In this guide we’ll be building a link building campaign for an imaginary brand new website in 2019. When it comes to new websites, there is some difference in approaching new link building campaigns, so I’ll do my best to explain ways for you to be able to adapt this strategy (and my link building theories) around your own campaigns.
As an example, you can build links at a much higher link velocity to aged sites than a fresh domain and if you’re just starting the campaign on an aged site for the first time, then you’ll want to do a detailed bad link analysis before building your own.
With that being said, this strategy is still highly relevant and highly effective for pretty much every site that you can think of.
I mean this very website has seen incredible success with it –
You’ll just need to make slight adaptions and make sure you’ve done your competitor analysis properly before hand.
Editors Note: If you haven’t read the above competitive analysis guide, I highly recommend going and reading that before continuing with this guide.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Makes A Good Backlink?
- 2 Foundation & Pillow Links
- 3 The Types of Pages You Want To Rank
- 4 The Types of Links We Want To Use
- 5 An Example Tier 1 Strategy
- 6 Link Velocity
- 7 Conclusion
I recently did an article on how Google passes juice between backlinks but I didn’t do a great job of explaining what constitute a good backlink.
Well, there is a range of factors that you have to determine first as to what would constitute a good backlink for the property you’re building that backlink to. A local plumber site in Sweden is going to need very different links to a gaming laptop affiliate site.. They’ll also have differing effects – Building localized citations at the Swedish site will boost it’s maps listing but would likely harm the international rankings of the affiliate site.
Generally though, a good backlink would be constituting to sending a positive signal to the page it is pointed at. Since Penguin 4.0 came into playing, everything is presumed to be on a page by page level with root authority slowly dying out.
- A good backlink would have a lower number of other external backlinks on a page.
- A good backlink would be from either a highly relevant page or a highly authoritative page.. Or ideally, both.
- A good backlink would be contextual or within context – Footer, sidebar and ad style links tend to send much weaker signals.
Authority doesn’t mean DA, it means overall links, overall pages, overall rankings and traffic.. Likewise, relevancy doesn’t have to mean you need the exact keyword page for page or the exact domain, in fact, huge newspaper sites are authorities for multiple niches and can often pass juice for topics they’re covering for the first time.
Foundation & Pillow Links
Let’s start off by getting the easy links out the way that everyone needs to know how to build and why before we get into the core ranking strategies, reasoning and tactics.
If you’re just starting out on a new site build or you’re in need of diversifying your link profile – And believe me, you will eventually need to diversify your link profile if you’re actively building backlinks to your site.
If you get stuck on how to execute any of the techniques in these guide, you can read my MEGA link building guide here. Then there are several techniques I like to do the most –
The obvious and most overstated pillow link in the game.. Citations are a very strong signal for local sites and can be used for national ECommerce trust signals to great effect.
I only recommend doing manual citations, and limiting the number of them you do over drip feeding. You can still build 50, 100 or even 150 really high quality (Authority, Niche, Geo etc) citations to a site.. but I’d recommend over the course of a month or 2, it’s not a matter of days anymore.
I’ve been building links from these sites since the Yahoo Q&A days.. And they’re still one of my favorite platforms to use for acquiring really niche relevant, authoritative links. Not to mention the fact that you can get highly specific traffic from sites like quora, and that may even be a trust signal within itself.
A base trust signal for Google to authenticate a site and a free and easy way to get one. Unlike citations, you don’t need 150 social profiles but at least having the core ones not only as a backlink & trust signal but also for online reputation management of your brand is key to the longevity of your business.
Whilst not a link signal, these are a trust signal and I still recommend trying to actively get natural link signals – Figuring out Facebook & Twitter Ads can be beneficial to your site in the long run and send organic signals Google does pick up.
As long as you’re manually checking each infographic by hand before submitting them.. Then you can easily find a wide array of directory sites that offer solid NoFollow and DoFollow links for a few minutes work and a cheap freelance designer.
The Types of Pages You Want To Rank
Different pages require different linking signals and in my opinion, have a different ROI.
You should ALWAYS do page by page link analysis but as a general rule of thumb I like to put the cheaper links at supporting content whilst pointing my more expensive, safer and most importantly stronger links at my money pages.
Doing Your Link Building Due Diligence
It goes without saying that you need to do your due diligence when link building to a website.
Here is a perfect example of a guest post link we just secured for this very site –
As you can see it’s on a very high DR domain, the site has continually gone up in traffic for the past 2 years and the traffic value to volume is very good.
We try our hardest to use APIs to en masse check the inventory of our sites for exactly these issues, and this very site is within our guest post inventory.
If you’re using any dodgier link techniques like PBNs, then you also need to do further due dilligence around wayback machine checks, domain age/history and content quality/OBL count/what sites are being linked to.
Link Building via Supporting Content
Supporting content is topically relevant content on your site that internally links with a keyword specific anchor text back to your money page.
If you do your research properly, these pages can often add additional traffic to your sites which can lead to more sales, conversions, email signups, pixel data and more that can all add value to your site.
Ideally, when we are doing link building to these pieces they aren’t JUST going to be supporting the main piece because otherwise it becomes a waste of funds.. We want to do keyword research around our supporting content to make sure we have pages that can themselves rank and generate all of the above sources of revenue/value for the site.
As a rule of thumb, for low competition supporting content you can get away with pages between DA/DR10 and above.. Whilst anything in the ranges of medium/high competition, you’re going to want to be getting links to your supporting pieces from pages with a DA/DR of 25 – 40.
