Link Building ROI: The Definitive 2023 Guide

The age-old question still stands – is link building worth it? Well, if you do it right, it could have a massive impact on your website. In fact, you can measure your link building ROI to see if you’re going the right path.

Some marketers may say that link building is immeasurable – and it’s pointless to try and measure it. But there are ways to measure if your link-building efforts are paying off. These metrics are concrete proof that you’re taking the right steps to convert the links to sales.

In this article:

  1. The Thing About Link Building ROI
  2. Ways to Measure Link Building ROI
  3. How Do I Interpret the ROI of Link Building?

The Thing About Link Building ROI is…

This metric is not one-way traffic. It’s not a simple math problem where 1 + 1 = 2. Measuring the ROI of link building is a combination of different methods that will indicate if your efforts are effective.

Return On Investment (ROI) is used to measure the financial return of a certain investment. It can also be a ratio between the profit and loss from the total cost of your investment. It can be written as:

ROI = ( Net return on investment (ROI) / Total cost of investment ) x 100%

However, there are two common misconceptions about link building ROI. These are:

  1. Most of the clients think that the results will be instant. It’s not. You’ll have to wait for a few months to see the impact of your link-building campaign.
  2. There will always be other factors that can affect your ranking on SERPs. It’s hard to give a final answer without taking into account other factors like SEO optimization and UX design.

Normally, clients will ask how much increase in traffic will they get if they pay top dollar for our services. The thing is

You have to look at link building as a long-term investment. It can also bring short-term results, but the benefits of link-building will compound over time. Link building requires a lot of patience to see the ROI.

Ways to Measure Link Building ROI

Now that the misconceptions are put aside, we can focus on the ways to measure link building ROI. These methods are indicators of your link-building efforts. The higher the value of the metric, the more effective your efforts are. You can convert the backlinks to traffic to, eventually, sales.

Here are the ways you can measure the return on investment of your link-building campaigns:

1. Organic Traffic Improvement

When you see improvements in the organic traffic you’re receiving after implementing an SEO strategy, it means that the strategy is working. Once you’re getting traffic for your website, you’ll have a pool of audience for your business. Through proper sales funneling, you can convert your audience to your consumers.

You can measure the increase (or decrease) in your organic traffic through SEO tools. A personal preference would be Ahrefs, but you can use other tools if you want to. As long as you stick to one tool while tracking your traffic, you’re good to go.

Here are some of the tools you can use aside from Ahrefs:

a. Google Analytics

  • Go to Google Analytics and set up your website.
  • Run an analysis for your website.

If you want to accurately track your ranking on a Google tool, you should use Google Analytics. You can track the number of visits you get, page views, unique visitors, and other metrics to see if you’re gaining organic traffic. You have to analyze if these metrics are changing and report if you see a positive outcome.

Google Analytics overview of important data to analyze organic traffic. Link Building ROI
Google Analytics overview of important data to analyze organic traffic.

Google Analytics provides an overview of the status of your website. You can see the number of users, conversion rate, most viewed pages, and other data that you need to analyze the traffic you’re getting. Evaluating these data is important to interpret the results you get from Google Analytics.

You should also set your conversions to have working data from this tool. This way, you’ll have a concrete value to measure the effect of organic traffic on your ROI.

Analyzing the referrals report (under traffic sources) will show you where the referral traffic is coming from. Review the report and take note of the backlinks shown. Countercheck if they are part of your link-building campaign.

Once you get all the necessary data from Google Analytics, you can start analyzing them and see how your link-building efforts improve your brand. If you’re gaining organic traffic from the backlinks you produced, you can easily convert these prospects into customers and increase your sales.

b. SEMRush

Link Building ROI - Semrush
Link Building ROI – Semrush
  • Log in using a premium or a free account.
  • Setup the “Position Tracking” and “Organic Traffic Insights” from the dashboard of your project.
  • Connect Google Search Console with the SEMRush dashboard to gather more accurate data from the traffic insights.
  • Start tracking your position and traffic in the dashboard. For more information, you can click on any tool from the dashboard.

If you frequently run analytics for your website, then SEMRush is no stranger to you. It is a widely-known and used tool for link builders and SEO strategists alike. This tool allows you to track your SEO campaign by monitoring your brand, SERP position, on-page SEO, backlink profile, and many more!

