Written by Dale Cudmore on 10.01.2018
How Do You Scale White Hat Link Building Without Sacrificing Quality? ?
When I built my first white hat link, I was over the moon.
I built a few more, and my page was ranking for a low competition term.
Life was great.
From here, it would just be a matter of doing the same for my other pages, and I’d be set…right?
Well, I did some basic calculations, and based on those initial links, I could only build a few a day. That means I’d spend months or years getting the amount of links and traffics I wanted.
Thankfully there’s a solution that allows you to scale link building. You can build more links, with less of your own time, and at a lower cost.
This post is a high level look at scaling link building, but I’ll leave you with actionable steps each part of the way to help you get started.
1. Sanity Check: Is This Method Even Potentially Scalable?
The good news is that most white-hat link methods are scalable.
Even with methods that require a personal touch are often scalable.
But certain things are not scalable. If something absolutely requires your involvement for a long period of time, it is not scalable.
For example, maybe your link building method involves flying across the country to meet someone in person, spending time with them, and then asking for a link. That’s a bit extreme, but every step in that process requires your involvement, and a lot of time.
Just do a quick check here that most of the work needed can be automated or hired out. All “standard” white hat link building methods are scalable, but this is particularly important if you’ve come up with a creative technique.
2. Create a Process: Break Everything Down Into Simple Steps
Processes = scale.
The best marketers all recognize the power that a great process (sometimes called system) has. You follow the process, and you get a consistent, high quality result.
It’s something that chain businesses do to produce expected results for customers. McDonald’s has a process for taking orders, making burgers, managing inventory, and everything else.
But many marketers are scared of processes.
They want to use all their knowledge and creativity to approach every link target with a custom approach. But this is not scalable, and it sure isn’t efficient.
Yes, anyone could execute your process if you make a solid one, but not everyone has the knowledge to make a good process. That’s where you should be focusing your knowledge and experience.
Processes will help you identify inefficient steps, and lead to opportunities for improvements. You’ll get a better conversion rate, and can actually scale (whether it’s link building or some other task).
How You Create a Process, Step-By-Step
In general, any process can be made by:
- Breaking down the necessary steps.
- Deciding which ones need your personal involvement.
- Determining how to hire for the rest or automate.
- Creating a detailed procedure for each step that is outsourced.
Here’s a great example from Authority Hackers of what a process for creating blog content might look like:
You always need to start by recording yourself going through the entire process yourself.
Then you break it down into simple chunks. Very few people may have all of your skills that allow you to do the whole process, but it’s easy to hire and train someone to do one specific task (like find link opportunities).
Let’s get a little more specific. Most white hat link building processes will consist of 4 or so main steps, each with their own sub-process:
- Picking what kind of links you’re targeting.
- Finding link opportunities (prospecting).
- Reaching out to see if you can obtain a link (outreach).
- Creating relevant content if needed.
3. You Have 2 Options: Hire or Automate As Much As Possible
The way you scale is by removing yourself from the process as much as you can.
You can still put final touches on things, but in general, the less you’re needed, the more you can scale.
For each part of your process, you have 2 main options, depending on how much you’d like to be involved.
If You Still Want to Be Involved, and Do It Yourself as Much as Possible
If you’re not keen on hiring, you have no choice but to automate.
Some of this you can do yourself if you’re a programmer, otherwise you have to hope that there’s a good SEO tool for your specific need.
Backlinko’s huge list of SEO tools is a great place to check. Here are some common needs that tools can fill:
- Outreach: Pitchbox, Outreach Plus, Buzzstream
- Link opportunity finder: Detailed, HARO, LinkMiner
- Content creation: Canva, Airtable, Contently
If You Want to Be Involved as Little as Possible
Ideally, on top of automating what is possible, you also hire people to fulfill each individual sub-process.
You have 3 main options, all with their own pros and cons:
- Freelancers – The cheapest option, but you’ll also have to spend time finding, vetting, and managing them.
- Services – Businesses that specialize in one specific process or sub-process (e.g. guest posting). They are often really good at what they do because of this. The only real con is that you may have limited control over the process at that point, which may or may not be an issue.
- Agencies – The most expensive option, but they have their own trained team to do entire processes themselves. Some agencies deliver amazing results, while others are shady.
All 3 options can help you scale, but you’ll want to do your research to find a freelancer or company that is reputable and deliver results of similar quality to your own.
4. Review and Optimize Your Process Until It’s Perfect
The worst thing you can do is to create a process, spend a bunch of money hiring people or businesses, and try to build hundreds of links.
Because when you make your initial process, there will always be things that come up after that you didn’t consider.
On top of that, once you lay out the entire process, you’ll start to see inefficiencies. Fixing these will improve your return on investment (ROI).
So here’s how you should begin to iterate with your process:
- Measure your initial ROI doing everything yourself. Create your initial process while doing this.
- Automate or hire for a single part of your process.
- Follow the process for a small batch of work (say <50 link prospects).
- Fix any gaps in your process or inefficiencies that come up. Again, measure your ROI. Revise that subprocess until your ROI stays the same or improves.
- Automate or hire for the next step, and repeat the process.
- When you’re achieving a good level of performance for small campaigns, scale up.
Always be measuring your results so you know what is and isn’t working. You should always be testing and tweaking different parts of your sub-processes until you’re happy with the results.
Final Things To Think About
Creating a solid process is a lot of work. In the end it looks simple, but that’s only because you spent so much time optimizing it.
But it’s worth it.
A great process will remove you from all (or most) of the grunt work so that you can focus on higher ROI tasks, while also acquiring more links than you ever did before.
After the process is built, it’s simply a matter of investing a bit more (in tools or hiring), and the amount of links you build will explode.
If you have any questions, just leave a comment below and I’ll try to help.