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Link Building at Scale: Big Links with a Tiny Team

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Presentation by Sam Oh Director of Product Education at Ahrefs, at Mastermind 2019. Sam is a tactical all-in-one marketer and digital strategist. He helps Ahrefs create educational videos and develop creative marketing strategies.

Learn more: 97thfloor.com

Veröffentlicht in: Marketing
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Link Building at Scale: Big Links with a Tiny Team

  1. 1. Sam Oh Director of Product Education @ahrefs Link Building at Scale Big Links With a Tiny Team @samsgoh ahrefs
  2. 2. @samsgoh 2 David vs. Goliath
  3. 3. @samsgoh 3 Sam vs. Seth
  4. 4. @samsgoh 4
  5. 5. @samsgoh 5
  6. 6. @samsgoh 6
  7. 7. @samsgoh 9 Goliaths by Industry Health Marketing Wordpress Personal finance Recipes Healthline Hubspot WP Beginner Nerdwallet AllReceipes
  8. 8. I haven’t quite “made it” Majority = Davids My networks are small My team is small My budget is limited [Insert excuse here]
  9. 9. @samsgoh 11 There is hope...
  10. 10. 3,000+ RD in 1 Month (Finance – 2 person) PR campaign through meaningful relationships
  11. 11. Ahrefs Blog Link Profile (8 person) 5 x ~1 guest post per week + natural link growth
  12. 12. Health Hub (Labor = ~$12/link) Sam: 1 hr/week QA: 5 hours per week
  13. 13. Health Site (Labor = ~$12/link) Sam: 1 hr/week QA: 5 hours per week
  14. 14. Sam Oh Director of Product Education @ahrefs Link Building at Scale Big Links With a Tiny Team @samsgoh
  15. 15. @samsgoh 17 Why Links Matter ahrefs.com/blog/search-traffic-study/
  16. 16. @samsgoh 18 Why Links Matter ahrefs.com/blog/search-traffic-study/
  17. 17. @samsgoh 19 Prospecting Find Emails Outreach Tracking Basic Link Building Process
  18. 18. scaling follows the exact same process
  19. 19. but systematized
  20. 20. Systems ≠ Automation
  21. 21. Your best links will come from helping people.
  22. 22. @samsgoh 25 This Presentation is NOT about • PBNs • Link exchanges • Anything blatantly against Google’s ToS (Paid links)
  23. 23. @samsgoh 26 This Presentation is about • Process and workflows • Link building strategies (prospecting) • Team (members & training) • Efficiency
  24. 24. @samsgoh 27 Prospecting Find Emails Outreach Tracking Basic Link Building Process
  25. 25. @samsgoh 28 The Framework (Trello)
  26. 26. @samsgoh 29 The Framework (Trello)
  27. 27. @samsgoh 30 Invest in Documentation • Turnover won’t kill your link building campaigns • Easily make modifications to your SOPs
  28. 28. @samsgoh 31 The Framework (Trello) • Board = client / website
  29. 29. @samsgoh 32 The Framework (Trello) • Board = client / website • Lists = Stage of the link building process + documentation
  30. 30. @samsgoh 33 The Framework (Trello) • Board = client / website • Lists = Stage of the link building process + documentation • Cards = link building campaign
  31. 31. @samsgoh 34 The Framework (Trello) Each card moves down the list (step) until it reaches the end
  32. 32. Link Prospector Find relevant pages, people and websites that will likely link to you.
  33. 33. 36 @samsgoh Link Prospector Team Member #1 Project lead Experienced Analytical Strategic Knowledgeable Tools Google Sheets Ahrefs Scrapebox Google Search Screaming Frog Traits
  34. 34. Responsibility Find and qualify link opportunities
  35. 35. Guest posting Link Building Strategies Broken link building Unlinked mentions Observation
  36. 36. Guest posting Link Building Strategies Broken link building Unlinked mentions Observation
  37. 37. They get content > you get a link back to your site.
