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Jan 04, 2022

3 Startup Link Building Strategies That Scale

AUTHOR
author

Nicholas Rubright

EDITOR
author

Nathan Winfrey

If you want to raise massive amounts of money for your startup, you need to prove that your business is designed to scale.

If you’re doing SEO for your startup, that includes building out a scalable link building strategy.

I’ve been doing link building exclusively for five years now and have done it in almost every industry.

Here are three link building strategies that I’ve found can scale for any startup.

1. Guest posting

Guest posting is a very common link building strategy where you reach out to niche websites and bloggers, pitch content ideas, and write the whole article for them with a link to your site inside that article.

Why it’s great for startups

Guest posting works well for startups because, since you’re writing the article, you have control of the link placement, destination, and anchor text, which give you full control over the link.

If you land well-written guest posts on authoritative domains, this means you can pass lots of link equity to pages that are generally difficult to build links to, like product or sales pages.

For startups, guest posting is an effective way to quickly bump up the rankings of key pages that are important to your goals.

How to do it

I’ve written a detailed guide about how we scale guest posting outreach, but I’ll cover the process briefly here.

Step 1. Write your outreach template

With guest posting, the key to scalability is in writing the outreach template before finding your outreach targets.

Writing the outreach template first in an open-ended way means you can then go and find prospects that fit the template instead of having to customize your emails so heavily for each prospect.

Here’s a template you can start with, but try and customize it to the interests of bloggers in your niche.

Step 2. Find your prospects

Google has already crawled the entire internet, so it makes sense to use them to find outreach targets at scale.

Google lets us use quotation marks to force it to find exact strings of text on a page. Because of this, you can leverage search strings like these to find sites that accept guest posts already:

  • your_keyword “write for us”
  • your_keyword “guest blog”
  • your_keyword “guest post”
  • your_keyword “submit an article”
  • your_keyword “submit a guest post”
  • your_keyword “contribute guest post”
  • your_keyword “contribute to our blog”
  • your_keyword “become a guest blogger”
  • your_keyword “guest blogging guidelines”
  • your_keyword “contributor guidelines”
  • your_keyword “send a tip”
  • your_keyword “guest post by”
  • your_keyword “guest author”
  • your_keyword “editorial guide”

From there, just go through the list of sites and pick out the ones that publish legitimately helpful content. These are the ones Google is going to value the most, regardless of domain authority.

Step 3. Send your outreach emails

Startups are all about automation. Here are a few startup-friendly outreach tools to consider that my contacts and I have used:

  • Mailshake: Mostly built for sales, but a lot of freelance link builders use this tool. We use it on many of our accounts. It does exactly what it needs to and is extremely easy for new users to follow.
  • Ninja Outreach: Primarily designed for influencer outreach, which is very similar to link building outreach. A good option to consider.
  • Woodpecker: Very similar to Mailshake, but a lot more customizable in how you can send (you can send based on the prospect’s time zone, for example).

Just load up your prospect list, set up your outreach template, and schedule your emails to go out on autopilot.

Step 4. Pitch to responders

When bloggers respond to your outreach and accept your request to send ideas, you can use Ahrefs to run a content gap analysis to find guest post ideas in any niche at scale.

Content-gap

From here, you can plug these keywords into Google to find SEO-focused headline ideas that bloggers love. Just don’t copy them exactly. Write something unique.

If you need less generic ideas than those showing up in the search results, try running the “Perfect Headline” tool from Jarvis with your keyword in the “Product description” box.

Jarvis-headline-maker

When you pick a headline to pitch, make sure they’re similar in type to other headlines on their site.

Step 5. Write the content and get it published

There are no shortcuts here. If you’re going to get published on big sites and earn authoritative backlinks from guest posting, you need to produce content worth publishing.

Many SEO agencies, link builders, and higher-ups under-invest in content, which hurts their guest posting campaign performance.

Rejected content is just burned money, so by getting it right the first time, you make sure you’re driving ROI for your work.

At scale, good content comes down to hiring amazing writers. We’ve hired all of ours on Upwork. Here’s a sample job post we’ve recently used:

Upwork

When you screen for candidates, ask for content samples that they got published on third party sites. If other editors accepted their content, your guest post prospects likely will too.

2. The Skyscraper Technique

The Skyscraper Technique is a link building campaign popularized by Brian Dean that involves “stealing” links from inferior content assets online.

Why it’s great for startups

Content outreach campaigns like these are scalable because they follow a repeatable process.

  • Find link-worthy content ideas.
  • Make something even better.
  • Reach out to the people linking to the now inferior version of your new content.

While these don’t help you build backlinks to specific pages, they do help improve your domain’s overall authority, which can help improve the position of your content across the SERPs with strategic internal linking.

How to do it

Brain Dean covers the process entirely in this video.

While the skyscraper technique still works with blog content, I’ve found that because it’s so popular, it’s tough to make this kind of outreach campaign really stand out.

For our clients, we’ve seen the skyscraper technique work much more effectively when paired with tools rather than written content.

The best part of using tools is that your outreach buckets can be extremely deep.

For example, look how many sites are linking to these mortgage calculators:

Calculator links

So rather than building out a written piece of content, build something on your site and pitch that out.

It doesn’t have to be expensive with the software out there that can help.

Building something that stands out does involve more upfront investment, but you’ll get more success from your outreach.

3. Product lists

Product lists are just that. Lists of products, tools, apps, services, etc. that people are usually looking for when they’re trying to buy something.

Why it’s great for startups

These pages have built-in buyer intent. Even if you have to pay for the links, it might be worth it just for the targeted referral traffic.

How to do it

List outreach is pretty straightforward. I did it successfully before I even knew what link building was.

You can pretty easily find lists in Google by searching for “best” with your product type.

Best-seo-agencies

If you aren’t finding many lists that feature your type of product, try looking at what type of content contains links to your competitors’ products.

For example, if you’re building a music streaming app, you could use Ahrefs to see what content Spotify is featured in.

Just check the referring domains on Ahrefs that go to the homepage, and filter linking pages for terms like “best” or “top” to find lists more easily.

Find-lists

This can help you brainstorm unique ideas for finding lists that your product might be a fit for.

From there, send each of the sites a pitch for your product.

It’s tough to provide an effective outreach template for you here because every product is different.

For guidance on writing your outreach email, check out this guest post I wrote for Sales Hacker about writing sales emails. The makeup of a link building email is very similar to that of a sales email.

Conclusion

In our link building agency, the above strategies are the exact ones we use for our startup clients.

That’s because they can be repeated pretty much forever and continue to result in link placements.

Once you’ve figured out which of these work for your startup, you can outsource your link building when it’s something you don’t want to think about anymore.

Have you found any link building strategies that are effective for startups? Let us know in the comments below! 👇

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