Tired of flailing around without a methodical system for building high-value backlinks? Crafting a strategic backlink strategy template is the key to finally ranking your most coveted pages. This comprehensive guide reveals the framework used by leading agencies to methodically secure authoritative backlinks at scale.
With a step-by-step template guiding your efforts, you too can outperform competitors and catapult targeted pages to the top of SERPs. Ready to start dominating the first page? Read on to unlock the secrets top sites use to build links that deliver.
Why You Need a Documented Backlink Strategy
Getting high-quality backlinks is essential for ranking well in Google and driving traffic to your site. But embarking on a backlink building campaign without a strategy is like setting sail without a map – you may eventually reach your destination, but it will take longer and you could get lost along the way.
A documented backlink strategy provides direction, alignment, and focus to your efforts. Here are three key reasons you need one:
Helps You Set Clear Goals and Benchmarks
A backlink strategy template allows you to set specific, measurable goals around link building. This includes both quantitative goals like:
- Obtain 150 new referring domains in 6 months
- Achieve a site-wide authority metric of 70
As well as qualitative goals like:
- Get featured links from 5 industry authority sites
- Obtain links from high-DR sites with relevant anchor text
Having predefined goals is the only way to objectively evaluate the success of your campaign. It also helps motivate your team when they have tangible targets to work towards.
You can set goals around:
- Total number of new links/referring domains
- Quality of linking domains (based on DR, PA, etc.)
- Anchor text diversity
- Types of links (editorial, web 2.0 properties, etc.)
Then establish benchmark metrics to track progress against those goals month-over-month or quarter-over-quarter. This provides insight into what link building tactics work best for focusing future efforts.
Allows You to Track and Measure Progress
A documented strategy forces you to think about link tracking upfront. Without tracking, you can’t definitively say whether your efforts are succeeding or not.
Your backlink template should outline the tracking plan, including:
- Which metrics you will measure (links gained, referring domains, etc.)
- Link data sources used, such as Ahrefs, SEMrush, Google Search Console
- How often you will pull this link data for reporting
- Who is responsible for preparing backlink reports
This level of detail is imperative for regular progress monitoring. With concrete tracking in place, you can easily pull reports to showcase how many new links you obtained each month, evaluate link velocity, monitor new referring domains, and more.
Make sure to track both overall domain-level metrics as well as data for individual link building campaigns. This enables you to quickly determine which tactics are working and are worth investing more resources into.
Keeps Your Efforts Focused and Aligned
Documenting your backlink strategy forces alignment across your entire SEO team:
- Everyone understands the overarching goals
- Individuals have clarity on link building tasks they own
- No duplicated efforts since roles are defined
Rather than have team members choose targets and outreach approaches at random, your template provides focus via:
- Curated lists of link prospects
- Guidelines for suitable link placement opportunities
- Direction on outreach messaging and follow up
This level of strategic alignment is impossible without a written plan. With a consolidated backlink document, you avoid issues like team members pitching the same websites or needing to redo duplicate work.
In summary, a backlink strategy template is essential for setting goals, tracking progress, and keeping team efforts aligned. Taken together, this focus and consistency hugely multiplies the ROI from your link building campaign. The sites experiencing the most backlink success all have documented plans – and now you can too!
Key Components to Include in Your Backlink Strategy Template
Creating a comprehensive backlink strategy plan requires detailing four core components: competitor analysis, site audit, goals, and outreach strategy. Fleshed out properly, these key sections will provide an actionable blueprint for link building success.
Competitor Backlink Analysis
The first step is analyzing competitors’ backlink profiles to understand what’s working in your industry. Arm yourself with data by gathering backlink intelligence on their:
Total Number of Backlinks
Using a tool like Ahrefs or SEMrush, compile a list of your 3-5 top competitors ranked for your target keyword(s).
For each competitor, note:
- Total number of backlinks
- Number of referring domains
- Domain authority/Page authority scores
This quantifies the link authority accumulated by leading sites. If they have thousands more backlinks than you, it’s clear you need a dedicated strategy to help close that gap.
