An Actionable Guide to Building a Backlink Strategy for SEO

Updated on May 27, 2018

Have you ever wondered why your competitors' websites are showing up ahead of your own in Google's search results? A major factor that comes in to play when ranking organically is the strength of your backlink profile. In this guide I'll explain how you can action a practical guide for achieving greater visibility online.

Source

An overview of the five main steps to follow

1. Identify who your competitors are
2. Find out who is linking to your competitors
3. Review your competitors' backlinks
4. Evaluate link building opportunities
5. Build out a roadmap of tactics

1. Identify who your competitors are

Every off-page or link building strategy begins with research. In this instance it's imperitive that you understand the tactics being deployed by the competition in order to know what works for them in boosting their online visibility. Let's drill down on this by introducing a measurement called share of voice.

In the context of SEO, share of voice indicates what percentage of the organic search results are owned by your website. For example, if web pages for competitor A are in position 1-10 then it has a 100% SoV.

So it's important to know not only who your brand competitors are but also who is trying to rank for keywords that are likely to bring is traffic and conversions for your products and services. You can calculate a share of voice by reading this expert guide. And in the diagram below you can see what a SoV might look like.

A share of voice report highlighting which websites within a specific niche are dominating organic search results.
A share of voice report highlighting which websites within a specific niche are dominating organic search results. | Source

2. Discover who is linking to your competitors

The next phase of the process is finding out the exact volume and quality of backlinks pointing to all websites. We want to know this because, backlinks being one of the biggest ranking signals, it presents a foundation for building your own link building strategy.

I tool I recommend for this exercise is Ahrefs Link Intersect, which compares backlink profiles to show you the websites where links are being acquired from. The more challenging your industry is the greater the number of backlinks your competitors will have, and in contrast, you can expect websites wrestling for SERPs space in low competitive niches to have few backlinks.

Import the urls of 9 competitors into the Ahrefs tool and you should end up with a comparison table like this...

Source

There are over 12,000 results within this intersect report which sounds like an awful lot to break down. The intersect column comes into play here by telling us exactly how many competitors are acquiring links from common denominator websites.

3. Review your competitors' backlinks

Stick with the intersect column for a moment, as this is key to determining which sites you should include within your backlink strategy.

Extract the full data within Ahrefs and open as a fresh Excel spreadsheet - the websites should remain positioned exactly how they were before, but a few extra colums may appear - if so, remove them so you have a spreadsheet that reads something like in the chart below.

Add in a filter and toggle the data by Intersect from highest to lowest.

Link Intersect is the number of times a third party website has linked to each of your competitors. Domain rating is the SEO value of the referring websites.
Link Intersect is the number of times a third party website has linked to each of your competitors. Domain rating is the SEO value of the referring websites. | Source

4. Evaluate link building opportunities

You can now add in a custom algorithm to give a clear opportunity score, by which we mean the true value of a backlink from any referring domain listed. To do this, add a fresh column on the far right called Opportunity Score and populate the first cell by writing the formula: =SUM(B2*C2)/4

Drag the formula down to the very last cell in this column. Now filter so you can see the Opportunity Scores from highest to lowest.

Notice how the order of the referring domains has changed, and this is based on how important they are for acquiring a link from. If each of your competitors are earning a backlink from a referring domain and it is of high domain rank, then chances are it will show up with the top opportunity score.

Source

5. Build out a roadmap of tactics

With research and analysis now complete its time to piece together the link building roadmap to help your website rank higher in search results. But before you action this, firstly describe the type of website for the top 30% of results.

Labelling the websites will allow you to categorise your tactics and hence keep your link building strategy neat and efficient to see through.

Here are my suggested domain types, which I refer to as opportunity types. This is essentially a list of methods by which the competition has acquired a backlink.

  • News coverage
  • Article submissions
  • Personal blog submissions
  • Partner network submissions
  • Directory submissions
  • Forum submissions
  • Visual content and social media submissions

Keep a running tally for each of the opportunities that lie within the categories above and use this as your guide for the number of tactics you can include in your link building strategy.

Remeber, this analysis is only a snapshot of what the competition is doing so weave their tactics into your own link building calendar, rather than let it cannibalise them.

Set out a 6-12 month calendar whereby each month is dedicated is auctioning one of the tactics mentioned here. Momentum is key for link building so start with quick wins like directory submissions and build your way up to high value tactics like news coverage and PR. Here is a table to help you understand what resources you might need during the roadmap.

Opportunity
Action
Difficulty Level
Directory
Submit company profile
Low
Forum
Engage in topic / thread
Low
Information portal
Submit website as a resource
Mid-high
Personal blog
Request content collaboration
Mid-high
News site
Pitch news story idea
High

Final thoughts

By carrying out the actions above you will now be confident of understanding how to boost the backlink profile of your website, and in doing so, earn more trust from Google. You can expect to see a shift in the organic rankings for your web pages if they have acquired backlinks through these tactics mentioned above. The results may not be instant but aim to review the impact using tools such as Ahrefs and SEO rankings software on a monthly basis to make an informed analysis of your progress.

And to help you on your way here is a handy SEO checklist to refer back to at any point.

Share your feedback

Did you find this article helpful?

See results

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, toughnickel.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://toughnickel.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)