The 3-Step Secret to More Quality Links in Less Time

link building steps

Ever wish there was a way you could speed up the link building process?

I mean, wouldn’t it be nice if you could hunt down hundreds of possible links, evaluate them, and then ask for those links automatically?

Unfortunately, it’s a process that really needs a human at the steering wheel. And that’s something you can’t automate.

Trust me…I’ve spent years and over a hundred thousand dollars trying to figure out ways to make the process more efficient. Whether it was through programming an automation tool or hiring someone else to do the work for me, I tried just about everything I could think of.

There really is just no easy way.

But over the years, I’ve learned quite a bit by trial and error. I also learned from other SEO experts in the space how to make the process more efficient without compromising quality.

Here are the 3 steps you can take to get more quality links in less time:

Step #1: Use tools to speed up link prospecting

When it comes to getting things done and being more efficient, you should always focus on automating things as much as possible.

Let me give you an example of what I mean.

A long time ago, many of us used to drop hundreds of links into a program that would retrieve PageRank scores for every link. From there, we would drop those results into a spreadsheet and delete any links without a PageRank score of at least 3.

That process in itself would take a minute or two, which is so much faster than doing it manually.

But luckily enough, there are now tools like Majestic SEO and OpenSite Explorer that can compute huge amounts of data like scoring back link data and giving you anchor text information within seconds. So, if you want to speed up your efficiency, you should use these tools.

  • SEOBook Toolbar – use this tool to collect information on search engine rankings. Set your results count at 100 and then carry over the results into a spread sheet.
  • Ontolo Campaign Manager – find relevant competitor back links by topic or type. You can also brainstorm for content marketing ideas and monitor competitor back links.
  • Blogscape – Monitor the popularity of any brand, URL or keyword on a daily basis.

Another great tool to use is the Link Building Tool by Ontolo. Once you’ve defined your keywords, asset type, opportunity type and campaign type, do this:

ontolo

The tool will then generate a list of “link building queries”:

ontolo results

Click on one of those queries, and you’ll get a search engine results page with link possibilities:

ontolo google

Of course, you’ll have to hand-select the right results, which is hard to automate at the moment, but it is still a great start.

Step #2: Identify the critical components of qualifying links

This part is a lot harder to automate because a human needs to be involved in a lot of the qualifying. From a broad standpoint, you know so much more about your product, market, and the content landscape than a tool will. A tool can’t tell you that links from a sports site will not work for you if you are in the airline industry. Hopefully, it will one day, but as of now, such a tool just doesn’t exist.

And, as you already know, qualifying individual websites isn’t something you can systematize either. Just because you have a client in one category, like mobile operating systems, doesn’t mean you can treat a site dedicated to Android apps like you treat a site dedicated to Symbian OS.

Is there any way to automate this process? Well, there are about three places that you can do this:

  • Prospect requirements – your first step to develop some requirements on prospect links based on scores from PageRank, backlink counts, mozRank or mozTrust. For example, you could develop requirements that a page that is a potential link prospect has to have a homepage PageRank of 5 and URL PageRank of 3. This way you can set a baseline level of value so you know that you are going after established websites. In most cases, you will have to do this by hand, but you can also delegate it to a college kid.
  • Link relevancy – what makes a link relevant? Topical relevance. Topical relevance is all about finding sites that have relevance to your topic. Using the example above with the mobile OS market, a site on Symbian OS won’t be helpful if you are hunting down sites related to Androids…or vice versa. This is another task you can delegate to an intern or college student.
  • Human-review – this process will take hours to go through because you are taking each link and opening them up on the web. You can speed things up with the URL reviewer tool that allows you to go through hundreds in an hour.

In the end, link qualification needs the eyes and mind of an expert for it to work effectively. There is just not very much you can automate here.

