The 20 Percent Edition Nr. 15: Link Building for Services Entrepreneurs

Hello friends, and welcome to this edition of The 20 Percent.

Link building is something I’ve been avoiding for a long time. I only became good at it when I understood that it’s not about spamming people. It’s about creating something helpful to others and believing in it strong enough to promote it.

In this week’s edition, I’ll share everything I’ve learned about how to do link building for your niche business without having a big team behind you to support you.

Why Link Building Is Challenging for Services Entrepreneurs

Link building is any activity you can do to increase the number of inbound links to your website. In general, the more backlinks a page has, the higher it will rank. I’ve been avoiding it because the idea of reaching out to strangers that have a website, asking them to link to my website/ blog, always felt needy to me.

I receive many such emails, and they usually look like this:

“I came across your article at [your-site.com/article] — I’d love it if you could consider adding a link to our post [our-site.com/post] about [XYZ-topic] there. I feel it could really benefit your readers.”

This is not something I typically reply to, and I never wanted to set this kind of standard for myself.

Also, there are practical limitations:

  1. Reaching out to people at scale requires time and resources (creating lists of websites, finding contact information, and emailing them). How do you go for it as a solopreneur or someone with a small team?

  2. These “shotgun marketing” strategies have notoriously high hit or miss rates. What do you do in a niche market where you can’t afford to get one reply per hundred emails?

At this point, it was clear to me that the common knowledge about link building comes from agency marketers, and it requires agency-level resources to execute. So what do you do as a niche entrepreneur?

Marketing Funnels Can Earn You Links

Almost every niche entrepreneur uses ClickFunnels-style sales funnels built on top of their websites. A crucial step in building these funnels is finding the places where your target audience congregates. Once you have that, you can think about your hook, the eye-catching ad or headline that will get people to visit your landing page, read your story, and build rapport.

This is commonly referred to as the hook-story-offer framework, and it starts where your audience is.

Many entrepreneurs choose to advertise (Facebook Ads, Google Ads, etc.) to display their hooks at scale. It’s cheap, fast and it allows you to test things. The downside is that ads have short lifespans and don’t help with your Google rankings.

A different approach is using organic marketing to achieve the same goal. Traffic from Google can be evergreen, bringing a steady stream of clicks every month. When a popular, high-traffic website features your offer, it brings you long-term visibility and helps boost your own Google rankings because the link back to your site signals endorsement.

My Sales Funnel Link-Building Playbook

Start by answering the following questions:

  • Who are your dream clients?

  • What are they passionate about?

  • How do they describe themselves?

  • What are their pain points?

  • What are the offers that would attract them?

Using SparkToro for Audience Intelligence

SparkToro tells you what websites your audience reads, what podcasts they listen to, what YouTube channels they watch, and more. Once you know how your target audience describes themselves, you can use SparkToro to find where your target audience congregates.

You can choose to advertise to these places, or even better, contact the owners/ authors/ influencers (you can find almost everyone on LinkedIn) and discuss how you can promote your offer on these channels. Many websites accept sponsorships, but there might be other options as well, e.g., contributing by writing a guest article.

It’s also possible that if you have something of high value to offer to their audience, they would be open to writing about it (and link to your website) – every website needs fresh, regular content for its readers.

This outreach style is more akin to business development and networking than agency-style link building. Instead of pursuing a specific outcome, you start with data and explore where these opportunities take you.

Step 2: Googling Your Audience’s Problems

By putting yourself in the shoes of your target customers, you can discover which websites they’d find useful. Then, you can approach the owners/ authors of these sites on Linkedin and explore a possible collaboration along the lines we discussed above.

Taking it a step further, you can filter these websites by the amount of traffic they get from Google. This way, you only reach out to people with an audience. My tool of choice for this is Ahrefs:

Final Thoughts

Link building can be as creative as business networking. It’s valuable to think about how you can fit link building into your marketing process rather than the other way around.

Stay inspired,
Konstantinos