Link Building: How Is It Done and Why Do You Need It

Home Link Building: How Is It Done and Why Do You Need It
Any successful SEO includes building inbound links (from other websites to yours), which leads to organic traffic to your website. The practice of obtaining other websites to connect to a page on your own website in order to gain a higher ranking on the SERPs is referred to as link building in SEO. Because search engines prioritize quality over number, obtaining a few high-quality connections is more significant than obtaining dozens of low-quality or spammy links. The key to obtaining authority sites to connect to your site or blog is to regularly create relevant, high-quality material that is organically shared, commented on, and linked to. When Google sees your material linked on other websites, it understands that your brand is deserving of further attention. As a consequence, your website will appear higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). While connecting to well-known websites won't automatically propel you to the top of the search results, it will assist since a competent webmaster which is the person in charge of site content monitors who is sending traffic to his or her site. If one of these webmasters visits your site and discovers relevant, superior material that would benefit their audience, they will almost certainly ask if they may republish your pieces. They may even ask whether you'd be prepared to enable them to publish a guest post if they discover you have connections with other influencers in a similar market or business. Link building is less about SEO and more about relationships after all.

Lead Generation Is A Clear Benefit Of Guest Blogging

benefit of guest blogging

Blogging allows you to be like Coke. Coca-Cola knows if they want to distribute their sugary drinks to as many people as possible, they need to use other people’s platforms to access their customers. Without a distribution network to supermarkets and stores, Coca-Cola can’t scale. It’s the same for your content. Lead generation is a clear benefit of guest blogging.

You can rely on your current network and current subscribers, or you can take advantage of those who have bigger audiences. By writing great content, distributing it to the right places — you can access millions of potential customers/subscribers/lovers/trolls who currently don’t know how fantastic you and your company are.

Maybe you’re thinking guest posting is a minefield, a waste of time — or just something you can’t do? Well, after some detailed research, we found some case studies with very positive results.

e.g. the Startup that generated 100,000 users from an aggressive guest posting strategy, or the man who generated 1,000 email subscribers from one guest post. 

So here’s our complete guide to Guest Blogging: Who to approach, how to approach them, and how to maximize your leads and results if they say yes. But before we start getting into the benefit of guest blogging, it’s important you realize:

Guest posting is HARD — it takes a long time to produce something that is suitable for another blog — you have to outreach and then you have to maximize your results. 

You don’t have to be a big name — we’ll see how relative unknowns now have columns in leading online magazines. You can work your way up the ladder — you can’t go straight to writing for Wired, but you CAN get there if write well and distribute in the right places. The results are exceptional if you do hang in there.

From startups who grew solely based on Guest Posting to those who have received consulting and other writing opportunities — you’ll find out how they did it all, below. So let’s start with some case studies of successful guest posting.

100,000 Signups To An SAAS Business By Guest Blogging

Buffer’s Leo Wildrich credits consistently guest blogging for 9 months with driving over 100,000 signups to the company. Using tools like BloggerLinkup — Leo found places to post who wanted great content. Leo is a content MACHINE and has written over 800 posts. Due to his vast experience, crammed into a few years — he can create an 800 word, high-quality post in around an hour or two which drives a huge amount of traffic to the site.

Writing online for Fast Company — he knows just how his metrics work and the estimated number of subscribers for a certain site:

“[Since we] have a 2% conversion from free to pay, that means we get two people paying. What do two people paying mean? Well, we have a lifetime value per user of roughly $250. So that means every article we write equals $500.”

—Leo Wildrich 

It’s a great position for the company to be in, to know that if they write x number of quality words, for y site — they will generate $500. Buffer has now turned into a content leader and is consistently creating high-quality content, building on the solid foundation Leo built. They are a clear example of how you can benefit from guest blogging. More from Buffer, later on.

Generate 36,733 Email Subscribers Using Guest Blogging

Gregory Ciotti blogged to generate users for HelpScout achieved this, including an impressive 9,000 subscribers in 9 weeks to bring in 36,733 email subscribers. His recommendations:

  • Ensure you have a solid CTA (more on these later)
  • Choose the right subjects through solid research — Repurpose existing content to avoid ‘burnout’

Guest Blogging brings 70% of traffic to a site

Asif Dilshad from regularly guest posts –and it brings 70% of the traffic to his site.

Asif calculates the value of a post for him by considering how much it would cost to advertise: He calculates 1–2 hours of writing can provide him with a permanent article on a prominent site that can drive visits and leads his way in the future.

And if you look at his traffic in a chart, you’ll see the spikes in traffic once he has written a guest post, gaining around an average of 1,000+ views from a successful guest post. Assuming Asif has a good way to capture and convert visitors into leads — it makes commercial sense to guest blog like Asif.

One Guest Post — 700 Visitors In One Day And One Client

Chris Street writes regularly and was impressed with a post he published on As well as a huge number of shares, Chris received 700 website visitors in just one day from the post — and subsequently a new client on a 6-month retainer.

An impressive result from a few hours of work and selecting the right medium (Chris chose Social Media Today as it receives 1 million views per month).

Over 30,000 Hits From 5 Guest Posts

GrooveHQ produces a superb weekly blog about their growth story (currently on their way to £100,000 revenue per month) Alex writes frequently on his own blog about the growth of the company — it’s honest, transparent, and enlightening. His results from guest posting were very impressive.

Groove Approached blogs like Buffer, Kissmetrics, Onstartup, Shopify, and angelhacks — who have a combined audience of over 1 million. Later on, we’ll talk through Buffer’s outreach strategy and how they reap the benefit of guest blogging.

Hundreds Of Visitors Every Month From An Old Guest Post

Peep Laja runs the impressive Conversion XL blog. It’s a wonderful blog and they always produce very high-quality content, backed by real data and research. Peep regularly gets more than 100,000 hits on his blog a month — and credits a number of these visits from guest posts on OkDork, Smashing magazine, Censtationgirl, and Peep continues to drive hundreds of visits monthly from an old article on Smashing Magazine.

‘Guest posts are essentially high-quality advertisements. If you want readers to check out your blog and start following your stuff, you need an epic guest post. Writing epic posts is of course hard work, which is why you should avoid writing for small blogs. The ROI is going to be much smaller if you do that, not worth it.’

