Tag Archive | "Link"

Link building in the age of content skeptics

Link building today goes far beyond simply securing a link to influence search engine rankings.



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SearchCap: Google family led icon, link building and SEO audits

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.



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SearchCap: Bing drops URL submission tool, Ask the SMXperts, Google Maps, link building & more

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How to Improve Your Link Building Outreach Pipeline

Posted by John.Michael123

Link building is probably one of the most challenging pieces of your SEO efforts. Add multiple clients to the mix, and managing the link outreach process gets even tricker. When you’re in the thick of several outreach campaigns, it’s hard to know where to focus your efforts and which tactics will bring you the most return on your time and resources.

Three common questions are critical to understand at any point in your link campaign:

  • Do you need more link prospects?
  • Do you need to revise your email templates?
  • Do you need to follow up with prospects?

Without a proven way to analyze these questions, your link building efforts won’t be as efficient as they could be.

We put together a Google Sheets template to help you better manage your link building campaigns. The beauty of this template is that it allows for customization to better fit your workflow. You’ll want to make a copy to get started with your own version.

Our link building workflow

We’ve been able to improve our efficiency via this template by following a simple workflow around acquiring new guest posts on industry-relevant websites. The first step is to actually go out and find prospects that could be potentially interested in a guest blog post. We will then record those opportunities into our template so that we can track our efforts and identify any area that isn’t performing well.

The next step is to make sure to update the status of the prospect when anything changes like sending an outreach email to the prospect or getting a reply from them. It’s critical to keep the spreadsheet as up to date as possible so that we have an accurate picture of our performance.

Once you’ve used this template for enough time and you’ve gathered enough data, you’ll be able to predict how many link prospects you’ll need to find in order to acquire each link based on your own response and conversion rates. This can be useful if you have specific goals around acquiring a certain number of links per month, as you’ll get a better feel for how much prospecting you need to do to meet that link target number.

Using the link outreach template

The main purpose of this template is to give you a systematic way to analyze your outreach process so you can drill down into the biggest opportunities for improvement. There are several key features, starting with the Prospects tab.

The Prospects tab is the only one you will need to manually edit, and it houses all the potential link prospects uncovered in your researched. You’ll want to fill in the cells for your prospect’s website URL;, and you can also add the Domain Authority of the website for outreach prioritization. For the website URL, I typically put in an example of a guest post that was done on that site or just the homepage if I can’t find a better page.

There’s also a corresponding status column, with the following five stages so you can keep track of where each prospect is in the outreach process.

Status 1: Need to Reach Out. Use this for when you initially find a prospect but have not taken any action yet.

Status 2: Email Sent. This is used as soon as you send your first outreach email.

Status 3: Received Response

Status 4: Topic Approved. Select this status after you get a response and your guest post topic has been approved (this may take a few emails). Whenever I see this status, I know to reach out to my content team so they can start writing.

Status 5: Link Acquired. Selecting this status will automatically add the website to your Won Link Opportunities Report.

The final thing to do here is record the date that a particular link was acquired and add the URL where the link resides. Filling in these columns automatically populates the “Won Link Opportunities” report so you can track all of the links you acquire throughout the lifetime of your campaign.

Link building progress reports

This template automatically creates two reports that I share with my clients on a monthly basis. These reports help us dial in our efforts and maximize the performance of our overall link building campaign.

Link Pipeline report

The Link Pipeline report is a snapshot of our overall link outreach campaign. It shows us how many prospects we have in our pipeline and what the conversion/response rates are of each stage of our outreach funnel.

How to analyze the Link Pipeline report

This report allows us to understand where we need to focus our efforts to maximize our campaign’s performance. If there aren’t enough prospects at the top of the funnel, we know that we need to start looking for new link opportunities. If our contact vs. response rate is low, we know we need to test new email copy or email subject lines.

Won Link Opportunities

The Won Link Opportunities report lists out all the websites where a link has been officially landed. This is a great way to keep track of overall progress over time and to gauge performance against your link building goals.

Getting the most out of your link building campaigns

Organization is critical for maximizing your link building efforts and the return on the time you’re spending. By knowing exactly which stage of your link building process is your lowest performing, you can dramatically increase your overall efficiency by targeting those areas that need the most improvement.