Next, dive into the specific sites linking to competitors. Filter their backlinks by referring domain and assess:
- Which sites link to multiple competitors? These could be good targets.
- What types of sites are they getting links from? News sites? Directories?
- What’s their link diversity – a mix of different site types or just a few domains?
Identify any easily replicable link opportunities here for your own outreach efforts.
Anchor Text Mix
Check their anchor text diversity scores in Ahrefs or SEMrush. Avoid competitors heavily over-optimized on exact match commercial anchors.
Ideally, most of their links should have branded or generic anchors. If not, make your own anchor text strategy more natural by comparison.
By benchmarking competitors’ total links/domains, assessing their top link sources, and analyzing their anchor text mix you arm yourself with data to emulate and surpass their success.
Technical Site Audit
Conduct an audit of your own site to determine current health and opportunities.
Check for Toxic Links
Run your domain through a backlink analysis tool to identify:
- Spammy link networks
- Low-quality directories
- Comment spam links
- Other potentially dangerous backlinks
Document any toxic links for disavowal. You want to start link building from a clean base.
Identify Linking Opportunities
Similarly, your backlink tool can uncover:
- Pages with high numbers of outbound links – great for outreach
- Sites already linking to your brand – prospects for getting additional links
- Any broken links to your site than can be reclaimed
Adding these insights into your template primes your link building strategy for success.
Link Building Goals
Set specific targets to aim for with your link efforts:
Quantitative Link Building Goals
Define numeric targets for:
- Total new backlinks
- Unique new referring domains
- Monthly link growth rate
- Gain 300 new backlinks in 6 months
- Acquire links from 100 additional referring domains
- Average of 50 new monthly links
Quantitative goals provide motivation and let you evaluate campaign ROI.
Qualitative Link Building Goals
Set quality-based goals by targeting links from:
- Sites with high domain/page authority
- Platforms relevant to your niche
- Competitor link sources
- Location-specific sites
Having qualitative goals beyond just total links ensures your efforts garner high-value placements that actively influence rankings.
The framework for your outreach and follow up is critical to link building success.
Identify Link Prospects
Research and curate a target list of at least 100 appropriate link prospects. Consider:
- Industry authority sites
- Niche bloggers and influencers
- Relevant directories and aggregators
- Location-based citation sources
- Any non-competitors linking to competitors
Build this list into your template so all team members know who to contact.
Craft Personalized Pitches
Outline the outreach messaging strategy, including:
- Subject line formulas proven to garner responses
- Templates for initial personalized outreach emails
- Guidelines for crafting value-focused pitches
Provide examples of successful messages that led to high-quality link placements.
Set Follow-Up Protocol
Define a process for consistent, effective follow up such as:
- Send initial pitch
- Follow up 3-5 days later if no response
- Attempt a final follow up after another 1 week
- Categorize as non-respondent if no answer after 2 follow ups
Standardizing follow-up cadence keeps prospects engaged while avoiding over-communication.
With your competitors benchmarked, site audited, goals defined, and outreach framework constructed, you now have a comprehensive backlink strategy plan ready for execution. Update the template regularly as you test new tactics and achieve results. This will provide a proven formula to rank your most important pages.
How to Use Your Template for Ongoing Success
Creating your backlink strategy template is only step one. The real value comes from referencing and updating it regularly to evaluate efforts, refine tactics, and demonstrate progress.
Follow these best practices for ongoing success:
Regularly Evaluate and Refine Your Strategy
Treat your backlink template as a living, breathing document. Review it at least monthly to determine if current efforts are moving the needle on goals.
Analyze which outreach messages and types of link placements are yielding the best results. For example, perhaps guest posts on niche blogs are gaining more links than did outreach to generalized content aggregators.
Identify any tactics not generating results to either refine or replace going forward. Testing and optimization is key.
Consider questions like:
- Are we on pace to achieve our monthly link gain targets? If not, what changes could help hit goals?
