Link Building Strategy Guide

The Most Complete Guide to Backlinking Strategy for 2019

By Ajay Paghdal

Founder of OutreachMama and Linkio
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Most marketers suck at effective link building.

There… I said it.

I don’t mean that webmasters, SEOs, and digital entrepreneurs aren’t good at building links. Many of them are.

Many people who have been in the game for more than a year or two know how to get external links through guest posting, resource pages, and podcast interviews.

What I mean is that very few of them approach link building with any sort of intentional strategy.

They’re simply going through different tactics and building backlinks for the sake of building backlinks.

Newsflash… Strategy and tactics are both how you will achieve your goals and objectives.

Your goal as a digital marketer is not to get links.

It’s to position your website in such a way that Google views it as a trusted authority in your industry and brings you more search engine visibility and organic traffic… Which of course, leads to more money and success for you.

And for that, you need a long-term strategy. If you don’t set a link building strategy before using tactics, you have no way of intelligently changing course when you’re not meeting your objectives.

At that point it becomes “tactical roulette”, where you continually chamber a new backlink tactic and pull the trigger in hopes that something hits the target. Worse yet, you’ll give up on it all together. Sooner or later, you’re looking at a failed SEO strategy, and maybe even a failed business. In this guide, I’m going to give you a dead simple way to devise the right link building strategy for your SEO campaign.

I’m going to reveal your bulletproof roadmap to leverage link building the way it was intended to be.

Specifically, I’m going to show you how to use link building to:

  • Get more visibility on your most important pages and..
  • Create long term “evergreen” traffic for your most  important content

It might sound simple, but this strategy has allowed me to grow this website from $0 to more than $90,000/month in record time and then replicate that success with many of my clients.

Now before we dive in, I want to address the black hats and rebels in the audience.

I know that there are plenty of ways to cut corners with link building, and I’ll be the first to admit, many of them work.

If you apply the strategies I discuss in a black hat way, it’ll work… For a while.

By using these strategies however, you don’t risk incurring the wrath of the search engine gods, you guarantee it.

It’s no longer a matter of if your website will be penalized, de-indexed, and dropped from the SERPs, it’s a matter of when.

For the strategy I’m about to share with you, our goal is to create longevity and sustainability. We’re not trying to earn a few quick bucks only to piss off the search algorithms and lose everything we worked for.

No…

My goal is to teach you how to develop a link building strategy and implement it in a white hat way that will guarantee long term organic traffic and revenue from your most important digital assets without risking nasty penalties.

Specifically, I’m going to teach you to build links in a way that is:

  • Simple
  • Scalable
  • White Hat
  • Penalty Proof

By the end of this article, you will walk away with a specific and proven strategy that will help you:

  • Get more value from every backlink you create
  • Find hidden sources of valuable backlinks to earn  extra SEO “juice” in record time
  • Create a penalty proof strategy that will help you  rank your most important pages for months and years to  come
  • Know exactly how many links you need to build, which  websites you need to build them on, and the timeline  you can expect before seeing results
  • And a whole lot more

If you’re ready to cut the guesswork and create a no nonsense link building strategy that creates big ass results for your business and brand… This is the last article you’ll need.

Pass Every Link Building Opportunity Through These Three Filters

Before you can execute an effective link building strategy, you must first understand what constitutes a “high quality” backlink.

Specifically, you must look at the following three factors:

  • Is the Linking Website Relevant

    In recent months and years, Google has begun updating their algorithm to place more weight on the relevancy of a website instead of the authority of the site.

    What this means for you is that the majority of the links you build should come from websites that are in or similar to your website’s niche.

    For example, it would be better for me to build a backlink on a website like Search Engine Land or Digital Marketer than it would on the New York Times.

    Even though the NYT is infinitely more authoritative, their website simply isn’t as relevant to my target niche as the other two properties.

    So before you send a single cold email, Instagram DM, or LinkedIn connection request… Make sure that the websites on which you’re trying to build links are hyper relevant to your specific industry.

    The more relevant the site, the more powerful the backlinks.

  • Is the Linking Website Authoritative?

    Although relevancy is one of the most important signals that Google looks for when determining the significance of a backlink, you get even more bang for your buck when the website is relevant and authoritative.

    That’s not to say low authority website belong on your shitlist.

    Although my preference is websites with higher domains authorities (30+), I do not turn down lower authority opportunities as long as the website is niche relevant and run by a blogger who cares about their content.

  • Is the Link Dofollow vs Nofollow?

    The final factor to consider when embarking on your link building journey is the type of link you’re building.

    Namely, whether the link will be nofollow or dofollow.

    Nofollow links, although they have their place in effective online marketing, are probably not a relevant part of an effective link building strategy.