— Peep Laja

444 Visits From A Guest Post

Brian Dean is one of my favorite experts at generating traffic — and in a video on Quicksprout, he gives away just how many visits he received from a guest post: and that number clocks in at 444. — converting in 71 subscribers.

Brian’s a fairly high-profile guy and always writes very high-quality content.

With Quicksprout clocking in over 500,000 visitors a month, it’s a great place to get exposure. We’re surprised the referrals aren’t higher– but we think that’s because Brian didn’t adopt any of the impressive ‘expanded guest post’ techniques (see below).

One Guest Post For 1,000 Subscribers

Nathan Barry is a prolific writer who creates gorgeous, valuable books on a number of subjects. Nathan can be found guest posting at various sites — one of his most successful guest posts has to be one that was written for Smashing Magazine.

It generated over 1,000 subscribers for his email list (his primary source for generating sales) 

Hundreds Of New Signups From Every Guest Post

David Arnoux is co-founder of Twoodo — a SAAS tool that improves teamwork. In a revealing post on his blog, David outlined some of his hits and misses from guest blogging. He hasn’t always been able to enjoy the benefit of guest blogging, but he’s learned from experience.

After some initial mistakes, they started to regularly land guest posts, and after a few months, they had the opportunity to write for The Next Web. The hard work paid off — each post on The Next Web regularly generates them 3,000 website hits — and around 100 trial subscribers after every single post!

David has a similar approach to most — encouraging well-thought-out approaches and research. The team at Twoodo mapped out their ‘customer’ personas to the sites they thought about writing for:

Lessons learned, in David’s words:

“Our major lesson was that “content is king” is for those who are established authorities on subjects. In order to maximize our visibility in search results, we also started to apply better SEO tactics, but without ruining the content.”

— David Arnoux

Relationship-building takes time and consistency, and there is absolutely no shortcut to that. Accept that there will be many hit-and-misses at the beginning. Eventually, you need to decide on whether you will write one article for multiple blogs or become a regular contributor to a few blogs. Use metrics to track where the most conversions are coming from!

You need to decide what goes on your own blog and what gets placed on other blogs — does the best stay or go? It’s worth the effort.

Generate 1,038 Website Visits In 2 Months

Coschedule produced a lengthy, detailed guide on guest blogging. Greg Digneo analyzed his 25 most important lessons learned from guest blogging — and found one of them to be writing for sites that have a high comment to share ratio.

You’ll note that Greg has some sizeable referral sources on the list — such as Kissmetrics, and Social media examiner. Greg pointed out the traffic from Boost Blog Traffic, provided the most referrals when he wrote it — primarily because the audience is very engaged, with a lot of comments per article. This knowledge shows the power of writing for smaller, lesser-known sites as well as big names online.

Even some of the biggest brands online syndicate and author guest content on other sites — they know the true value of reaching another medium’s readership.

Getting Started — Finding Places To Guest Post

Before you can ever see the benefit of guest blogging, you need to actually find websites to accept your posts.

  1. Greg from Coschedule recommends using Twitter’s advanced search:
    In the “All of these words” field, enter the niche that you want to write for. In the “This exact phrase” field, enter the words “write for us”
  2. Use a variety of google searches to find great places to blog.
    Brian Dean provides a comprehensive list of ways to find guest posts.
  3. Engage with those who comment on your current articles — see if you can write for them or on their site.
  4. David from Twoodo recommends using the following resources to find guest posting — you’ll find those that have an engaged audience, but might be an easier target for guest posting.

If you find 50 sites to guest post on, you certainly can’t be sure all of them will give you any decent leads or links. This is why it’s important to filter. Brian from Backlinko recommends filtering the sites as follows. 

Run through each one and note if the following apply:

  • Does the site have an authoritative link profile
  • Is the content related to your site
  • Does the site only post high quality content
  • Does the site have a real following
  • Can it bring you targeted traffic (use Alexa to find out their traffic rank)
  • Make sure they won’t bury your link in an author bio area far below your content
  • Ensure they have a significant amount of Twitter followers and Facebook fans

Relevancy Is Better That Traffic

If you appear on Huffington Post — it’s great for exposure and to land more opportunities — but Neil Patel points out it’s better to be on a site with a relevant, laser-targeted audience. That is, if you want the benefit, you better be guest blogging on a relevant website. Neil has more success in places like, where there is a large number of eager readers, all relevant and engaged on the same subject.

How To Decide What To Post

Deciding on what to post can mean n the difference between a lukewarm reception and a guest post that drives a significant amount of traffic and leads to your business. So how do you ensure what you are writing will resonate with the audience?

Let’s see what the experienced bloggers have to say:

Gregory Ciotti

Focus on the two most important types of articles when guest blogging. This will allow the maximum benefit.

Work out which posts are highly mentioned. Use a tool like Open Site Explorer to see which pages on the site have the most links:

  • Go to Open Site Explorer
  • Enter the domain Click on ‘Top pages’
  • You’ll see what pages are highly shared and linked to.

Find out what the author pushes. A lot of bloggers or places will have their best / most popular content in the sidebar — take advantage of this.

If you know a site’s most shared and linked content — you can plan articles around the subject to ensure you maximize your opportunity in front of the site’s readers. Having a successful, shared post also gives you leverage for other sites.

Use Data To Add Credibility

Gregory Ciotti agrees with Leo on using data in your posts and linking to resources. There is too much information on the internet which is just conjecture and assumptions on what might work for a market. There is no benefit of guest blogging if readers view the content as nonsense. Gregory agrees that data adds huge credibility to a post.

Even if nobody clicks on links to your original data sources, it lets the reader know you have researched your position and puts you a step above posts that are simply opinions.

Getting The Post — Outreach That Works

Now you know the potential benefits of Guest Posting, let’s check out some templates from those who have tried this. As you’ll see most have a similar theme, but we wanted to show which ones are recommended by the pros. Pick one, research, and then start your outreach:

If You Have A Warm Intro

This is from the guys at Groove, who recommend always trying to get a warm intro. Their advice on reaching out to those you would like to guest post for:

  • Put effort into generating a warm lead.
    Alex recommends a simple engagement strategy which worked well for them in order to engage with influencers. Which are just 7 steps to being more engaged with someone!
  • Put their blog first — what benefit will THEY receive from the site.
  • Validate yourself — point out who are, why they should want you to guest post.
  • Put a call to action in the email — e.g. ‘can I send you the post for review’ is better than ‘let me know if that sounds of interest’

What The Publisher Looks For

Ramit Sethi is a powerful force in the world of online marketing. He’s written a New York Times Bestseller and writes very high-quality content for his subscribers. In his blog, Ramit was looking for someone to guest post on his site. Helpfully, he came up with the sort of email he’d like to have on his site and pasted it for all to see.

