Links are still an important ranking factor in search algorithm, being considered as the most influential matter in search rankings (on a domain-level and page-level bases).
Alongside the rise for competition in search performance is the increase in demand for high quality links from blogs/sites in relevant industries.
Coming from a link building agency (Hyperlynx Media owned by Jon Cooper) to starting my own link development company (SharpRocket), I’ve seen hundreds of companies from different verticals investing in link building for the sole purpose of seeing an improved organic traffic of their company websites.
A few other reasons why link development is a good investment for businesses (whether they are from small to medium scale or Fortune 500):
- Links serve as a powerful branding tool to make websites more visible on high traffic publication websites.
- Links can drive potential customers and clients to the website – making it as a sustainable lead generation strategy.
- Links can build powerful relationships with both non-competing brands and competitors that can pursue beneficial partnerships on both parties.
- Links are powerful signals for entity relationships that search engines and web users can use to determine if the site is authoritative and trusted (more editorial links from trusted websites could mean your website is also trusted too).
Link Building Process Models
Process model refers to a structure of activity with step by step detailed instructions.
Search marketing agencies use process models to scale search engine optimization campaigns, leading to greater results – more productivity and more output.
The more clients an agency accommodates, the more it will require for the business to improve its process models or create new business processes for additional tasks/activities.
I’ve tried and tested different link building models to earn and build high quality backlinks from blogs/sites in different authority levels and industries.
Among those models are the two processes that I’ll be sharing in this post: Blogger Outreach and Linkable Asset models.
Blogger Outreach Model
Blogger outreach is a process of building connections with niche bloggers and influencers that have subtle social following and considerable authority domain levels.
Blogger outreach’s main core competency from other link building models is its ability to create new relationships without the need for creation of new linkable assets.
How to execute blogger outreach model?
The reason behind contacting bloggers with high presence in social profiles is the idea of amplification. More active and real social followers could mean more exposure for the brand being linked to from new posts.
This exposure can result to additional shares and possible contextual links from industry-specific sites who will read new articles from the blog.
You can use Followerwonk to find bloggers with average amount of social followers.
Filter the list by no relationships to only search for bloggers that don’t have any connections to your Twitter profile.
Another method to find niche bloggers is through Buzzsumo.
Type in any related industry terms in the search bar and click View Shares button to find social shares of the blog.
List all blogs in a spreadsheet and filter the list by Trustflow and Domain Authority (set a benchmark for for these two metrics).
Your next step is to send emails to bloggers and ask if you can invest in their future content assets (blog posts) where you could get a mention(s) from them.
A few examples of link investments are:
- Asking the format of their next content asset and seeing if you can invest in another content format (infographic for a long-form blog post). During publication, you can ask the blogger to mention you as one of their content partners in creating the overall content piece.
- Identifying content promotions of your brand where the blogger could largely benefit from (a link/mention from your round-up email). Eventually, bloggers would naturally link to any of your blog posts.
- Letting a designer from your team help the blogger creates unique design for his/her content piece. A photo credit with a link pointing to your site is the beneficial part in this blogger outreach tactic.
- Asking to proofread their future content work based on high quality standards such as compelling headlines and call to actions at the end of the post. Gratitude with a branded mention (your name) would be the after effect of this strategy.
You can also offer content partnerships to bloggers. This process is doable in many ways:
- Buy content from bloggers in the list who are still starting to build their own brand, since you can get a cheaper price this way than hiring industry experts to write content for you. Publish the post as a content asset on your client’s site. Links would be naturally earned from industry-specific blogs as you can absorb connections from partnered bloggers (social followers, readers and brand evangelists).
- Distribute paid content pieces as guest posts to high traffic publications and content hubs. The likelihood of getting positive approval rate from these authority blogs is high since you’ve hired industry specialists to write quality articles for you.
- Watch out for incoming links to your client’s site and to published guest posts on other relevant blogs as you can build new relationships with newly found linkers in the industry by sending them emails (thank you).
If you can build relationships with five bloggers and get high quality content from them every week, then that would be a total of 20 expertly made blog posts every month submitted to industry-specific blogs, resulting to 20 contextual links.
Linkable Asset Model
Linkable asset is any part of a website or organization that its target audience will genuinely perceive as worth citing/referencing to, as defined by Jason Acidre.
Identifying which website’s content can potentially attract relevant links to the brand can help you create a solid link development campaign for your website, since you can easily use it as forefront proposition in linker outreach.