    Sure.. They can drive some extra traffic and help increase the number of eyes on your website, but – by their very nature – they do not signal any sort of authority or relevance to Google.

    At least, that’s what Google says anyway.

    Dofollow links are considered the only links that count for SEO purposes and will make up the backbone of your link building strategy.

    It’s worth noting that most pages that rank well in search do have nofollow links associated with them, often coming from relevant, authoritative sites.

    Since this phenomenon occurs quite naturally, it might be strange to see your website having 95% dofollow links, when most top ranking competitors have an average of 70%.

    All that to say, don’t discount the opportunity for a relevant, nofollow link entirely – it’s just another ingredient towards building a natural backlink profile.

    As a final note, the location of a backlink within a page can significantly impact the amount of traffic and value you derive from it.

    If at all possible, try to get your links placed in the beginning or middle of a piece of content to ensure that you get the most value possible.

    Now that you have an idea of how to vet link building opportunities to make the most of your time and ensure your strategy is effective, whip out your dinner plate and let’s jump into the meat and potatoes (an admittedly messy sounding escapade but screw it!).

    It’s time to dive in…

  • step 1

    Determining What Success Looks Like

    To get started, you’ll want to use a tool like Linkio or Ahrefs to analyze your top competitors and measure how many homepage links they’ve earned and what those link types are.

    Ahrefs is great because it contains one of the biggest backlink indexes on the web.

    Linkio is great because it pairs with Ahrefs to validate and analyze the data.

    Doing this competitor analysis exercise will give you a link building baseline for which to shoot.

    Once you have an “insider’s view” of your competitors SEO rankings, you’ll want to establish a time frame in which you plan to meet or exceed their stats and overtake them in the rankings (as they say… business is war).

    Using my own site OutreachMama.com site as an example, I analyzed 4 highly ranked competitor’s homepage backlink profiles and compared them to mine with the goal of figuring out how many links I need to build.

    Here’s a quick video of what’s going during this analysis:

    The helpful thing about Linkio is that it takes backlink data from Ahrefs but also figures out which links should actually “count” aka have SEO value.

    SEO value by this definition is a link that is dofollow and indexed in Google.

    Of the 630 referring domains that Ahrefs said Audience Bloom has, Linkio determined that less half send over SEO value.

    If you inspect the above image further, you’ll notice that the red box contains an estimate of how many links I still need to build… calculated based on competitor data.

    I decided to just use Audience Bloom’s backlink metrics to set a target number of links to build because OutreachMama’s authority is pretty much already on-par with the others.

    So I need to build 41 links based on the tool’s calculation.

    I could aim for building 5 links a month and reach my goal in about 8 months.

    Or, I could be more aggressive (or just plain impatient), and could shoot for 20 links a month and achieve the goal in about 2 months.

    It’s important that you determine how quickly and aggressively you want to pursue your link building strategy as this will largely determine which tactics you should choose and how much time and money you invest in your outreach efforts.

  • step 2

    Determine the Types of Anchors that You Need

    Most SEO experts agree, anchor text ratios still play an important role in getting better rankings.

    As I’ve written about many times before, the anchor text profile that you have matters (almost) as much as the links themselves.

    Yes, Google wants to see that you are being mentioned in relevant places around the web and assumes these mentions (a.k.a. backlinks) signify that you are providing valuable content and insight to others.

    More importantly, however, they want to see an anchor text profile that appears natural.

    Too many links with exact match keyword anchor text (e.g. the anchor “SEO Tips” pointing to an article about SEO tips) will make it seem like you’re trying to game the system and relying on spam tactics to rank your site.

    If you’ve been in the SEO game for a while, then you know as well as I do that this is, “No bueno”.

    Google wants to see a natural (or seemingly natural) link profile that indicates other people find your content valuable and have rewarded that value by linking to you independent of your input.

    Too many overzealous SEOs have taken this concept to the extreme and attempted to “hack” the system by generating tons of keyword rich anchor text.

    And sometimes, it works… At least, for a while.

    However, I have yet to see any successful and long lasting business rely on such short sighted and ineffective tactics.

    The best brands in the world simply provide value to the world and backlinks are a natural byproduct… Lots and lots of backlinks.

    But as you may have experienced already, things aren’t so simple for us little guys.

    Unless you have extremely deep coffers or an existing website with millions of organic visitors, getting your content seen amidst the chaos of the world wide web can seem impossible.

    “Build it and they won’t come” is the battle cry of the hatchling webmaster and it’s easy to see why so many new entrepreneurs give up on SEO so quickly. But it doesn’t have to be this way…

    By taking a proactive approach and developing a strategy around the metrics that signal brand credibility, you can indeed earn a spot at the big boys table. But to do so, you must learn how to create a link profile that appears natural without having to be afraid of link building.

