Link Building Tactics
Building links for your domain through guest blogging is an easy process, though it can be made difficult through convoluted processes or lack of quality content. Though it took me awhile, the following guidelines took me from link building zero to guest blogging hero.
First, let’s review what the end result should be: a link that has a relevant anchor text in relation to the landing page you’ve chosen and placement on a source that logically relates to the themes of your domain. A great link would look a little something like this:
So if we have a domain regarding, say, new yoga practices, our link would look quite out of place on a blog for financial advice, right? Absolutely. In fact, that’s something that Google will not only raise its eyebrows at if found in large quantities, but something they could potentially manually penalize your domain for. Obviously, we want to avoid this through organic, natural-looking guest blogging. And here’s how you can do that:
Step 1) Establish and Understand Your Brand PRECISELY
Reach out to a variety of different places all relating to the niche of your domain. For the sake of this guide, let’s create a brand called Generation Photo. We’re a social networking platform for professional and amatuer photographers and videographers to link up, share their work, find jobs, trade tips, create communities, etc. Members pay to advertise the sale of cameras or any other photography-related product for personal (not business) use, otherwise membership is free. We have close to a million active users and are rapidly growing. We have an active social media presence on Facebook, Twitter and exponentially so on Pinterest and Instagram because of the latter two’s emphasis on visuals. That’s our brand, we know it well. How do we build links that link back to Generation Photo that will help it rank higher than it already does in Google search results?
Step 2) Reaching Out
Let’s start by reaching out to blogs and websites in our very specific niche. A Google search using keywords directly related to photography will generate several places we contact for placement. Specific niches we can approach range from the obvious:
To a little less specific but still very relevant to Generation Photo:
To targeting a “sub-niche” within the photography niche. For example, let’s go for a career and education emphasis since Generation Photo facilitates photographers finding gigs:
So a great Google search would look like the following:
Site: “Write for us” Photography school + photoshop
Site: “Guest post” photography careers
Though your searching will need to become much more specific as time goes on, requiring you to constantly changing keyword combinations and phrases to generate new results, the above suggestions are a great way to start general outreach and get a feel for who’s interested in your content.
Step 3) Effectively Communicating
Once contact info for a site or blog has been located, drafting an email that specifically addresses the contact is completely vital. While drafting a canned outreach letter is the most time-efficient way to contact as many targeted sites as possible, taking the time to write something more personal will provide a higher yield of positive replies.
Key highlights of a successful outreach letter include:
Complimenting the site in a genuine manner while providing a specific example of a piece of content you enjoyed.
Giving a general greeting like “Hello” or “Hi” at the top of your email rather than something generic and spammy like “Dear Sir or Madam.”
Highlighting some of your writing skills, experiences, education and qualifications.
Including published writing samples that are brief but well-written and of the same subject matter as the target site’s content.
An offer and willingness to pitch original ideas should the contact be interested in your material as well as take any suggestions that they may have.
Clarification that you are not looking for any monetary compensation, and that you are only writing to grow your online profile as well as link with like-minded writers.
Step 4) Content That Captivates
What kind of content has the highest chance of being accepted? GOOD content. Not too difficult of a concept to comprehend, right?
Well the good news for you, the budding link building champion, is that while everyone realizes GOOD content is what gets accepted, less than half of the guest blog material being submitted out there on a daily basis is even remotely in the realm of good. It takes time to create worthwhile content. So while “good” can assume many different meanings, how is good defined when it comes to guest blogging?
Many blogs appreciate personality. An article that has a unique, sometimes comedic (when applicable), interesting and informative viewpoint will almost always be accepted. Be DIFFERENT. What needs to be fresh is not so much the topic, but the perspective your article takes on that topic. Taking what other writers are talking about and spinning the topic in a different direction is a surefire way for a target site to not only accept your content, but invite you back for additional postings.
Headlines are also important and what A) Grab the target site’s attention enough for them to order the article from you and B) Convince a potential reader to read your article over someone else’s.
Here’s an example of an article headline: “Five Ways to Improve Your SEO.” It’s straightforward, and I know exactly what I’m going to get from it. And guess what? Since there’s nothing to surprise me, nothing tantalizing or exciting about the title, I have no intention of opening the article.
But what about taking that same article idea and giving the headline more of a negative, ominous headline: “Google Manual Penalties: 5 SEO Mistakes YOUR Domain NEEDS to Avoid.”
It’s the same article, but I’m telling the reader they need to avoid something. No matter who passes that by, SEO-acquainted or otherwise, they read that headline and will click on the article. Even if they only skim the content, they’ve been psychologically convinced that they need to verify they’re not doing anything wrong.
Step 5) Link Placement
Assuming for the sake of this example that an article runs at a 500-700 word count, there should be roughly three links in your article:
Link 1) A link to the domain you would like to promote
Link 2) An authoritative link to a high-profile, trusted, well-respected source that exists to better camouflage Link 1.
Link 3) A second link of the same nature as Link 2.
Your link can go directly to your brand, such as Generation Photo, which would be considered a “brand link,” or can be a “noise link.” Noise links choose an anchor text phrase that relates directly to the subject matter of your landing page to accomplish the brand link. Here are some examples:
Ex. 1, Brand: “Photography communities such as Generation Photo exist for photographers and videographers from all over the world to communicate and share tips and tricks of the trade.”
Ex. 2, Noise: “Photography communities all over the world exist for the sharing of knowledge and are the best source for learning new tricks of the trade.”
**Note: Bold stands in for the hyperlink
While it’s ideal and most organic for these links to exist in the actual body of the article, they can also alternatively be placed in an author bio or photo credit source. Google recently had a patent approved for page segmentation that can be used to identify links in author bios, so to maximize the benefit of your guest posting, do your best to get the links in the editorial part of the article.
Step 6) The Follow Up
Once the article has been sent in, check the target site every day for posting. If the article has not gone live within 6 days to a week, send a nice follow up email to the site’s contact asking if they would like for any edits to occur, or if they need any additional information.
Bonus Building: Tools of the Trade
As you can see, link building can become a very involved process, one that requires an uncompromising amount of organizational habits. Luckily, there are several tools out there to help builders keep everything straight. Here are some Google Chrome extensions and content management systems that can help:
- STREAK— A free Chrome extension that plugs into Gmail. It’s completely customizable, offering categorizational columns to help you keep track of emails, their status, urgency and more. Also includes “Pipelines,” which gives you a full layout of all of your Gmail and allows you to see how many pieces of mail are in each status.
- PODIO— A CMS that’s easy to use and completely customizable. Podio allows you to manage the flow of content, interact with co-workers or writers you may have creating content for you, as well as a place to store all of your inventory and project history. The CMS also allows for submissions, editing and is very Google doc/Word doc friendly. Podio also has “apps” for organizational purposes, allowing you to store content in labeled sections.
We also recommend that you familiarize yourself with Google Docs/Spreadsheets, as well as WordPress, as several instances will require you to submit to a WordPress-powered site and greenlight the SEO report offered.
So there you have it! Following these 6 steps should provide great initial success in your link building endeavors. As you become more acclimated with link building and begin to feel comfortable in your process, it’s important to remember you must always adjust your methods to not only what you’re comfortable with, but implement what has been working for you while disbanding anything that does not. As highlighted above, there are general do’s and don’ts when it comes to linking building, but there’s not a singular, best way to accomplish a live link placement. Good night, and good luck!
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