  38. 38. @samsgoh 41 Method #1: Google
  39. 39. @samsgoh 42 Method #1: Google 1. Google > Settings > Search Settings > Set top 100 results in Google
  40. 40. @samsgoh 43 Method #1: Google 1. Google > Settings > Search Settings > Set top 100 results in Google 2. Install Scraper Chrome extension 3. Add this XPath code //div[@class="srg"]/div/div/div/div/a/@href 4. Copy to clipboard and add to Excel/Sheets
  41. 41. @samsgoh 44 Method #1: Google 1. Google > Settings > Search Settings > Set top 100 results in Google 2. Install Scraper Chrome extension 3. Add this XPath code //div[@class="srg"]/div/div/div/div/a/@href 4. Copy to clipboard and add to Excel/Sheets Problem: No SEO metrics
  42. 42. @samsgoh 45 Method #1: Google + SEO Toolbar
  43. 43. @samsgoh 46 Method #1: Google + Ahrefs SEO Toolbar
  44. 44. @samsgoh 47 Method #1: Google + Ahrefs SEO Toolbar
  45. 45. @samsgoh 48 Method #2: Scrapebox 1. Get and test proxies
  46. 46. @samsgoh 49 Method #2: Scrapebox 1. Get and test proxies 2. Add footprints to Harvester • “guest post by” [topic] • inurl:write-for-us [topic] • inurl:contribute [topic]
  47. 47. @samsgoh 50 Method #2: Scrapebox 1. Get and test proxies 2. Add footprints to Harvester • “guest post by” [topic] • inurl:write-for-us [topic] • inurl:contribute [topic] 3. Run, deduplicate, export
  48. 48. @samsgoh 51 Method #2: Scrapebox 1. Get and test proxies 2. Add footprints to Harvester • “guest post by” [topic] • inurl:write-for-us [topic] • inurl:contribute [topic] 3. Run, deduplicate, export 4. Run list through Ahrefs’ Batch Analysis or Screaming Frog (with Ahrefs API) to get SEO metrics
  49. 49. @samsgoh 52 Method #3: Content Explorer
  50. 50. @samsgoh 53 Method #3: Content Explorer
  51. 51. @samsgoh 54 Method #3: Content Explorer
  52. 52. @samsgoh 55 Method #3: Content Explorer
  53. 53. @samsgoh 56
  54. 54. @samsgoh 57 Guest Posting Pros • High hit rate (pitch to link) • Control which pages you want to link to Cons • Time consuming – outsource content • $$$ at scale
  55. 55. Guest posting Link Building Strategies Broken link building Unlinked mentions Observation
  56. 56. @samsgoh 59 Animation of broken link building
  57. 57. Help fix a UX issue > you get a link
  58. 58. @samsgoh 61 Site Explorer > Best By Links 1. Search for a competitor’s domain 2. Best by links
  59. 59. @samsgoh 62 Site Explorer > Best By Links 1. Search for a competitor’s domain 2. Best by links 3. HTTP status code to 404
  60. 60. @samsgoh 63 Site Explorer > Best By Links 1. Search for a competitor’s domain 2. Best by links 3. HTTP status code to 404 4. Analyze backlink profiles of 404s
  61. 61. @samsgoh 64 Site Explorer > Best By Links 1. Search for a competitor’s domain 2. Best by links 3. HTTP status code to 404 4. Analyze backlink profiles of 404s 5. Find more competitors in search - Competing domains report
  62. 62. @samsgoh 65 Site Explorer > Best By Links 1. Search for a competitor’s domain 2. Best by links 3. HTTP status code to 404 4. Analyze backlink profiles of 404s 5. Find domains with similar keyword rankings. - competing domains report 6. Rinse and repeat steps 1-5
  63. 63. Find more pages by checking your external links
  64. 64. @samsgoh 67 Look at Outgoing Broken Links
  65. 65. @samsgoh 68 Access Latest Archive.org Page
  66. 66. @samsgoh 69 Access Latest Archive.org Page
  67. 67. @samsgoh 70 Scalable Process 1. Search for a competitor’s domain 2. Best by links 3. HTTP status code to 404 4. Analyze backlink profiles of 404s 5. Find domains with similar keyword rankings 6. Rinse and repeat steps 1-4 7. Look at your broken outbound links. 8. Look at your competitors’ outbound links
  68. 68. Guest posting Link Building Strategies Broken link building Unlinked mentions Observation
  69. 69. They like you > you get a link
  70. 70. @samsgoh 73 Unlinked mentions
  71. 71. @samsgoh 74 Step #1: Content Explorer 1. Search for your brand name and variations “ahrefs” OR “a hrefs” OR “a herfs” OR “ahref” –site:ahrefs.com