    This doesn’t mean that you’re attempting to game the system.

    It simply means you need to know what works.

    Reverting back to this site as an example, take a quick look at the homepage anchor text percentages of a few of my top competitors compared to mine, in this short video

    Based on these statistics, we can compare and contrast anchor text profile ratios.

    Most competitor’s have branded percentages that are lower than mine.

    They have more “Natural” anchor text and some have more keyword base anchor text.

    Based on these averages, I probably went a little overboard with the branded anchor text and create an anchor text profile that was so heavily skewed towards branded anchors that it may look unnatural to the Google bots.

    With this in mind, my new link building strategy revolves around creating a more varied profile to help even out my ratio.

    And according to Linkio, these are the next 10 anchors I should be building:

  • Priority
  • Anchor Type
  • Anchor Text
  • Status
  • 1
  • Just Natural
  • [official website]
  • Not Started
  • 2
  • Just Natural
  • Get More Info
  • Not Started
  • 3
  • Just Natural
  • Link
  • Not Started
  • 4
  • Just Natural
  • This
  • Not Started
  • 5
  • Just Natural
  • find out more
  • Not Started
  • 6
  • Just Natural
  • get it from here
  • Not Started
  • 7
  • Just Natural
  • more info
  • Not Started
  • 8
  • Just Natural
  • find a provider
  • Not Started
  • 9
  • Just Natural
  • signup for a free trial
  • Not Started
  • 10
  • Just Natural
  • start your trial
  • Not Started
  • Priority
  • Anchor Type
  • Anchor Text
  • Status
  • 1
  • Just Natural
  • [official website]
  • Not Started
  • Priority
  • Anchor Type
  • Anchor Text
  • Status
  • 2
  • Just Natural
  • Get More Info
  • Not Started
  • Priority
  • Anchor Type
  • Anchor Text
  • Status
  • 3
  • Just Natural
  • Link
  • Not Started
  • Priority
  • Anchor Type
  • Anchor Text
  • Status
  • 4
  • Just Natural
  • This
  • Not Started
  • Priority
  • Anchor Type
  • Anchor Text
  • Status
  • 5
  • Just Natural
  • find out more
  • Not Started
  • Priority
  • Anchor Type
  • Anchor Text
  • Status
  • 6
  • Just Natural
  • get it from here
  • Not Started
  • Priority
  • Anchor Type
  • Anchor Text
  • Status
  • 7
  • Just Natural
  • more info
  • Not Started
  • Priority
  • Anchor Type
  • Anchor Text
  • Status
  • 8
  • Just Natural
  • find a provider
  • Not Started
  • Priority
  • Anchor Type
  • Anchor Text
  • Status
  • 9
  • Just Natural
  • signup for a free trial
  • Not Started
  • Priority
  • Anchor Type
  • Anchor Text
  • Status
  • 10
  • Just Natural
  • start your trial
  • Not Started

For your own business, the idea here is simple. Much like the last step, all you need to do is

  • Accept that anchor text percentages matter
  • Identify the anchor text percentages of your biggest competitors, and
  • Compare them to your own, and then
  • Shift your strategy to bring your link profile up to the industry standard.

Like I said simple… And with the help of Linkio…easy.

Once you have a gameplan in place, the next step begins…


Step 3:

Select a Link Building Tactic

Now that you have identified the number of links you’ll need to compete with the big dogs and you have a clear understanding of the link profile that you must build, it’s time to get down and dirty and begin the real work.

Although there are a myriad of tactics and strategies that you can use to build backlinks, for this stage in your link building strategy, here are some ideas to get you started.

Tactic #1: Resource Pages

Time to Build Links: 4-12 Weeks

Predominant Anchor Types: Branded & URL

Difficulty: 7

By far the one of the fastest (although not necessarily the easiest) ways to build branded and URL backlinks is through resource or link pages.

Webmasters from every industry regularly create “best of” and “resources” pages pointing to the most valuable content in their respective industries.

And, despite what you might have heard from other “experts” and SEO “gurus”, these are legitimate link building opportunities that can hold a lot of weight in Google’s eyes… If you do it right.

The most important thing to keep in mind when link building on resource pages is the relevance of the page.

Does the page point to other resources or competitors in your industry? Is the page housed on a website that is in or similar to your niche?

If the answer is “yes”, then you’re good to go.

However, in order to build resource page links, you’ll need to be patient and first cultivate a relationship with the webmaster of each respective page.

I recommend that you begin your link building efforts by spending 4-8 weeks reading, commenting on, and sharing content from the webmaster in question.

Shoot over a few (non link building related) cold emails expressing your admiration and appreciation for their content and attempt to be known by the webmaster.

Once the relationship is cultivated, you have one of two options.

