JoyHawkins

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Oh and Dan, tell Andrew I think this should be his next SEL article topic ;)
 

DanLeibson

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Hey Joy,

There is no real way to answer that. There are tons of variables when it comes to a link building campaign that are highly specific. What is the clients content inventory? What is their spot in their vertical? What does their city look like? etc etc.

I will tell you that the absolute minimum I will take for a link building campaign is $1,500 and I even hate doing that. There just isn't much to be done with that level of budget on the editorial linkbuilding level. Also, generally what you should be looking for is +/-$500 link as a baseline (not buying them, but essentially what they cost is to the client per link) and obviously you should be lower if on your end if you want any margin in it.

Happy to talk about this more in detail, but it's much more a conversation then a forum post :)

Dave - Totally with you on off-website stuff being critical for some business/verticals. But that is very contextual IMHO.
 

JoyHawkins

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Thanks Dan! That is very helpful :)

I'd also love to hear from you guys (if you feel like sharing) which link building strategies you've found most effective. I loved some of the examples Conrad gave in his presentation at SMX.

Link building has never been a huge area of focus for me personally since a lot of our clients who come to us need more help with things related to GMB, which is what I'd consider myself an expert in.

However, a big takeaway that I'm catching onto is that for certain industries and markets link building really isn't optional and especially the more competitive SEO gets, the harder it will be for businesses to rank well.

To add to that, I've found personally the best link building strategies to be:

1. Using HARO
2. Providing Testimonials (Nifty talks about it here)
3. Wikipedia broken backlinking (#1 here)


If any of you think I'm getting too off-topic, I can start a new thread ;)
 

Dave

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Hey Joy,


Happy to talk about this more in detail, but it's much more a conversation then a forum post :)

Dave - Totally with you on off-website stuff being critical for some business/verticals. But that is very contextual IMHO.

Dan: The two verticals are as different as night and day. I don't have a figure on this, and frankly it might have been going on for a long time, but I'm getting those responses on the phone now in both cases.

Specifically I'm asking phone leads if they saw "some content"...really anything on the web...and they say NO.

It seems to me its occurring more often. But possibly I didn't ask the question in the past and had no context on it.

I do know its hitting the hotel industry...and the two smb types I'm describing are NOTHING like the hotel industry.

@Joy: Link building is worth at least several thousand dollars per campaign in my little world.

I wouldn't feel comfortable charging by the hour. Its more creative and doesn't lend itself to service by the hour. Geez. I might come up with the killer link idea at 2 in the morning.
 

JacobMaslow

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User engagement is too noisy and ewasily manipulated. If google was to use it, especially on a local level, results would be all over the place.

It is too easy to manipulate clicks and user engagement. The amount of activity on a local level is very low especially once you break it down by how many people click on the pack and how many people click on each search term.

Rankings are different for each zip code. 3-6 users can significantly impact the searches. A doctor or a chiropractor instructing his staff to interact with google 2-3 times per week from their phone and home can easily impact the data.
 

JacobMaslow

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I deal with competitive industries (legal) so link building is necessary.

But even in less competitive industries, getting links can put you over the top.

Just keep in mind that links generally takes a few weeks to feel the impact.


Thanks Dan! That is very helpful :)

I'd also love to hear from you guys (if you feel like sharing) which link building strategies you've found most effective. I loved some of the examples Conrad gave in his presentation at SMX.

Link building has never been a huge area of focus for me personally since a lot of our clients who come to us need more help with things related to GMB, which is what I'd consider myself an expert in.

However, a big takeaway that I'm catching onto is that for certain industries and markets link building really isn't optional and especially the more competitive SEO gets, the harder it will be for businesses to rank well.

To add to that, I've found personally the best link building strategies to be:

1. Using HARO
2. Providing Testimonials (Nifty talks about it here)
3. Wikipedia broken backlinking (#1 here)


If any of you think I'm getting too off-topic, I can start a new thread ;)
 

Phil Rozek

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Hey Joy,

As others have alluded to, your batting average in outreach totally depends on the situation. If you?re reaching out to local government agencies, for example, to get them to cite your super-duper resource, you?ll be lucky to get a response 10% of the time. Probably 9% of those responses will be from an admin who doesn?t have the latitude to make changes to the site, or who says that they don?t link to anyone.

On the other hand, if you look in Google News and contact the author of a recent piece that?s dead-on relevant to your client?s industry and say (essentially), ?Hey, please feel free to use me as source next time you do a piece on such-and-such,? your batting average will be much better. Likewise if you find an online mention (linked or unlinked) of your client, and contact the person who mentioned him/her and say, ?Thanks for the mention - please let me know if there?s some way I can contribute now or in the future.?

That kind of ?warm? outreach works best, in my experience.

In terms of less-outreach-based link opps, I?d recommend ?dummy links? and sponsoring local causes.
 

DanLeibson

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Unlinked brand mentions can give a YUGE return depending on the business.
 
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Marc Nashaat

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So speaking of links. How many hours/money would you say is a good budget monthly for a link building campaign? I know typically good link building is expensive and I was talking to a client the other day who wanted to understand why and I told her that it was because it's done in stages, all of which take several hours and it's not until the 3rd stage where you actually see results.

