Link Building Case Study: How we built backlinks with a statistics page (and came out on top)

A few months ago, we created a list of statistics on the referencing

.
This may look like a relatively standard article, but we created it strategically to attract links from an awareness campaign.

And it worked. We sent 515 emails and got 36 backlinks from 32 websites.

The article is now ranked number one for "statistics ofreferencing":

Link Building Case Study: How we built backlinks with a stats page (and came out on top), Maintenance Hosting Security and Wordpress Development

In this guide, you will learn:

//www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTF6OBwidhclist=PLvJ_dXFSpd2u_ABxIRO6RVK3ucKyzn96Y

You've probably heard of the skyscraper technique. This is a link building tactic that involves finding a page with a lot of links, creating something "better", and then presenting your new and improved resource to those who are linking to the now lower page.

This can work for any type of content, but we had a theory that it might work particularly well for statistics pages, because.. :

  1. Statistics pages tend to have a lot of links
  2. Statistics pages are often outdated
  3. Statistics are often updated in a sloppy manner

Let's take a closer look at why each of these elements is important.

1. Statistics pages tend to contain a lot of links

Every "skyscraper" campaign starts with one or more pages containing tons of links. If you search Google for statistics pages on any popular topic, you'll almost always see that the top-ranked pages have tons of backlinks.

Just look at the results for "youtube statistics":

Link Building Case Study: How we built backlinks with a stats page (and came out on top), Maintenance Hosting Security and Wordpress Development

There are several pages here with links to thousands of websites.

This usually happens because bloggers and journalists often quote statistics from these pages in their articles.

For example, look at this post from Shopify on launching a YouTube channel for your company:

Link Building Case Study: How we built backlinks with a stats page (and came out on top), Maintenance Hosting Security and Wordpress Development

The author cites two statistics in the first paragraph and links to his sources, one of which is a list of YouTube statistics. Most likely, he came across this post while researching for his article, found a useful statistic, and then cited and linked the source.

2. Statistics pages are often outdated

Most statistics pages are rarely updated and therefore often show outdated and inaccurate statistics.

Here is an example:

Link Building Case Study: How we built backlinks with a stats page (and came out on top), Maintenance Hosting Security and Wordpress Development

If we look at the source of this statistic, it leads us to the YouTube press page. Here it says that there are more than two billion monthly YouTube users instead of the 1.9 billion mentioned.

This is a problem because it leads bloggers and journalists to cite outdated statistics.

For example, if we check the report Backlinks of this page in Site Explorer, search for "1.9 billion" in the link anchors and surrounding text, and enable the "one link per domain" option, we find that 55 websites cite the outdated statistic and link to the page.

Link Building Case Study: How we built backlinks with a stats page (and came out on top), Maintenance Hosting Security and Wordpress Development

3. Statistics pages are often updated in a sloppy manner

Even when people update their statistics pages, they don't always do it right. One of the most common mistakes is to remove outdated statistics from the page without replacing them with updated statistics.

The problem is that when the statistics are removed, the citations and links remain.

For example, let's check the ratio of anchors for a list of YouTube statistics in Site Explorer. Many reference pages list a statistic that YouTube is the third most visited site on the Web. However, if we look for this statistic on the page itself, it cannot be found.

Link Building Case Study: How we built backlinks with a stats page (and came out on top), Maintenance Hosting Security and Wordpress Development

This is because the author has updated the page and removed this statistic.

You may already have a rough idea of what we are going to do. If not, don't worry. We'll go through the entire process below.

Here's what we did:

  1. Find a winning subject
  2. Find potential links
  3. Reduce the number of potential links
  4. Creation of the statistics page
  5. Researching contact information and verifying leads
  6. Drafting and sending of awareness e-mails

Step one. Find a winning topic

From the beginning, we knew we wanted to create a statistics page on the referencing or online marketing, because that's what our site is about. However, we didn't have a specific topic in mind yet, so we had to do some research first.

To start with, we searched the Ahrefs Keyword Explorer for keywords related to our business, such as SEOsearch engine optimization, content marketing, etc.

Link Building Case Study: How we built backlinks with a stats page (and came out on top), Maintenance Hosting Security and Wordpress Development

From there, we went into the sentence correspondence and used the "Include" filter to find keywords containing words like statistics, stats, facts, and figures.

Link Building Case Study: How we built backlinks with a stats page (and came out on top), Maintenance Hosting Security and Wordpress Development
Note.

Be sure to switch the "Include" filter settings from "All" to "Any" when you do this.

This gave us a bunch of ideas, but we needed to narrow them down to the top ranked pages that had a lot of backlinks. To do this, we used the keyword difficulty filter to exclude all low difficulty keywords.

