Scaling your link building efforts without too much hassle is the ultimate dream, but you might be wondering how to make that happen. 

The short answer: Set up a process that can be easily replicated and scaled up as needed. 

With the proper process in place, you can focus on results rather than on the day-to-day mechanics of link building.

But what does that process look like? And how can you make sure it’s scalable?

Today, we’ll answer those questions as clearly as possible. 

We’ll also provide some actionable tips that you can use to build a process of your own.

Why Do You Need a Standardized Link Building Process?

Standardization is the process of making something consistent and predictable. It’s the difference between building a product in a factory (where every widget is the same) and building a product by hand (where each product is unique).

In the world of link building, standardization is essential for two reasons:

  1. Scaling your efforts
  2. Measuring your success

If you want to scale your link building efforts, you need to be able to replicate your process on a larger scale. 

For example, let’s say you’re manually building links one at a time. You find a relevant website, reach out to the owner, and ask if they’ll link to your site.

If you want to scale that process, you’ll need to hire more people to do the same thing. But if your approach isn’t standardized, it won’t be easy to train those new employees (not to mention manage and quality-check their work).

On the other hand, if you have a standardized process in place, it will be much easier to train new employees and scale up your efforts.

And if you want to measure your success, you need to be able to track your progress. That’s difficult to do if your process is ad-hoc and unorganized.

But if you have a standardized process, you can track your progress at each stage and identify which parts of the process are working well and which could use some improvement.

Besides, there’s another reason to have a standardized process…

Standardization precedes automation

In today’s world, everyone is looking for ways to automate their work. And in the world of link building, several tools can help you automate various tasks.

But before you can automate your link building process, you need to standardize it. That’s because automation is simply a way of automating an existing process.

You can’t automate a process that doesn’t exist. So if you want to automate your link building, you need to start by creating a standardized process.

9 Steps To Standardize Your Link Building Process

Now that you understand the importance of standardization, let’s take a look at nine steps that you can use to build a process that’s both scalable and repeatable:

1. Build a process map

The first step is to map out your process. That might sound daunting, but it’s actually quite simple.

A process map is simply a diagram that shows the steps in your process and how those steps relate to each other.

Here’s a simple example:

TLG's internal link building process map

In the example above, we can distill it down further to four areas.

  1. Research target websites
  2. Identify link opportunities
  3. Outreach to website owners
  4. Negotiate and acquire links

You can also see how those steps relate to each other. For example, you can’t outreach to website owners until you’ve identified link opportunities.

You can create a process map using any tool you’re comfortable with, including a pen and paper. But some tools can help you create a process map more efficiently, including Lucidchart, Microsoft Visio, and Google Drawings.

2. Identify the crucial steps in the process

Once you’ve mapped out your process, the next step is to identify which actions are crucial to its success.

Some steps may be more important than others. For example, if your goal is to acquire high-quality links, then the quality of your link prospects, and using certain metric criteria to filter at the prospecting level will be more important than the quantity.

For that reason, research and manual vetting should be a crucial step in your process.

Identifying the crucial steps in your process is vital for two reasons:

  1. It will help you prioritize the steps in your process.
  2. It will help you determine which steps you need to standardize first.

Without clear prioritization, it’s easy to get bogged down in the details and lose sight of the bigger picture.

3. Define what “done” looks like for each step

The next step is to define what “done” looks like for each step in the process.

In other words, you need to be clear about what needs to be accomplished for a task to be considered complete.

This may seem trivial, but it’s pretty essential.

First, it will help you ensure that each task is properly completed. Second, it will help you create a more efficient process.

For example, let’s say the site’s relevance is very important. Rather than try to assess this at the prospecting level, or having the relevance question being raised when links go live – implement something at the strategy level, where there is sign-off to say “Yes – this is relevant” or “No – this is not relevant”

Then from that point onwards, everything you’re doing should generally lead to relevant links being built.

Since you’ve defined what “done” looks like, you can work more efficiently and avoid wasting time on tasks that don’t need to be completed in their entirety, or are not a productive use of time.

4. Develop your SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures)

The next step is to develop your SOPs, or Standard Operating Procedures.

SOPs are simply documents that outline the steps that need to be taken to complete a task.

