Brainstorming Your Link-Building StrategyCopyright by Seomoz.org; collected by tư vấn SEOOften when client arrives in need of links, it can be fairly daunting trying to figure out howthe heck you’re going to get the link juice you need. Coming up with a structured plan thatworks is something I’ve been trying to improve over the last year or so, and I’m pretty sureit’s something I’ll be refining for many years to come. At the start of every campaign I’minvolved with, I try to sit down and thrash out a load of ideas in an effort to come up with alink-building ‘road map’ to follow for the coming months.I find having a solid plan useful in two ways. Firstly, for the client, I think it’s really good forthem to understand what you are doing with the time they are paying for. In my experience, itreally helps to sit down with them and say I’m going to be doing this much of ‘x’ and thismuch of ‘y’ because of ‘a, b, and c. Being able to report back on this structured activity willdefinitely go down well with your clients. This open explanation of your plan creates a goodtransparent relationship with the client, and hopefully, one that will also stand the test oftime.Secondly, having a clear plan to follow is brilliant for me. Having a clear set of tasks allowsme to manage my time much more effectively and ensures that I don’t fall behind onanything. Being freelance, I don’t have a boss to keep check on me so it’s vital that I keeptrack of what I’m working on and what I need to work on before the month is over. Sure,things are likely to change along the way, but it’s always useful to understand what you’rechanging and why.Here are some of the things I like to think about when coming up with a game plan.
1. Requirements – What Links Do I Need?The first part of any solid link-building strategy should be trying to establish what links yourclient needs. Depending on the situation, you might either need to do a full backlink analysisor alternatively spend half-an-hour or so getting a quick ‘feel’ for things. Either way, it’s astep that shouldn’t be skipped.For me, this falls into two stages:Checking existing links – Using both Open Site Explorer (OSE) and Majestic SEO, I try tobuild up a good picture of what links are already coming into the website. How many linkingroot domains are there? What’s the anchor text balance like? How have they been buildinglinks in the past? All of these questions will go some way to determining what type of links Imight want to prioritise.For example, if your new client has a brand new domain with no links, then you willprobably want to tread extremely carefully with your link-building. However, you might findout that your new client has gone way overboard with exact match anchor text, which willmean that balancing out the anchor text should become a focus for you.Checking the competition – This is where things can start to get really interesting. Checkingout the competition is a vital step in understanding what you might be going up against.Armed with that information, you can start to get an idea of what you might need to do inorder to rank well, and how long it might take you to get there. Having some good insightinto your competitors link profile will also help you to track changes and understand shifts inthe SERPS; all great information to be armed with!I usually start this process off by tracking who’s ranking in the top ten for a variety of mymain keywords. Once I’ve got a good idea of who’s hanging around, I’ll then download a fullOSE report for the top ten results for each keyword. I can then look at numbers of linkingroot domains, anchor text spread, and many more things that will help determine what Imight need to do. Justin Briggs wrote an amazing post on link analysis that goes into somegreat detail on the subject; I strongly suggest you read it!Key Questions: • How many linking root domains shall I aim for? • What anchor text am I aiming for? • How is the competition getting their links?2. Timescales and BudgetsThis is sadly one of the biggest factors that can affect your potential link-building strategy.It’s important to get a good idea of how much budget and time you will have available to youbefore you start thinking up a load of wonderful ways to build links. There’s no point indreaming up ways to start promoting your amazing infographics and embeddable content ifyou don’t have any budget to create anything. That being said, there are always ways to buildcontent and links for any budget (within reason of course!)
If the budget is tight, then it might be worth considering writing some great guides andresources to help establish your client as a trustworthy source of information. So long as youhave the time to research and be creative, writing a good piece of link-worthy contentshouldn’t have to cost the earth.Key Questions: • How much money do I have to spend on content? • Do I have a budget for high-level directory submissions, press release distribution, etc? • How much time can I give to this project?3. ResourcesBy resources, I mean anything. Anything that you can draw on to help enhance what you’redoing. This is where being sociable, friendly, and a little bit persuasive can really help withyour link-building. Do you have great designers you can call on? Do you know somefantastic writers? Does either you or the client have specialist knowledge that could be calledon to create some useful resources? The word "resources" doesn’t just have to mean financialresources and number of staff; in my book, it means ANYTHING that could be useful increating content, spreading the brand, and of course, gaining some juicy links.Key Questions: • Who do I know? • Can the client get involved? • How creative can we get?! (Figuring out a plan getting to you? Just don’t end up like Crazy Harry... Photo credit)4. Content – Post or Host?!We all know that hosting great content on your website can help establish you as a greatsource of information, and hopefully start to bring in links naturally. So it’s definitelysomething you need to think about. But placing content on other websites is also a great wayof building links, especially if you’re a new website trying to build a reputation from scratch.
Hosting content on your own site – Personally I see this as a must for any website. If yourcontent and website sucks, then your success is going to be relatively limited. Writing greatresources and promoting your own great content will help you build traffic, links, and socialactivity. However, can the website easily facilitate new content? Is your client willing topromote free content? These are a couple of things that could stand in your way, and workingout how to get round them should definitely be planned for.Posting content on other sites – If you’re working on a new website, then it might be sometime until the links start to build up naturally. Going out and placing content on otherwebsites is a fantastic way to build links and reputation. Using services like MyBlogGuestwill help you to find some really good websites that are looking for content in your niche.Key Questions: • How much content can I/we create? • Who’s going to be working on the content – me/client/third party? • Where can I find a list of potential sites to post content on?5. Specific TasksBy now, you should be gathering a few pretty decent ideas together of where you might beheaded with your link-building campaign. The real skill is turning all of this information intorealistic tasks that can fit into the timescales the project allows. I think the key here is being‘realistic. Your strategy has to work for the project and give the client as much value aspossible, but also not cause you to be overworked and underpaid.I don’t think it’s very valuable to say ‘we’re going to make some link bait. It’s far better tocome up with specific tasks such as: • Source a designer • Gather a list of key industry figures/bloggers • Release the content via your social network/paid discovery • Track key metrics of the latest link baitGoing back to the point I made at the beginning, it’s always really useful to have a list oftasks to keep yourself in check and also to help feedback on progress to the client. Knowingwhat you need to do and when should help keep the wheels rolling. There are plenty ofproject management tools out there, but I tend to use a simple spreadsheet with a tab for ‘eachtask area. Each tab can then contain specific month-by-month details of each task, with adetailed breakdown of the steps along the way:
Spending that little bit of extra time making some detailed plans should help you to workmore efficiently and to keep focused throughout.6. Don’t Fear ChangeWhatever your plan includes, try not to worry about changing it along the way if you find thatsomething isn’t working out as well as you might have hoped. It’s often the case that somethings work out really well and produce more than what you expected, while other thingssimply never take off. Try to carry the mantra of ‘fail fast. If something’s not working out,then tweak, change, and tweak again until you hit that magic balance.Having a detailed plan will mean that you can track everything you’re doing, so any changesyou make will hopefully be well-informed.As a last note, I thought I’d mention a few of the best resources I’ve read recently (SEOmozand others) that have definitely helped shape the way I plan and research link buildingstrategies. If you haven’t read these then go and do it now! • Clockwork Pirate – Free link building EBook from Kelvin Newman • Guide to Competitive Backlink Analysis – Justin Briggs • Actionable Link-Building Strategies – Paddy Moogan • Competitive Backlink Analysis – Jane Copland • Effective Link Building - Justin Briggs Webinar