Link Building Case Study: How we built backlinks with a stats page (and came out on top), Maintenance Hosting Security and Wordpress Development

If you're wondering why we used the Keyword Difficulty filter, it's because the metric is based on the average number of domains referring to the current top ranked pages. If a keyword has a KD high, this usually means that the top ranked pages have links from many websites.

This narrows down the possibilities considerably, but there are still some ideas, the most relevant of which is "statistics ofreferencing "

Finally, we checked the overview of the SERP to make sure that the top-ranked pages were mostly ranked statistics pages. It was easy enough to tell if this was the case from the page titles.

Link Building Case Study: How we built backlinks with a stats page (and came out on top), Maintenance Hosting Security and Wordpress Development

Step Two. Find potential links

If we were running a "shotgun" campaign here, finding potential links would be simple. All we'd have to do is download the full list of backlinks from each competing stats page, write any old post, and then send the same outreach email to everyone.

It would probably be something generic and vague like "Hey, I saw that you linked to this stats page. Ours is better. Can we exchange the link?"

This is the typical "skyscraper" approach, and we don't like it. We've all been victims of this type of outreach email before. It's spam, it's not helpful and it's annoying.

So here's what we did instead:

First of all, we went back to the overview of SERP for "statistics ofreferencing " and looked for the statistics page with the most backlinks.

Link Building Case Study: How we built backlinks with a stats page (and came out on top), Maintenance Hosting Security and Wordpress Development

Next, we analyzed this page to see which statistics were responsible for the most backlinks.

To do this, we opened the report Anchors page in Site Explorer and looked for frequently mentioned statistics. Right away, we saw numerous links indicating that 93 % of online experiences start with a search engine.

Link Building Case Study: How we built backlinks with a stats page (and came out on top), Maintenance Hosting Security and Wordpress Development

We saved this data in a spreadsheet, then continued to go through the report until we had some popular statistics.

Link Building Case Study: How we built backlinks with a stats page (and came out on top), Maintenance Hosting Security and Wordpress Development

Next, we wanted to check two boxes for each statistic:

  1. Are enough people linking because of this statistic?
  2. Can we justify a good reason for them to link to us instead of or in addition to the current page?

To do this, we first consulted the Backlinks of the page, activated the "one link per domain" filter, and then searched for each statistic in the link anchors and surrounding texts.

For the statistic "93%", more than 700 websites were linked to the page.

Link Building Case Study: How we built backlinks with a stats page (and came out on top), Maintenance Hosting Security and Wordpress Development

This is the first box checked.

Then we had to see if there was a good reason to contact these people, so we opened the statistics page and followed this process:

Link Building Case Study: How we built backlinks with a stats page (and came out on top), Maintenance Hosting Security and Wordpress Development

For the "93%" statistic, we saw that it was not even mentioned on the page.

Link Building Case Study: How we built backlinks with a stats page (and came out on top), Maintenance Hosting Security and Wordpress Development

For most of our other statistics, they were still on the page, but when we checked their sources, we noticed that many were old and outdated. Wherever this was the case, we scoured the web for an updated statistic.

Everything was then saved in a spreadsheet to get a result that looked like this:

Link Building Case Study: How we built backlinks with a stats page (and came out on top), Maintenance Hosting Security and Wordpress Development
    • Column A: l'URL

from the statistics page (where we found the statistic).

    • Column B

The number of referring domains that cite the statistic (we have also linked this column to the filtered report in Site Explorer for easy access).

    • Column C:

the statistics themselves.

    • Column D

the original source of the statistic (if we could find it).

    • Column E

: the age of statistics.

    • Column F

The most recent statistic (if applicable).

    • Column G

: The source of the new statistics.

    • Column H

The age of the new statistics.

  • Column I:

Notes and ideas for reading angles, such as if the statistic is out of date or missing from the page.

Then we repeated this entire process for the other top-ranked stats pages until we had thousands of leads based on eight stats.

Link Building Case Study: How we built backlinks with a stats page (and came out on top), Maintenance Hosting Security and Wordpress Development

Finally, we downloaded all relevant leads for each statistic and page in the report Backlinksand then we imported them into Google sheets and labeled each URL according to its segment.

Link Building Case Study: How we built backlinks with a stats page (and came out on top), Maintenance Hosting Security and Wordpress Development

Link Building Case Study: How we built backlinks with a stats page (and came out on top), Maintenance Hosting Security and Wordpress Development

In total, we had 1,986 unvalidated URLs.

Step 3. Reduce the number of potential links

While we had a reason to contact over 1,900 prospects, we didn't want to contact poor quality websites for obvious reasons. So our next task was to clean up our prospect list.

The first step was to de-duplicate URLs within the same domain, as websites could potentially link to multiple statistics pages. And we didn't want to contact the same site twice.

