In Effortless link building (part one), Ken McGaffin showed how finding a single quality news source allows us to quickly and effortlessly build a link building campaign of many thousands of link prospects. In this follow up article, he’ll take that one step further and show how both newbies and more experienced link builders can systematically turn these link prospects into valuable inbound links.
Building processes and systems allows you to work at scale. Practice and develop these approaches so that they become second nature – and link building will become effortless.
Steps 1-6 are designed for newbies, steps 7-16 are for more experienced link builders.
Link building for newbies
So if you’re new to link building, what do you need to do to turn these prospects into real links?
First try Wordtracker Link Builder free for 7 days and you'll find thousands of link prospects already organized into different strategies for you.
But there is a difference between these strategies: some are dynamic prospects where there is a lot of change, new content and a need to keep an eye on – for example, blogs, news media and shopping sites; others will be static in that they’re unlikely to change and don’t need regular engagement – for example, directories.
Early success is what we’re after so it’s best to start with targeting just a few prospects. That way you’ll learn the ropes and build on your success.
1) Let’s start a simple writing exercise.
Writing clearly, concisely and persuasively are skills that are essential to link building success. You can develop them with practice.
Think about what your business does. Try and see it from the customer’s point of view – what do they really get from you?
Take about 30 minutes to write down whatever you can. There’s only one rule in this exercise – don’t review or edit your writing as you go. Just get the words down – you’ll edit it later.
The ‘don’t edit or review rule’ is important because that’s the single biggest mistake inexperienced writers make. They stop mid-sentence to review what they’ve already written. That breaks the flow and really slows you down – do that and you’ll never get anything finished.
This exercise gives the raw material for the next step.
2) Look for directories and lists
Now go back to Link Builder and look at the prospects under the ‘Directories’ strategy. Look through the prospects there and pick around 20 you think are interesting.
Look carefully for any guidelines or criteria for submitting information about your site: make sure you follow them carefully. Do that and you raise your chances of success and you won’t have the bother of correcting mistakes later on.
3) Select your first target blogs
Now let's look at one of the most dynamic of strategies, blogs. You will of course find a whole range of blogs, from the very popular blog with thousands of inbound links through to blogs with just a few links.
The popular blogs will probably be inundated with requests and so are possibly not the best place for a newcomer to gain a foothold. Blogs with a few links and traffic or are not likely to bring you much benefit.
A good place to start is in the magic middle, blogs that are not yet up a notch but have a good number of inbound links. You can use the filter function on link builder to concentrate on the magic middle.
Don't worry too much about the absolute figures. The magic middle is a relative concept.
Work through the prospects and for your first effort select between 30 to 50 target blogs.
When you've selected your target, move to the contact view and hit the 'Find contact details' button.
Link builder will grab the contact details and social media contacts for each of the sites you have selected. That is a huge time saver.
4) Look for Twitter accounts
Pick out the Twitter accounts and visit them. If you like what you see, tweet one of their posts and then follow them. A percentage will follow you back and you will start to build your following.
Tweeting their post draws their attention to you and makes it more likely that they will follow you.
A free program like TweetDeck helps you create groups and knowledge followers and I think it is essential in your link building work.
5) Read what your target blogs post about
The next step is to understand what your target blogs are posting about. But it would be time-consuming to visit each blog and check. That is why you need an RSS reader.
RSS stands for really simple syndication. That automatically notifies you of any new posts from your target blogs. You'd see the information all in one place.
Google has a free reader that is easy to use and allows you to monitor multiple blogs. Review the content every morning, comment upon and tweet good content. Try to build a dialogue with the people behind the blogs.
Also get yourself known for tweeting good links. You'll be seen as a useful source and that will also increase your following.
6) Publish on your own blog
Of course you should be publishing regular posts on your own site. But your posts can help in building relationships with your target blogs and that will make them more likely. Here are some suggestions:
- Comment upon and link to interesting posts from your targets.
- Take an important issue in your industry and summarize what your targets are saying about it. For example, last week I talked about finding an article on how to deal with a bad review on TripAdvisor.com. What do other blogs have to say on this subject? It’s easy to write an article that picks out their opinions and summarizes them in your own post.
- Write short reviews of the blogs you’re targeting. What’s special about them? Why did they attract your interest? (See our story on the London Cyclist blog)
- Publish a blogroll on your site that includes your target blogs.