The first (and most likely to succeed) is to scour through their resource page to find a link that is no longer active or pointing to an outdated resource.

For example, if you notice that they link out to a website that hasn’t posted any new content in the past 6-12 months or a website with an expired domain, you can easily mention this and request that they replace the outdated link with one of your own.

Or, if their resource page is up-to-date, you can go straight for the jugular and simply ask for a link to your website.

There are no guarantees with this strategy and the more authoritative the website the more difficult this tactic will be to execute successfully.

However, with a little social savvy and patience, you can build dozens of authoritative and relevant branded/URL links without having to create unique content, pay a fee, or beg for a shout out.

Tactic #2: Competitive Analysis

Time to Build Links: 4 Weeks

Predominant Anchor Types: All

Difficulty: 4

Tools to Use: Ahrefs, Linkio, Moz

For the lazy “efficiency-minded” among you who don’t have the patience to do silly things like “building relationships”, you can always leverage a tool like Ahrefs or Linkio to piggyback off of your competitor’s successes and find the low hanging fruit of your link building strategy.

Simply plugin your competitor’s URL into one of the aforementioned tools and export their backlink profile to a CSV file.

From there, either you or one of your team members can comb through the file to sort through the backlinks and find hidden opportunities.

Here’s a short video of how you can use Linkio to build a list of only qualified opportunities automatically:

I recommend that you expand your horizons with this strategy and research the backlink profile of the “completitors” (complimentary competitors or companies that are in your same niche but offering a different product or service) to find even more opportunities for easy wins.

Figure out how your competitors are managing to earn links and then reverse engineer their strategy to score those same links for yourself.

Tactic #3: Directory Submissions

Time to Build Links: Varies Based on the Directory

Predominant Anchor Types: Branded and URL

Difficulty: 5

Tools to Use: Ahrefs or Linkio

According to most SEO’s and even top ranked executives at Google, directory link building is dead… Hell, it hasn’t had a pulse for several years.

But, as you’ve probably come to expect, I’m inclined to take the contrarian position.

Directory link building is a foundational activity that can and does work. But only if you do it correctly.

Namely, you’ll want to make sure that the directory in question is a highly selective about the resources it links to and is tailored to your specific niche.

If it’s easy for you to build a directory backlink, I can all but guarantee you that link is worthless.

You should expect to pay a fee or have to prove yourself to the directory owner in order to earn a link placement… And this shouldn’t trouble you.

It’s far better to earn a link from a highly selective and relevant directory (i.e. a directory that only links to resources about vegan cooking vs. a directory linking to general health and wellness blogs) than from a generic all-inclusive directory.

Ideally, you’ll want to combine this tactic with tactic #2 to identify the directories that your competitors are using to bolster their link building strategy and gain SEO juice.

Here, you can find a list of directory sites to get started with.

  • step 1

    Establish What Success Looks Like (Again)

    I’ll start by assuming that you have already created and published the content for which you want to build links.

    If not, then stop reading this, chug a few shots of espresso and go crank out a few thousand words… I’ll wait.

    You back? Great.

    Now, assuming that your content is of the highest caliber possible and delivers the desired result to your audience, you’ll want to Google the main keyword associated with your content and then analyze the backlinks of the posts and pages ranked on the first page of Google.

    This data will, again, inform you of how many links you’ll need to build in order to achieve your desired outcome

    Let’s look at a real-life example – using an example of a link building campaign that I totally screwed up on.

    I wanted to rank for the keyword “how to build backlinks” so I wrote and published this guide:

    httsp://www.outreachmama.com/backlinks/

    When I first put my plan together and started building links, most of my target keywords got onto page 1, including “how to build backlinks”.

    After some time however, the rankings actually started to decline specifically for this page, but not for the entire site.

    So that means something was wrong with our link building strategy to this particular page.

    Indeed, after doing some digging, I found that my team had built over 80% of their anchor text using keywords!

    And that totally came across as unnatural, thus suppressing my rankings.

    Here’s how I’m going to go about fixing it.

    First, how many links should I be aiming for overall?

    I added most of the competitors who rank on page 1 and after some consideration, I decided to calculate my overall goal based on the Gotch SEO profile because his website has an authority level that is most similar to mine.

    An overall target of 66 referring domains.

    I’ve already built 30 links so thats 36 links pending.

  • step 2

    Next, determine the types of anchors you need.

    Now that we know how many links we need, it’s time to once again determine what types of anchors we need to get our content to the first page of Google.

    It’s important that you don’t skimp on this step…

    Because then you might end up like me with some lost rankings.

    In this example, I’m calculating what I need to do in order to normalize my ratios.

