Link Building ·

How to Get out of the Content Graveyard and into Page 1 of Google by Alan Silvestri (Growth Gorilla)

Bernard Huang

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Alan Silvestri of Growth Gorilla joined us to discuss getting out of the content graveyard and onto page 1.

He walked us through the three problems and mistakes blocking your content from page 1.

And he shared his five guiding principles in his content promotion efforts:

  1. Think long-term

  2. Data beats opinion

  3. Plan quarterly and optimize for quick wins

  4. Stick to the plan (execute, don’t get distracted)

  5. Automation is your best friend (use sparingly and deliberately)

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Check out Alan’s slides here and the resources he shared below:

About Alan Silvestri:

Alan Silvestri is the founder and director of strategy at Growth Gorilla. Growth Gorilla is a no B.S. content promotion and distribution agency for B2B SaaS companies. They help Software companies that are already publishing quality content, get the word out to acquire backlinks, increase traffic and signups.

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Read the transcript


I welcome Alan to the stage. Alan is the founder and director of strategy at Growth Gorilla. Growth Gorilla is a no BS content promotion and distribution agency for B2B SaaS companies. They help software companies that are already publishing quality content get the word out to acquire backlinks, increase traffic, and signups. Alan, the floor is yours, please share your screen.


Hey, guys. Welcome. Right. So welcome, everyone. Thanks for joining. The first thing that I'd like to mention is, we had the no BS in the title basically before it got cool, but now I kind of need to remove it, because everybody's starting to deal with the no BS agency for this and for that, so that's a good reminder. Yeah, cool. Let me go ahead and share my screen. Before I do that, two things. The first thing that Travis mentioned already, feel free to leave the questions in the comment, and we'll get to them at the end. Second thing is we'll also be having spreadsheet templates to share with you guys, so please stick until the end, and we'll be giving those away to you all, so you can take whatever we cover today, and implement it straight away into your business.


Fancy '80s graphic? Okay. Right, so the topic of today is how to get out of the content graveyard and into page one of Google without the guesswork. The guesswork part is very important, because we'll be covering a ton of tactical aspects that essentially are based on data, so that's my main unique selling proposition. So before we dive in, quick introduction again, I'm a founder at Growth Gorilla, we help software companies, for the most part, that are producing quality content to get more backlinks and traffic from the content through what we call strategic link building. And so in my free time, I drive a DeLorean, and I'm a huge Back to the Future fan, and so this is my car, and this is me being completely miserable while working to fix the car, and that happens quite often.

So if you don't want to put your hands into engines and stuff, don't buy a DeLorean. All right, cool. So let's jump in. The first thing that I wanted to do is cover the concept of the content graveyard. So what is the content grave? This is a concept that I came up with, essentially, to define a situation that is pretty common with a ton of different companies. So what is this exactly? So this is how your content publishing and content production typically looks like, so it's like a linear staircase, you publish two articles one month, two articles the next month, and it keeps going on like this. So it's predictable, it's steady, and it looks like this.

The problem that a ton of companies don't really understand is that content promotion link building looks more like this, so it's basically an exponential curve. So what a lot of people do is, they typically get to this point right here where they think they have put out 80% of the effort, and only gotten 20% of the results, so they think, "Oh my God, I work super hard on this, but I'm not seeing any movement, so what's going on?" So what they do at this point is typically they just decide to quit. And what they will do is they will just keep publishing content in the hope they will magically rank, but typically, that's not what happens. So a lot of companies are going to get into what we call the content quality threshold, and what that is basically that point where content quality alone is not going to be enough anymore to be able to break into the top five, for example, and so what you typically need is... So it's usually more backlinks.

So this is what we call the content graveyard, basically where content goes to die. The content graveyard looks something like this. This is a chart that is in one of the spreadsheets that we will be giving away. So essentially what the content graveyard is, is a situation where 50% plus, basically of your traffic-producing pages are ranking page two and lower. So essentially these pages are somewhat dead, they're not doing much for your business, or for your traffic. So to fix this, what you typically need is something that looks more like this, it's a constant flow of backlinks to support your content production effort. This is what's going to help your content production and content publishing to snowball over a period of time, and to be able to break into page one.

And so the other reason why we want to do this is to simulate what looks like a natural scenario. So if your content is ranking on page one, chances are it will start to acquire backlinks naturally. So we want to simulate this situation for all of your pages, even the ones that are ranking page two, so that Google is basically saying, "Okay, this page is being liked, people are linking to this page, so let's push it into page one and see what happens." So what we want to do is essentially get the pages that are in the yellow and basically the orange bucket and push them into the green bucket, which is the top three positions, essentially. So the companies that are successful in the end basically are the companies that can stick with this process for the long-term to essentially ride the curve over time.