It was pretty easy to do. We simply added a column for the referring website and used a tool like this to extract the root domains in batches. Then we pasted them into our sheet.

We then used the built-in functionality to remove duplicate domains.

Link Building Case Study: How we built backlinks with a stats page (and came out on top), Maintenance Hosting Security and Wordpress Development

The second step was to remove the leads linked to the statistics pages by nofollow links, UGC or sponsored. To do this, we filtered the "Type" column and removed the rows.

Link Building Case Study: How we built backlinks with a stats page (and came out on top), Maintenance Hosting Security and Wordpress Development

The final step was to exclude websites without much traffic. To do this, we extracted domain-level traffic for all prospects using theAPI Ahrefs and the Google Sheets script editor.

If you are following us and do not have a subscription to theAPIYou can use our batch analysis tool. Simply paste up to 200 domains at a time and set the target mode on the domain with all its sub-domains.

Link Building Case Study: How we built backlinks with a stats page (and came out on top), Maintenance Hosting Security and Wordpress Development

You can then export the file and run a VLOOKUP on the root domains.

At the end of this process, we had 902 leads left in our sheet.

Step 4. Create the statistics page

The reality of stats pages is that it's hard to create one that stands out. However, we did three main things to make ours the "best" statistics page in referencing:

  1. We have included popular statistics from other pages
  2. Include other interesting statistics
  3. Grouping of statistics by category

Let's see why these elements are important.

Include popular statistics from other pages

We have included in our article every statistic that has helped other similar pages gain a lot of links. If the statistic was outdated, we found and added a more recent statistic.

Part of the reason we did this was to link our page to our link building campaign
g campaign. However, we also realized that these were the statistics that people found most useful. How do we know that? Because these are the ones that bloggers and journalists frequently cite in their articles.

Include other interesting statistics

Not all of the statistics on our page are related to our link building campaign. We made an effort to find and include other statistics that seemed interesting.

However, we did not want to include outdated statistics, so we made an effort to search for the original source of each statistic we wanted to include. If we couldn't find the source, or if we realized it was outdated, we looked for an updated source.

This may seem trivial, but it is actually a major problem in most statistics lists.

For example, the "93 %" statistic we found earlier is from a 2006 report.

Statistics grouped by category

People don't consume lists of statistics like they would an ordinary blog post. Most are simply looking for targeted information to add to their articles to back up their claims. That's why we needed to make our article organized and easy to read.

To do this, we have grouped the statistics into categories and added direct links in the introduction.

Link Building Case Study: How we built backlinks with a stats page (and came out on top), Maintenance Hosting Security and Wordpress Development

We have also compiled statistics on referencing most cited in the "top" section SEO statistics" at the beginning of the article. This makes it easier for Internet users to find the most frequently quoted and interesting statistics.

Step Five. Find contact information and vet leads

After publishing our list of statistics on the referencing (and de-indexed the page), we were almost ready to prospect and link. But first, we had to find our prospects' contact information.

If you've read our guide to large-scale link building or watched our video On the same topic, you know we're big fans of using APIs and automation for that.

With that in mind, here's what we did:

    1. We ran all URLs through a custom tool to extract as many author names as possible.

It was far from perfect, but we still got 741 names.

    1. We have taken these names and put them in theAPI

from Hunter to search for an email address. Hunter returned 452 email addresses to us. This represents a success rate of approximately 60 %.

  1. We passed these email addresses through l 'API

from NeverBounce to see which ones were deliverable.

After about 30 minutes of automation, we had 168 valid emails, 92 catchalls that required manual intervention, and 178 emails that were undeliverable.

Link Building Case Study: How we built backlinks with a stats page (and came out on top), Maintenance Hosting Security and Wordpress Development

For valid emails, all we had to do was to check that the pages were of good quality. Vlad, one of our team members, took care of this process. He spent a few hours a week checking the leads and finding missing contact information.

Here is a simplified version of the screening process he followed:

Link Building Case Study: How we built backlinks with a stats page (and came out on top), Maintenance Hosting Security and Wordpress Development

He then marked all the prospects in the spreadsheet, leaving us with 515 sites ready for submission.

He also noted the purpose of the link pages.

Link Building Case Study: How we built backlinks with a stats page (and came out on top), Maintenance Hosting Security and Wordpress Development

Step six. Write and send the prospecting emails

Before hitting the send button, the final step in the process was to write our outreach email templates and create personalization fields for each prospect.

The idea here was to personalize the emails based on the statistic mentioned by each prospect.

Here is what we have created:

Hello [First Name],

I saw that you mentioned how [Stat] on your about page [Page Subject].

