We talk to a ton of site builders in a ton of different niches, so we hear all the buzz when it comes to what’s working and what isn’t. Too often we hear that building links in the tech/VPN niche doesn’t work, or that it’s too difficult.
True. Link building in the VPN niche can be difficult. However, this really just means that you have to get creative, and the content you use to reach out with has to be good… very good.
In fact, in the tech/VPN niche, we’ve built over 2,000 links in the past year alone (without paid link placement; I don’t want my links on pages where anyone with an extra $20 can get a link.)
The tech community is a passionate one. That doesn’t need to be a negative though. The people in the tech community actually love to add great resources that add additional value to their site.
However, they also like to pick apart any half-assed content that outreach teams put in front of them.
Here are a few tactics that we have used or are currently using to build links in the VPN niche.
Broken Link Building with Ahrefs
Broken link building has been around for ages, but the problem with it was always scalability. However, Ahrefs has a neat little trick to help you build content that can earn links that others failed to reclaim.
Step 1: Find a site in the tech/VPN niche, preferably one with 1,000+ backlinks. For this example, I’ll use cnet.com. We want to use a site with a lot of traffic and backlinks because We want a lot of data to play with.
Step 2: Plug the site into Ahrefs and click the “best by links” tool under “pages.”
Step 3: Change the protocol to “404.” This will show you all the pages that cnet.com has that have 404’d and then organize them by referring domains (RD).
We can see that cnet.com has dead pages with hundreds of sites linking to them. Now we want to pick a page that we can recreate and that fits well with our site.
This page was about the spectre meltdown, which is in the security realm and could very easily fit into a security/tech/VPN site. There are 73 sites linking to this dead page. If you build a page on that topic and then reached out to the sites that are linking to CNET’s dead page, then you have potentially dozens of new links pointing to your site.
They also have a glossary with 104 referring domains that can easily be built and used for outreach.
Brand & Keyword Mentions
We like to monitor mentions of our brand around the web, as every brand should. However, we also like to take it a step further and monitor keywords that defines our brand. There are tons of tools out there you can use to do this: mention.com, Google Alerts, Ahrefs, etc., but we like to use Awario because it also monitors mentions on social media, YouTube, plus news and blog posts.
Let’s use the keyword “best VPN” as an example. If you’re monitoring this keyword with Awario, you should be notified anytime someone publishes an article that mentions “best VPN,” then you can easily reach out to them well within their editing window and mention that you have a resource they can use.
Step 1: Add the keyword(s) you want to track in Awario.
Step 2: Filter the results to only show blog posts and news articles (note: if you have the resources, you can engage with people mentioning “best VPN” on social media as well. I choose to work more direct, so we just target recently published blog posts that are relevant to our site.)
Here we have a site that talks about cyber security (at least on the page level), they have a DR rating of 53, and they get over 7,000 organic traffic per month. This would be a very respectable link to get, and with Awario you get hundreds of these opportunities per day. You’d simply need to reach out to them and pitch your link.
One of the drawbacks of Awario is that it has a very powerful crawler, so you get a lot of noise back. You have to sift through a lot of results to find the good ones, but they are definitely there.
A large part of content creation in the VPN niche is reviewing particular products. A lot of these products love to use testimonies from reviewers. These usually come in the form of “press pages,” like this:
If you write a favorable review of VPN product, then you can easily reach out to them and show them the review and mention that it might make a good fit on their “press page” or in this case their “reviews” page.
You can usually find these on the sites of the products you review. However, you can also work backward. If you go to your Google search and type on VPN + a search parameter, you will also find some good results, and you can find a way to sprinkle them into your content and get a link in return. Let’s try: VPN “in the news”
This is the 4th result down:
This is a page set up on CyberGhost VPN’s site that is specifically designed to link out to other people who mention them or give them good reviews. Plenty of sites have these pages set up; these are low hanging fruit.
Note: we highly recommend not building pages with fake reviews for the sake of links. Let this happen naturally through your editorial process, and then reach out when it makes sense.
Resource Pages (with a twist)
We all know resource pages, and we all know the search parameters to find them. However, there is a tiny, simple trick you can use to find resource pages that have been recently added or updated so you know they’re actively looking for solid sites to add to it.
Step 1: Use a search parameter to find a resource page in your niche. Instead of going directly for VPN, I’m going to change the keyword up a bit. Here is the string I’m using: cybersecurity “links”
Super simple. And we get loads of relevant results to reach out to. That’s great and we can try for those. However, resource pages have been getting beat down by SEOs for ages, and they don’t always convert. So, let’s play with the results a bit.
Step 2: Click on tools, then change the time to the past month
This will give you results that have been either posted or updated within the past month.
Like this result. This is a great, relevant, powerful site that was updated in the past month so you can see they’re actively looking for quality sites to add to their page. This would be a great place to reach out to if you have a comprehensive online protection guide on your site.
Bonus Tactic: Skyscraper
Building links to review pages and app round-ups is an uphill battle. We choose to build links to informational articles or guides and then internally link to the pages that we want to rank (I explain more in my contribution here.) For this we use skyscraper.
The wildly popular skyscraper tactic. You’ve probably received 10 of these types of emails in your inbox just this morning. Everyone seems to be doing it. This is why you have to think a little different. In the VPN niche, it’s all about content. You can’t approach skyscraper pages with email count only in mind. You need to focus on finding the right topic, building a flawless piece of content and then reaching out to the right audience.
The goal here is to build a solid resource that you can put in front of a relevant audience and simply ask for a link back to your site.
Step 1: Find the right topic. In the VPN/Tech these topics should usually be: controversial (net neutrality), trendy (blockchain), explaining a concept (IoT), a tool (what’s my IP), or a useful guide (how to protect kids online).
The right topic will be one that generates “link buzz.” Link buzz is a topic or tool that attracts links naturally. A good way to get started is to look at Buzzstream, type in competitors websites and see which topics have generated a lot of buzz on social media.
Step 2: Build the right content. It’s best to analyze the competition’s pages that have earned links on those pages. What makes them so good? Are they filled with solid media? Do they present original data? Are they a huge, imposing guide? Whatever they are doing, you have to one-up them.
Step 3: Build your list. The time here should be spent on making sure the audience is super relevant and the emails are found with a human eye. This will help a ton with conversions.
Step 4: Use a one-step outreach email that simply asks for a link in their existing article. We do this in bulk using Mailshake.
Step 5: Watch the links pour in 🙂
The Proof is in the Pudding
We’ve worked for a few VPN sites. Here are a couple of the sites’ traffic growth over time.
Note: site #2 had other link builders and a big SEO team; we certainly can’t take all the credit, but we did build dozens of beautiful links for them.