Make a copy of the template

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The Long-Term Link Acquisition Value of Content Marketing

Posted by KristinTynski

Recently, new internal analysis of our work here at Fractl has yielded a fascinating finding:

Content marketing that generates mainstream press is likely 2X as effective as originally thought. Additionally, the long-term ROI is potentially many times higher than previously reported.

I’ll caveat that by saying this applies only to content that can generate mainstream press attention. At Fractl, this is our primary focus as a content marketing agency. Our team, our process, and our research are all structured around figuring out ways to maximize the newsworthiness and promotional success of the content we create on behalf of our clients.

Though data-driven content marketing paired with digital PR is on the rise, there is still a general lack of understanding around the long-term value of any individual content execution. In this exploration, we sought to answer the question: What link value does a successful campaign drive over the long term? What we found was surprising and strongly reiterated our conviction that this style of data-driven content and digital PR yields some of the highest possible ROI for link building and SEO.

To better understand this full value, we wanted to look at the long-term accumulation of the two types of links on which we report:

  1. Direct links from publishers to our client’s content on their domain
  2. Secondary links that link to the story the publisher wrote about our client’s content

While direct links are most important, secondary links often provide significant additional pass-through authority and can often be reclaimed through additional outreach and converted into direct do-follow links (something we have a team dedicated to doing at Fractl).

Below is a visualization of the way our content promotion process works:

So how exactly do direct links and secondary links accumulate over time?

To understand this, we did a full audit of four successful campaigns from 2015 and 2016 through today. Having a few years of aggregation gave us an initial benchmark for how links accumulate over time for general interest content that is relatively evergreen.

We profiled four campaigns:

The first view we looked at was direct links, or links pointing directly to the client blog posts hosting the content we’ve created on their behalf.

There is a good deal of variability between campaigns, but we see a few interesting general trends that show up in all of the examples in the rest of this article:

  1. Both direct and secondary links will accumulate in a few predictable ways:
    1. A large initial spike with a smooth decline
    2. A buildup to a large spike with a smooth decline
    3. Multiple spikes of varying size
  2. Roughly 50% of the total volume of links that will be built will accumulate in the first 30 days. The other 50% will accumulate over the following two years and beyond.
  3. A small subset of direct links will generate their own large spikes of secondary links.

We’ll now take a look at some specific results. Let’s start by looking at direct links (pickups that link directly back to our client’s site or landing page).

The typical result: A large initial spike with consistent accumulation over time

This campaign, featuring artistic imaginings of what bodies in video games might look like with normal BMI/body sizes, shows the most typical pattern we witnessed, with a very large initial spike and a relatively smooth decline in link acquisition over the first month.

After the first month, long-term new direct link acquisition continued for more than two years (and is still going today!).

The less common result: Slow draw up to a major spike

In this example, you can see that sometimes it takes a few days or even weeks to see the initial pickup spike and subsequent primary syndication. In the case of this campaign, we saw a slow buildup to the pinnacle at about a week from the first pickup (exclusive), with a gradual decline over the following two weeks.

“These initial stories were then used as fodder or inspiration for stories written months later by other publications.”

Zooming out to a month-over-month view, we can see resurgences in pickups happening at unpredictable intervals every few months or so. These spikes continued up until today with relative consistency. This happened as some of the stories written during the initial spike began to rank well in Google. These initial stories were then used as fodder or inspiration for stories written months later by other publications. For evergreen topics such as body image (as was the case in this campaign), you will also see writers and editors cycle in and out of writing about these topics as they trend in the public zeitgeist, leading to these unpredictable yet very welcomed resurgences in new links.

Least common result: Multiple spikes in the first few weeks

The third pattern we observed was seen on a campaign we executed examining hate speech on Twitter. In this case, we saw multiple spikes during this early period, corresponding to syndications on other mainstream publications that then sparked their own downstream syndications and individual virality.

Zooming out, we saw a similar result as the other examples, with multiple smaller spikes more within the first year and less frequently in the following two years. Each of these bumps is associated with the story resurfacing organically on new publications (usually a writer stumbling on coverage of the content during the initial phase of popularity).