If you are wondering what I look for when going through a site:

  1. Relevant external links – I only ask sites for links when they only link out to relevant sites. I wouldn’t request a link from a mobile site that links out to dog websites.
  2. High rankings – most people look to get links from sites that are indexed. I look for links from sites that rank high for terms in their title tags. Because if a site doesn’t rank well, the link probably won’t carry much weight.
  3. Good design – if a site looks spammy, it probably is. I like links from nice looking sites.
  4. Fresh sites – getting links from websites that don’t update their content isn’t as effective as getting links from sites that are constantly adding new content. Plus, if someone isn’t updating his or her site, that person probably won’t add a link to you. ;-)
  5. Geographically relevant sites – if you are based in the US and you want to rank on Google.com, then you should get links from sites that are hosted in the US. You can find out where a site is based by using Whois.sc.
  6. Good sites – by “good sites” I mean sites that don’t talk about porn-, pills- or casino-related topics. I know most website owners don’t talk about that kind of stuff, but a lot of websites have user-generated content these days. So, even if the website owner doesn’t talk about that stuff, you should do a “site:domain.com bad keyword” search on Google to double-check.
  7. Content links – sites that like adding links within their content are better than sites that like adding links to external sites in their footer or sidebar.
  8. Authority sites – sites that are old, have a ton of backlinks, and are well-known in a space are authoritative. I love links from those sites.

Now that you know what I look for, let’s move onto step 3.

Step #3: Build a template to speed up link acquisition

So, once you’ve used some of the techniques above to find great links to prospect, what’s your next step? Send out an email to see if the site is interested in linking with you.

As you know, this takes forever. There really is no easy way to automate this. Well, sure, you could automate this (it’s called spam), but you’ll fail because people will think you are just mass mailing and ignore your email.

Email link acquisition needs a carefully crafted human element. That doesn’t mean you have to write every single email from scratch.

In fact, you can create a template, where you personalize just a portion of the email…leaving the rest alone for every email you send.

  • Always personalize the email – do your homework and get the webmaster’s name and email address.
  • Introduction paragraph – your first paragraph should demonstrate that you understand their audience and what they are trying to do on their website.
  • Second paragraph – explain how your website is related to theirs and the benefit their audience will get if they linked to you.
  • Closing paragraph – tell them you know they are extremely busy, so you appreciate their time and attention and you look forward to hearing from them. Unless it’s an outstanding site that you have to have a link from, send the email without saying you’ll follow up. You are simply too busy to do such a thing.

Here are some tips for writing an effective email:

  • Go heavy on the benefits – do your homework so you understand their audience and then tell them how their audience will get better, stronger or faster from being introduced to your site.
  • Delegate follow-ups – if you insist on following up on every single email you send, I suggest you outsource to someone else for really cheap.

If you are wondering what one of these link request emails looks like, here is an example:

Hey Bob, it’s Neil here from KISSmetrics, and I wanted to drop you a line and just compliment your site. Nice layout, good info, and I love your detailed guides. Especially the one on “Getting the most out of your Google Analytics”. I’ve been in the web analytics space for over 6 years now, and I have to say, you write some of the best content in the industry.

That being said, I also noticed you guys link out to recommended analytics providers. I am the co-founder of an analytics company, KISSmetrics, that provides actionable insights to companies like Amazon, Ebay and Etsy. We are trusted by over 100 Fortune 500 companies, and I wanted to see if you would be open to including KISSmetrics in your recommended analytics list.

On a side note, I would love to hook you up with a FREE account that you can mess around with and even use on your blog. I’ve actually taken the liberty of registering you…You can go to KISSmetrics.com to login:

USER: bob@bobpatel.com
PASSWORD: QuickSprout

Let me know if you have any questions or need any help with KISSmetrics.

Thanks for reading this email… I know you are busy.

Neil

P.S. I hope it’s sunny in San Diego, it’s rainy like crazy here in Seattle. :(

Conclusion

I truly believe that if you take these ideas and use them in your own link building practices, you’ll see a better return on your time, a higher quality of relevant links you generate and an improvement on your search engine rankings.

