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Link Building for SEO: The Beginner’s Guide

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Link Building for SEO: The Beginner’s Guide

What is link building?

Link building is the process of getting other websites to link to pages on your website. Its purpose is to boost the “authority” of your pages in the eyes of Google so that these pages rank higher and bring more search traffic.

Why is link building important?

According to Google’s Andrey Lipattsev, links are one of the three major ranking factors in Google. So if you want your website’s pages to rank high in search, you will almost certainly need links.

Google and other search engines look at links from other sites as “votes.” These votes help them identify which page on a given topic (out of thousands of similar ones) deserves to rank at the very top of the search results.

Thus, as a general rule, pages with more backlinks tend to rank higher in search results. 

Links aren’t the answer to everything

Links are incredibly important for ranking well. And it is quite rare that you will outrank pages that have a lot of strong links—unless you get just as many. And yet, links aren’t the only factor that Google uses to rank pages.

So if you build lots of links to your page and it still ranks poorly, look into other ranking factors that might prevent you from ranking well.

Conceptually, most link building tactics and strategies fall into one of the following four buckets:

Four buckets of link building strategies

1. Adding links

If you can go to a website that doesn’t belong to you and manually place your link there, that’s called “adding” a link. The most common tactics that fit into this category are:

  • Business directory submissions.
  • Social profile creation.
  • Blog commenting.
  • Posting to forums, communities, and Q&A sites.
  • Creating job search listings.

Building links via those tactics is very easy to do. And for that exact reason, such links tend to have very low value in the eyes of Google. In some cases, they may even be flagged as spam.

Other than that, these kinds of links barely give you any competitive advantage. If you can go to a website and manually place your link there, nothing stops your competitors from doing the same.

However, you shouldn’t ignore this group of link building tactics entirely. Each of them can actually be quite beneficial for your online business for reasons other than SEO.

Let me elaborate with a couple of quick examples:

  • Business directories – If you’re doing SEO for a restaurant website, you should definitely list it in three to five major directory sites like Yelp, Tripadvisor, Allmenus, Grubhub, etc. Those links won’t be particularly strong ones, but you might get some actual customers from them.
  • Industry forums – If you know some active forums or communities where your target audience is hanging out, you should definitely be active there too. But merely spamming your links without trying to add value to conversations will quickly get you banned from these places.

As you can tell, each of these strategies can be quite meaningful. But if someone offers you to do any of the above at scale (i.e., register your site at a hundred business directories or create a hundred social media profiles)—stay away from that. These kinds of “hacks” are a waste of money at best and might even get your website penalized at worst.

Sidenote.

While looking for more ways to “add” links to other websites, you might come across tactics that mention “web 2.0s” and “bookmarking sites.” Those things used to work some 15 years ago, but you shouldn’t waste your time on them today.

2. Asking for links

As the name suggests, this is when you reach out to the owner of the website you want a link from and give them a compelling reason to link to you.

That “compelling reason” is an absolutely essential success factor. The people you reach out to don’t care about you and your website (unless you’re some sort of celebrity) and, thus, they have zero incentive to promote you or your work.

So before you ask them to link to you, ask yourself: “What’s in it for THEM?”

Here are some of the link building tactics and strategies that fall into this category, along with a briefly defined “compelling reason” that they’re based off:

  • Guest blogging – Create useful content for their website.
  • Skyscraper technique – Show them a better resource than the one they’re linking to.
  • Link inserts – Show them a resource with more information on something they’ve briefly mentioned.
  • Ego bait – Mention them or their work in your own content in a positive light.
  • Testimonials and case studies – Give positive feedback about their product or service.
  • Link exchanges – Offer to link back to them if they agree to link to you.
  • Resource page link building – Show them a good resource that fits their existing list.
  • Broken link building – Help them fix a “dead” link on their page by providing a replacement.
  • Image link building – Ask to get credit for using your image.
  • Unlinked mentions – Ask to make the mention of your brand “clickable.”
  • Link moves – Ask to make changes to an existing link pointing at your website.
  • HARO and journalist requests – Give an “expert quote” for their article.
  • PR – Give them a killer story to cover.

These strategies seem to make quite some sense, right? But as soon as you send your first email request, you’re likely to face the harsh reality—your “compelling reason” isn’t compelling enough:

  • Your guest post isn’t good enough.
  • Your resource isn’t worthy of a mention.
  • Your “skyscraper” isn’t as “tall” as you thought it was.

The truth is it is incredibly hard to persuade random website owners to link to you. Either you have a one-of-a-kind outstanding resource that will genuinely impress them, or you’re well known in your field and they will be happy to fix you a link as a favor.

