Would you be happy if your blog ranked in search engines as well as Quick Sprout does?
I am sure 99% of bloggers would be ecstatic.
But you’d have to travel down a long road if you want to achieve that.
However, I can show you what you need to do if you’re willing to put in the work.
Obviously, I aim to produce top notch content, but the biggest ranking factor, as you might know, is the number and quality of backlinks a blog has.
And Quick Sprout has a ton of links:
By taking a closer look at the links, you can develop a strategy so that one day, your blog can have similar types, quantities, and quality of links.
We’re going to look at actual links here: I want to get as specific as possible so that you leave this post with a specific link building strategy in mind.
In order to make it as actionable as possible, I picked one of my posts to break down in great detail. We’ll examine The Advanced Guide to SEO.
It has 842 referring domains and 2,690 links overall.
Not surprisingly, it ranks #1 for searches like “advanced guide to SEO”:
And it ranks highly for even vaguely related searches like “SEO guide”:
That post alone gets more traffic than most blogs get in total, so it’s a good one to conduct our analysis on.
Here’s what I did for the analysis:
- downloaded all the backlink data that Ahrefs had on each of the URLs
- removed the bottom 80% of links (according to the Pareto principle, the top 20% of links will produce 80% of the results)
- removed any leftover spam or nonsensical links (about 10% of the remaining links)
- categorized each link by type
After doing all that, which took a while, I ended up with the following results:
This by itself is very useful.
The vast majority of quality links to the page are from blog posts, resource pages, and, to a lesser extent, forum posts.
Clearly, those types of links are most abundant, so basing your link strategy on them would be a great idea.
What I want to do for the rest of this post is to break down each type of link, explain what they are (if it’s not obvious), and show you how you can get them yourself.
Some are easy, some are hard.
You don’t necessarily have to get all the types of links in the same proportions to rank well, but the more you get, the better.
Type #1 – Links in blog posts
Again, 61.4% of the links to my guide were from blog posts.
Now, I kept the definition of a blog post pretty broad, including both short—500-word—articles and massive guides.
Here’s an example of a guide on Smart Passive Income that links to my guide.
And here’s a link in a short Search Engine Watch article.
Both were counted equally here.
These links are as good as you can get:
- they have diverse and natural anchor text
- they are typically on fairly authoritative domains/pages
- they are contextual (appear naturally within the content)
- they are highly relevant
It makes sense that a post of mine with hundreds of great blog post links would rank so well.
How to get blog links for your posts: Sometimes, getting links from blog posts is a chicken and egg problem.
If you dive into the links to my SEO guide, it’s quite clear that some writers just Googled something like “advanced SEO guide” and linked to the top result.
This is why I’ll continue to get more links to that page even though I’ve stopped promoting it long ago.
However, there are ways to get the rest of those links (which make up the majority).
The most straightforward is cold outreach.
Compile a list of bloggers in your niche (Google variations of “(niche) bloggers”, and use tools such as Buzzsumo:
Then, send them an email telling them about your content and why it’s special.
From here, it’s just a numbers game.
You can typically get about a 5% email-to-link ratio.
If you want 140 links, you’d need to send out emails to 2,800 bloggers.
That’s a lot but possible.
However, like I said, many of those 140 links came after my page was already ranking—let’s say half (or 70).
Considering that you won’t need as many to rank for most terms, you can aim to get about 35 blog links with an initial push.
That brings the number of emails you need to send to 700.
That’s still a lot and will require some digging, but if you want to achieve great rankings, you have to be willing to put in more work than others.
The good news is that this changes over time.
As you build relationships with bloggers in your niche, they will start linking to you naturally in their posts. Or you can just shoot them a quick, friendly email, asking them to include a specific link whenever they can.
Type #2 – Resource collections
The results of the analysis of this SEO guide will differ a bit from an analysis of any other post on Quick Sprout.
That’s because the SEO guide is truly an educational resource.
Even though my other posts are also educational, they wouldn’t be considered “resources,” which is a special distinction given to the most thorough pieces of content.
But because it is, about 20.6% of the links to my guide came from resource pages.
These pages have large collections of the best resources on different topics (usually marketing and business in this case).
Here’s an example:
They’re not as good as blog post links, but they still have a few things going for them:
- the pages often have a lot of authority
- the pages are highly relevant because the links are grouped with similar resources
The downside is that you’re sharing that link authority with often 50+ other pages.
Getting resource page links: Some you will get naturally if you start to rank well or get discussed a lot on social media.
However, you can almost always email the person who created the list and ask to be included.
A short email like this will get a good conversion rate:
Subject: Your resource page for (topic)
I came across your resource page on (site) and learned about many new great tools. In particular, I’ve already started using (resource #1) and (resource #2) from your list.
So, thank you for that.
On top of that, I wanted to let you know about one more resource. Full disclosure: I created it.
It’s called (name and link to the resource).
The reason it’s so special, and deserves to be alongside those other great resources, is because (give 1-2 sentence description of the best feature).
I just wanted you to be aware of it.
Thanks for your time!
