Backlink Strategy for a Large "Content-Rich" Website

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I am currently building a website to 1000 articles (find my journey here). At the time of this thread, I have published 517 articles since I launched the site on December 5th 2020. My articles are ranking and slowly climbing in the SERPs but I understand it is still really early and my content needs time to rank. For some context, I have 111 articles ranking in top 100, 71 articles in top 30 and 24 articles in top 10.

To assist with the growth and 'authority' profile of the site, I hired a team to assist me with outreach. Securing real high quality links through HARO, guest posts on real sites in my niche and even a couple of strategic niche edits where possible. Altogether, I have probably built 30 links at this point in time. Probably acquiring 2 links a week.

I wanted these links to provide a little support to my site filled with content early on. I don't want to hit 1000 published articles with no links at all as I feared that may discount the quality of my content. I don't love building links but if I can justify the quality, I'm happy. Consider it a 'marketing' expense.

Would love to hear other opinions of building links for a new website that will be filled with a ton of content. This project is capital intensive so I always want to review the best areas to focus on investing. When in doubt, I buy more content but links are a piece of my budget. Welcome your thoughts and experiences.

Thanks,
Charlie
 
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I would get the basics down first if you don't have those, like social links to build a base.
For my sites, I use mostly niche edits (or whatever they are called these days), guest posts, forum posts, and sometimes PBNs. Most sites rank just fine. However, the costs can add up, if you have to rank many pages.

I've been listening recently to some podcasts and 2 videos have some good ideas for whitehatish linkbuilding methods. Here are the videos:

Backlinko has some good ideas for links too: statistics pages and whatnot
I'm considering using some of these tactics for my whitehatish sites.
 

Ryuzaki

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I wouldn't consider link building some outside "marketing" expense unrelated to SEO. It's an SEO expense. Links are what the Google algorithm is built on. You won't see much success without them, unless you build them or acquire them naturally through marketing or exposure in the SERPs (good luck there without links, you know).

What I recommend is not worrying about ranking specific posts in regards to getting links. Just get the links. Get them pointed at any page, whatever it takes. If they're all to the homepage that's fine. That juice will flow around, and that's my point. At this stage in a site's life, the game should simply be making sure all of your pages have some modicum of page rank flowing through them. That means you need to make sure you're interlinking well, too.

At first, the game is to raise the tide (of page rank) so all boats (pages) rise together. Because you aren't going to get much done than that otherwise. Another thing to focus on in this time period is building up topical authority, which you're likely doing as you race to 1000 posts. At a certain point in age (trust), topical authority (expertise), and link juice (authority), things will pop off nicely. But if you're lacking on the link side, then that's too bad, because links need to age, too.

You can build a lot of pitter patter links, like social profiles, forum profiles and links, blog comments, social bookmarks, and on and on. But the challenge these days is getting that crap crawled and counted.

The real needle movers are contextual links within the main content of a relevant article. Among the "free-er" methods would be outreach and HARO. HARO can net you all the homepage links you could dream of if you can work it right. Outreach would probably be best done by building a link-bait page first and then getting links to it (and interlinking out from that page).

Link-bait is best done typically by doing a big study, having interactive charts, tables, graphs (by interactive, just hoverable is enough). Then interpret the data, explain the conclusion, list some resources (even if you don't link out, just have them in APA format with the raw URLs, etc.).

These pages make outreach a breeze and makes the outreach'd posts end up getting links too, makes it all end up on social media, Reddit, all that. The higher the quality you create in the link-bait page, the cheaper your cost per link gets because you end up getting extra's for free when you land on sites that have their own real viewership, which spread it out. If you can hit #1 on Reddit or whatever, you can end up getting journalist level links too.

All in a day's work! And by day I mean a couple months. I'd have several link-bait pages being worked on simultaneously with different targets for outreach. Gotta move fast and strike hard to get the cumulative effect going.
 
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I wouldn't consider link building some outside "marketing" expense unrelated to SEO. It's an SEO expense. Links are what the Google algorithm is built on. You won't see much success without them, unless you build them or acquire them naturally through marketing or exposure in the SERPs (good luck there without links, you know).

