Resources, Tools, Processes to help Backlink Acquisition Improvement

Candice
I've been doing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for several years now, but just feel like my backlink acquisition game needs improvement. Can anyone offer any resources in how I can improve in this area? Are there any tools/processes you use?
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Michael Martinez 🎓
You don't want to use tools to build links. Some people use tools to find Websites that link to their competitors. I'm not a big fan of those strategies. Such links tend to be low value, especially if the sites give them out easily.
What kind of site do you want more links for?

Candice ✍️ » Michael Martinez
Good observation and question. Let me delve into a little more detail…
My current process for link building is to analyze competitors' sites. I use Moz's Link Intersect tool. It allows me to drop in client site and several competitor's sites. Then it gives a listing of all the domains competitors have a backlink to that the client does not. This tool also tells me which domains have a high DA and PA. From there, I pitch content to the contact at the domains with higher DA than my client, i.e. Town & Country. It is a very long and tedious process.
Sometimes I do press releases, but I can't always get the client to spend extra money on this. In 2021, press releases are going to become part of my standard offering because I always pull a few good backlinks from a press release. As of now, press releases are my favorite way.
What else is out there? What am I missing? How can I save time without sacrificing quality?
Client industries include a few ecom sites (textiles, crafting, clothing, wine), and a few service sites (high end jewelry buying and healthcare agencies).
Michael Martinez 🎓
So, first of all, it sounds like (as most people in the industry), you're following the advice of the companies selling you link building tools.
Think about what that means. They're doing everything they can to create a sense of value in what they sell – any business does this. But they don't have any insights into what links the search engines value, how they value them, or why they do/don't value links.
You can treat these SEO metrics as automated opinions or guesses that predict the LIKELIHOOD (not as precise as "probability" but close) that a given link will be good or helpful.
However, keep in mind that thousands of marketers are obsessed with increasing the value of these SEO tool vendor scores. They push those numbers as high as they can if they are selling links or selling their sites. So you should not be judging the quality of potential linking resources by these metrics.
There is an economic principle called Goodhart's Law, which holds that "any observed statistical regularity will tend to collapse once pressure is placed upon it for control purposes."
In other words, once people know they are being evaluated according to a specific metric they begin manipulating that metric and any value the metric may have originally had for determining quality of performance vanishes proportionately to the amount of manipulation.
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Candice ✍️ » Michael Martinez
, I hear what you're saying, however isn't Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA) a pretty good indication of the credibility of those sources. Also, review all of them manually. So for instance, in one report, sources like UASToday and New York Magazine were included. These are very valuable opps to obtain a backlink from. Agree wholeheartedly that content curation is paramount. This is also being done. We are pushing and pulling.
Michael Martinez 🎓 » Candice
"isn't DA and PA a pretty good indication of the credibility of those sources"
In MY opinion only, if the sources are managed by Web marketers who follow these metrics, the metrics are worthless.
If the sources are managed naturally by people who aren't thinking about links and Search Engine Optimization (SEO), the metrics are probably pretty good.
Candice ✍️ » Michael Martinez
I hear ya. You could have a new site with a high DA or a spammy nothing site. Yeah, we don't want anything to do with the spammy stuff. We want legit, long-lasting, valuable ones… the good stuff. When we scour reports, this is what we are looking for.

