I always like to see what types of link building things people talk about and/or present. Based on some basic tips provided by Roger Montti in the “Blow Your Mind Link Building Techniques” session at SMX Advanced, this post will expand upon those to describe a specific link building plan that nearly any site can use.
Here is my expanded version of Roger’s tips on how to extract which .EDU sites link to a competitor of yours (or to an important company in your space). These commands work on either Yahoo or Microsoft Live Search, but not Google at this point:
- linkdomain:domain-to-check.com site:.edu “resource”
- linkdomain:domain-to-check.com site:.edu “directory”
- linkdomain:domain-to-check.com site:.edu “bookmarks”
- linkdomain:domain-to-check.com site:.edu “links”
- linkdomain:domain-to-check.com site:.edu “favorite”
Using this technique you can find a ton of link targets to pursue, all from known linkers. You can expand upon this as you see fit, too. For example, you can add the industry category name for products or services like yours to the list. You can also try this on .ORG sites. Once your brain gets going you can just keep going and going.
Once you have assembled this list of sites, the next step is to figure out which ones are the most important. Take the list of pages linking to your target from step one above, and run a tool on it to establish the PR of each of the target domains, and the linking pages as well.
Next, sort the list based on the PR of the domains. Take any item where the domain is a PR7 or better, and put them on your “high value targets” list.
Take the remaining sites, and sort them on the PR of the linking page. Take any item where the linking page has a PR5 or higher, and put them on your high value link targets list as well.
You are going to have to spend some time on the high value targets list. Of course, you can do this in priority order as well. You are going to want to hand craft your campaigns to these sites.
Do the research to find the email addresses you want to contact by hand, and make sure the person doing it really, really understands what you want to accomplish. Finding the best person to contact is critical here. Make sure you are NOT paying this person by the number of email addresses found, as this incentivizes them to be lazy about it and send you the first one they find.
Also, make sure that person identifies critical aspects about the linking page. What is the name of the person who is responsible for the page? What department are they in? Since these are high value links they are worth a lot of effort.
Hand craft your communications to these high value targets. You can use a template email as a starting place, but plan on customizing it based on the interesting data you have found out about the linking page. Be patient; these links can provide extremely high value to your site. Getting just a few can have a big impact.
Take the pages that were not on the high value targets list, and repeat the process above. However, since they are lower value links, you can have this be a bit more of a cookie cutter-type process, and you can use a lower cost person to do the research.
As with the high value targets, you will want to send an email to these lower value targets. You should also customize these because letters that do not have customization in them come across as SPAM. You have done the research, and you should make sure it shows. However, you can perform less customization than you do on the high value targets.
Make sure that all communications you send out come from a real person, with an email address from your real domain. Include real contact information for the person to respond to, provide a simple unsubscribe method, honor all unsubscription requests, and comply with any and all parts of the CAN SPAM Act. You do not want the trouble that can result from failing to follow those guidelines.
Crafting the email
As a final note, let’s talk about crafting the email itself. First and foremost, you must remember that your email is an intrusion upon the recipient. The first thing you need to have in mind is a simple respect for their time. The bottom line of this point is to be very concise in your communication. Make your pitch in 4 paragraphs (16 sentences) or less.
While you want it to show that you have been to their site and that your email is thoughtful, stay away from the obvious BS (such as pandering to their ego). Just get to the point: “I saw your site at www.theirdomain.com, and saw that you link to sites similar to ours (such as www.dangerous-competitor.com) and thought you might be interested in offering our site as a resource to your visitors.”
If you can cite some quality references to your site, such as a major media site that wrote about it, or a major university that links to it, do so. Building credibility in this way helps the reader understand if they can trust you, so help them out with this.
Provide them with the location on your site which is the most relevant page for them to link to. Yes, you can suggest some anchor text by providing a link. It can help them if you do this.
That’s about it. One big, big don’t: Don’t include anything along the lines of “This is not SPAM …” Even if you are complying with all requirements of the CAN SPAM Act, putting this statement in there is simply offensive. Just make sure you comply with the guidelines and don’t waste any of the recipient’s time with meaningless statements.
In addition, don’t let a team of people in India do the emailing work for you. While there are many exceptional resources available in India, they don’t know what you are really trying to do, or about your business, or the subtleties of a successful pitch strategy. It’s not that they are not smart – they simply don’t live in our culture.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.