It’s high on providing validation in the opening paragraph and ensuring that the content is relevant to the site owner.

A ‘battle Tested Email’ From Backlinko

Brian Dean always develops high-quality content — due to his step-by-step tactics In his post on guest blogging, he revealed one of his most successful outreach emails. Brian loves this approach because:

  • Starts off with something specific about THEIR SITE
  • Short and sweet (aim for 150 words or less)
  • Gives them specific topics to choose from (less work for them)
  • Soft sell
  • Touches on your experience and published work

The Email That Led To 200,000 + Views

Gregory from Sparring Mind runs through his rules for an outreach email, allowing us to realize the benefit of guest blogging.

  • Straightforward Subject — you have to sell them on opening the email first, before you even get to sell the idea of a guest post.
  • Brief Personal Greeting — Dear Sir, I was born in England, went to University…….. is not as near as good as a brief intro.
  • Genuine Context — Explain why you are reaching and add a bit of flattery (note, if you can’t find a reason to flatter the person you are writing to, then perhaps their site isn’t the right place for your work.)
  • The Desired Goal — Explain that you would like to write for the site — don’t dilly dally or skirt around the issue.
  • The Persuasive Pitch — Work out WHY this will be beneficial for the site owner — explain why you are the best person to guest post on their site.
  • The Close — You don’t need a signature with 10,000 social media icons and stats at the bottom. You should have validated yourself in the email, so you don’t need to brag about the number of twitter followers in a footer.

Try, Try Again

Don’t expect success after the first time around. You can only expect to see any benefit from guest blogging if you add patience. If you’ve done any form of sales in your life, you’ll know that when prospecting, it’s all about the follow–up.

It’s the same in email outreach. To maximize the results of your outreach, you need to follow up consistently. That’s the data from James Agate on Moz. After approaching a large number of potential guest post opportunities for their clients — they found that of the successful posts they landed, around 33% were on the second or third email to the client.

A smart, simple follow-up in the same style as the initial approach, is worth the minimal amount of effort it takes, rather than just taking ‘no answer’ as a ‘no’. Don’t bombard or continually spam the recipient — but do tactfully follow-up to increase your chances of engagement.

The I’m A Fan Approach:

Sapph Li has provided some great resources for emailing in numerous scenarios. By pitching a few ideas — it gives you a greater chance of acceptance, than simply sending one fully complete article.

Another suspect from above Garrett Moon writes and promotes Coschedule. In his post on guest blogging, he revealed he’ll often approach sites that don’t promote guest blogging opportunities. In his email to Ash Maura from Practice Trumps Theory, he used a simple template that highlighted the benefit of his posts for Ash’s readers. Garrett’s rules:

  • Know who you want to target
  • Know They Want You To Provide Them With Value
  • Prove That You Aren’t Crazy
  • Always Include Links
  • Always Include An Idea
  • Short Is Good, Except When It Isn’t (i.e. he doesn’t like a 2 sentence email which tries to elicit a response)
  • Be A Human, Not a Template
  • Simple research makes a hit

Jess Ostroff from Convince and Convert explained in a post how a managing editor had to sift through a barrage of pitches that didn’t hit the mark. From the opening line, she could tell they’d done their homework:

  1. She’d gone to the about page and found Jess.
  2. She had visited her twitter profile and copied the line ‘chronic wanderer’ from there.
  3. She had visited Jess’s About.Me page and saw that Jess was living in South Florida for a short time, and then located to New York City.

All the above information had been packed into an opening that stood out a mile from other approaches (just make sure you don’t look like a stalker when you write a post like this).

From The Guy Who Gets Pitched Lots

Sean Ogle from Location 180 receives a lot of guest post pitches. He’s the one giving out the benefit of guest blogging. And like most people — he finds the majority of pitches are spammy and completely miss the mark. The advice from Sean:

Create As Much Rapport As Possible

  • Engage with them on Twitter
  • Comment on the blog
  • Start an email conversation before you ask for a guest post opportunity.

If Possible — Be Their Best Case Study

If you have taken the writer’s advice — then point that out in your email — it’s wonderful for a writer to hear his action has provided real results for people.

Give Them Options Like Others

Sean recommends providing options before you write that 10,000-word blog post on something they might not like. 

Systemise Your Approaches

  • Follow the editors on Twitter
  • Send a follow up email the next day
  • Use Yesware to track opens

If the follow-up email is confirmed as opened, follow up with a tweet to the editor. The follow-up can make a difference to your chance of acceptance.

How To Maximize Leads And Website Links From Your Guest Post

Respond To Every Comment

Neil Patel advises engaging on every single comment made — to ensure you are maximizing your interaction and increasing the change of a user re-promoting your site. This ensures you gain the maximum possible benefit from guest blogging.

Hone Your Byline To Increase Clicks

Gregory used this tactic on Copyblogger to generate leads to his blog.

His structure: ‘It consists of 3 elements:

  • Closing subheading: Let people know that the article is done and it’s their turn to do something. We typically use “Over to You” or “It’s Your Turn.”
  • Ask a question: Creating two bullet points, you should use the first one to ask a simple question that relates to what you wrote about.
  • Place a small CTA: In the second bullet point, offer the readers a way to “get more” with a simple CTA, such as a download from your site.

Make The Readers Feel Special For A Higher ROI

Alex from GrooveHQ managed to convert a percentage of visitors to subscribers using a targeted landing page such as below for copyblogger. This is a fairly simple technique to use and will ensure that those who visit your site from the guest post will feel continuity and are less likely to bounce.

Use The Expanded Guest Post For Maximum Conversions

Bryan Harris created a fantastic guide on how to generate more leads from a guest post. His approach shows how Greg from Mobile Mixed managed to generate more leads from a blog with a lot fewer visitors.