What I recommend is not worrying about ranking specific posts in regards to getting links. Just get the links. Get them pointed at any page, whatever it takes. If they're all to the homepage that's fine. That juice will flow around, and that's my point. At this stage in a site's life, the game should simply be making sure all of your pages have some modicum of page rank flowing through them. That means you need to make sure you're interlinking well, too.

At first, the game is to raise the tide (of page rank) so all boats (pages) rise together. Because you aren't going to get much done than that otherwise. Another thing to focus on in this time period is building up topical authority, which you're likely doing as you race to 1000 posts. At a certain point in age (trust), topical authority (expertise), and link juice (authority), things will pop off nicely. But if you're lacking on the link side, then that's too bad, because links need to age, too.

You can build a lot of pitter patter links, like social profiles, forum profiles and links, blog comments, social bookmarks, and on and on. But the challenge these days is getting that crap crawled and counted.

The real needle movers are contextual links within the main content of a relevant article. Among the "free-er" methods would be outreach and HARO. HARO can net you all the homepage links you could dream of if you can work it right. Outreach would probably be best done by building a link-bait page first and then getting links to it (and interlinking out from that page).

Link-bait is best done typically by doing a big study, having interactive charts, tables, graphs (by interactive, just hoverable is enough). Then interpret the data, explain the conclusion, list some resources (even if you don't link out, just have them in APA format with the raw URLs, etc.).

These pages make outreach a breeze and makes the outreach'd posts end up getting links too, makes it all end up on social media, Reddit, all that. The higher the quality you create in the link-bait page, the cheaper your cost per link gets because you end up getting extra's for free when you land on sites that have their own real viewership, which spread it out. If you can hit #1 on Reddit or whatever, you can end up getting journalist level links too.

All in a day's work! And by day I mean a couple months. I'd have several link-bait pages being worked on simultaneously with different targets for outreach. Gotta move fast and strike hard to get the cumulative effect going.
I found this to be extremely helpful, thank you.

Despite having 570 articles, my site is only 3 months old. I have some money to allocate towards links but I think I have just been scared off since I'm not receiving much love from Google yet in the rankings. Out of the 570 articles I published, only 130 are showing up in the top 100 for primarily keyword. Obviously, I am in this for the long game but would love to see some encouraging results within 6 months with this much content. Am I silly to just keep publishing?

I already have a domain rating of 7 according to ahrefs with 46 referring domains. All the links I purchased were guest posts and niche edits.

My articles are being crawled and indexed (confirming with GSC). Just wondering if links will help solve this issue or is the issue just because my site is new? Still, I feel like for 3 months with a massive content push, I'd get some more love from Google crawlers.

There is no real logic to what pages were crawled. I have some epic posts that are 2 months old which aren't indexed and then I have the boring, simple posts ranking top 10.
 

Ryuzaki

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Still, I feel like for 3 months with a massive content push, I'd get some more love from Google crawlers.
This is exactly why Google has made "time" such a factor in the algorithm. If someone can come out of the gates and drop 500 pages in 3 months and take over, then so can a spammer. A spammer could build a 10,000,000 page database site and really shit up the SERPs.

So yeah, the time factor is meant to frustrate spammers and us innocent bystanders get caught up in it. It's how it is. I've talked about it a lot on the forum over the years. It plays out like this:
  1. Month 1-3: You come flying out of the gates with content and links.
  2. Month 3-6: You keep publishing links and content, maybe slower because you get disheartened, but you also start seeing trickles of meaningful traffic.
  3. Month 6-9: You notice the early posts you published in months 1-3 start performing much better. Your traffic graph is starting to grow exponentially instead of linearly.
  4. Month 9-12: Your traffic explodes even more as the content from months 3-6 starts performing. You regret having slowed down.
  5. Month 12+: You're on cloud nine until the next big algorithm update releases and you lose a solid 33% - 50% of the traffic you got before.
  6. The Fork in the Road:
    1. You get real forlorn and upset and give up because SEO is so volatile, etc.​
    2. You understand that you were being allowed to outperform yourself beyond where you should have been. Google finally had enough data on your site and crunched it and rolled it back out live, placing you where you should have been the whole time. Now you have real and accurate data for the next blitz of action. It seems like 2 steps forward and 1 step back, and it is, but who cares as long as you keep gaining ground.​
#2 happens because despite time being a factor in slowing down spammers, there's a window between when the "time" throttle is released and before Panda and Penguin data gets rolled out again. This is the window that churn and burn spammers exploit. You experience it too, and it feels like a negative when it all gets taken away from you, but it wasn't yours to begin with. It was bonus traffic.

