You all know how important generating high quality backlinks are in order to build traffic back to your site and improve your rankings within the search engines. But too often, discussions about backlinking and linking best practices tend towards the theoretical, which leaves webmasters knowing what they *should* do, but not necessarily how to do it.
So today, we’re going to look at a few examples of existing sites and the results of their backlinking efforts. Hopefully, you find this information helpful in terms of understanding how to implement a solid backlinking strategy on your own website. Let’s get started!
Today’s analysis sites come from the invoicing software vertical. This market is growing, as consumers are increasingly turning towards cheaper, more flexible cloud-based accounting products over their pricier desktop competitors. Because of this, businesses that implement good backlinking techniques now will be well-positioned to take advantage of growing traffic and business opportunities.
For this post, we’ll be looking at five of these competitors – Invoice Bubble, Zoho, Freshbooks, Invoice Machine and Trade Shift.
Currently, Invoice Bubble has a number of good links from authoritative blogs, as well as some low value links from blog comments, which have resulted in rankings in positions two and three for the keywords, “Free Invoice Software” and “Invoice Software,” respectively.
Unfortunately, their weakness is link volume – they simply don’t have enough backlinks to compete with the site that’s ranking in the number one position for these keywords. Not only does Invoice Bubble not have the exact match domain name its competitors have, the sites in the number one spots have an excess of 2,000 back links, while Invoice Bubble has less than 200. Clearly, this represents a significant opportunity for the company.
Because the company’s current link building speed is adequate, we would recommend working social media promotion into their SEO strategy. Not only would this help to improve rankings for the site – as social signals now function as a ranking factor in the search algorithms – it would also help to generate social media buzz and more backlinks from tweets, shares and likes.
One of the top competitors in this space, Zoho’s backlinking strategy has been to combine multiple keywords in the same piece of backlinking anchor text. For example, they’ve built a lot of links with the anchor text “Online Invoicing Expense Billing time tracking software,” which breaks into three different keywords:
- “Online invoicing,” which they rank number six for,
- “Expense billing,” which they rank number one for,
- And, “Time tracking software,” which they rank 24th for.
In general, the site would benefit from mixing up the anchor text it uses in its backlinking campaigns to vary more naturally. Their current anchor text strategy looks spammy, and could result in an over-optimization penalty down the road.
Additionally, like Invoice Bubble, Zoho could derive some SEO benefit by working more social media promotion into their SEO strategy to build more linked tweets, shares, and likes for the page related to invoicing.
Freshbooks currently has a number of links originating from many different root domains and going to all the pages on their site (which is important in order to spread link and page authority effectively). They’re also promoting themselves effectively via social media, which means that their pages are accruing valuable likes, tweets, and shares. Finally, their PR campaigns appear to be performing well, as the site has a large amount of links referring either to their brand name or just the website.
Freshbooks is targeting terms like:
- “Online invoicing,” which gets 22,000+ searches per month and for which they rank number one,
- “Time tracking,” which gets 246,000+ searches per month and for which they rank on page five,
- And, “Expense service,” which gets 12,000+ searches per month and for which they’re ranked number one.
Overall, you’re doing a good job, guys – keep up the great work!
After a quick look at their backlink profile, it’s clear that Invoice Machine is not doing enough link building to challenge their competitors effectively. Because of this, we’ve identified a few areas they could improve on in order to compete with sites like Freshbooks and Zoho:
- Identify the right keywords and target them properly with the anchor text of all backlinks created. The keywords Invoice Machine chooses to target should be relevant to what they offer and chosen specifically to drive visitors with commercial intent back to their website.
- Acquire links at a more consistent pace that’s meant to keep up with their competitors.
- Implement social media campaigns designed to attract consumers and build backlinks through tweets, shares and likes.
Although the site appears to offer a good quality product, no one is ever going to know about it if the site isn’t ranked for the right keywords. We estimate that Invoice Machine could see substantial traffic and subscriber growth by implementing the steps listed above.
Tradeshift is a newer service that’s taking a really innovative approach to billing and invoicing systems. They’re based in Europe and are working not to build yet another invoicing program, but to create a “billing social network” of people who can use their free invoicing software to bill each other. Looking at their current SEO strategy, I can see that they’re getting a decent amount of links, but there are some issues with their approach.
Our biggest concern is that they’re not targeting any particular keywords with their anchor text selections. After looking through their backlink profile, it’s clear that the large majority of their anchor text is branded terms or links referring to the founders of the company. While these links are beneficial from a PR standpoint, the company needs to diversify its anchor text to include “buyer” keywords if it wants to attract the right people to the service.
For this reason, we’d give them the same advice we had for Invoice Bubble. Figure out which keywords will bring the right people back to your site and conduct a targeted backlinking campaign that utilizes these keywords as anchor text within links from high profile, authority sites. In addition, make use of social media promotion – which is especially relevant given the social nature of Tradeshift itself.
After looking at these stats, it’s clear that some players in the invoicing software vertical understand what to do and how to do it. But a few of these sites need to focus on diversifying their link building strategies and developing a keyword focus that actively targets the phrases you’d like to rank for and get traffic from. By implementing the recommendations described above, these sites could dramatically increase the amount of traffic they receive by boosting their positions within the search engine rankings.