Search engines rely on links to tell them which sites are worth ranking and which are not. Simply put, the more links you have from a wide variety of quality sites, the higher your site will rank in Google's results.
Knowing this, it's easy to get carried away, building lots of links while forgetting that quality is much more important than quantity.
We’ve spent the past few months updating and changing Link Builder, so that it’s now easier to find and build quality links. In this post, we’re going to take you through the new features, and how they’ll help your link building.
Now let’s get started! On opening a campaign in Link Builder, you’ll see four different tabs.
The Prospects tab
For your link building to be successful, you’ll need to target your efforts. Finding the relevant sites to market your content to - and taking the time to build relationships - will be fundamental to your chances of success.
In Link Builder, sites-that-might-link-to-you are called ‘Prospects’ and we give them their own tab:
The tool looks at all the sites that rank well for the keywords you're targeting and then finds the sites that they get links from. Because these sites link to one of your competitors, they probably have some interest in your industry.
So, right there, we've taken all the pages on the web and filtered them for the ones that are more likely to link to you.
But Link Builder might return thousands of Prospects. It's your job to find relevant, high quality targets that are likely to link to you - sites that you'll want to build a relationship with. To help, you can filter your Prospects so you have a more manageable list:
Link Builder automatically sorts the Prospects into Categories. You'll be able to pinpoint blogs, trusted sites, news media, and so on:
This matters, because it helps you think about where you get your links from.
You need links from a wide variety of sites; by splitting all your Prospects into Categories, Link Builder will help you get links from different types of sites.
It also helps with relationship building. A shopping site and news site are very rarely going to share the same interests and neither will the people running them. By using Categories, Link Builder helps you approach all your Prospects in a way that's relevant to them.
As you know, Google likes links from trusted sites. Sites that have high quality content and lots of links from a wide variety of sites.
Link Builder lets you sort the Prospects by Trust Flow, which is simply a way of measuring how trustworthy a site is by looking at the sites that other trustworthy sites link to.
Trust Flow works on a scale 0-100 and you want lots of links from high-scoring sites.
That said, sites with a high Trust Rank (in the 80s and 90s) are likely to be harder to get a link from. So don't feel that all your links have to come from highly trusted sites. Remember, link building is all about variety, so links from sites with a lower Trust Rank can still be valuable.
Google may however discount the links that come from very low quality, spammy sites so be careful about trying to attract links from sites with a Trust Rank of 20 or under. If in doubt, visit the site yourself. If the content isn’t very good or the site looks spammy with lots of adverts everywhere, it's probably best to stay away. Link Builder removes the graft from your link building activities, but as with any activity, it's always best to apply common sense!
In the past we've talked about the ‘magic middle’ as a great source of links. We mean those sites that are not so well established that it’s hard to form partnerships with them, but are powerful enough that they’ll be able to provide authoritative links.
You can use Link Builder’s filters to search for sites with a high Trust Rank. This can be an incredibly effective way of honing in on relevant sites.
But, the filters are also a great way of restricting the results to so that you can highlight the ‘magic middle’. In this example, we’re looking at sites that have a Trust Rank of more than 20, but less than 60:
Combining these methods can soon reduce a large list of potential Prospects to a manageable size. I've just used Trust Rank as an example, but there are a range of filtering options, as you can see:
In just a few minutes, you can take a list of thousands of Prospects and filter them down to a much more targeted selection. Now, you're ready to start relationship building!
Making first contact
Once you've found a Prospect that you want a link from, you'll need to get in touch with the person behind the site. After all, only humans can create links!
Finding contact details can be time-consuming and is probably the least exciting part of link building. So, we've made it easier; we now find contact details automatically. Once you've found a prospect you want to contact, simply select it and click on ‘Contact data’ in the right-hand column.
Link Builder will automatically scour the prospect's site, searching for relevant contact details.
In this example, we're looking for contact details for https://www.elance.com/
It may take a couple of minutes to find these, particularly when you're searching a larger site. In the meantime, you'll see this message:
While Link Builder's searching for contact details, the Prospect's row will turn yellow. If it is unable to find any contact data for that prospect the row will turn red.
But, you don't have to stop working. You can carry on looking through the rest of your Prospects looking for relevant targets.
Once Link Builder's found a site's contact details, the prospect row turns green. Then all you need do is click on ‘Show Contact data’:
Next, choose the contact that's most relevant from the list provided. In this case, it's an easy choice, as there's only one option. Link Builder's found a relevant email address, Twitter account and Google+ profile. Fantastic!
By selecting the contact details, you'll automatically create a new entry in the ‘Contacts’ tab. You’ll know this has happened, because you'll see the ‘contact’ icon highlighted (in the Prospects tab):
And you'll also be able to find the person's details in your list of Contacts (in the Contact tab):
Successful link building involves creating great content and marketing it effectively. To get great links and market yourself, you need great contacts.
The purpose of the Contacts tab is to help you manage your contact with the people who run the sites you want to get links from. Think of the Contacts tab as your ‘Rolodex’.
(If you don't know what a Rolodex is, lucky you!)