    Based on most top ranked competitors (excluded Neil Patel’s article because the percentages for his page are too much of an outlier), It seems I have almost double the amount of keyword anchor text that I should be using.

    Huge problem, but at least now we know what’s wrong and what needs to be done next.

    Using Linkio’s anchor text suggestions algorithm, here are the next 10 anchors I’ll be using:

  • Priority
  • Anchor Type
  • Anchor Text
  • Status
  • 1
  • Title Tag
  • How to Build High Quality Backli..
  • Not Started
  • 2
  • Title Tag
  • How to Build High Quality Backli..
  • Not Started
  • 3
  • Just Natural
  • conducted a study
  • Not Started
  • 4
  • Title Tag
  • How to Build High Quality Backli..
  • Not Started
  • 5
  • Brand & keyword Together
  • How to how to Build backlin on..
  • Not Started
  • 6
  • Title Tag
  • How to Build High Quality Backli..
  • Not Started
  • 7
  • Brand & keyword Together
  • How to build high quality backli..
  • Not Started
  • 8
  • Branded
  • According to Outreachmama
  • Not Started
  • 9
  • Naked URL
  • https://www.outreachmama.com/backlinks/
  • Not Started
  • 10
  • Title Tag
  • How to Build High Quality Backli..
  • Not Started
  • Priority
  • Anchor Type
  • Anchor Text
  • Status
  • 1
  • Title Tag
  • How to Build High Quality Backli..
  • Not Started
  • Priority
  • Anchor Type
  • Anchor Text
  • Status
  • 2
  • Title Tag
  • How to Build High Quality Backli..
  • Not Started
  • Priority
  • Anchor Type
  • Anchor Text
  • Status
  • 3
  • Just Natural
  • conducted a study
  • Not Started
  • Priority
  • Anchor Type
  • Anchor Text
  • Status
  • 4
  • Title Tag
  • How to Build High Quality Backli..
  • Not Started
  • Priority
  • Anchor Type
  • Anchor Text
  • Status
  • 5
  • Brand & keyword Together
  • How to how to Build backlin on..
  • Not Started
  • Priority
  • Anchor Type
  • Anchor Text
  • Status
  • 6
  • Title Tag
  • How to Build High Quality Backli..
  • Not Started
  • Priority
  • Anchor Type
  • Anchor Text
  • Status
  • 7
  • Brand & keyword Together
  • How to build high quality backli..
  • Not Started
  • Priority
  • Anchor Type
  • Anchor Text
  • Status
  • 8
  • Branded
  • According to Outreachmama
  • Not Started
  • Priority
  • Anchor Type
  • Anchor Text
  • Status
  • 9
  • Naked URL
  • https://www.outreachmama.com/backlinks/
  • Not Started
  • Priority
  • Anchor Type
  • Anchor Text
  • Status
  • 10
  • Title Tag
  • How to Build High Quality Backli..
  • Not Started

Go through this process for yourself before moving on to the next section.


step 3

Choose and Execute a Link Building Tactic

The tactics that you’ll use to rank your best inner page content are a lot different from the strategies you’ll use to rank your home page.

They tend to be much more laborious and require just a dab more elbow grease, but I promise… It’s worth it.

When you own the real estate on the first page of Google for your company’s most important keyword, your business will never be the same.

Here are a few ways that you can get started and begin your warpath to total SERPs dominance.

1.  Guest Blogging

Time to Build Links: 1 week

Predominant Anchor Types: All

Difficulty: 3

The first, and most effective way to get links back to your most important pieces of content is by guest blogging.

However, as you’ve no doubt experienced if you run your own website, guest post pitches are a dime a dozen.

At this point, most bloggers – even the guys who struggle to crank out content on their own – are getting tired of seeing the same boring pitches and overused cold outreach templates.

So…

If you want to execute this tactic effectively, you’ll need to set yourself apart from the sea of guest post “writers” vying for your slot in the editorial calendar.

Here are a few ideas to help you out:

  • Write the entire post before sending an outreach email to  eliminate any friction and provide the Editor with a clear  example of your writing style and ability.
  • Create long form content that is 1,800+ words (assuming . the website you’re trying to post on does the same thing).
  • Link out to multiple resources, in addition to your own,   and include several internal backlinks to the website’s   content (very few guest bloggers do this)
  • Include images, gifs, and memes when possible and  appropriate (again very few bloggers take the time to do   this)
  • Use “pattern interrupt” subject lines and email scripts. . . For example, sending an email with the subject line,   “Thank You” and spending the first few sentences  thanking the blog owner for their previous work is MUCH   more likely to elicit a positive response than something like, “I want to write for you.”

Remember, 90% of guest post pitches (at least the ones that enter into my inbox) have a life expectancy of 0.002 seconds before they are promptly deleted and never thought of again.

