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  • Matt Johnson

Link building for SEO.

Creating great content isn’t enough when taking on SEO, nor is scattering keywords throughout your blog posts in the hope it will magically appear higher in search results pages.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how great you think a piece of content is either. It matters how great other people think it is. Google measures this through links to your website, called backlinks.

Backlinks are a signal to Google that your site is a high-quality resource that people want to reference and share with their audience.

That means Google prefers web pages with lots of high-quality backlinks and will rank them higher in search results.

Backlinks tell Google a webpage can be trusted enough to be shared with its users. Generally speaking, websites can improve their rank by increasing the number of credible sites that link back to their pages.

So, how do you get people to link to your site?

The truth is, building quality backlinks can be really difficult. Manually asking people to build links is time-consuming and can be draining. Over recent years it has become even harder to get other sites to link to yours. Now, if someone likes your content, they will probably share it on social media. Proactively seeking out partnerships still holds plenty of value and still has a huge part to play in your SEO strategy.

The first thing to mention is that not all content is naturally linkable. People are much less likely to agree to link to a page that offers little to no educational value to their audience, like a product page. Instead, they prefer to link to other related content and pillar pages. In an ideal world, you want your referral traffic to land on a product page as it will have a direct conversion path. However, by linking back to pillar page which houses all of your content on a particular topic, you can provide maximum value and set a clear call to action regarding the product page.

The key to effective link building is to manually build links to great content. Like most things SEO, it comes back to striking the right balance between great content and getting it out there.

How many links do I need to rank on page one?

There’s no magic answer to this question, but there is a way to make an educated guess. For search engines like Google to consider you a contender for page one, you need to generate a similar number of links as other results on page one. This will give you a goal to chase after.

How to find the number of backlinks you need to rank on page one:

  1. Choose a topic you want your business to rank for

  2. Open incognito mode and search Google for that term

  3. Collect the URLs for the results on page one and run them through a link-checking tool like Ubersuggest, SEMRush, or Moz

  4. Find the number of backlinks they have and calculate the average number of root domains linking to these sites

This will give you a general idea of how many backlinks you need from unique websites. If a page appearing in the top 3 spots only has 4 referring root domains, these domains are likely to have very high domain authority. Once you have gathered the numbers, add them all up and divide them by the number of results on the page to give you the average. This is the number of backlinks you should aim for.

Next, you need to find out which topic related to your business is getting the best results; what are the common themes and elements? When you have gathered a list of common elements you should try to repeat it for yourself. Never copy, but don’t stray too far away from what is working. Being completely different and going outside the box is a bad idea when it comes to SEO and getting your page seen by the masses. Do what’s being done already, but do it better.

Ask yourself if you already have a piece of content that you can tweak to make the grade, or do you need to create an entirely new piece of content?

Why relationships are key when building links at scale.

Backlinking is essentially one person asking another person to link back to their site. As with any successful relationship, you can’t expect to take before you give something. Always start the relationship by delivering value to the person you want a link from.

Scaling link building tactics shouldn’t mean sending an email blast to 1,000 content creators, because you won’t get very far. You need to invest in building a relationship with that person and think of the long-term benefits.

People must actually want to link back to your site.

One quick and easy win is called link reclamation. This means asking for a link when your brand is talked about on a site without one.

However, it will always come back to the common theme of relationship building. From link reclamation to big PR and news jacks, relationships with bloggers and journalists are central components.

Freelance journalists are a goldmine for link building. They are always looking for content to pitch/stories to tell, so sending them great content makes their lives easier.

As with any successful relationship, you can’t expect to take before you give something. Always start the relationship by delivering value to the person you want a link from.

Before you dive in and being identifying marketers, bloggers and journalists with whom to build relationships with, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What relationships do we already have with journalists, bloggers, influencers, and others who might link to your site?

  • Who do we wish we had a relationship with?

  • What value can we offer them to initiate a relationship?

You need patience, but with a clear plan and persistence, you’ll scale over time and reap the rewards for years to come.

Using press request alerts to scale link building.

Building and maintaining relationships with people will help you with link building at scale. Working with big publications and influencers can be really difficult, but it will be worth it when you land great backlinks from domains with high authority and large, untapped audiences.

The easiest way to get started with link building is to respond to press request alerts which also leaves the door open for opportunities down the line.

Press requests are requests that journalists send out for sources of information, such as a quote on a topic from an industry expert. Journalists will send out these requests every day and you can sign up to get them sent to your inbox and scan for the ones directly related to your site/offer.

If you respond quickly and give the journalist exactly what they’re looking for then you could get a high-quality link from a publication with a large audience. It takes less than 2 minutes to respond if you set yourself up with a bank of responses to topical alerts.

A list of press request services:

Free services: HARO, Source Bottle, NARO PR, or on Twitter: #JournoRequest / #PRrequest

Paid services: Muck Rack, Gorkana

One downside is that you will get hundreds of requests every day, but the upside for you is that this puts a lot of people off. The sheer number can be overwhelming.

A Top tip: use email filters to scan the emails for specific keywords and phrases that are relevant to you so you can discard the rest.

We suggest following this method to get success with press request alerts:

  1. Sign up for just one press request alert service to start with

  2. Scan them without responding for at least one week to get a sense of things

  3. Make a list of thought leaders in your organisation who can offer quotes on relevant topics

  4. Ask them for quotes on the identified topics and make a document to store them

When you have around 20 quotes on different topics you can use, chop and change them to match different requests and respond at lightning speed.

When responding to alerts, keep it concise. Introduce yourself and why the person with the quote is an expert on the topic or why you are relevant to them. Do this to establish immediate credibility. Give several quotes they can choose from and tell them you are happy to help if they need anything else from you.

Remember, you’re building relationships - so include a link in your response but don’t ask for one - the journalist will usually link to you anyway (using the one you provided).

Press request alerts are great for getting quality backlinks from high-authority websites. The best part of it is you don’t need to put loads of effort into building new content.

Can I build backlinks organically?

You can generate backlinks to your site by producing great content with linkable hooks, encouraging users to share things like; original research, graphs, statistics and infographics.


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