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Why Excel Is Your Best Friend for Link Building Campaigns

 

Download the Excel template here.

Video Transcription

Hi, this is Marc McDermott from marc-mcdermott.com. I am recording this short video today to talk about link management and the common question that a lot of people bring up is “what tools do I need to manage my links and my link targets especially if I’m working with a team of people.” It can be for any site, whether it’s for your own blog, whether it’s for an enterprise-level site, or whether it’s for just a small local business.

So, there are a whole bunch of tools out there that are always recommended. We won’t touch into that that much, but just as a side note I would recommend Buzzstream as a tool for if you’re doing a lot of link building, either for multiple projects or a lot of link building for one large project. It’s a really great way to keep things organized, and it has some really great e-mail integration options which I’ve made the most use of. However, for the purpose of this video, we’re gonna talk about keeping it simple, keeping it on a budget, and the easiest way to do that is one of the most powerful tools you can use for SEO – Microsoft Excel.

Okay, so this is as simple as it gets. Black and white columns B through M. They’re pretty self-explanatory, but I’ll take you through it. This is mainly meant for managing your targets, the websites that you come across online that you really want to get a link or even take a look at your past backlinks using tools like Majestic and SEOmoz and Ahrefs. You can go back and you can record your past links in here just as a record if you were so inclined. But I really use this for new link targets that I am interested in getting. So let’s just go through an example.

I actually was looking tonight for a couple examples. This type of Excel chart; I couldn’t really find one. The best thing that I found was an article on searchenginejournal.com by Ann Smarty, and it did reference and link to two different examples of worksheets like this. Funny enough, each one has examples that go to a page that either no longer exists or is broken for some reason. So, I decided to, as an example, try to use that and get a link on that site because I’m gonna take this template, this e-mail template, sorry this Excel template. I’m gonna upload it to my site. Free download. Use it as you will. You might not need to download it. You can just open up Excel and create this yourself. Quite easy to do.

So let’s just start with date (today’s date), the domain that I’m interested in – searchenginejournal.com. The page that I’m trying to get a link on is this page here. Okay, this is the article on the link building worksheet that has two resources that are no longer functional. What’s my link type – the desired link type for this tactic that I’m using here? It’s broken link. And this is more so just for bookkeeping purposes, just to go back and remember what kind of link you were looking to achieve on this site.

Contact first name and contact email – this is usually the blog owner or the website owner. In this case, it was actually… it looks like a guest post by Ann Smarty, so I’m just gonna put Ann as the first name. Okay, contact e-mail, I’ll have to dig into that. I could use some tools like Rapportive. I do follow her on Twitter, so I do know her Twitter handle. So let me just make a record of that.

Now, I like to gather some metrics for a couple of reasons. The main one is whenever I look for a link, especially in the age of panda and penguin I always look at the metrics anyway, before I get any link. So why not record it. It’s not in here for busy work. It’s not in here to force you to fill this stuff out, although that could be seen as a good thing. It’s really keeping a record here and just putting it down in front of you, so you could see it and evaluate it from two different link sources and then see if it’s a good link to pursue. I have certain metrics that I like to follow as a rule of thumb to make sure those numbers meet or exceed those metrics. And if not, I probably won’t pursue that link opportunity.

So, let’s just fill these in real quick. Searchenginejournal has a domain authority of 86. Obviously that is huge. Usually with SEOmoz domain authority, I try to keep it above 30-40, and anything below that is either a brand new site or is not seen as an authoritative source, so I probably would stay away from that.

The other metric that from seomoz is MozTrust, and that’s really the level of trust in the links, that they’re not spam links. It’s just a really good measure of if you’re gonna be put in a good link neighborhood. Typically, I like to only get links from sites that have about a MozTrust of 3.0 or higher. In this case, searchenginejounal has a MozTrust of 6.68 which is extremely high. This is an authoritative blog in the industry, so you’re gonna have high metrics there.

I do like to diversify my metrics here just to make sure that one source isn’t artificially inflated for whatever reasons, so I use Majestic. I use two metrics from there – citation flow and trust flow. I don’t really have strict metrics here. I usually like to see both citation and trust flow of above 10. So in this case citation flow is 26 and trust flow is 16. I have these filled in. Again, whenever I evaluate any link opportunity, I look at these metrics anyway, just to see whether I should waste my time or whether I should pursue this link. So, I’m recording them in here. It’s always great to have.

And then status, this is something you can update as you work on these relationships. So I haven’t contacted them yet. You have contacted, considering, queued, published and declined. So you can update that as you go. It might be smart to add another column here that says “Last Contacted.”

It’s really not set in stone. The idea here is to create something and to use something that is a system you can trust and keep going back to. It’s extremely organized. It’s Excel, so you can do so many different things with the data, and you can personalize it however you want. If you don’t like SEOmoz metrics, you don’t like Majestic metrics, swap them out. You can use something else. If you want more metrics, sometimes I use Mozrank. A lot of people like to use referring linking domains, total links pointing to the site, stuff like that. Go crazy. Add as many, many metrics as you want. These are just the four metrics that I always, always, always look at.

Okay, I will mention one thing, and that is… I mentioned minimum metrics that I strive for with these four here. Usually, if I find this site with the metrics that are just below or hovering around my threshold that I like to have, then I go to the site. I don’t want to automatically dismiss the link just because it doesn’t meet certain SEOmoz or Majestic metrics. So, I’ll go to the link, I’ll go to the site and spend 5-10 minutes on this site. Is it relevant to my site? If it is, that’s a link worth pursuing. If it’s relevant, that outweighs any of these metrics. Your link should be relevant anyway, but my point is if it’s an extremely relevant site and it’s a tad bit below your threshold metrics, go get it anyway.

With that said, if you go to that site and it is related to your industry but it’s littered with AdSense, littered with banner ads, littered with guest posts that could be paid guest posts, then you might wanna shy away. If you really wanna get into the nitty-gritty, take a look at the backlink profile. Just run it through open site exploter, Majestic, Ahrefs, whatever you use, and just take a sample of the top 10, 20, 30 links. Are those links that you wanna be associated with? Do they have links on sites that also link to stuff about payday loans, online gambling and stuff like that? If so, you probably don’t want to pursue that link.

So this is the worksheet. Take it; modify it; use it; manage it. It’s extremely effective if you’re working on this with a team, let’s say a team with a couple different link builders. Transfer it over to Google Docs. Add a column that says “Responsible Party” or “Responsible Individual,” and put that member of the team there. If you wanna assign people different links to pursue.

You could filter all the columns anyway you like. You can do so much in Excel. It’s extremely easy to use.

This is the worksheet. I’m gonna pop it up on my website marc-mcdermott.com. I’ll put this video up there with the transcript of the talk here, and a download link for this template. So that’s it. Managing your link prospects and prospecting with Microsoft Excel – very easy to do, very straightforward, and free. Thank you.

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