Long-term resurgences

Finally, in our fourth example that looked at germs on water bottles, we saw a fascinating phenomenon happen beyond the first month where there was a very significant secondary spike.

This spike represents syndication across (all or most) of the iHeartRadio network. As this example demonstrates, it isn’t wholly unusual to see large-scale networks pick up content even a year or later that rival or even exceed the initial month’s result.

Aggregate trends

“50% of the total links acquired happened in the first month, and the other 50% were acquired in the following two to three years.”

When we looked at direct links back to all four campaigns together, we saw the common progression of link acquisition over time. The chart below shows the distribution of new links acquired over two years. We saw a pretty classic long tail distribution here, where 50% of the total links acquired happened in the first month, and the other 50% were acquired in the following two to three years.

“If direct links are the cake, secondary links are the icing, and both accumulate substantially over time.”

Links generated directly to the blog posts/landing pages of the content we’ve created on our clients’ behalf are only really a part of the story. When a campaign garners mainstream press attention, the press stories can often go mildly viral, generating large numbers of syndications and links to these stories themselves. We track these secondary links and reach out to the writers of these stories to try and get link attributions to the primary source (our clients’ blog posts or landing pages where the story/study/content lives).

These types of links also follow a similar pattern over time to direct links. Below are the publishing dates of these secondary links as they were found over time. Their over-time distribution follows the same pattern, with 50% of results being realized within the first month and the following 50% of the value coming over the next two to three years.

The value in the long tail

By looking at multi-year direct and secondary links built to successful content marketing campaigns, it becomes apparent that the total number of links acquired during the first month is really only about half the story.

For campaigns that garner initial mainstream pickups, there is often a multi-year long tail of links that are built organically without any additional or future promotions work beyond the first month. While this long-term value is not something we report on or charge our clients for explicitly, it is extremely important to understand as a part of a larger calculus when trying to decide if doing content marketing with the goal of press acquisition is right for your needs.

Cost-per-link (a typical way to measure ROI of such campaigns) will halve if links built are measured over these longer periods — moving a project you perhaps considered a marginal success at one month to a major success at one year.

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A Quarter-Million Reasons to Use Moz’s Link Intersect Tool

Posted by rjonesx.

Let me tell you a story.

It begins with me in a hotel room halfway across the country, trying to figure out how I’m going to land a contract from a fantastic new lead, worth annually $ 250,000. We weren’t in over our heads by any measure, but the potential client was definitely looking at what most would call “enterprise” solutions and we weren’t exactly “enterprise.”

Could we meet their needs? Hell yes we could — better than our enterprise competitors — but there’s a saying that “no one ever got fired for hiring IBM”; in other words, it’s always safe to go with the big guys. We weren’t an IBM, so I knew that by reputation alone we were in trouble. The RFP was dense, but like most SEO gigs, there wasn’t much in the way of opportunity to really differentiate ourselves from our competitors. It would be another “anything they can do, we can do better” meeting where we grasp for reasons why we were better. In an industry where so many of our best clients require NDAs that prevent us from producing really good case studies, how could I prove we were up to the task?

In less than 12 hours we would be meeting with the potential client and I needed to prove to them that we could do something that our competitors couldn’t. In the world of SEO, link building is street cred. Nothing gets the attention of a client faster than a great link. I knew what I needed to do. I needed to land a killer backlink, completely white-hat, with no new content strategy, no budget, and no time. I needed to walk in the door with more than just a proposal — I needed to walk in the door with proof.

I’ve been around the block a few times when it comes to link building, so I wasn’t at a loss when it came to ideas or strategies we could pitch, but what strategy might actually land a link in the next few hours? I started running prospecting software left and right — all the tools of the trade I had at my disposal — but imagine my surprise when the perfect opportunity popped up right in little old Moz’s Open Site Explorer Link Intersect tool. To be honest, I hadn’t used the tool in ages. We had built our own prospecting software on APIs, but the perfect link just popped up after adding in a few of their competitors on the off chance that there might be an opportunity or two.

