How to Create A Scalable Link Building Strategy for Your Affiliate Website
According to 99firms, the affiliate marketing industry is worth around $12 billion and there are currently more than 11,400 affiliate programs in the United States alone.
This should give you an idea of how many other affiliate sites are out there. And it also means you’ll need to put a lot of effort into making sure people are hearing about yours.
To do this, you’ll need to focus on SEO, and securing backlinks from high-authority websites is a huge part of this. Links act as a vote of confidence in your site, so they will show search engines that you deserve to rank highly on relevant results pages.
In this article, I’ll take you through some techniques for creating a scalable link building strategy that will help you grow your affiliate marketing business, regardless of what niche you’re in.
What is link building, and why is it important?
Link building is the practice of acquiring backlinks from other websites in a bid to improve the search engine rankings of yours.
Search engines will perceive your website to be a knowledgeable and trustworthy source of information if a lot of credible websites are linking back to you. So, the more backlinks you have, the more confident those search engines will be about promoting your business.
A study by Ahrefs has shown that pages with more backlinks are ranked higher by Google and can attract a lot more traffic. And, after analyzing 11.8 million search results from Google, Backlinko found that the number one result displayed on the search engine result pages typically had 3.8 times more backlinks than the websites that came below it. So, it really can make a huge difference.
It’s very easy to get link building wrong, though, and Google regularly penalizes websites for doing so. To help you avoid that, I will highlight some common mistakes and explain exactly how you can get it right.
Common mistakes to avoid when building links
When you’re building links back to your website, some common mistakes can actually have a negative impact on your reputation and rankings. The process takes a lot of time, so you want to ensure you’re going to get the best possible results. Here are some mistakes I’ve seen people make time and time again that you’ll want to avoid at all costs.
Not properly vetting target websites
One huge link building mistake is focusing so much on building a high number of links that there isn’t enough attention being paid to the quality of those links. Not all links are created equal, so you need to ensure you’re properly vetting any websites you’re considering approaching for a link.
Always plug each target website into a specialist SEO tool like the Ahrefs Site Explorer to check the domain authority, the domain rating, the level of traffic, and what kinds of keywords it ranks for.
Check the quality of your target website’s backlink profile too, as a healthy one is going to give you the best results. Check that the website has an impressive number of backlinks from a good number of referring domains. Ideally, you should be looking for a ratio of 1:1, but this can be difficult to achieve for niche or new websites. As a general rule, as long as a website’s backlink profile includes links from a wide range of different websites, it’s likely to be natural, which is what you’re looking for. A natural backlink profile will have grown organically over time and won’t include reciprocal or paid-for links.
You should also personally inspect each website to ensure everything is high quality. The last thing you want to do is build links back to your affiliate website from spammy or low-quality domains, so do your homework before reaching out to anyone to ask for a link.
Building reciprocal links
Another example of a link building mistake that can negatively affect your website is reciprocal links, especially if they are done in excess. This refers to a situation where two websites decide to link to each other’s website, usually just for SEO purposes and not because the links are adding any sort of value for their audiences.
While it is still okay to link to relevant and authoritative sources who may decide to later give you a backlink down the line, Google’s quality guidelines say link exchanges that are done simply for the sake of cross-linking are a way to manipulate your website’s rankings and could be seen as a violation.
Some people like to engage in this form of link building because it might seem easier to do. However, it can lead to penalties from Google, so it’s best to build your links in a more strategic and valuable way.
Forgetting to check the target website’s domain authority
It is also important to check the domain authority (DA) of websites you want backlinks from. This will tell you how much authority—or value—you’re going to get from building a link on a particular website. DA is presented as a score from 1–100; 40–50 is average, 50–60 is good, and anything above 60 is excellent.
Loganix has a domain authority checker that can be used to analyze websites. Not only will you get results for DA, but you’ll get access to another important metric like the website’s domain rating (DR), which is used to measure the strength of your target website’s backlink profile based on the number and quality of its backlinks. DR is also measured on a 1–100 scale, and anything 30+ is considered good enough to build a link on.
Acquiring links from irrelevant target websites
Another factor to consider is how relevant certain websites are to your niche. Acquiring backlinks is important, but they’ll provide more value and give search engines more context about your business if you’re building them on similar or complementary websites.
For instance, if you own a travel blog where you talk about your travel experiences and all the different trips you’ve taken, a backlink from an airline website or travel magazine would be very valuable.
