A complete, step-by-step guide

Shane Barker
Sep 18 · 6 min read
Photo by Georgia de Lotz on Unsplash

Link building is absolutely essential but it’s also not the easiest strategy to understand. Everyone knows link building can help you get referral traffic and boost your website’s authority. After all, high-quality backlinks are an important ranking factor in Google’s algorithm.

But many SEO marketers don’t quite understand how to measure link building ROI. Without understanding the ROI, it’s challenging to understand which strategies aren’t worth the time and which are truly effective.

In this article, we’ll discuss how to track the effectiveness of your link building activities and the best practices for it.


How Can You Measure Your Link Building ROI?

Measuring link building ROI is a tricky task. Sometimes you can tell that your link building efforts led to a few conversions. However, many times, your efforts can help boost the overall strength of your website. So, only looking at your conversion rate to measure link building ROI won’t give you the whole picture.

Link building is closely related to your SEO efforts. So, your organic traffic, referral traffic, search rankings, and other SEO factors affect your link building profile. You need to take all of that into consideration as well.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can measure your link building ROI.

1. Conduct backlink analysis

This is the most obvious way of measuring your link building ROI. If your website has been live for a few months or years, odds are you have some links pointing to your site. However, not all the links that you get are good.

Backlinks from high authority websites can have a positive impact on your SEO strategy. On the other hand, links from spammy websites can be counterproductive. To measure your link building ROI, use can use backlink analysis tools like Ahrefs, CognitiveSEO, Majestic SEO, and others.

With the help of these tools, you’ll be able to track the strength of your backlinks, the number of referring domains, and the domain ratings.

In the screenshot below, you can see my backlink profile. Since last year, I’ve tried to put more effort into improving it. You can see the linking building ROI from the number of referring domains I’ve managed to get in that time.

To build my link profile, I frequently contribute to high-authority publications such as Inc.com, HuffPost, Forbes, CoSchedule, and over 100 other websites. This has helped me build trust and credibility, improve my link profile, and rank higher in search results.

2. Track referral traffic

Referral traffic is another way to get insights into your link building ROI. Using Google Analytics, you can see which sources or links are bringing you the most traffic or links.

In the screenshot below, you can see the top sources from which I get most of my referral traffic. In this table, there are three metrics you should be the most concerned about: bounce rate, average session duration, and pages per session.

Looking at these metrics, you can get a better idea about the quality of links that you’re getting. The higher the number of average pages per session and average session duration you have, the better it is. However, a higher bounce rate isn’t good for link building ROI.

3. Track changes in search rankings and organic traffic

Search rankings are dynamic. You could be at the top of SERPs one day and slip to the second page on another. Tracking changes in your search rankings can tell you whether your link building strategies are working or not. It’s a crucial factor for measuring your link building ROI.

If your search rankings improve, your organic traffic is also likely to grow. So, it’s essential to keep your eye on these two factors to measure your link building ROI.

You can see from the screenshot below that in the last 60 days the average position of my webpages has improved drastically.

Similarly, my organic traffic has increased as my search rankings improved. But the change has been gradual. To give you a better idea, I’ve included data about my organic traffic from last year as well.

As you can see from the screenshot below, my organic traffic has more than doubled in the past year. Clearly, it’s been a good year for my link building ROI.

4. Track brand mentions

While it may seem unrelated, social listening is also necessary to understand who is linking to your site.

When you get a brand mention, it could boost your link building ROI. To track your mentions, you can use Google Alerts, Mention, and other social listening tools. By monitoring your brand mentions, you can find new opportunities for linking and collaboration.

As a thought leader in the digital marketing industry, I have been mentioned or quoted in numerous posts, such as:

5. Keep track of social shares

When people share your links on social media, you get more engagement. Indirectly, it also improves your overall SEO strategy and gives a boost to your link building efforts.

To check the number of social shares you get, you can use tools like BuzzSumo, GetSocial, HootSuite, or others.

There is another benefit of using this method for measuring your link building ROI. Looking at social shares will also help you figure out what type of content your target audience likes. It can help you plan and optimize your overall content strategy as well.


Link Building Lessons: What I’ve Learned

Over the past few years, I have tried many different strategies for link building. From guest posting to influencer marketing, I’ve tried it all.

From my experience in link building, here are a few things I’ve learned:

  • Always use anchor text variation to build links.
  • Leverage branded anchor texts; they can help build brand awareness.
  • You should target a follow to nofollow ratio of 80:20.
  • Look for websites that have an Ahrefs Domain Rating (DR) of more than 40.
  • The majestic CF/TF ratio should be less than 2.0.
  • Try to add links in a natural manner so that they fit the context of the content.

Final Thoughts

Measuring the ROI of your link building efforts isn’t easy. Checking your conversion rate is the first thing that you should do when it comes to calculating your ROI.

The true value of link building extends beyond that. However, there isn’t a dedicated tool for it. You need to combine information about your backlinks, referral traffic, social shares, organic traffic growth, and more. Only by combining all of this data can you get a fair idea of the actual value of your link building strategy.

The best way to measure the ROI of your link building strategy is by using SEO tools. By doing so, you can leverage data to optimize your strategy.

How do you keep track of your link building ROI? Please share your experience and insights in the comments section.

Better Marketing

Advice & case studies

Shane Barker

Written by

Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant that specializes in sales funnels, targeted traffic and website conversions. #InfluencerMarketing Writer for INC.

Better Marketing

Advice & case studies

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