Data-Driven Link-Building: How To Use Survey Results To Earn Powerful Backlinks


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One of the key indicators of how a website will perform in organic search results is the number of backlinks it’s able to earn through publishing great and unique content.

However, getting high-quality backlinks has never been more difficult than it is today. With the amount of content that gets published every single day in 2019, you need to refine and polish your link-building strategy simply to cut through the clutter.

This is where surveys come in.

According to a study published by SEO PowerSuite, original data outperforms every other type of content when it comes to link-building.

This is because surveys, if done well, contain unique and actionable insight that other publications will find valuable and want to link to.

This doesn’t mean that you won’t have to work for those backlinks.

Because you will.

What this means is that you are more likely to get a “yes” from people on the other end of your outreach campaigns because you’re coming to them with information that no one else has.

How To Create Surveys for Your Link-Building Strategy

Here’s a quick and dirty guide to creating a good survey, writing up the results, and designing an outreach process that will land you the backlinks that you need to help your website rank on Google’s page #1.

Find a Topic That is Trending

Ideally, you want to tackle a topic that’s growing in popularity.

There are a lot of tools that you can use to gauge the popularity of a topic. Personally, I use Google Trends and BuzzSumo.

Google Trends is great for analyzing how many people search for a particular topic over time, and to see if the topic is on an upward or a downward curve.

But, with BuzzSumo, you can check how many social engagements the topic is likely to get. A high number of engagements means that you will probably need to spend less time doing outreach and promoting your results, which is always a plus.

Once you decide on the topic, it’s time to move on to designing your survey and getting people to participate in it.

Survey Design & Marketing

A lot has been written about survey design and marketing by people a lot more proficient in that than I am – this Survey Monkey guide will be of great help if you decide to use surveys for link-building.

However, I have three pieces of advice that will help you get the responses that you need:

1) Use the KISS principle – or, plainly, Keep It Simple. Stupid. You’re asking people to take the time out of their day to help you out. They might be willing to part with a few minutes, but they won’t be so keen on spending an hour on it.

2) Use mostly close-ended questions – and provide pre-populated answer choices. Remember, you need to be able to quantify these results and write an analysis. You can try one or two open-ended questions at the end of the survey but keep in mind that you’ll get a much lower response rate on them.

3) Get an expert to help you out – hiring a freelance content writer with experience in survey writing will save you a lot of time. Additionally, clean and clear language will increase the completion rate, and ensure that your results are unambiguous.

Marketing a survey can be difficult if you don’t have a large base of customers, or a huge list of subscribers. Aside from working on those two things, I’d recommend using social media to spread your survey far and wide. Ask your friends and colleagues to help you by sharing it, and join groups where your target audience is most likely to hang out. Don’t forget about paid social media, as well as contacting publications and blog owners in your niche to see if they’d be willing to participate in or help you promote your survey.

Publish Your Results as a Blog Post

A lot of websites fall into the trap of gated content when it comes to their original research.

The logic behind it is sound – you’ve spent time and money on acquiring this data so why should you just give it away? You can at least get people to subscribe to your email list for your effort, right?


If you’re collecting data to use as link-magnet, the last thing you want is to hide it inside a PDF file. You want your data indexed and ranking so that people looking for information (writers and editors) can easily find it and use it in their posts and articles.

Here’s an example from Backlinko (results published as a post and now the page has 62K backlinks):

Compare that with this study from SEMRush (available as PDF after you subscribe to their mailing list):

Both studies are probably equally valuable. The fact that Backlinko decided to keep the results open for everyone to see and use is what earned them nearly 10X more backlinks.

Reach Out To Relevant Media & Blog Owners With Your Results

As promised near the beginning of this post, just publishing survey results won’t result in a truckload of backlinks. You still have work to do when it comes to promoting this type of content.

The difference now is that you have content that no one else has access to. It’s unique and newsworthy so it’s going to be easier to get other websites to link to it.

When hunting for links with this type of content, I suggest two strategies:

Targeted media outreach – Basically, you will need to identify specific journalists and publications that you can reasonably assume would be interested in what you have to share. Make sure to use a curated list – it’s going to be much more helpful than a simple PR blast, which could potentially damage your backlink profile by introducing toxic and irrelevant links.

Reaching out to authority websites in your field – I’m sure there are a lot of professionals in your field who you admire. Go through the old posts they’ve published about your survey topic, and find places where your results could fit in. Create a list of potential placements, and email the authors with your results. Keep your ask relevant to the topic, and try to personalize every email.

If you’ve been careful when selecting your topic, you should see a steady uptick in the number of backlinks your results earn over time. This won’t be huge but, then again, it doesn’t have to be. With backlinks, it’s quality over quantity every time, and if you have interesting results and a big pool of participants, those survey backlinks will keep pouring in for a long time after you’ve published your results.

I hope that this post helps you realize the enormous value that original data points, such as surveys, bring to your link-building efforts. If you have any comments or questions – or success stories about building backlinks with surveys – make sure to leave a comment below!

Elijah Masek-Kelly
Elijah Masek-Kellly is the Managing Director of Powerful Outreach, which is a PR service that helps clients get exposure through innovative and strategic outreach. With a long history as a writer and content marketer, Elijah is focused on helping small businesses develop their brand, increase their influence, and generate leads by leveraging his skills and knowledge to tap into new audiences.


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