- Have any outreach emails or tactics led to an influx of placements from a certain site type? How can we replicate that success?
- Are there any new or trending platforms we should add as link prospects?
- Should we adjust our follow-up cadence based on recent response rates?
Be willing to try new outreach messages and experiment with emerging link placement opportunities. Then incorporate learnings back into your template.
Maintain Detailed Tracking and Reporting
Consistent tracking and reporting is imperative to understand campaign performance. As outlined in your template tracking plan:
- Extract backlink data weekly/monthly from your chosen toolset
- Clean the data by removing any irrelevant links
- Generate reports on key metrics like total links gained, new referring domains, domain authority of new links, etc.
- Break down reports by individual initiatives like outreach emails, guest posting, etc. to segment performance
Share reports with internal teams and stakeholders. This fosters accountability against goals.
Proper tracking proves the ROI of your efforts and enables data-backed decisions on optimization.
Review Results and Optimize Efforts
Leverage reporting to inform optimization initiatives. Identify high-performing areas of your strategy to double down on, and lower-converting tactics to revise.
Sort link placement opportunities by total links secured to uncover the initiatives driving the most impact. Then invest more time and resources into those high-value activities.
For example, if your initial trial of resource page link placements secured 15 backlinks from strong domains, scale up your outreach to more relevant sites.
Or if a certain type of link prospect generated fewer results, brainstorm creative ways to re-engage them or pause outreach to focus on more fruitful prospects.
Ongoing optimization is only possible thanks to the detailed tracking, analytics, and reporting called for in your strategy template.
Update Goals as Your Site’s Authority Grows
Avoid resting on your laurels when link metrics improve. Continually evolve goals to keep momentum going.
Once the first set of targets are achieved, establish a new and higher bar to reach further. Increase quantitative goals like:
- Total new backlinks gained month-over-month
- Number of referring domains added
And raise qualitative goals by securing links from more aspirational, authoritative sites.
Evolving your goals prevents complacency and inspires continual growth. The high performance of top-ranked sites comes from perpetual effort and optimization.
With regular review, detailed tracking, constant optimization, and evolving goals, your backlink strategy template transforms into an engine driving continuous advancement. The sites experiencing the greatest long-term success are those committed to always raising the bar. Use your template for motivation to implement that same mindset.
Real-World Examples of Effective Backlink Strategy Templates
The best way to create a successful template is to model what’s working for other sites seeing great results. Let’s look at examples from both an SEO agency and ecommerce site.
Template from SEO Agency
Analyzing the backlink strategy template used by a successful SEO agency provides great perspective into an optimal framework.
Clearly Defined Link Goals
The agency sets precise monthly targets for:
- Total new links
- Additional unique referring domains
- Minimum domain authority of new links
- Specific high-value websites to obtain links from
Having predefined benchmarks makes tracking progress easy and keeps the team motivated.
Granular Tracking Metrics
Their template also outlines exact tracking and reporting methods:
- Link data is pulled weekly from Ahrefs
- Link velocity, referring domains, and domain authority metrics are charted
- Performance reports shared with management and clients
With granular tracking, they can showcase progress and optimize efforts based on concrete analytics.
Template from Ecommerce Site
For ecommerce sites, quality trumps quantity when it comes to link building. This example reflects that mindset.
Focus on Quality over Quantity
Their template sets goals like:
- Obtain links from just 5 definitive authority websites in our space
- 100% of new links from sites with DA 60+
Rather than chasing vanity metrics like X number of links, they remain focused on securing placements that truly impact organic visibility.
Heavy Emphasis on Competitor Analysis
This template devotes significant space to benchmarking competitors:
- Statistical analysis of links/referring domains for the top 5 rival sites
- List of 20+ link acquisition sources competitors have in common
- Graphical representation of comparative domain authority
With this level of competitor analysis, they can model the most successful link building approaches in their industry.
These real-world examples showcase that effective backlink strategy templates focus on actionable goals, thorough tracking, and competitive research. Use these frameworks as a model when designing your own template.
