Case Study: Growing a Single Post From 0-105 (DR 50+)
Links in Four Months

USERP Case Study

If you’ve ever tried building links to a blog post manually, you know two things:

  1. Building links is really hard
  2. Refer back to number 1

So when I posed the question in a Slack group (if anyone has a case study of building a high domain authority quickly), I was immediately intrigued by this response from Jeremy Moser of uSERP

Specifically, he showed me a blog post that generated over 200 backlinks from 168 unique domains… and over 105 of those backlinks were coming from unique domains with a DR 50 plus authority!

Oh, and this was also a key factor that helped him grow from a domain rating (Ahrefs) of zero to 73 in just a few months… another impressive feat.

 

Needless to say, I was eager to interview Jeremy to figure out how he accomplished this mission.

 

Specifically, he uncovered:

  • What makes a blog post a good link earning prospect
  • The four promotion tactics used
  • How to maintain and keep growing a blog

 

You’ll also get a chance to see the exact scripts and templates he used during the campaign.

Identifying a Linkworthy Topic

 

Many people think that generating links starts once the post is published… but the reality is that the post idea and structure has a significant impact on whether or not it will generate backlinks.

 

In fact, I did a study of the 400 most highly linked-to blog posts and found that there were clear patterns in post styles that consistently generated backlinks.

Jeremy said that through keyword research, they found that the term “Organic Business Growth” would be ideal for their business.

 

When they did some SERP analysis, they found that:

  • The posts that were currently ranking were definition-based
  • The current posts were not very in-depth

Therefore, there was a gap in the market for an ultimate guide covering everything a person could possibly want to know about organic business growth.

Content Promotion Tactics

Once the topic wasidentified, here are the top four promotion strategies Jeremy used to build links.

  • Expert Quotes
  • Mention Driven
  • Outreach
  • Network Outreach
  • Cold Outreach

When I asked him what the breakdown for this particular case study looked like, he said

  • Expert Quotes = 15%
  • Mention Driven
  • Outreach = 15%
  • Network Outreach = 55%
  • Cold Outreach = 15%

Expert Quotes

Expert quotes are an underrated tactic that can dramatically increase your quantity of quality links to a given post. In fact, Jeremy estimates that about 50% of people they include quotes from ultimately give them a link back.

 

He said, “I’ve been mentioned a couple of times, and the natural next step is for you to share that (content) with your network.”

 

Once the relationship exists, the influencer might mention you in their future blog posts published on either their own website or someone else’s website.

Therefore, it’s really a great way to build relationships rather than just a one time link.

 

You’ll also get instant access to a whole new relevant audience which will drive more qualified traffic and links as some of their audience may link to your post.

 

To start building expert quotes, put together a list of relevant experts. You can do this by analyzing subsections in your post and then finding experts on each of those subsections. This ensures that the quotes are relevant to your topic and the people you are reaching out to aren’t direct competitors. 

 

For example, if my outline looks like this, I might reach out to a Facebook ad expert for a quote.

 

 

Once you know the kinds of experts you want to reach out to, it’s important to consider their influence level. 

 

Someone with very little influence will provide minimal help as they won’t have an authoritative website to give you a link, and they won’t have a large audience.

 

However, if you choose someone too big (like Seth Godin), it’s unlikely that they will share or promote the content for you. 

 

Therefore, try to target individuals that are influencers within their niche industry. This will maximize your chances of earning a link back and your response rate. 

Once you have a list of people to reach out to you can do so over Linkedin or via email. Here’s an example of what your outreach will look like this:

 

 

The response rate is generally quite high as you’re leading with value, so your message doesn’t have to be super in-depth. Just make it personal and human-sounding.

However, be sure to avoid exhausting influencers. Jeremy recommends including three to four expert quotes per 2,500-3,000 word post and only reaching out to the same expert two to three times per year.

Mention Driven Outreach

 

The next tactic that he uses is super easy and also value-driven. If you mention someone else’s content/tool in your post, just reach out to them and let them know!

Jeremy mentioned that he links to relevant potential link partners whenever partners. 

For example, if there is an interesting case study that supports a claim in your post, you might add it and then send them a note (either email or Linkedin) and let them know you linked to it. It might look like this:

 

Hey John, 

We love what you’re doing at uSERP! Your case study on link building was particularly interesting and we even included a link to it in our latest post. If you’re open to collaborating any further, we’re always open.

