May 19, 2014: Last week Casie wrote a column for Search Engine Land on tactics we used for acquiring “good links” in the recent past. I love these ideas but most importantly enjoy how they integrate much more cohesively with our client’s broader marketing initiatives.
An important factor in the amount of success in execution relies on effective outreach communication. There is preparation involved in securing the conversations that make these link building tactics possible. While we’ve outlined tips and suggestions for successful link building outreach in the past, this type of communication arguably takes greater preparation based on it’s long term impact to client and brand.
Site owners and publishers are immensely skeptical when they receive the email correspondence from the SEO practitioner. I’ve been on the receiving end of this skepticism myself and one can’t really be surprised when industry leaders / search engine spokes people like Matt Cutts and Duane Forrester call out abused SEO tactics and misguided outreach.
With link building still in mind, we need to be more focused on the business of helping others in their own online marketing endeavors. If we can provide recognizable value to the publishers we want links from, it’s that much easier and more powerful in the long-run.
Here are four concepts we use to help others that hopefully lead to our clients acquiring high quality links and long term business relationships.
Offer Free SEO Assistance
You are an SEO professional correct? I’m not suggesting you provide a complete SEO audit for our target audience but if you encounter “quick wins” that might help the recipient improve their online presence in search, make the suggestion.
Some examples / evaluate questions to consider in finding easier opportunities to outline:
- Google Authorship – Have they integrated it? If so, and they’re not showing up in search results, can you diagnose a reason and offer a solution? For example, I reached out to a potential partner for our client and quickly realized they hadn’t filled in the “Contributor to” section of their G+ profile. That observation and suggestion opened the door to a more comprehensive discussion on guest post development and further collaborative opportunities.
- HTML Titles / SEO Plugins – Simple observations on SEO tagging best practices or recommendations for plugins and modules (if they use WordPress or Drupal for example) might make sense. Just don’t go overboard with absolutes; there might be a more significant reason why certain SEO “best practices” are not maintained.
- Social Tagging – Many bloggers and publishers get intimidated with Open Graph, Twitter Card, and other social media tagging mechanisms. Help them overcome this issue with a little assistance and recommendation support.
Offer To Write Something
The easier you make your target audience able to actually integrate your link, the more likely someone will accept your proposal. When it comes to high quality inbound links, that means you’re most likely going to have to write something; a blog post, article, byline, etc.
Don’t get lazy in this endeavor. Considerations:
- Write a well-written, concise piece. If this is a first attempt then it should be WAY better than your average blog post or article found on your website because you really need to put your best foot forward.
- Include high quality images and send within the post document as well as attachments in email correspondence (so the publisher doesn’t have to manipulate them themselves if they don’t want to).
- Include distinct labeling of titles, tagging recommendations, and hyperlink references.
- Pay attention to any available guidelines and requirements the publisher already has in place; look at previous posts and articles on the target website for comparison as well.
- Have someone proof your article for grammar, spelling, and accuracy before you send for prospect review.
Prepare your first piece of content like you’d prepare for an interview at your dream job. Put your best foot forward, over-prepare, and make sure to consider as many obstacles as possible you might have to overcome in order to successfully land the position.
Offer To Create Something
Sometimes potential link opportunities require more than just written copy and venture into design, web development, or even more strategic initiatives. If resources are available, take “content” development to a next level with more comprehensive actions.
A few ideas from our recent past.
- Site Asset Development: A manufacturing company had a series of “under construction” assets on their website. We offered to help finalize these assets which would also create the opportunity to add potential link references for our client.
- On-Page HTML Assistance: I’ve often sent HTML code to target audiences for help in creating more share-friendly social media assets. Examples include embed code for infographics, customized social sharing buttons, and help with Google Analytics tracking code.
- WordPress Optimization: Because of our experience using WordPress, it’s not a stretch to offer assistance in setting up and configuring plugins, especially if they’ll help provide better visibility links acquired on behalf of our clients (like an SEO plugin or social share-functionality)
This tactic certainly could get taken too far so always make sure to evaluate how much “free work” your providing in exchange for the value you’ll receive in links or additional exposure.
Offer To Help Someone BEYOND the Business Norm
Lastly, don’t forget that you’re potential link partners have people powering their sites and online platforms. In other words, the relationship doesn’t have to end once you’ve secured your link or placement on someone’s website.
LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, and even Facebook all might help facilitate more permanent business relationships with the people you connect to when acquiring inbound links.
But don’t just connect to the individual. Pay attention to company as well. Sometimes simple acknowledgement of a significant organizational announcement or situation can have a powerful impact.
In a recent conference at SEER Interactive, Wil Reynolds provided an example of how members of his team reached out to members of an organization they had acquired links from when a natural disaster struck the region that organization resided in. Actions from 2013’s Boston Marathon sparked significant outreach to team members here at KoMarketing; checking in for safety and updates.
We’re no longer in the business of simply acquiring links for SEO. We’re making connections that ultimately help facilitate long-term, broader professional relationships.
How has your organization’s link outreach changed in recent months based on shifts in search algorithms and the need for higher quality link standards? I’d love to read your perspective via comments below.