link-building-strategies-2020

The Most Time Effective Link Building Strategies 2020 – Original Research

Every SEO is looking for a better way to scale their link building efforts that don’t involve shady practices like link exchanges, paying for link placement or using dodgy PBNs that go against Google’s webmaster guidelines. Eventually, Google will roll out an update that will penalize these link building strategies and your website may find itself being removed from the index.

hile ensuring that your website is well optimized technically and your blog content plan is in place to allow you to rank for niche keyword these are just table stakes in 2020. Every great website is optimized well technically and is improving their blog and site content. What really moves the needle are links. They are the lifeblood of effective ranking improvements.      

For search engine optimization agencies and those working directly for brands, white hat link building is difficult to scale as it is an incredibly manual process – creating good content, prospecting for interested parties to consume the content and then outreach to those parties all take time and hard work. So how do we avoid short term gain for long term wins, especially when our clients have less time, budget or industry sway to begin with?

Gurus recommending techniques

There are any number of search engine optimization gurus promoting ways to enhance site rankings through SEO link building under a variety of methods. “Just create good content” or “reach out to industry influences, they will be happy to link to your content”. Given that SEOs struggle with effective link building it’s no wonder that there are businesses getting a tonne of traffic (and making a tonne of money in the meanwhile) from content with clickbait tiles that will attract industry professionals.

Do these techniques actually work though, and which are going to be time (and cost) efficient strategies, particularly for those smaller clients or businesses just starting who can’t afford a full-time SEO team? With this question in mind, I surveyed SEO professionals working both for agencies and for businesses to try and understand the kinds of techniques that they were going to be using in their day to day, which were the most and which were the least time-effective.

link-building-techniques

I looked at the above link building techniques and evaluated them according to respondents’ choices.

What strategies will SEO’s use?

Here are the respondent’s answers broken down by percentage on the question “which link building techniques will you be using in 2020?”

I looked at the above link building techniques and evaluated them according to respondents’ choices.

What strategies will SEO’s use?

Here are the respondent’s answers broken down by percentage on the question “which link building techniques will you be using in 2020?”

use-of-link-building

Immediately obvious at the bottom of the list was link reclamation with only 7% of respondents using this, combined with the next lowest, un-linked mentions making up the two least likely to be used link building strategies 2020. There was a real tendency for SEO’s to avoid this technique as it doesn’t bring any value to the website owner that they are contacting. This is purely about the website that is receiving the link which means that value us going one way so why would a website owner do a favor for the missing or non-linked brand mention.

Contrasted with methods like broken link building, which has a good uptake with 19% of users utilizing this. This method can bring value to both the target website owner and the website that is receiving the link. By bringing this broken link to the attention of the website owner and suggesting some high-quality content as a replacement both parties win. It is easy to see why this is in the middle of most time-efficient link building methods.

The skyscraper method also sites in the middle of the pack in terms of ROI on time spend versus how to build backlinks 2020 as it too focuses on value creation. Winning position 1 or featured snippet results can generate links without any outreach required as users naturally find your content in SERPS and link back to it as they create their own content.

At the top of the table is blogger outreach and guest posting. The reasoning for this was due to the relationship-building nature of these methods. Having great relationships with bloggers, influencers, editors and website owners means that there is the chance for repeat guest posting placements and backlinks as they know and trust the source of the content ahead of time and can vouch for its quality.

Best ROI: time versus links earned

The below graph outlines the responses to the question” “please rank the time efficiency from low to high of link building activities in terms of time invested per link earned”

Immediately obvious at the bottom of the list was link reclamation with only 7% of respondents using this, combined with the next lowest, un-linked mentions making up the two least likely to be used link building strategies 2020. There was a real tendency for SEO’s to avoid this technique as it doesn’t bring any value to the website owner that they are contacting. This is purely about the website that is receiving the link which means that value us going one way so why would a website owner do a favor for the missing or non-linked brand mention.

Contrasted with methods like broken link building, which has a good uptake with 19% of users utilizing this. This method can bring value to both the target website owner and the website that is receiving the link. By bringing this broken link to the attention of the website owner and suggesting some high-quality content as a replacement both parties win. It is easy to see why this is in the middle of most time-efficient link building methods.

The skyscraper method also sites in the middle of the pack in terms of ROI on time spend versus how to build backlinks 2020 as it too focuses on value creation. Winning position 1 or featured snippet results can generate links without any outreach required as users naturally find your content in SERPS and link back to it as they create their own content.

At the top of the table is blogger outreach and guest posting. The reasoning for this was due to the relationship-building nature of these methods. Having great relationships with bloggers, influencers, editors and website owners means that there is the chance for repeat guest posting placements and backlinks as they know and trust the source of the content ahead of time and can vouch for its quality.