  72. 72. @samsgoh 75 Step #1: Content Explorer 1. Search for your brand name and variations 2. Set some filters (date, language, DR)
  73. 73. @samsgoh 76 Step #1: Content Explorer 1. Search for your brand name and variations 2. Set some filters (date, language, DR) 3. Export results
  74. 74. @samsgoh 77 Exporting For Larger Brands
  75. 75. @samsgoh 78 Exporting For Larger Brands
  76. 76. @samsgoh 79
  77. 77. @samsgoh 80 Step #2: Crawl for Unlinked Mentions 1. Open Screaming Frog 2. Configuration > Custom > Search
  78. 78. @samsgoh 81 Step #2: Crawl for Unlinked Mentions 1. Open Screaming Frog 2. Configuration > Custom > Search <a [^>]*bhrefs*=s*"([^"]*domain.com[^"]*)
  79. 79. @samsgoh 82 Step #2: Crawl for Unlinked Mentions 1. Open Screaming Frog 2. Configuration > Custom > Search <a [^>]*bhrefs*=s*"([^"]*domain.com[^"]*) 3. Run your crawl
  80. 80. @samsgoh 83 Step #2: Crawl for Unlinked Mentions 1. Open Screaming Frog 2. Configuration > Custom > Search <a [^>]*bhrefs*=s*"([^"]*domain.com[^"]*) 3. Run your crawl 4. Custom tab > Export
  81. 81. Guest posting Link Building Strategies Broken link building Unlinked mentions Observation
  82. 82. Observation will take you farther than any link building “tactic,” ”technique,” or “hack.”
  83. 83. Connect on a common interest
  84. 84. @samsgoh 87 Linkable content type (industry) 1. Search for a competitor’s domain or subfolder.
  85. 85. @samsgoh 88 Linkable content type (industry) 1. Search for a competitor’s domain or subfolder. 2. Best by links report + analyze content types that generate links.
  86. 86. @samsgoh 89 What type of content attract links for us?
  87. 87. @samsgoh 90 Data studies & Big Guides
  88. 88. Create “link-bait” based on your competitors’ most successful content
  89. 89. “A highly effective link building tactic” (not real) Scenario: The Bulldozer Technique
  90. 90. What / who does this remind you of?
  91. 91. Brian Dean’s Skyscraper Technique
  92. 92. @samsgoh 95 Analyze competitor’s page anchors 1. Search for a competitor’s page in Site Explorer.
  93. 93. @samsgoh 96 Analyze competitor’s page anchors 1. Search for a competitor’s page in Site Explorer. 2. Skim through the anchors report.
  94. 94. @samsgoh 97 Analyze competitor’s page anchors 1. Search for a competitor’s page in Site Explorer. 2. Skim through the anchors report. 3. Look for lots of links from specific anchors. • Branded anchors (skyscraper technique) • 110%
  95. 95. @samsgoh 98 Dig Deeper Site Explorer > Backlinks > Search for a footprint
  96. 96. One segment of people who are interested in results/case studies.
  97. 97. Double Down on What’s Working
  98. 98. Qualifying prospects fast
  99. 99. @samsgoh 102 Disqualify Pages 1. Forums 2. Web 2.0s 3. Direct competitors 4. Links you don’t want (PBNs, link/content farms) 5. Anything else that would disqualify them (ie. Remove already linking pages from an unlinked mentions campaign)
  100. 100. @samsgoh 103 Unlinked mentions example Filter for pages already linking to your domain (4494 pages)
  101. 101. @samsgoh 104 Unlinked mentions example Delete these rows (2555 pages remaining)
  102. 102. @samsgoh 105 Unlinked mentions example Filter for unwanted footprints (1497 pages remaining) • /jobs/ • /job/ • /forum/ • /forums/ • /viewthread/ • /comments • [domain names] • .ru, .pw, or other TLDs • Anything else you observe
  103. 103. @samsgoh 106 Unlinked mentions example Sort by domain name > choose one page per domain (724 pages remaining)
  104. 104. @samsgoh 107 Unlinked mentions example Delete pages you don’t want a link from (use openallurls.com)
  105. 105. @samsgoh 108 Unlinked mentions example Final Results: • Start: 4494 pages • Unlinked mentions: 2555 • Qualified pages: 590 (one link/domain, quality metrics) Time Taken: • 1 hour of my time (mostly on documentation) • ~22 hrs from someone who’s never worked on a link building campaign in his life
  106. 106. Email Finder(s) Finding contact details for each qualified page.