There it was:

  1. 3,800 root linking domains to the page itself
  2. The page was soliciting submissions
  3. Took pull requests for submissions on GitHub!

I immediately submitted a request and began the refresh game, hoping the repo was being actively monitored. By the next morning, we had ourselves a link! Not just any link, but despite the client having over 50,000 root linking domains, this was now the 15th best link to their site. You can imagine me anxiously awaiting the part of the meeting where we discussed the various reasons why our services were superior to that of our competitors, and then proceeded to demonstrate that superiority with an amazing white-hat backlink acquired just hours before.

The quarter-million-dollar contract was ours.

Link Intersect: An undervalued link building technique

Backlink intersect is one of the oldest link building techniques in our industry. The methodology is simple. Take a list of your competitors and identify the backlinks pointing to their sites. Compare those lists to find pages that overlap. Pages which link to two or more of your competitors are potentially resource pages that would be interested in linking to your site as well. You then examine these sites and do outreach to determine which ones are worth contacting to try and get a backlink.

Let’s walk through a simple example using Moz’s Link Intersect tool.

Getting started

We start on the Link Intersect page of Moz’s new Link Explorer. While we had Link Intersect in the old Open Site Explorer, you’re going to to want to use our new Link Intersect, which is built from our giant index of 30 trillion links and is far more powerful.

For our example here, I’ve chosen a random gardening company in Durham, North Carolina called Garden Environments. The website has a Domain Authority of 17 with 38 root linking domains.

We can go ahead and copy-paste the domain into “Discover Link Opportunities for this URL” at the top of the Link Intersect page. If you notice, we have the choice of “Root Domain, Subdomain, or Exact Page”:

Choose between domain, subdomain or page

I almost always choose “root domain” because I tend to be promoting a site as a whole and am not interested in acquiring links to pages on the site from other sites that already link somewhere else on the site. That is to say, by choosing “root domain,” any site that links to any page on your site will be excluded from the prospecting list. Of course, this might not be right for your situation. If you have a hosted blog on a subdomain or a hosted page on a site, you will want to choose subdomain or exact page to make sure you rule out the right backlinks.

You also have the ability to choose whether we report back to you root linking domains or Backlinks. This is really important and I’ll explain why.

choose between page or domain

Depending on your link building campaign, you’ll want to vary your choice here. Let’s say you’re looking for resource pages that you can list your website on. If that’s the case, you will want to choose “pages.” The Link Intersect tool will then prioritize pages that have links to multiple competitors on them, which are likely to be resource pages you can target for your campaign. Now, let’s say you would rather find publishers that talk about your competitors and are less concerned about them linking from the same page. You want to find sites that have linked to multiple competitors, not pages. In that case, you would choose “domains.” The system will then return the domains that have links to multiple competitors and give you example pages, but you wont be limited only to pages with multiple competitors on them.

In this example, I’m looking for resource pages, so I chose “pages” rather than domains.

Choosing your competitor sites

A common mistake made at this point is to choose exact competitors. Link builders will often copy and paste a list of their biggest competitors and cross their fingers for decent results. What you really want are the best link pages and domains in your industry — not necessarily your competitors.

In this example I chose the gardening page on a local university, a few North Carolina gardening and wildflower associations, and a popular page that lists nurseries. Notice that you can choose subdomain, domain, or exact page as well for each of these competitor URLs. I recommend choosing the broadest category (domain being broadest, exact page being narrowest) that is relevant to your industry. If the whole site is relevant, go ahead and choose “domain.”

Analyzing your results

The results returned will prioritize pages that link to multiple competitors and have a high Domain Authority. Unlike some of our competitors’ tools, if you put in a competitor that doesn’t have many backlinks, it won’t cause the whole report to fail. We list all the intersections of links, starting with the most and narrowing down to the fewest. Even though the nurseries website doesn’t provide any intersections, we still get back great results!

analyze link results

Now we have some really great opportunities, but at this point you have two choices. If you really prefer, you can just export the opportunities to CSV like any other tool on the market, but I prefer to go ahead and move everything over into a Link Tracking List.

add to link list

By moving everything into a link list, we’re going to be able to track link acquisition over time (once we begin reaching out to these sites for backlinks) and we can also sort by other metrics, leave notes, and easily remove opportunities that don’t look fruitful.