I know my process isn’t fully automated… but it works. Just try it out. ;-)

Do you know of any parts of the link building process that can be automated?

If you want to break through to real profits online, you need some serious firepower. For a limited time I’m sharing some select tips and tricks Amazon, Microsoft, NBC & Hewlett Packard paid thousands of dollars per hour for, FREE.
  • The step by step guide to monster traffic generation
  • The how-to guide for increasing conversions on your website
  • 7 Cashflow killers your analytics tools are hiding from you
     
 
100% privacy, I will never spam you!

Comments

  1. This seems to be a nice compromise between manual and automatic. You could also put each lead into a CRM for the team to do follow with. I think another component of linkbuilding that might be worthy of note is managing anchor text. Often you can get desired anchor text from new links, as well as existing links (if you do your homework).

  2. Yeah Neil ! I agree, however there are thousands of link building tools in market but most of them build links for our website in a spammy way but few links you make us know are really powerful.

    Thanks for quick advance tips.

  3. Most of blog tools are new for me. Many thanks to sharing us. Recently I was reading your interview at pro blogger that was amazing.

  4. Great tips you have mention Neil really helpful for us to build links

  5. Super once again :)) personalized email always works for getting links in much speedy manner, is there a way you can tell me how soon one can start off page once site is launched ?

  6. Good link building ideas here, Neil! Done properly, it will always take time, but you are giving some useful shortcuts here. I love using OpenSite Explorer and Majestic SEO.

  7. Thanks for a nice post!

    I agree that we should pay much our attention on link building by ourselves, not just automatic tools. Specially, when we want to put our site on others, we should tell our prospects what benefits they will get. This is a win-win situation for two sides.

  8. The advice about not getting links from sites with topics like porn, pills, or casino related content is so old and trite. It’s also nonsense. I could provide you with a list of a dozen sites with pages about any of those topics that you’d be LUCKY to ever get a link from. As far as I know, no one at Google has ever confirmed that there’s something in the algorithm that automatically makes sites with content about porn, pills, or casinos “bad neighborhoods.”

    • But it’s not like many of those sites are worth pursuing a link from, especially for unrelated topics.

    • I am sorry you feel that way. What I have learned over the years is that when you link to sites that are unrelated to you topic or niche you risk coming off spammy. That risk is increased when you link to sites like porn or pills. The last thing you want to do is waste your time forming links that will come across as spam, they will be useless if not detrimental to your site.

  9. Great post Neil, especially the email example, I love seeing ‘scripts’ people use to get things done.

    Would love to see that kind of example talked about in future posts.

    Either way, excellent summation on a tricky topic.

  10. Very informative article. I’m a regular user of Majestic SEO – it’s awesome!

  11. I’m like Lisa, ever since Yahoo! SE went dark and especially since Samurai uses Majestic data feeds, I’ve culled most of my link data from Samurai + Majestic. This post touches on a lot of the issues and sink hole involved in link building and its a good read, but would be a lot more useful to the SMB community if there was a how to video to compliment and otherwise well written post.

    • Thanks for the suggestion, I will certainly consider adding videos to future post.

      • Just for the record Neil, your explanation was more than adequate. I only mentioned the video companion as being more useful to SMB community since I find myself many times doing a quick Jing or Camtasia video to show my SMB clients what would otherwise require a major composition to connect the dots so they would understand what’s required to do the job right – not just fast!

  12. Hallo Neil,
    I am new to this so this is really valuable advice. It looks like this is going to take a lot of work BUT it will be worth it. Could you share what your success rate is?

  13. Neil,

    Great article. I really appreciate you including a sample e-mail, for someone who is just starting in the SEO arena, your content is very helpful, and I know you offer advice that can carry me through to advance concepts (when i get there). Keep the great content coming.

  14. Great informative post Neil.The tools as you mentioned like Majestic Seo and opensite explorer are just awesome.Though it takes time but the results are great..