So let's have a look at three big problems that most companies face when it comes to promoting their content or tooling building. So problem number one is, they don't know which pages to promote. So you probably have a ton of pages on your site, but time and resources are limited, so which pages do you choose to work on, and which are the pages you just leave out? So it's kind of difficult sometimes to make this decision, especially because to you all content you create is basically very valuable. So you need to make the decision, some pages you will unfortunately have to leave out, and some pages you can focus on. Problem number two is, what kind of backlinks do you need? Not all backlinks are created equally, there's a lot of factors at play like quality, quantity, relevancy, and a bunch of other things, so it gets very complicated very fast. So this is something that we're going to have a look at in more detail later on.

So lastly, problem number three is, how do you actually do it? So you know which page to promote, once the type of links, so how do you actually go about getting these links? The other thing to mention is that most companies have a content production team, but not many companies have a content promotion team. So that often gets overlooked, and the main reason for that is because maybe you don't have the resources, you don't have the team in place to do that, or you just don't have the expertise, or the experience to know what to do, and how to do it.

Next up, let's look at the three big mistakes that are keeping your content stuck inside the content graveyard. Before we look at the mistakes, let's look at this. This is a study made by Ahrefs, that's essentially saying how 91% of the pages that are published basically don't get traffic from Google, and 5% of those pages only get 10 visits per month or less. So this is basically what we would call a content graveyard, it's a ton of content that's not doing much. So mistake number one that's keeping you inside the graveyard is the fact that the pages don't have backlinks, so Ahrefs found that 60% of those pages didn't have backlinks, which typically means that there's a lack of what we call promotion. So either the pages are not being liked enough by people, or they're not being spread enough.

The main goal of link building should be to spread the word about your content, it's not to ask people to necessarily link out to your page. So you should first off provide value, and then if they like the page, chances are they're going to link to it. So mistake number two is that you're targeting keywords that don't have traffic potential. So some of those pages that Ahrefs looked at had a ton of backlinks, but still, they didn't have any traffic. The reason for that is because if nobody is searching for a specific topic and you're writing about that topic, then you're not going to get traffic. So you need to make sure that the cure that you're writing about has some search traffic potential.

And mistake number three is targeting content with the wrong search intent or content type. So Google typically aims to provide the most relevant results for each query, so chances are that if the search intent behind the query is informational, and you have a landing page, then people are not going to want to look at that. So you need to satisfy what Google wants to provide to people that are searching for the keywords.

So next up, let's look at the three main content promotion drivers. So going back to the three problems that we mentioned before, knowing which pages to promote, knowing the type of links, and knowing how to do it, so how do we solve them, and what are the drivers that we need to solve those? So the first thing that we need is direction. So basically we need to know where we need to go, because if we don't know where we need to go, we're kind of lost, essentially. The second thing that we need is precision, so we know exactly how to get there. And the third thing is momentum, so that we're able to scale up over a period of time, and get the content efforts to compound.

Next step, let's look at five principles that you need to keep in mind while working through this, essentially. Principle number one is to think long-term. So remember the content graveyard graph that I showed you, so we want to stick with this kind of work for the long-term, so that we are able to ride the curve over a period of time. People that quit too soon are the ones that end up in the content graveyard. Principle number two is data beats opinion. So SEO is not an exact science, so we essentially always try to gain Google in a way or another, basically, but I strongly believe in controlling what I can control, and the only thing that I can control is my actions, and my actions... Essentially, I strongly believe that they're more effective if they're based on data, and not just opinions, or assumptions.

Basically what I'd want to do is just guess. Principle number three is to plan quarterly. So we mentioned that we want to think long-term, so it's good to have a North Star goal for knowing where we want to go, and knowing eventually what kind of topic clusters we will be wanting to rank for. But what we decided to do is that we work in quarterly sprints. The main reason why we choose the quarterly time frame is because we found that that's the most realistic timeframe, that's the shortest as well, where we can expect some kind of movement, and some kind of results from the work that we do. So anything that's shorter than the quarter doesn't really tell you much, but basically, everything that's longer than a quarter starts to become too long.

