Hey, it’s Chris, welcome to Search-pilot. Today, we’re going to talk about the step-by- step process to build backlinks, as well as three cookie-cutter link building tactics that are tried, tested, and completely beginner-friendly.
Let’s get started with the general process to link building. There are three general stages in link building.
Stages of link building
- Vetting and
- Email outreach.
When prospecting, you’re searching for relevant pages and websites that might link to you. These might be people who are linking to a similar page as the one you’re going to create, those who have influence in your industry, or people who are passionate about the topic.
The main goal isn’t to find a perfect list of people, this stage is about finding as many people as possible that fit a specific set of criteria. And this criteria is usually dictated by link authority metrics as well as relevance.
As a result, you’ll usually be working with large and very unperfect sets of data.
The vetting stage is where you start to refine your list of prospects.
These are the people that you’ll be contacting, so you’ll need to visit their websites and validate that they are indeed people worth contacting.
Finally is the email outreach stage.
This is when you’ll finalize your pitches and start emailing your vetted prospects. depending on the link building tactic you use, the way you prospect, vet and craft your email pitches will differ and this is actually quite difficult when you’re new to link building.
Fortunately, there are a few dead-simple but super-effective link building tactics that are completely newbie-friendly.
But before we can get tactical, let’s revisit our definition of link building because there are 3 main parts in it that will help you with prospecting, vetting, and email outreach.
Again, link building is the process of building relationships with other relevant site owners who want and will link to your content because it enhances theirs.
Now, I want to highlight the three main parts from this definition:
- Relevance, and
- Value exchange.
So let’s dig into a few easy link building tactics and I’ll show you what each stage of the link building process looks like in detail.
I’ll also outline the value exchange for each tactic to give you a better idea of What I mean.
Link building tactics
1. Get free PR using HARO
Alright, the first link building tactic is to get free PR using HARO.
HARO or “Help a Reporter Out” is a free service that connects journalists with sources and sources with journalists. Just sign up as a source and select the categories where you’re qualified to answer questions.
You’ll then get emails from journalists from various media outlets, looking for sources on specific topics. And these aren’t just your run of the mill publications.
In just this single email, you’ll see a lot of publications, just skim through the topics and if you find something where you can add value, respond to the journalist with your expert opinion. And if they use you as a source, they’ll usually link back to your site and social media profiles.
Now, the value exchange here is simple. You’re exchanging your expert knowledge for a mention and usually a link from an authoritative site.
Now, looking at the 3 stages of link building, the prospecting part is as easy as it gets. You sign up for a free service and journalists are actually looking for your help, not the other way around, which makes HARO super beginner-friendly.
As for vetting, you can simply scan through the results on a daily basis, but that can be time-consuming. A simple tip you can use is to create a gmail filter so only relevant emails will surface In your inbox.
Now, as for the email outreach part, HARO gives you an email address which will then be forwarded to the journalist. So just respond to the given email address, and write your response. Obviously, you’re not going to be the only person emailing the journalist.
Here are a few tips you can use to improve your hit rate.
i. Keep your emails as short as needed.
Journalists get tons of emails and if they see a huge wall of text, they probably won’t even give your response a chance.
ii. Go after topics where journalists are likely looking for multiple sources.
Ensure to go after queries where a journalist seeks for multiple sources, so the more responses they accept, the higher your chances of getting mentioned and linked to.
iii. Respond as quickly as possible.
Journalists on HARO will often give a tighter deadline to give themselves time to actually put together a good story. And some journalists believe that people who respond faster are better sources.
iv. Prioritize questions where you are an expert and use it as the first line in your pitch.
There’ll be days where you can’t respond to every relevant request. So prioritize the ones where you have the highest probability of getting sourced.
For example, if a journalist is looking for experts who can talk about “why cats scratch furniture and how to stop them from doing it”.
If you’re a veterinarian , then you might start your email with something like “Hi Paul, my name is Chris and I’m a veterinarian with 12 years experience and a board member of the cat alliance”.
When you immediately qualify yourself, as the right person to answer the question, you’ll likely get their attention.