  107. 107. 110 @samsgoh Email Finder Team Member #2 Efficient with time Sustained attention More sustained attention Sustained attention Decision maker Tools Google Sheets Hunter Neverbounce Clearbit LinkedIn Traits
  108. 108. Finding the “right” people can be the difference between 3% and double digit conversion rates.
  109. 109. @samsgoh 112 Who do I contact? 1. Editors 2. Author 3. Owners of single author sites 4. Content marketing managers 5. Marketing managers 6. Webmasters 7. Generic email if no marketing team
  110. 110. @samsgoh 113 But it depends on the size of the company 1. Small / mid-size companies – any editor is generally fine. • + content marketing managers • + [title] marketing 2. Large companies (ie. Popsugar) • editor of [category] • assistant editor • associate editor • Editor in chief is usually too busy Assistants/associates get less outreach emails. BUT, they may not have the authority to add your link.
  111. 111. @samsgoh 114 Step 1: Determine the size of the site • Look at the about / team page. • Search for the company on LinkedIn
  112. 112. @samsgoh 115 Step 2: Find the contact name and email • Filter for positions on LinkedIn • Editor • Content • Marketing • webmaster
  113. 113. @samsgoh 116 Step 3: Find Email • Use Hunter or Clearbit to find the person’s email
  114. 114. @samsgoh 117 Step 4: Verify the email • Use NeverBounce to verify whether the email is valid. • Valid = good • Invalid = bad • Unknown = mostly bad • Catchall = manually review
  115. 115. ! This takes way too long !
  116. 116. ! Use Sheets + APIs (or Zapier) !
  117. 117. @samsgoh 120 The 10 Minute Campaign Starter • Export 4,000 URLs from Content Explorer for a guest posting campaign • ~25% have authors = 1,000 potential contacts • 20-30% are “the right” person = 200-300 link prospects in ~ 5-10 minutes • Vet whether it’s worth your time/money
  118. 118. @samsgoh 121 Content Explorer Exports Authors
  119. 119. @samsgoh 122 Parse Author First & Last • Parse First: =IFERROR(LEFT(D3,FIND(" ",D3)-1)) • Parse Last: =IFERROR(TRIM(RIGHT(SUBSTITUTE(D3," ",REPT(" ",100)),100)))
  120. 120. @samsgoh 123 Find Emails and Verify with API • Scripts using Hunter and NeverBounce’s API • Or create “zaps” in Zapier (non-programmers)
  121. 121. @samsgoh 124 Start Your Campaign in < 1 hr • Email all valid contacts (filter in sheets) • Send it to outreach manager • Validate catch-all emails • Continue finding the rest
  122. 122. @samsgoh 125 Tip: Add LinkedIn Hyperlinks • Create a hyperlink to search for the company’s LinkedIn page • =HYPERLINK("https://www.google.com/search?q=site%3Alinkedin.com+inurl%3A/compan y/%20"&[DomainCell],"LinkedIn")
  123. 123. @samsgoh 126 Add LinkedIn Hyperlinks • Create a hyperlink to search for the company’s LinkedIn page • =HYPERLINK("https://www.google.com/search?q=site%3Alinkedin.com+inurl%3A/compan y/%20"&[DomainCell],"LinkedIn")
  124. 124. Outreach manager Reach out and build relationships with link prospects
  125. 125. 128 @samsgoh Outreach Manager Team Member #3 Communication skills Organized Relationship builder Adaptable Tools Google Sheets Buzzstream M ailshake Pitchbox Google Apps (Gmail) Traits
  126. 126. @samsgoh 129 Contact Link Prospects
  127. 127. ! Individually emailing takes way too long !
  128. 128. @samsgoh 131 Outreach tools
  129. 129. “personalized” vs. static emails
  130. 130. @samsgoh 133 “Personalized” Hey Chris, I’m Sam, a fellow diehard content marketing advocate and angel investor. I’m contacting you because [reason for contacting]. Hope the weather in Orange County/SF is treating you well. At 68.9°, I’m sure you’re staying warm (unless you’re in Utah at 12° Brrrrrrr ). Cheers, Sam PS. My wife also uses my Pinterest account. Funny how much we have in common!