Principle number four, stick to the plan. So it's very important to execute, and don't get distracted. There's a lot of companies that chase after the shiny new ball, but when they do that, things start to break and fall off the tracks. So we don't want you to do that, and so it's very important to stick to the plan, be focused, and... So essentially what you can do is reassess basically every quarter, so this is why we work in quarterly sprints, so we can use the end of the quarter to see what's going on, and reassess the plan. Principle number five is to automate, but not too much. So there's a lot of companies that think quantity is better than quality, but in 2022 especially, I seriously believe that we got to a certain point where doing things that don't really scale too much is the best thing. So we want to think quality is better than quantity. So use automation but sparingly, and where it makes sense, to save you time from maybe repetitive tasks essentially.

Right, so finally, let's have a look at a better model to how to go about this, basically. Right, so going back, again, to the three big problems, and knowing which pages to promote, knowing the type of links, and knowing how to do it. To solve the first problem, what you're going to need is to have a strategy, so that exactly which pages to work on to be able to increase your traffic, signups, or customers in the short-term. For this, we have a three-step framework that we call the content promotion roadmap. And this is going to be one of the two spreadsheets that we will be giving away at the end. So the content promotion roadmap is basically a three-step framework. So step number one is to determine what we call the keyword difficulty baseline, which is essentially your website strength. Step number two is to analyze the keyword to find what we call quick-win pages. And step number three is to do a deep-dive analysis, which is essentially making sure that the search intent content type, and the content quality makes sense for the keywords that you want to target.

Let's have a look at the steps in more detail. So keyword difficulty baseline, first off, this is a concept that was created by Robbie Richards at the SEO Playbook, so credit for this goes to him. So the keyword difficulty baseline, what is this? The key difficulty baseline is a concept to essentially visualize your site strength for the period as it is right now. So if you think about keyword difficulty, you probably think about the standard metrics that you have in Ahrefs, but the problem with those metrics is they're good as a baseline, kind of generic thing that you can use, but what we need to have here is keyword difficulty buckets that are customized for a specific website for the situation how it is right now. Because chances are, if my website has a domain authority of 10, for example, it's going to be much weaker than, for example, a site that has a domain authority of 70. So I want to know which keywords can I realistically rank for in the short-term for my site, how it is right now.

So to do this, we do three things. Step number one is we export the top ranking keywords. So the keywords that a site is ranking for in position one to three, these are the keywords that we know that our website is currently capable of ranking for quite easily. So then what we do is, we remove any falsifying keywords. So these could be the branded terms, or any misspellings, so keywords that don't make sense, we remove them from the list. And step three is, we assign the keyword difficulty buckets.

So let's have a quick look at how this looks like in our spreadsheet. This is an example of what we would call a weaker site, or a standard site. So you can see, basically what you have here is the keyword difficulty level, zero, five, 10. And what you have in the other column is the frequency. The frequency is how many keywords you have that are ranking for this specific keyword difficulty level. So in this situation, for example, we have 28 keywords that are ranking position one to three, that have a keyword difficulty of zero. So then we have 97 keywords that are ranking positions one to three, with a keyword difficulty of five and so on, moving down the list.

So the graph is pretty useful for us to be able to assign these keyword difficulty buckets, so easy, medium, difficult, and hard. So what we typically do, essentially, is just look at the bars here in the chart, so it's pretty clear that if I look at this, basically, I could consider the easy bucket, essentially everything that goes from zero to 10, because this is the first bunch of keywords that I have here.

So then it goes down. So then once it goes down, basically, I can see this second bucket here is the medium bucket. So anything from 15 to 30, so to here, is the medium bucket, and then everything from 35 in this situation to 70, so to here, so when it goes fully to zero, almost, basically I consider this the difficult. And lastly, everything that's above 70 is the hard keyword difficulty bucket. So then I type these ranges in here, and so essentially what I'm going to do next is take these to basically use them to prioritize my content promotion roadmap at the end.

So the next slide is an example of the same chart for a side that is much stronger. So you can see the difference in here, there, essentially, the easy bucket for them is much bigger. So they essentially can quite easily rank four in the top three for keywords that have a difficulty of 35, which makes it easier for them to be able to rank higher for much more difficult keywords. You can see the difference quite clearly from these two charts. So once we did this, step number two is to get our quick-win keywords/pages. So step number one for this is to export these quick-win pages. The quick win pages are nothing more than our pages that are ranking between position four and typically position 20, so between the bottom of page one and page two, so before the content graveyard gap.

So what we're going to do next is to, again, remove the keywords that are not relevant. We're going to remove all of the brand terms, everything that is not relevant to our goal, which, in this situation, is to make more revenue from our content. So any keywords that don't have some business potential, or any spellings, and branded terms, basically we're going to remove from the list. So this is the initial filtering that we do. That next step is to assign the key difficulty buckets. So we're going to get these levels here, easy, medium, difficult, and hard buckets to basically assign them to the keyword list that we have to this point.