For each step in your process, you should create an SOP that outlines the following:

  • The goal of the task
  • The steps that need to be taken to complete the task
  • The criteria that need to be met for the task to be considered complete

The SOP should be specific enough so that anyone can follow it and complete the task successfully. But it shouldn’t be so precise that it’s needlessly complicated.

Also, you must design your SOPs to ensure nothing slips through the cracks.

At TLG, for example, we have a process for every situation, so there’s no confusion or ambiguity in the team. 

If an editor is unresponsive, we have specific processes to ensure we can still salvage something from it.

On the rare occasions when we cannot get hold of anyone at the website even after writing a guest post for them, we’ll have processes to ensure it gets fast-tracked to another target in the pipeline. 

Having these processes in place allows us to avoid confusion and ambiguity, which leads to a more streamlined and efficient workflow.

Side note: when it comes to link building, there is always going to be a creative element to the process as well, especially at the outreach level. That innate ability to build relationships, personalize emails to build rapport, may be very hard (if not impossible) to define into an SOP. You can show examples and ideas – but you don’t want people to copy those ideas or “box them in” to that way of thinking. Leave the team room to flex their creative muscles as well. More on this in the next point.

5. Assign tasks to team members

Once you’ve developed your SOPs, the next step is to train your team on them.

This is where matching the right people according to their strengths and skills is very important.

Even with all the best SOPs in the world, some people may just not be suited to a particular role.

For example, if you have a very detail-oriented team member, they may be better suited to a task that requires a lot of research.

On the other hand, if you have a team member who’s very good at networking or sales, they may be better suited to an outreach task.

Some situations can’t be solved with an SOP and require critical thinking and creativity. This is especially true if you have someone doing link strategy or personalized outreach.

For these types of tasks, it’s often better to let the team members use their discretion and develop their own solutions.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should give them free rein to do whatever they want. There should still be some guidelines in place. But within those guidelines, they should be free to use their judgment and come up with creative ideas.

That’s why at TLG we try to create frameworks, where we teach principles and concepts, rather than simply spoon feed techniques. 

For example, we have an entire module that is a roundup of different ways of doing email personalization. 

6. Set up a tracking system

Now that you’ve assigned tasks to your team, setting up a tracking system is the next step.

This will help you keep track of the progress of each task and make sure that everything is on schedule.

There are a few different ways to do this.

You can use a project management tool like Trello or Asana or create a spreadsheet with Google Sheets, or Airtable to track your tasks.

The important thing is to find a system that works for you and your team.

Once you have a tracking system in place, make sure to update it regularly. This will help you identify any bottlenecks in your process and ensure that everything is running smoothly.

7. Implement quality control measures

There will always be some errors no matter how well you train your team or how many SOPs you have in place.

This is why it’s essential to have quality control measures in place. This is especially important for prospecting and outreach.

Are you collecting the right websites which are actually relevant to what you’re trying to link, filtering out low-quality sites?

Are your outreachers approaching specific sectors and audiences in the right way? Are they using the correct language and terminology that resonates with those targets? If using humor, is it appropriate for that sector?

One way is to have someone on your team responsible for quality control. Their job is to check over each task and ensure that it’s been done correctly.

Another way is to set up a system where each task is reviewed by someone else on the team.

This can be done either before or after the task is completed.

The important thing is to have a system in place so that you can catch any errors before they cause problems. Otherwise, you risk damaging your relationships with potential leads or at the very least, restricting your results.

8. Evaluate results and amend accordingly

Not every link strategy you come up with is going to work.

This is why it’s important to evaluate your results and course-correct when necessary.

To do this, you need to track your progress and compare it to your goals.

If you’re not making the progress you want, make adjustments to your strategy. This might involve changes to your SOPs, your team’s roles, or even changes to the types of links you’re targeting.

As you start to scale your link building, you’ll begin to gather insights to know what you need to do more of and what isn’t worth pursuing.

At TLG, for example, we have our own systems built into our internal client sheets. This helps us track everything and gives us real-time insights in a snapshot, including:

  • Link types that have a good success rate compared to others
  • Link strategy ideas with a good/poor success rate
  • Industries that work well for us
  • Geographic regions where we succeeded

And many more.