Greg posted to both Convince and Convert and Productivityist. You’d expect more leads from C&C, right? Well, Productivityist generated 100 x the email subscribers. How? He offered something of value in his blog. This led the visitors to his blog to download a video, in exchange for their email address. It’s certainly something worth exploring — and it doesn’t have to be a video, it could be an article, a checklist, or even a download of the blog post.

Long Term Guest Blogging — The Benefits

Once you’ve had a few successes, there’s no need to stop, you can really maximize your success by continuing to guest post and work on your blog. There is truly a benefit to guest blogging over a longer period of time.

‘I remember when I first started guest-posting, I would publish my articles on any site that would accept them such as the American Express blog. After months of doing this, I wasn’t generating any signups and felt frustrated. Luckily, I learned how to make guest-posting a profitable channel. You too can do well at guest-posting. You just have to give it time and continually modify your approach until it becomes profitable.’

— Wise words from a master of online marketing, Neil Patel.

His experience and analysis of several prolific guests show that he places a lot of faith in the subject. Neil gave the example of Jason DeMers who was approached by Cisco for advice, who posted for 6 months on places like Forbes and Huffington Post.

Measure Your ROI To Ensure You Are Posting In The Right Places

Further to Brian Dean’s results, he created a detailed video on how to measure the ROI of your guest blogging. His advice:

  • Check through the google analytics for visits and referrals on the site
  • Check if there is an increase in organic search on
  • Calculate an increase in the number of twitter/Facebook followers in the first 2 weeks after the post
  • See if your Klout score has increased
  • Look on google webmaster tools to see if there is an increase in branded searches for your name/company/brand

Syndicate Once You’ve Taken Off Your Training Wheels

If you do churn out content, then manage to get it syndicated by leading publishers — the benefits are enormous. In May 2014, Buffer generated an impressive 1,160,520 page views. From their republishing efforts — they generated 949 new conversions to Buffer!

Gregory Ciotti also succeeded in syndication:

  • Gregory requested some bigger site to syndicate his content, which worked for LifeHacker, Fast Company and Bufferapp
  • Self syndicate — use sites like Quora (Gregory received 30,000 views on a post republished there)
  • Repost on medium (one of Gregory’s posts received thousands of views after becoming an editor’s pick)
  • Repurposing an article on Slideshare led to 130,000 views.

The key takeaways are:

  • Select where is the most appropriate based on your content and experience
  • Remember that audience engagement and relevant is better than size
  • Spend time researching the right type of post to write
  • Make sure you include data to give authority
  • Outreach with style and personalisation
  • Use the byline, an expanded guest post or personalised landing page to maximise leads and subscribers from your efforts
  • Continually test and improve
  • Blog consistenly for 6 months + for syndication and revenue opportunities

Remember, everyone started somewhere.

Links Are Still the #1 Driving Factor Behind Page Quality Rating

page quality ranking

Consumers normally consider three factors that make up an external search (ability, motivation, costs versus benefits) simultaneously. Content quality, content amount, and website information are all factors in your Page Quality Rating. Mobile search is outshining desktop search. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly so users can easily navigate your site from their phone, especially if you are a small, local business. By adjusting the title we help Google to understand the relevance between the landing page, the ad, and the phrase. In fact, there is a certain amount of value in simply appearing in search results for terms directly related to your business.

How Do You Feel About Local Search Now?

You can also buy domain name misspellings to capture any lost traffic and improve your page quality rating. The millennial generation garners the most advertising dollars. Don’t write only for the purpose of getting a dofollow backlink. Remember the rule that a link is good when it sends traffic. Sometimes, websites that use nofollow links for guest authors will be more valuable for your business. As they prepare campaigns, advertisers make decisions regarding the appropriate mix of media. When they are indexing websites, the search engines’ bots scan every one of a site’s URLs and look for the starting points of the topics that are covered. They also browse the HTML code for metadata such as particular tags or markups, so that they can determine the relevance of individual pages to particular subjects.

Think About ROI From The Start

Doing so is analogous to learning division longhand before you start using a calculator! Anchor texts can also be misused by third parties, such as Google Bombing, to damage the reputation of another website. These can be a great way to structure content within the content itself, rather than relying completely on the web page’s presentation. Why use Pinterest marketing? When you have high-quality, valuable content that is targeted for keywords you know your audience uses, you have a perfect opportunity for search engine marketing (SEM). Prevent duplicate content. Don’t confuse Google with almost similar pages. Those serve no one.

Learning About Domain Authority

According to SEO Consultant, Gaz Hall: “Search engine crawlers and indexing programs are basically software programs. These programs are extraordinarily powerful. They crawl hundreds of billions of web pages, analyze the content of all these pages, and analyze the way all these pages link to each other.” Gone are the days of keyword stuffing for page quality rating. Sentences actually need to make sense now. Optimize your website by ensuring that any published content is easy to read and digest. Natural keyword inclusion is acceptable, but make the readers your first priority, not the keywords. If your already-designed website is not mobile-friendly, it may be quite costly to make the site responsive. Responsive is the term for a website’s ability to adapt visually and operationally to a variety of dimensions and properly display on various handheld devices. Technically speaking, it is possible to design sites on either platform with the same functionality. You should use large header tags and take advantage of CSS to alter these to fit into the style and color scheme of your page. If you are using software such as Microsoft SharePoint Designer/FrontPage or Adobe Dreamweaver for example, these CSS details are created automatically for you. A solution that is also perhaps advisable is to make your CSS an external file; this way there is no need to repeat all of your CSS statements on each page, but simply just one.

A Few Words On Social Media

As machine learning evolves, along with hardware, detecting sentiment should gain importance over time. The problem may lie in the fact that by fluke sometimes the websites begin to get good rankings but these rankings don’t last. Different variations of this method abound. Low believability and negative consumer attitudes constitute the potential downside of comparative ads. . If your site has thousands or even millions of pages, hand-crafting description meta tags probably isn’t feasible. In this case, you could automatically generate description meta tags based on each page’s content.