  15. I’ve been working hard to understand how to do link building effectively.

    Thanks for publishing this post Neil, it really does help me. Based on my perspective and experience, one of the greatest weapon to build authority links fast is through guest blogging.

    I knew everyone in your blog realize it. But the question is, how many of us does implement the strategy?

    We will never know until we try.

    Thanks once again Neil. ;)

    • Awesome, glad you found the information here helpful.

      I agree, you can learn something but if you don’t practice or apply it you will not gain anything from knowing it. Success requires action.

      I hope you take action with what you have learned. :)

  16. I see some previous content recycling in this post Neil :) Anyway, what if your website is quite new, wouldn’t it be really hard to get others to link to it, what would you suggest?

    • It will be difficult to get others to link at first. If your site is new you will need to take time to first produce useful content. So that you establish your site as one of value. After that, then start to reach out to other sites you have been following and interacting with and see if they will help you out with links.

  17. Hey Neil,

    I totally like the approach, nice tips and the resources you’ve listed here. But “link request” is the one that makes me say “hmmm…”. Personally I don’t think asking for someone to link to a blog will actually work (in the current crowded blogosphere) unless the blogger is already a celebrity in the blogosphere (like you).

    So if I get a link request from you, I’ll be so happy to link to you. But what about new or established but no-so-yet extremely popular bloggers? The sample email you’ve given here won’t work in that case (I know you don’t directly ask for a link but establish a relationship, but still).

    However, IMO new and growing bloggers can use these tips to find “good candidate” blogs and then get backlinks via commenting or guest blogging.

    Thanks for the nice post :)

    Cheers,
    Jane.

    • You are right, not everyone will say yes to a link request even if you have “established” a relationship. I have heard no many times but every once in a while That is why I recommend it, because if you stick to it eventually someone will say yes.

    • Jane you said what i was thinking.
      I’m not looking for links by requesting links but a good way to find popular sites to write guest posts for.

      This method seems like a really good and systematic way to find those sites which might accept guest posts so thanks Neil. Found your site through my friends Benny Hsu’s Blog “Get Busy living Blog”.

  18. Hey Neil,
    Great post as usual and juicy for sure!!
    I use more Opensitexplorer and the data is enough to get to work with.
    Since I found this blog I’m a full reader of every post, I didn’t miss any the last two months.
    By the way I purchased your e-book and let me tell your audience IT’S AMAZING + Soon an online talk via skype.
    Thanks buddy.
    Ps. It’s windy & cold in Toronto :-(

  19. Bibiano Wenceslao :

    Yay! Another awesome post from Neil. I love how you’ve set the tone in the request email that somehow (say, if it was directed to me) makes the individual you’re reaching out to feel like he is at an advantage. I mean, who wouldn’t want free quality stuff? What more could sound more sincere than a personalized approach? :)

    As for the link research tool I use, I like and trust OSE. I haven’t tried other similar tools though. From a novice’s point of view, OSE’s data is everything I need.

    As for new bloggers, I second Jane’s aforementioned opinion about guest blogging and sensible commenting on other blogs.

    Best regards,
    Bibiano
    @wordpressfanboy

  20. Good article Neil.

    I am bit confuse with my blog I am getting a good traffic but I think they are not real users. How can I find out this?

  21. Good Tips Sharing Here.
    I have try this, write now and it’s very useful what i want from
    last 1 month.

    Thanks Neil.

  22. Hi Neil,

    It’s been so long since I last left a comment on one of your posts. Been busy, yeah. But I just need to comment on this one.

    I have tried getting good links from good sites for the past months, and I have to agree with you, this is not a task you can do by full automation alone. What every link builder must know is that quality links = spending quality time talking with your link prospects. There’s just no easy way to beat around the bush. Proper follow up for every e-mail outreach you send to (whether their replies are positive or negative) is something people need to practice as well. Just a simple “Thank you for your time” is a good way to brighten up people, and together with a few other words, you might just turn over that negative into a positive.