Don’t let this happen to you.

Do whatever you need to do to set your pitch apart and “wow” the recipient with your thoughtfulness and effort.

If you will actually implement these strategies, I promise that you’ll see a dramatic increase in the “conversion rate” of your guest blogging efforts and rapid growth in your brand’s content marketing.

2.  Link Trading

Time to Build Links: 1-2 Weeks

Predominant Anchor Types: All

Difficulty: 2

Although guest blogging is great if you’re angling for a link on a more authoritative website, you can streamline the link building process even further by trading articles with a website that has similar traffic and authority to your own.

In some cases, it can be difficult to find other sites with equal traffic stats so you can always sweeten the deal by offering to spend $10-30 promoting their post on Facebook, Instagram, or Stumbleupon.

This is one of the fastest and easiest ways to generate tons of links in a short amount of time… Assuming that you already have a reasonable amount of traffic and authority.

3.  Quora Submissions

Time to Build Links: 12 weeks+

Predominant Anchor Types: Exact/Partial Match Keyword Anchors, Branded Anchors, and URLs.

Difficulty: 7

One of the “hidden gems” of the link building world is Quora.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, Quora is a question and answer platform that is frequented by some of the most prolific writers, thinkers, and entrepreneurs in the world.

Guys like Gary Vaynerchuk, Tim Ferriss, and Grant Cardone regularly answer questions and provide feedback on the platform creating a unique outlet that is rapidly gaining steam.

What makes Quora such an excellent link building platform is that Editors from sites like Forbes, The Huffington Post, Inc, Entrepreneur, and The New York Times will search through recent questions and responses to find content that they can syndicate on their blogs (because writing out content themselves is apparently too much effort).

With enough tenacity and effort, you can generate several backlinks from high authority websites in a relatively short amount of time.

A great example of this is Andrew Ferebee, the founder of Knowledge for Men who was able to generate more than 15 dofollow backlinks from Entrepreneur, the Ladder, and Apple News simply by writing 5-10 responses a week over the course of a year.

However, you need to be sure to link back to your own content inside the body of your Quora response or this tactic won’t do a darn thing.

You aren’t trying to build Quora’s SEO presence after all.

There are no guarantees with Quora and you may want to enlist the help of a content promoter to ensure that your responses get in front of the appropriate individuals.

That being said, it’s a wildly underutilized platform that has a plethora of opportunity for those who are willing to work for it.

4.  Create a Free Tool for Your Content

Time to Build Links: Varies

Predominant Anchor Types: All

Difficulty: 4

Tools to Use: Fiverr or Upwork to find developers and coders

One of the best ways to increase the “linkability” of your top content is to embed a useful tool inside of the content that increases its value.

For example, I had a free anchor text categorizer tool developed that allows users to categorize their existing anchor text for free in exchange for an email address.

As a result, this tool ranks pretty high for valuable keywords and I’ve gotten some amazing organic links from it like this one from Neil Patel.

If you can find a unique tool that provides additional value to your audience, you’re much more likely to earn backlinks naturally and increase the authority of your content.

5.  Stir Up Some Controversy

Time to Build Links: Varies

Predominant Anchor Types: All

Difficulty: 8

Tools to Use: Buzzsumo (for relevant viral content research)

An effective – if admittedly dangerous – link building strategy that you can use is to stir up controversy by creating content around your target keywords that is contrarian and controversial.

A great example of this is Mark Manson’s article “Screw Finding Your Passion”. In an industry filled with pundits proclaiming the importance of finding your passion, his article struck a chord and offered a divisive and unusual perspective on a highly searched topic.

While you shouldn’t stir up controversy for the sake of controversy (you don’t want to become the next BuzzFeed after all), if you have an opinion or idea that is counter to mainstream culture, you can earn dozens of backlinks by eloquently presenting your case and letting the online rabble devour it.

Be careful with this tactic, but don’t shy away from it if you have something important to say.

If you execute this properly, you might just be rewarded with a piece of viral content.

6.  Aggregate and Share Data

Time to Build Links: Varies

Predominant Anchor Types: All

Difficulty: 5

The internet is rife with hearsay and b.s. and more and more people are developing the desire to make decisions based on proven facts and figures instead of the “trusted” word of some internet authority.

Because of this, people in the 21st century have come to love data and statistics almost as much as Kanye West loves Kanye (actually, I lied… people don’t love data that much).

If you have the bandwidth to find and aggregate that data – or better yet, run studies that allow you to collect your own unique data – you can quickly earn an abundance of authoritative backlinks from sites all over the web.

  • step 1

    Establish what success looks like

    It’s time once again to load up Ahrefs and Linkio to dig through your competitor’s most successful commercial pages and reverse engineer their link profile.