If it’s none of the two, you better handle rejection well. Because for every 100 emails, 98 will either not reply or say “no.” 

And that is exactly the reason why many SEOs started looking for ways to make it worthwhile for the other party and offer something in return for a link, such as:

  • A shoutout on social media.
  • An email newsletter blast.
  • Free access to a premium product or service.
  • A link in exchange.
  • Money.

But offering these kinds of “extras” gets them into the gray area of what is considered a “link scheme,” according to Google’s guidelines.

So there you have it. The candid ways of asking for links have a rather low success rate. But as soon as you try to “sweeten the deal,” you’re entering Google’s minefield.

At this point, it may seem that I’m dissuading you from using tactics and strategies listed in this group. I’m not. I’m merely suggesting that you ensure your content is outstanding before reaching out to hundreds of people.

3. Buying links

Let’s get this straight from the get-go: 

We don’t recommend that you buy links! 

If you don’t have lots of experience with it, you’re likely to waste lots of money on useless links that will have zero impact on your rankings. Or even get your website penalized.

However, we will be putting you at a disadvantage if we don’t disclose the fact that many people in the SEO industry do “buy” links in all sorts of ways and manage to get away with it.

So if you’re willing to risk the well-being of your website and buy links, please look for advice on doing that “safely” elsewhere—because here at Ahrefs, we don’t teach that.

4. Earning links

You “earn” links when other people link to the pages on your website without you having to ask them to do so. This obviously doesn’t happen unless you have something truly outstanding that other website owners will genuinely want to mention on their websites.

But people can’t link to things that they don’t know exist. So no matter how awesome your page is, you’ll need to invest in promoting it. And the more people see your page, the higher the chance that some of them will end up linking to it.

Later in this chapter, I’m going to share some tactics and strategies that will help you both create “link-worthy” content and promote it to relevant audiences who might end up linking to it.

Bonus: Preserving links

Technically, preserving your hard-earned links does not really fall under the definition of “link building.” But when you lose an important backlink, the “vote” that it was sending to Google is also lost. So it is fairly important to preserve your hard-earned links.

There are two simple ways to do it:

  1. Fixing 404 pages that have quality backlinks
  2. Monitoring your lost backlinks and reaching out to a website owner when an important link goes missing (also known as “link reclamation”)

Both of these things are easy to do with Ahrefs’ Site Explorer. The Best by links report will help you find the 404 pages with links. While the Backlinks report has a handy “Lost” filter, which will show you all links that were recently lost.

One important caveat, though. You don’t need to bother about every single link that goes missing. You just need to preserve the most important ones. And that is exactly what we’re going to talk about next.

Nobody knows for sure how exactly Google measures the value of each link. But there are some general concepts of evaluating links that the SEO community believes to be true:

  • Authority
  • Relevance
  • Anchor text
  • Nofollow vs. follow
  • Placement
  • Destination
Six aspects of a good link

1. Authority

As you already know, Google sees links as “votes” that a given page deserves to rank well. But a link from techcrunch.com can’t possibly have the same power as a link from your friend’s personal blog, right? (Unless, of course, your friend is Tim Ferriss.) 

Well, Google has consistently denied that some sort of sitewide website authority metric exists in its system. And yet, many SEOs believe that the concept of “website authority” makes too much sense to completely discount it.

What is more important, though, is the authority of the actual page that is linking to you. It’s one thing to be mentioned in a TechCrunch article that goes unnoticed, and it’s an entirely different case if that article “breaks the internet” and gets referenced on dozens of major news websites.

Pages that have backlinks cast a stronger vote than those that don't

In other words, a page that has some strong votes of its own will cast a stronger vote compared to a page with no votes. This simple principle lies at the core of Google’s famous PageRank algorithm.

Back in the day, Google even provided a browser toolbar, which displayed the PageRank of any URL you visited. But this toolbar was deprecated more than 10 years ago. Which gave SEO tool providers an opportunity to fill that gap and develop their own authority metrics.

Here at Ahrefs, we have Domain Rating (DR) och URL Rating (UR), which measure the so-called “link popularity” of websites and URLs, respectively. 

2. Relevance

Let’s say you published a guide on grilling a perfect steak, and you want it to rank high in Google. Who would you prefer to get a link from—Joe Rogan or Gordon Ramsay?

I would imagine it’s the latter. Joe may have a larger audience than Gordon, but he’s not a world-renowned chef. So he can easily be wrong with his cooking advice.

And that is something that Google seemingly accounts for when ranking pages. Links from websites on the same topic as yours are deemed to bring more value than links from irrelevant websites.

Here’s an excerpt from its “How search works” guide:

If other prominent websites on the subject link to the page, that’s a good sign that the information is of high quality.