Regarding the crawling, etc. You'll get allocated more of a crawl budget as you have more page rank flowing through your site, which means links. And of course, time.

Those 46 referring domains are good. DR7 is really low but Ahrefs might need time to catch up to the links you've gotten, too. Or they may be lower power links. But keep on going. SEO is not for the impatient. Those that persevere while being smart along the way get rewarded big time.
 
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This is exactly why Google has made "time" such a factor in the algorithm. If someone can come out of the gates and drop 500 pages in 3 months and take over, then so can a spammer. A spammer could build a 10,000,000 page database site and really shit up the SERPs.

So yeah, the time factor is meant to frustrate spammers and us innocent bystanders get caught up in it. It's how it is. I've talked about it a lot on the forum over the years. It plays out like this:
  1. Month 1-3: You come flying out of the gates with content and links.
  2. Month 3-6: You keep publishing links and content, maybe slower because you get disheartened, but you also start seeing trickles of meaningful traffic.
  3. Month 6-9: You notice the early posts you published in months 1-3 start performing much better. Your traffic graph is starting to grow exponentially instead of linearly.
  4. Month 9-12: Your traffic explodes even more as the content from months 3-6 starts performing. You regret having slowed down.
  5. Month 12+: You're on cloud nine until the next big algorithm update releases and you lose a solid 33% - 50% of the traffic you got before.
  6. The Fork in the Road:
    1. You get real forlorn and upset and give up because SEO is so volatile, etc.​
    2. You understand that you were being allowed to outperform yourself beyond where you should have been. Google finally had enough data on your site and crunched it and rolled it back out live, placing you where you should have been the whole time. Now you have real and accurate data for the next blitz of action. It seems like 2 steps forward and 1 step back, and it is, but who cares as long as you keep gaining ground.​
#2 happens because despite time being a factor in slowing down spammers, there's a window between when the "time" throttle is released and before Panda and Penguin data gets rolled out again. This is the window that churn and burn spammers exploit. You experience it too, and it feels like a negative when it all gets taken away from you, but it wasn't yours to begin with. It was bonus traffic.

Regarding the crawling, etc. You'll get allocated more of a crawl budget as you have more page rank flowing through your site, which means links. And of course, time.

Those 46 referring domains are good. DR7 is really low but Ahrefs might need time to catch up to the links you've gotten, too. Or they may be lower power links. But keep on going. SEO is not for the impatient. Those that persevere while being smart along the way get rewarded big time.

This inspired me to take some action. I slowed down a bit in terms of publishing content where I'm only publishing 2-3 posts a day. However, I cranked up the budget for guest posts and niche edits. I'm really careful about the guest posts that I receive - I try to review the metrics of each site before my link is published. I'm really focusing on sites with traffic that have a natural backlink profile and a decent amount of organic traffic.

I hope this increases the authority of my website and as you said, receive a higher allocation for a crawl budget. I think my articles satisfy the search intent, and while the quality is good, I do think it can always get better. My articles may have the occasional typo that I miss when I edit but I really try to spend the time formatting and reviewing each article that my writers produce. It's a balance of quality vs. quantity.

I obviously want more content so I can rank for more keywords which should hopefully bring in more traffic. But, if I'm building this large content-rich site, I want to be proud of the work I'm publishing and represent the brand in a positive way. In other words, someone should read my article from searching the related keyword and think, "that was helpful!".

All in all, I'm approaching 4 months in to this ambitious journey and have 617 articles published. I have 143 articles ranking in the top 100 for their primary keyword and 109 articles ranking in the top 30 for their primary keyword. My DR is up to a 9 but I expect that to jump a lot in the next 4-6 weeks. Organic traffic is now at 60-70 views a day and continuing to climb slowly (as are impressions on GSC). Back to work!