Key Takeaways and Next Steps
Developing a comprehensive backlink strategy plan positions you for link building success. With the insights covered throughout this guide, you now have the blueprint to create your own template for SEO results.
Follow these steps to get started:
Document Your Strategy for Focus and Alignment
A backlink template provides the direction and alignment needed for an effective campaign. Dedicate time upfront to detailing all key components covered in this guide, including:
- Competitor analysis
- Site audit
- Quantitative and qualitative goals
- Outreach strategy
Document this framework in a thorough template to reference. Rally your team around the strategy for optimal coordination.
Set Clear Goals for Expected Results
Define specific benchmark metrics and KPIs and incorporate into your template. Having tangible goals tied to link counts, quality signals, and timeframes keeps efforts focused.
Align goals across these four areas:
- Total new backlinks
- Monthly link growth
- Number of new referring domains
- Domain authority of new links
- Links from niche authority sites
- Links with optimized anchor text
- Guest posts
- Branded anchor placements
- Editorial links
- Links per month
- Links over next 3/6 months
- New referring domains per quarter
Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals creates accountability and gives you KPIs to track progress against.
Regularly Analyze and Refine Your Efforts
A template is only valuable if you actively use it to guide strategy. Review your plan often:
- Evaluate if current efforts are achieving goals
- Highlight tactics that are successfully gaining links
- Identify areas in need of improvement
- Test new outreach messages and link building approaches
Be willing to experiment and refine the template regularly. Optimization is what will take your results to the next level.
Use Proven Templates as a Model for Success
The best templates borrow from what’s already working well. When creating your own:
- Emulate frameworks from sites with lots of high-quality links
- Adopt goal setting and tracking plans from proven templates
- Model your prospect outreach approach after effective examples
Let the successful strategies of others guide your template creation, then customize it for your unique needs.
With a comprehensive backlink strategy template guiding your efforts – tailored to your site and priorities – your link building success is imminent. Consistently execute and refine the plan to outperform competitors and rank for your most coveted keywords.
Creating a strategic, comprehensive backlink strategy template is crucial for SEO success. To recap the key lessons:
- Document your plan for focus and consistency across all link building initiatives.
- Set S.M.A.R.T. goals around quantity, quality, link types, and timeframes to benchmark progress.
- Regularly pull backlink data for tracking and reporting to inform optimization.
- Analyze competitor link profiles to model what’s working in your industry.
- Conduct a site audit to identify toxicity, gaps, and link opportunity.
- Outline your outreach strategy including prospects, messaging, and follow-up.
- Continually refine tactics and evolve your goals to drive growth.
With these core elements included in your template, you have a blueprint for executing a highly effective link building campaign. Use proven frameworks as inspiration, but customize your plan to your unique goals. The sites achieving the greatest long-term SEO success credit their strategic templates. Now you can build one too!
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to some common questions around building a backlink strategy template:
How often should I update my template?
Review and update your template at least monthly. Analyze what tactics are working and refine areas underperforming. Add new link prospects and outreach messages you want to test.
What’s the right number of link prospects to include?
Aim for at least 100+ initial link prospects. Build in more to account for non-responses. Continuously add fresh prospects as you secure links.
Should I disavow all toxic links?
Not necessarily. Disavow truly harmful links but you generally don’t need to obsess over cleaning up all low-quality links, as Google’s algorithms have evolved.
What if I can’t pull as much competitor data as I’d like?
Pull as much data as you can access. Even competitor website names and partial link data is helpful for initial benchmarking and identifying prospects.
How do I encourage stakeholder buy-in?
Share results and reports regularly. Demonstrate through data how their investment into link building is paying off via quantifiable metrics.
What if my efforts don’t gain links as fast as I had hoped?
Link building takes time and continuous testing/optimization. As long as you are seeing some positive momentum, stick with your process. Refine areas that need improvement.
How can I scale up our efforts?
Once achieving initial goals, bring on more team members or agencies to augment outreach. Widen prospect lists. Raise goals and invest in additional software to boost scaling.