There are numerous benefits to dedicated server hosting when it comes to page quality rating. The output of the monitoring phase is sets of data, typically organized in monthly report summaries. How does a new website start ranking? Does it just magically appear in Google after you’ve launched it? What things do you have to do to start ranking in Google and get traffic from the search engines? Deception is never the basis of a sound business strategy. Search Engine Optimization is the process of designing web pages, writing content, and building a network of links back to your website in order to rank at the top of a google search results page. The goal is to bring your page in front of your target market. This kind of search traffic is known as ‘organic’ and it is the most desirable google traffic because it’s FREE! (well unless you are paying a blog content writer!)

How to Reverse Engineer SEO Success

How to Reverse Engineer SEO Success

How to Reverse Engineer SEO Success? Google’s traffic estimates are for Google AdWords users, not bloggers. There are (supposedly) 200 ranking factors to keep in mind.

Then there are multiple updates Google uses that come and go that could mess everything up. But by using search engine math, you can hope to simplify SEO and get a quick idea of the fewest steps to rank content faster in Google.

How to Reverse Engineer SEO Success – What is Search Engine Math?

Search engine math is a simple formula to learn how to increase your return on investment from SEO.

SEO falls under three categories:

  • On-page SEO (or content optimization).
  • Off-page SEO (or link building).
  • Technical SEO (or all SEO activities excluding content optimization and link building.

According to the law of diminishing returns, eventually you will receive less value for the same amount of work you put in.

For example, let’s say it takes five workers to build a car in ten hours and ten workers to build a car in five hours. You might assume adding an 11th worker would increase production at an equal rate. But this doesn’t account for problems that come when the workers get in the way of each other.

Here’s how this applies to SEO: Would an additional 100 outreach emails to get five links help your article rank better in Google? Would it be worth the time to write another guest post? Or should you move on to something else?
SEO math seeks to answer these questions by estimating what the optimal way to grow your site is.

Let’s begin with the assumptions of SEO math – How to Reverse Engineer SEO Success.

1. Your content quality is equal, if not better than the competition.

The goal of content marketing is to solve a problem that your potential customer has. As a result, your content needs to be both thorough and useful in answering their problems.

There is no easy way to measure which content is the best. To make things worse when comparing content quality, the IKEA effect can get you to think your content is better than it actually is.

Therefore, while content quality is important to ranking in search, SEO math does not take this factor into consideration.

2. Your site’s page speed is equal, if not better than the competition.

Source: Left Digital Media

When asked the question how to reverse engineer SEO success, page speed is one of the few ranking signals Google states it uses to rank your site.

Even if it wasn’t a ranking signal, a slow site makes for a bad customer experience. And a bad experience means fewer people are interested in waiting to load your website to read what you wrote.

Believe it or not, 3% of America still uses dial-up. That’s 9.4 million people in the USA. Then when you add in everyone else in the world with slow connection speed, you can begin to see why 40% of individuals close a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.

Unlike content quality, there are ways to measure page speed using tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool and GTmetrix.

But your page speed can only improve so much before you hit a point of diminishing returns. It can’t load faster than 0 seconds.

3. Your on-page SEO is equal, if not better than the competition.

When you look at the search engine results page (or “SERPs”), it’s clear that on-page SEO plays a large part in how your website ranks in search engines.
Aside from creating great content, on-page SEO refers to how relevant Google believes your content is based on your article’s:

  • Title tag
  • URL structure (e.g. “
  • Image alt text
  • Amount of unique content

Use of keyword throughout your content, including in the meta description.
Again, after a certain point, it’s hard to know who has the better on-page SEO. So if you have your keyword phrase (or a slight variation of it) in the title, URL structure, image alt text, and sprinkled throughout your amazing content, it’s good enough.

4. Your title is equally appealing, if not better than the competition.

To answer the question on how to reverse engineer SEO success title should definitely be taken into consideration. If someone does a Google search, people are more likely to click on your article if the title provides a clear benefit to the reader and creates a powerful emotion.

Which of these titles sound more appealing to you?

  • A. 15 Stunning Emails Everyone Can Send to Increase Sales 72%
  • B. 15 Emails You Can Send Today

If your goal is to find out how to send marketing emails to increase sales, the first title gives a clear benefit and solves a problem. But after improving your headline using the AMI Headline Analyzer or CoSchedule Headline Analyzer, there isn’t a clear way to know which blog title is best.

5. Your blog’s brand is equally valuable, if not better than the competition.

Source: vietcetera

Over time, people should know what to expect when they connect with your business. People expect Burberry to deliver luxury clothing and accessories. They trust Apple will be sleek and well-designed.

Whether your customers realize it or not, they also have expectations about your content. For example, you can often go to Dan Shure, John Doherty, Ross Hudgens, and a dozen other SEO experts to learn about SEO.

You don’t go to those blog expecting to learn about viral marketing loops as you would from going to Andrew Chen’s blog. You have to also stop reading SEO articles from the SEMrush blog, because nothing you can read on their blog will help you learn more about SEO.

This same thought process goes through the mind of many of your potential customers as they look at the search results in Google.

But since you can’t do much to improve this “score” aside from creating more great content, this should also be temporarily set aside.

All that to say, search engine math focuses on three things:

  • Keyword Research
  • Page Authority (PA)
  • Domain Authority (DA)
  • Let’s dive into each and talk about what you need to do to assess how fast you can rank in Google quickly.

How to Reverse Engineer SEO Success – Improve Your Keyword Research

There is very little SEO math used in keyword research. However, proper keyword research will make the other two areas of SEO math easier, so let’s discuss this topic.

Keyword research is a process marketers use to find search terms that people enter into search engines.

Ideally, marketers look for high traffic search terms with a high likelihood to rank on page one or two of Google. If you cannot get listed on the first two pages of Google, you probably will not receive any clicks from your search results.

So there is a limit to what you can do to optimize your keyword research process. Here are three simple guidelines you can use:

1. Some traffic is better than no traffic.

How to Reverse Engineer SEO Success? Focus on the traffic of course. One concern you may have about doing keyword research is what the ROI for the work.

Let’s say you find a keyword that has 50 searches a month. You might think that even if you were to get in spot #1, you’d maybe get 20 visitors a month, or 240 people in a year. With a 2% conversion rate, that’s about five sales a year. And at a lifetime value of $100, you spent 15-20 hours for $500 revenue.

That’s no good.

The reality is, even a keyword phrase that gets 50 visitors/month may receive 10x the monthly traffic compared to the estimate.