Here's what the Contacts tab looks like. This is where you'll record details of the conversations you have:
You should aim to build a large list of industry Contacts, people who are likely to link to you.
You’ll be able to tell them about new content you publish and, over time, build a mutually beneficial relationship. Use the Contacts tab to manage these relationships.
The more you know about each prospect, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to engage them in an interesting conversation.
To help you find and remember a contact’s interests, you can add Tags to your Contacts.
So, if you’ve found a blogger who’s interested in environmental causes and recycling, you might tag them #Recycling If you're interested in speaking with CEOs, well, you might tag them as #CEO. You get the idea?
Creating tags for each and every contact is a highly effective way of segmenting your audience. But, it can be a pain to do the tagging manually. So, Link Builder adds Contact Tags automatically:
You can create additional Tags in the Notes section by adding a # in front of a word. This is then automatically saved and a Tag is created for you on the left hand side of the screen.
When you’re ready to contact the CEOs within your contacts, just click #CEO and all the tagged contacts will show up.
A big part of link building is managing relationships. If you’re having lots of ongoing conversations with lots of webmasters, keeping track of where you are with each one can be hard. So, Link Builder keeps notes of your activity and interactions.
You can view the history of these interactions in each contact’s timeline. It’s hard to remember every person in your contacts and sometimes notes are just not enough.
The timeline will show when you made contact and any notes you made:
All the guesswork and ‘admin’ of maintaining multiple relationships is taken care of, so you can focus on what matters - getting links!
Google’s Penguin update made it abundantly clear: understanding and maintaining your backlink profile and where your links come from is as important to your site’s success as creating new links. Analysis of your site’s backlinks will highlight:
- Which sites are linking to you (and why)
- Low quality ‘spammy’ links (which may be harming your site’s rankings)
- Reclaimable links that point to 404 pages
- Your anchor text distribution (the words other sites use when they link to you)
This information is important to your link building and can help you complete a variety of tasks (we won’t cover them all in this article - we'll be writing more about this in future weeks).
For now, it's enough to know that you can find the information you want in the Analysis tab simply by sorting any of the columns, or using the filters or the search. In the screenshot below, for example, I’m using the filter to show me all the links to wordtracker.com that contain the phrase keyword tool:
Doing this is important because you want to attract links that contain relevant anchor text.
The information you can see includes:
Target URL: Which page on your site the link is pointing to.
Target Trust Flow: The value of that page, with 1 being the lowest and 100 being the highest.
Link URL: The page on someone else’s site that contains the link to your site.
Anchor Text: The keyword used within the link.
Link URL Trust Flow: The value of the page which links to you. Generally the higher the value, the more powerful the link.
Let's move on to the final tab: Reporting. As you'd expect, the Report tab keeps you updated on your progress.
It’s possible to see how many links you have attracted and the number of people you’ve contacted.
Within the reporting tab, there are 4 separate pages:
Let's look at these individually.
You can use the ‘Site Performance’ link to see your performance over time. You'll see a graph of the number of links your site has attracted, and when we discovered them.
Looking at a site in isolation isn't very helpful. But, it can be useful to compare the performance of two or more sites (the number of inbound links is shown on the vertical axis).
Clearly, the site in green has attracted more links than the site in purple:
This is helpful to see how you compare to your competitors, particularly if there has been a change of ranking and you’re looking for an explanation.
The Spider Profile shows you the type of sites that link to you and your competitors. Use this report to gain a quick insight into the makeup of a site’s backlink profile:
As you can see, this site has attracted lots of links from news media and blogs. Maybe there are some ideas we can borrow from this site’s link building strategy to attract more links to our own site?
The Campaign Progress tab shows your performance within any campaign.
It will show the number of sites you have contacted and how many links you have placed. Use this to keep track of how your campaign is progressing.
This makes it really easy to monitor your progress and see how successful you’re being.
If I were to link to www.wordtracker.com/academy using the phrase Learn SEO then we'd say that the phrase Learn SEO is the 'anchor text'.
If you’re looking to rank for a given keyword, you should try and get some links that contain the keyword in their anchor text.
The Anchor Text tab will, as the name suggests, show the keywords used in the anchor text of the links that point at a given site.
The example below shows a selection of sites that link to Wordtracker.com using the anchor text keyword tool
Note: you don’t want too many (more than around 60%) of the links to have the same anchor text (unless it’s your brand name) because Google may penalize you for unnatural linking. But, unless you’re using spammy link building tactics, that’s unlikely to happen.
So that’s reporting. You can read more about how best to report on your link building efforts in Link Building Made Simple: measuring your success
We’ll be publishing more help and guidance over the next few weeks.
In the meantime, if you’ve questions about how the tool works, or feedback on any of its features, simply let us know below:
About Justin Deaville
Justin has worked with a variety of clients - including both established businesses such as social media management firm, Sendible.com; wine retailer, WinesDirect.co.uk; and the online gift specialists Presents for Men. You'll find a fuller profile on Google+ or LinkedIn
If you'd like to improve your online marketing, whether that's social media, SEO, PPC, or conversion optimization, just send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org