Here’s a sneak peek of one of those reports on one of our trackers:

Sneak peek of one of TLG's reports on one of their trackers

This helps us course-correct on the fly and quickly adapt our strategies to get the best results for our clients.

9. Automate where possible

Link building is a strange beast.

It’s both an art and a science.

To be successful, you need a team of creative thinkers who can also follow instructions and complete tasks quickly and efficiently.

Some tasks can’t (and shouldn’t) be automated.

But some tasks can be automated, which can free up your team’s time so they can focus on more important things.

For example:

  • Templatizing: You can create templates for your outreachers to use when sending emails or making phone calls (leaving room for personalization, of course).
  • Reporting: Set up a system where reports are automatically generated and sent to you regularly. This can be done using a tool like Google Sheets or Looker Studio.
  • Follow-ups: Automate follow-ups so that your team doesn’t have to remember to do them manually.
  • Research: You could use automated scripts when prospecting to help find the best contact email (we have an in-house tool we use for this and find it more reliable than tools like Hunter.io).

At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide what tasks can be automated without sacrificing quality.

But automating where possible can help you scale your link building more effectively.

Nuances and Challenges to Scaling Your Link Building Process

Even with a well-defined and scalable process, there are some nuances and challenges you’ll need to account for when scaling your link building efforts. 

Here are a few of the most common ones:

1. Time zones

If you’re working with a team in a different time zone (or even in a foreign country), you’ll need to account for the time difference.

This might mean adjusting your deadlines, allocating common shifts, or changing the way you communicate or hold meetings.

For example, if you’re working with a team based in Asia, you might want to give them a day or two to complete a task so that they have time to do it during their regular work hours, or you may want to hold meetings at the start of the week, so they have everything they need to conduct the work without any further help.

2. Brain fog

As your team starts to scale, they might experience what’s known as “brain fog.”

This is when they have so much on their plate that they can’t think straight.

For example, if you have someone doing personalized outreach at scale, they may reach a wall at some point. They might start to make more mistakes or have a more challenging time coming up with creative ideas.

When this happens, it’s important to rotate projects so that everyone on your team gets a chance to work on something different.

For example,  if someone is feeling burned out from doing personalized outreach, you could have them work on a different task for a while, like link reclamation. Doing so can help refresh their brain and give them a much-needed break.

By designing a rostering system that allows for breaks, you can help prevent brain fog and keep your team operating at peak efficiency.

Or you might just find having a few catch ups with your outreacher, will allow you to bounce some ideas around, and help them get over their writing block. 

3. Communication breakdowns

As your team scales, you’ll need to find ways to keep everyone on the same page.

This might mean using a project management tool like Asana or Trello.

Or you might want to create a “team chat” where everyone can ask questions and share information, or make a regular weekly/daily meeting to discuss the project.

The key is to find a system that works for your team and stick to it.

4. A small pool of targets

How big is the pool of targets you’re reaching out to?

If it’s small, you might start to see diminishing returns.

At TLG, for example, we had a UK-based client who developed software for a very specific sector. The client restricted us so much on geographic area, niche, and type of software that we quickly realized we were never going to be able to get them to the level they wanted to be at- and we could only build links for a couple of months.

The only way to solve this problem is to either expand your target pool or get creative with the types of links you’re going for.

When this happens, you might need to expand your target list.

For example, if you’re in the fitness niche, you might want to target health and wellness websites instead of just strength training websites, for instance.

By venturing out into new niches, you can open up a whole new world of link opportunities.

5. Team oversight

As your team scales, you might need to hire a team lead or manager.

This person will be responsible for overseeing your team’s work and making sure that everyone is on track.

They’ll also be your point of contact if there are any issues with the work being done.

For instance, if you do a lot of guest posting, you may find it hard to keep on top of the 

management and quality control. In this case, it might make sense to hire a team leader who can manage the guest posting process and make sure that everything is running smoothly.

5 Link Building Strategies Than Can Be Scaled

Now let’s cover the link building strategies that you can leverage, to achieve scale in your campaigns. 

1. HARO and PR platform pitching

We covered the art of HARO link building in another article, but this is a really good way of building high authority links at scale.

