We call it link funnels, a safe, content driven strategy which you can execute yourself.
When you start looking online for “how to create a link building strategy” you’ll find pages and pages of people telling you how to build links, but no-one ever, anywhere will explain to you how to create and document an actual link building strategy and how that ties in with your on-page SEO.
Yes, there’s many ways to build links;
The list goes on but where is the strategy? Which target pages do we point links too? Which anchors? Do you need more on-page content? How much should you spend? Where do you find these links? How do you document the strategy?
Why is no-one talking about this? On-page SEO has plenty of different strategies, tools and templates to follow. Content marketing has the same but why is link building so shrouded in secrecy that no-one wants to share what they’re doing? Or is it because no-one actually knows what they’re doing, they just wing it and hope for the best?
Here at NO-BS we‘ve had the privilege of working with some of the best SEO’s in the world, many of which you’ll know. They include agency owners, consultants, directors, affiliates, and the list goes on. Even though we can’t name names, we can share with you a strategy which makes sense, follows Google’s best practices, creates an epic amount of authority in your niche and won’t just push your biggest keywords but help you rank for thousands of organic keywords, driving more organic traffic than you’ve ever had before.
We created this article to explain the link building methodology we like to call “Link Funnels”. This is what we suggest to our clients when building links to their websites.
First things first, your website needs the foundations so you can execute a link building strategy which adds value to users and reduces the risk of getting a penalty. As a business, you want your sales pages to rank well and drive high intent, bottom of funnel leads to your business. This means you’ll likely have sales pages (or service pages) which are built to convert visitors into leads. These are great for your Google Ads campaign or your Facebook campaign, but terrible for SEO which means you often end up sacrificing your conversion rate to insert more SEO focused content.
Search engines (Google) are less likely to rank the sales/service pages on your website because they generally don’t answer questions of your users. Plus Google is a private enterprise and would also prefer you pay for ads and contribute to the 162 billion dollars it collects each year.
What they do want to do, is take visitors to content which answers their questions, adds value and educates which is why you’ll find so much information online about the importance of creating regular blog content for your site.
HubSpot Director of Acquisition Matthew Barby introduced the world to the pillar and cluster model, which is a terrific way to organise your blog infrastructure and set a good URL hierarchy which gives you a terrific base for building link campaigns.
Basically, you want to identify your main product or service pages. These are your pillars (“Digital Marketing”) then you create articles related to that (“How to Become a Digital Marketer”) which will target longer tail keywords and create topical authority for your site.
You might be wondering what on earth topic clusters have to do with your link building strategy… If you’re paying for links (i.e guest posts) and you’re blatantly pointing them at your pillar page (a sales page), Google will be wondering why the publisher would link to a sales page which adds little value to the reader. Google will possibly assume it’s been paid for then devalue the link.
HOWEVER, if you have a guest post which is pointing to your cluster content and this is relevant to your pillar, you’re improving your topical authority by continuing the theme from your guest post, to your cluster, to your pillar. This doesn’t just increase your topical authority, but you’re more likely to increase your organic keywords and organic traffic by ranking for so many more keywords than you thought possible than by just trying to rank 1 for your sales page.
This also means you’re more likely to capture new top of funnel leads and potentially convert more bottom funnels leads because you’re positioning yourself as an expert in your niche and educating your audience.
Let’s take an in-depth look now into how you can setup a killer link funnel strategy you can utilise.
Link funnels is the method of building topical authority around your pillars and carrying it from the publisher all the way to your sales page. This is sometimes referred to as tiered link building which is when you build links to your links, but we suggest that you continue the theme from your tier 2 link all the way to your pillar content.
Alright let’s get down to the nitty gritty of it.
To successfully pull off this type of strategy you need to build a roadmap of each tier linking to one another. Let’s look at how you can achieve this:
All websites have key service or product pages you’d like to rank for, but which services do you want to build authority around at this period of time? Let’s use a psychology website as an example:
Let’s say you own a psychology website called professional-psychologist.com. Your pillar pages will be your ‘service’ or ‘area of expertise’ pages which may look like:
For this example, let’s say you want to target and rank well for anger management because it’s a new service you’re offering and you want to build more authority around this. This page would be professional-psychologist.com/anger-management.
This will be your pillar page where your link funnel will ultimately point to.
Building your content cluster is based on your pillar page. We’ll use professional-psychologist.com/anger-management as an example.
This page is about anger management services and how the psychologist can help. Because we’re pinpointing anger management services in particular, its then important to make your content cluster surrounding this pillar page also directly related to anger management.
These should be based upon what people are actually searching for around your keyword term – in this case anger management. There are search engine tools like Answer The Public which can help you with this. After adding the term ‘anger management’ into the tool, this is what we got.
Let’s zoom in on a few below
As you can see there’s some great blog ideas you can create for your cluster content based on user search results. For this example, we can use the following for our content cluster:
If you create content clusters around these topics it might look like this: professional-psychologist.com/why-anger-management-is-important.
From this page it would host a link to your service page which is professional-psychologist.com/anger-management
Can you see a pattern forming?
From your content cluster you can then start to build your tiered link funnel strategy back to your content cluster.
Tier 1 links are generally in the form of a guest post published on another website which links directly to your content cluster.
Let’s work off our theme of anger management. The content cluster we’re trying to build links to is professional-psychologist.com/why-anger-management-is-important
So, it makes sense our tier 1 link also needs to be around anger/anger management. Now the trick with building link funnels is to remember we start to broaden the topics we write about in a way where it leaves a roadmap for Google to follow. Your topic should be what people search for before the topic you’re linking to. Confusing right? Let us make it simple.
You have your content cluster: Why Anger Management Is Important
So, what type of content would you be looking at before you looked at a subject like this? Something could be:
Tier 1 Blog Page: Is There A Way To Control My Anger?
This title works because it directly relates to the theme of anger/anger management, plus it also goes in line with a person’s journey to find out about anger and anger management. The URL may look something like this healthsite.com/is-there-a-way-to-control-my-anger
Now it’s important to remember when guest posting on a publisher website you first choose a publisher which is niche relevant. It doesn’t necessarily mean you need to post on a site all about psychology, it’s more you need to post on a site in the health niche which takes psychology related topics. This is key, because a lot of people get this wrong.
Tier 2 links are essentially other guest posts created for external websites which link back to the tier 1 link you’ve just built above. These need to be directly related to the theme of your content cluster in order to work effectively within your strategy.
Let’s look at what we’ve build so far
For our tier 2 links we want to broaden this out more with our guest post topic so it looks natural and adds more value for readers to start at the top of the funnel and work their way to the bottom. For our anger management theme, a good topic for a tier 2 blog would be: Why Am I Angry All The Time?
This may look like: healthyliving1.com/why-am-I-angry-all-the-time
This tier 2 would then link to healthsite.com/is-there-a-way-to-control-my-anger and the progression of links would continue through to your service page.
When linked to tier 2 you can really see the pattern of topics starting to transition together.
Putting It All Together
Now the fun part let’s put all the links together to see what we have. Ultimately the overall goal should look something like this structure.
Here’s the breakdown:
Tier 1: healthsite.com/is-there-a-way-to-control-my-anger
Tier 2: healthyliving1.com/why-am-I-angry-all-the-time
And there you have it, a perfectly created link funnel. This method of link funnels can be transferred to any niche website you have and it might seem like a lot of work but it’s an incredibly safe way to build your website’s authority and drive a tonne more organic traffic your way.
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