Best ROI: time versus links earned

The below graph outlines the responses to the question” “please rank the time efficiency from low to high of link building activities in terms of time invested per link earned”

link-building-efforts

By far and away the most used, highest ROI for link building strategies was the ‘blogger outreach’ method. Building relationships with these website owners can lead to great, long term link opportunities and exposure to a large following of people interested in your niche.

Given that there is such a large number of blogs and websites always on the lookout for new content that will help them establish themselves as an authority there are always more bloggers to find. There are a number of tools that will help streamline these efforts, leading to reduced time input that can really boost your ROI.

A point to note is that while only 13% of participants were going to use unlinked mentions as a part of their digital marketing efforts in 2020, it is one that has proven to be time-efficient. So, for some digital marketing professionals, this may be worth the effort involved. Respondents pointed to tools like SEMRush’sBrand Monitoring which can show you all of the mentions of your brand with minimal setup time, so all that’s needed for the SEO is to craft an outreach email and send it off!

Fixing broken links is at the bottom of the pile in terms of return on investment. While broken link building is a popular method, finding links to replace can be time-consuming and may result in no links earned. For link reclamation, respondents much-preferred value and relationship building methods over this.

Worst ROI: time versus links earned

The below graph outlines the responses that correlated with the least time-efficient techniques. The skyscraper method was recorded by half of the respondents as being time inefficient. Ideally, the skyscraper method produces really high-quality content that people just can’t help to link to given that it will dominate page 1 results. However, creating such content itself is a huge time investment and by itself may not gain any links.

Those strategies that generated the least ROI and should probably be looked at as strategies to retire are “unlinked mentions and link reclamation”. They have, with the exception of some outliers that find good ROI, been the least popular method. There may be some brands or some niches where this works (particularly if the brand gets more frequent mentions due to being a bigger brand attracting these mentions naturally) but in the majority of cases, these are inefficient strategies.

By far and away the most used, highest ROI for link building strategies was the ‘blogger outreach’ method. Building relationships with these website owners can lead to great, long term link opportunities and exposure to a large following of people interested in your niche.

Given that there is such a large number of blogs and websites always on the lookout for new content that will help them establish themselves as an authority there are always more bloggers to find. There are a number of tools that will help streamline these efforts, leading to reduced time input that can really boost your ROI.

A point to note is that while only 13% of participants were going to use unlinked mentions as a part of their digital marketing efforts in 2020, it is one that has proven to be time-efficient. So, for some digital marketing professionals, this may be worth the effort involved. Respondents pointed to tools like SEMRush’sBrand Monitoring which can show you all of the mentions of your brand with minimal setup time, so all that’s needed for the SEO is to craft an outreach email and send it off!

hire-expert-marketing-agency

Fixing broken links is at the bottom of the pile in terms of return on investment. While broken link building is a popular method, finding links to replace can be time-consuming and may result in no links earned. For link reclamation, respondents much-preferred value and relationship building methods over this.

Worst ROI: time versus links earned

The below graph outlines the responses that correlated with the least time-efficient techniques. The skyscraper method was recorded by half of the respondents as being time inefficient. Ideally, the skyscraper method produces really high-quality content that people just can’t help to link to given that it will dominate page 1 results. However, creating such content itself is a huge time investment and by itself may not gain any links.

Those strategies that generated the least ROI and should probably be looked at as strategies to retire are “unlinked mentions and link reclamation”. They have, with the exception of some outliers that find good ROI, been the least popular method. There may be some brands or some niches where this works (particularly if the brand gets more frequent mentions due to being a bigger brand attracting these mentions naturally) but in the majority of cases, these are inefficient strategies.

Which methods should I consider as part of my link building efforts?

Building quality links have the highest return on investment per hour of input when it is spent developing relationships.

Concentrate on bringing value to the website that you are trying to get a link from. Techniques that tend to fail are those that ask for something that doesn’t benefit the target website. Put yourself in the shoes of the person you are trying to contact and remember they are human too. If you were approached with your link request, would you take time out of your busy schedule to make that link happen?

Ultimate Guide to Link Building: How to Build Backlinks, Authority and Credibility for Your Website, and Increase Click Traffic and Search Ranking (Ultimate Series)

Having good outreach linking strategies supported by powerful SEO tools allow SEO’s to build a network that can guarantee at least some links are earned per content piece. Getting in front of those audiences can generally gain you at least one backlink with the potential for more, not to mention the added benefits of getting more views on your content piece.

It may not be Page 1 worthy immediately, but it may provide value to an audience when it is shared by a trusted blogger or on a trusted content hub and the relationships and audiences you build around the internet will turbo-power your link ROI.

About the Author:

Kyle Douglas is the SEO Manager at Revium. With over 7 years in digital, he now manages SEO teams within digital marketing agencies.

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