  131. 131. @samsgoh 134 These can all be found through APIs Hey Chris, I’m Sam, a fellow diehard content marketing advocate and angel investor. I’m contacting you because [reason for contacting]. Hope the weather in Orange County/SF is treating you well. At 68.9°, I’m sure you’re staying warm (unless you’re in Utah at 12° Brrrrrrr ). Cheers, Sam PS. My wife also uses my Pinterest account. Funny how much we have in common!
  132. 132. It’s “semi-automatable,” but it’s creepy…
  133. 133. @samsgoh 136 Static Email Hey there, I was reading through your blog post and found that you link to Ahrefs’ guide on keyword research. It was great, but I created an article that takes a unique approach. [link] Might be a good addition to your site. Cheers, Sam
  134. 134. but that’s impersonal and lazy
  135. 135. @samsgoh 138 Context: “The Bulldozer Technique”
  136. 136. @samsgoh 139 Context: “The Bulldozer Technique”
  137. 137. We have a common interest.
  138. 138. @samsgoh 141 Personalized on context Hi Josh, Sam here from Ahrefs. I’m contacting you because of a new SEO strategy that I used to increase organic traffic by 833% to our blog. I’m sure you’ve heard of (and appreciated) Brian’s Skyscraper technique. Not sure if you’ve tried it recently, but I’ve personally found link conversion rates are getting worse (~3-5% on a good day). Perhaps because of spammers? So I built on it and created the “Bulldozer technique:” [link] We used it at Ahrefs for the past 14 months and convert links at 15-20% on any given campaign. I’m quite certain that’s the reason why our organic traffic has had the “hockey stick” effect. Pretty confident you’ll love the strategy :) If interested, I’m happy to send you a few pages on 97th Floor’s blog where I can see this producing killer results. Cheers, Sam
  139. 139. @samsgoh 142 Use Merge Tags Hi {{first}}, Sam here from Ahrefs. I’m contacting you because of a new {{topic}} strategy that I used to increase organic traffic by 833% to our blog. I’m sure you’ve heard of (and appreciated) {{comp_name}} {{comp_tactic_name}}. Not sure if you’ve tried it recently, but I’ve personally found {{comp_disadvantage}}. So I built on it and created the “Bulldozer technique:” [link] We used it at Ahrefs for the past 14 months and convert links at 15-20% on any given campaign. I’m quite certain that’s the reason why our organic traffic has had the “hockey stick” effect. Pretty confident you’ll love the strategy :) If interested, I’m happy to send you a few pages on {{company_name}}’s blog where I can see this producing killer results. Cheers, Sam
  140. 140. @samsgoh 143 Use Merge Tags
  141. 141. @samsgoh 144 What happens next? 1. No response • Up to one follow-up in 5-8 days 2. Agrees to add a link / open a conversation • Thank them / help 3. Asks you to pay for a link • Thanks but no thanks 4. Asks for a reciprocal link • Up to you 5. Asks you to guest post • Up to you
  142. 142. Tracking/reporting Track link campaign progress / create reports for clients
  143. 143. 146 @samsgoh Project Manager / Outreach Manager Team Member #3/4 Leader Organized Networker M otivator Tools Google Sheets Data Studio Buzzstream Pitchbox Your tool of choice Traits
  144. 144. Tracking/reporting is a personal thing (agency vs. affiliate networks etc.)
  145. 145. @samsgoh 148 Setup “Backlinks Alerts” • Alerts > Backlinks > New Alert • Enter your domain/subfolder/URL
  146. 146. @samsgoh 149 Setup “Backlinks Alerts” • Alerts > Backlinks > New Alert • Enter your domain/subfolder/URL • Get email notifications of new backlinks
  147. 147. @samsgoh 150 Prospecting Find Emails Outreach Tracking Basic Link Building Process (Task Oriented Systems) (APIs / Repeatable process) (Segmentation + Deepen Rel.) (Personal Choice)
  148. 148. Your best links will come from helping people.
  149. 149. Help more people = build more links
  150. 150. Sam Oh Director of Product Education @ahrefs Thank you @samsgoh ahrefs

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