Link building is integral to the success of any SEO strategy, but it represents one area most business owners struggle with.  Link building can be time-consuming, requiring significant manual outreach – especially without an existing network of options like an SEO company may have developed.  This article will help guide your link building efforts and break down the basics of an outreach campaign.

List Out Potential Links 

The first step in developing an outreach campaign is to compile a list of potential links.  These links could include directories, bloggers, review pages, influencers, and other domains you may see beneficial.  Each type of link brings a different value to a website.  For example, directory links can be particularly impactful for local SEO campaigns, where influencer outreach can benefit B2C or product-based businesses.  There are many tools available to help supplement this list, such as backlink explorers like Ahrefs or Majestic. Other platforms like Bright Local or Scalefluence help with the acquisition of a la carte links to help visibility. Keep in mind the purpose of this list is to cast a wide net of potential opportunities and narrow the list down through the vetting and outreach processes.

Vet List

Once your potential link list has been completed, the next stage is to vet the links. One common metric to gauge a potential link’s impact and quality is Moz’s Spam Score.  This tool represents the percentage of links containing attributes that have been associated with penalized or banned sites by Google.  When Firestarter SEO vets links, we aim for links with a Spam score of under 20%.  

To take it one step further, we will then research all the links pointing to that website, and complete a quick scan of the spam score coming from the other sites (see picture below).  Doing so provides insights into the types of websites linking to the site we’re looking to acquire a link from, and gives us an idea of how quality that link may be.  If a large portion of sites pointing to our potential link have a high spam score, we have a potential red flag.  If, as in the case of the picture below, the majority of sites have a low spam score, we can approach this link as one likely to have higher quality, and thus pass on more value for our client.

Link Spam Score

One of the most effective ways to vet out a potential link is simply performing the “eye test.”  Visit the site you’re hoping to get a link from. If the copy contains foreign languages, we usually recommend avoiding that link.  If you feel the website looks too spammy, avoid it.  Other indicators can be the quality of pictures on the site, the topics discussed on the website, and the general look and feel of the site.  Ultimately, seek out sites containing relevant content to your industry, with a reputable look and feel.

Perform Outreach

Once a link list has been vetted and pared down, the outreach can begin.  While this can be time-consuming and monotonous, this is where results happen with a link building campaign.  We recommend creating a template email highlighting the website and business seeking the link, and being straightforward in asking how that site can get featured.  Many times, websites are seeking to add as much valuable content to their site as possible, so they may ask for a guest article.  Others have a listing fee.  There may even be some sites that will willingly link without asking for anything in return.  

Keep expectations realistic throughout the process, as the response rate can be very low.  While responses vary per industry, a very successful outreach campaign may only provide a success rate of 10%.

In spite of the time and effort a link building campaign takes, the returns are nearly immeasurable. By listing out potential links, taking the time to vet the list, and reaching out to potential opportunities, the campaign will be primed for success. Consistent link acquisition will position your business to increase its visibility and the number of inbound leads received generating lasting