3. Anchor text

Just in case you’re not already familiar with the term, “anchor text” is a clickable snippet of text that links to another page. In many cases, it succinctly describes what the linked page is about.

So it’s no surprise that Google uses the words in the anchor text to better understand what the referenced page is about and what keywords it deserves to rank for. In fact, Google’s original PageRank patent talks about this quite explicitly:

Google employs a number of techniques to improve search quality including page rank, anchor text, and proximity information.

So how do you leverage anchor text when building links?

Well, it’s better that you don’t. The more you try to control how different pages link to you and shoehorn all the “right words” into the anchor text of your backlinks, the higher the chance that Google will suspect manipulation and penalize you for that. So it’s better to just let the author of the linking page decide how they want to reference your page. 

4. Nofollow vs. follow

"Nofollow” is a link attribute that tells Google that the linking page will rather not give its vote to the page that it is referencing.

Here’s how that looks like in page code:

Page code for nofollowed link

Historically, Google didn’t count votes from “nofollowed links” (or so it said). Then, in 2019, it switched to a hint model, which means that some “nofollowed” links may now influence your search rankings.

It also introduced two new link attributes along with this announcement:

  • rel=“UGC” should be applied to user-generated links, e.g., blog comments and forum posts.
  • rel=“sponsored” should be applied when the link is part of an advertisement, sponsorship, or some other compensation agreement.

As a general rule, you want to be getting “followed” links (i.e., links that don’t have any of the aforementioned attributes) because these are the ones that are supposed to cast the strongest votes.

However, if you see an opportunity to get a nofollowed link from a relevant high-authority page, you should absolutely take it.

A good example is Wikipedia, where all outgoing links are nofollowed. Getting a link from Wikipedia is incredibly hard, which is why many SEOs are convinced that those links are quite valuable in the eyes of Google.

5. Placement

Google’s reasonable surfer patent talks about how the likeliness of a link being clicked may affect how much authority it transfers. And placement of a link on a page is one of the few things that can affect its CTR.

Let’s say there’s a webpage that consists of three blocks: content, sidebar, and footer. As a general rule, links in the content will get more clicks because the content block gets the most attention from visitors.

Prominently placed links may transfer more "authority"

One other thing that can affect the CTR of a link is how high on the page it appears. Readers are more likely to click links at the very beginning of the article rather than the ones at its very end.

6. Destination

When building links to your website, there are three destinations where you can point them:

  1. Your homepage.
  2. Your linkable assets.
  3. The actual pages that you need to rank well in Google.

And quite often, the pages that you need to rank well are also the hardest ones to get links to. That’s because people generally prefer to link to informational pages where their audience can get value for free rather than commercial pages where their audience is likely to part ways with their cash.

Thus, one of the most common questions in SEO is this: “How to get links to boring pages?”

And while there’s no single right answer to this question, everyone agrees that you should leverage the power of internal linking to help your “boring pages” rank better.

Use internal links to transfer authority to the boring pages that you need to rank well in Google

In part two, I listed a few dozen link building tactics and strategies for you to explore. But which of them are the best and most effective ones?

Here at Ahrefs, we’re big advocates of the following four:

  1. Pursuing competitors’ links
  2. Creating linkable assets
  3. Content promotion
  4. Guest posting

1. Pursuing competitors’ links

Competitor link research is one of the most fundamental activities in link building. Think about it. The top-ranking page for your desired search query has all the right links, which persuaded Google of its superiority. Therefore, by studying its links, you can figure out which tactics to use so that you can get similar links and outrank that page.

And this is where an SEO tool like Ahrefs is absolutely indispensable.

Just put the keyword that you want to rank for in Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer and scroll down to the “SERP overview.” It will show you how many backlinks (and linking websites) each of the top-ranking pages has:

SERP overview for "best productivity apps"

Click on any of these numbers, and you’ll see a report listing all of the links.

From here, your course of action is twofold:

  1. Try to get links from the pages that link to your competitors
  2. Study how those links were acquired and use the same tactics to get more links than your competitors

2. Creating linkable assets

In SEO, we use the terms “linkable asset” or “linkbait” to refer to content that is strategically crafted to attract links. Such linkable assets can take on many different forms:

  • Online tools and calculators
  • Infographics, GIFographics, and “Map-o-graphics”
  • Awards and rankings
  • Studies and research
  • Industry surveys
  • How-to guides and tutorials
  • Definitions and coined terms

I’m sure that even in the most boring industries there’s a way to create an interesting piece of content that will attract links. So it’s always a good idea to study the websites of your competitors and see if they have any linkable assets that you could get inspiration from.