What did we find?

Remember, we started off with a site that has barely any links, but we turned up dozens of easy opportunities for link acquisition. We turned up a simple resources page on forest resources, a potential backlink which could easily be earned via a piece of content on forest stewardship.

example opportunity

We turned up a great resource page on how to maintain healthy soil and yards on a town government website. A simple guide covering the same topics here could easily earn a link from this resource page on an important website.

example opportunity 2

These were just two examples of easy link targets. From community gardening pages, websites dedicated to local creek, pond, and stream restoration, and general enthusiast sites, the Link Intersect tool turned up simple backlink gold. What is most interesting to me, though, was that these resource pages never included the words “resources” or “links” in the URLs. Common prospecting techniques would have just missed these opportunities altogether.

While it wasn’t the focus of this particular campaign, I did choose the alternate of “show domains” rather than “pages” that link to the competitors. We found similarly useful results using this methodology.

example list of domains opportunity

For example, we found CarolinaCountry.com had linked to multiple of the competitor sites and, as it turns out, would be a perfect publication to pitch for a story as part of of a PR campaign for promoting the gardening site.

Takeaways

The new Link Intersect tool in Moz’s Link Explorer combines the power of our new incredible link index with the complete features of a link prospecting tool. Competitor link intersect remains one of the most straightforward methods for finding link opportunities and landing great backlinks, and Moz’s new tool coupled with Link Lists makes it easier than ever. Go ahead and give it a run yourself — you might just find the exact link you need right when you need it.

Find link opportunities now!

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SearchCap: Google upgrades event search feature, rookie link building & more

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SearchCap: Google Image search, Google AMP Stories, picking link partners & more

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The Rules of Link Building – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by BritneyMuller

Are you building links the right way? Or are you still subscribing to outdated practices? Britney Muller clarifies which link building tactics still matter and which are a waste of time (or downright harmful) in today’s episode of Whiteboard Friday.

The Rules of Link Building

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Happy Friday, Moz fans! Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Today we are going over the rules of link building. It’s no secret that links are one of the top three ranking factors in Goggle and can greatly benefit your website. But there is a little confusion around what’s okay to do as far as links and what’s not. So hopefully, this helps clear some of that up.

The Dos

All right. So what are the dos? What do you want to be doing? First and most importantly is just to…

I. Determine the value of that link. So aside from ranking potential, what kind of value will that link bring to your site? Is it potential traffic? Is it relevancy? Is it authority? Just start to weigh out your options and determine what’s really of value for your site.

II. Local listings still do very well. These local business citations are on a bunch of different platforms, and services like Moz Local or Yext can get you up and running a little bit quicker. They tend to show Google that this business is indeed located where it says it is. It has consistent business information — the name, address, phone number, you name it. But something that isn’t really talked about all that often is that some of these local listings never get indexed by Google. If you think about it, Yellowpages.com is probably populating thousands of new listings a day. Why would Google want to index all of those?

So if you’re doing business listings, an age-old thing that local SEOs have been doing for a while is create a page on your site that says where you can find us online. Link to those local listings to help Google get that indexed, and it sort of has this boomerang-like effect on your site. So hope that helps. If that’s confusing, I can clarify down below. Just wanted to include it because I think it’s important.

III. Unlinked brand mentions. One of the easiest ways you can get a link is by figuring out who is mentioning your brand or your company and not linking to it. Let’s say this article publishes about how awesome SEO companies are and they mention Moz, and they don’t link to us. That’s an easy way to reach out and say, “Hey, would you mind adding a link? It would be really helpful.”

IV. Reclaiming broken links is also a really great way to kind of get back some of your links in a short amount of time and little to no effort. What does this mean? This means that you had a link from a site that now your page currently 404s. So they were sending people to your site for a specific page that you’ve since deleted or updated somewhere else. Whatever that might be, you want to make sure that you 301 this broken link on your site so that it pushes the authority elsewhere. Definitely a great thing to do anyway.