So essentially, for example, 30 pages are inside the easy buckets, and then the medium and so on. So this is useful for us to be able to prioritize the order of the pages that we're going to be working on. So also, the other thing to mention in step number three is, at this point, we also get conversion data, this is typically what we get from the clients directly. So it's very important if you're doing this in-house to have some kind of way to measure the signups typically, or conversion customers directly from your content, which typically is at the URL level. So the more granular you have these measurements, the better it can help you make a decision on which pages you should be working on.

Step number four is to use all of this data to shortlist the pages that are the most important from a business standpoint. So let's say we have 300 keywords, and we can only work on promoting five per month for the quarter, so we're going to select 15 keywords/pages, and those pages are going to be the one that we're going to be working on. And so the order that we're going to decide, basically depend, first off, on the keyword difficulty buckets, so we're going to be prioritizing the keywords that are in the easy/medium, or maybe difficult bucket, because we've seen that those are the ones that are, basically, let me go back, here. So what we want to do is prioritize the pages that are inside these three buckets here to push them essentially as high as we can.

So the second thing that we're going to use to prioritize is the ranking position, of course. So if a page is ranking position six, and another page is ranking position nine, then we're probably going to be wanting to push the keyword that is in position six first, because that might be easier to get to position one, like three, two, or one. And lastly, the third thing that we can use to prioritize this list is the conversions, signups, and so the conversion data, because at the end of the day, if we have a keyword or page that is ranking position six, it might be easy to get it in position three, but if it's not bringing you signups or conversion, then it doesn't really make sense, so we want to prioritize the pages that have some business potential.

So let's have a quick look at how the spreadsheet looks. So this is the analysis spreadsheet in the roadmap template. So here, we have all of those quick-win pages, with the volume, the position, the keyword difficulty. These two columns are the columns for the conversion data, in this case they're empty, just because this is a quick example that I did, and typically we get this data from the client. The relevant column is what you use to mark the pages that are relevant, or the pages that are not relevant, so you only proceed with the pages that essentially have a yes here. Then we have the keyword difficulty buckets column here, and you can see we have assigned those keyword difficulty buckets based on the keyword difficulty that we have. And lastly, that's the shortlist column, which is basically the pages that we have selected, because they might have conversion.

So in this case, we are only going to be focusing for the rest of the analysis on these five pages that we have in the shortlist. So moving on, deep-dive analysis. So this is the last part of the roadmap, and it's also very important. Because, essentially, if you want to build backlinks to a page, those links need to go to pages that have the on-page side of things that's taken care of. The better the on-page optimization is, the more links that you build are going to be effective. So we don't want to go ahead and spend time, money, and resources in building links to pages where they're targeting the wrong keywords, or they're making some of the three mistakes that we mentioned before. So step number one in the deep-dive analysis is to check that the page is matching the content type for the keywords that it's currently ranking for. Content type is basically if you have a blog article, you want to make sure that the top 10 ranking pages are, for the most part, blog articles, and that's because that's what Google wants to show to people.

Step number two is to check that the page is matching the search intent that's behind the keywords that it's ranking for. Search intent is basically what the people that are searching for the keyboards essentially are expecting to find. So if it's informational, you don't want to have a page that's just giving a free tool, or a landing page, or basically things like that. So you want to make sure that these two things, essentially, are matching from your page to what's ranking on page one. And step number three is basically what we call visual content quality check, plus we also run a content audit. The content audit, we typically use Surfer SEO, but you guys can use Clearscope as well, and I've actually just tested it right before the call, and I actually think it's better than Surfer. So what I would do is probably use Surfer in this case.

What you want to do is to make a note of the content grade that you get from the report that you get from Clearscope. Let's say the goal is to get an A, or an A-, and your content is scoring a B or a C. For example, you know they should improve that content before you move on to promoting it. And step number four is, once you have all of this data, then basically you take all of that, and you make your best decision based on the data that you have in front of you. So as I mentioned before, you can use the keyword difficulty buckets, you can use the conversion data, and you can use, let me think, the search traffic potential, or any other kind of data that you have inside the spreadsheet.

This is what the right part of the spreadsheet looks like, so you have a column for content type, a column for search intent, and a column for content quality. So you can see, basically, the first two columns are a yes or no, so whether it matches or it doesn't. And the third column is a yes, otherwise to improve the page. So if you get a lower score, then you will mark it as improving. So you know that your content team needs to take the results from the content audit or the content report, to essentially try to improve the content to get it up to par to what's ranking. So next up here, you have the content score, so you can write it down, here you can put the content of the link. And lastly, all the way to the right, you have the priority. So the priority numbers that you will have in here is the final order for the pages that we'll have to work on for the quarter.

