• Tue. Jun 14th, 2022

An adaptive framework for link building campaigns

ByVirginia D. Bannon

Feb 18, 2020

A constant complaint I hear from SEO professionals, both veteran and new to the industry, is that link building is difficult.

Yes. Bonding is difficult.

Bonding is hard, but it’s not impossible.

Link building seems difficult because, on the surface, it’s hard to know exactly where to start.

It’s about people, not robots

Link building isn’t a technical discipline – most of the time.

If you are looking for automated link building systems, you are going to either fail or worse, put your site in trouble.

This notion goes against the personality of most SEO people.

Most people go into research because they have a technical bent.

Many more programmers enter the SEO field than public relations specialists.

It’s hard to believe, but there isn’t a technical solution to every search engine marketing problem.

Of course, there are tools that can make your process easier or automate redundant tasks.

But for the most part, bonding is about relationships, not bots.


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Quality rather than quantity

We have all received the email.

For x amount of dollars, someone who removed your name from a spam list will build thousands of links to you.

In almost all cases, accepting their offer is a terrible idea.

In some cases, these types of links can cost you a penalty, but these days they’re more likely to be simply ignored.

While Google doesn’t overlook these links, overall they’re not worth much.

I’d rather have 1 link from the Wall Street Journal than 10,000 links from Joe Shmoe’s blog.

If you are using the following framework for linking, the chances of you building thousands of links are slim.

But it’s OK.

Good content creates good links

Good link building starts with content.

You must have linkable assets in order to link.

But to create these linkable assets, you first need to know the topics you want the links to be relevant to.


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This is where your keyword and topic research comes in.

We don’t have space in this column to go into the details of topic and keyword research – but make no mistake, this work needs to be done before your link building can begin.

Once you’ve figured out your topic and created your linkable assets (also known as content), it’s time to start linking.

Time blocking and link campaigns

Building continuous links is a chore.

By dividing your link building into campaigns, you can breathe new life into a tired effort.

Creating campaigns and ‘blocking in time’, or creating an artificial time limit on how long you’ll be working on them is a great way to keep things up to date – and also to add a sense of urgency to the process. link building.

When you practice blocking time, you can also gauge the progress of each campaign a little more easily.

And of course, if a campaign is going well, you can always watch it again in the future – I hope that with some additional information you didn’t have it the first time you launched the campaign.

The list

Once you have your content and campaign idea in place, the next step is to build your mailing list.

How to build your mailing list

Each campaign should have its own unique mailing list.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t extract influencers and contacts from one campaign to another.

In fact, the more campaigns you run, the better your list should be.

If you practice an optimal approach, you know your best contacts and have worked to build a relationship with them.

Most people use email to raise awareness.

Email still works, but not as well as it could.

In fact, the response to link building emails is appalling thanks to spammers making link building twice as hard as it should be. Lazy spammers who can make the best pitch unnecessary.

In almost all cases, the phone gets a better response than an email.

A face-to-face meeting, when possible, has a significantly higher likelihood of getting a connection than the phone.


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I don’t think Google considers it to be against the terms of service if you’re buying a beer for someone you want to link to your relevant content – but I could be wrong on that.

How do you build your list?

This is one of the most common questions I get from those new to our link building process.

There is no cookie-cutter formula to building a good list.

I like to start by looking at the SERPs around the topic targeted by the campaign.

I’m looking for role models and people who write about it.

I write these names down and try to find them on Twitter and LinkedIn.

I check Reddit and see who’s talking about the topic in question.

I then do independent research on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest.

But once I have a name, I need to assess the potential contact’s reach and web presence.

Do they have a place where they can link to my content?


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This means that my lists are usually not very large.

It takes too long to find the quality of contacts I’m looking for to build a list of hundreds of link possibilities for me to build a big list.

But remember, quality trumps quantity in all cases.


You need to get the right pitch for the campaign to be successful.

One of the biggest mistakes I see is when people use the same pitch for every link prospect.

If you plan to spend time building a quality list, take the time to tailor a quality pitch for each prospect.

The goal, beyond getting the link, is to create a relationship with the link prospect.

You never know when they might provide a link in a future campaign, even if they don’t give you a link in your current campaign.

There is no “right way” to start.

But there are plenty of bad ways to pitch.


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The most common “bad way” is to create a mass email for each lead prospect.

If you’ve taken the time to create quality, linkable assets and a list of quality prospects, take the time to tailor a pitch to each prospect.

Start by creating a list of “talking points” that might go into the field.

Then choose the talking points that apply to the individual perspective you are presenting.

It requires knowing who each prospect is and, hopefully, what interests them.

It takes time.

Like I said, you won’t get thousands of links with this approach.

But you don’t need thousands of links to be successful.


We talked about the blocking time of each campaign.

But there is an exception to time blocking.

It’s in the follow-up.

In any awareness-raising endeavor, it usually takes more than one touch to be successful.

You have to keep reaching out until you get a “no”.


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I’m a fan of pushing for the no after the initial pitch and honoring it.

For example, if you can’t get a prospect to return your calls, send them an email or even a letter.

If you really want to grab their attention, try a certified letter.

If they want you to stop, they just have to say no to you.

But when you ask for no, specify if it is a no only for this campaign or for any future awareness raising action. And be sure to honor the request.

This is where you need to use your judgment.

You don’t want to burn off a good contact with too much follow-up.

But you either want to get a link or you want to get a no.

So it’s a balancing act.

The roadmap

Typically, we like to schedule at least 6 months of link building campaigns.

It doesn’t mean we have the lists and the content for six months – it just means we know where we’re going next.


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If you have people who are good at specific parts of the process – whether it’s content or building lists, they can work ahead on the next campaign.

Those who launch can only launch the current campaign.

Also: you can rotate your plans if needed.

I’m a big fan of thematic linking campaigns, where we create a campaign around a current trend or event.

You cannot know what the current trend or current will be six months from now.

But you can either pause a campaign or launch two campaigns simultaneously in order to launch a thematic campaign.

You can also push back your evergreen campaigns if you need to incorporate a thematic campaign into the mix.

It’s important to plan, but it’s more important to plan to be flexible.

In conclusion

Building bonds is difficult.

This framework is not easy.

But it is easy to understand.

By dividing link building into campaigns, you can make it a lot more fun and have less burnout.


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Link building is the creative part of SEO.

And creativity is meant to be fun.

So have fun with link building.

The rewards can far outweigh the costs.

More resources:

Image credits

Featured Image: Created By Author, January 2020