These are the 3 stages I described

1. Coming up with the idea - finding a good piece of content to create, doing the research on why anyone would care to link to it, why it's better than what is out there etc.

2. Creating the thing that needs to be linked to (whether this is an article, page, study, survey, infographic etc)

3. Reaching out to people to link to it.


So I'll throw in a second question. Along with how much you think a good budget is (we bill by the hour so money = time), how many people would you say you have to outreach to to make a link building campaign successful?


These are all very generic questions and I realize it varies based on specifics, I just figured the link-lovers like Cody and Dan might have some great insights ;)

Hey Joy! My two cents for what they're worth:

[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Tahoma, Calibri, Geneva, sans-serif]I know this sounds cliche but totally agree with Dan, it's really dependent on the client, industry and keywords you're trying to optimize for. I also agree that this is a topic for conversation and rather difficult to lay out in a forum post (but I'll try!)

I lead the link building and PR team here at Powered by Search and every one of our client's retainers are customized according to their required keyword scope. For us, budget scoping starts at the keyword research stage - once we've identified the priority keywords we can scope out not only on page/content requirements but also link requirements as a factor of keyword competition and current position.

There are a lot of ways to price campaigns but for us it's generally accepted that you can secure 1 editorial link for every 4 hours of (manual, personalized) outreach. From this and the estimated links required you can plug in the variables to determine what your labor costs are and how to price your campaign. You'll obviously have to adjust based on the rate at which you can acquire links.

In an agency environment like ours a budget of less than 2k (exclusive to link building) would be very difficult to work with. Even at this level, campaigns are limited. We have some clients on 20k+ retainers, who also provide separate budgets for content creation <- this is where the real fun happens. That said we also have smaller clients with more practical budgets around the 5k mark.[/FONT]


With respect to this, I'd add that not all links are created equal, and for certain clients, a content campaign isn't necessarily the way to go. Content promotion is great at improving the overall authority of a domain, it naturally leads to improved search presence across a wide range of keywords but doesn't generally have a significant impact on money pages targeting competitive keywords (at least in the first 6-12 months). Creating great, linkable content, can also be very expensive.

To compete in markets for specific, high-competition keywords like 'car insurance' you not only need an authoritative domain, but an authoritative service page with lots of quality links pointing to it. Prospecting for highly relevant service page link opportunities at scale is tedious work and often requires more hours than the actual outreach portion.


[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Tahoma, Calibri, Geneva, sans-serif]Once you enter the realm of geo-specific keywords you're now talking about pivoting towards identifying relevant, and local organizations or businesses that will link to your client which will require a completely different approach to link building. Using the above as an example that might mean identifying local auto shop websites that list insurers they work with, or car dealers, who link to insurance options for their customers. For less competitive industries sponsorship links are a great shortcut to achieving these results.[/FONT]


There are of course clients who benefit from all of the above; generating naturally earned links to content which strengthens authority, building contextual service page links which moves the needle on primary keywords and getting links from local businesses or organizations which strengthens geo-specific presence. These are the kinds of clients who typically see retainers in excess of 20k.


[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Tahoma, Calibri, Geneva, sans-serif]Just beginning to scratch the surface here but I think I'm well beyond two cents. Hopefully my rambling offered some insight and please feel free to reach out with any specific questions you might have! [/FONT]
 

Linda Buquet

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Hey Marc, thanks for joining and weighing in. Now that Colan is on the team over there, (Lucky you!) hope we'll see more of you guys!
 

Marc Nashaat

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Hey Marc, thanks for joining and weighing in. Now that Colan is on the team over there, (Lucky you!) hope we'll see more of you guys!


My pleasure Linda, thanks for having me :) We are lucky to have Colan - he's prodded me out of my cave and into the light. Haha I've actually been lurking these forums for a couple of years now but yes we'll definitely make an effort to be more involved in the community!
 

Rich Owings

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Hi Dan,

First of all, what a great study! Thank you so much for investing the time and sharing this.

If you are accepting suggestions for the next round (or perhaps this info was included and I just haven't found it), I'd love to see "backlinks" broken down into multiple categories:
  • General citations with backlinks
  • Niche citations with backlinks
  • Local backlinks

Do you think that is possible?
 
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I didn't weigh in earlier since this is such a niche specific area, but I've been working more with wedding photographers this year and working on moving my business entirely to that niche. One of my main reasons for doing that in the first place (aside from the fact that there's not a lot of good help in that area) is that by definition, anyone that's any good already has a past archive of good content, and a steady stream of new content always being produced. After doing some heavy digging into the competition around the US, the biggest thread tying high ranking photographers together is that they get their work featured (most commonly in bridal inspiration sites). I'm a little too early in the back linking game to speak from practical experience, but it's looking like even just taking what they've got and getting it out there in right places can be a huge cornerstone, and maybe even enough all on it's own to get results.

I've been spending time too looking at other opportunities, especially local specific (I loved Marc's breakdown) but for the sake of rounding out the conversation, figured I'd throw this out there too. Won't apply to many industries, but for the ones where they're already making new content just as part of doing business, that's gold.
 

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