Link building might be the most important effort working with internet marketing. But, it’s also one of the hardest and the most time-consuming.
Add the fact that Google tightens their thumbscrews year after year, narrowing the activities which you can use without risking your business. Google is pushing us to gain those links in a more and more natural manner.
As a result, content-driven outreach to attain links that is valuable for every party in such a transaction (you, the target where you place the link, and his or her’s readers) has become a major contender when it comes to quality link building.
But, outreach is hard. Besides actually finding quality targets, researching content, knowing what they write and what they share, you need to know how to put yourself in front of their radar. You need to know how to send that e-mail to establish that first contact. Maximising conversions (be it links or even social mentions) with just the right messages is hard.
Therefore, I have collected 10 different strategies one can use as inspiration when times has come to connect with possible target. One with a keen eye will see that most of them are variations of the ego bait and the law of reciprocity. I have also included additional resources on how you can leverage some of these strategies in the best possible way.
You can use these strategies straight of the bat or adapt them. The latter is to prefer I would think since no situation is the same and you need to adapt to the situation.
The honourable mention might be one of the easier methods (in terms of the e-mail to send) where you can use outreach as a method to connect with your targets. In essence, the honourable mention approach is used when experts, authorities or thought leaders are mentioned in your resource.
Mentions may be passive inclusions such as citations in an article, being listed in lists or when, for example being mentioned in a rebuttal of some sort.
To maximise conversions with this strategy, I would suggest you bring really good and valuable content to the table. Produce content that think that your targets would like to share and associate themselves with (remember the research done before). A half-assed article or resource, where you have included their name out of context will not cut it.
What you have to do next is getting in touch with your target. The e-mail you use, when reaching out, is short and to the point. You should only include the title of and a link to your resource. Add some praise (but don’t overdo it) and if possible a understated call to action of some sort, maybe an invitation to share the content on their website or in social channels.
That’s it! Await feedback!
The expert is all about leveraging one or multiple experts knowledge to enhance your own content and use their network when they promote their view and your content. You identifying each of your targets areas of expertise. From there you would create a concept for an article or resource in their area of expertise.
Their expertise can for example, be used in an interview regarding a specific area, as a resource or article or be used in such a way that you gather a few more experts and let them voice their opinion on one or more specific issues together.
Conducting outreach in this case needs you to have a proper understand of your targets expertise, how they usually lend their expertise to your particular format, a well-formed pitch (of the article they are to be part of) and of possible, include what the will needed to answer or comment.
If they agree to your pitch and you get their input you should produce your article, let your targets review (if they want to) and post it.
Make sure you always follow up when you have posted your article, as in the case when using the honourable mention. This is crucial as to try to make them share and distribute your article.
The curator is a variation of the expert with the difference that you don’t necessarily need to have your target write content or invest time in your article or resource your are building.
Instead, you can have him or her give you some really quick, fun or simple input, feedback or tip. It can be just a short question and a short answer. Curate these short answers in a longer article if you fear thin content.
This is a great strategy that can be used in social media with very good success in terms of responses. I used this strategy here in this article, “Experts talk: Name the element you would test for the rest of your life”, where nearly all of the top conversion rate optimization authorities answered and gave feedback to my question.
In this case, I did not follow upon after the article where finished (I was building content for this blog, not doing link building) but you should of course, get back to your targets once your article is done!
Earning the attention of press, bloggers, news and thought leaders through solid newsworthy material has always, and will always be, an effective way to earn links.
Whenever you release a new blog post, resource or newsworthy bit of content, make sure to communicate it to all relevant outlets and targets you might have. But be to the point, segment heavily and always try add a solid reason as to why they should go with your story.
Try to connect your news with some other material they have released. Try to show how your news can add value to other parts of their website and newsflow.
A great way to reach out to targets it to let them review your product or service. This however needs to be done in such a manner that it does not come through as straight advertising, for neither you or your target.