Of course, you should be 100% honest so I wouldn’t claim to be a veterinarian when I’m not.
v. follow all directions in their query
it very important that you follow all the instructions/directions in any queries, this will increase your chances of being mentioned or linked to.
2. Guest posting: link building tactics
The next link building tactic is guest posting or guest blogging. Guest blogging is when you create content for another website.
And the reason why this strategy works is because there’s a clear value exchange. They get great content for free, and almost always, they allow you to link back to your site; whether that be within the content or in the author bio.
Guest blogging also provides another great benefit aside from a potential backlink. You get the opportunity to get exposure to someone else’s audience. They’ve already done the hard work in building that audience, you just have to write something That’ll impress their readers.
When you’re prospecting, you’ll need to get a list of websites. And there are a few ways you can do that.
Ways to get a list of websites:
i. Use google search operator
The first way is to use Google search operators, Just go to Google and search for something like intitle:”write for us” wrapped in quotes and then a keyword that’s related to your niche.
Example, intitle:“write for us” parenting
In this case, this search query will show us pages that include the phrase, “write for us” in the title and have the word “parenting” somewhere on the page.
And this is a common footprint that websites use to attract guest writers. But, because you’ll want to write for sites with some kind of link authority, you can use Ahrefs’ SEO toolbar to see link authority metrics right within Google’s search results.
And if you don’t have an Ahrefs account, you can use the Ahrefs free Website Authority Checker To see the Domain Ratings for these sites.
ii. Use Ahrefs content explorer
Another way to find list of sites fast is to use Ahrefs content explorer, it is a searchable database where you can find pages on any topic along with both social and SEO metrics
With around 200,000 domains you might be wondering which ones allow guest posts.
The truth is – you won’t know until you ask. But there’s a way to improve your hit rate. And that’s to look at websites that have previously accepted guest authors.
To find those sites, just click on the websites tab in Ahrefs content explorer and make sure that your results are sorted by the number of authors.
Basically, the more authors you see, the more probable it is that they accept guest posts. Either that or they have a big staff of writers.
From there, you can export the results and then move on to the vetting stage.
At this point, you’ll want to do a quick check to make sure that the websites don’t look spammy and that they’re actually relevant to your site.
Another thing worth checking is the domain’s sitewide organic traffic. To do that, go to Site Explorer and search for the domain.
Next, click on the Organic search tab. If the site is getting consistent search traffic, then it’s a good sign that the domain is in good standing with Google.
When you’re vetting, you’ll likely want to find around 10 times the number of posts you can write in a week.
For example, if you can write 2 posts per week, then try and find 20 vetted sites. Reason being, most people won’t accept your post let alone respond to you.
So, let’s move on to the next stage, which is email outreach.
When you’re pitching websites for a guest post, ideally, you want to come up with a good reason as to why they should accept your post. Free content is great and all, but it’s not necessarily so convincing that everyone will accept it.
So take some time to do your research on the site. See how your expertise can be helpful for their audience or business.
So let’s move on to the final tactic,
3. Skyscraper technique.
The Skyscraper Technique is a link building tactic where you, find content that has a lot of links, create your own version on the topic but improve on it, and then reach out to those linking to the popular post and ask them to link to yours.
This technique’s procedure is as follows:
- Find top-performing content in SERPs for keywords related to your brand.
- Take a “snapshot” of the publishers who are linking to the content you’re after.
- Create a better piece of content that takes advantage of the present material’s flaws.
- Contact each of the publishers who are already linking to those specific pieces of content and tell them about your new article!
Because you’re reaching out to publishers and editors who are interested in linking to quality material, this strategy is believed to function well. In essence, you’re streamlining your outreach by contacting people who already link to related material.
In a ways, it’s a more targeted approach to a backlink gap study because you’re reaching out to people who could already be interested in your content.
Prospecting and vetting are pretty straightforward. But the hardest part of link building, and the part that makes link building challenging is outreach.
The next article is dedicated to crafting highly effective outreach emails. So make sure to subscribe because we’ll be publishing it very soon and we’ll dig deep into writing outreach emails that don’t come off spammy, desperate, and most importantly, convert conversations into backlinks.