Launching your first link building campaign can be daunting.
Getting your site operational can be difficult enough, and finding ways to acquire links for your new site can seem impossible. However, links are essential to online visibility and improving visibility is crucial to the success of a new website — you must take links into account when marketing your site.
There are a number of different tactics and techniques you can use to build links, but if you don’t put in the necessary work prior to launching a project, your campaign will fall short. Before you launch a link acquisition campaign you must:
- Ensure your site is ready for links
- On-site SEO
- Determine Scope of the Campaign
- Execute Niche Analysis
- Identify key players
- Analyze the competition
Preparation is crucial, and it starts with your site.
Ensure Your Site is Ready for Links
Of course you can’t begin to pursue links if your site isn’t ready to receive links.
There are three general areas you need to consider when evaluating your website’s readiness for a link acquisition campaign: on-site SEO, functionality and design.
If your on-site elements aren’t in check, the SEO value of any links you get will be diminished. Consider the following factors:
- Title tags
- H1s, H2s, etc.
- Meta descriptions
- URL structures
- txt files
- Internal linking structure
If your site doesn’t function properly, not only will it be a detriment to your SEO, but it will lead to a poor user experience when people click on your links. You should not be building links to a site that doesn’t work properly. Some aspects worth looking at include:
- Site speed – Do pages load quickly and easily?
- Functionality of links – Do they work? Are they pointing to the correct page?
- Site navigation structure – Can users easily move around the site?
- Functionality of images – Do they load properly? Are they clean and clear?
- Mobile friendly (if applicable) – Can people view your site on mobile without issues?
Similar to functionality, you don’t want to build links that send people to poorly designed website. Anyone who clicks on your links should be happy with where the link takes them. Some areas worth examining would be:
- Compelling/clear site copy
- Current/fresh design
- Clearly branded/unique
- Caters to your specific audience
Once you’ve made sure your site checks out in these three major categories, it should be ready for a link campaign.
Determine Scope of the Campaign
Start by determining the scope of your link acquisition project.
The single most important portion of this process is to establish specific goals. You need to determine exactly what it is you want your link campaign to achieve.
- Do you want higher rankings in the SERPs? If so, what keywords or phrases would you like to target? Why do you want to target them?
- Is your purpose increased conversions? What does a conversion look like for you?
- Do you want to build your online brand? Is your focus to develop awareness, build authority, or both?
- Are you trying to improve your brand’s reputation?
- Do you want to grow and develop relationships?
- Do you want increased content visibility?
- Are you looking for an improved industry presence?
These are all important questions that you must ask yourself when trying to set goals for your link building project. Of course your available resources and budget will play a factor, but if you can define narrow goals it will become much easier to align them with your budget — this will determine the size and scope of your project.
Execute Niche Analysis
Proper niche analysis is critical to link building success. The insights gleaned from industry analysis will guide your strategy throughout your campaign and provide the information necessary to determine which tactics will be successful.
Identify Key Players
You can start by identifying the key figures within your niche. This includes influential people and industry leading websites — often times the influencers in your niche are the people running the prominent sites.
The best way to find influencers within your niche is to go out and actively engage in the online communities associated with your industry. Also, to make things easier you can take advantage of tools like BuzzSumo and Followerwonk (from Moz) which utilize social data to highlight influential profiles.
Finding the influencers in your niche will be important for link acquisition because these folks hold the power to greatly amplify the reach of your work, simply by sharing it with their own audiences, leading to more links.
Along with influential people, you need to also identify the influential websites in your vertical. Participating in forums, social communities and even simply interacting on sites you’re already aware of will help you find these sites. But you can also expedite the process with a combination of Google advanced search and select tools.
Namely, you can use SEMrush and the Mozbar to quickly assess how influential the sites you find with advanced search are. SEMrush will provide traffic data to show how popular the site is, while the Mozbar will offer Domain/Page Authority metrics that give a rough idea of how authoritative the website is.
Analyze the Competition
After you identify the key players in your niche, it’s time to turn the microscope on your competition.
There is much you can learn from your competition that will help you be more successful in your pursuit of links. But first you need to determine your main search competitors.
You may have a decent idea of who your direct and indirect competitors are, but in terms of search you won’t have the full picture unless you actually dig into the search results associated with your keywords. You can also use SEMrush for competitor keyword research, which will give you an idea of who your search competitors are as well.
Once you’ve determined who your major search competition is, you can move on to the analysis portion. Because you’re preparing for a link acquisition project, it makes sense to examine your competitors’ backlinks.
While the backlink reports you extract will indeed offer viable link prospects, you shouldn’t simply use these reports to mine competitor links. There is much more you can glean from the link profiles of your competition, including:
- Insight into the linking environment within your niche
- Data regarding popular content and strategies driving links
- Link competition for specific keywords and phrases
You can even use this information to find gaps where content opportunities exist, which can guide your content ideation process.
In order to be effective, you must fully understand the competitive landscape within your vertical. Competitive analysis is imperative prior to launching a link building campaign.
Launching your first link project is intimidating, but if you prepare the right way you can be successful. To recap, planning a link campaign requires you:
- Ensure your site is fully optimized and user-friendly. Make it something worth linking to.
- Determine scope and goals of your campaign. What do you want to accomplish, and how will building links meet that need?
- Research your industry, niche and competitors. Understand the link landscape, and determine how you will exceed the competition.
Performing these necessary steps and processes prior to launching your campaign will help you be more successful in the long-run. Have any questions? Let me know in the comment section!
Image credit: Canva & Unsplash