Beyond the basics
Once you have the basics in place, it's time to ramp up your level of link building. That really means working on a larger scale, moving away from individual approaches to link prospects, and targeting groups of sites.
Your efforts then evolve into creating outstanding content that will bring new links without asking. Here are just some of the initiatives you should be thinking of.
7) Article marketing
As your experience of writing and creating content grows, you should be looking for article submission opportunities (direct to publishers, not article directories) and guest blogging opportunities.
Many sites clearly offer these opportunities, but don't limit yourself to them alone. Develop your skills in pitching ideas to a wider range of target sites.
8) Different strategies for different sites
Different link building strategies require different approaches. Here are some suggestions to get you started.
- Co-linking prospects. Those sites that already link to multiple domains in your market. Because they are so open to linking, they can be the low hanging fruit of any link building campaign.
- Blogs. Probably the most dynamic of strategies. Numerous, ongoing opportunities exist where the best approach is personal and tailored to individual parts.
- News media. There is still mileage in the traditional press release, but even better is to change that into social media releases that include links to additional media that journalists can access.
- Social media. The active lifespan of a post on social media can be very short, just a matter of minutes. But it can occasionally be spectacular. This strategy works well when integrated with other link building strategies.
- Directories and lists. An old favorite that should not be ignored, but nowadays perhaps more opportunities exist in looking for lists of top resources were you could be featured. In other words, informal listings not formal directories.
- Shopping sites. Another dynamic area where the emphasis is on recommendations, product reviews, contests etc.
- Trusted sites. Government, organizational and academic sites should be part of any broad link building campaign. But be careful not to exaggerate their value: .gov links in particular can take up a lot of time (hint: government sites can often be won over by highlighting your green credentials).
- Business sites. Trade associations, local business groups, entrepreneurs, exhibitions, conferences and all sorts of business meetings, provides links in themselves but also provide a link networking opportunities.
- Already linking. Sites that already linked to you have already shown an interest in what you were doing. Therefore they can be valuable prospects, particularly if you are launching a new service.
9) Filtering prospects
Now look for groups of sites within the link prospects in Link Builder. You can filter on multiple criteria:
Use the filter function here to identify special groups of websites. Take Machrihanish Dunes, an eco-friendly golf course in Scotland. Looking for links they could concentrate on their green message: Link Builder helps them to find other green sites that they could get links from.
Tag the results:
And your tagged sites will be saved:
Then tailor a customized message to the group. You can repeat this for any group you identify within your prospects.
10) Build your social media profile
Invest time in building up your social media profiles: this can give you a tremendous launch pad on which to promote your messages. The more genuine and involved followers you have, the greater will be the impact of any messages that you spread.
11) Announce your content
When you produce new content, get the word out through your social network. Repeat your updates several times throughout the day.
12) Become a source for journalists
Position yourself to journalists and writers as a trusted source that they can interview. You'll often get a link from the news media, and the coverage will prompt other people to write about and link to your site.
13) Build press lists
Build your press lists by noting which journalists are writing in your area. When you do get coverage, make sure that details are added to your press list. Once you build trust with a journalist they are likely to come back to you time and again.
14) Invite guest posts
Invite peers and colleagues, even competitors, to submit guest posts or be interviewed on your site.
15) Plan ahead
Plan your promotion well in advance, a 12 month's future plan is a good start. Not everything in your plan will take place, but you will be well prepared and more able to take advantage of any sudden opportunities that emerge.
16) Build your multimedia skills
Develop your link worthy content in a variety of forms including articles, white papers, videos, podcasts and so on. Spend time developing your skills in these areas.
This is Part 2 of Effortless link building. Read Effortless link building (Part 1)
Try Link Builder for free
So it can be done. There really is a tool for link builders that will research, find prospects, plan campaigns, monitor targets, report on competitors’ link profiles and your campaign progress. Link Builder is the tool and you can register now for a free 7 day trial
About Ken McGaffin
Ken McGaffin is an experienced internet marketing consultant and has worked for major pharmaceutical companies, advertising agencies, government bodies and non-profit organizations.
Ken unveils the secrets of successful link building in his 384-page e-book, Successful Link Building
You can watch recordings of his extremely popular (and free) Link Building Webinars