It’s not an uncommon scenario in the SEO world: You have a client who is struggling to see results, and they’re looking to you for help.
Maybe you’ve done all that you can from an onpage SEO perspective, but still no luck. Or worse yet, you’ve built some links, but they’re not having as much of an effect as needed. It’s generally the latter where I see people start to scratch their heads and wonder what more they can do.
When clients come to us for link building, they’re usually in that exact position, or they just need more hands on deck to implement a streamlined process for the all-encompassing task of link acquisition.
Regardless of the reason, one of the tools that I’ve found to be extremely helpful in this scenario is a tactical link building matrix. This helps us decide on what strategy needs to be done first by balancing some of the current dependencies that are in play with the client. Almost always, these dependencies revolve around three things: money, effectiveness and time. So that’s where we start.
This chart below segments link building tactics that our team uses in our campaigns, and are generally regarded as popular techniques in the industry.
On the left side of the chart below, Time to place / have effect represents a 1-10 scale of how long it can take to actually complete that particular tactic, as well as how long it might take for the link to have an effect on rankings. For example, getting placed in a directory can be really easy to do, so it’s listed as “1” on this side.
On the bottom, Money spent on tactic / labor represents how expensive it could be to implement a particular tactic. Guest posting, for example, is listed as a “7” on the chart because doing guest posting the right way means investing in getting content created, spending manhours to pitch and get placed, etc.
As for the size of the circles, that’s the estimated effectiveness of the tactic. These are all tactics that we use or have used with our link building campaigns, so estimations from these metric comes from campaigns that we have tracked.
Obviously each tactic won’t be ideal for certain campaigns, but in general, this should be a solid starting point for where you can start based on those constraints. The following link building tactics are based on general effectiveness from low to high.
Geo / Niche Directories
Even today, directories have their place in the link building world. While 95% of directories are garbage, domains like chambers of commerce and the BBB bring high authority and sometimes even valuable referral traffic. However, there’s sometimes cost associated with being listed in some of these directories. Chamber memberships are a good example of this.
Another older tactic, this one is reliable, but not quite as valuable unless placed on a hyper-relevant page. The only cost here will be labor for outreach team.
Giveaways / Reviews
Giveaways as a link building tactic is a little tricky to implement correctly. If done without care, you could put in jeopardy your link profile by getting dinged for paid links. It’s still effective if done correctly and ethically, but can take time and money to get a product shipped and reviewed.
Some of the highest link placement rates on campaigns that I have run are on the back of a link reclamation campaign. Because of the ability to use tools to do some of this, this particular tactic can be very cost effective and not take as much time. However, the value of this particular tactic is always a little different, and is based on who is linking to you, as well as the context that they are linking.
Infographic Link Building
Unfortunately, because this tactic has been beaten black and blue by lazy marketers, it has gotten “special attention” from the search engines, making it trickier to get as much mileage out of a single infographic. Even so, done correctly and with the necessary effort, infographics can still be engaging and very powerful from a user engagement, and thus, link perspective. The downside is that graphic design isn’t cheap, so it can be very costly to get it done the right way.
This tactic can work wonders, especially with local SEO clients. Unfortunately this link building tactic generally costs a great deal of money. Not only do you have to pay for the time it takes to generate prospects, but of the sponsorship itself (unless you pass that onto the client). Even then, if you find one cheap enough, it’s rarely permanent.
Image Link Building
We work with multiple clients who work with us under the condition of anonymity, and this can make it extremely difficult to earn links without invoking the trust and authority of a branded email. However, we’ve been able to use image link building as a way around this. Image libraries, as well as using images in guest posts and linking attribution is especially helpful. If you have to create new images it can be expensive from a labor perspective, but can be balanced out from a time point-of-view since the same image can be used over and over.
This is probably the most expensive on the list, as you (or your client) has to actually create a real scholarship, it’s also one of the most effective from a domain-wide perspective (I wouldn’t recommend using this tactic for a single page). However, it can bring a wealth of valuable .edu links pointed to the domain.
Similar to the scholarship link building tactic, discount pages can earn excellent links from valuable schools, businesses, and government websites. These are far less expensive, as you don’t have to have a dedicated amount of money ready to spend, but still take time to find prospects to link to you. Also similar to scholarships, this is most beneficial from a domain-level and authority perspective, not necessarily an individual page.
Broken Link Building
The only real resources that this tactic requires is creativity and manpower. It’s very valuable because the links you get are generally extremely relevant, and it can lead to even more valuable relationships to use again in the future.
We all know this one. This is also one of our go to tactics when building links for clients, but because it takes so long to get something posted, and can be very expensive, we try to diversify tactics in a campaign involving guest posting. Between getting professional content creators, outreach, and the normal pitching, it can be a very taxing process.
Expired Domain Redirects
I love this one. It’s probably my favorite tactic we’re using right now on our campaigns. It requires very little money (labor and domain purchasing), and has a great return. The catch is that you really need to know how to spot a dangerous domain so that you don’t redirect bad neighborhoods, it can only be used on sites with an already mature link profile, and it’s not very repeatable. You don’t want to send mixed signals to the search engines through anchor text, so you can only do this so many times. But for a few bucks, it’s powerful as $#!+ compared to most tactics.
By far the best “tactic” that you will ever encounter. This requires a very small amount of time, and usually no money. A great deal of SEO / link building is PR, so having a book of relationships that you can call on is critical. In my opinion, the quickest way to “build” the most valuable links is based on relationships.
So there you have it, the starting point to link building campaigns from the perspective of a link building agency. Do you feel I’ve missed something here, or have a question about how this list can be better? I would love to hear what you would like to add. Shoot me a tweet at @JaredCarrizales and let’s chat!