Dan Shure coached a writer to create an article with a keyword that said it would get 70 visitors a month. In the first 90 days, that article received 2,284 clicks. Given the first few months are the slowest, that article could bring in 25,000-50,000 visitors a year.

There are ways to get organic traffic from keyword phrases with 0 traffic. This is possible when you rank for a keyword before Google analyzes the data to give an estimate, such as talking about a new trend.

But unless you are good at trendspotting, it’s better to keep things simple and target keywords that get at least 10 searches a month. Typically you use Keywords Everywhere to find this estimate, although you have to also use UberSuggest,, and Ahrefs in different circumstances.

2. More traffic is better than less traffic.

Source: auto web traffic

This sounds really obvious, and it is.

Most SEO marketers know that if you target one keyword, you will also get traffic from several other keywords. This is known as a keyword footprint.
Here’s where it can be tempting to start complicating something that’s simple.
Rather than evaluating the traffic of one keyword, some SEO marketers try to estimate the traffic of the footprint. While this is possible to estimate, the easier solution is to compare the traffic potential of every main term you think you can rank on page one of Google.

3. It’s best to find low competition keywords to rank in Google faster.

Did you find a social site like Facebook, Pinterest, or Quora in the SERPs? This is a great sign you will rank your article fast.

Heck, even if you see a harder site to beat like Wikipedia in the SERPs, you don’t necessarily need to back down. It will take some effort, but websites beat Wikipedia in the SERPs all the time.

If you use a tool that correlates the difficulty to rank for a term, like Ahrefs keyword explorer, you can quickly find out how likely it is to rank on page one. That said, you need to make sure you do keyword research correct.

It’s also worth emphasizing that you don’t need to be in position 1 to get a high ROI. Or even page 1. If you look back at Dan’s tweet, the average position of the article was 18.1. As crazy as it is, apparently people do go to page 2 to get answers to their questions. Weird, but true.

It takes time and practice finding solid keywords to rank for fast. There is a lot to know to master keyword research, so we won’t go over that here, but there are a few guides on the subject that can help you, such as here, here, and here.

But if you want a quick way to find relevant keywords with low competition, try this out:

Use a keyword research tool like Ahrefs or SEMrush.

  • Find the keywords that websites like Quora or Pinterest are ranking for.
  • Find relevant keywords they are getting organic traffic from.
  • Or you can use those two tools and use their difficulty score to get an idea of how easy it will be to rank faster, then look at the results by hand.

How to Use Search Engine Math to Beat Your Competitor’s Page Authority, Quickly and Efficiently

Page Authority (or “PA”) is another important ranking factor. In short, PA compares the number and quality of links from other websites to your website. Which is why a profession started to build backlinks, called link building.

Because PA is on a 100-point logarithmic scale, that means it’s easier to grow from a PA of 20 to 30 than to grow from a PA of 70 to 80.

Source: outreach warriors

Here’s how to quickly estimate how many links you need to beat the competition:

  • Look at the domain authority of the links pointing to your competitor’s article, such as with Open Site Explorer.
  • Find out the DA of each link, such as with the Moz toolbar.

Use this table to estimate the # of DA 40 links you need to build:

Domain Authority – DA 40 Links Needed
DA 0-9 Ignore these links
DA 10-19 Ignore these links
DA 20-29.5 DA 40 links
DA 30-39 1 DA 40 link
DA 40-49 1.5 DA 40 links
DA 50-59 1.5 DA 40 links
DA 60-69 2 DA 40 links
DA 70-79 3 DA 40 links
DA 80-89 5 DA 40 links
DA 90-100 7 DA 40 links

Questions About How to Reverse Engineer SEO Success

Now, before the SEO experts pick up their pitchforks, let me answer some of your questions:

1. SEO isn’t that simple.

That’s not a question.

Google isn’t going to tell you everything you need to know. Or everything you don’t need to know. There goal is to get more people to use their tool because it can find better content. Not to get your site more traffic.

That said, you can agree there is more to SEO than just building DA 40 links.
The goal of search engine math is to help simplify the complex. This is especially important for small-to-medium businesses that don’t have a lot of bandwidth. If you have a six-figure marketing budget, it may be worth it to optimize the small stuff.

2. Why DA 40?

From the experience doing link building, there are a ton of blogs with DA 40-49. At the same time, those are valuable enough links to go after.
Guest post for them, give them an infographic, massage their back… whatever you want to do, just make it happen to get the link.

3. What should I do if I build a link with a higher domain?

Do a happy dance! You have one of three options:

  • Ignore that the link is higher than DA 40.
  • Use the higher DA link to cancel out a smaller DA link (for example, use a DA 61 to beat a DA 52).
  • Use the column on the left to estimate how many DA 40 links it is worth (for example, if you got a DA 72 link, count it as three DA 40 links).

We would not recommend coming up with your own algorithm for each DA range. Remember the goal is to keep things simple.

4. What’s with the “.5” links?

The goal of this system is to beat your competitor’s links. As such, sometimes you only need a slight edge to beat your competitors.

If your total number ends with .5, round the number up.

5. Does this system guarantee search results?

Source: digital marketing institute

No, this is just a theory to help you do so.

Because Google is smart, there are many factors that tailor each person’s search results to that person. For example, if you read articles from, Google will assume you would like more articles from them than

So even if you have stellar content and get “enough” links, you still may not rank first in Google.

6. Why do you ignore links under DA 20?

To keep it simple. Also because these sites are new, many will disappear in a year. Not to mention their SEO value is small.

7. What should I do with nofollow links?

If it’s a full moon today and 80 degrees outside, then count them.
In all seriousness, it depends. You can built nofollow links on sites like Inc Magazine. You can view those as very valuable and count like a dofollow link.

There are also nofollow links like those from which you can ignore.
Whatever you decide to do, just remember to keep it simple.

8. Is Search Engine Math Necessary to Compare Domain Authority?

Short answer – Not really.
Longer answer – It depends on how much you want to simplify your life.
Full answer – When using search engine math to compare your DA with your competitors, there are two things you should think about:

  • Your DA today.
  • Your DA down the road, say in a couple years.

If you are a new site, it’s more important to focus on getting your content ranked today rather than a year. This is because SEO creates a flywheel effect. The faster you get organic traffic, the faster you can use that momentum to your advantage.

