I have worked with thousands of clients throughout my entire SEO career, designing link building campaign from my early days selling links on popular marketing forums to now running a seven-figure agency. And while all link building efforts are similar in some ways, they are all very different.


Because there isn’t a one size fits all solution that will work for every website. Competition, niche, website age, previous SEO efforts, etc. — it all comes into play when determining the best approach for a link building effort.

But isn’t the goal to build relevant links that have authority? Sure, but not every client is starting at the same point, targeting the same keywords, facing the same competition, experiencing the same negative SEO attack, etc.

Every link building campaign is starting from a different stage and requires a different plan in order to achieve the desired results. That is one thing that is consistent across all SEO link building campaigns — the goal, which is higher rankings, more website traffic, increased conversions and over all increased business.

I thought it would be helpful to put together a blog post that highlights the different aspects of a link building campaign that you need to pay attention to in order to make it successful.


1. Budget

This is something that a lot of people fail to really think about, and I see a lot of companies waste their entire link building budget for the month one a single link when that money could be used in better ways.

Let me give you an example of what I often see. Links on websites like Forbes and Entrepreneur are highly desirable, more so for the branding, but they can cost thousands of dollars. For a smaller company that may only have a couple thousand dollars per month for links it’s better to focus on lower tier links that re niche relevant.

Spending 2,500 on ten relevant guest posts is going to get ten links added to the profile, ten new referring domains to show larger diversity and also ten new outlets that can provide referral traffic moving forward.

In terms of SEO value, it’s a better investment based on the budget. Now, if there is an unlimited budget, then yes, go after the biggest and best links money can buy. But most businesses don’t have that luxury, so be realistic when it comes to maximizing the allocated link building budget.



2. Competition

If you are in a highly competitive niche, like supplements, for example, then you need to be very realistic when it comes to the competition. A brand new supplement company trying to rank for “protein powder” is going to find it very difficult to outrank websites like Bodybuilding.com, GNC or Amazon.

Because it could be like showing up to a gun fight with a water gun, spending money building links to try to compete for that keyword would be silly. It would be much smarter to go after a relevant search phrase with less competition, and then link to your protein line from that page or incorporate a pop-up discount code for protein.

You have to get creative when you want to attract targeted traffic for certain keywords that have too much competition. Being able to step back and say, “You know what, we aren’t going to outrank Amazon, so let’s figure out a better way” will save you from wasting money.

In these situations the companies that get the most creative win, so you need to use common sense and understand that some keywords are unobtainable.


3. Risk

Know how many times I hear business owners complain when their rankings dip a little or if they fall victim to a Google algorithm change (or penalty)? All the time, and guess what? It’s their own fault.

Everyone loves it when their keyword positions climb and the traffic skyrockets. When that happens SEO is great and link building is pure magic. But, if anything negative happens then they suddenly shun the practice.

You have two options:

  • You understand the risks associated with link building and understand that what Google does is out of your hands, and you ride the wave while you can, for as long as you can.


  • You don’t build any links and just write blog posts until your fingers are covered in blisters and hope and pray that someone randomly sees your content and links to it.


Those are the options, and guess who is going to be found in the SERPs? You have to build links in order to compete for organic traffic. Whether you do it yourself or hire an agency to handle it is beside the point.


4. Diversification

I touched above on a situation I often see, where a company with a limited budget will spend their entire monthly budget on a single link acquisition. I also see many completely ignore the fact that having a diverse link profile is very important in order to appear to be as natural as possible.

This has nothing to do with budget. If you have an unlimited budget and can buy links from all of the best websites in the world, yet don’t build any lower-tier links in the eyes of Google you look very suspect.

A link profile that only consists of links that are DA 80+ reeks of paid links. You have to make sure you build links in a way that looks totally normal and organic.

If a website is highly popular, sure, the best sites are going to link to it, but so are blogs that have much lower authority. This is why outreach posts from lower DA sites is key to maintaining a backlink profile that looks real.


5. Previous Poor SEO

We see a lot of potential clients contact us wanting to buy links and they ask if certain links will help them rank for specific keywords. While nobody can give a concrete answer you can make an educated guess on whether or not there will (or should be) and movement.

One of the first things we do when asked this is to dive into their links, and we often see a complete mess. From previously purchased service “packages” to obvious negative SEO attacks, anytime there is a trace of previous poor SEO and low quality links, you have to be realistic.

It can take a lot of pro-active link building to fix past mistakes. So, if there are back link in your profile, then part of your link building moving forward needs to include link removal. Whether that is manually reaching out to sites and asking for links to be removed, or using Google’s disavow tool, an effort needs to be made.