Megan

 

Jeremy says, “Basically, that gets your foot in the door with some sort of value rather than just grappling in their inbox for a link with all the rest of the people.”

Again, to increase your response rate, Jeremy recommends using the same outreach criteria as the one for expert quotes (don’t reach out to sites with such high authority that they ignore you, but enough authority that they have influence in your industry). 

 

He said that his ballpark response rate for this method was about 25-30%

In-Network Outreach

 

It’s pretty obvious that reaching out to your close network of friends is a great way to promote your content and build links.

 

Therefore, this was the third outreach strategy in the case study.

“We believe you should have a list of close people that you can genuinely turn to for help and promotion. And of course, you should also aim to be that person for others too.”

 

But what if you don’t have a network?

 

Jeremy recommends joining Slack groups and connecting with people on Twitter and Linkedin.

 

Slack groups have worked particularly well for me (as this post was actually born from a Slack group conversation), so let’s start there.

Just Google the space that you’re in (ecommerce, SEO, etc) and search for Slack groups.

Some have high engagement and really high-quality people, whereas others are somewhat lower.

 

Therefore, join a few and focus on the ones that have people commenting daily. My favorites in the marketing community are Online Geniuses and Content Career Growth.

Once you’ve joined, answer questions in the group. You can also reach out and offer to do something for free for folks.

 

For example, let’s say you are in an ecommerce group and someone is asking about conversion rates. Offer to do a full CRO audit of their site for free. Ideally, don’t even ask them if you can do it for them. Just do it for them and comment with the CRO audit report.

 

The key to this deeper level of engagement is reaching out to people who already have some leverage/audience. Creating a free site audit will be time-consuming, so be sure that there is the possibility of some value for you.

However, you can always make a goal to at least leave an insightful comment on 3-5 posts per week regardless of the person you’re helping.

Cold and Semi Cold Outreach

 

Cold and semi-cold outreach has been a driving force for client link building within the uSERP agency. As you can imagine, Jeremy and his co-founder Brad quickly exhausted their personal relationships and had to find new ways to connect with people.

Therefore, they turned to cold outreach.

 

While you may have heard the saying that “cold outreach is dead,” Jeremy believes that there is still a lot of room for growth.

Specifically, they used BuzzStream and Respona for their email outreach.

However, sending hundreds of generic emails that look like this probably won’t convert very well:

Therefore, the key to improving conversions (and getting links from higher quality websites) is to personalize them. The level of personalization you should use depends largely on the prospect scale and niche size.

 

For example, if you’re in the marketing space, there are thousands of quality websites that might be a quality link partnership. Therefore, you might want to take a semi personalized approach.

 

Ahrefs has an outstanding example of this in their stat page link building case study. They templatized their outreach by using an Excel spreadsheet to sort people by pitches. So this is what the template looked like:

It pulls data (the stat, page topic, and pitch) from this spreadsheet:

So the final pitch looks like this:

You’ll probably see around a 2% response rate with a bland outreach, though this one generated 5.71% conversion rate. In other words, 27 of the 473 websites contacted ultimately linked to the post.

However, if there are a few higher-end websites you’d really like to land a link on, you can spend more time crafting a highly personalized message for them.

Once you’ve exhausted those possibilities, consider using semi-cold outreach.

For this, you basically ask friends for intros to some of their friends.

 

This will dramatically increase your response rate and is great for high-end blogs.

Content Promotion Schedule

 

The first week it goes live is when they sent out almost all of the promotional campaigns for this particular post, though it’s still important to revisit it as it becomes older and begins to deteriorate.

 

Therefore, every couple of months, you may want to rotate some expert quotes (as they have done for this post) and do some cold outreach or network outreach.

Fortunately, if you do give it a good push in that first week and gain traction, it’s likely to earn more and more links as it increases in popularity.

 

Therefore, at the moment, they aren’t doing any additional promotion for this post.

Just be sure to keep an eye on your core posts and do additional promotion if you notice its

Final Thoughts

 

This study’s strategies are fairly straightforward, but it’s the combination and consistency of them all that really helped push this post to the top.

If you try just one strategy and think backlinking doesn’t work, consider trying a combination of all of them.

 

In addition, you might have noticed that all of these strategies lead with value. If your email or outreach message isn’t going to make that person’s day better, it’s probably not going to convert.

 

Therefore, focus less on just building links and more of the relationship aspect we discussed.

 

Now it’s your turn. Do you have a similar case study? Let me know in the comments.