How to Execute a Link Building Strategy

How to Execute a Link Building Strategy

Link building is binary; a game of 1’s and 0’s. Either you acquire a link, or you don’t. Success is dependent on creating a great strategy, and then executing. If a link development team has already created a well-rounded strategy, they should already know:

  • The competition and what they’re doing well
  • What content is coveted in the industry
  • How their team will create content
  • What success looks like for the campaign
  • Rollout plan for a 12-month strategy

What do you need for a link building strategy to work?

People

Hiring the right people might be the most important ingredient for success. Strategies are great, but without solid, reliable people to help with the execution, there won’t be much progress. When hiring members of a link development team, find people with a sales-first mentality.

One question that we’ll ask during interviews, “Talk about a time that you’ve experienced rejection, and how have you overcome that challenge?” We ask because link development naturally comes with a ton of rejection – if they can’t take rejection in stride, it’s probably not the best position for them.

Our link development team has grown to love rejection because they know, at the very least, a person read their email and the content moved them enough to take the time to craft a response. It also tells them that, based on their average acquisition rate, they’re getting one email closer to a coveted backlink.

However, there is a lot more that goes into successful link development than just a plan. An established process, diversity of tactics, stellar content (and a badass content team), measurement and most importantly, PEOPLE are critical for the successful execution of a campaign.

Read more on writing effective email outreach to build links. Start here!

We’re often asked, “What does your team’s average production look like?”

While every team and industry is different, this is what our link development team produced across all of our clients for the first half of 2018:

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And, while this level of production results from years of experience, this is what quality and production should look like if the right people are in place.

Process

Establish a process at the start. Having a strong process helps with important areas such as client onboarding, reporting and content creation.

At Vertical Measures, we’ve spent the past two years working on our processes, constantly revisiting our department process maps to uncover additional efficiencies. Even though, at this point, we’ve become a well-oiled machine (solving over 500 individual process issues), one of our values will always remain #ImproveEachDay.

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VM Process-Mapping Session

Link building is all about being efficient. If there aren’t solid processes in place, many of these opportunities will never be found. Revisit processes after every campaign to understand what could have been done better. We call these, “retrospective meetings” and are a great opportunity for our departments to get together and find areas to improve.

Tactics

Pivoting to a wide array of tactics is a large component to our, “secret sauce”. Our team doesn’t flinch when a single tactic isn’t effective because we’re armed an entire arsenal of resources to acquire links. And that’s not being braggadocios, it’s simply what any link building team needs to be successful.

Check out our comprehensive list of link building tools to improve your campaigns today!

Teams should establish what tactics work best for their industry. Are they working for a large brand? If so, craft a strategy around unlinked brand mentions. Are they a part of a small B2B business? Then they should create valuable, linkable assets that might cross over into other relevant industries to widen the prospective audience.

There are three main reasons why a link strategy is important for the long-term success of your link development campaign:

  1. It helps with understanding what existing linkable assets we can leverage to build links.
  2. It helps with understanding how the competition is earning links.
  3. It helps with understanding what content we can create to build links in the future.

Don’t – I repeat – do not start a link development campaign without a strategic vision. While link development seems like a simple concept, there’s so much that goes into the process that doesn’t meet the eye.

Content

A well-done strategy should identify pieces of content that have the best opportunity to place organic backlinks. It should also identify gaps in your content library and spark ideas on new content to create.

When brainstorming this new content, for building links or otherwise, it’s critical to consider the customer journey. Your content should always be useful for your audience and provide the information that solves their challenge or answers questions.

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Do you know what makes a piece of content a linkable asset? Learn more here!

Don’t create a copycat piece of content that the competition has already created, or on a similar topic that we have created in the past. Determine if your content team can make an existing piece ten times better than the competition. If they can’t, webmasters will be less likely to link to it if it doesn’t outperform the existing piece they have on their site. Learn more about 10x content and how it can impact your website’s organic performance.

Measurement

Our team measures a wide array of KPIs, including quality metrics, outreach and link success rates, as well as industry averages. This helps us understand how the campaign is really going.

Decide what the most important KPIs are to track. Is it:

  • Organic traffic growth?
  • Backlink growth?
  • Domain Authority (DA) improvement?
  • Keyword footprint growth?
  • Page 1 keyword growth?
  • All the above?

Pulling baseline metrics at the start of the engagement is an important part continuous improvement. Measurement is also pivotal when creating useful case studies. These are great to have, especially for showing a growing team past examples of what success looks like from start to finish.

Execution

So, this all sounds great in theory, but does it work?

Yes…yes it does.

And to prove that, here is an example start to finish for a client of ours that is in the medical industry:

25% of Site Traffic From One Link

People:

One of the most talented link developers that I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with is Theresa Frost. Theresa has been focused on SEO and Link Development for 3 years at Vertical Measures and besides being very driven, she is extremely detail oriented and is always looking to drive the best results for all of the clients she is working with.

Process:

Part of our process here at Vertical Measures is setting up meetings where all departments have a chance to meet. During these meeting, it was decided that with the upcoming solar eclipse, the client could benefit by producing a piece on protecting eyes during the event. Theresa and team decided how the content should look, as well as what information should be provided to the visitor that would benefit them the most.

Content:

The content team put together a killer piece of content that outlined the safest way to view the solar eclipse. This is a great (evergreen) piece for our client to produce because it encourages their own clients to be proactive by protecting their eyes, instead of opting for surgical procedures later down the line. This piece helps gain trust with their customers and when the time comes when someone stares directly into the sun and burns out their corneas, they’ll already have our client top of mind.

Tactics:

Once the piece of content was created, Theresa used her years of knowledge to scour the internet for relevant opportunities. Websites that would benefit by featuring the new piece of content to their visitors. Using one of her go-to tactics, Theresa uncovered the perfect opportunity with an authoritative astronomical association. They had a great resource on the solar eclipse and Theresa saw the perfect opportunity to reach out on the page. The association had some minor feedback on the piece, and after our content team made some minor edits, they added it to the page!

Measurement:

This is where this story really gets interesting. Most people would have been happy with reporting the link to the client and moving on. Not our agency. We tracked this piece over the next few weeks and months and noticed that something astonishing happened.

Right around the time of the actual eclipse, our client’s website saw a surge of referral traffic coming from the link Theresa placed on the astronomical organization’s page. In fact, during this period, over 25% of all the site’s traffic was coming from this one link. That’s a ton of traffic coming from a site that sees tens of thousands of visitors every month. And while I always like to remind clients that referral traffic is just an added benefit, this is the type of success that can be realized if everything is executed properly. This page is now ranking for over 20 page 1 keywords and has no doubt assisted with conversions to our client’s website.

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Billy Adams
billya@verticalmeasures.com

Billy Adams started his career in 2011 working for a marketing agency in Boston, MA where he worked closely with clients such as Toyota, Verizon and UMASS Football. Since joining the Vertical Measures team in 2015, Billy has moved from a Link Development Specialist to SEO Specialist and now heads up the entire Link Development side of the business.