The Definitive Guide to Enterprise Link Building
Xight Interactive has been providing Technical SEO services for the past 5 years now, although our company is widely known for enterprise link building.
Over the years, link building remained a vital part of digital marketing and I personally didn’t see any signs of slowing down.
It is very apparent when seeing most dominant companies/entities thriving in search are very active in their own link development campaigns.
The link graph is still a core component of today’s search algorithm (as revealed by Google’s Andrey Lipattsev).
Links are obviously important, now more than ever, as Google continues to strengthen their algorithmic filters to ensure that they are only counting valuable links – in real-time! (Enter Penguin 4.0).
We’ve somehow proven (time and time again) that tremendous results can be expected when link building is done right.
Driving almost 5 million organic visits, with 80% of the campaign focused on high-quality link acquisition.
And following the same principle, we’re doing it again.
This post is basically a walkthrough of our current process for enterprise link building campaigns.
To be genuinely effective in launching/executing enterprise-level link building campaigns, you really have to start with your team’s mindset.
It’s very important to first understand the “why’s” for you to be able to determine the “what’s, where’s and how’s” in building links that will actually be valuable to your clients’ businesses.
Build links for branding.
Focus on associating your brand with other authoritative brands and entities in your space. Aim to get featured by A-list digital publishers.
Getting featured on sites like Inc. is one of the best ways to make the most out of the links you are building to your site, as you not only get to share your brand’s expertise, but you’re also establishing authority in your field.
Build links for traffic.
I’ve always believed that the most powerful links that you can get are the ones that can directly send relevant traffic to your site.
Getting these links should be enough to impact your search rankings as well.
3. Trust / Authority
Build links to build trust and authority.
Acquire links from highly credible sites that both people and Google trust and see as an authority.
And in order to do that, your campaign needs to have topically relevant content assets (that these high authority websites would want to use as a reference/resource) in place.
Build links for conversions.
Identify link sources that are driving more customers (or highly engaged traffic) to your website – and build more of them.
Make it a habit to check your Analytics’ assisted conversions.
5. Crawl Budget
Build links to optimize your site’s crawl budget.
Crawl budget is the number of pages being crawled in a site during a given period of time. The higher crawl budget your site has, the more of its pages get indexed and recalculated for better search rankings.
SEO PowerSuite did a really interesting test last year, in which they’ve found a strong correlation between having more inbound links and a higher number of spider visits to a page.
Lastly, if you’re building links for the first 5 reasons I’ve mentioned, you’ll ultimately improve your pages’ search rankings.
There is a bit of truth in the saying “if you build them, they will come”. Start building the right links with the right mindset.
Below is basically the timeline of our company’s progress in terms of client retention, profitability and efficiency as a service provider.
Back in 2010, I was a solo consultant. Everything was easy to manage, and it was really profitable as a business.
But as many say: “if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”.
So in 2011, I met JP and we decided to build an SEO company.
Our company was relatively good in its first 2 years of operations. Even we were encountering a lot of challenges, we didn’t really struggle that much, since we were more optimistic and driven with what we were doing day in and day out.
But after 2 years, growing the company became more of a pain, considering the problems that come with it are also becoming more extreme than what we’ve previously dealt with. Everything suddenly became more stressful.
And it also came to a point where some of us weren’t happy with what we’re doing anymore. We almost went bankrupt in 2015.
We didn’t really have issues in acquiring new clients, as we get a lot of inquiries every week (mainly through this blog). But our weak internal process was killing our business.
The company was losing clients every month. So there’s no use in consistently getting new clients on board if we’ll eventually lose them.
The problem was our process.
It was a mess.
Since our company’s inception, we were primarily offering inbound marketing services (integrated campaigns for Technical SEO, link building, content marketing, social media, conversion optimization etc…).
We had to prepare and design tailor fit campaigns for each client we get to work with. And this also means we need to recruit, hire and train more people to specialize in different areas and marketing disciplines.
It took us some time before realizing how much we were losing (which I know, we should have figured out early on).
In late 2015, we finally decided to only focus on the areas/services that we know we can be really great at and genuinely deliver results (link building, content development & SEO consulting).
We built robust processes around the methods we often use (guest publishing, broken link building, resource link building on .edu sites and link reclamation).
Having our team surmount the tactical-level part made it easier for us to explore and experiment on the more complex and strategic side of link building.
Our team designed easy-to-follow process maps for new hires (which we also show to prospective clients for them to better understand how we approach our link building campaigns).
These are our process maps for Research, Prospecting, and Outreach:
For a more in-depth look at our process, I’m sharing a brief step-by-step guide below.
1. Content Inventory
We first look and identify which content assets from the client’s site we can effectively use for the link acquisition campaign (typically for broken link building, resource link building and link reclamation).
Listing suggestions to further improve the content for it to be more linkable is also a part of this task.
2. Content Ideation / Development
Creating or having linkable content assets is imperative to have a successful link building campaign.
If the client has no existing content that we can promote for links, we often conceptualize and develop new assets (if necessary).
3. Link Prospecting
We then start compiling a new batch of list of prospects that are topically relevant to the site’s assets (which is done every start of the month).
Internally, we use Google spreadsheets – with duplicate checker functions on each month’s master list. This way our team won’t overlap on prospects that will be contacted. Assigning and delegating prospects based on each member’s specialty became easier as well.
Internally, we track all outreach emails, from the initial outreach, prospects’ response, and up to the series of (3) follow up emails we implement for non-responding prospects.
All email copies for outreach are also internally monitored, so we can continuously test and improve the approach we use for the entirety of the campaign.