What this will rely on, is having someone who can scour through HARO/Connectively every day as the media lists come out, and also keeping an eye on the alternative platforms like Featured and Help a B2B Writer. 

Once you monitor a number of PR platforms, this starts to build up the number of relevant queries you can pitch, and over time, this should give you a nice quantity of links. 

However, a few caveats to ensure you don’t impact results and scale:

  • You need to be quick. If you start to introduce too many people into the process to vet the soundbites or edit them, it will slow the process down, and may impact your ability to reply to the journalist quickly enough.
  • Expand your horizons. If you’re in the real estate niche for example, you may not want to only pitch publications in the real estate industry, or only send soundbites that are about very real-estate specific topics. As long as the journalist would find your profile/advice relevant, start to look at things relating to home improvement, business, mortgages, or other things you can make logically relevant. You will need to expand the pool of targets, to get enough links.
  • Fine-tuning queries: It’s not always going to be possible at the start, but with time, you need to analyze which queries are being accepted, and which aren’t. And every niche and business type has nuances when it comes to this type of pitching. If you need to ghostwrite queries as a CFO, then you may need to assign someone from your team that actually has experience writing in that area, as they’re familiar with that type of outreach, and it’ll get you results quicker.

2. Streamlined Content Creation

One of the best ways to build links at scale, is to be able to rely on resource link/resource page link building. In other words, having content which can simply just be inserted in an existing page by targets. 

So link worthy content that has broad enough appeal and you can attempt more of a skyscraper technique-esque approach to it, is going to be the fastest way to build links at scale. 

The main criteria you have to keep in mind:

  • Make sure the content is of really high editorial value, and tackles a very specific area.
  • Or if not a specific topic, it covers a broader area, but is more comprehensive, or visually more appealing and digestible.
  • There is an active audience out there that would find it interesting enough to link to. For example, a topic like “Last Mile Delivery for 3PLs” is probably too specific and will have a limited pool of targets to reach out to. While “Ecommerce Warehousing 101” is broader and has a larger audience (small to medium sized ecommerce store owners.)
  • Scrape your prospecting lists in bulk. So this may involve scraping backlink profiles with tools like Semrush or Majestic, and then sorting them into batches. There are different ways of doing this, but your goal here should be to end up with fairly large, efficiently-collected lists of articles that have a topical crossover with your target page. 

When you have ironed out the process, and can do resource link building in scale like this, it can really streamline your process, and make it easier to do at scale. 

Extra tip:
If you prospect while using a plugin like Check My Links, you can check for broken links at the same time as well. Broken link building isn’t very fruitful for all sites, as a tactic, but we find it tends to work better for sites in quite broad sectors.

For instance, here’s a client where we had a fairly large link target to hit. We found that they had some particular articles which had fairly broad appeal, to a number of potential audiences. 

So 2 pieces alone yielded 24 links between them, while the more niche articles (while still of very good editorial quality) just didn’t have broad enough appeal to be conducive to scale.

2 content pieces yielded 24 backlinks for one of TLG's client

3. Roundup Link Building

Roundup link building comes in especially useful, if you’re in the SaaS space, and have a lot of competitors, who are featured on various “top” or “best” lists. It can also work well in niches like food and ecommerce.

We covered roundup link building here. The main thing to consider from a scale point of view is you have a few methods to speed up the process. 

Step 1: Do competitor analysis on all of your main competitors, and extract all of the backlinks. Then, extract everything that looks like a roundup article. This is mostly going to be anything with words like “top”, “best”, “roundup” in the title or URL. 

There’s a few ways to do this, but one way is to put it in Google Sheets, and use a custom formula for Conditional Formatting like this:

=regexmatch(B2, “(?i)best|top|roundup”)

Using custom formula for conditional formatting in Google Sheets

This will highlight the rows that contain the words in your formula. Just keep in mind you may have roundup identifiers unique to your niche/strategy you want to include on top of these, so you don’t miss any.

