Ahrefs - Ahrefs' Weekly Digest #79

Hey there,

It’s been another productive week for the Ahrefs content team. 

For this week’s newsletter:
  • If you’re conducting performance reviews for your content marketing team, then Mateusz has the perfect post for you. 
  • Joshua has two posts about link building: One on the different tactics you can use, and another specifically on podcast link building.
  • Michal has a post on how to build a successful SaaS SEO strategy.
  • I have three posts this week: Two on the different content marketing ideas and tactics you can use, and one more on building a customer acquisition strategy.
And finally, our contributors have prepared plenty too: Chris has a post on how to use Google’s new Search Console URL Inspection API, Fraser will help you with content distribution, Jenny has a post on creating a niche site, and Jake will get you started on the right foot with a post on seed keywords. 

As always, click through to read each post. Or if you’re busy, read the tl;dr below each link.

✍️ New on our blog


The Content Marketer’s Guide to Performance Reviews by Mateusz Makosiewicz

In our search for the answer to doing performance reviews for content marketers, we asked marketing managers to answer two questions in a quick survey on social media.

In some cases, we added an additional question: How do you determine if a content marketer deserves a raise?

All in all, we received 20 responses to questions #1 and #2 and 10 responses to question #3, plus some comments. Here’s what we found:
  1. Marketers use different types of metrics to measure the performance of content marketers.
  2. Among the quantitative metrics, the most popular types are traffic and MQLs. Some others mentioned are social media shares, influence on MRR, keyword rankings, engagement rates, referrals to shop, and dwell time.
  3. Among qualitative metrics, marketers mentioned feedback from readers, quality of product placement, internal feedback, and managers’ personal opinions.
  4. Half of the surveyed managers (50%) use a quarterly interval for conducting performance reviews. However, managers often mix those with monthly, weekly, and even real-time feedback.
  5. For reasons to give a raise, the clearest pattern among the responses is that managers utilize the same metrics used for measuring performance. However, some managers mentioned they consider additional factors like work ethic, a regular annual raise, employee being underpaid, or wanting to keep the employee. 
  6. A minority of marketers don’t perform performance reviews. Here are a couple of those answers that explain the reasons for this approach. 
Finding one definitive answer to what works for performance reviews seems impossible until you try it out on your own turf. Whatever you do, you may want to consider these tips. 
  1. Try different methods and techniques to find what works – Nailing the right performance review method boils down to one thing: How can you as a manager help your team members achieve their goals? 
  2. Be careful with the “carrot and stick” – Rewarding content marketers with raises and bonuses for great work is nothing short of doing justice to their inputs. But it doesn’t work the other way around. Introducing a reward system to improve the quantity and quality of content is probably a bad idea. 
  3. Performance reviews won’t fix a broken recruitment process – From Mateusz’s experience, if you hire the right people, all you need to do in terms of performance reviews is to regularly talk to them. 
  4. Let your employees track their own performance – A good idea may be to ask your employees to prepare their own performance reports.
  5. Don’t forget the small things – Small details can make or break your performance reviews. Some things worth remembering: Make performance standards clear, find the right time and place to conduct your performance reviews, prepare notes and agenda, and ensure a two-way conversation.


15 Proven Ways to Drive More Traffic to Your Blog by Si Quan Ong

Here are 15 tried and tested tactics we use to increase our blog traffic:
  1. Write about topics people search for
  2. Make sure you match search intent
  3. Build an email list
  4. Reach out to people mentioned in your post
  5. Boost important posts with internal links
  6. Build links
  7. Promote content in communities
  8. Create shareable images
  9. Share your content on Reddit
  10. Refresh and republish your content
  11. Craft click-worthy headlines
  12. Repurpose content into Twitter threads
  13. Get content included in niche newsletters
  14. Publish original research
  15. Run ads