Cool. This is it. Let me just drink a tiny bit. All right, moving on. Problem number two, what kind of links do you need to acquire? To solve this problem, number two, you're going to need a plan. So the plan is basically knowing exactly what type of backlinks you need to acquire to be able to get the best result in the shortest time possible. For this, we have a three-step framework again that's called the backlink analysis report. What this is, step number one, we need to identify the link gap. The link gap is essentially knowing how many backlinks, and how fast we need to acquire to be able to rank higher. Step number two is to determine the link type. So link type is in the sense of metrics, so typically, domain rating, domain authority, URL rating, traffic, and all of these things that are more metric related.

Step number three is to establish topical relevance. Topical relevance is made up of two main things. The first one being the topic, so the topic of the page where your link is in, and the second thing is the anchor text that the link is using to link to your page. So let's look at these in more detail. So identify the link gap. So this is basically a bunch of calculations. So what we do is, we have this link report that's built in Tableau Reader, just because it makes it nicer to look at, but fundamentally, you can do most of the things either in a spreadsheet, and so the sheet that we will be sharing with you guys is essentially a minimum viable version of this report where you can do some of these things.

So step number one is to calculate the number of referring domains that you need to close the gap. To do that, you essentially do this, this is what the link report looks like, so this section at the top is the SERs, so the search engine result pages for our target keyword. So this is basically our target keyword that's been selected here, and so these are the sites that are ranking top 10. And so our client is the site here in the green box, so they have a total of 10 referring domains for this page. So the first step that you need to do is to calculate the average for the top 10 ranking pages for how many referring domains they have. So you can see the average in this case is 34, and so our client has 10, so the link gap is essentially the difference between the two, so 24 links. So we need to acquire 24 links to be able to close this gap. So this is the first step.

Step number two is to calculate the link velocity gap. Link velocity is how many new backlinks each page is basically building every month, because these pages, they're ranking for this keyword... So they're not steady, so they're building links every month. So we need to take those into account as well. To be able to do that, you essentially do the same thing, but you can go in Ahrefs, and they have the new link reports, so you can then filter to see the results for the last 60 days, so then you take the number that they're doing for the 60 days, you divide it by two, so that gives you the number of new links that they're building per month. So here in the report, we have this section here, which is calculating the average for the new links that each of the top 10 ranking pages is building every month. So then we take the number that we are building every month, we subtract that, so this gives us the total link velocity gap.

Right, so once we have the total referring domain gap, plus the link velocity gap, the next step is to decide how long we want this campaign to be. So let's say that we want to work on this for 12 months, then we're going to put 12 months in here. You can see this box here gives you the calculation basically, so I put 24 links, which is the link gap here, and then I put two, which is the new links every month in link velocity. Here I have 12 months, which is basically the duration of the campaign. Step four is to know your cost per link. For us, cost per link is a blended cost that takes into account everything that we do, the strategy, the admin, and so everything like that. For you, it can be something different. It can maybe be the cost of the links that you're getting from a vendor, or it can be the cost of the freelancer that you're paying to get these links, so you need to determine your own cost per link.

So then you put all of this data together. So what the report gives you here at the end is basically how many links you need per month, and essentially how much this is going to cost. So this is very useful for us internally to be able to provide expectations to clients, but also, for companies to be able to make the business case for link building. So many marketers find it very hard to convince their management of the fact that they need to do link building, a lot of times it's difficult to justify this kind of expense. So this calculation can be very useful to be able to do that with actual data.

So step number two in the link analysis is to determine the link type. So link type is metric-based. So we typically look at the domain rating, the URL rating, the traffic, as well as the follow versus no follow ratio. So domain rating, let's have a quick look at this, this is what we call the domain rating ranges. Similar to the keyword difficulty buckets, Ahrefs only gives you the domain rating for the whole domain, but then you can also take the whole backlink profile for a website to also analyze how their backlinks are distributed in each domain rating bucket. So we can clearly see this is four different sites that I've obscured in here, but this site, for example, has 27 links that are domain rating 20 to 29, then they have 41 links in the 30 to 39 buckets and so on.

So what this analysis tells me, let's say that I'm this site right here at the end, these two are the top dogs. So if I want to try to basically beat what these guys are doing, to at least copy them, it's kind of clear to me that I should be focusing first... So at least prioritize the links that are in these buckets right here, because this is where they have the majority of the links. So I know that, for example, when I do prospecting, for example, I can do prospecting to prioritize sites that are in the domain rating bucket 60 to 80, for example, and basically, I can also move down to these other lower quality websites.