    Good timing on the post as well. I was wondering if you have that supernatural power to know when I need some help on something I’m doing right now. You make a post related to what I’m currently trying to do in the right time, it’s just scary. Lol, just kidding.

    Have a great week Neil. Awesome post as usual.

    • I am glad I could help. I don’t have any supernatural powers lol, although sometimes I feel everyone is somehow in sync on certain items they are thinking about. Glad we were tuned into the same frequency so I could help you!

  23. thanks for some informative stuff.

    I usually stick with open site explorer and majestic seo as they do things super fast and easily. However i would give a try to Ontolo tool as another guy from SEER interactive also mentioned this tool.

    Thanks shez.

  24. I especially believe on guest blogging and web 2.0 posting for quality link building, where I try to create quality content according to my targeted audience. Thanks for the above tips.

  25. All my years online, all the tools I’ve purchased and I had never heard of OpenSite Explorer!

    Where have I been? Still shaking my head.

  26. I am constantly amazed by the percentage of people who say “yes” to my requests, for links, or anything else for that matter! Thanks for the info on link building.

  27. Awesome link building tips, something I’ve been focusing on getting better at myself. Thanks! It’s blog posts like this, that keeps me recommending your site to friends and colleagues.

  28. Hello everyone,

    As per my personal experience inbound links always play vital role for indexing!!!
    If i am wrong do correct me.

    Thanks

  29. The above tools are great, in fact i like the Link Building Tool by Ontolo. My first question out of curiosity, can someone build content based on the search query such as ”seo services intitle:”round up”?

    Secondly, this is just an idea based on step 2 above, i think we should establish a habit of building an ever-green content that will attrack qulity links naturally.

  30. Great Article. the link building is always a tough nut for me to crack. its so time consuming and i hardly have the patience to wait. the letter from kissmetrics was good and i am featuring it as i am inspired by its focused approach and the brilliant PS to give a human touch :)

  31. Really, these tips seem very effective so it’s the time to use it in the practical.

  32. issac@best humor blog :

    i use majestic seo and opensite explorer for my previous project andd these tools are just awesome

  33. I’ll be honest, as much as I trust tech solutions, I do wary about delegating such an important part of the blogging process to an automated tool so for that reason I’ll ask you Neil – is it worth dropping links into alexa.com and basing my opinions on the sites (as a second opinion sort of thing) or can alexa not be ‘trusted’ ?

    • I think if you tread carefully and monitor your links you will not run into those issues. But, there is always a risk in any link building endeavor you enter into.

  34. Its a good technique neil. It will be helpful for most of the seo people who is lacking in off-page.

  35. wow..that’s a good strategy I will try this out for my websites thanks for updating here…

  36. Hello Neil,

    Really a very juicy article to read, l become familiar to lots of new tools which I haven’t heard about till now.

    All those tools are sounding very interesting going to give a try to all tools. So a big thanks for sharing a awesome article.

  37. simply great tips. I have been looking to speed up my link building process. Hopefully this post would help me a lot.

  38. Neil thanks for of those great tips, I am searching all day for some backlinks or the way how to build them and I found this great user friendly site. I will definetly try this strategy.

  39. Another amazing tool! For me link building requires me a lot of patiency. I always want to see imediate results and it takes ages until i see the benefits. Really nice tool.. the Link building tool that you mention!

  40. Great article. Has anyone used SEO PowerSuite? I recently began using it and am impressed. I just signed up for Majestic SEO based on your recommendation. I’m interested to see how they compare. Thanks!

  41. Thanks for nice info it really helps me in building quality links.

  42. This post really helped me to speed up the link prospecting part. In terms of keywords I use Market Samurai to identify top keywords which can help you get a fixed amount of traffic to your site for the not so ”hyped” keywords. Market Samurai does just that :). Also great for for formulating meta-texts!