13 Content Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses by Si Quan Ong

Here are 13 content marketing ideas you can consider implementing for your small business:
  1. Answer questions people are searching for – Use our free keyword generator tool to see what questions people are asking in your niche.
  2. Create a statistics page – As a small business, it can be difficult to publish original research that other websites like and will cite. Instead, you can consider curating a list of important statistics in your industry. These get lots of links too.
  3. Write for other sites in your industry – Choose topics you want to rank for. Then pitch them as guest posts to other sites and use those sites' “authority” to rank for said topics.
  4. Rewrite or update outdated content on other websites – What if instead of pitching an entirely new guest post, you pitch to rewrite or update an older piece of content on other websites? 
  5. Update your content – As you’re updating or rewriting content for other websites, don’t forget to do that for your own too. 
  6. Partner with influencers to create content around your brand – Content marketing doesn’t always mean creating your own content. You can also partner with others, such as influencers, to create content for your brand. 
  7. Promote your content – You can’t just create content and expect people to magically find it. Instead, you have to put the content in front of your target audience. You have to promote it. Follow this checklist to learn the content promotion tactics you should use.
  8. Create a comparison page – Create a “versus” page where you compare the pros and cons between your business and a competitor’s.
  9. Interview industry experts – No matter how familiar you are with your industry, it’s almost impossible to know and understand every inch of your niche. Talk to experts and use their knowledge to cover topics you may not know much about. 
  10. Target seasonal events – Events like Valentine’s Day, Black Friday, Singles’ Day, and Christmas are when people are more than happy to splurge. Creating content around these events can generate awareness for your business.
  11. See what people are discussing on Reddit – If you can find out what people in your community are discussing, you can create content around those topics too. 
  12. Create a glossary – If your industry has a lot of specific and difficult terminologies, you can consider creating a glossary that defines and demystifies them. 
  13. Use Google Trends to find “out of the box” keyword ideas – Google Trends is a great place to discover topics that are trending in your industry. You can cover these topics before other sites do.


Google's New Search Console URL Inspection API: What It Is & How to Use It by Chris Haines

The Google Search Console URL Inspection API is a way to bulk-check the data that Google Search Console has on URLs. Its purpose is to help developers and SEOs more efficiently debug and optimize their pages using Google’s own data.

Here are some practical ways you can use the GSC URL Inspection API:
  1. Diagnosing technical issues in site migrations – Site migrations can cause all kinds of issues. For example, developers can accidentally block Google from crawling your site or certain pages via robots.txt. For example, you can check whether you’re blocking Googlebot from crawling URLs in bulk by calling robotsTxtState.
  2. Understand if Google has respected your declared canonicals – If you make a change to the canonical tags across your site, you will want to know whether or not Google is respecting them. The API can help you see whether Google has respected them.
  3. Understand when Google recrawls after you make changes to your site – When you update many pages on your website, you will want to know the impact of your efforts. This can only happen after Google has recrawled your site. With the API, you can see the precise time Google crawls your pages by using lastCrawlTime.


SaaS SEO: The Ultimate Tried & Tested Guide by Michal Pecánek

Here’s everything you need to know about building a successful SaaS SEO strategy:
  1. Identify your organic search competitors – The best way to find your organic search competitors is to check keyword overlap reports. Plug your domain into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer and head to the Competing Domains report. This report shows a list of websites that ranks for many of the same keywords as the domain on the input. Create a list of 10 to 15 most relevant websites competing in your space.
  2. Analyze what works for your competitors – The main goal here is to find out what works for your competitors in terms of the best performing website sections, the best performing pages, and the types of content that attract the most backlinks. 
  3. Do proper keyword research – Getting inspired by competitors is essential in SEO, but so is coming up with your own ideas and research data. Keyword research is the process of understanding the language your target customers use when searching for your products, services, and content. It then involves analyzing, comparing, and prioritizing the best keyword opportunities for your website.
  4. Focus on producing product-led content – Product-led content marketing is our main marketing tactic. Our blog drives more than 300K organic visits every month and, in our articles, readers learn about a certain SEO or broader marketing topic while discovering how our products can help them. 
  5. Develop free tools as landing pages – At Ahrefs, we have seen significant success in offering free tools. These also play an important part in our SEO strategy and overall growth.
  6. Create comparison pages – Signing up and paying for a SaaS product usually requires quite a bit of research. Hence, it makes sense there is considerable search demand for keywords with product comparison search intent. While the keywords may not have the most impressive search volumes and traffic potential, one thing is for sure: These pages are incredibly valuable because people looking up these keywords are close to making a purchase. 
  7. Use data to publish industry insights and studies – The beauty of SaaS businesses is they often have tons of data that can be analyzed and interpreted into industry insights, which are one of the best types of linkbait content. 
  8. Build on solid SEO foundations – If your technical foundation isn’t right, it may be all for nothing—no matter how good your content is or the links you get. The best thing you can do is to set up regular crawls in Ahrefs’ Site Audit (free in Ahrefs Webmaster Tools). Our crawler will go through your website and create a comprehensive report that will tell you what’s possibly wrong and how to fix it.