Link Building Direct @ Money Pages
When it comes to building links directly at your page, the entire basis of this will be on your page & competitor analysis.
You likely won’t need DR90 editorial backlinks to rank a local plumbers business and you also won’t really need citations to rank parasites, so it greatly comes down to the type of backlinks your competitors have – And what it takes to outdo them.
However, we still try to recommend only building DoFollow, contextual links from sites that have a minimum of DA/DR30 and organic traffic of 1,000 visitors per month – Though also take into consideration any large drop offs or increases as being both negative and positive ranking signals.
The Types of Links We Want To Use
One singular, toxic link can throw your multi-thousand dollar link building campaign into disarray – Doing your due diligence on the links you built at your money pages is highly important.
There isn’t a specific link building technique I would jump to for tier 1 links, besides the obvious being guest posts.. There are a range of techniques you can use to gain links – Broken link building, niche edits, guest posting, forum posts and so on.
The main thing, is making sure the website it’s on is of good quality and the page you’re building the link from is as relevant as possible.
What Makes A Website Good Quality?
Metrics don’t matter all that much.. They’re a good baseline, but it really comes down to manually reviewing the traffic of the site, domain age, link profile and so on.
Making sure the site hasn’t been hit by algorithmic or manual penalties in the last 12 months is my #1 priority.. Everything after that is additional quality factors.
- Check the Organic traffic graph on Ahrefs & SEMRush.
- Check the backlink profile via Ahrefs & SEMRush, a quick overview to make sure it’s not spammed to death is a good idea – If you’re doing link insertions, then checking the page you’re trying to buy a link on is just plain common sense.
- Check the domain age via whois.com – Make sure it isn’t a re-built 3 month old site some SEO is trying to flog guest posts on.
- Run the Google site operator and make sure the indexed pages all look good – If you stumble across viagra pages on a sports blog, probably a safe bet to not post to that website.
There’s 4 quick steps to check the quality of a domain – There are other factors, and if you want to go really deep, you can start looking for hidden PBNs and all sorts.
What Makes A Page Relevant?
A lot of people think you need the exact topic you’re trying to rank for but that’s not how Google works – Google groups keywords into topical bubbles, and it understands that keywords are related to each other.
If your page is about “dog food” you don’t need a link from another page specifically about dog food.. Anything about dogs or pet food or puppies or dog training is still all topically relevant to the main dog food page we’re trying to build links to.
An Example Tier 1 Strategy
Let’s say you wanted to rank your affiliate website’s page for “best budget gaming laptops” – You hadn’t built any links to the page yet and you were position #90 on a medium authority tech blog with zero backlinks – You also built 3x 1,000+ word supporting content pieces.
The average DR in the SERPs is in the 80s but there are a few sites under DR30 ranking in the top 3 pages, and for this example let’s say your site is DR40.
Firstly, I would build this link building campaign over the course of 3 months and assign $9,000 to get to #1 – You may also need to expand the current page, improve OnPage and do more supporting pages, but this is a theoretical campaign.. but being #1 for that keyword (and all it’s longtails) alone should be generating $2,500/Month at the lower end.
Over the course of 3 months I would build 20 DR50+ guest posts/niche edits direct at the page with about 40 pillow links from Q&As, Infographic Submissions & mix in social signals organically on top – I would also do 3x DR30+ edits/guest posts at each supporting content piece and blast all of my contextual tier 1s with Tier 2 PBN links.
All of these links would be drip fed over the course of the 3 months – Averaging about 1 new backlink direct every 1 day, though it’s a mixture of NF/DF.
Backlink or “Link Velocity” is the number and rate of referring domains pointing at a website over a set period of time. We normally measure our link velocity in the amount of links we build at a website per week or month.
Link velocity is arguably more important to NOT mess up than it is to try to setup some elite strategy, if anything, less is more.
One of the major things you’ll probably notice about this site’s backlink profile is that we have a pretty high link velocity within the last 2 months of launching the site –
Now we’ve actually built around 100 referring domains in the last 60 days, which at a brand new site is more than I would normally recommend.. However this site’s domain was already aged and indexed with a one page application site for over 6 months prior to this site launching and had attracted a few links already.
Likewise, around 40% of those links will be split between our citations (As we have a GMB Listing and physical office addresses) and social profiles/pillow links – We built around 30 custom citations by hand, based on competitor and niche research and another 40 social profiles/pillow links.
We recommend building at the maximum 10 DoFollow referring domains per month at brand new websites that are allowed to naturally index, and around 20 – 40 NoFollow links.
For aged sites (2 years or older), we recommend a maximum of 25 DoFollow referring domains and 40 – 60 NoFollow links.
Always remember that this is just guidance from our own testing and your own link velocity should be based on your own research and the size of your site – The more pages you’re building links at, the higher link velocity you can have because the less likely you are to trigger an algorithmic penalty by building a large number of links at one page.. Bar the homepage, which has it’s own rules.
Link building strategy is more of an art than a direct science, there is always correlation that you can find.. but there is definitely a huge number of differences in every campaign, and there is no set methodology that’ll rank every one of your clients, sorry $500/Mo agency owners.
That being said, there is definitely a number of rules you can follow and common sense that should keep you safe from the Google wrath for many years to come. I hope this guide gave you a lot of those very rules and tips, if you had any questions, just drop a comment down below.