Reaching out to people that you see fit your product needs you to do your research and identify where you product is welcomed and where it is an actual asset to the critics readers or following.
Pitch their opportunity to review your product in connection with some other content they have written. For example, a tool to manage your targets, would be a great fit in connection with this article. Your pitch needs to add value to your readers. Just sending your product over will not really reduce your chances of being included.
Also, always make sure that you clearly state that the review needs to be neutral, factual and honest.It will maintain the credibility of your target. If your product is valuable you should not have anything to worry about. Worst case, you get a bad review but hopefully you can improve based on that and maybe even reconnect with the critic and get a second opinion.
As a standalone or as an addition to The critic the use of competitions, or rather the ability for your targets to organise a competition with your product or service as a prize is a great way to reach out. It will delight your targets readers and you can, hopefully, get a link!
In this case, you would just contact the targets where your product or service would add value and where you know it’s readers is a great fit. Reach out in a short e-mail letting them know that they have the opportunity to organise a competition with your product.
Keep it no strings attached and give them the trust to arrange a competition in any way they see fit.
This strategy requires some work on your end be fruitful. You need to identify issues with your possible targets websites and report them to your target.
With issues, I’m talking about issues such as broken links, slow web websites, large images and anything else that you can identify as troublesome over at your targets websites.
Of course, broken links are some of the best issues you can find as this allows you to compose alternative content (hint: use archive.org to find out what the old was about) and relay this content to your target, allowing him to update is content with your new, fresh, take on the subject.
While broken links are prime for this strategy the other ones are also good because the law of reciprocity opens for other collaborations that are fruitful and where you can gain a link!
Other resources (and tools great for it) on broken link building can be found here:
5 creative broken link building strategies @ Point Blank SEO
Broken Link Building Bible: The New Testament @ Moz
A great way to put yourself on the radar of your intended target, is through their ongoing conversations online.
Always follow your key targets and keep tabs on what kind of content they produce and put out. Keep an eye on what kind of conversations follow in it’s footsteps. Many times more questions and angles for new content will pop up and that is your opportunity. Find the ones that keep on reappearing.
Be agile and produce content that can support your targets content (and it’s readers since those are the ones that often provide the questions you need to answer).
When done and posted, put it out there. Inject it into the ongoing conversation. Also, a simple e-mail to the original writer (and target) commenting on your second angel might be all it takes to be included or mentioned, either as an update, in follow up posts or in social.
While it might be a long-shot actually supplying pre-made content to your intended target is a great idea. However, it requires that you have done your research and know what they might like content-wise.
Analyze their website and look closely at their content, and especially the categories in their blog (if they have one) and see where most the content resides. What subjects are their favorites? Adapt!
Also, check common metrics and look for content that performed well in terms of:
Number of links
Number of comments
Number of social shares
From there, create some really great content based on your findings and pitch it to one target at a time, sending them the whole shebang. If you get a no from one target you move on to the next.
Lastly, we take a look at some offline methods you can use to gain links. Yes, you don’t have to be glued in front of a computer to build links. You can get out into real life and still attain link, reach them in person.
Some great ways of building links offline are:
Pick up the phone – actually calling people with a suggestion on how you can cooperate is a underestimated way of outreach. Trying to pitch, for example, a guest post without a really good angle online is much harder than just calling your target and finding common ground on how you could contribute to each other’s growth.
Events – Throw a great event (with free beer) and distribute invites in and to all relevant channels. Invite authority figures and media. Invite speakers that can promote their product or voice their opinion. Chances are that they will link to you and your event to promote it further.
If you can’t arrange event yourself, sponsor one and gain links that way, making sure you get a full coverage.
Charity – find a cause that you wholeheartedly support and make a contribution or even better attend a fundraiser and make a contribution.
These are som great resources on how you can build links using offline methods:
How to Do Link Building at Offline Events @ SEJ
Offline is the New Online Link Building Strategy [Case Study] @ Moz
What are your strategies when you connect to your targets?
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