I encourage you to spend 10-15 minutes actually going through some resources on their list instead of faking interest. Authenticity will get you a much higher success rate at getting links.
Type #3 – Forum posts
Third on the list were forum posts, which made up about 8% of the links.
These types of links are:
- highly relevant
- have good anchor diversity
But typically, they aren’t on high authority pages.
It doesn’t mean they’re not useful, but I wouldn’t spend too much time trying to get them.
How to get forum links: If you create something great and promote it well, it will get talked about in forums without you having to ever target them specifically.
However, if you want to ensure that you get links from forums, or you just want more, you can post on them yourself.
The key part of doing this is actually becoming a part of the forum. You should regularly post and become a part of the community; otherwise, members will think you’re just a spammer.
When the time comes and you release a post, you can make a few postings in different but appropriate sections of the forum, saying something along the lines of:
“I noticed that a lot of people struggle with (topic). I spent about 20 hours putting together a step-by-step guide to (doing something).”
Then, you post most of the body text in your opening and include a link back to your actual post before or after it.
That’s the safe way to do it.
Type #4 – Social media
It’s clear that while Ahrefs is one of the best backlink collectors, they have some work to do with social media.
My analysis showed about 2% of links came from social media, or just 5 links.
Considering it’s been shared hundreds of times on various social media platforms, it’s clear that Ahrefs missed some.
Regardless, these are fairly low quality links (in terms of SEO, not traffic) and likely didn’t affect rankings much.
I still think it’s a great idea to promote content on social media (which can lead to other types of links as well). I’ve written about this topic many times in the past. Here are a few of my best resources to follow if you want more social media links:
- Stop Guessing: Here’s a Social Media Strategy That Works
- Social Media Marketing Made Simple: A Step-by-Step Guide
- Launch Your Social Strategy
Type #5 – Guest posts
There are a select few sites that I regularly guest-post on.
When I do, I look for opportunities to link to my best content (when it’s appropriate and of course no-follow these links).
For example, I linked to the post in question in a post I wrote for Entrepreneur.com.
While I didn’t purposely try to link to my SEO guide beforehand, I’ve linked to it 5 times by chance over time.
If you need help getting guest-post opportunities, start with these posts I’ve written:
- Guest-Posting on Steroids: A 4-Step Blueprint That the Top Guest Posters Use
- 7 Lessons Learned from Publishing 300 Guest Posts
- Advanced Guest Posting
When you link out from guest posts (and no-follow the links) other people see them and naturally find your pages, share your content on the social web and even link to it from their site.
Type #6 – Podcast/Interview
Another solid type of link is a link from a podcast notes page or an interview (which may not always be on a podcast).
I’ve spoken on a few different podcasts and often mention my SEO guide.
When you mention something, the host will put a link on the podcast notes page:
It’s easy to get the links you want once you’re on a podcast. The tough part is getting people to want to talk to you.
Below are a couple of resources that can help you get interviewed.
First, “How to Become the Person Everyone Wants to Interview”, which I wrote a few years ago.
Secondly, refer to tactic #4 of this post, which just about anyone can put into action right away.
Type #7 – Roundup
I also got a few links from expert roundups for this post.
In a typical expert roundup, someone will put the same question to a bunch of “experts” and post all the answers.
I don’t think anyone has ever had a problem with an answer that includes a few links.
Even mid-level bloggers get contacted to do these often, but if you’re not there yet, or want more, you can easily get included.
All you need to do is search for “(niche) expert roundup,” and make a list of all the ones you find.
Then, contact the creators with a message along the lines of:
Subject: Expert roundup on (site)
I saw your expert roundup on (topic) today, and I think it turned out really well (shared on Twitter!).
If you’re planning to do any in the future, I’d love to be included.
I’m a (quick explanation why you’re an expert – include impressive metrics if possible).
Also, let me know if you need a bit of help promoting anything. I’m happy to share a great piece of content.
No hard pitch required. The main thing most roundup creators are looking for are social shares and traffic, and you’re offering to help with that.
Type #8 – Image site
This is an extremely simple link to get, and you don’t even have to create it yourself.
When you create “epic” content, I hope you’re considering design.
And if you are, you’re probably not hiring a cheap designer off Fiverr.
When you hire a talented designer who wants to do great work, they also tend to want to show it off.
For example, many images from my advanced guides have been shown off on these sites. Here’s a page with a link to my advanced guide to SEO.
If you specifically want these kinds of links, you could always encourage your designer to post them around even though they will likely do it on their own.
The great thing about this analysis is that you don’t have to take my word for it. If you have an Ahrefs or Majestic account, you can do this analysis on your own.
And not just for Quick Sprout, but for competitors in your specific niche.
From this analysis, you know the types of links you need to have to rank well, really well, for even competitive searches.
You also know how to get them.
The only thing left to do is go get them and reap the rewards.
Do you have any questions about the analysis or ways of getting each type of link? Leave them below in the comments section.
The Blueprint: The Exact Links Your Blog Needs to Have to Rank Like Quick Sprout