    For example, let’s say I want to rank for the commercial term “prom dresses”.

    For completely demo purposes, I’m going to analyze Sherri Hill’s commercial “prom dresses” page.

    The image below refers to the metrics of this page:
    https://www.sherrihill.com/collection/prom-dresses/

    62 total links from unique domains. 32 that “count” (ie. are dofollow and indexed in Google).

    Not bad. This page ranks on page 2 or 3 of Google at last check.

    Next, I examined 3 of the top ranking pages for that keyword, Prom Girl, David’s Bridal and Jovani to see how many backlinks they have to their prom dress page and how much overall authority they have.

    Comparing all these metrics can give us a good estimate on how many links we should be aiming for.

    Because Prom Girl and Jovani have considerably more domain authority than Sherri Hill based on the “Overall Referring Domains” metric, we can’t expect to simply match the average number of referring domains they have linking to their prom dress page (87) to beat them.

    It can happen, but usually, if a competitor is more powerful than you, going above and beyond with quality links is a recipe for success.

    With that in mind, according to Linkio, 96 is a better target and there are 64 links to go.

    If you note, I excluded David’s Bridal from the calculation.

    Why?

    IF we were to include them, the numbers would look like this:

    The estimated number of links to build jumps from 96 to a whopping 247 due to Davids Bridal’s massive domain authority.

    However, I don’t think it make sense to include them in our calculation because if lower authority competitors also rank well, it makes more sense to build your estimates around their metrics.

    Once you reach the goal that Linkio sets based on your close competitors, you should keep focusing on other parts of your site to improve your overall domain and not just keep focusing on that one page.

    It wouldn’t look natural to Google for one page generating a majority of the links anyway.

    Now that I figured out my target (and hopefully you have too), it’s time to drill down even further.

  • step 2

    Next, determine the kind of anchors you need

    With your target number of links for your commercial page determined, it’s time to plug the top 5-10 results for your target keyword into Linkio and figure out the spread of anchor text percentages you’ll need to get your page ranked.

    As you can see from the below screenshot, my top competitors have a backlink profile as follows compared to mine:

    From the image, it’s clear Sherri Hill could use more keyword, hybrid, URL and branded anchors.

    And starting with our widest gaps and using anchor text cycling we know what order to build all of our links in.

    Here’s the next 10 for an example:

  • Priority
  • Anchor Type
  • Anchor Text
  • Status
  • 1
  • Brand & keyword Together
  • Sherri Hill Discount prom dress
  • Not Started
  • 2
  • Brand & keyword Together
  • prom dress-Sherri Hill
  • Not Started
  • 3
  • Exact Keyword
  • prom dresses
  • Not Started
  • 4
  • Brand & keyword Together
  • top prom dresses-Sherri Hill
  • Not Started
  • 5
  • Keyword Plus Word
  • buy prom dresses online
  • Not Started
  • 6
  • Brand & keyword Together
  • Sheri Hill prom dresses of all..
  • Not Started
  • 7
  • Naked URL
  • https://www.sherrihill.com/colle..
  • Not Started
  • 8
  • Exact Keyword
  • prom dress
  • Not Started
  • 9
  • Brand & keyword Together
  • prom dress at Sherri Hill
  • Not Started
  • 10
  • Keyword Plus Word
  • this is the best prom dress bran..
  • Not Started
  • Priority
  • Anchor Type
  • Anchor Text
  • Status
  • 1
  • Brand & keyword Together
  • Sherri Hill Discount prom dress
  • Not Started
  • Priority
  • Anchor Type
  • Anchor Text
  • Status
  • 2
  • Brand & keyword Together
  • prom dress-Sherri Hill
  • Not Started
  • Priority
  • Anchor Type
  • Anchor Text
  • Status
  • 3
  • Exact Keyword
  • prom dresses
  • Not Started
  • Priority
  • Anchor Type
  • Anchor Text
  • Status
  • 4
  • Brand & keyword Together
  • top prom dresses-Sherri Hill
  • Not Started
  • Priority
  • Anchor Type
  • Anchor Text
  • Status
  • 5
  • Keyword Plus Word
  • buy prom dresses online
  • Not Started
  • Priority
  • Anchor Type
  • Anchor Text
  • Status
  • 6
  • Brand & keyword Together
  • Sheri Hill prom dresses of all..
  • Not Started
  • Priority
  • Anchor Type
  • Anchor Text
  • Status
  • 7
  • Naked URL
  • https://www.sherrihill.com/colle..
  • Not Started
  • Priority
  • Anchor Type
  • Anchor Text
  • Status
  • 8
  • Exact Keyword
  • prom dress
  • Not Started
  • Priority
  • Anchor Type
  • Anchor Text
  • Status
  • 9
  • Brand & keyword Together
  • prom dress at Sherri Hill
  • Not Started
  • Priority
  • Anchor Type
  • Anchor Text
  • Status
  • 10
  • Keyword Plus Word
  • this is the best prom dress bran..
  • Not Started

So you’ve figured out how many links you need.