To do that, simply put their domain name in Ahrefs’ Site Explorer and go to the Best by links report. This will show you which of their pages have accrued the most links.

Best pages by backlinks report

As you can see in the screenshot above, three of the five most linked pages on the Ahrefs Blog (excluding the homepage) are data-driven research studies. That gives you a pretty good idea of the kind of content that attracts links in our industry.

3. Content promotion

No matter how “linkable” your pages are, people can’t link to them without first discovering them. In other words, even the best linkable assets have to be promoted in order to attract links.

Generally speaking, there are just three ways to promote content:

  1. Influencers and communities
  2. Advertising
  3. Growing an audience

1. Influencers and communities

"Who will amplify this? And why? According to Rand Fishkin, the answer to this question determines the amount of exposure that your piece of content is destined to get. 

"Who” refers to influential people and relevant communities in your space that might help to put your content in front of large numbers of people. And “why” refers to the actual merit of your content that makes it worthy of being promoted in the first place.

Fun fact. Back in 2015, I reached out to Rand, asking him to tweet my article. And his response was essentially a crash course in how this works:

Rand's email reply to Tim

2. Advertising

You can easily bring lots of visitors to your content with the help of advertising on platforms like Facebook, Google, Twitter, and the like. Alternatively, you can partner with selected influencers and content creators in your space and pay them to promote your content to their audience. 

Some people, though, find it hard to justify spending money to promote their content. Which naturally begs the question: How did they justify spending time to create it in the first place?

If you create your content with your business goals in mind, you should not have issues to justify spending money to promote it to people.

3. Growing an audience

Each time you publish and promote a piece of content, you’ll reach some people who will find value in it (or simply enjoy it). And it would be a real shame to part ways with these people and never be able to reach them again, wouldn’t it?

That’s why you have to work on growing your audience. Which can be done in a few different ways:

  • Ask them to subscribe to your email list
  • Ask them to follow you on Twitter/LinkedIn/Instagram/TikTok
  • Invite them to join your private community on Slack/Discord/Facebook
  • Retarget them with Facebook/Twitter/Google ads

With every new cool piece of content that you release, your audience should be getting larger and larger. And the more people follow your work, the less you’ll need to bother about promoting your content manually.

4. Guest posting

According to a 2022 survey by Aira, guest posting is the third most used link building strategy among professional SEOs.

As discussed earlier, asking for links without offering anything of value in return barely even works these days. But guest posting is not like that. You’re offering a quality piece of content in exchange for an opportunity to link to your website from it. That sounds like a fair exchange of value.

Here at Ahrefs Blog, we have a “write for us” page, inviting our readers to contribute a guest article for us. And yet, we reject the vast majority of pitches we receive. Our standards for guest contributions are very high.

So here are two simple tips that will help you get published in the top blogs of your industry:

1. Start small and work your way up

It is much easier to get the attention of the top blogs in your niche when you have a solid portfolio of published content on slightly smaller blogs. 

So before you pitch a guest article to the owner of a DR80+ blog, make sure you have a published DR70+ piece to show them. And before you pitch that DR70+ blog… well, I’m sure you get the idea.

You can use Content Explorer to quickly find relevant blogs of required “authority.” Just search for a related word or phrase in page titles and use the “Domain Rating (DR)” filter to narrow down results:

Finding blogs with required authority using Ahrefs' Content Explorer

2. Make an irresistible offer

What do blog owners want? They want to grow traffic to their blog.

So if you can persuade them that your guest article will rank well in Google for its target keyword and bring them consistent search traffic, it will be an easy sell.

And that’s where the previous tip is absolutely invaluable. If you can show some actual examples of your past guest articles that rank well, I bet you’ll get the deal easily.

A somewhat lesser-known guest posting tactic is to find an underperforming article on their blog (in terms of search traffic) and offer to do a complete overhaul with the goal of improving its Google rankings. In many cases, the blogger will be happy for you to do that.

Just open the Top pages report in Site Explorer and use the “Traffic” filter to find underperforming articles easily:

Underperforming articles in Top pages report

While it is technically possible to build links with just a bit of brain power and a Gmail account, there are a number of link building tools that will help make the process of acquiring links much easier.

Here are some free ones:

  • Ahrefs Webmaster Tools – Shows all links pointing at your own website already and lets you sort and filter them by many important SEO metrics.
  • Ahrefs’ Free Backlink Checker – Shows top 100 links pointing at any website or URL.
  • Google Alerts – Notifies you whenever a specific word or phrase was mentioned on a newly published page. Which is a great way to source quality link prospects.