So this is domain rating and URL rating range. So you can do the same exact thing for the URL rating. This is the same thing, but at the page level. So this is the top 10 ranking pages for the keywords that I'm trying to rank for. So here, I can see the exact distribution of their backlinks by domain rating buckets. So down here, I can essentially look at the same thing. So if I want to rank higher for these keywords, then essentially I know that I should be focused first to be able to acquire links that are inside this domain rating bucket here, because this is where they have the majority of the links.

The second thing to look at is the traffic bucket. So you can essentially do the same thing, so Ahrefs gives you all this data if you export a CSV, so it's pretty easy once you have the CSV to make charts, and to essentially analyze this data, to gauge all the different traffic buckets, so you can get the traffic to the domain, but also the traffic to the URL. So here in the last bit, you can see, oops, fundamentally the other three main areas that we look at for the link type. So this is the domain rating bucket, so with the report, we can essentially filter to only see the specific domain rating range that we need. Here we have the URL rating bucket, the traffic to the domain, as well as the traffic to the URL.

Here we have the follow versus no follow link distribution. So it's also important to have this kind of data. We typically focus mostly on the follow links, so we typically don't build no follow links for the clients, but for companies that are doing this in-house, it might be useful to have this data to be able to essentially know if the competitors are doing something weird, and maybe they have a huge distribution of no follow links, it might be useful and interesting to dive deeper to see if they're doing something out of the box that you can sort of copy there, because having more no follow links at the end...

So it might be useful to diversify the link profile, especially if you need to be more aggressive with anchor text to be able to rank for the keywords. Having more no follow links can be useful to be able to diversify this link profile. Step number three to establish topical relevance. Topical relevance is made of two main things that we use, two main data points and datasets. The first one is topical trust flow, and we take this data from Majestic SEO. Topical trust flow is essentially the niche or topic bucket that either your domain or page backlinks essentially are coming from. And the anchor text type and distribution are which architects type or distribution that your links basically are covering. So we're going to look at this in a second.

This is what the topic analysis looks like. We have the left part, that's basically the domain level, so we have the four sites here, and for example, here we can see that this site has 9% of the backlinks that are coming from reference/education websites, then they have 2% of their backlinks that are coming from society/people site and so on. So this is for the domain level. The page level is this one right here to the left, so what we have here is the keywords, so instead of having the site, we have the specific keywords here for the columns. So this is telling us that for this keyword, 12% of the links that are pointing to the top 10 ranking pages basically are in the reference/education.

So you can also see how this is kind of matching, because the domain and page level, if the topic is the same, should kind of be similar. So this is helpful to, again, prioritize our prospecting efforts. So for example, we know that if we want to be more effective, the first topical trust flow bucket that we should be targeting to rank for this keyword is the reference/education, this is going to help us be more effective, instead of just trying to get the best possible topic.

Right, so the next bit is the anchor text analysis. So this is another thing that's very useful to be able to be more strategic, but also more effective. So what we have here is a distribution of the anchor text profile for each of the top 10 ranking pages for each keyword. So in this example, we have three keywords, one, two, and three. These are the top 10 ranking pages for this keyword. So you can clearly see in this case, 65% of the links that are pointing to the number one results for these keywords basically have a generic anchor text. So the four main buckets that we use here are exact, other, partial, and URL. So the exact match is your exact keyword. Partial match is any keyword that contains some of the words from the main keywords, while other is anything else that can be like branded terms, or click here, see this, and solve these things. Lastly, the URL anchor text is a naked URL.

So once these kinds of percentages, it's helpful for you to have something to shoot for. So a lot of times, you're probably not going to have control over the anchor text, the only situation in which you can have control is when you're doing guest posting typically, because you select the exact anchor text, but in most situations, you won't have control. That said, it's still kind of useful to know what you should be shooting for, because for example, if I know that, like in this situation, what I should be shooting for is to have 50% partial match, 38% that are generic, and lastly 4% URL. So if I know that I need to be able to match this kind of distribution, then I can be more strategic, for example, I can try to do guest posting to be able to increase the partial match kind of distribution, then I can use partial match anchor text.

So it's useful, it's not exact science, same thing with everything that I'm showing you today, but it's all very useful data, to be able to have a goal, and something that you can shoot for to at least do something that you can control, because otherwise you're just guessing again. Right, so step number three, to solve the third problem, what you're going to need is to have a system. So again, there are a ton of companies that are after the new tactics, tips, or tricks, or broken link building, skyscraper, whatever, that said, I fundamentally believe that all of these things are great, but the best thing that you can do is find, first off, a framework that you can use for every single strategy.

