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Josh Hardwick ‘How to Start a Link Building Campaign in 15 Minutes (Without Spamming)’ – Benchmark Search & Digital Conference 2019 ’ Talk – Benchmark 2019 Reviewed

On his first outing at the Benchmark Search and Digital Marketing Conference, Hardwick gave an excellent and entertaining talk on a link building technique that his employer Ahrefs have been using to great effect


Hardwick, Head of Content at Ahrefs, began by listing the three main steps he believes are integral to undertaking a link building strategy that doesn’t depend on the spamming of entire contact databases. These are:

  1. Prospecting
  2. Finding contact info
  3. Sending emails

This, by the minute mark, seems to already put him a distance ahead of the majority of outreach emails I receive – but the talk continues to offer valuable insight. He begins the main bulk of the talk by emphasising that guest posting can still be relevant to modern SEO, provided you are offering high quality content. His argument here is that you should not limit yourself to sites which actively solicit contributions – stating that ‘all sites want free, high quality content – even if they don’t advertise the fact’.



Instead, Hardwick states, you should look to pitch to sites already blogging about the subjects you cover that don’t advertise wanting contributions – saying that this enables you to be one of a limited number of pitches rather than one of tens or potentially hundreds.

To do this, Harwick advises (as he could well be expected to – not only because he’s a member of the team, but also because it’s a good tool) using Ahref’s Content Explorer which, he explains, currently features more than a billion indexed pages and allows a greater opportunity for filtering than would be the case if we were to scrape (manually or otherwise) the information from Google searches. In addition to filters, for the purposes of prospecting, the best part is that Content Explorer also pulls an author name if one is present.

Using Hunter.io (a Google Sheets add on) and an exported CSV from your refined content search, you can generally, he says, find email addresses for those contributors at that domain – as well as a deliverability score that allows you to further refine your list of contacts.



The talk continues with an outline of skyscraper content – and how to build potential link winners by seeking out well linked to content in your vertical and, simply put but less simply executed, improving upon it. Alternatively, he says, you can look to leverage existing content that ranks well for high difficulty keywords and use that as your skyscraper – effectively improving efficiency by using content you’ve already produced and which is already successful.

While it was Hardwick’s first outing at Benchmark, his talk was full of useful tips and while it relied upon Ahrefs for part of the process, there are ways to do much of this using free tools and the process itself is an excellent scaffold for anyone looking to build links quickly and, as the talk title promised, without spamming.


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