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?
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- It helps with understanding what existing linkable assets we can leverage to build links.
- It helps with understanding how the competition is earning links.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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Don’t have an SEO team that can help before you start developing links? We can help! Whether it is SEO, content creation, and/or link development, we can help build your audience for real revenue growth.