Before I show you exactly how I performed this totally repeatable task, let’s briefly go over why backlinks are important for SEO, and the basics of link building.
After that, I’ll walk you through 4 simple steps to consistently build 50+ backlinks each and every month.
Great! Let’s get started…
What are Backlinks?
A backlink is a link to your website from someone else’s website.
Backlinks tell search engines how “important” your website or webpage is, so they have a huge impact on your search engine rankings.
When it comes to backlinks, quality is far more important than quantity.
Quality backlinks are natural. You should never buy backlinks, sell backlinks, use link exchange networks, or any other artificial methods of link building. These methods are not recommended by search engines, and you can get de-indexed or penalized for participating in these practices.
So you may be wondering, what is the correct way to get backlinks?
How to Get Backlinks (the Right Way)
To explain the correct way to build backlinks to your site, let’s take a look at an example.
Blogger “Sally” writes a fascinating article. Blogger “Sam” disagrees with this article, and writes about it in another article. He links to Sally’s article in his post, so that his readers can understand both points of view.
Sally receives a valuable backlink.
Meanwhile, Sam’s article becomes popular, and receives many more backlinks.
But guess what? Sally’s one backlink increases in quality due to the number of websites linking to Sam’s article.
See how this whole thing unfolded quite naturally, just like a conversation in real life?
Quality backlinks add value to an article, and help to facilitate conversations online. And since Sally’s article sparked that conversation, she will get “credit” for it through her backlink, and she’ll be rewarded by Google with a higher page rank.
That’s why the best way to get backlinks is by creating conversation-worthy content.
I’ll show you exactly how to do that in the steps below. I’ll also show you how to make sure that your content gets the attention of the right people, who are happy to engage in a conversation around your content.
Ready to get started building quality backlinks? Let’s dive in to the 4 steps…
Step 1: Create Conversation-Worthy Content
The first step in any link building campaign is to see what content you have to work with.
If you’ve already created some worthy content, then it makes the job easier. If you haven’t, then you’ll have to come up with some blog post ideas, and either create the content yourself or hire someone to create it for you.
When I do link building for my clients, I will first run an audit on their existing content to assess it’s “worthiness”. To do that, I’ll load up a website crawling tool like the Screaming Frog SEO Spider tool. Then, I’ll throw in the URL and take a look at the page titles. If anything catches my eye, I’ll check that page out and assess the content.
You are looking for anything:
- Or anything else that provides a good angle for a conversation
For example, one of my clients has a site about guns. The content itself is fantastic, so I was able to work with a lot of it. To make it even better, I segmented the content into smaller, more specific topics (I love segmentation, it really helps with the creating a list of prospects in the next step).
Segments are simply different categories of content within the main topic. For this particular client who’s business is about guns, the segments I decided to target were:
- “Women and guns”
- “Concealed carry”
- “Beginners gun tips”
- “Gun cleaning”
- “Reloading ammunition”
You can see how this opens up a lot of potential sites that would link to this specific content, as long as it’s good enough.
The technical part:
I have a project management sheet that I use to track all of my campaigns. (I’ll give you access to this later.) It has a tab to track the content that I use, so I list all of the content pieces, along with some keywords that people might use to find that content.
The spreadsheet looks a little something like this:
I then lay out the content plan for the month (or the entire quarter), so that my team will know exactly what content needs to be created, what type of links to go after, and how many prospects I want to target for each piece of content.
(Don’t worry if you’re not sure what that means yet– I’ll explain more about how to go after links and find prospects in the next step…)
Step 2: Create a List of Prospects
In this step, I walk through the selected pieces of content and decide on some keywords that somebody would type in to find that piece of content.
I also add some generic phrases that are related to the content piece (you can see some of these in the screenshot I shared above).
Then, I create a list of prospects (in separate tabs in the project management sheet) for each segment I have selected above.
Next, I have a second spreadsheet which contains a dynamic list of sortable advanced search operators. These allow you to type very specific things into Google and be given results that match this specific criteria.
So I take one of the keywords from the content tab I showed you earlier, and type it into my “operators” sheet. Then I select the link type I have selected (which in this case is resource page links) and it gives me lots of search operators ready to be cut and pasted into Google.