How to Get Backlinks: 15 Proven Tactics by Joshua Hardwick

Here are 15 proven ways to get backlinks:
  1. The Skyscraper Technique – Where you find content with lots of backlinks, create something better, then ask everyone linking to the original content to link to you instead.
  2. The Reverse Skyscraper Technique – Where you choose a great piece of content already on your site, find similar lower-quality pages with lots of backlinks, then ask everyone linking to those pages to link to you instead.
  3. Resource page link building – When you get backlinks from webpages that curate resources on a particular topic.
  4. Broken link building – Where you find a dead link on a page, create your own page on the topic, and ask everyone linking to the dead resource to link to your page instead.
  5. 301 redirect link building – Where you find irrelevant 301 redirects and pitch a suitable replacement to everyone linking to them.
  6. Pitch “best x in y” listicles – “Best x in y” listicles are posts listing the best businesses in a specific area or industry. Finding and pitching ones where you aren’t featured can earn more exposure and backlinks.
  7. HARO – A free service connecting journalists to sources and sources to journalists. It’s an easy way to earn high-quality backlinks because journalists are soliciting responses from you, not the other way around.
  8. Guest blogging – Where you write a blog post for another website and usually receive attribution and a link back to your site in return.
  9. Podcast interviews – Where you’re featured as an expert on a podcast and asked questions by the host. Each podcast will only take around an hour of your time. And if you choose them wisely, backlinks are pretty much guaranteed.
  10. Unlinked mentions – When people cite your brand (or anything related to your brand) online without linking to your website.
  11. Pursue link gaps – A link gap analysis reveals the websites linking to multiple competitors but not you. It’s often easy to replicate these links because if someone’s linking to multiple competitors, it may make sense for them to link to you too.
  12. Get stockist links – Stockist links come from companies whose products you stock and sell. These links are easy to get if you stock products from companies that list stockists on their websites.
  13. Utilize existing memberships – Organizations, communities, and clubs that you’re already a part of are arguably the lowest-hanging fruit in link building. This is because they often have team or advisory board pages where they’ll happily mention and link to you if you ask.
  14. Pitch link roundups – Link roundups are curated lists of the best new content in an industry, usually from the past week or month. The authors of these posts are always on the lookout for worthy content to feature in their next roundup, so this is an easy way to build links to new content.
  15. Internal backlinks – Internal backlinks are links from other pages on the same website. Many SEOs neglect internal links, which is a big mistake because they’re a powerful way to funnel “authority” to the pages that need it. You also have full control over them—unlike external backlinks.


Content Distribution Guide: What It Is & How to Do It by Fraser McCulloch

Creating great content isn’t enough. You need a distribution strategy to make sure your content actually reaches its intended audience.

Here’s how to create a winning content distribution strategy:
  1. Publish content on your primary owned channel – Every business should start by choosing an owned channel to focus on and then decide what content to post there. This will likely be a website/blog, YouTube page, or social media account. The best channel for you will depend on the type of content you already produce and whether you have the expertise to create more content for that channel.
  2. Push to email and social media – Get your content out there by distributing it to your secondary owned channels: your social media channels and email list. The distribution channels will vary depending on who you target and where they hang out online. 
  3. Push to earned channels – It’s a little harder to distribute on earned channels because your content needs to be approved by a gatekeeper. Some channels we’ve used include Reddit, other Facebook groups, Quora, third-party newsletters, and other blogs (via guest posts).
  4. Push to paid channels – When distributing content to owned and earned channels isn’t cutting it for you, it’s time to step it up with paid channels. Ideas include Quuu Promote, Twitter Ads, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, sponsorships, and native advertising.
  5. Measure your results with tools – The purpose of content distribution is to reach more people, so it’s important to measure performance to see how effectively you managed to do that. Some tools are Ahrefs, Twitter analytics, and Google Analytics.
  6. Repeat – Repeat the previous six steps. You can repeat the above either for repurposed content or another piece of content.


The Essential Guide to Customer Acquisition by Si Quan Ong 

Customer acquisition isn’t about executing a variety of tactics and hoping one sticks. You need a strategy. 

Here’s how to create one:
  1. Identify your customers and where they hang out – If you don’t know who your customers are, you can’t attract more of them to your business. Knowing who your ideal customers are will also help you figure out which marketing channels you should use.
  2. Set your goals – For your strategy to work, you need to know your destination. That is your goal. Set SMART objectives to make it clear what it is you want to achieve.
    1. ​​Specific – It should clearly state the desired outcome.
    2. Measurable – It should be something you can track the success of.
    3. Achievable – It should be realistic.
    4. Relevant – It should align with your overall business objectives.
    5. Timely – It should have a time frame attached to it.
  3. Choose your customer acquisition channels – Based on what you’ve designed so far in your strategy, you should have an idea of which channels may work best to acquire new customers. Channels you can choose from include:
    1. SEO
    2. Content marketing
    3. Digital advertising
    4. Influencer marketing
    5. Email marketing
    6. Video marketing
    7. Social media
    8. Referral programs