Not diversifying your link types
Diversifying the type of links you get for your website is a great way to make your backlink profile look more natural. One of the most common link sources for businesses is other blogs within the same niche or a complementary industry.
You can also secure links from local directories. This is a great way to build valuable and natural-looking links, because it makes perfect sense for relevant directories to recommend your business to prospective customers who are interested in what you offer. Another good source of backlinks are social media forums like Quora or Reddit, but you need to be careful when doing this. Don’t build links here in a spammy way; instead, link your website only if you feel it could help provide quality and helpful answers to someone’s query.
As you plan your link building strategy, also avoid using tactics that could hinder your SEO progress. For instance, Google looks negatively upon links that have been paid for. Instead, ask for backlinks as payment for sharing your expertise with the readerships of other websites.
Techniques for scalable link building
There are a number of different techniques that can be used to acquire quality links for your website. Here are some of the main ones you should try.
HARO stands for “Help a Reporter Out.” It’s a website that was created to connect journalists with people who can provide valuable information for their articles.
HARO is very useful, regardless of what niche you work in, as there are opportunities to share all types of expertise and insight. When you sign up on this website, you’ll soon start to receive opportunities to write quotes or provide short informational snippets that journalists can use in their work. Then, when their articles are published, you might be lucky enough to be credited with a backlink. It can be a great way to build links without having to send countless outreach emails each day.
To get the most out of HARO, sign up and indicate which kinds of industries you work in. You can then sort through any requests you receive, depending on what kinds of websites people are writing for and whether you have the necessary expertise to provide the information that’s needed.
Once you identify relevant opportunities, make sure that you construct a personalized pitch and include valuable information on the topic requested by the reporter. If they agree to use your pitch, let them know you would really appreciate it if they could also include a link back to your website.
When it comes to guest posting, you have to be strategic about acquiring opportunities and backlinks. As discussed earlier, Google frowns upon low-quality links, so you have to be careful to identify relevant and high-quality opportunities for your business.
One way you can do this is by putting together a list of credible and popular websites in your niche that already accept guest posts. Then, read their posting requirements and put together a personalized pitch that will grab each website’s attention.
Let them know a little bit about your background and what makes you qualified to write for them, what kind of topic you would like to cover, and when you’ll be able to get the content to them if they’re happy to work with you.
Content syndication is another technique that can be used to build quality backlinks for your business. It’s the process of republishing a piece of content on multiple third-party websites so a wider audience can see it. To do this, you have to find content syndication partners that are known to re-publish content.
Searching Google for these opportunities is one such way to find these partners. Simply input a search query that looks like this: “originally published on” + your niche. If you owned an affiliate website about marketing, your search query would be “originally published on” + marketing. Below is what you would see if you were to enter this query.
These websites clearly syndicate content from other bloggers, so you can now go ahead and pitch your request to them, letting them know there’s a blog post on your website that you would love them to repurpose. As we mentioned before, always make sure to personalize your pitch before contacting editors so that you have a better chance of convincing them to work with you.
Create visual content that’s shareable
To acquire more backlinks for your website, you should also try to create valuable content in visual forms like infographics and videos. This might seem complicated, but it can actually be quite simple if you use the right tools. For instance, InVideo is a video editing tool that has been specifically designed to make your life as easy as possible because it has templates that help you create professional and high-quality videos in minutes.
A study from Backlinko found that creating visual content is going to be one of the most effective ways to build backlinks in 2021. This is because infographics, diagrams, videos and more can easily be inserted into content on other websites to enhance it. Website owners will be grateful that you’ve provided them with tools to make their content more engaging, and they’ll credit you with a backlink, so everybody wins.
Just make sure that you put plenty of work into getting your visuals right. If you’re new to creating infographics, for instance, Venngage has a great guide to making them attractive and valuable, which is well worth a read before you get started.
Competitor backlink analysis
Another way to identify relevant backlink opportunities is by analyzing the backlink profiles of your competitors. Which websites have they written for, which magazines have featured them, and which blogs have they syndicated their content on?
You can use a specialist backlink analysis tool to find where most of your competitors’ backlinks are coming from, and use this information as inspiration. This will also help to ensure you’re securing links on websites that are at least as authoritative as the ones your competitors have been featured on.
Creating a link building strategy might not be the easiest thing to do, but it’s well worth it if you want to give your SEO a boost.
There are plenty of techniques you can use, from guest posting, to using HARO, to conducting an analysis of your competitors’ backlinks. It’s also important that you work slowly but steadily—it’s better to secure a few high-quality links than a lot of spammy, low-quality ones.