How to Build Links to Your Blog – A Case Study
Posted by MatthewBarby
This post was originally in YouMoz, and was promoted to the main blog because it provides great value and interest to our community. The author’s views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of Moz, Inc.
I recently took some time out to do a bit of travelling across East Asia (which was incredible!) and decided that I would, along with a group of friends, set up a travel blog. Knowing that I would be embarking on some amazing adventures, I thought it'd be a waste not to blog about them. Plus, the idea of bringing in a little extra cash to go into my travel fund helped in my decision.
After a month or so of development the site was finally ready and I wanted to start thinking about how to get some traffic going on the website. Whilst paid advertising and social media were a huge part of the strategy, I knew that appearing in the search engines for a wide selection of long-tail phrases was going to be instrumental to the blog's success. This is when I began developing my link building strategy and, after trialing out some very successful approaches, I've decided to now share my link building tactics with you all – you can thank me later 🙂
Identifying My Link Targets
As a brand new blog it can be really tough to gain links from high authority sites. Unless you have something particularly unique or special (and even then you might struggle), it's an uphill battle to get your content in front of anyone. With this in mind I decided to start off small. However, the general rule of thumb that I kept for any links that I was looking to build was this:
"The link must have a genuine potential to generate traffic back to the blog"
Many blogs and other websites have 'useful links' or ' useful resources' pages. These pages generally list partner websites, relevant blogs or other sites that they work with. Although these types of links aren't going to result in ground-breaking link building wins they could, if you prospect correctly, provide a link that will not just give you an SEO boost, but actually generate traffic to your site as well. These types of links are particularly relevant for the travel industry.
A lot of people write-off these types of links, classing them as 'spammy' or 'low quality links'. Now, whilst I agree that they aren't enormously powerful, I disagree that they are useless. To find the pages where I wanted to get a link placed back to my blog, I followed these quick steps:
- First, I ran this query through Google – intitle:travel blog inurl:"links" OR "resources".
- I then went into Google's search settings and selected to view 100 results per page instead of 10.
- Once I had 100 listings, I scraped all of the URLs using the 'Scrape Similar' plugin for Chrome and exported them to a .CSV file.
- I did a bit of manual work to remove irrelevant links and then grabbed the domain/page authority for each of the links using MozCheck.com and pasted this into the sheet. I could then sort the links by page authority and remove any that had a PA lower than ~25. This helped to find higher quality targets.
- After witling the list down to around 40 targets, I scanned the amount of outbound links on the pages using Niels Bosma's SEOtools plugin for Excel and sorted the list by pages with the lowest number of outbound links on them. This not only improved the power of the link by it also meant that there was more of a chance that I would get some traffic from the page.
- Finally, I got in touch with webmasters from the sites to see if they would list my site on theirs (using only branded anchor text) in exchange for their site appearing on the 'Our Friends' section of my blog.
The end result was that I managed to gain around 15 links to my blog that actually brought through some traffic as well. This took me around 3-4 hours in total (including outreach) and helped to create a nice bit of domain diversity to the site's link profile. On top of this, it also helped me to start building a few relationships with webmasters that turned out to be very useful later down the line.
Useful: within this article I explain how to sort through link targets in Excel in a bit more detail.
**BONUS: here is the outreach email template that I used when contacting webmasters…
Hi NAME HERE,
Just thought I would drop you a quick mail regarding your website, DOMAIN URL HERE. I really enjoy the stuff you write and it has been getting me excited for my travelling trip!
I am starting up a travel blog myself and it has just gone live a couple of days ago. The blog will follow our group as we travel across East Asia and Australia (we leave today!). I was just wondering if you would be kind enough to drop a link to the blog (http://www.meltedstories.com) on your links page (URL OF THEIR LINKS PAGE HERE) as it would be a big help. I've added you onto my 'Our Friends' page anyway because it will be a great resource for my readers.
Don't worry if you don't want to add our blog, but if you let me know your Twitter handle anyway then I will make sure we follow you and drop you some retweets! You can follow us at @melted_stories.
Feel free to get in touch at any time though!
Just an Honest Backpacker 🙂
Prospecting Through Competitive Research
The next stage of my link building strategy was to do some competitive research. For many SEOs this is a staple part of any link building campaign and can reveal some very interesting insights into what other websites related to your own are doing to acquire links.
My first port of call is always the amazing, and strangely under-rated, 'Competitive Link Finder' tool from SEOmoz. By simply plugging in the URLs of five other travel blogs, similar in style to mine, I was able to instantly get 20 solid link targets from a list of around 45. This took me 15 minutes to do and I just placed all of the links into an outreach spreadsheet that I created. Here are the types of links that I found:
- High authority travel blogs that my competitors have guest posted on.
- Blogs that run weekly 'photo of the week' competitions that will link to your photo if you win.
- Good quality travel-niche directories.
- 'Top travel blogger' lists and competitions.
- Content that my competitors have collaborated on in order to get a mention.
- Links to interview articles where my competitors have answered questions on a high authority blog and have received a link in return.
All this within 15 minutes – not bad, eh?
Every bit of information that I gathered I kept inside a link prospecting spreadsheet. This formed the basis of my link building strategy and allowed me to identify a list of targets that I could approach with a variety of content and propositions. My advice for any blog owner would be to do the same because it allows you to sustain your link building efforts in the long term. Then, every few months, I do some further research and add to the spreadsheet.
Acquiring Links from Your Targets
You can read the full article at Moz Bloghttp://seopti.com/how-to-build-links-to-your-blog-a-case-study/http://seopti.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/180716ff12_1369333282-21c52930051b55d3be8f294f55212d47.jpghttp://seopti.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/180716ff12_1369333282-21c52930051b55d3be8f294f55212d47-150x150.jpgSEOMOZ