The sheet looks like this:
I repeat this for all of the segments, so I now have 100 targets (checked for suitability by eye) for each piece of content. I list them all in a new tab named “targets”.
It’s important to take the necessary time to ensure that the targets are suitable (high quality sites, not spammy sites), aren’t your competition, and aren’t sites that never link out. These types of sites mess up your percentages. You will also need to find the contact info of the person in charge of the site.
The easiest way to do this by far is to use Buzzstream, which allows you to upload a list of sites, and then finds the contact info for you (among a lot of other things which are beyond the scope of this tutorial).
Step 3: Show Them What You’ve Got
Now it’s time to show your prospects what you have and see if they would be interested in linking to it.
Outreach is extremely important: it’s how you get your content in front of the eyes of the people who may be interested in sharing it with their audience. So don’t skip this step!
I like to write a separate email template for each segment, and then personalize each message based on what I see on their site. Then I’ll simply send the email and see if they respond.
My own personal style is not to be pushy or take up too much of the recipient’s time. Just keep it short and to the point, show them what you have, and ask if they would share it with their audience if they think they would be interested in it. I’ve never found a need to be more in-depth than this.
Here’s an example outreach email from Art of Emails which was successful, although it is a bit longer than what I typically write. (I’ll also give you my own templates at the end of this tutorial.)
And here is a typical successful reply from one of my emails:
For my client, I emailed 500 people. Within one month, 54 of them had responded positively with a backlink. So that’s approximately a 10% success rate, which is what I like to aim for.
Since I was so eager to impress this client, I also put the word out that I was looking for gun related links in my Facebook group. I just asked if anybody knew somebody with a gun related site, as I had something cool to show them. This resulted in 4 additional backlinks.
This simply demonstrates the power of building relationships. After a 10 second post on Facebook, I was already more than 10% of the way to my goal of 50 backlinks!
Step 4: Follow Up
This step is something that I don’t see too many people talk about, but for me it’s extremely important.
The majority of my backlinks come from the follow up, so you should always follow up with your prospects to make sure they see your message.
Anything can happen to stop somebody from seeing your email or replying to it. A timely, un-invasive reminder is often extremely well received.
Specifically for this campaign, 66% of the backlinks came from my 4-email follow up sequence (in case you’re wondering, that’s 36 backlinks!).
I go into this more in my video below. But essentially, the followups are extremely short and concise.
Here’s an example follow up email:
See? Short and sweet.
So what happens when you do things exactly as described above? Well, here’s what happened after I used this technique for my client.
As I am building my links, I like to keep track of them inside my spreadsheet. This is what the “live links” tab looks like (pretty rewarding when you see 50+ of these rows!).
Here’s a breakdown of the total number of backlinks I got within one month.
- Number of outreach messages sent – 500
- Live backlinks – 54
- Number of links missed because the client wouldn’t allow me to use guest posting – 1 bajillion (estimated) 😉
- Traffic increase (pageviews) – 97,774, or a 45% increase from both organic and referral traffic
- Number of email sign ups – 665, or a 48% increase
Recap & Conclusion
After one month of link building, my client received an extra 97,774 website visitors, and 665 new email subscribers. Not too bad! (In total, this only took a few hours of my own time, plus around 20 hours of my staff’s time.)
To recap, here is an overview of the entire 4-step process that we covered in this backlink tutorial:
First, create conversation-worthy content. Second, make a list of prospects who are likely to want to share your content on their blog. Third, reach out to your list of prospects. Fourth, follow up.
You may have thought that building backlinks is really difficult or time consuming, and maybe you couldn’t do it. But you can, and it’s extremely easy. Using this 4-step system, you will be building backlinks for SEO in no time.
By the way, the staff members who did all of this work for me were hired a mere 2 days prior and had never done SEO before, but they could follow a set of instructions… the same set of instructions that I shared with you in this tutorial.
You can have access to the complete set of instructions completely free at this link. You’ll also get a very specific set of instructions that will allow you to gain 10 quality backlinks in 5 hours of work or less (or you can just hand it off to an assistant and let them do the work for you).
In case you’re more of a visual learner, you can see me talk through the entire process in the video below…
That’s it for the tutorial. Now go build some backlinks!