So this framework that we use here kind of allows us to essentially determine the specific tactic that we want, but this is more strategy-oriented than tactic-oriented. So the first thing that I wanted to explain here is the difference between what we do, and what a lot of other people are doing. This is what's typically called the skyscraper method. So you look at a competing page to then get the backlinks that that page has, so that then you reach out to the same people to essentially tell them, "Hey, can you please link to me, because my page is better." Or, "My page is different." And so on.

So this is still working in some situations, but it's been abused, as with a lot of other link building tactics, and everybody started using the same templates, so it's really obvious when somebody's doing this. So instead of doing this, what we do is slightly different.

So instead of trying to compete to reach out to sites to ask them to replace an existing link with a link, what we do is try to find those pages where it essentially makes sense for them to link to us, but they don't have to replace anything, so it just makes sense. Cool. So let's look at all the outreach steps in more detail. So step number one is to find what we call segments, together with the related keywords. Right, so for this, we use a mix of Ahrefs, Google, and Google sheets, but the main concept for this is, let's say that this is our main topic, this big link here, so for example, this main topic might have two, three, or four sub-topics, or we call them segments, so we want to essentially expand the list or the topic that we have, to be able to find subtopics where it still makes sense for them to link to us.

So the main process for this is to ask yourself, "What kind of pages would link to my page? What kind of topics are these pages about?" Step number two is to also get your why, so, "Why would they link to my page? Is it because my page is more in depth than their page? Is it because maybe I have unique data that I can provide? Is it because I have a unique perspective, maybe contrarian?" So all these things that make a link valuable or useful. So then the last thing they can do is, once we have brainstormed the initial list, you can also expand this list using secondary or related keywords. So we like to typically go, basically, on Google to type in a keyword, see what kind of results we get, so that then we can typically use the Ahrefs toolbar, it should give you a couple of suggestions for related keywords that you can just copy and put into your analysis.

Step number two is prospecting. So prospecting is typically done in two ways. So the first way that most people are doing is to just set basic metrics that are... And they are always going to be the same, for example, you decide that you want links that are domain rating 20 plus, that have a traffic to domain 1,000 or 5,000 plus, that have a page traffic of one plus, so some traffic, and so the last thing is that they have some keyword rankings to the page. So this works quite well, but a lot of times if you do this, you might be missing out on sites that maybe have a domain rating of 10, but they're super legitimate websites, so maybe they're quite new, but chances are, that maybe in six months, they might get to 20.

So if you do this, you miss out on a ton of good opportunities. So what we try to do instead is, take all of the data that we got from the link analysis, to be able to be more specific. So what we do is, we take the specific domain rating range, together with the traffic buckets, the URL range, solve the data that we looked at in the example before, solve this qualitative data, the specific range that we are here, specific range that we have here, the specific traffic bucket, together we may need a to follow no follow, together with the anchor text, so we take all of that data to be able to have a prospecting list that's super customized to our specific situation.

So we don't want to just set basic metrics just because that's what everybody else is doing. So most people just focus on setting these metrics, because they read in a blog that this is what's called a good link. So we don't want to do that, we want to base that decision, again, on data, so what we can actually measure and see. Step number three is inspection so at this point, we will have cleared up the list by removing the initial junk. So all of the sites that basically don't match the metrics that we set, we essentially remove them. So what we do next is to open up each page at a time to manually check, and do a visual inspection for the site first, but then for the page, to make sure that it's, first off, a legitimate website/company to make sure that it's still active, still publishing content, and not basically a deadweight site.

We want to make sure that the content is good and informative, and the last thing is, can we get a link possibly above the fold for the page? Does it really make sense? Does it call for a link to be inserted there? So step one here is very, very important, because at the end of the day, most people nowadays are having a very hard time in avoiding the so-called link farms. So what happens is, you reach out to maybe a 100 sites, you launch your campaign, so then what you get is basically just 50 replies that are essentially the same, people sending you a price list of, :"Hey, yes..." Basically offer guest posting service on quality sites, and then they have a huge price list of sites. Those are the so-called link farms. So sites that have been built with the sole purpose of selling backlinks to people like us, like you, because they think that we don't know better.

Supposedly the best way to avoid reaching out to these people in the first place, essentially, I truly believe that it's to find sites that are particularly legitimate businesses or companies. Whether the link farm essentially was built for the purpose of selling backlinks, so that's how they make the entirety of the revenue, essentially. So you want to find companies where they have something else to sell, because then you know that they're not going to be incentivized to sell you the link.

