Last week I was kindly invited to speak at the latest Search London meetup in London which is organised by Jo Turnbull. The topic I spoke about was Link Building through Blogger Outreach. I know that this is an area that many people are interested in so I wanted to turn my slides into a blog post which will hopefully help many of you who build links.
Being honest about link building, it isn’t that easy. But it can be made easier with the right processes and the right tools. I’m going to outline a process for content based link building which will include the use of a number of tools.
Here is a broad outline of the process:
You can add many more levels and checklists to each of these steps, but fundamentally, this is the entire process. Let’s get going with step one.
Step 1 – Find the Angle
I’d argue that this is the most crucial step of the process, if you get this bit wrong, it makes the rest of the process very difficult. If you get the angle wrong and it turns out that no one actually cares about your content, they are unlikely to read it let alone link to it. It is also very important to understand the difference between someone who enjoys your content and someone who has the ability to also link to it. At this point in the process, you need to identify the people who will care and have the ability to link to your content.
Ultimately, I can sum this step in the process up with one question that you can ask yourself:
Who gives a shit about your content?
You shouldn’t move onto the next step of the process until you can list at least five people who do and will link to you. I’d probably argue that it should be ten people, but the bar is set deliberately high here. The bar needs to be set high because if you find out later in the process (when you do outreach) that no one cares, you’ve already wasted a ton of time and resources on creating the content. This isn’t a nice position to be in!
Step 2 – Find the Link Targets
Once you have identified a handful of websites who will care about and link to your content, you need to build out a bigger list which you can outreach to. At this point we want to gather lots of relevant link targets and then filter them down to a good, solid list.
There are loads and loads of ways of finding link targets. I’m going to outline a few ways here and mention a few tools that can help with this.
Use curated lists of relevant bloggers
I love this technique for lots of reasons, I blogged about using lists for link building over on SEOmoz which goes into all the detail you need. But to briefly cover it here, this technique utilizes the work of other people who have created lists of quality blogs within their industry. Using this technique can help you gather lots of relevant link targets very quickly without having to dig through hundreds of Google search results.
Just a quick search for “list of football blogs” gave me a bunch of blog posts which all contained loads of relevant link targets. One of which was a good quality list on The Guardian:
Just a few of these lists will give you hundreds of link targets within a few minutes.
Use Blogdash for researching bloggers
Blogdash is a good platform where you can drill down into various niches and find bloggers. From here you can find their contact details and importantly, what they have blogged about recently. This can be great for shaping your content and your outreach email so it is personalised as much as possible.
It is a paid tool for the full version but at $20 a month, it is worth a go to see what you can get out of it.
Use Blogger Linkup to find guest post opportunities
I love Blogger Linkup. Essentially it is a mailing list where you can signup and each week you will be sent lists of blogs who are looking for guest bloggers. These are sites that are looking to link to you! It is free to sign up, bit if a no brainer really.
The only thing to bear in mind is that after a while, you will start to see the same sites asking for guest bloggers, so you’ll want to make sure you are getting diverse links opportunities through other means too.
Use the hidden gem of the SEOmoz toolset
The competitive link finder is hidden away in the Labs area of SEOmoz so not many people really know it is there. It is a great tool for quick win link buidling because it can show you links which you competitors are getting but not you.
If you’re using this tool, you’ll want to use other link building techniques too. If you only use this, then you’ll only be getting the links that your competitors have which isn’t that great for long term link building and getting above them.
Use Author Crawler to find influencers
This is a great tool built by Tom Anthony and he went into a lot of detail on how it works in this SEOmoz post. Essentially, the tool allows you to find authors who are writing about and linking to your competitors. You can then see which of these authors have large social followings and write on multiple blogs. If you find authors like this, they are the perfect people to put time into building relationships with.
It is a free, open-source tool and isn’t that tricky to get setup and running.
Step 3 – Do outreach
There are countless blog posts out there about doing outreach, there is a great one from Skyrocket SEO. Instead of covering the same ground again, I’ll talk about a few tools that I use to help me do outreach.
Boomerang for Gmail
This is a nice little Gmail plugin that helps me in two ways when doing link building.
The first is the ability to schedule emails to be sent at a certain time. This is really good if you are reaching out to people who are on a different timezone, you don’t really want your email to land in their inbox in the middle of the night and by the time they see it, loads more have piled on top.
The second way I like to use Boomerang is to remind me when I haven’t received a reply from someone. If I send an outreach email, I can tell Boomerang to send the email back to me in two days if I don’t get a reply. This is great and will remind me to send a follow up email.
I’m a big fan of BuzzStream, I’ve written about it a few times on my personal blog. I think that BuzzStream really becomes a handy tool when you are starting to scale your outreach a bit more and have several people working on link building at any one time. Most of us keep our link building organised by using Excel which is fine, but as time goes on, it can become a bit hard to keep tidy and organised.
This is where BuzzStream helps because it keeps your black book of link building targets nicely organised and accessible.
The tool will help with outreach because it can give you more details about the person you are contacting. When you type someones email address into the “to:” field, it will look for any information it can associated to that email address. For example it will generally find someones Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin accounts. If you wanted to personlise emails, this is a great tool for doing this.
Step 4 – Follow Up
Always follow up on link building outreach. The fact is that people are busy and with good intentions, will forget about your email and move onto something else. For this reason, you should always follow up at least once. You may follow up twice, but after this I’d probably walk away because you are risking annoying the person you’re contacting.
The key thing to remember here is that you are building relationships. If the person says no to linking to you – don’t get pushy or ignore them. Take this opportunity to get their feedback on what they didn’t like and see if you can take this feedback and incorporate it into the next piece of content you create. You can then go back to the person and show them you have taken the feedback on board.
As always, I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments and hear about anything you’d add or change in this process.
Image source intro: getty images