Guess what hasn’t changed in years as it pertains to SEO and ranking on top of the SERPs? – Links & Link Building.

They are still the top signal that Google uses in its algorithm, and now, maybe more than ever, are the focus of search engine optimization campaigns targeting the most competitive keywords.

SEO was much easier back in the day. Fire up XRumer, build 50,000 blog comment links with exact-match anchor text and watch a thin-page rank on top. Traffic poured in and conversions followed. Then, when the site got slapped you just did it again. Rise and repeat, baby!

Now it’s all about the quality and relevancy of a link, rather than the quantity. A few high authority links from relevant websites will benefit your SEO more than hundreds of links from sites that are completely irrelevant.

The Google algorithm is constantly evolving and updating. Remember years ago when the “animal” updates would roll out? It was big news that shook up the industry.

Penguin. Hummingbird. Panda. The list goes on…

These days, the updates are on-going, with new tweaks and changes being rolled out daily. As machine learning and artificial intelligence advances, Google’s algorithm becomes more intelligent, making it very hard to game it like once was possible.

Link building efforts these days need to focus around securing niche-relevant links, and one of the most effective way to secure these SEO-boosting links is pitch the top blogs in your industry. They get hammered with requests daily, so you need to be creative and stand out or in their eyes you are just another “spammer” that is bothering them.

One of my agency’s top selling services is our authority outreach, where we do the heavy lifting and secure relevant authority links. Here are some tips to help you navigate through the process. It’s a lot of work, but if you are willing to grind through the process you can add some sweet links to your backlink profile.

So how should authority link building really be done?..



Why Even Go Through This Effort?

This is what separates the sites ranking on the top of the SERPs from those that continue to struggle and make excuses. It’s a lot of work, and most simply aren’t willing to put in the time to get these links.

If it was easy everyone would do it. I’m not trying to sound cocky, but our agency does this better than most, which is why we are so successful with our outreach product. The average business doesn’t have time (or the patience) to go through the process.

So, whether it’s deciding to put in the effort to try to secure niche relevant links yourself or allocate the money to have it done for you, a decision needs to be made. The effort is worth it, yet most will not take the leap. You have to do what others are not willing to do if you want to push forward and move past them in the SERPs.

SEO is not easy. These days it’s more transparent than ever, but even though there are plenty of blueprints available there is no way to make the “work” happen without actually putting the effort it.

So, why go through the effort required to get these links? Because you have to if you want to achieve top results.


Have a Plan & Diversify Your Authority

Anytime you are setting out on a link building mission it’s important to have a plan mapped out. Being organized is key, from having your targets pre-identified to keeping track of how your reached out, who you spoke to, what their contact information is, and what the status of the pitch is.

Even if you use a tool, I would suggest developing an Excel spreadsheet that you maintain. This is also something you can reference in the future if you are pitching the same website. Don’t think one-and-done, because someday you might publish a great piece of content and simply by reaching out to people you have had success with in the past can lead to quickly scoring new links with little to no effort. Link building done right requires relationship building.

Also, don’t shy away from a niche relevant blog because it’s Domain Authority 17 or 20. Yes, we all want the high DA links, but remember that you have to diversify, and a natural link profile is going to have links from low DA sites as well.

What might be a DA 19 link today, could turn into a DA 35 link down the road. When planning your targets have a wide range of authority. You need the lower DA links to diversify, and they are often the easiest targets to acquire as most people are focused on the top sites.



Use Buzzsumo to Gauge Popularity

I like to use Buzzsumo to look at the content on potential targets. If I see that their blog posts don’t receive a lot of social shares I put less “weight” on their Domain Authority. It can easily be manipulated and remember, it’s just a third-party vanity metric that has nothing to do with Google’s Page Rank, which is now an internal-only metric and not publicly updated.

If a website’s content receives a lot of social shares then it’s a good indication that they have a very active audience and scoring a link from that site is going to have additional benefits, like potential referral traffic.

This is a very important thing that many overlook, but if you are only going after niche relevant sites then their visitors are likely to be interested in your website. A link is not only good for SEO, but it can help attract new traffic from these sites you secure links from.

Do you want a link on a DA 45 site that has content with an average of 10 social shares per post, or would you rather a link on a DA 30 blog that receives more than 1,000 social shares per post? The lower DA score with more activity is going to benefit you far greater.


Use Pitchbox to Streamline and Automate

There is one important thing to remember when using link building or outreach tools, and that is they are just that — tools. Too many people expect software to do all the work, from start to finish. I can promise you that there is no magic outreach software that you can set-and-forget.

Pitchbox is a great tool that can help streamline your outreach, but you have to know how to properly use it. In the wrong hands it can be useless.

