Table of Contents
For programmatic SEO sites, consistent content creation isn’t enough to rank pages on Google’s first page, which is where link building comes in.
By link building, we mean driving backlinks from other sites to yours. And Google sees this act as a vote of confidence and a clear sign of information relevance, especially if it’s from an authoritative site.
Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to drive backlinks to programmatically generated pages by following conventional link-building methods. And that's because most of these pages are not link-worthy - low in quality or authoritativeness.
But there's a strategy we've found that works, and we will share it with you shortly. But before that, let's look at why link building is essential to programmatic SEO sites in the first place.
Most programmatic SEO site owners believe generating backlinks isn't important for programmatically generated pages since they target low-competitive phrases with high transactionally intent.
But we disagree.
There are two main reasons to do link building for a programmatic site:
Not so obvious, but driving backlinks from external sites affect your site's overall traffic.
For instance, if you can get an authoritative site with 500k monthly traffic to link to one of your pages, and that backlink drives 100 monthly visits to your site, that’s an extra 1200 traffic you’ve just added to your site.
Also, backlinks are a gateway for total strangers to discover your site and steal other people's audience without breaking their rules.
Because a keyword isn't competitive right now, it doesn't mean it will stay that way forever. As a niche matures, keywords that previously had a difficulty score of 10 might grow to 60 in a few years.
So how do you stay ahead and hold on to your position on SERPs when these keywords mature?
The only way to stay ahead of the curve is to build backlinks. It’s the only way to ensure you tighten your hold on the top spot, even when bigger competitors start targeting the keyword.
Now, if you've been reading till this point, we strongly believe we’ve given you enough reason to start thinking about building backlinks to your pages.
If that's the case, let's show you how to build high-quality backlinks that improve your site's authority.
When it comes to backlinks, most site owners still share in the “build it, and they will come” fantasy. Yes! This still works for a few, especially if you’re a household name like Apple, Ahrefs, or Forbes.
But for people like us that create programmatic SEO pages, we aren't that lucky. And that's because most programmatic SEO pages aren’t link-worthy.
As we mentioned earlier, we found a strategy that could work, and here’s a step-by-step process for its execution:
Conventional link-building guides believe creating link-worthy content is the only way to convince site owners to endorse a piece of content by linking to it.
But what makes a content piece link-worthy?
I believe that would mean a content piece that ticks all of the following boxes:
Since most programmatically generated pages can’t match this level of quality, we came up with an alternative, which our friends at Untalked SEO, likes to call “Aggregate pages.”
What’s an Aggregate page?
An aggregate page is a page that pulls information from different individual pages on your site to create long-form content.
Here’s an example:
Assuming I run a fitness site, and I've created 100s of review pages for all the best treadmills from known brands like Nordic, Sole, Horizon, ProForm, and Bowflex.
For my aggregate page, I can manually create a blog post titled "Top 10 Treadmills for Beginners" or "Best 5 Treadmills for Running
In these aggregate pages, I can summarize the treadmills that fall in each category and add links to their individually programmatically generated review pages.
It's easier to reach out to site owners and ask them to link to this aggregate page. And by doing so, link juices will be distributed to the programmatically generated pages linked to it.
Link creators are website owners in your industry that aren't your direct competitors.
For example, an ideal link creator for our fitness aggregate page would be blogs and websites that create content around fitness-related topics.
When choosing a site to earn backlinks from, there are a couple of things to examine:
Relevance: This measures how well the content or information on a website correlates with yours.
This makes it a bad practice for a fitness page to earn backlinks from a news or sports site.
Page rank: This is a metric introduced by Google's Co-founder Larry Page to measure the authoritativeness of a web page. The page rank is measured on a scale of 0 - 10. A score of 0 means low quality, while 10 represents authoritativeness.
We recommend using Google's Site checker to measure your site’s page rank.
Domain Authority: Indicates a website’s ability to rank on search engines. For backlinks, it’s best to steer clear of sites with a DA score < 30.
If you've shortlisted relevant site owners in your industry, the next thing to do is to contact each of them and ask that they link to your page, right?
You can't just pitch people without giving them a solid reason to link to you. Without a "what's in it for them", chances are that everyone will turn down your request.
Now, what can you offer in exchange for links?
The easiest option is to offer to write a guest post, notify them of a broken link or, better still, offer them a backlink in return.
But what you don’t want to do is to offer them money, as this will be against Google’s search essentials (formerly webmaster guidelines).
Link building is easier said than done, be ready to get frustrated even if you have pages worth linking to.
We recommend you draw up a list of 20 - 50 site owners for each page you want to build links to. This way, you increase your chance of success.
There are a couple of things that could happen if you fail to drive backlinks to your site:
Competitors Will Displace You From the #1 Position
When all factors are equal - Content quality, relevance and DA score- the number of backlinks gendered could decide who sits in the #1 or #2 position. As you can see, Backlinks can be a competitive moat between you and your rivals.
Hence, without backlinks, your position on the first page is short-lived. At some point, competitors who drive backlinks will grow in authoritativeness, and it's easier to knock you off from the top spot.
Slow Google Indexing
As Google shared in their backlink indexing guide, websites with high authoritativeness are crawled faster than others with low authority scores. In fact, there could be a Google penalty if indexing is slow. Moreover, Google sees backlinks as a sign of authoritativeness and a reason to index your site faster.
If you’ve created 1000s of pages, the indexing process on Google will be slow. The only way to accelerate the indexing process is to drive backlinks, which you can learn more about from our blog post on how to speed up indexing in programmatic SEO.
Difficult to Rank in the #1 Position
Because programmatically generated pages target less competitive keywords doesn't mean you can rank in the #1 position without backlinks. A good content pieces might get you in the top 5, but never in the #1 position.
It's important to note that all backlinks aren't equal. It's risky to buy them or force them by dropping a link to your page in the comment session of another's website.
The best backlinks have to be earned. Some site owners are lucky to earn it without asking, while others, like us, have to work hard for them by emailing site owners.