Step 2: Use advanced search operators to find more roundups. Even if you analyze your top competitors, it may not pick up all the possible roundups, and the SEO tool you’re using may not have all of them in their database. So the next step to really squeeze out more targets is to run searches like this:

  • Top [ your keyword ]
  • Best  [ your keyword ]
  • Best  [ your keyword ] for  [ target audience ]
  • Top  [ your keyword ] for  [ target audience ]

Step 3: Sort all the URLs into batches and send targeted outreach emails. A lot of the roundups you’ve collected in steps 1 and 2 should be topically, very similar. 

For instance, you may have targets that fall under “Top 10 SEO tools in 2024”, while others may be “Best 20 Digital Marketing Tools for Startups”. You could technically just pile all of them together into one mass-batch, but for best effect, I’d recommend sorting into similar batches, and writing email templates framed for each batch. By doing this, you can adapt the template to speak to that specific audience or to highlight the specific features/value proposition that you think merits you being included.

4. Unlinked Brand Mentions

This works well if you have a brand or product that has picked up a lot of mentions across the web, and especially if you’ve been earning a lot of PR coverage, and not actively been asking for a link. 

How successful this is, and how many targets you can reach out to, depends on your brand. But let’s assume you have a large brand and need to do this at scale. 

First step is to find every possible URL where your brand or product name is mentioned, and extract that list of URLs.

You can do it via Google (however you won’t be able to extract more than 500 results), and run a search like this:

intext:thelinksguy -thelinksguy.com -twitter.com -facebook.com -pinterest.com -youtube.com

Or you can use a tool like Ahrefs Content Explorer, and run a search like this:

Using site operator search in Aherfs

Either way, export this, filter out any sites that are unsuitable (i.e. low metrics, link farm/scraper sites.), and you have a list of pages all mentioning that brand-related phrase.

But from that list, some of them already have a backlink – so you need to run some analysis to find out the ones that are not linked to you. We have a few options, but I’ll run through how to do this with Scrapebox. 

Scrapebox has a Free Link Checker feature, and you simply just upload the list of URLs you want to check, input your target domain – and it’ll check which of those pages have linked to you. 

Scarpebox Link Checker

Any pages where it says “Not Found” then means they have not linked to our target domain.

Finding pages who have not linked to the target domain using Scrapebox

If it has found a link, it’ll let you know where it’s linked out to, and the anchor text. Doing bulk analysis in this way is great, when you have to scan through a quick list.

5. Guest Posting by Niche

Guest posting is one of the most common link building strategies, but is not always associated with scale. But, it can be, when you have the right workflow and a standardized process in place. 

You need to distill your guest posting approach in this way to maximize efficiency and speed:

  • Ability to collect very closely related targets, and group them together in guest post batches. You can speed this up with tools like Pitchbox and CitationLabs Link Prospector. The main thing is that the output of those searches are then filtered, and sorted. For instance, if you’re collecting sites all in the wedding niche, you would ideally want to segment them based on audience. Sites at brides would be in one batch, while sites aimed at people planning a destination wedding would be in another. Prospecting sites via Google search is one method, but think about if your target blogs can be extracted quickly in other ways –  like via industry directories, Google Maps, or other databases.
  • Create content ideas for each specific batch. The method of creating the guest post idea can vary (be it via content gap analysis, or picking a trending topic) but the more it aligns with the target audience of that batch, the better it’ll perform (while still ensuring it’s relevant to you and your target page.)
  • Targeted email templates. While you still want to personalize your emails, you will improve the ability to scale by writing templates for each batch. Combined with the content ideas you’re offering, this will do most of the work, and you just need to add a line or 2 of personalization, to build rapport. But the main angle of the email will be about providing that useful content.
  • Leveraging expert personas: (This is a secret formula to the success of a few agencies.) If you have a writing persona, or an actual person who can put themselves forward as the expert writer, this will improve the amount of interest, and overall win rate. But, it has to be relevant. For instance, reaching out to health & wellness blogs, as a writer who specializes in training or nutrition will go down well, as opposed to just being a random guest blogging writer, or a content manager.

You Now Know How To Scale Your Link Building Efforts

A well-defined process is key to successful link building at scale. 

By taking the time to develop a process that’s both scalable and repeatable, you’ll free up time and energy to focus on results. 

Remember to account for the nuances and challenges of scaling as you build your process, and you’ll be well on your way to success.

So what are you waiting for?

Go ahead and get started!