But keep in mind, you are also building links. In time, your domain authority will go up. So eventually, you will beat the competition.

Even better, if you do keyword research effectively, it will be easier to rank. And as your articles get higher in the SERPs, if you created great content, people will naturally link to your articles.

9. What do you do with links from the same website?

Another SEO theory is that links from the same website decrease the value of a link.

To keep things simple, if two links point to the same article, cut the DA value in half. Also, only look at unique website links for a given page, not the entire website.

So if “” and “” has a DA of 50, and both link to “,” then count the second link as a DA 25.

But if “” points to “” and “” points to “”, don’t penalize the two links.

How to Reverse Engineer SEO Success – A Simple Summary

Source: kingpng

Search engine math is used to help you get better results faster from SEO, although it cannot guarantee rankings. The primary factors SEO math takes into consideration are:

  • Quality content and a quality website.
  • Keyword Research
  • Page Authority
  • Domain Authority (important, but less so)

The rules of keyword research: some traffic is better than no traffic, more traffic is better than less traffic, and find low competition keywords to rank faster. Remember that solid keyword research decreases the number of links you need than if you do poor keyword research. Focus on this step, write great content, build fewer links.

To beat your competitor’s page authority, look at the back links of the article you are trying to beat. Use a base of DA 40 to know how many links you need and get ‘em.

Domain authority is an important consideration, but that doesn’t mean you can’t rank if your DA is too low. There are articles out there with a DA 30 blog beat out sites with double the DA score.

This theory is still a work in progress. As such, we would love to get your honest feedback, questions, and polite criticisms to stress test this theory.

Use Organic Outreach Along With ROI to Make a Difference

organic outreach

Building trust in the customer through your content is a must. Focusing on user intent helps do it. We write content for our audience. Until our audience trusts our content it is of no use. Trust helps get exposure for your brand, which is the basics of organic outreach. Use trust-building words. Follow up what you say with facts. The best way that you are going to make your website rank in search engine results pages is to create content which your users find engaging. Every market, every vertical, even every product has a unique SEO landscape. Patience and persistence will play key roles in your success. Is it bringing you more eyeballs on your website and clients buying your products/services? A picture can be worth a thousand words, they say. Well, when it comes to online marketing, a single image can be worth a thousand links!

SEO metrics give you an indication of the overall competitiveness of a niche, which is a crucial factor in understanding how difficult it will be to get organic outreach. When your competitors have a high DR score they are likely to have been around for a while and acquired a solid backlink profile. In an SEO scenario, Google likes to trust sites that have links from high-quality, relevant sources. For example, large news websites don’t generally link to an untrusted source, nor do top-quality industry blogs or university or .edu websites. Thinking in terms of the user, a category with only 1-3 products usually doesn’t provide the greatest browsing experience. In short, you need to paint a vivid, unique picture of your product by not only describing it but by answering the standard who, what, when, where, and why questions. Term weighting refers to the importance of a particular search term to the query. The idea is to weigh particular terms more heavily than others to produce superior search results.

Think Like A Human Not A Robot When It Comes To Analysis

The seminal idea behind Google’s ranking technology makes it clear that inbound links are the primary vehicle by which Google discovers new pages and websites on the Internet, and they’re the primary way Google assesses the credibility of a given website. Your customers are already looking for what you have to offer, but they often aren’t searching specifically for your brand. If your site doesn’t appear for their non-branded searches, you could very well fall off their consideration list. As a result, your main concern as an SEO should be the user experience that your homepage provides its users. Most SEO consults cover a local area. Content curation is a common way to collect, restructure, and republish existing content. The collection of material often provides new perspectives for users on content ideas you’ve already covered. For content curation to be successful, you first look for appropriate sources and then use your own blog to purposefully publish the content. Personal social media channels also help spread content easily. Popular topics often provide a lot of traffic. A proper SEO makes a website rank on the first page of SERP.

Carve Out Time For Concentrating On Domain Authority For Organic Outreach

The content needed to fulfill the intent of a search varies based on the type of intent. Even human-generated content can be thin content. The reason behind this statement is that Google is consistently making some changes in its search engine.

Let’s Talk About Webmaster Tools

Prove that you are trustworthy by connecting as closely as possible to high authority sites. Use structured data to further explain your topics. Websites that are popular and have a lot of links shared on social media tend to perform well on search engines. These sharing signals are picked up by the search engines which look at the links being shared to help assess the popularity of a webpage and whether it is authoritative. Having quality inbound links is thus, a crucial SEO technique that only increases the authority and credibility of your website. SEO moves fast. It’s an ever-changing discipline where what worked six months ago, might be completely out of date. However, there are some fundamentals that stay more or less the same. Anchor text gives search engines an indication about the content on the page that the link is leading to. Do not overstuff your anchor text with keywords and nor use very generic keywords. Choose your keywords wisely.

Use Organic Outreach Along With Roi To Make A Difference

As there are so many competitive businesses and niche markets on the World Wide Web, the conventions and standards for SEO are constantly changing and growing in popularity. With the recent trend in digital marketing, to make it to the top, SEO should be a must to include in your digital marketing strategy. It inevitably comes with organic outreach.

Most businesses understand the importance of — and the general idea behind — search engine optimization, the practice of getting a website URL to appear at the top of a search results page in order to make it easier for customers to find and use a business. But the deeper into the mechanics of SEO you get, the less clear best practices become. Use search engine-friendly permalinks. Try not to have too many ‘&’, ‘?’, ‘!’ etc characters in the URL. Sometimes it is unavoidable but try to keep it to a minimum. Overusing keywords or keyword stuffing is a big NO. Overusing keywords can result in high bounce rates, and put off potential customers from engaging with your content. If you repeat your keyword multiple times in a paragraph, it’s not going to be fun or engaging for the potential customer to read, and as such, they might click off your website and look elsewhere.

Interactive Content You Can Use to Acquire Valuable Backlinks

interactive content

While backlinks are an integral part of SEO, it is crucial to look for backlink opportunities that give you a competitive edge over your competitors. You can’t get ahead of the competition if you are using the same old link-building tactics as everybody else. It is imperative to do something different that sets you apart from the crowd and gives you a plethora of link-building opportunities at the same time. No doubt, guest blogging for link building is one of the ways to do this, however, you can even go one step further to make things more interesting. One of the most effective scaling link-building tactics is content marketing. We explore how you can use interactive content in your marketing strategy to help you get backlinks.

