How did we increase Domain Rating from 12DR to 45DR within a year

How did we increase domain rating? Where do I begin…

In this blog post I want to share with you the whole SEO journey of Sales.Rocks in the past year, the achievements (and mostly struggles 🙂 ) on our path to increase domain rating and brand authority in general.

I know SEO is a widely spread subject by now, and almost everyone is familiar with what SEO is and what it means in terms of marketing and brand awareness.
But, for those who still haven’t had the time to get familiar with SEO, I’m going to explain to you, just briefly, what you need to know about it.

SEO is an abbreviation for the term Search Engine Optimization, and as much as it sounds complicated, it is too. A short disclaimer: You would need all of what I’ll mention below, if you want people to find your brand in their next search on Google. There are 3 main pillars that cover SEO, without which it would be impossible for you to get in the run with the rest of your competition and increase domain rating (and believe me, I know this from experience).

TL;DR Table of Content

What is link building?

Third pillar is the off-page Optimization or more known as ‘getting backlinks’. This one is a lot trickier than the other two pillars. Why? Because it’s very unlikely that it’ll depend on you. And, results take time, a looot of it! The off-page optimization mainly consists of link-building and finding other websites to link to you and “promote” your content.

And this is the pillar that affects the Domain Rating the most. (you know what Domain Rating or authority is right?)

“Domain Rating is a proprietary Ahrefs’ metric that shows the strength of a target website’s total backlink profile (in terms of its size and quality).” – Tim Soulo from Ahrefs in his blog about DR.

The higher Domain Rating the more trusted your source or brand will be, thus you’ll rank higher on Google and people will accept your brand more easily.

 

I need to admit that we tried each and every tactic there is for link-building, and you need to be prepared that there will be times where you just see your rank dropping, but you did everything to increase it 😩 This marathon run with the competition is never-ending so you need to have the right resources and the proper tools to keep up with everything.

increase domain rating over time 2020
Sales.Rocks Domain Rating according to Ahrefs in January 2020
increase domain rating over time 2021
referring-domains-over-time-sales.rocks
Referring Domains over time to Sales.Rocks

(You see that spike there in 2019?! That’s when our website got hacked and we got almost 100 spammy referring domains to ours… sh*t happens, but we learned a lot from it 😉 )

How to find link opportunities?

SEO tools

One of the most favourite tools within our marketing team is Ahrefs. (and we rely a huge amount of success on their metrics). For the backlink outreach we use Sales.Rocks Contact Search to find suitable contacts to get in touch with and then use the Sales.Rocks Drip-Campaigns for the outreach. (to brag here that we can also do multi-channel outreach and don’t only “spam” people in their inbox).

Ahrefs

I’ve seen a lot of blog posts explaining how to find link opportunities with Ahrefs and how to increase domain rating, and I think I’ll just leave the explanation to the experts here 🙂 Although, I would give you an example of how we do this for Sales.Rocks.
The Content Explorer is a great tool to start with. Just add the keyword you have targeted your article with and check blogs that have similar niche.

content-explorer-ahrefs
content-explorer-example-b2b-sales-triggers

(We exclude homepages and filter 1 per domain here to get a good list). After that you can check and find the authors to get in touch with, or use Sales.Rocks to find the contacts for that website.

You should be careful here though, your competitors might actually fill 90% of your list, since this is also their niche and expertise. So we recommend proper manual filtering of your outreach list to avoid contacting your competitors for the same topic you both are trying to rank and get backlinks.

 

In case you’re on a tight budget here are some alternatives to improve your outreach game.

 

Ahrefs, MOZ and SemRush are great all in one tools with their own strengths and weaknesses, but there are a few free alternatives that can also get the job done, although maybe not quite as good and not as productively.

 

Even though Google is the go to search engine for almost everyone there are a few tips and tricks that not many know that can make their search easier.

Link Opportunities

Finding blog posts where you can reach out to for a link involves searching for specific keyword mentions to get a good anchor from. 

