SEO – and in fact link building – are no longer what the used to be.
In the post-penguin web, we are almost scared of getting backlinks, and more scared about where we get them from.
But we still need links, for as Google’s Matt Cutts says, it is not yet time to write the epithet of backlinks.
While backlinks are still alive, the same does not hold true for natural backlinks!
In the social web, people share, tweet or pin your content, but stop just short of adding a backlink to your blog from theirs.
Today, if you need backlinks, it is almost sure you may have to ask for them.
True, this is not as simple as shooting an email, saying: ‘Pete, can I have a backlink, please?’ Establishing a connection with bloggers takes time, and it definitely goes beyond sending a self-centered email.
I have done some link building for my personal projects and I have also handled some projects for some clients.
In this post I focus on the strategy I use to prioritize link targets and the different approaches in requesting and receiving backlinks from high authority domains. Let’s get started!
I have found breaking down targets when doing backlinks prospecting increases my efficiency:
- High Priority Link Targets – these are blue chip link targets. The top 1% of web properties.
- Mid Priority Link Targets – prime properties, but not so exclusive.
- Low Priority Link Targets – these ones add to the number.
The approaches you use to get links from each of these groupings differ. It is important that you do not mix things up so you get maximum return for your time investment.
1. High Priority Link Targets
Domains like Gawker and Boing Boing definitely fall in this category. Getting a link from a domain of this authority takes time – but it is definitely worth the effort.
Typically, bloggers in these domains receive pitches by the hundreds, so they may not even be able to politely decline sending a link your way in response to your unsolicited mail. The smarter approach would be to establish a relationship with the blogger.
These steps usually work:
- Retweet them;
- Comment on their G+ posts or blog posts
- Haunt them online (Set up a Google Alert for their name);
- @reply them on Twitter;
- Comment on their blog again;
- Then email them. Maybe point out a spelling error on their site. (Nicely, of course).
- Send them a mail when you need a friendly link.
2. Mid Priority Link Targets
Mid-priority link targets do not require as much work, but the approach still has to be personalized for it to work.
Get to know the persons behind the blog, tweet and comment on a couple of blog their blog posts without having to stalk them.
The sequence below should work:
- Comment on their post
- Tweet their post
- Tweet a post at them
- Shoot them an email and do them a favor.
How do you do them a favor? What have you got to give?
Truth is, something seemingly as simple as pointing out a broken link can make a blogger feel very disposed towards you.
The trick is, you should have content that is similar to what was located at the broken link and tactfully suggest that the blogger replace the broken link with yours.
Of course, you can combine this strategy with a guest post pitch for maximum results as shown in the sample email at the end of this post.
Word of caution: For Mid Priority Link Targets, you should not use that email as it is. Customize it to demonstrate your established connection.
Make sure they recall just who you are.
3. Low Priority Link Targets
This is the dregs of the link building chain.
This is where to go when you need bulk links, and the fact that anchor text placements can be more exact makes this attractive when you are trying to rank for specific keywords. (Keep in mind that in the post-penguin web over-optimization is viewed as spam, so it is important that you vary your keywords).
For sites in this priority group, you do not need to spend time trying to establish a relationship with the blog owner. These bloggers are typically stretched out for content and will be very happy to have a good post from you.
Just send a personalized email to the owner with a few post ideas that fit their site. A few rules of thumb would be to make sure you:
- Address them by name
- Make reference to their URL
- Understand the focus of their site.
If you are stretched for content ideas, it is okay to send the same topic ides to multiple sites, as long as you can write the article with an original twist each time.
A big no-no is sending spurn content as a guest post. It is very unethical, and as a guest, it is important that you put your best foot all the time in front of your host.
An email like this would do:
You are doing a good job on your [BLOG/WEBSITE]. I noticed you have accepted guest posts in the past and would love to know if you are still open to them.
I would love to write something on [NICHE] and thought that these ideas are a good fit for your [NICHE] [BLOG/WEBSITE].
I was thinking along these lines:
- [TOPIC IDEA 1]
- [TOPIC IDEA 2]
- [TOPIC IDEA 3]
What do you think? If any of these topics appeal to you I will be happy to write a post and send over immediately. You can even send me topic ideas of your own, if these topics are not a good fit at this time.
This system revolves around relationships. Have you noticed how relationships make the web go round?
I hope following this reduces your backlinks prospecting to an exact science. What do you think?
Leave a comment before you rush off to get them links!