[Pitch]

We have published this and other recent statistics on referencing here: //ahrefs.com/blog/57-seo-statistics-for-2020/

Je ne sais pas si vous éditez activement des articles, mais cela pourrait valoir la peine de faire une mise à jour si c’est le cas ? Pas de pression ????

Here's to you,
Vlad
The first three customization fields were fairly simple because we already had this information in our spreadsheet.

For the pitch, we wrote eight custom paragraphs based on the statistics mentioned.

Link Building Case Study: How we built backlinks with a stats page (and came out on top), Maintenance Hosting Security and Wordpress Development

Finally, we put it all together in a single sheet and imported it into our outreach tool: PitchBox. The result was a simple, personalized email for each prospect.

Here is an example of the final result:

Hi Josh,

I saw that you mentioned how 93% online experiences start with a search engine on your page on the referencing of the electronic commerce.

This statistic is actually 14 years old. More recent research (2019) suggests that this number has dropped to 68%. I think it's lower because social and other sources now account for about 1/3 of traffic.

We have published this and other recent statistics on referencing here : //ahrefs.com/blog/57-seo-statistics-for-2020/.

Je ne sais pas si vous éditez activement des articles, mais cela pourrait valoir la peine de les mettre à jour si c’est le cas ? Pas de pression ????

Here's to you,

Vlad
All that was left to do was to click on send.

In total, we sent 515 emails. 473 were delivered, and 42 were bounced.

Based on deliverable emails, our conversion rate is 5.71 %, which means that 27 of the websites we contacted linked to us.

However, two other interesting things happened:

    1. We obtained links from five sites that we had not contacted

. This is probably because some people found our article through other sites that linked to us and through the odd social share. In total, we had 19 shares on Facebook and two on Twitter.

  1. Some websites have created links more than once.

These were both new and old pages.

Taking this into account, our campaign brought us a grand total of 36 editorial links from 32 unique websites.

But, of course, quantity is only half the battle. What about quality?

Let's break it down by domain classification:

Link Building Case Study: How we built backlinks with a stats page (and came out on top), Maintenance Hosting Security and Wordpress Development

9 of the 32 domains referenced had a DR of 70 or more. 12 had a DR from 40 to 69. And the remaining 11 had values of DR from 4 to 39.

If we do the same for estimated organic traffic, this is what we get:

Link Building Case Study: How we built backlinks with a stats page (and came out on top), Maintenance Hosting Security and Wordpress Development

1 website gets more than 1,000,000 monthly visits. 6 get between 10,000 and 1,000,000. 6 get between 1,000 and 9,999. 16 get between 100 and 999. And 4 get no search traffic.

Judging by the conventional measures of referencingMost of the links we got were of high quality. Of course, measurements like these are not infallible, but after checking every link we got by hand, I share this conclusion.

Despite the success of this campaign, some might say that a conversion rate of 5.71 % is nothing special.

Five years ago this might have been the case, but awareness is becoming more difficult and more and more people are asking for money or something in return.

That said, there are two ways to increase our conversion rate.

1. Negotiate with prospects

The conversion rate for our campaign was 5.71 %, but the response rate was 17.55 %. That means 83 people responded to our email, but only 27 linked to us (plus two people we didn't contact).

While some of these responses were of the "thanks, but no thanks" variety, many were requests to exchange links and such.

Here is a brief breakdown:

  • 8 people requested a link exchange;
  • 6 people asked for something else in return (e.g., a free Ahrefs account, sharing their content on social media, etc ????
  • 3 people asked for money

The purchase of links goes against the Google's rules for webmasters. So it's not something we would do or recommend to others. But even if we exclude these people, there are still 14 people who seem willing to negotiate. With a little back and forth, we probably could have reached a mutually beneficial agreement and convinced these people to link to us. This would have brought our number of referring domains to 41, a conversion rate of 8.7 %.

2. Send follow-ups

According to thestudy Authority Hacker's survey of more than 600,000 awareness emails, sending three follow-ups at least doubled the results. However, we didn't send automatic follow-ups because we didn't want to bother people.

This may sound crazy to most link builders, but we only ran this campaign to test our tactics. Our goal was not to get as many links as humanly possible. That's why we only tracked people who said they would link to us but didn't do so within two weeks.

If we had followed Authority Hacker's advice and sent three follow-ups, our link acquisition rate would probably have been at least 11.42 %.

Last thoughts

Given that we put a lot of effort into this campaign and only got backlinks from 32 websites, you might wonder if blogger outreach is worth it. Fortunately, the answer to that question is simple: of course it is.

Backlinks are always an important ranking signal, and there is no other way to build high quality links without outreach. Although we ran this campaign over a few weeks, it's also worth noting that it wasn't very complicated to set up. If we were to do it again, assuming we had someone looking at the leads and finding the contact information, we think we could set up the entire campaign in one work day.

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