 And here are some premium ones:

  • Ahrefs’ Site Explorer – Shows you all links of any website or URL with an option to sort and filter them by many important SEO metrics.
  • Ahrefs’ Content Explorer – A unique link prospecting tool, which helps you find thousands of relevant websites for link requests and guest posting. Also helps to research linkable assets on any topic from all around the web.
  • Ahrefs Alerts – Similar to Google Alerts but designed specifically with SEO professionals in mind.
  • Pitchbox/BuzzStream/GMass – Email outreach tools. There are many other tools that let you send personalized emails at scale, but these ones are the most popular among SEOs.
  • Hunter.io/Voila Norbert – The so-called “email lookup services,” which help you find contact details of websites at scale.

Let’s wrap this up

This guide turned out to be over 4,000 words. Yet we’ve only scratched the surface of what link building entails. So if you want to dig deeper, make sure to check out our other articles on this topic, which I’ve linked to throughout this guide.

And should you have any questions or comments, just tweet me at @timsoulo.



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SEO

From Competitors To Partners: Conductor Acquires Searchmetrics

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From Competitors To Partners: Conductor Acquires Searchmetrics

Conductor, a leading enterprise organic marketing platform, has acquired European-based competitor, Searchmetrics, to accelerate its expansion in the European market.

After acquiring ContentKing in 2022, the acquisition of Searchmetrics continues to strengthen Conductor’s position in the industry.

Seth Besmertnik, Conductor’s CEO and co-founder, said that the acquisition would bring the best of what Searchmetrics does to Conductor and its shared customers:

“Searchmetrics has been a competitor almost since we started Conductor, with a strong data foundation and a powerful presence in the European market. We are excited to bring the best of what Searchmetrics does to Conductor and to our now shared customers. Our goal is for customers to greatly benefit from this acquisition through delivery of more product value on a global scale.”

 

Matt Colebourne, the CEO of Searchmetrics, expressed his excitement for the company to join Conductor, calling it the “definitive global leader”:

“Conductor is indisputably the SEO space market leader. For years, we’ve admired their commitment to innovation for customers and their efforts to foster a dynamic and rewarding workplace culture for employees. By joining Conductor, we bring the best of what we do along with a large European customer base—solidifying Conductor as the definitive global leader. We cannot wait to build more for customers going forward.”

 

Ken Ogenbratt, Searchmetrics’s Chief Financial Officer, said the acquisition is a “pivotal step” for the SEO industry as the two companies move forward as partners with the opportunity to drive even greater value to customers.

With this acquisition, Conductor continues its commitment to creating a single, global platform that integrates all parts of the SEO workflow.

With Searchmetrics’ strong European presence and solid customer base, the acquisition will significantly accelerate Conductor’s growth in Europe.

Conductor has completed its second acquisition in a year with the purchase of Searchmetrics, which follows the company’s significant funding round from Bregal Sagemount in 2021.

This acquisition is seen as a sign of Conductor’s recent growth. It is expected to solidify its position as a leading player in the SEO space by incorporating the strengths of both companies for their shared customers.


Featured Image: dotshock/Shutterstock



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How to Execute the Skyscraper Technique (And Get Results)

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How to Execute the Skyscraper Technique (And Get Results)

In 2015, Brian Dean revealed a brand-new link building strategy. He called it the Skyscraper Technique.

With over 10,000 backlinks since the post was published, it’s fair to say that the Skyscraper Technique took the world by storm in 2015. But what is it exactly, how can you implement it, and can you still get results with this technique in 2023?

Låt oss börja.

What is the Skyscraper Technique?

The Skyscraper Technique is a link building strategy where you improve existing popular content and replicate the backlinks. 

Brian named it so because in his words, “It’s human nature to be attracted to the best. And what you’re doing here is finding the tallest ‘skyscraper’ in your space… and slapping 20 stories to the top of it.”

Here’s how the technique works:

Three steps of the Skyscraper Technique

How to implement the Skyscraper Technique

Follow these three steps to execute the Skyscraper Technique.

1. Find relevant content with lots of backlinks

There are three methods to find relevant pages with plenty of links:

Use Site Explorer

Enter a popular site into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer. Next, go to the Best by backlinks report.

Best pages by backlinks report, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

This report shows you a list of pages from the site with the highest number of referring domains. If there are content pieces with more than 50 referring domains, they’re likely to be good potential targets.

Sidenote.

Ignore homepages and other irrelevant content when eyeballing this report.

Use Content Explorer

Ahrefs’ Content Explorer is a searchable database of 10 billion pages. You can use it to find mentions of any word or phrase.

Let’s start by entering a broad topic related to your niche into Content Explorer. Next, set a Referring domains filter to a minimum of 50. 

We can also add:

  • Language filter to get only pages in our target language.
  • Exclude homepages to remove homepages from the results.
Ahrefs' Content Explorer search for "gardening," with filters

Eyeball the results to see if there are any potential pieces of content you could beat.

