Always be on the look out for new link building opportunities. And some of the best can emerge from your day-to-day business activities. Chatting to a restaurant owner about a bad review on TripAdvisor.com led Ken McGaffin to an interesting site on travel technology. The site was a good prospect in itself but from that single prospect, he quickly built a campaign of many thousands of link prospects.
I have a friend, Cameron who owns a good family-friendly restaurant just down the road. I’m a regular there on Friday evenings and last week we got chatting about online business – and particularly TripAdvisor.com and the pros and cons of customer reviews. It’s great when the review is positive, but if you’re in the hospitality industry, it’s hard to please everyone and occasionally the odd negative review is inevitable.
He’d just had such a review and was worried about it. He asked me what he should do because such bad reviews will of course put people off going into the restaurant.
Off the top of my head, I gave him four quick tips:
1) Respond immediately. If someone complains don't wait, don't get angry and don’t take it too personally, just reply as soon as you can.
2) Be professional, polite and honest in your reply. If the reviewer has been rude, don’t rise to the bait: ignore anything that makes your blood boil and just stay cool.
3) Share the comments with your staff and make sure they know what customers are saying about you online.
4) Encourage your customers to leave reviews. Let them know you welcome their comments, something like, “if you’ve enjoyed our meals and family facilities, please leave your comments on TripAdvisor.com”.
Let’s get advice from an expert source
Back home later that evening, I thought about my advice: it was probably fine general advice but I'm not in the catering industry and restaurants are not my area of expertise. Advice would be much more powerful if it came from someone in the catering industry.
So I did a quick search on Google, ‘how to reply to a bad review on tripadvisor’ to see what industry sources might come up. Here’s the result:
One of the top results was an article published on Tnooz.com a site I hadn’t come across before. The link led me to an article written by Brian Payea, head of industry relations at TripAdvisor, giving top tips on how to respond to a review.
So I've found a news article that is relevant, comes from a respected source and gives some good tips on Cameron’s question.
That’s what I hoped for, great! I sent Cameron a quick email with a link and that could have been the end of the matter. But that would be a missed opportunity. Tnooz.com could be a good link prospect for anyone in the travel industry.
Here’s what I would do next:
- I'd leave a comment on the article and thank the author
- I'd treat it with a comment along the lines of "useful advice" or even "great article"
- I'd follow the writer on Twitter or other social media sites
- I'd write a post on my own blog linking to the article and describing how I found it useful
And of course, I'd implement the advice and make a mental note to get in touch with the publication when I knew whether the advice had worked or not. That helps me in a number of ways:
- The comments will be read by the writer and if I say something useful, they’ll remember me
- At some point they might do a follow-up article, and if they like my comment could include me in the next article.
Now all of these things are good to do from a business point of view. The article answered what for me was a difficult business question.
Tnooz.com as a link prospect
Tnooz.com could well be a potential link prospect for anyone in the travel industry. It would be worth finding out a bit more about them. So I looked at the ‘About us’ page:
There are good contact details – they make it easy to get in touch – always a plus point!
I’d look round the site and ask the following questions:
- Are there stories about other businesses similar to my own?
- Any article submission opportunities?
- Opportunities to write to a specific journalist?
- Opportunities to get listed – are there directories on the site?
- Who are the writers on the site?
- How often do they write articles?
- Is there an editorial calendar?
- What social media profiles do the writers have? Twitter for example is popular with journalists
After having a quick look around here’s some of the things I found:
A story on a Toronto-based start-up:
I also found that the site has a number of ‘nodes’ (writers and contributors) throughout the world (details at http://www.tnooz.com/nodes/:
Next I found this ‘how-to’ article posted by ‘Special Nodes’:
‘Special Nodes’ turn out to be a generic byline for guest articles (each of which gets a link to the author’s site).
Summary to date:
- By searching on Google with an important question, I’ve identified a site that provides the answer – and they could be a good link prospect
- The site lists plenty of editorial contacts to which stories can be pitched
- The site links out frequently to other businesses
- The site publishes ‘how to’ articles often written by guest writers who get a link in return
- The site has a network of ‘nodes’ – writers and experts – throughout the world who could be approached with a local story.
Tnooz.com as a source of thousands of link prospects
Up to now, we’ve looked on the Tnooz.com site itself for linking opportunities. However, that’s not all they can give us – let’s look at what the Link Builder tool can add.
Such sites can quickly give us many thousands of link prospects and with a little bit of work on Link Builder I’ve built a campaign of over 10,700 link prospects using Tnooz.com as a starting point. Here’s how I’ve done it.
Let’s use Wordtracker Link Builder to build a campaign based on sites that link to Tnooz.com
I’ve just entered the root domain on its own into the URL box on Link Builder’s start page. I hit ‘Create my link building campaign’.
This gives me 1,780 prospects already organized into different strategies.
Now news media and blogs share a behavior that is very useful for link building. Yet it is a behavior that is missed by many – particularly if they focus only on competitive link analysis.
And it is simply – news media and blogs often comment upon and link to other news media and blogs.
How many times have you seen a blogger comment on a news story and give the link to the actual story?
How many times have you seen a journalist quote or summarize what popular blogs are saying?
This is standard practice because it’s easy to write such stories. They read an article, summarize it and then give their own take on the story.
And as a result, if you collect and analyze links that point to a particular news media or blog, then you’ll find a ton of other news media and blogs.
By definition these are all likely to be relevant and interested in your market.
One of the best ways to see this is through the ‘spider profile’ for Tnooz.com.
I click on the ‘Report’ tab for the campaign I’ve built using just Tnooz.com as the source:
And then click ‘Spider Profile’:
As you can see, Tnooz.com gets many links from ‘News media’ and ‘Blogs’. The prospects listed in those two strategies will give you many opportunities that will keep any link builder busy for a while.
I’ve picked out just a few here from the blogs strategy:
There are some real gems in there!
But in addition many of these link prospects will also be linked to by other relevant news media and blogs. So creating a campaign based on them will give you even more link prospects.
My next step is to take 10 of these – any 10 that I like the look of and enter them into the URL box in the Link Builder tool. This creates a whole new bunch of link prospects that I’ll add to my campaign (I’ve called it Tnooz.com).
I hit ‘Create my link building campaign’ and in a matter of minutes, Link Builder has added new prospects to my campaign taking the total from 1,780 to 8,713:
Again all the prospects I’ve found have been organized into strategies for me.
All that’s great, but I’m not finished yet. I want to share one more fantastic tip with you.
Link Builder shows you the URL of the top link that points to a prospect and you can often get useful information from that.
Browse through those URLs and look out for lists (you could also use the filter function to do this). Here’s an example here where Tnooz.com has been included in a list of the top 10 travel blogs in the UK
Click on the link and you’ll arrive at the page:
Now, I can take these blogs and again add them to Link Builder, and generate even more link prospects:
That brings the total up to over 10,700:
- Link Builder has easily generated 10,700 link prospects.
- News media and blogs often link to each other and therefore are rich sources of link prospects.
- Picking out just 10 travel blogs from an initial list of prospects can increase the number of link prospects fivefold.
- Scanning the ‘top link URLs’ for each of the identified prospects can identify lists of other travel blogs – which can be used to add even more link prospects.
This is Part 1 of Effortless link building. Read Effortless link building (Part 2)