You can use it to help you identify new targets via its search function, but you have to manually review everything. Too many people just fire it up and set it to automatically message, adding in post titles, blog names, etc. It just screams “Hey, I am using a tool to send the same cookie-cutter message to thousands of blogs! Give me a do-follow link!”

It can help uncover some blogs you may not have known about or help you locate a journalist that writes about your niche, but don’t use it as a fully automated solution. Thousands of people do this — if you do also you will just blend into the sea of spam.


Don’t Shy Away from Manual Searching

While Pitchbox can help with some of the heavy lifting, you want to also get used to manual searching. I like to do Google searches related to the industry, but with intent of finding more personal blogs, rather than company blogs.

It’s much easier to contact and negotiate a link from a one-person blog than a corporate blog with a line of employees and decision makers. For example, if we have a client that owns a local gym in Dallas, Texas, we would start manually searching for fitness and health blogs by local experts in the Dallas area.

Local personal trainers, local meal prep companies, local health coaches, etc. These people tend to have personal blogs, and while they might have low Domain Authority between 20 and 30, they are more than likely do-follow and because they are local we can typically get some local-intent anchor text, like “this local Dallas gym” or “this gym in Dallas” — and it doesn’t look spammy coming from a local resource like this.

Now, if we got that anchor text on an electronics blog, then yeah, it would look very suspect. This is just another reason why manual searching is so valuable. It can help you uncover solid blogs that you can easily score links on while also manipulating the anchor text in a way that doesn’t set off any red flags.



Get Creative with Proposals

This is probably the most important part of the process. You can be great at identifying potential targets, but if your pitch is horrible you will strike out every single time. The biggest mistake most people make is sending a generic copy and paste pitch to every single website.

If you spend the time to identify great targets, spend an extra minute and think of a unique pitch that is going to not only get read, but also pique the interest of the receiving party enough that they will consider your proposal.

You can’t expect blogs to link to you just because you have “great content” like many SEO gurus preach. There needs to be something in it for them. Whether that is a link back to them or some other form of value-offer, that needs to be something you take time to brainstorm.

In the local gym example above, those local sites don’t need to be bribed with money. Instead, I would offer to give them a shout-out across the gym’s social media accounts. In that situation, they are going to jump all over it — and you will score a nice niche relevant link, costing only a tweet or Facebook post to promote another local business.


Understand It’s a Two-Way Street (Provide Value)

This goes back to being creative with what you propose in your initial pitch. The best thing is to lay out a proposal and offer, rather than asking, “What would you want for a link?” Asking that will lead to multiple back-and-forth emails, and often times the communication chain will break before you get what you are after.

The best results come when you lay out an offer that the recipient cannot refuse. Make something so hard to resist and so easy to accept. Here is an example:


“I’ll keep this short and sweet. I’d love for you to link to this blog post [xxxxxx] in your post here: [xxxxxx]. If you do, I’d be more than happy to link to any post on our site. Our Domain Authority is 78 and yours is 32. A link from us will greatly improve your authority.”


This offer is direct, it provides tons of value and you are going to receive a positive response — and the link you are after.


Be Realistic to Prevent Wasted Time

You have to play in the same waters as similar websites. You can’t have a DA 20 blog and expect the largest websites in your niche to link to you, unless you have a very lucrative offer, like cash.

Now, if you are willing to spend top dollar, by all means, let the website know. There is no sense in wasting time:


“Hey, we would love for you to link to this post: [xxxxxx]. If you do, I would be more than happy to pay you $250 to compensate you for your time.”


It doesn’t get more direct than that. If you are only looking for even exchanges, then make sure you approach blogs with similar authority and popularity.



Always be in Linkbuilding Mode

This should be without question, but I will touch on it regardless. Link building isn’t something that you can fire up every quarter and expect to maintain, let alone gain positions in the SERPs. It’s a constant need, so it’s important that you are always engaged in some sort of outreach.

Time and budget is always the deciding factor, but even if you are tapped out on both, you need to at least put in some effort. Even if you just set aside 15 minutes a day to reach out to websites, it’s better than nothing. When you press pause on your link building effort for a prolonged period of time it can discredit all of your previous efforts, as you let your competition cruise right by you without a fight.


Final Thoughts

This isn’t something that you “should do” or something “to do if you have the time.” If you have any interest in attracting organic search traffic then you have to, without a doubt, constantly build links.

If you take a break, guess what? Your competitors will shoot right past you. SEO isn’t something you do when you feel like it. If you want to compete for the top real estate in the SERPs then you have to be prepared for a constant sprint. Even if and when you hit that number one spot you can’t slow down. It becomes a task to continue to build authority to hold that position.

These tips will help anyone who is serious about building authority links within their niche. We are constantly tweaking pitches, strategies and experimenting with new angles in order to get our clients amazing results. What are some things you are doing to help secure niche-relevant links? Let me know in the comments below — let’s trade tips.

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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