Use Keywords Explorer

Enter a broad keyword into Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer. Next, go to the Matching terms report and set a Keyword Difficulty (KD) filter to a minimum of 40.

Matching terms report, via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

Why filter for KD? 

The reason is due to the method we use at Ahrefs to calculate KD. Our KD score is calculated from a trimmed mean of referring domains (RDs) to the top 10 ranking pages. 

In other words, the top-ranking pages for keywords with high KD scores have lots of backlinks on average.

From here, you’ll want to go through the report to find potential topics you could build a better piece of content around. 

2. Make it better

The core idea (or assumption) behind the Skyscraper Technique is that people want to see the best. 

Once you’ve found the content you want to beat, the next step is to make something even better

According to Brian, there are four aspects worth improving:

  1. Length – If the post has 25 tips, list more.
  2. Freshness – Update any outdated parts of the original article with new images, screenshots, information, stats, etc.
  3. Design – Make it stand out with a custom design. You could even make it interactive.
  4. Depth – Don’t just list things. Fill in the details and make them actionable.

3. Reach out to the right people

The key to successfully executing the Skyscraper Technique is email outreach. But instead of spamming everyone you know, you reach out to those who have already linked to the specific content you have improved. 

The assumption: Since they’ve already linked to a similar article, they’re more likely to link to one that’s better.

You can find these people by pasting the URL of the original piece into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer and then going to the Backlinks report.

Backlinks report for ResumeGenius' how to write a resume, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

This report shows all the backlinks to the page. In this case, there are 441 groups of links.

But not all of these links will make good prospects. So you’ll likely need to add some filters to clean them up. For example, you can:

  • Add a Language filter for the language you’re targeting (e.g., English).
  • Switch the tab to Dofollow for equity-passing links.
Backlinks report, with filters, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Does the Skyscraper Technique still work?

It’s been roughly eight years since Brian shared this link building strategy. Honestly speaking, the technique has been oversaturated. Given its widespread use, its effectiveness may even be limited. 

Some SEOs even say they wouldn’t recommend it.

So we asked our Twitter och LinkedIn following this question and received 1,242 votes. Here are the results:

Pie chart showing 61% of respondents feel the Skyscraper Technique still works

Clearly, many SEOs and marketers still believe the technique works.

Sidenote.

According to Aira’s annual State of Link Building report, only 18% of SEOs still use the Skyscraper Technique. It’s not a go-to for many SEOs, as it ranks #20 among the list of tactics. I suspect its popularity has waned because (1) it’s old and SEOs are looking for newer stuff and (2) SEOs believe that content is more important than links these days.

Why the Skyscraper Technique fails and how to improve your chances of success

Fundamentally, it makes sense that the Skyscraper Technique still works. After all, the principles are the same behind (almost) any link building strategy:

  1. Create great content
  2. Reach out to people and promote it

But why do people think it’s no longer effective? There are a few reasons why and knowing them will help you improve your chances of success with the Skyscraper Technique.

Let’s start with:

1. Sending only Brian’s email template

In Brian’s original post, he suggested an email template for his readers to use:

Hey, I found your post: http://post1

<generic compliment>

It links to this post: http://post2

I made something better: http://post3

Please swap out the link for mine.

Unfortunately, many SEOs decided to use this exact template word for word. 

Link building doesn’t exist in a vacuum. If everyone in your niche decides to send this exact template to every possible website, it’ll burn out real fast. And that’s exactly what happened.

Now, if a website owner sees this template, chances are they’ll delete it right away. 

Sidenote.

Judging by my inbox, there are still people using this exact template. And, like everyone else, I delete the email immediately.

I’m not saying this to disparage templated emails. If you’re sending something at scale, templating is necessary. But move away from this template. Write your own, personalize it as much as possible, and follow the outreach principles here.

Even better, ask yourself:

"What makes my content unique and link-worthy?”

2. Not segmenting your prospects

People link for different reasons, so you shouldn’t send everyone the same pitch. 

Consider dividing your list of prospects into segments according to the context in which they linked. You can do this by checking the Anchors report in Site Explorer.

Anchors report, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

You can clearly see people are linking to different statistics from our SEO statistics post. So, for example, if we were doing outreach for a hypothetical post, we might want to mention to the first group that we have a new statistic for “Over 90% of content gets no traffic from Google.”

Then, to the second group, we’ll mention that we have new statistics for “68% of online experiences.” And so on. 

In fact, that’s exactly what we did when we built links to this post. Check out the case study here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=videoseries

3. Not reaching out to enough people

Ultimately, link building is still a numbers game. If you don’t reach out to enough people, you won’t get enough links. 