You will see where your referral traffic is coming from by analyzing the top pages on your website. If you want to estimate the quality of the backlinks that you are getting, you can check the DA of your linking domains. If you have good backlinks, you also have a good pool of referral traffic coming from these backlinks.

LinkDoctor visibility overview from SEMRush Position Tracking Tool. Link Building ROI
Link Building ROI – LinkDoctor visibility overview from SEMRush Position Tracking Tool.

Visibility is crucial for your digital marketing. Good thing that backlinks can improve your visibility in Google through your keywords. This is good, especially if you’re running an e-Commerce business. It gives you an edge because you can convert the referral traffic you’re getting from your backlinks much easier.

While You’re Here, Check Out: E-commerce Link Building: From Day 1 to Day 100 (and more!)

Here are some other tools you can use to analyze the increase in your organic traffic from link building:

  • Ahrefs
  • RankTracker
  • Google Search Console
  • SEOquake

2. SERP Ranking

Did you know that Google SERP’s top-ranking website has a CTR (click-through rate) of 31.7%? And the next domain on the ranking only has a 0.78% CTR. This means that those domains that dominate the SERP results for your major keywords are getting 31% more conversion than the 2nd in search engine results.

This is a huge leap, especially if you look at it from a marketing and revenue perspective. Imagine if the search intent of the 31% lead to sales, that’s a 31% loss in revenue. That’s why it’s highly important to get that top spot in the SERP ranking.

But this is not an easy task. This will require a combination of SEO, content marketing, link building, and other techniques to optimize your website completely. You need to use different web optimizer tools for full website analysis and optimization.

You also have the option to hire a link-building agency to lighten the load significantly. You won’t have to worry about the link-building aspect to reach the top of SERPs. A link-building agency has advanced link-building campaigns for building links.

a. Moz

  • Log in to MozPro or create a free trial account using your email address.
  • Use the Link Explorer tool in the “Free SEO Tools” section.
  • Type your website URL and start the analysis.

If you want to measure the long-term efficiency of your link-building efforts, you can use the Moz Link Explorer tool to check your website’s Domain Authority (DA). Domain Authority is not a factor used by Google to rank your domain, but it’s a great metric to monitor how your site will perform on search engines.

Moz Link Explorer overview showing different analytics that determine your website's performance.
Link Building ROI – Moz Link Explorer overview shows different analytics that determines your website’s performance.

You will see your top pages, top backlinks, and your top competitive keywords. You need these 3 attributes to boost your rank on search engine results. The more you rank higher, the more visitors and revenue you can get from your link-building campaign.

Domain Authority is a measure of how well your domain will rank on Google. It’s a scale of 0-100 with 100 being the rank 1 in Google SERPs. The higher your Domain Authority, the more people will see your website as a reputable name in the industry. A good reputation can certainly pull your revenue up.

The “Top Pages” section in the toolbar will help you identify which pages on your website get the most engagement and traffic. You can also see here if the money pages you create are visible to your target market and getting the right amount of traffic. Moz is a great tool to calculate the ROI of your link-building campaign by monitoring the improvements in your search engine ranking.

Read More: How to Increase My Domain Authority

3. Social Media Engagements

Link Building ROI - Social Media Engagements
Link Building ROI – Social Media Engagements

According to recent statistics from July 2021, the DataReportal survey says that 9 out of 10 users of the Internet are also using at least one social media platform. Being able to reach this massive audience pool is a good idea to convert your link-building efforts to revenue. That’s why a lot of link builders also include social media in their link-building campaigns.

Tracking your social media engagements require you to know the key performance indicators (KPIs) for social media platforms. These metrics are not just simple counting of the number of mentions from social media platforms. You have to consider other factors like bounce rate or the true value of a brand mention.

Here are some KPIs for social media engagement:

  • Post reach and potential reach
  • Brand awareness
  • Influence
  • Rate of increase of new visitors
  • Average engagement rate
  • Virality rate of a certain post
  • Conversion rate and cost-per-click (CPC)

It’s hard to determine the actual ROI for social media because of the sheer number of factors that can affect your performance. However, the trend can be seen easily. The higher the engagements on social media posts with your link on them, the more value you get from these brand mentions.