6. On-Site SEO

While building links is one of the most important pieces of the SEO puzzle, you cannot only build links and expect miracles to happen. You have to point those links at pages that are optimized correctly, on-site.

I see a lot of link orders come in and they point to pages with little to no content, pages with product images that don’t even include alt image tags, etc. We try to provide some guidance when it comes to on-site optimization if we catch these mistakes, but since we are just selling links and not running full-on campaigns, it’s not something we always spot.

The best link building strategy involves creating dedicated pages or posts that are correctly optimized (on-site) for the target keyword, and then build some links with that keyword as anchor text, while also building links that include generic anchor text and brand name anchor text.

If the on-site SEO is not up to par then your link building efforts will never be fully realized. There is no secret formula for on-site optimization. Learn and master the basics and you will see your link building efforts deliver better results.


7. Traffic and Conversion Goals

You should notice by now that all of these points have one thing in common – they all relate to having a plan.

Why do you build links? To improve rankings and attract more organic traffic.

Why do you want more organic traffic from Google? To convert more leads and sales.

There is no point following through with a link building effort unless you have your traffic and conversion goals established. This helps you determine whether or not your link building is paying off, financially, and also it helps you identify what works (and should be scaled) and what doesn’t (and needs to be eliminated).

I would suggest setting up your conversion goals in Google Analytics and monitoring all of your referral traffic to see what type of links and content is generating referral traffic that converts, because when you identify link building strategies that not only help your rankings, but also kick back converting referral traffic it’s a double win.

You need to know your numbers. How many leads do you need to generate each month to make your link building efforts worthwhile? How many sales? How much revenue? All of these needs to be known before you begin building links.


8. Tracking and Analyzing

When you are building links on a consistent basis (like you should be) then your rank tracking should show a steady upward path. It amazes me how many businesses will spend thousands of dollars on link, but will shy away from a small monthly fee for proper keyword tracking.

There are so many great tools out there that will not only track your keywords, but also the competing sites for the same keywords. This allows you to keep up to speed on your own progress but also see what your competition is doing.

For example, if a competitor suddenly shoots to the top for a keyword and makes a huge gain, then you can look to see what caused it, as you should be analyzing the link profile of your top competitors so you can one-up them by replicating their profile and building even more higher-quality links.

This tracking and analyzing is good to keep your rankings moving up, but also to help you learn what works and what doesn’t. SEO becomes addictive and you will often find yourself consumed with digging deep to discover what is working and how you can enhance it even more.


9. Natural Appearance

When building links you need to make sure you are always maintaining a natural appearance — if this is always in the back of your mind you will be more mindful of what anchor text you are using and where you are building links from. Here are a few things to consider.


  • Anchor Text Diversification: Back in the day you would build links with anchor text that was exact-matched to the keyword being targeted. Now, you can slip a couple of those in there, but the majority of your links should be natural, related to the content being linked or brand names.


  • All Link Types: You want the big dog links, of course, but you also want local directory links if you are a local business, authority links related to any niche specific awards or classifications, links from local news websites, links from niche relevant blogs, regardless of authority, etc.


  • Wide Authority Range: If you want to be seen as a popular website by Google, then you need authority links, but you also need links from smaller blogs and websites. Because, if your business is deserving of attention from the mega news outlets then surely there are a lot of smaller websites that should be linking to you as well.



10. Control

I mention control, because when you are doing your own link building you are in the driver’s seat. There are no surprises. When you hire the wrong agency, then you give up that control and you have to trust they are going to build solid links.

One things that I have always done is make sure that we treat every link building client’s website as if it was our own. There are no shortcuts taken when we do our outreach and we offer a menu of the top links, allowing our client’s to pick their outlets.

They have full control — we just do the heavy lifting for them, allowing them to focus on other growth areas of their business.

When it comes to links, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.


Final Thoughts

Those are all points that have to be taken into considerations when designing and executing a link building campaign. You cannot just simply build links without a large plan. Times are much different now than they were ten years ago.

It used to be a numbers game. Fire up the software and blast links, 50,000 at a time, and watch your website rank. Now you have to be much more calculated. Competition analysis, strategy planning, outreach, relationship building, etc. There are so many working parts, which is why SEO has become such a complex topic.

If you take all of these points into consideration while putting together your next link building campaign I promise your over all results will be much better.

Do you have any specific questions related to link building? Now is your chance to get your questions answered, as I will be reading the comments and replying to all questions. Drop your questions below in the comments and I will do my best to help you.

Tommy McDonald

Tommy is an SEO professional with years of experience running highly successful SEO companies, founded SerpLogic after noticing there was a major void when it came to options for SEO agencies needing a reliable and professional one-stop outsource solution.You can read all about me in the “About” page here on our blog!

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