V. HARO (Help a Reporter Out). Reporters will notify you of any questions or information they’re seeking for an article via this email service. So not only is it just good general PR, but it’s a great opportunity for you to get a link. I like to think of link building as really good PR anyway. It’s like digital PR. So this just takes it to the next level.

VI. Just be awesome. Be cool. Sponsor awesome things. I guarantee any one of you watching likely has incredible local charities or amazing nonprofits in your space that could use the sponsorship, however big or small that might be. But that also gives you an opportunity to get a link. So something to definitely consider.

VII. Ask/Outreach. There’s nothing wrong with asking. There’s nothing wrong with outreach, especially when done well. I know that link building outreach in general kind of gets a bad rap because the response rate is so painfully low. I think, on average, it’s around 4% to 7%, which is painful. But you can get that higher if you’re a little bit more strategic about it or if you outreach to people you already currently know. There’s a ton of resources available to help you do this better, so definitely check those out. We can link to some of those below.

VIII. COBC (create original badass content). We hear lots of people talk about this. When it comes to link building, it’s like, “Link building is dead. Just create great content and people will naturally link to you. It’s brilliant.” It is brilliant, but I also think that there is something to be said about having a healthy mix. There’s this idea of link building and then link earning. But there’s a really perfect sweet spot in the middle where you really do get the most bang for your buck.

The Don’ts

All right. So what not to do. The don’ts of today’s link building world are…

I. Don’t ask for specific anchor text. All of these things appear so spammy. The late Eric Ward talked about this and was a big advocate for never asking for anchor text. He said websites should be linked to however they see fit. That’s going to look more natural. Google is going to consider it to be more organic, and it will help your site in the long run. So that’s more of a suggestion. These other ones are definitely big no-no’s.

II. Don’t buy or sell links that pass PageRank. You can buy or sell links that have a no-follow attached, which attributes that this is paid-for, whether it be an advertisement or you don’t trust it. So definitely looking into those and understanding how that works.

III. Hidden links. We used to do this back in the day, the ridiculous white link on a white background. They were totally hidden, but crawlers would pick them up. Don’t do that. That’s so old and will not work anymore. Google is getting so much smarter at understanding these things.

IV. Low-quality directory links. Same with low-quality directory links. We remember those where it was just loads and loads of links and text and a random auto insurance link in there. You want to steer clear of those.

V. Site-wide links also look very spammy. Site wide being whether it’s a footer link or a top-level navigation link, you definitely don’t want to go after those. They can appear really, really spammy. Avoid those.

VI. Comment links with over-optimized anchor link text, specifically, you want to avoid. Again, it’s just like any of these others. It looks spammy. It’s not going to help you long term. Again, what’s the value of that overall? So avoid that.

VII. Abusing guest posts. You definitely don’t want to do this. You don’t want to guest post purely just for a link. However, I am still a huge advocate, as I know many others out there are, of guest posting and providing value. Whether there be a link or not, I think there is still a ton of value in guest posting. So don’t get rid of that altogether, but definitely don’t target it for potential link building opportunities.

VIII. Automated tools used to create links on all sorts of websites. ScrapeBox is an infamous one that would create the comment links on all sorts of blogs. You don’t want to do that.

IX. Link schemes, private link networks, and private blog networks. This is where you really get into trouble as well. Google will penalize or de-index you altogether. It looks so, so spammy, and you want to avoid this.

X. Link exchange. This is in the same vein as the link exchanges, where back in the day you used to submit a website to a link exchange and they wouldn’t grant you that link until you also linked to them. Super silly. This stuff does not work anymore, but there are tons of opportunities and quick wins for you to gain links naturally and more authoritatively.

So hopefully, this helps clear up some of the confusion. One question I would love to ask all of you is: To disavow or to not disavow? I have heard back-and-forth conversations on either side on this. Does the disavow file still work? Does it not? What are your thoughts? Please let me know down below in the comments.

Thank you so much for tuning in to this edition of Whiteboard Friday. I will see you all soon. Thanks.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Internal links: Link building’s secret sauce

Contributor Andrew Dennis explains why you shouldn’t overlook internal links on your site: They leverage link equity from external links and direct organic visitors to important, converting pages.



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