 

site:blog intext:”email deliverability”

 

site:blog intext: personalized email OR “email deliverability”

 

With this parameter you can quickly filter websites with dedicated blogs for content excluding all other pages. Although a bit basic and unrefined it is enough to get your started and not having to manually remove specific products and landing pages that mention the keyword. The quotation marks around your target phrase helps you look for specific mentions. You can also add “OR”, between two search terms to speed up the process if you want to pitch posts on different topics.

Finding contacts

When you want to reach out looking for a link, it is a good idea to go for the writer in question, or the person in charge in case the one who wrote it isn’t part of the team anymore, but if they are one and the same however that’s great. The content lead or team manager responsible for content which usually is the marketing team is often the one that decides on a link insertion or another form of collaboration but sometimes writers are given freedom if it’s their own content and they like what you’re offering.

 

If the article is posted under a general name or the website name it can be tricky when you have to send them an email as it limits your personalization options.

 

Usually the contact page, information on the article page itself together with LInkedIn can get you the name you are looking for. From there there are several email formats you can try to find the one you are looking for. Using an email verifier here is a must but we offer free credits for email verification.

 

Here are some common email address formats that you can try:

 

[firstname]@company.com

 

[firstname].[lastname]@company.com

 

[firstname][lastname]@company.com

 

[firstname].[lastname initial]@company.com

 

[firstnameinitial][lastname]@[company].com

 

[initials]@company.com

Also in this guide you can check out several alternatives for finding an email address for your outreach.

Sales.Rocks

We also use Sales.Rocks to find the people to reach out to. You can also do a guessed search by industry and you just might end up with a solid list of backlink opportunities. Sales.Rocks might not give you the exact blog you can link to, or the exact keyword you can link as an anchor, but you can find Webmasters, Content Managers, SEO Specialists within an industry specific company that you know will be a great fit for your content.

My colleague Ivana was working on an article for Recruitment Tools, so we needed to find contacts that work for recruitment companies and are responsible for the content on their websites. Since our content was written in English, we chose the UK as target.

content-managers-seo-uk-sales.rocks

From here, we exported the list into the “Email Sequences” and started automated, but highly personalized outreach with Sales.Rocks.

Email outreach

Depending on how many contacts you want to reach out to in a single campaign, it may take you quite a bit of time to personalize every email. Having the email like it was made for each contact individually is a must since no one will bother reading a generic email let alone replying. Email personalization at scale is difficult and time time consuming to do manually. 

 

That is why we use our Drip Campaigns for the task since it gives us more options to personalize the email not just with custom tags but we can visually make it more appealing as well as setting up a custom follow up email in case we don’t hear back from our recipients.

Ask your clients

You know your clients best don’t you? But do they know with how much value you can contribute to their websites? Client outreach for backlinks is a very delicate way of getting a backlink. And, you should be 99% sure you have the established relationship with the client, needed for the favour. We made a list of our most trusted and most active users and checked their websites. (not all of your clients will be suitable for backlinking, most of them will probably not be in your niche).


We did research on the topic and found suitable blogs where our content can really contribute to their audiences. (and this is actually the hard part, to find the suitable website and article you can link to).

After that the outreach is easy. You already have contact and good relationships with your client, you just need to propose the opportunity and check with them if they are interested.

email-template-clients

3. The Link-building tactics to increase domain rating

(we tried all of them)

 

Now, what do we do with it to get backlinks?
First of all you need to know the tactics on how to build backlinks. Yon can do:

 

  • Link exchange
  • Guest posting
  • Comment links tactic
  • Broken links tactic
  • “Simple” backlinks outreach (this is the hardest of them all)
  • Listings

All of this requires a good outreach tactic, high-quality content on your website and your blog in particular, and proper email templates.

1.Link exchange

– means literally an eye for an eye. So you give a backlink from your website to another domain to get one in return. But, be careful here! Google doesn’t like this and can detect if you have done link exchange when they crawl your website and the backlinks you’ve received. So ideally would be if you can arrange a link with a fellow SEO Specialist from the other side to give you a link in the proper niche for your website on a different domain, with the same or similar website authority. This way you can assure that Google finds this “organic-like”, and you still pop up in a relevant piece of content. And that’s what’s all about, isn’t it.

link-exchange-template

2. Guest Posting

– is an older, but still a very popular tactic for link-building. Be open to guest posts on your website and reach out to people that would like to give you an opportunity to write a guest post on theirs. But, guest posting is not only about the link, but also to help and bring value to the readers of the website you write for. That’s why it is important to prepare solid guest posting guidelines and only stick to the content that would correspond to yours. 