How to Identify Linkable Assets
Here are some ways to find existing linkable content pieces of the site:
- Use Ahrefs to determine site’s top grossing pages and sort the list from highest to lowest referring domains and social shares. Exclude the homepage and site’s landing/sales pages from your list and only choose blog content as the site’s linkable assets.
- Do a Google search for [brand name] and click on the Images tab. Look at what pops up in the search results. If images are owned by the company (blog photos, logo, team members’ visuals, etc..), then upload them in Reverse Image Search to see how many websites had linked to those visual content. The number of organic websites in the Image Reverse search results is a good indicator of the content’s performance in link acquisition.
- Create a brainstorming session within your team/brand and try to find out new offline events conducted by your company. Identify newsworthy angles from those events and pitch them to high authority publications to be included in one of their news stories.
- Identify brand ambassador(s) in your client’s brand and see if they have established authorities in your niche by looking at existing online interviews, contributions to round-ups and other available media content.
- Use Google Analytics data to track pages with the high user activity (high visits, ave. time duration, etc..).
How to Improve Linkable Assets
Once you’ve identified possible linkable assets in your website, you can now start enhancing these pages for better link acquisition performance. There are many areas in the content/page that you can improve on, such as:
Call to action
One of the elements that keep visitors stay longer on the site, aside from the quality of information the page contains is call to action.
Call to action (CTA) is an instruction to the audience to provoke an immediate response, usually using an imperative verb such as “call now” or “find out more”
Writing compelling call to actions in your content pieces can help you increase the possibility of pages to earn additional social shares and inbound links.
One classic example of this is encouraging readers to embed an infographic code in their blogs to add a visual content in their existing articles.
The more enticing call-to-action (CTA) is, the better chances of earning new contextual links to your linkable asset.
You might want to check out this post by Nick Kolenda about improving copywriting skills.
Social media plays a vital role in driving targeted traffic to the site’s key pages as well as opening up new link opportunities for the brand.
Linkable assets are more likely to earn new editorial links when shared multiple times on social profiles given that the more social shares a content piece acquires, the more it is perceived as informational and authoritative in a specific theme/topic.
Here are a few actionable tips driven from the statistics listed in Backlinko’s data driven guide to creating viral content:
- Add colorful visuals to your product guide. Data: Xerox found that colorful visuals made people 80% more likely to read a product guide.
- Find professional images and use them as visuals to your content. Data: An Internal Marketing Sherpa study found that pro images received 121% more Facebook shares than semi-professional photos.
- Set a featured image in your linkable asset. Data: Social shares with images get 150% more retweets on Twitter and 53% more likes on Facebook.
Length of content
Long-form content with quality information tends to perform better on search results than a 500-word blog post.
Professor Dr. Jonah Berger found that longer content was 76.8% more likely to be heavily shared (source).
The number of words (length) of content has a great impact on the page’s social performance and on its ability to be referenced by bloggers and researchers who would likely find it in search engines.
Based on Searchmetrics’ ranking factors, creating more or easy content doesn’t positively affect search rankings. Search engines are moving away from focusing on single keywords to actually diving in to the so-called, “content clusters”.
Content clusters are individual topic areas that are based around keywords and industry related terms.
Content assets focused on content clusters have higher chances of getting found on different niche search terms than a keyword-specific content piece.
Since search engines already understand what the content is all about, what topics it could be tapped and industry related terms it could be connected with, there’s no reason to write articles for each and every target keyword.
How to Promote Linkable Assets
Linkable asset promotion is where you actually put all your major efforts into place.
There are a lot of online asset promotion tactics out there, but there’s only a few that are really handy and applies to almost every industry.
Here are some ways to massively promote your linkable assets:
- Become a contributor to niche-specific publications and authority blogs and reference your linkable asset from your work. Make your anchor text a call-to-action (CTA) to encourage readers to click on the link pointing to your asset page.
- Build links from resource pages across your verticals. Find any broken link in those pages and use them as your value proposition in your initial outreach (ask webmasters if they could replace non-active links with a link to your content).
- Use Topsy or Buzzsumo to find active social shares in your niche. Segment the list by the number of social followers to only find brand evangelists with large following. Try to reach out to them and let them know about your linkable asset.
- Reach out to influencers that you’ve mentioned in your content. If they’ve find your linkable asset useful for their readers/followers, they’ll definitely share it or even link to it from their blogs.
- Put more eyeballs to your linkable asset by creating sponsored Facebook ads that are targeted to local audience/interest groups.
Other Useful Resources:
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