What anchor text to use.

Next up, it’s time to figure out how to go and get the links!


step 3

Choose a tactic

1. Host Monthly Webinars

One of the easiest ways to get backlinks to your commercial content is by hosting monthly webinars.

If you put in the time and effort to make your webinar stand out from the crowd and provide true value to your viewers (instead of the glorified sales pitch that so many webinars have become), influencers and webmasters will have no issue linking back to your webinar registration page and driving new customers into your funnel.

You can take this a step further by creating an affiliate program that incentivizes other experts in your industry to link back to your webinar in exchange for a small referral fee per attendee.

This tactic is hard work and it may take the better part of 6 months before you crack the code to creating a high converting and highly linkable webinar, but if you do it right, the rewards are worth the effort.

2. Create Listicle Content

Another great tactic for driving backlinks to your commercial assets is to write guest post “listicles” and roundups that allow you to plug your commercial content in a non-spammy way.

For example, an article like “The Best Link Building Tools of 2018” allows you to simultaneously provide real value to the site it’s posted on and their readers while giving you a chance to earn some extra link juice for your respective link building tool.

Be sure to keep the content objective and spend an equal amount of time explaining and promoting other products in your industry as you do your own.

Remember, the goal of this tactic is to generate backlinks not necessarily sales.

3. Provide “How-to” Guest Posts

Another guest posting strategy that you can use to drive links to your commercial content are “How-to” guest posts that explain how someone can use your particular product or service to achieve a desired outcome.

For example, with my company Linkio, I’ve written many articles on link building strategy where I explained how readers could improve their link building strategy… and I naturally have a chance to plug my sales page when I mention how they can accomplish their goals faster by using my software.

The content provided value regardless of whether or not they actually used Linkio and it allowed me to easily generate backlinks to my sales page without coming across as spammy.

4. Create Product Specific Case Studies

For those of you who have been in business for a while and have a few case studies of happy clients who achieved phenomenal results with your offer, you can create product specific case studies that explain how they achieved that result.

Using the previous example of Linkio, I could easily generate a small handful of backlinks by writing an article along the lines of, “How One SEO Got on the First Page of Google in 6 Months Without Spending a Dime”.

Then, during the body of the article, I could casually mention how the case study subject used Linkio to conduct link building research and earn yet another easy and shameless backlink.

CHAPTER 5

Putting It All Together

If you’ve gone through the material thoroughly (skim readers), you’ll have started to realize that every single page on your website falls into one of 3 categories.

And each of those page categories come with a unique definition of what a natural backlink profile looks like.

AND there are unique ways to get backlinks for each of these categories that make your placement success rates higher.

With these insights in your backpocket, you should be able to venture forth on your link building journey without getting lost in the woods or blowing yourself up.

Here’s an example of what knowing your own landscape can mean for you.

With Linkio, after setting ideal percentage targets depending on the page type and keyword, I can see how my backlink profile stacks up to the ideal. A Linkio score about 70 is generally good but once some of my pages start to dip below that, I know where the most focus needs to go.

The last thing I want, after spending so much time and effort on building a brand, product and marketing engine, is to have any part of my backlink profile start to look unnatural.

For a while, even something unnatural looking can rank well and drive traffic, but eventually there’s a tipping point in Google’s algorithm where Google redefines how trustworthy your brand is.

Which could mean bad things for your business and search visibility.

Take it from me.

Back in 2012, I started an SEO agency and we were doing incredibly well.

Within a year, we were making 6 figures a month and most of our leads were coming from great SEO visibility for key phrases like “SEO Chicago”, “SEO NJ”, and “SEO NYC”.

We focused most of our link building attention on the pages that sell our crap. It worked for a while and then slowly…

It stopped working. After a certain period of success where Google gives you the benefit of the doubt, our leash ran out and the algorithm slowly pummelled us for years.

SEO is complicated business – without a clearly defined strategy, the same could happen to you.

Conclusion

So there you have it…

The definitive step-by-step guide to executing an effective link building strategy and getting your content to the first page of Google in record time.

I know it might seem like a lot, but if you’ll take action on the information I’ve shared, I promise that you’ll be able to earn more links and rank more of your content faster than you ever thought possible.

So give it a go for yourself and let me know how it goes in the comments below!

Link Building Strategy: The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your Campaign

  • Great read, Ajay!

    I’d love to see a case-study about the running monthly webinars and its effect on your backlink profile. Very unique link-building tip that I haven’t heard before.