Most of these KPIs involve marketing, so you don’t have to focus on those. You should focus more on the KPIs that are affected by building links. These are brand awareness, influence, and engagement.

a. Sprout Social

Sprout Social is one of the leading social listening tools to monitor these important KPIs. You can track Facebook engagements, CTR of Twitter links, follower demographics, and other key metrics to monitor. Using this tool can help you calculate the ROI of link building from social media engagements.

For example, you shared self-made evergreen content on the best places to advertise online. You want to track how much new organic traffic it brings to your website. You’ll need to measure the amount of Facebook engagements you gathered from your post.

Sprout Social can find all types of brand mentions across different social media platforms.
Sprout Social can find all types of brand mentions across different social media platforms.

According to Sarah Potter’s walkthrough guide on YouTube, Sprout Social gives in-depth analytics to every social media account that you have. Whether it’s from Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn, this tool can handle it to perfection. From comments, mentions, hashtags, and other ways your brand can get mentioned on social channels, this tool can find them all.

4. Monte Carlo Simulation Method

The Monte Carlo Simulation Method is a statistical analysis for forecasting events that are affected by random, immeasurable variables. For example, you have to measure the ratio of teachers to students in a given area without actual data for the headcount of each variable. Seems impossible, but you can simulate the event and come up with an educated estimate for the problem.

Named after the famous gambling spot in Monaco, this method specializes in random outcomes that are very much like statistical paradoxes. It can also make a simulation of your link-building efforts and forecast the ROI of your strategy, whether it’s long-term or short-term.

Let’s simulate our own Monte Carlo Simulation. Here are the data that you will need:

  • Define a direct competitor for your main keyword (must be #1 in SERP rankings)
  • Direct competitor’s organic traffic data
  • Revenue (per month or per year) of a direct competitor
  • Domain Authority (DA) or Domain Rating (aDR) of competitor and their backlink profile
  • Your website’s data for the same metrics

First, you have to assume that all other external factors are negligible to have a probable outcome. Think of it as a leveled field with your top competitor ranked higher than you. There has to be a gap between you and your top competitor, and we’re about to close that gap.

Treat the gap as the difference between your link-building efforts. By analyzing the difference between your and your competitor’s data, you’ll have tangible values for the difference in your link-building efforts. Closing the gap means that you have to build links to rank higher than your competitors.

Now, crunch the numbers and get the difference between your competitor’s revenue versus yours. You now have a working value for the difference in your link-building strategies. Of course, the results you’ll get are rough estimates without considering all factors and are unreliable.

Nevertheless, it gives you a visual of how far ahead (or how far off) your competitors are.

How Do I Interpret the ROI of Link Building?

Link Building ROI - How?
Link Building ROI – How to Interpret?

Having concrete values for the metrics you’re monitoring is one thing, but interpreting it is another. You have to interpret the values you get from these tools to understand the actual link building ROI. You have to analyze if an increase in your social media engagement, for example, will yield a significant increase in your business sales.

Once your site starts ranking on search engines like Google, it’s a clear sign that your strategy is working. However, if you’re only looking at SERP rankings to measure your ROI, then you’re doing it wrong. This does not reflect the true value that you’re getting from a backlink.

To interpret your link building ROI, you have to consider the values you got from the methods mentioned above. These are:

  • Organic traffic improvement
  • Online visibility based on SERP ranking
  • Social media engagements

An improvement in traffic is a clear indicator that your links are bringing new customers to your site. And since this referral traffic is interested in your brand, it’s easier to convert this referral traffic to your client. Thus, you can associate an increase in your site traffic directly to your link building ROI.

SERP ranking, on the other hand, shows that your domain is getting traction on the Internet. The more you release posts that gain traction on SERP, the more your online visibility improves. This will help especially if consumer searches for your product and enter your keywords on the search engine. Your business is easier to find for sure customers that know what they want.

Lastly, your social media engagement is an important measure for link building. If your wall posts have links and are gaining engagements, it can increase your revenue. This is true especially if your social media strategy is targeted at potential customers in your industry. The more engagements you gather, the more audience you have for your products.

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Final Word

There is no single way to have a value that can measure your link building ROI. Because of the number of factors that can affect the success of a website, you can’t just disregard them. It’s not right to account for all of a website’s success and say that it’s from link building alone.

However, the effects of link building, whether short-time or long-time, can definitely increase your revenue. You can also use the data to know your audience personally so you can make a link-building campaign specifically for them. This will make the quality of your links better and your campaigns more efficient and increase your revenue.

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