Office Hours #1: Blending Links, Healthy Link Profiles, Allocating your Budget
Welcome to the very first installment of SirLinksalot’s SEO Round Table Office Hours.
In this series, we reply to questions from members of our Facebook Group, SEO Round Table, with video responses in an effort to help them become stronger, more capable SEOs.
The following is an edited transcript from our video response on July 19, 2019. Feel free to read along for a more concise version, or if you’d prefer to watch the video – skip to the end of this article.
The Best Way to Build Backlinks?
I said we would get to answering some questions you guys want answered in the group, and I got started on one today that I thought I’d been hearing for quite some time from a lot of people.
I think it is pretty pertinent to everybody that’s in this group and learning about link building, so this is a good place for us to start.
“What are the best practices for blending guest posts, niche edits, PBNs, and other quality links together in order to create an effective backlinking campaign?”
One thing to note is there are a million different ways to do this, and a lot of people do things a different way. I’m just going to give my perspective on how I go about link building.
It works for me because it’s effective and gives me plenty of longevity as far as my asset is concerned. I don’t typically want to build things that don’t last a long time. That’s never really been in my interest – I’m not really a spam user.
Before we get into links, let’s first talk about budgeting.
Start with a Realistic Budget and Time Frame
I think the first thing that I see a lot of people making mistakes on as far as building a link building campaign is they budget for a month or two without thinking about the fact that SEO takes time.
Even if you’ve got a good niche, there’s all sorts of unforeseen circumstances that can arise as you’re link building and as you’re building out these assets. Sometimes you build for what you think is a great niche, and then the affiliate profits just aren’t there.
Things like that do occur, so I think when you get started, one thing to really focus on is your budget.
A good way to think about it is that SEO takes a decent amount of time now if you’re going after anything competitive or semi-competitive – or if you’re just new, a little uncertain as to what you’re doing, and kind of experimenting with stuff.
For the first couple of years that I was doing this, it was a crash course in trying a bunch of different things and not even understanding what I was looking forward to or really getting an idea of whether I was succeeding or not.
All of that stuff comes with time, so it’s kind of nice to have an idea of what to look for.
If you budget over a longer period of time – let’s say you’ve got $5,000 in the bank and you want to work on this one asset – you should have some runway. You should have the ability to have some foresight about what you’re going to do with this asset and should have things mapped-out to your abilities.
If you’re fairly new to SEO and you’ve got $5,000 to spend, give yourself about 10 months. That’s $500 a month for link building which is more than enough to get started moving yourself up in the SERPs.
“But 10 months is too long! I need money now! Can’t I just use the budget in 2 months and get the results I want?”
If you really know what you are doing, you can. However, if you blow it all and then have no bank-roll left once you hit a dead end, you won’t be able to go anywhere and the project will be at a stand-still.
Especially while you are new to SEO, it’s best to practice long-term principals so that you can better analyze the variables you are manipulating and understand exactly what cause and effect relationship occurs while also staying safe.
It will then be much easier to be able to get fast results later on due to your much more thorough understanding of how things work.
Emulate What Naturally Occurs on the Internet
The idea here is that you want a mix of many types of links with very diverse anchors spread out over time.
A way to look at that is like buzz on the internet – what it actually looks like versus what we’re doing.
So if you spend your $500 monthly budget on some links and create this idea of buzz via backlinks going to your site, that helps give it some sort of life in the SERPs.
If you keep doing that over time to make it seem like a natural progression of followers, engagement, and people actively pursuing your brand as a relevant source of information for that particular niche, then you’re going to have a much better shot of resonating for those terms that you want to rank for.
If you’ve got a brand new site, that’s going to take a little while. Make sure you budgeted it out for an ample amount of time and you’ve thought about what targets you’re going to go after over that course of time.
You always want to diversify to the homepage, inner-pages, and your anchors from all different types of links. I use PBNs for long tail, naked, branded – all kinds of different things – which some people might think is a waste.
But it’s natural for those things to happen in the SERPs.
If something gets shared a whole lot and is creating real buzz, it’s going to get a plethora of links from a bunch of different sources. Sometimes they don’t even really make sense to the rational mind, but they do to a search engine.
Trust Your Organic Rankings
We’re talking about gaming an algorithm, right?
The algorithm isn’t a rational mind. It operates on a very correct/incorrect kind of wavelength.
You can get away with things that might seem spammy to us – which I’ve seen happen over and over again, especially wielding that big PBN over at Freedom Links. We saw all sorts of different link profiles that led to the same thing – success in the SERPs.
“Oh, my gosh, like is this spam? Like it looks really ugly, it’s some sort of weird profile link. I don’t really know, maybe it’s got Russian or foreign anchor text. But it’s indexed, it’s in there.”
A lot of people overanalyze what type of links they’re getting. Trust what the organic rankings are doing.
If things are moving up and seem to be healthy overall, then things are working well.
If you’ve got a rank graph that’s going straight down or consistently declining over time, then you probably need to look into auditing the types of links that you’ve got.
If you’ve got a clean, diversified backlinking profile going to a site over time, you’re going to see a rank graph that continuously moves upwards.
