Can “Big Content” Link Building Campaigns Really Work?


There’s a number of articles on this website and elsewhere, on the importance of building links. Its effectiveness is usually assumed to be a given or implied by studies of ranking factorsthis latter view does not necessarily demonstrate that correlation factors actually impact the performance. The reality situation is in where links are clearly crucial, however their significance is questioned.

For a time I’ve wanted to go a more deeply into a specific link-building campaign that runs over a very short amount of time. I was interested in the results (besides the link-based metrics) could be attributable to it.

In this blog I’ll try to identify the results of the campaign and demonstrate that it is true that gaining a number of links from the success of a very visible “big content’ could result in higher rankings.

The reason you don’t get more posts similar to this is that it’s noisy data many things happen within a site’s efficiency that it is difficult to make a strong and quick link between a campaign’s results and the result in a company’s bottom line. This is particularly true of link-building for three reasons:

  • Links are natural for websites regardless — both the subject of the campaign as well as their competition
  • To a certain extent we are anticipating a wide-ranging effect across the entire domain, which is likely to be small and difficult to pinpoint in comparison to. the algorithm’s noise and activity of competitors
  • Links do not have the same a change in impact as technological fixes or the creation or creation of landing pages

But Distilled Distilled we have recently had the occasion to write a especially strong piece of a small-scale website to look at a circumstance where the value of our work should be more evident in the background noise. Have a take a look at these charts that demonstrate the link-root domain acquisitions of a one of our clients in the last two years in accordance with Majestic or Ahrefs respectively:

Do you know what I mean by noise? This is an exceptionally clear-cut case. We actually created nine original pieces that included link acquisition being one of the objectives for this client over a two-year span. We’ve discussed the entire campaign a overall, and here. One stands out in both graphs it’s the one that went live in March 2018.

This provides us with a a rare and valuable chance to determine what other metrics, that could have more direct business impact, have seen significant changes in that period of time.

What could we possibly expect to occur?

The idea is straightforward Link building is a an element of Google’s algorithm, therefore having more sites with links a site means higher rankings. But it’s more complicated -it is more complicated – in our experiences, the most creative links are more likely to end up in two kinds of links:

  • Links to the work of art The piece of work in the turn, usually to the home page of the site.
  • Direct links to the home page of the client’s siteDirect links to the homepage of the client site – e.g. “Research by the client ( shows that …”

The fascinating thing is that, for many websites that the homepage isn’t a main page for landing. I’ve written previously regarding how it’s virtually impossible to develop a solid mental model of internal link equity and this makes the impact of the content on primary pages nearly certainly not zero, however it is it’s difficult to know. In the same vein I’d recommend the video by Dixon Jones at Majestic.

In a similar way it is also known that the intricacies of PageRank are just a component of the unknowable complexity of Google’s ranking algorithm. This means that we cannot guarantee that the addition of hyperlinks will always move the needle. Recently, I recorded this “Whiteboard Friday” where I talk about some recent research conducted from my coworker Tom Capper, which shows how these effects are prone to being unpredictable.

The specific client I’ve been discussing in this article was a case of two factors in it, which also provided a unique clarity to these results:

  1. It was in actual fact a key ranking URL
  2. It struggled to make it onto the 1st page for several reasonable terms that were deemed to be targetable.

Both of these should make it a great candidate to gain clear benefits from quality link-building. (This does not mean that link building isn’t possible if these requirements aren’t methowever, the results will be more difficult to assess!)

Results of the 1st order

Due to the difficulties in the above analysis the majority of clients prefer to evaluate the effectiveness of their link building campaigns in terms of 1st-order benefits . By this, I’m referring to the effectiveness of the creative work as opposed to their landing pages for commercial purposes.

The element that stands out in the graphs of acquisition links above has the following first order advantages (and I’ve added charts from our tracking tool internally so that you can gain a sense of the speed of the acquisition):

228 LRDs maximum (204 “fresh” index shown below) and 145 within a month after the launch date:

2.140 Facebook shares at its top, and 1,750 within a month after the debut:

82,584 visits in Google Analytics, of which 67,000 within a month from the date of their launch:

I’ve mentioned before it’s not the case that all hyperlinks are likely to point at the content, and journalists often referring to the homepage. The 145 (domain-unique) hyperlinks were directed to this site in mid-April. You’ll be able to see that March outperformed an average month by around 200 LRDs and April beat it by about 100. According to my back-of the-envelope calculation I’d suggest you claim as high as 300 LRDs directed to the entire area by this article however, your opinions may differ!

The ways in which it has worked.

Yes, I said I’d at a minimum link this to rankings, didn’t?

Remember that this was an element of a campaign that consisted of nine pieces. It was launched in mid-March, with the majority of 1st order metrics or leading indicators, being delivered in less than a month (and there were no major technological modifications at this point). There’s a bit of signals in this midst of the chaos. Take a look at this graph that shows the amount of keywords that are ranked according to Ahrefs:

Do you notice the you see a change in the gradient following the launch? (And for those who think it’s a bit cynical who are among you, the content does not rank for more than 20 keywords according to the same source of data -this was not a main goal of this piece).

Here are the results of the customer’s (fairly optimistic!) key words:

I’d like to draw your focus on the shift between”11-20 “11-20” to “4-10” group, which is in line with the study conducted by my coworker Tom Capper that I mentioned in the previous paragraph. (Sidenote I was pleased to witness your client’s Domain Authority increase relative to their competitors in the most recent update. The enhancements to DA that were intended to improve it at predicting rank ability seem to have been successful in this one-sample-size case! ).

This pattern can be seen more evidently in this graph, which we gave to the client after the campaign ended late in the year.

This is an extremely clear effect however it could be that in order to keep moving upwards in the SERP, from positions 4-10, to positions 3-3, a very different type of job is requiredperhaps one that emphasizes brand, or maybe one that emphasizes the brand or intent to match.

Conclusion: Content with a lot of hyperlinks couldwork

As I’ve mentioned It’s uncommon to find a apparent and clear example linking-building efforts affecting rankings in a permanent manner. There are some similarities to similar cases that we’ve seen in recent times, however:

  • The signal started out quite small (if you’re not already aware, this can make the signal larger in comparison to the noise)
  • It contained target terms that were near the top of ranking on the first page.
  • Some search competitors had far stronger domains

The claims about “links are dead” have appeared to be greatly exaggerated. In reality it’s more that the situation has become more complicated.

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