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How To Get Backlinks in the Age of AI: A to Z Guide
- Why is Link Building Important In 2023
- What Kind of Backlinks Deliver Results
- Backlink Quality Checklist (5 Essential Metrics To Help You Avoid Low-Quality Links)
- The Give And Take Of Link Building And How To Find Backlink Prospects
- How to Find Backlink Prospects
- How to Write Email Outreach Copy That Gets You Backlinks
- Key Takeaways
This is gonna be an interesting one, so let’s dive right in!
Why is Link Building Important In 2023
Let’s start with the basics — why is link-building so important? AI content generation tools are making content writing significantly easier. Small teams of skilled content writers can now use AI tools to generate significantly more content at a fraction of the cost. And this change is only going in one direction — content tools are going to get better and better, while blogs will be able to churn out more quality content at an even lower cost.
Once everyone has a ton of quality content and topical authority, Google will have no choice but to put more emphasis on backlinks. Even today, link building is the #1 determining factor in any competitive industry. At the end of the day, if everyone has good content, link quality determines rankings.
Let’s take a look at how this works.
What Kind of Backlinks Deliver Results
There is a lot of talk going around on what kind of backlinks work. If you go on Fiverr, you’ll see countless service providers offering hundreds of links for less than a dollar a pop. You don’t need to be an SEO genius to understand this looks suspicious:
This is exactly why it’s essential to learn how to evaluate the quality of backlinks. Links that DON’T work include:
So, what does work? Well – real backlinks from real websites.
As you can see in the screenshot above, this is a link from a real website with real categories. The link placement above is:
Now, let’s look at how to evaluate backlink quality through some of the most important metrics. Then, we’ll go over how to actually find backlink prospects.
Backlink Quality Checklist (5 Essential Metrics To Help You Avoid Low-Quality Links)
While there are a ton of various factors that determine whether a backlink is legit or not, the essential ones are as follows:
#1. Good standing in terms of rankings
If a website ranks on Google and gets consistent, healthy traffic, that means Google approves it. To get an overview of a website’s traffic, simply plug the site through Serpstat. And if the website looks like a healthy hockey stick graph with no sudden drops, that’s a green flag. It likely means any major penalty hasn’t hit them, and they’re in Google’s good graces.
Unlike the website below:
#2. No drastic traffic drop
This website was driving a lot of traffic...until it crashed completely. While the site might seem alright at first — their DR is good (54), and they have a bunch of backlinks (over 24K+) — it’s all completely deceiving. The site has most likely been using some shady SEO techniques and got penalized hard.
Hence, a link from such a site won’t positively impact your rankings.
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#3. Topical relevance
Let’s take another example. This website is scoring lots of traffic (21,300 monthly), is ranking for 31,200 keywords, and has a TON of backlinks with seemingly healthy growth.
Seems ideal, right?
Well, not quite. If you look under the hood at the keywords they are ranking for, you’ll see it's all fluff, zero-difficulty, random keywords anyone could rank for.
#4. Other positive factors than just DA or DR
Many people look at DA and DR as significant backlink metrics. While these metrics have their uses, it’s important to note that they should never be the only thing you evaluate when deciding if a backlink is worthwhile.
For example, if a website has high DA but isn’t driving any traffic, then what’s the point? It’s easy to manipulate your DA and DR. For example; you can just pay someone on Fiverr $15 to boost it.
This does not mean that you will rank higher on Google. Many low-quality backlink farm websites use Fiverr to boost their DA/DR to make them seem like good backlink prospects. In reality, though, links from such sites literally deliver zero value.
#5. Website trust factors
Another important factor in whether a site is a good backlink source is how “legitimate” it is. Is it a real website with a cause or goal, or does it solely exist to sell backlinks? To evaluate a website’s trust factors, look at things like:
Now that we’ve explained how to evaluate backlinks let’s talk about the practice of link-building.
The Give And Take Of Link Building And How To Find Backlink Prospects
First things first, let’s talk about something a bit controversial:
“Is it OK to pay for backlinks?”
Yes, yes, it is. According to the Authority Hackers 2023 survey, 74.3% of link builders pay for links. In case you forgot — it’s 2023. Just about everyone with a blog knows about the importance of backlinks. This means that a simple “Hey! I made this cool article. Can you link to me for free?” email just doesn’t work anymore. When you reach out to someone with the intention of convincing them to link to you, the only thing they care about is: “What’s in it for me?”
So, what can you do instead? Ideally, you should offer something in exchange, such as:
Now, how do you find people to reach out to so they can link to you? This is where prospecting comes in.
How to Find Backlink Prospects
Prospecting is about 50% of a successful link-building campaign. Reach out to the wrong prospect, and they’ll never link to you. Here’s what a rock-solid prospecting process looks like:
#1. Make a list of keywords related to your adjacent niches.
If you’re in the weight loss industry, for example, such niches would include:
And so on.
#2. Ensure that the keywords are long-tail.
If you’re going to pick a competitive keyword, it’ll mainly be larger websites that won’t link to you. For example, if you google something like “lose weight,” you’ll see sites like Healthline, CDC, Medical News Today, and other major publications coming up first.
These sites will likely not link to you. If you google “lose weight without cardio,” on the other hand, you’ll get a list of much better prospects:
#3. Split your campaigns by keywords.
This allows you to personalize your outreach emails much better. For example, with "weight loss without cardio," you can send hundreds of personalized emails using a SINGLE template because the template will be accurate for each of those bloggers.
#4. Gather the prospects.
Once you've defined the keywords, you must gather prospects in a spreadsheet. There are two ways you can go about this. Ideally, you’ll want to use a link-building software like Pitchbox to do your prospecting for you.
This eliminates the need for VAs and manual prospecting. You simply input your keywords, and the tool automatically generates hundreds of prospects that fit your criteria:
You can then launch your link-building campaign straight out of Pitchbox, centralizing your link-building operations in one tool.
The other option is to prospect manually, which will be more labor-intensive. The process here is as follows:
Now that we’ve covered prospecting let’s talk about the other important part of a link-building campaign: email personalization and outreach copy.
How to Write Email Outreach Copy That Gets You Backlinks
You need to know that personalization doesn’t have to be hard. Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to mention something unique and ultra-specific in each and every blog post. The key here is solid campaign segmenting.
If all 150 of your prospects wrote about losing weight without cardio, it’s easy to personalize your campaign in bulk. This is where ChatGPT can give you a hand. And no — you shouldn’t use ChatGPT to write outreach emails for you. The output will not be very good. Instead, you can use AI to write niche-related puns, jokes, and other openers to come across as authentic.
For bloggers in the gardening industry, emails like this help you come across as someone passionate about the topic (and not a greedy SEO asking for a backlink). Once you’ve got the intro down, make sure to also include something worthwhile in your email. As in what you can offer in return.
Obviously, this will vary depending on the industry, how competitive it is, and so on. But typically, it’s as follows.
For B2B websites:
For B2C websites:
And finally, some offers that I’ve seen perform well include:
Remember, link-building is all about building long-term relationships. So, put anyone who replies to you in a spreadsheet of people you’ve collaborated with. Over time, this will allow you to build backlinks by brokering partnerships and exchanges.
The more relationships you build and the more give-and-takes you do, the more leverage you gain to build quality backlinks that deliver results.
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