Simply put: You need to curate a larger list of link prospects.

So rather than limiting yourself to only replicating the backlinks of the original content, you should replicate the backlinks from other top-ranking pages covering the same topic too.

To find these pages, enter the target keyword into Keywords Explorer and scroll down to the SERP overview.

SERP overview for "how to write a resume," via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

In this example, most top-ranking pages have tons of links, and all of them (after filtering, of course) could be potential link prospects.

Pro tip

Looking for even more prospects? Use Content Explorer.

Search for your keyword, set a Referring domains filter, and you’ll see relevant pages where you can “mine” for more skyscraper prospects.

Referring domains filters selected in Ahrefs' Content Explorer

4. Thinking bigger equals better

Someone creates a list with 15 tools. The next person ups it to 30. Another “skyscrapers” it to 50, and the next increases it to 100.

Not only is it a never-ending arms race, there’s also no value for the reader. 

No one wants to skim through 5,000 words or hundreds of items just to find what they need. Curation is where the value is.

When considering the four aspects mentioned by Brian, don’t improve things for the sake of improving them. Adding 25 mediocre tips to an existing list of 25 doesn’t make it “better.” Likewise for changing the publish date or adding a few low-quality illustrations. 

Example: My colleague, Chris Haines, recently published a post on the best niche site ideas. Even though he only included 10, he has already outperformed the other “skyscraper” articles:

Our blog post ranking #3 for the query, "niche site ideas," via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

He differentiated himself through his knowledge and expertise. After all, Chris has 10 years of experience in SEO. 

So when you’re creating your article, always look at any improvement through the lens of value:

Are you giving more value to the reader? 

5. Not considering brand

As Ross Hudgens says, “Better does not occur in a branding vacuum.”

Most of the time, content isn’t judged solely on its quality. It’s also judged by who it comes from. We discovered this ourselves too when we tried to build links to our keyword research guide.

Most of the time, people didn’t read the article. They linked to us because of our brand and reputation—they knew we were publishing great content consistently, and they had confidence that the article we were pitching was great too.

In other words, there are times where no matter how hard you “skyscraper” your content, people just won’t link to it because they don’t know who you are. 

Having your own personal brand is important these days. But think about it: What is a “strong brand” if not a consistent output of high-quality work that people enjoy? One lone skyscraper doesn’t make a city; many of them together do.

What I’m saying is this: Don’t be discouraged if your “skyscraper” article gets no results. And don’t be discouraged just because you don’t have a brand right now—you can work on that over time.

Keep on making great content—skyscraper or not—and results will come if you trust the process.

"Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they were laying bricks every hour.” 

Slutgiltiga tankar

The Skyscraper Technique is a legitimate link building tactic that works. But that can only happen if you:

Any questions or comments? Let me know på Twitter.



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13 Best High Ticket Affiliate Marketing Programs 2023

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13 Best High Ticket Affiliate Marketing Programs 2023

Are you looking for more ways to generate income for yourself or your business this year?

With high-ticket affiliate marketing programs, you earn money by recommending your favorite products or services to those who need them.

Affiliate marketers promote products through emails, blog posts, social media updates, YouTube videos, podcasts, and other forms of content with proper disclosure.

While not all affiliate marketers make enough to quit their 9-to-5, any additional income in the current economy can come in handy for individuals and businesses.

How To Get Started With Affiliate Marketing

Here’s a simple summary of how to get started with affiliate marketing.

  • Build an audience. You need websites with traffic, email lists with subscribers, or social media accounts with followers to promote a product – or ideally, a combination of all three.
  • Find products and services you can passionately promote to the audience you have built. The more you love something and believe in its efficacy, the easier it will be to convince someone else to buy it.
  • Sign up for affiliate and referral programs. These will be offered directly through the company selling the product or service, or a third-party affiliate platform.
  • Fill out your application and affiliate profile completely. Include your niche, monthly website traffic, number of email subscribers, and social media audience size. Companies will use that information to approve or reject your application.
  • Get your custom affiliate or referral link and share it with your audience, or the segment of your audience that would benefit most from the product you are promoting.
  • Look for opportunities to recommend products to new people. You can be helpful, make a new acquaintance, and earn a commission.
  • Monitor your affiliate dashboard and website analytics for insights into your clicks and commissions.
  • Adjust your affiliate marketing tactics based on the promotions that generate the most revenue.

Now, continue reading about the best high-ticket affiliate programs you can sign up for in 2023. They offer a high one-time payout, recurring commissions, or both.