 

To show that you mean business and increase your chance of getting a place in the content plan, be open in what you offer and show off your previous work and experience on a subject. It is also important to offer a number of article proposals

Hi {FNAME},

 

I’m Igor, a Growth Marketer with Sales.Rocks.

 

While browsing your blog I noticed several guest post submissions. Are you still accepting them?

If so, I would like to submit a piece of content on your blog.

 

Here are several examples of my content:

 

[https: //sales.rocks/blog/how-to-personalize-your-emails/]
[https: //sales.rocks/blog/how-important-is-lead-list-segmentation/]
[https: //sales.rocks/blog/how-to-tailor-an-effective-multichannel-outreach-strategy/]

 

Would love to hear from you if you are interested.

 

Kind regards,

guest-posting-email-template-sales.rocks

3. Comment links

– are the least valuable links, but if you can get them from high-domain authority websites they can contribute to your domain authority. Next time you read a good article, give the writer credits for it, and mention how you do things on your end where you can link your website. Don’t spam! Otherwise it won’t count. 

Also to note as in the past years the number of spam comments has increased a lot, most blogs that allow comments, assign a no-follow attribute to the link, but there is still some value to this. You can specifically target list articles, or “listicles” where you want to leave your comment and recommend your product or engage with the writer of the post for further relationship building.

This small interaction also helped us get a link later on, so take the time to build up your connections with writers.

comment-links-example

4. The broken links

– tactic was a very popular one a couple of years ago. Now, webmasters are overwhelmed with checking and replacing links on their websites and are mainly not interested in what you have to say about a certain topic that was written on their blog a couple of years ago. (this is usually where you will find broken links, since the new ones are usually up to date 😉 ) But, if you do find a very good article, for which you have an updated statistic, research or numbers, you should definitely contact the webmaster about it.

Subject line: Hi [Name] you got a broken link

 

Hey [Name],

 

I was reading [writer]’s article, when I noticed you had a 404 in there.

 

To be specific [broken link] under [section], [anchor phrase] is gone.

 

If you are interested I have just the right piece of content

that would be a great replacement. Quite convenient wouldn’t you say?

 

Joking aside here’s the link I’m talking about [replacement link]

4. The “simple” backlink outreach

– is where you share a piece of content with people and pray they find it fantastic to link back to. You give out less, but gain a lot! If you have an excellent content that is… People don’t usually give out something for nothing, so this is why I recommend this for bands that are already well established and have insightful content that would matter for the website of the other party.

Another thing you can do here is to offer your tool for a listicle. You can do research on keywords with Ahrefs, or any other SEO tool you work with and have this option, and make a list of people mentioning x number of tools in their blog where you fit the niche.

4. The tool listings

Many websites work with aggregating lists of tools, calculating different metrics like reviews, comments, visits on that tool profile etc. You might want to include your tool and these platforms regularly update your info. You will get a good product exposure, but also a backlink from the actual profile you have there with your website url on it. Remember, these websites don’t usually give you a ‘dofollow’ link, but we were able to get them from G2 and ProductHunt.

g2-producthunt-dofollow

And how did we increase domain rating? To conclude…

These are the tactics that worked for us so far. And, I’m sure we are not the only ones that had success implementing these link building and outreach tactics. However, the SEO industry is an ever-evolving one and my advice to you is to keep up with the news and updates from experts in the industry. What worked today, might not always work tomorrow. And remember to arm yourself with the best tools for email outreach, keywords and backlinks, as they will be your shortcut to success. 😉

Contributing Writers:

Igor

Ivana

Author avatar
Jana
CMO at Sales.Rocks - Jana believes in analytical approach to marketing and building up a story around it.
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