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Michael Martinez 🎓
Good link acquisition strategies focus on creating content that is likely to be recommended by customers, independent observers, and peers (ignore all the stuff about "relevant Websites", "relevant links", and "niche Websites").
What you want to do is determine why natural links are given to Websites. Brand value/recognition is the no. 1 reason why people link to Websites (outside of Web marketers creating manipulative links).
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Candice ✍️ » Michael Martinez
we work with some rather large name clients. Brand value is definitely there. These domains have high DAs, but I am never done getting better, thus my inquiry on what others may be doing that we aren't already.
Michael Martinez 🎓 » Candice
Brand value is driven by advertising, customer service, and community outreach. Those things can overlap with link building but if your goal is to build search algorithm-influencing links, you'll need to develop your own key performance indicators.
And frankly the majority of link strategies that I have seen people discuss over the past 20 years are likely to be ignored modern search algorithms.
Candice ✍️ » Michael Martinez
, what do you use as key performance indicators? can you walk me through your link strategy?
Michael Martinez 🎓
It's complicated. I look at who is linking to my most popular sites and try to determine why those sites earned those links. I then try to do similar things on other sites to earn links for them.
The Web marketing community gets a lot of these things turned around.
For example, a lot of people advise against trusting links found in Web forum discussions. If you just find these links randomly they are almost certainly good links. They are given naturally in the course of discussions.
Press release links MIGHT help but the search engines say they usually don't. A press release can create visibility, though, and it might drive direct click-through traffic. So if it's a well-written, compelling press release then it's worthwhile. If it's just dropped on a site for link building it's probably not helping.
Guest posting, guest articles, etc. are other strategies many marketers use to chase what are almost always worthless or low value links. The easier it is to get the link the less likely a search engine will trust it.
So I ask myself constantly, where are the links coming from that marketers aren't chasing? I want more of those.
Candice ✍️ » Michael Martinez
, great input. Thank you! I think I am still on the right track with what you have said. Sadly, I am hearing, there isn't an easier way.
On press releases, they are definitely written with intention. We typically include something yummy in there as a call to action (CTA) but framed as a resource to solve problem A,B,C. We've had a few flops with them, but far more wins with some hearty news sites and local papers picking up the stories.
I'm with you on the guest posts. Never had much luck with them. A lot of work, without much payoff.
How do you go about determining which forums to follow and monitor? Do you have a tool for that or are you manually doing it?
Michael Martinez 🎓 » Candice
A popular Website should see the data in its non-search referrals. The challenge (and it can be quite difficult) is matching the data you have from 1 site to other sites you're working on.
So, as an example, if I've got a popular site that sells kitchen equipment I would expect to see occasional referrals from forums where people trade recipes, discuss cooking, nutrition, saving money on groceries, etc. There should be many different types of topics where kitchen equipment would be mentioned casually, even frequently.
In my experience, the majority of natural links occur OUTSIDE of a marketer's definition of "relevant or related Websites."
Many gambling affiliate marketers only want links from gambling-related Websites, which is crazy. There are tons of Websites that discuss gambling games, gambling in general, probability, statistics, and other subjects where they might mention or link to a truly useful, informative article on a gambling affiliate site.
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This may satisfy you: Outsourcing an SEO Human or Agency Versus Subscribing to an SEO Resource or Tool
Mat
I got a link from Trello one time that was a game changer and an eye opener.
All I did was simply write an article on how to use Trello as a digital marketing and social media calendar and tweeted it out with a tag to them and then got included in a future article.
I think if you can find ways to write content that solves a problem someone may have, you set yourself up for the potential of getting links and shares back to your content because it's valuable.
Candice ✍️
One specific area I think we could improve on is finding influencers that push our content. Do you use any tools to source those through social or other means?

Mat
Sparktoro.com is good for finding users and resources in your niche.
SparkToro | Market Research & Audience Intelligence for Everyone
SPARKTORO.COM
SparkToro | Market Research & Audience Intelligence for Everyone
SparkToro | Market Research & Audience Intelligence for Everyone
Candice ✍️ » Mat
, thanks so much! Will check this out today.

Jordan
Candice, I get emails all the time that request that I add backlinks from my site to their sites. I say yes, but only if the favor is returned. Nevertheless, you could start requesting other site admins to add your link of choice. And, in my experience, it goes well. Just explain what you want and why.

Candice ✍️ » Jordan
, thank you.

Ray
1) create something cool/interesting/unique/controversial etc
2) make a list of sites whose audience will find the thing you’ve created cool/interesting/unique/controversial etc
3) get in contact with them and show it to them, ask if their audience might be interested in seeing it
4) follow up if they didn’t see it (sometimes life gets in the way)
Ammon Johns 🎓
As with Michael, I don't use tools to build links – but I will use them to do some analysis of the backlink profile of competitors and rivals for position, of course.
I think the biggest and most important thing to improve your links game is to realise that it genuinely is far, far better to spend 3 months creating one killer piece of content that you wrote specifically because one particular reporter or editor would find it irresistible, and get that one amazing, valuable, and most importantly, genuine citation, than to spend the same 3 months chasing broken links or common link building.
One great link is worth a thousand run-of-the-mill ones, and a million 'cheap' ones.
Ammon Johns 🎓
If you really want to 'level-up' your link game, then there is one thing I recommend above all else – read 'The Purple Cow' by Seth Godin. It may not, at first glance seem to be a book about link building, but it really is. It is a book all about being remarkable and getting people to talk about you.
Read it thoroughly, then read it again. I guarantee that what you learn in that book will give you tons of ideas, but more importantly, a far better understanding of REAL quality links.
I gave advice to a friend some years back on this same topic, and recommended the same book. I told him that what you really want to do is think of what link you really want – the one you'd wet your pants if you suddenly got it. The one you'd suddenly tell your parents about. That one link that would make you feel like you'd completely made it.
That might be from an industry giant, or the most important magazine in your industry, or a major news site. You know what it is. Now think of a few more like that. Make a list.
Because here's the truth you may never have dared to imagine: Those links do happen. Major sites link to things all the time. So look at that list you made and start doing your research. Who writes the content that links out to things related to your industry or topic? What kind of content do they prefer to link to? Study their tastes. Start to understand their mindset, their triggers.
Because once you have a target writer, and understand the editorial policy under which they operate, all you have to do is create the piece of content that they will want to link to. And you have all the time you want to research and make that content.
Does that sound too good to be true? Well, here's the friend I'm talking about, explaining how he used exactly this to get that dream link he wanted in a prominent national (and international) news paper website. https://www.gordoncampbell.co.uk/links-from-news-sites/
How to get a backlink from The Guardian

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This may satisfy you: It looks like Proof that Content Quantity is not enough without Backlinks
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