More threads by James Watt

Oct 25, 2013
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Brightlocal posted an interesting survey I thought was worth checking out. 388 local SEO consultants weighed in on questions like 'what strategies do you focus on when building backlinks' and 'how many backlinks do you look to get in the first 6 months'.

Key 'Takeaways' From This Post
72% of Local SEOs use Citations as a way of building links
57% of Local SEOs use Content Marketing to build links
25% of Local SEOs use Press Releases to build links

Read the full article here

over half the respondants were gunning for 40 links in the first 6 months or less (breaks down to around 3 links every two weeks).

I've focused more on on-page, GMB optimization and citations up until somewhat recently, so I don't have the long-running experience to comment with real authority, but this does match what I've seen from other industry people I trust, and what's informing my own forays into backlink building. Quality over quantity.

I was surprised though to see so much focus on citations as a backlink source and content marketing as a backlink source. Both seem kind of ill suited to local SEO compared to strategies like local event sponsoring/hosting, local non profit donation, and other hyper local niche links. Unless your client happens to be a photographer or a writer, seems like content based backlink building might be an uphill fight, and citations are all well and good, but they wouldn't have the same local or industry relevance, and a lot of them are no-follow.

How does this survey match up with what you know/think is true? What would your answers to those questions be?

This is a great question,

I think its very possible that these are correct numbers but that doesnt mean that they are doing it properly. From my experience the more dynamic your strategy is the better and the best way to accomplish that for each client is competitive analysis.

This will also answer the question of how many is a good number for 6 months, it really depends on how many backlink opportunities you find during the analysis of keywords and looking at competitors.

By taking a close look at what your competitors backlink profile is and where they fall in the SERPs, not only can you find opportunities, and come up with additional ideas for places to look / get links.

In my personal opinion what goes up must come down, you want to be consistently having referring domain growth, meaning dont get 30 new referring domains one month if you do not think you can do that again the next month... This may end up meaning your only getting 2-3 / month, but its consistent.

Brands that I have analyzed that have lost 40% of there backlink profile typically see a similar drop in traffic.

I say that the numbers can range because for each niche and business the opportunities are quite different. I say opportunities because the many links are not guaranteed. You may find a spot that relates greatly to your content, reaching out in a friendly manner and connecting with them is a great way to make an attempt at a link.

Some strategies say its best to connect with the person/webmaster first and then later try to ask for a link, I think it depends on the situation / link / connection.

Other strategies include looking for broken links and informing the webmaster, this way you have now done them a favor and they may do you one.. Admittedly, you may have to send out 10 emails using the strategy for one link, but the link could be very niche and valuable. I have had some success with this method.

Re-posting content from your site as you mentioned with Press Releases is not a bad practice but it shouldn't be repeated constantly. I would also seek other more authoritative (hopefully niche) sites first to repost content before going to a press release, as I dont feel links here have huge value.

Additionally, you mentioned there being lots of nofollow links. If you do competitive analysis you can definitely snipe followed links, however personally speaking I feel that nofollow links are still very important and are still a connection from one domain to another that affects the algo.

Because I love finding backlink opportunities for clients, I have created a very different opportunity based backlink consulting service...

[self promotion and link drop removed - per the rules]

I hope you found some value in my response.

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I agree, industry surveys are ultimately a lot less trustworthy than hard data, but they're still interesting. Moz's SEO ranking factor survey in particular is always worth checking out, even if it is just a bunch of experts all weighing in on what they think is true.

But I agree, studies using actual data (like Dan Leibson's recent study at local SEO guide) is worth a lot more, and when it comes to backlinks especially, I think that's where the bulk of creativity and research is needed. Every other aspect of local SEO is, for all intents and purposes, a commodity. Backlink building for better or worse isn't.

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