From Zero to Hero: How We Achieved 58 DR in Just 8 Months

In my previous role at Smartlead, I led the content marketing team, managing and implementing all aspects of our content marketing strategy. One of my key performance indicators (KPIs) was to increase our website's domain rating (DR).

I managed a small team, including a dedicated member focused on collaborations and partnerships. Undoubtedly, she was one of the best backlink-building experts I have ever worked with, consistently securing high-quality links.

Over approximately eight months, we successfully increased Smartlead's DR from 0 to 58. In this edition of CopyStash, I am excited to share the exact strategies that helped us secure backlinks from prominent websites such as Zapier, Hackernoon, ReadWrite, Writesonic, and more.

If you've ever been involved in building backlinks, you know that Google despises direct link exchanges. It views them as a black-hat SEO strategy.

Google frowns upon unnatural link-building schemes, including direct link exchanges that manipulate search rankings.

Instead, we can employ a more strategic approach: offering a link to a third-party website in exchange for a backlink.

For example, if you have a website (A), you can ask another website (B) for a backlink, and in return, provide a backlink to website (B) from a third website (C).

However, ensure the link you're adding/giving comes naturally within the content piece.

We spent hours reviewing blog posts to determine where our links could be embedded naturally and appear helpful. This ensures the content remains valuable to readers while enhancing SEO efforts.

How to do it?

  1. Identify Relevant Websites: Curate a list (List A) of websites willing to give backlinks.
  2. Target Desired Backlinks: Create another list (List B) of websites from which you want to obtain backlinks.
  3. Propose the Exchange: Offer the websites in List B a backlink from the websites in List A in exchange for backlinks to your website.
  4. Reciprocal Linking: Additionally, provide backlinks from your website to the websites in List A.


Remember HARO?

A few years back, it was the best way to get backlinks from reputed websites. Now, the platform has saturated, and every request for quotes/insights gets hundreds of responses, which makes making a cut really difficult.

But now there's a new platform called Featured that can help you find some interesting opportunities to get backlinks in exchange for insights.

Featured connects subject-matter experts with top publishers to increase their exposure and create quality, ready-to-publish content.

Similar to HARO, journalists/writers submit requests there, and the platform shares the opportunity with relevant subject matter experts. Now, the SMEs provide their insights through the platform. The best part is that you can track the progress of your answers and check if they were accepted or rejected.

Via Zapier

Using Featured, we secured many backlinks for our website. Here's how we did it:

  1. Create SME Accounts: We set up multiple Subject Matter Expert (SME) accounts for key individuals, including myself, the CEO, the Head of Marketing (HOM), and the Customer Success (CS) team members.
  2. Identify Opportunities: We received multiple backlink opportunities every week.
  3. Leverage SME Insights: Our backlink experts contacted the SMEs to gather answers and insights for these opportunities.
  4. Refine and Enhance: Once the SMEs submitted their responses, our writers refined and enhanced the readability and quality of the answers.
  5. Submit and Track: Finally, the backlink experts submitted the improved answers and tracked their progress to ensure the backlinks were secured and monitored effectively.

This systematic approach allowed us to consistently gain high-quality backlinks and improve our website's authority.

Slack Communities

Lately, online communities today have become very powerful. Whether you're a writer or a marketer, you can leverage a handful of communities to grow in your career.

When it comes to link-building opportunities, several Slack communities stand out, such as Demand Curve, Superpath, and s11s. These communities offer valuable platforms for finding and exchanging backlinks.

For instance, Demand Curve features a channel dedicated to link exchanges, where you can discover numerous opportunities for collaboration.

Similarly, Superpath has a collaboration channel that offers many opportunities to contribute to high-authority websites and secure backlinks in exchange. These channels are excellent resources for building relationships and enhancing your website's authority through strategic link-building.

Via Superpath/Help a B2B Reporter Out

Build Relationships with Content and Marketing Managers in Your Niche

Directly contacting content and marketing managers from other companies in the same niche can be highly effective for securing backlinks from websites with a domain rating (DR) of 50 or higher. This approach, however, is more than a one-email task. It requires time and effort to develop a genuine relationship before proposing a mutually beneficial collaboration.

Here's how we did it:

  1. Identify Potential Partners: Research and identify companies in your niche with high DR websites.
  2. Initiate Contact: Send personalized messages to the content and marketing managers, showing genuine interest in their work.
  3. Build Rapport: Engage with them over time, offering value and demonstrating how a partnership can benefit both parties.
  4. Propose Collaboration: Once a relationship is established, propose a collaboration that also offers clear benefits for the company.

Lessons Learned: Avoiding Common Mistakes

  1. Believing High-Quality Content Will Automatically Attract Links:
    • It takes years for high-quality content to attract backlinks naturally. If you're a new website without established credibility, you need to proactively build links instead of waiting for them to come to you.
  2. Prioritizing Quality Over Quantity in Backlinks:
    • One backlink from a website with a DR of 70+ is more valuable than multiple links from websites with a DR of less than 40. Always prioritize quality over quantity.
  3. Relying on AI Tools for Collaboration Responses:
    • Using AI tools to write responses for collaboration opportunities is a poor strategy. Accept only those opportunities where you can genuinely contribute your insights and expertise.
  4. Avoiding Paid Links:
    • Paid links can be risky because they can be removed after you've paid for them. Instead, focus on earning genuine, organic backlinks through valuable content and relationships.
Note for Managers: Building backlinks is a specialized task that requires dedicated effort and expertise. Don't expect employees from other departments to take on this responsibility. Instead, hire a backlinks expert and let them focus on building high-quality links effectively.

Some useful resources related to Building Backlinks-

Remember, success in link-building requires patience, persistence, and genuine relationship-building. By focusing on quality over quantity and ensuring your content offers real value, you can establish a strong backlink network that supports your long-term SEO goals.


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