Link Velocity and the Real World
How does buzz occur naturally in the search engines?
I remember this being a huge light bulb going off in my head when I saw it. It was the first time I saw a friend of mine get some buzz via a post he’d put up on a WordPress blog roll, and overnight I saw a site that never had any kind of upward inflection get a plethora of it.
He had nothing going on for a long time, and then he put that post up. It got a lot of press and 1,800 backlinks overnight from 253 referring domains. That boosted their organic rankings substantially overnight as well.
“Well, you can’t send 100 links in a month. That’s insane.”
It really depends on how you go about doing these things, and that’s why I say to focus on your budget.
Your budget is going to decide whether you can sustain a level of interaction that’s going to keep your rank graph going positive, or whether it’s going to look like you had some extreme buzz and then fizzled out… along with your rankings.
Sometimes you can sustain a decent amount of monetization doing something like that very quickly, but that’s a more advanced technique. For people getting started building their first affiliate website or local site, they need to figure out how to use a specific budget to emulate a steady buzz.
Imagine your website is a real-world business. It’s got to have money coming in every month, and it’s got to be trying to actively pursue new clients every month.
The way that looks in real life is like a popularity contest – you have commercials going, you have people getting billboards, etc – and it’s the same principle as far as gaming the algorithm with the search engines.
You’re out there as the business owner procuring buzz. Sometimes that means you’re putting your name in directories and listings, other times you’re in forums talking about your business.
The most successful advertising campaigns in the real world are very diversified in the way that they attack what they’re going after, and so that’s what you should emulate as well.
I love that Kingori said blending, because that is exactly what my strategy is from day one on a new site.
We start by using a plethora of different types of links to pillow and aren’t too aggressive with money anchors (although I’ll still sprinkle them in there), and then I’ll have a backlinking campaign that’ll emulate that amount of buzz that I think is sustainable over time considering my budget for the site.
If you’re talking about very high budgets and going crazy with them, effective campaigns can start off with something like a press release and social signals then emulating buzz through that as it would make sense for lots of links to be coming in during that time.
To sustain something like that over six or more months at a time requires a huge network of links available to you which may be an issue, but of course we’ve built that here at SirLinksalot.
Consider your budget, don’t overthink what you’re doing, be random and intelligent. Mix things up, even if it means being sub-optimal at times with things like anchor selection and link types.
Managing big PBNs, the way that I saw the most successful campaigns go was typically using more random techniques in order to create longevity and insulate the site.
“Well, is a press release considered spammy? Is using blog post or blog comments spammy?”
When it comes to picking the type of links you’re getting, everybody knows guest posts, niche edits, and PBNs. When we talk about quality links, things become blurry and overgeneralized by many people out in the community. Anything can be spammy, including high quality links.
People often think things are spammy incorrectly, for example if the content isn’t written perfectly. I’ve seen people in third-world countries who don’t speak English very well write their own press releases and they still help them in the SERPs a lot.
Don’t miscalculate what you can do with ambition as well as backlinking. Your press release isn’t spammy as long as you’re not sending it out with a bunch of money anchors going back to your site.
For blog comments, do what’s natural. It makes sense for random names, branded, or naked anchors to be used as the name of the poster linking back to the homepage. Using a money anchor to an inner-page here makes no sense.
Think analytically as far as what looks natural and what should be inside these links, don’t do the same thing repeatedly, and use randomness as a weapon.
There is No “Right” Way
“I’ve got this budget of $500, how many of each type of link should I get?”
There is no answer for that. You want to keep the algorithm guessing every month, so switch things up.
I’ve seen people that had great success with niche edits, all then all of a sudden they just keep using niche edits until they bastardize the ability to use them anymore and get any kind of upward inflection.
It’s because they’ve overused one specific type of link. It’s a contextual link dropped into an existing article. These types of things can be spotted by an algorithm.
For PBNs, it’s the same thing. They are home page links with lots of power.
All of these things done exclusively are going to hurt you, and all of these things done in moderation and blended well are going to help you.
So don’t ever think:
“I’ve got a $500 budget, $400 is going to niche edits. And I can only get so many other links.”
Just switch it up next month to keep things being a guess. If you do that you’re going to have a lot more luck keeping things moving up and keeping longevity for your asset.
Keep Building, Keep Analyzing
A lot of people get to a position where they sort of fear taking any step because they fear like they could all lead in the wrong direction.
Again, just trust that rank graph. Start experimenting with things. There’s legitimate suppliers all over the place, including us, that care about our products and have had success with them.
Keep building and monitoring what your graph is doing. Based off that and keeping randomness in mind, make a rational decision on how to take your next steps.
Also, remember that there are more hacks or strategies for moving or fixing things like 301’s, tiered link building, or just starting off with an aged domain all together and building off of it. There are a lot of different ways to use these techniques blended in along with quality monthly link building.
Anyhow, I think I probably went on some rants there because I’m just kind of free-balling this thing, but I hope that it was informative and it helps a little bit with your link building!
If you have any comments or questions, leave them below!
Watch the Video:
Nicholas Altimore is an SEO and a Co-Founder of SirLinksalot.co. He has extensive experience with PBNs and Affiliate SEO.
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