Step number four is personalization. So first off, we find the best possible point of contact. Typically, we try to find the writer of the article. If we can't find them, we find the editor. If we can't find them, we find someone that works in marketing, and lastly, we try to find the owner if this is a solo blog. So the other thing is, we want to know what is the best medium to reach out to them. So I will say, 80% we use emails for this, but sometimes, for example, if we can't find the email, or if we see that the person is specifically active on Twitter or LinkedIn, we might use those to reach out too. So it's important to find the right person, in the right place, at the right time. So these are the three main things if you want to get a reply.

And so the last thing here is that we also use this step to add or create dynamic fields that are going to change dynamically inside our email templates. For the email template, this is step number five. For the email templates, what we do is, so instead of customizing each and every single email, what we do is slightly different. So let's say that we have this one topic, and we have for example five to six maybe segments for the topic, so what we're going to do is, we're going to have five different custom templates for each of these segments. So each of these templates is basically going to make sense, and be tailored to the specific segment that we have found for step number one. So this is why the strategy step here, finding this segment that makes sense is very important.

Right, so a couple of other pointers, these are things that a lot of other people say, so a lot of people know them, but not a lot of people do them, so I still see very bad emails, they really don't do these things. So number one is to pique their interest, so you want to make your email interesting. So step number one, the subject line should get people to open the email, then the first line of the email should be something that makes them want to continue reading. So step number two is to avoid fake flattery, so if you don't have anything to say, either don't say anything, or don't say fake stuff just to impress people, because that doesn't work.

The next thing is to showcase the efforts that you put in for the content. So if you spent 50 hours creating this super in-depth data-driven content piece, feel free to mention it. So a lot of people basically are going to appreciate the effort that you put in for the content. The next thing is, use your why. So here is where you want to use the why that you found in step one, so why should they link to you? This is where you should use that. Then the next thing is to use the right tone of voice. This depends on the niche, the industry, the company they're reaching out to, the role for the person they're reaching out to and so on. The next thing is to be funny, to try and stand out where it makes sense. It's always good, I truly believe, to try and get people out of their daily routine whenever you can, so if you can be funny, make them smile, that's always going to increase your chances of getting a reply.

And so the last thing is to always follow up at least twice. We typically use twice as the very bare minimum, sometimes we also do three, four. There's a good follow up thing that we've been trying lately, which is basically putting a follow up a month after the last follow up, sometimes even a quarter after that. Because then you can be like, "Hey, I've been in touch three months ago, so it looks like you're still having this problem." Whatever it is that you're reaching out for. "Do you still have this? Can I help you now?"

Right, so cool. Lastly, to tie everything back to our three content promotion drivers. So once you've solved problem number one and two, we have a strategy and a plan, we have direction, so we know exactly where we need to go. Once we have solved problem number two and three, so we have a plan and a system, we have precision, so we know exactly how to get there. So lastly, once we have all of those, we have a strategy, we have a plan, and we have a system, lastly we have momentum, so that we're able to scale over a period of time, and where we are going we don't need roads. Cheers, that's it. Thank you.


Awesome job. That was very thorough and really deep, and a good time for maybe two questions. The first ones from Raul, he said, "Is there any ratio towards using keyword difficulty levels?"


What do you mean with ratio?


Yeah, I asked for some clarification, he has not provided it yet. We move to the next one. Is there a big difference between building links that go to your homepage, versus scattering them out throughout your content pieces?


Yeah, so that depends on what your goal is. Typically, I recommend newer sites to start building links to the homepage, because that does a couple of things, it can increase your domain rating, so that it helps you rank higher for the internal pages with less effort. But the second thing that it can do, and that's probably the most important is, if you are doing it well, it can give you referral traffic. Typically, for SaaS companies, which is the majority of the clients that we work with, we run listicle campaigns to get them featured in those articles that are, for example, top tools for this, top tools for that. And so what we try to do is we target those listicles that are ranking on page one, so that we can get the client placed in there with their own paragraph. So this builds a link to their homepage, but also it has the potential to bring them referral traffic, which is also great for signups and conversions.


Nice. And I think the last question, when you're discussing prospecting, do you actually create new articles to support your backlink outreach, or are you just looking at what's already existing on the client's site and then using those?


Yeah, so we do both. So for the clients that already have amazing content, we typically just use that, because that's typically enough. For the clients that have slightly weaker content, we might move more towards linkable assets. So we give them the idea, we essentially come up... We do the ideation, they create the content, which might be a study, or something like that, so then we simply take the content and promote it to other people.

Written by
Bernard Huang
Co-founder of Clearscope

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