Individual stats & performance per outreach specialist are measured (internally) on a weekly basis – to immediately adjust and improve the efficiency of our link building campaigns.
Each of our outreach specialist develops their own multiple personas to efficiently test different approaches to non-responding prospects.
These changes to our process allowed our team members to become more efficient and consistent individually in securing high-value link targets.
Useful resources on Guest Publishing:
Useful resources on Broken Link Building:
Useful resources on Resource Link Building:
Useful resources on Link Reclamation:
Now that we have processes in place that can cover and semi-automate the usual tactics we implement (which also makes it easier for us to make decent month-end reports), it’s now easier for us to explore, test and execute on other link building strategies.
Also read: (More) Enterprise Link Building Strategies
Below are some of the strategies we’ve been testing on these past few months.
10x content (the new form of link baiting) is basically creating content that is 10 times better than the best result that can currently be found in the search results for a given keyword phrase or topic (as Rand describes).
Consistently creating more content assets (assuming they are 10x better than your competitors) can tremendously scale your link building efforts – especially when they are ranking for highly searched informational queries (which can allow your pages to easily attract and earn more links overtime).
Build more evergreen content for your clients’ sites. Continuously update and re-optimize whenever it’s appropriate. The more you keep your content assets fresh; the more-likely they can secure search rankings (and are harder to compete with).
Including this arsenal to your SEO/link building campaigns will also result to more highly targeted traffic. Need proof? This blog runs on 2 evergreen pages.
The entire approach can add so much value to any form of online business. Because the more traffic your assets get, the more links they can attract, then the more it helps your branding and finally more sales to your business.
Best content types for link earning:
1. Practical Guides / Tutorials
2. Research and Case Studies
3. Animated Infographics (.GIF)
Collaborate and co-create content with other publishers/brands in your industry (preferably content types that both parties can easily distribute, such as embeddable data visualization or videos).
The best way to get started with this strategy is to find older pieces of content (text-based) created by other publishers that you can transform into visual content.
For instance, last year I reached out to Trellis to ask if they’ll be interested to turn one of their posts into an infographic.
They said yes.
Once our designer was finished with the graphic, I’ve sent it to them for review. I didn’t ask for their help in distributing the content, or linking to where it’s going to be published.
But fortunately, they liked the finished version of the data visualization we created, and published it on their site (with a link).
I then contacted BuiltWith – where we’ve collected the data for the infographic – just to send a thank you email.
They found it great, and offered to publish it on their site as well. Thus resulting to a DA 68 link for both parties (our client & Trellis).
Another form of co-marketing that you can also explore is through finding publishers in your space who don’t create their own images. Create it for them (graphs, diagrams, charts, etc…) in exchange for links.
I wrote a post last year that extensively details this particular strategy (that you can read here).
Optimize “Write For Us” Pages
The tactic was also shared by Glen recently on his massive post on advanced link building (that you must read!).
Attract potential content/link partners who are also actively seeking link opportunities by making sure your site can easily be found through queries such as:
- Keyword + “write for us”
- Keyword + “become a contributor”
- Keyword + “guest post by”
- Keyword + “contribute to”
- Keyword + inurl:”contribute”
- Keyword + “submit a guest post”
- Keyword + “submit an article”
This way you are letting prospects come to you (or your 3rd party sites). Review their websites and see if partnering with them will be beneficial to your clients.
Then start negotiating link opportunities for your clients (ex: publishing content on their site, or getting introduced to their contacts/relationships or sites already linking to them).
Optimize “Recommended” List Pages
Create exclusive listings on your site and optimize them to rank for “top xxx in xxx”.
List services/products that are relevant to your target audience, but indirectly competes with the services/products you are offering. For example, if you have an ecommerce site that sells digital cameras and DSLRs, you can make an exclusive list of professional photographers per city/state/country you sell your products to.
Consistent traffic to your exclusive list will entice more sites to be listed on it – given that you can send more customer to their business.
Another sample is Moz’s recommended list of SEO consultants, firms and agencies. They are a software company, so it also makes sense to them to promote SEO service providers.
Generating more organic traffic to these pages is easier with a higher DA (so it’s important to build links directly to them too).
Send out embeddable badges to everyone included on your list of handpicked businesses. It’s a win/win. You sustain the traffic, they get more business.
On Testing More Outreach Tactics
Try other outreach tactics – outside the usual guest blogging and link begging route – that are more focused on building long-term relationships.
1. Stalk your A-list prospects. Use memes related to their personal interests.
We’ve been working closely with GoBiggr these past several months, and they’re really great at outreach techniques such as this. Sujan Deswal also wrote a piece that includes this particular strategy which you can also read here.
2. Collaborate with other active guest bloggers in your space. Pass on contacts/relationships with each other.
3. Offer to update others’ outdated content (then get links from old pages)
Seasonal Content Campaigns
If your client organizes annual events (both offline and online), optimize its landing pages to become more linkable by providing more useful content and visuals.
Because these are linkable assets that you can promote every year for links.
It’s best to update content on old URLs instead of creating new landing pages yearly. It will make the landing pages more robust in terms of link equity, wherein you can easily pass on more ranking value to other key pages of your site through internal linking.
You can also launch holiday-based campaigns that are related to your target audience. Then reach out to bloggers who have supported/promoted the same cause or related holiday promos by other brands in the past.
There are dozens of holidays all across the US every year – and make that hundreds around the world. Too many link opportunities out there.
If you liked this post, you can follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre.
Need help with link building? Check out our link building services.