In SEO we talk a lot about ranking factors, ranking signals, and ranking in general. For a long time, we’ve known that there are three ranking factors that Google uses to establish what sites to show in SERPs:
Google has recently come out and said that they wished people would stop worrying about RankBrain, which, depending on who you are, might make you focus on RankBrain that much more. Unfortunately, we can’t really do much about Google and RankBrain, but we can absolutely influence SERPs with content and link building.
For this post, we want to focus on backlinks, backlink campaigns, and link building. Now, if backlinks are so important, where are your backlinks already coming from, how do you get more, where can you find backlinks to your site, and how do you pursue a campaign?
Where Are My Backlinks Coming From?
Backlink research has gotten much easier over the last few years with the introduction of tools like Moz’s Backlink Explorer and Monitor Backlinks, which are able to pull backlink data into easy to digest reports. You can even monitor competitors to see from where and when they are getting backlinks. Backlinko is another popular tool that can give you insight into where your links are coming from.
Luckily, backlink analysis is relatively easy. Monitor Backlinks includes information from Moz, but also adds trust flow to Moz’s spam score so you can easily comb through your new backlinks and keep anything with a Domain Authority greater than your site with a high or even moderate trust flow and relatively low – sub 20% – spam score.
Any backlink research you conduct on your own site will tell you which domains are linking to you and, more specifically, which pages of theirs are linking to specific pages on your site. This gives you a good overview of the kinds of sites that are likely to link back to yours with a little asking, incentivizing – through content and never money – or good old fashioned face to face networking.
Your First Backlink Campaign
The backlink plan might be the most tedious, least fulfilling, and most frustrating part of SEO. In essence, a backlink campaign is like cold calling for sales, but with more anonymity, less incentive (what goods or products are you selling? None? What about this blog post that you wrote?), and less feedback than repeated hangups. One way to go about it is to come up with a form email that offers a blog you wrote to your target websites, and then send that email to 100 websites every day until you get a couple links.
However, there are people who actually enjoy networking: PR firms to the rescue! If you don’t have the budget for a PR firm, we recommend doing some competitive backlink analysis. Simply enter a competitor’s URL in Moz or Monitor Backlinks and look at the websites they are getting backlinks from. Then start sending requests for backlinks, or content geared towards that site, or publish something on your own site about their site. It may take a while to get through to them , but if their DA is high enough, it will more than make up for the time you’ve spent.
Unless you hear back directly from the other website, you will have to regularly check in with your backlink tool to see if your backlink campaign is paying off. Luckily Monitor Backlinks offers a really easy way to see any new backlinks over a specified date range! If your site has any seasonality, there can be a huge fluctuation in the number of backlinks you see coming to and leaving your site, but using a backlink tool can help even that fluctuation out as you can anticipate dips.
The best advice we can offer about backlinks is that it takes time, so don’t get discouraged; stick with your campaign, test different emails, try different channels, go to networking events, and keep writing high quality content that other websites will want to feature!