How to Create a Niche Site That Earns 4 Figures a Month in 6 Easy Steps by Jenny Abouobaia

Here’s the step-by-step process:
  1. Choose the right niche – Choosing the right niche is absolutely crucial to starting a profitable niche website. It lays the foundation for everything else going forward. Follow this niche selection process.
  2. Find the right keywords – You’re mostly looking for three types of keywords: General comparisons (e.g., best wifi router), branded comparisons (e.g., MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro), and product reviews (e.g., MacBook Pro review). Follow this guide to learn how to find these keywords.
  3. Build your site – Jenny recommends using WordPress because it’s free and customizable. But the default state is terrible, so you’ll have to make customizations.
    1. Choose the right theme – Go with a theme that has its own built-in page builder functionality, such as Astra.
    2. Consider conversions – Ensuring you have clear CTAs on all your product recommendations and even on your homepage makes it easy to direct visitors to check out the products you recommend so that you can earn those all-important affiliate commissions.
    3. Think about E‑A-T right from the beginning – Ensuring that your website has a clear and comprehensive “about” page and author bios from the beginning will help you to establish your site as a genuine authority.
  4. Write content – Content is the bread and butter of a niche affiliate site. This is where those all-important affiliate links, which can earn you commissions, will be housed. Follow this guide to learn how to create evergreen content. 
  5. Build linksFollow this guide to learn how to build links. (Plus, we have another post in this newsletter on how to get more links, so check that out!)
  6. Rinse and repeat


How to Use Podcasts for Link Building by Joshua Hardwick

Here’s how to do podcast link building:
  1. Find industry podcasts – Search for them on Google or Apple Podcasts or use Ahrefs’ Site Explorer to reverse engineer prolific podcasts in your industry. 
  2. Vet the shows – Not all of the podcasts on your list will be worth pitching to, and some will be more of a priority than others. Here’s a simple vetting process
  3. Pitch them – Pitching to a show is quite straightforward. You either follow its application process or reach out by email and pitch yourself as a guest. 
  4. Record your episode


Seed Keywords: What Are They & 7 Actionable Ways to Find Them by Jake Sheridan

The output is often only as good as the input. 

This is true when building a keyword list. To get the most from Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer (and most SEO tools, for that matter), you need to have the best inputs.

Here are seven methods to find good seed keywords:
  1. Brainstorm variations of your target keyword – Start by creating a list of obvious variations and synonyms of the term you are researching. You should also look for other industry terms during your hunt for seed keywords.
  2. Reverse engineer competitors with Site Explorer – If you are less familiar with the industry and need some ideas, look at what keywords related sites are ranking for.
  3. Look at the SERPs (like PAA boxes and related searches) – Simply search one of your seed keyword ideas and poke around the pages for inspiration.
  4. Review communities and forums – One of the best sources for finding seed keywords relates to your audience. Specifically, you should look at where they hang out online.
  5. List out products/services/brands associated with your keywords – To find products and services associated with your keywords, just start Googling and looking for niche-specific sites with related offerings.
  6. Look at website navigation menus – This works especially well for e-commerce websites.
  7. Review terms in Google Search Console – If you are trying to develop a seed keyword list from a site you have access to (aka your site or your clients’), you can and should look at keywords in GSC.

📚 What we’re reading


For Omega and Swatch, the Rewards of Co-branding Could Be Astronomical [Article]

Some people think that it’s a mistake Omega is pairing up with Swatch to create the Moonswatch. Product cannibalization and brand damage—these are criticisms of the collaboration. But Professor Mark Ritson thinks otherwise.

Here’s a quote from the article:

“I am minded of something Les Binet and Sarah Carter once wrote in their wonderful book How Not to Plan. The two experienced advertisers noted that despite all the criticisms of ‘bad advertising,’ neither had ever observed a single incidence of an ad being so bad it was bad for business. Not one.

And as I grow older and less academic in my orientation, I find the same truth plays out across much of the branding space too. For all our pronouncements of mistaken strategies and flawed execution, very few brands are ever damaged by their innovations. In truth, I think most brand managers are far too conservative in their approach to the brands that they manage. They are usually too busy consulting their team or the market to notice the giant opportunity passing them by in silence on the starboard side of the organization.”



Spring Cleaning: The URL Parameters Tool [Article]

Google is deprecating the URL Parameters tool in Search Console in a months’ time. 



Improving Product Review Ranking, One Year On [Article]

A new Product Review update from Google. 
Till next time. ;)

Cheers,
Si Quan
Content Marketing @ Ahrefs

P.S. We’re experimenting with adding more content to our newsletter. What do you think? What should we improve? What should we add? Let me know by replying to this email.
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