on it to determine if it’s worth the effort to hire them.
2. Avoid “Black Hat” SEO (Spammy Links)
Much like the old American Hollywood westerns – there’s white hat and black hat SEO. Black hat SEO refers to shady or villainous link-building practices. These are spammy links that will tank your reputation and domain authority.
- Overpromising. If they claim the world about their links – they’re probably not being truthful.
- Too cheap to be true. You always get what you pay for when it comes to links. If it seems too cheap to be true, it’s not worth your time.
Set Expectations (Or Better Yet, the Consultant Should Set Them)
It’s not a good idea to go into anything blind. It helps both parties when you have realistic expectations of what you are going to get out of link building.
Better yet – ask your consultant about their expectations. They will know what’s realistic and what isn’t, which will prevent you from getting your hopes up for something false.
4. Don’t Randomly Build Links: Have a Strategy
Strategies are vital for link building. Without a roadmap – you won’t know where you’re going or what to expect.
Instead of blindly throwing darts at the board – let your consultant devise a strategy. That way, you’ll have some rhyme to your reason.
5. Ignore What They Say & See What They’ve Done
When looking for a consultant, I recommend doing what I tell my daughter when dating. Ignore what they say, and look at what they’ve done (or are doing now).
Actions will always speak louder than words – and link building is no different. A consultant can promise the world, but can they deliver? Check out their testimonials and reviews to see if their reputation holds up to their claims.
Establish a Reasonable Budget
Lastly, you need to know how much you’re willing to spend. Give this some thought beforehand to avoid over or under-spending. You want to see actual results, but you also don’t want to waste your time.
Determine how many links you need and how many pages you have. That will help you devise a realistic budget. Also, reach out to various consultants for an understanding of their link building service, and don’t always sign on with the cheapest.
Building Links to Grow Your Organic Traffic Can be “Done for You”
By now – you should realize the value of outsourcing link building. It’s a highly specialized area of SEO that takes a lot of know-how to do correctly.
It’s not a good idea to assign your marketing or IT staff to do it in-house (unless they have done it before successfully). If you want actual results from link-building – you need to hire a seasoned consultant like me. I offer robust link-building services. I will evaluate your goals, budget, and situation to determine which tactics are best for you.
From there – we’ll work together to build a detailed long-term strategy with some quick wins peppered in for good measure. If that sounds good to you – reach out to me so we can chat.