    I will try out the tools that are mentioned and will make up a process that works for me to get the best quality links ;)

    Perserverance is key!

    • Great, glad to hear it. Thanks for sharing what works best for you. Definitely give these tools a try and see how they work out for you. I agree, perseverance is key!

  43. Hi Neil,
    Never heard of it before
    I will try it out
    and if i have any questions I will be back.

    SANDY

  44. I don’t have all the tools in place that you mentioned, but I started with writing longer personalized emails (similar to your example above) for requesting links. The success rate sofar is about 28% from very related sites and blogs.
    Does the free version of open site explorer do the job or do I have to subscribe?

  45. Very informative. Quix is another great free powerful “bookmarklet” tool to help you research and build quality links to your site. And it works everywhere (even on your iPad).

  46. Hey Neil, what a information, simply awesome. To dominate on search engines, it is highly necessary to have high quality back links. Without quality and quantity backlinks it is not at all easy to get higher rankings. So links matters a lot for every website as well as blog.

  47. If you have low traffic when starting this process how do you get people to wan tot link to you because there won’t likely be much benefit to them with my traffic being kinda low?

    • You have to form a relationship with them. Be interested in their blog and leave valuable comments. Not everyone will say yes so expect to hear no, but every once in a while you will find someone willing to help you out.

  48. Great post Neil,

    I am still very new to the SEO game, and you just offered a valuable learning lesson.

    Thanks again for the great post.

    Anderson.

  49. Health & Fitness Blog :

    Very important tips you included in this piece, but like you feared when you said at the end that you hope people will take them into account when doing their link building – many won’t.

    Most people just seem to prefer mass-link building methods rather than spend time to get the right kinds of links. But with Google devaluing such links and even deindexing such sites, it’s about time such link builders read your piece and begin to implement the awesome tips you included.

    Thanks for a great piece… again, :)

  50. Health Wrong :

    Very valuable tips you got for me here. I guess I have now seriously learned how to play the SEO and link building game.

  51. hi…very useful post, but i have a problem that…i got many traffic but the google ad payment is less…what to do?

  52. Great post, anything that saves time in the link prospecting area is welcomed. I like the idea of creating email templates that only require minor customization. Thanks

  53. Now that Google algorithm change, quality links matter most and finding a right one needs a lot of scrupulous analysis. Good to know there are external tools that are helpful in generating link building queries that can be used as marketing armed for a better reputation online.

  54. The tool you mentioned “Blogscape” is a great tool! I use it all the time!

  55. wow, the ontolo one is extremely useful. thanks man!

  56. hey neil,
    a very helpful post. i will definitely try this. i am very excited about it.. really liked the post.

    Thanks.

    Matt

  57. Hello!Neil,,,,Good link building ideas here, Neil! Done properly, it will always take time, but you are giving some useful shortcuts here,,but by the way Thank you for this post!,,,,,

  58. Nice one! Although it sounds like link building using this method would take ages, so would the quality be there? I mean, unless you are very knowledgeable about a certain topic, an active member of the community your are posting to (so that rules me out on this site!), then surely its all against google TOS now as they say we now should EARN links, not buy them or spam sites for them? Your thoughts?

  59. I comparable this send, enjoyed this one be grateful you for putting awake. “He removes the supreme adorn of friendship, who takes gone from it respect.” by Cicero.

  60. I use to build a lot of useless links but found out quality links are better and you don’t need as many to rank with. Good article.

  61. If some one wants to be updated with most up-to-date technologies afterward he must be
    go to see this site and be up to date all the
    time.

  62. Hey just wanted to give you a brief heads up and let you know a few of
    the pictures aren’t loading properly. I’m not sure
    why but I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different browsers and both show the same outcome.

  63. Hey there, I think your site might be having browser compatibility issues.
    When I look at your blog in Opera, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer,
    it has some overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick
    heads up! Other then that, awesome blog!

  64. I couldn’t resist commenting. Exceptionally well written!

Speak Your Mind

*