The Best High-Ticket Affiliate Marketing Programs

What makes them these affiliate marketing programs the “best” is subjective, but I chose these programs based on their payout amounts, number of customers, and average customer ratings. Customer ratings help determine whether a product is worth recommending. You can also use customer reviews to help you market the products or services when you highlight impressive results customers gain from using the product or service, and the features customers love most.

1. Smartproxy

Smartproxy allows customers to access business data worldwide for competitor research, search engine results page (SERP) scraping, price aggregation, and ad verification.

836 reviewers gave it an average rating of 4.7 out of five stars.

Earn up to $2,000 per customer that you refer to Smartproxy using its affiliate program.

2. Thinkific

Thinkific is an online course creation platform used by over 50,000 instructors in over 100 million courses.

669 reviewers gave it an average rating of 4.6 out of five stars.

Earn up to $1,700 per referral per year through the Thinkific affiliate program.

3. BigCommerce

BigCommerce is an ecommerce provider with open SaaS, headless integrations, omnichannel, B2B, and offline-to-online solutions.

648 reviewers gave it an average rating of 8.1 out of ten stars.

Earn up to $1,500 for new enterprise customers, or 200% of the customer’s first payment by signing up for the BigCommerce affiliate program.

4. Teamwork

Teamwork, project management software focused on maximizing billable hours, helps everyone in your organization become more efficient – from the founder to the project managers.

1,022 reviewers gave it an average rating of 4.4 out of five stars.

Earn up to $1,000 per new customer referral with the Teamwork affiliate program.

5. Flywheel

Flywheel provides managed WordPress hosting geared towards agencies, ecommerce, and high-traffic websites.

36 reviewers gave it an average rating of 4.4 out of five stars.

Earn up to $500 per new referral from the Flywheel affiliate program.

6. Teachable

Teachable is an online course platform used by over 100,000 entrepreneurs, creators, and businesses of all sizes to create engaging online courses and coaching businesses.

150 reviewers gave it a 4.4 out of five stars.

Earn up to $450 (average partner earnings) per month by joining the Teachable affiliate program.

7. Shutterstock

Shutterstock is a global marketplace for sourcing stock photographs, vectors, illustrations, videos, and music.

507 reviewers gave it an average rating of 4.4 out of five stars.

Earn up to $300 for new customers by signing up for the Shutterstock affiliate program.

8. HubSpot

HubSpot provides a CRM platform to manage your organization’s marketing, sales, content management, and customer service.

3,616 reviewers gave it an average rating of 4.5 out of five stars.

Earn an average payout of $264 per month (based on current affiliate earnings) with the HubSpot affiliate program, or more as a solutions partner.

9. Sucuri

Sucuri is a cloud-based security platform with experienced security analysts offering malware scanning and removal, protection from hacks and attacks, and better site performance.

251 reviewers gave it an average rating of 4.6 out of five stars.

Earn up to $210 per new sale by joining Sucuri referral programs for the platform, firewall, and agency products.

10. ADT

ADT is a security systems provider for residences and businesses.

588 reviewers gave it an average rating of 4.5 out of five stars.

Earn up to $200 per new customer that you refer through the ADT rewards program.

11. DreamHost

DreamHost web hosting supports WordPress and WooCommerce websites with basic, managed, and VPS solutions.

3,748 reviewers gave it an average rating of 4.7 out of five stars.

Earn up to $200 per referral and recurring monthly commissions with the DreamHost affiliate program.

12. Shopify

Shopify, a top ecommerce solution provider, encourages educators, influencers, review sites, and content creators to participate in its affiliate program. Affiliates can teach others about entrepreneurship and earn a commission for recommending Shopify.

Earn up to $150 per referral and grow your brand as a part of the Shopify affiliate program.

13. Kinsta

Kinsta is a web hosting provider that offers managed WordPress, application, and database hosting.

529 reviewers gave it a 4.3 out of five stars.

Earn $50 – $100 per new customer, plus recurring revenue via the Kinsta affiliate program.

Even More Affiliate Marketing Programs

In addition to the high-ticket affiliate programs listed above, you can find more programs to join with a little research.

  • Search for affiliate or referral programs for all of the products or services you have a positive experience with, personally or professionally.
  • Search for affiliate or referral programs for all of the places you shop online.
  • Search for partner programs for products and services your organization uses or recommends to others.
  • Search for products and services that match your audience’s needs on affiliate platforms like Shareasale, Awin, and CJ.
  • Follow influencers in your niche to see what products and services they recommend. They may have affiliate or referral programs as well.

A key to affiliate marketing success is to diversify the affiliate marketing programs you join.

It will ensure that you continue to generate an affiliate income, regardless of if one company changes or shutters its program.

Fler resurser:


Featured image: Shutterstock/fatmawati achmad zaenuri



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