As most people know, SMX Advanced took place out in Seattle a couple weeks ago. While there was only one session truly dedicated to link building, link building tips were still flying around the Bell Harbor Conference Center! Thankfully, I was there to catch them.
From simple tactics to outreach advice, here are four of the best link-building tips from the show:
Tip #1: Site Before Social
We are all aware that link building is now about the people. You have to find the right person, connect with them, and then work on building a relationship. At some point, you may even get a link!
Building these relationships takes time, and many people are using social to do this. Nothing wrong with that. Also nothing new about that. The thing I see happening now is many of us have become too consumed with finding the right person versus finding the right place for a link.
We use tools like Topsy and Followerwonk to find key influencers, and then we try and figure out how to engage those influencers. When it comes to link building, relationships and engagement matter, but finding the right place to get a link from still matters as well.
In the Top Social Tactics for the Search Marketer session, I discussed how to build these relationships by starting at the site level:
Step 1: Identify The Editors & Authors
Once you know the site you want to target, it’s pretty easy to find out who the authors and editors are. You can manually do this, or you can use tools like the Citation Labs Contact Finder or BuzzStream’s Email Research. Simply plug in the website and let them find the contact information for you.
Step 2: Find Them On Social
Once you have the email addresses of the people you want to target, the next step is to find them on social. This is where a tool like Rapportive comes in. Simply plug their email address into Gmail and Rapportive will populate their social info.
Step 3: Start Getting Involved
With all the contact information logged, you can now start focusing on using it to build the relationship. Find out where they participate, what they like, etc.
By identifying the publication first, you aren’t wasting your time finding influencers who may not actually matter and can take a more targeted approach.
Tip #2: Go Back In Time
For me, some of the old and simple link building tactics are the best. There’s nothing better than finding an unlinked brand mention or broken link to your site and having it corrected. What I like about these tactics is they are simple yet effective, and sometimes a new spin on them makes them even better.
In Legit Link Acquisition, Kaila Strong gave two great examples of these “simple but smart” tips:
Find Links To Competitor 404s
Back to the idea of relationships, being helpful is a great way to build one. By letting a site know they are linking to a broken page, you’re helping them, and they may be inclined to help you… they may even remove that link to your competitor and give you one instead.
To identify potential link opportunities, start by finding the competitor’s 404 pages (ScreamingFrog is a great tool for this). Once you have the broken pages, find the backlinks for each page by checking search results for the page title, headline title, URL, or by using a tool like Open Site Explorer.
The next step is finding the contact info for the site (great news, we just covered that) and creating a good outreach email.
Find Your Unlinked Images
Sticking to a similar idea, searching unlinked images can also prove fruitful for picking up links, especially if your company posts infographics or embeddable images.
Use Google image search to find sites that may be using your image:
If they aren’t including a link, reach out and let them know that while you appreciate them sharing your content, you’d really appreciate attribution. Don’t hesitate to include the embed code or linking information in the email.
Simple tactics can offer great link opportunities so don’t ignore them. It’s also cool to see some new takes on the old stuff.
3. Consider Authorship In Outreach
In the authorship session, Janet Driscoll Miller discussed various ways in which Google is assigning authorship to content. While some of the results were surprising, what really stuck with me was the statement she made around authorship:
“As a PR professional and an SEO, I want to work with people who have authorship.”
Her recommendation was that, when doing outreach, it’s important to check whether the site you are targeting has authorship implemented, and if the author has a Google+ profile. While AuthorRank may not be officially in action yet, authorship is already prevalent in SERPs and impacting click-through rates. This is a factor that must be taken into consideration when it comes to link building efforts.
While lack of authorship or a Google+ profile isn’t going to stop you from wanting a write-up in the Washington Post, it is something to consider when targeting smaller sites.
4. Think PR
I really enjoy the integration of PR and SEO, so I was happy to hear some tips coming out of the link building session that combined the two. When it comes to outreach, there are some basic PR tactics that many of us in the SEO world wouldn’t even think of. Thankfully, the people on stage did.
Offer “Making Of” Or “Exclusives”
One strategy that Justin Briggs suggested using was exclusivity. By offering your target publication a preview or exclusive first rights to the story, you are giving them an advantage — and they may be more likely to pick up your story.
The key to this tactic is making sure you actually have something interesting to preview or give exclusivity to. A new study or a product launch is likely way more interesting than the blog post you are writing. Don’t be the link builder who cried wolf.
Shift The Power To You
When crafting outreach emails, it’s important we understand who it is we are talking to. Learning how they speak, how they write, and what they like can go a long way in establishing a connection. Understanding how to get them to take an action goes even further.
“When doing outreach, give them a deadline or have them do you a favor. Shift the power from them to you.” – Dustin Woodward
The idea of the deadline aligns perfectly with the exclusivity concept Justin also outlined. An email with no deadline can sit in my inbox forever. An email with a deadline implies importance, makes me curious to what it’s about, and makes me feel like I’m getting something special.
Overall, SMX Advanced offered many smart, actionable link building tactics you can use today. Get to it!
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.