Content marketing for backlinks is quite simple; all you need is to create a unique & valuable content piece that your competitors cannot replicate. The focus should be to create something great and reach out to the right people who would want to link to the content piece.

When you are able to create a linkable asset, be it a blog or even an interactive visual (image & infographics), people, like influencers and top publishers, in your niche would willingly link to your content. And, since your competitors haven’t created anything similar, you’ll also have a competitive advantage over them, making it easier to get ahead of the curve and acquire the desired online visibility.

When we talk about links through content, keep in mind that you can use different types of interactive content to improve your backlink profile. Here, we have decided to scribble down a list of different types of interactive content you can use to attract valuable backlinks, that gives you an advantage over your competitors.

Design Specific Tools

Believe it or not, but designing tools is one of the most effective interactive content methods to attract quality backlinks. People, for several years, have acquired thousands of quality backlinks by designing tools that help their target audience.

However, your idea should be unique. If there are already dozens of similar tools in the industry, you are less likely to get the desired recognition and backlinks for your tool. For instance, if you are in the SEO industry, you can think of designing a Keyword Research Tool that helps people find the right keywords.

Now, since there are already several keyword research tools in the industry, you will struggle to attract customers to your tool. Well, not exactly! If you can add something valuable to your tool that none of the other tools provide, people will start using your keyword research tool to find relevant keywords for their website.

Neil Patel has already done this with Uber Suggest, one of the top keyword research tools in the market. In addition to displaying regular keyword metrics such as search volume, difficulty, CPC, UberSuggest also helps give you dedicated volume for mobile and desktop.

Since none of the other keyword research tools provide mobile & desktop search volume, UberSuggest ended up becoming one of the top keyword research tools in the market. The tool became so popular that it ended up acquiring 139k backlinks from 14k unique referring domains.

So, if you want to acquire backlinks by designing tools, here’s what you should remember.

Make Sure that Your Idea Is Unique

If you are designing something similar to an existing tool, make sure that it provides additional value to the audience

The tool should be easy to use so that people can easily access it and get on with their day. Even though it may take several months to create a valuable tool, you should not restrict yourself from using this format for link building. If you have an idea, focus on how you can improve it so that it provides value to the target audience. And, that’s it! You’ll have enough link-building opportunities.

As far as outreaching is concerned, make sure to reach out to article sources that talk about similar tools. For instance, in the case of a keyword research tool, you would want to talk about the top keyword research tools in the market.

Interactive Games

Believe it or not, but games and quizzes are always an amazing way to attract high-quality backlinks. Launch games that engage people and you’ll have a streamline of backlinks when people share it on their social media profiles and other platforms. This type of interactive content will keep your target market engaged.

You can also pick a specific topic, that people like to talk about a lot, and conduct an engaging quiz on the same. Using games and quizzes is one of the most effective ways to drive engagement from your target audience.

However, there’s only one drawback of games and quizzes, it takes time to create and launch an interactive game. First of all, you need an amazing idea. Keep in mind that you can’t win the game by simply having a unique idea, it is also essential to make sure that your game/quiz has the potential to engage the visitors.

That’s the reason why games are often considered a better content opportunity for B2C businesses. Since these businesses communicate with regular customers, it is easier to divert their minds and engage them by designing an interactive game/quiz.

So, how do you start while designing a game? Well, the thumb rule says, you should start with brainstorming an idea. The idea should be completely out of the box so that your content can achieve the eventual goal, i.e., engaging the audience.

You can also involve your team in the process to make your ideas more captivating. Once you have the right idea, the next step is to hire a team that can develop the game for you. If you have an in-house team of developers, that’s even better as you could monitor the entire process on your own.

When it comes to outreaching, you can always find publishers and ask them to write about your newly launched game. However, make sure that the headline is captivating so that it can engage the reader.

For instance, “Here’s a game that 3 out of 5 people fail to complete.” is far better than “Here’s a new game you can try”. The latter is most likely to be ignored by the majority of visitors as it is used by many online publishers. So, in addition to finding the right idea for your game, make sure to write a captivating and optimized title.

Interactive Maps

Using maps is one of the most effective ways to represent data by country. However, if you have ever paid attention, maps aren’t the most attractive type of content out there. In fact, most of the time people have to double-click (zoom-in slightly) to find the information they’re looking for.

That’s why maps often fail to attract people. However, that can be changed easily. All you have to do is make a regular static map an interactive asset. To do so, you can add a dedicated zoom-in feature that makes things easier. You can also display additional information when a reader hovers his mouse over a particular region.

The reason why maps work so nonchalantly is that people always want to compare themselves to others. When you publish maps that compare the analytics of different countries, you eventually provide users with quick information that is helpful and easy to access. As a result, more and more people would willingly link to these maps and you’ll have dozens of backlinks in no time.

Data-Driven Content

As far as link building is concerned, data-driven content works like a charm. Now, we’re not talking about regular listicles (Top 10 Things You Need for XYZ….). By data-driven content, we mean content that is well-researched and the data can be used to craft the perfect story that people can’t stop reading.

Of course, writing such an article will require in-depth research and it may take several days to complete your story. However, in the end, you’ll have many people knocking at your door to link to the content.

When it comes to data-driven content, however, it is essential that your content drives the reader towards a specific conclusion. It is not a good strategy to publish random data that doesn’t link to each other whatsoever. Try to craft a story that provides value to the reader and moves towards a precise conclusion. In between, you can place the data that seems most suitable.

Publishing data-driven content is an effective way to acquire quality backlinks as people always look forward to linking to accurate and well-researched data.

Infographics & Reports

Infographics have been in the picture for several years. While some SEOs say infographics are dead, that’s not completely true. If you can manage to create interactive infographics, it’ll become way easier to engage the readers.

Interactive infographics allow you to present information in a completely unique way. As a result, it would become easier to provide valuable content to your audience and people would want to link to your article.

Final Words

As far as interactive content is concerned, you have too many options to choose from. However, whichever option you decide to go with, it is imperative to ensure that your content has the potential to engage a reader. It doesn’t matter if you publish a regular study or an infographic, the focus should be to make it interactive.

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