Throughout 2014, there has been a lot of discussion regarding the value of links. This is due to the fact that Google tested a version of their search engine that doesn’t include links as a signal. What they found, however, was that despite the opportunity for spam, backlinks still offer one of the best signals for quality search results. Because of this, links are still a huge part of Google’s algorithm, albeit in a slightly different manner.
While the theory of Google wanting to phase out links is there, it is much more plausible that they will continue to focus on the quality of backlinks instead of getting rid of them altogether. This is why the link building campaign has changed and why building & tracking as many quality links as possible is more important than ever to getting the best possible ROI for your campaigns.
Here are tips for doing just that:
In order to run a successful link building campaign, there is nothing more important than organization. First start by creating a spreadsheet with consistent columns between tabs. These can be the URL related to each respective tab, the status of the mention, the contact info for each, a column for each outreach attempt, a column for any additional notes, etc.
And depending on the depth of the campaign, the different tabs could include competitors’ links, your client’s links, monthly mentions (for both the client and their competitors), infographics, blog/article opportunities, and any niche directories.
Below is an example of how it would read when entered Fresh Web Explorer.
Both the “-rd:” and “-site:” bits need to include URLs.
There are a variety of tools to help simplify the link building process. These are some of our favorites:
When all opportunities have been identified, it’s time to start the outreach process.
One thing that makes every opportunity easier to track down is the right contact info. For example, when it comes to a blogger, make sure that the email you save for them is their actual email, or perhaps an editor of the site in some instances. You are less likely to receive a response from a generic email like firstname.lastname@example.org or a contact submission form, so take the time required to find the best email possible. Sometimes you will need to reach out to multiple email addresses before finding the right one. Any contact info found is valuable for potential future links.
When sending the email, an outreach template is usually a good idea to both save time and to add a consistent tone when multiple people are managing the campaign. Make sure to include the correct link for each mention and if at first you don’t succeed, try changing and personalizing the email next time for better results.
It’s also important to mention that, when reaching out for links, to not ask for specific anchor text. Asking for anchor text can make a link seem forced or unnatural, and Google continues to pay close attention to keyword-heavy anchor text.
Again, we are looking for quality links, and an unnatural-looking link doesn’t qualify as quality.
Also, asking for specific anchor text will raise some red flags and reduce your chances of getting an immediate link, while also hindering the potential for future links.
One of the most difficult things to manage when building a successful link building campaign is the time it takes to do it right. To overcome this, use as many resources you have at your disposal, such as the tools mentioned above, but don’t forget to use the most powerful tool of all: the client. The client is the expert in their industry and many of our clients have experience building links. They may already have some ideas of when and where they would like to have their content posted. The best way to utilize this resource is to have an honest discussion with them and engage their knowledge and interest in contributing to the link building campaign.
If you feel like they could be a valuable resource, simply inform them of the recent algorithm changes and the new process for building and tracking links. If they are going to contribute, you will want to give them access to the Google spreadsheet. This way they can add or subtract opportunities as they see fit. When doing this, however, it is important to communicate with the client to make sure there is a concise and consistent plan. If you don’t see an opportunity for the client to contribute, sharing the spreadsheet will at least let them see the progress of the campaign in real time.
The overall theme of any good link building strategy is—again—quality over quantity. This reigns true for both links and content, but it is the quality of the content that dictates the quality of the links. The best way to gain quality links is to earn them with quality content. By producing content that is informative to all and beneficial to your customer base, you stand a better chance at gaining quality links. The most effective content will also increase the quality of traffic to your website. This is because people that are interested in your content are the best possible leads.
A few content creation tools we like use include:
One technique we use is to create original graphics, photos and/or GIFs for our clients to offer to other bloggers.
A recent example of this comes from a client of ours who is a prestigious school within the chiropractic industry. They were looking for a way to reconnect with their alumni, in which they have many all over the world, and many who have started their own blogs. We recommended that they offer a linked alumni badge to all of their alumni looking to use such a thing for either their website or blog.
We are currently coordinating this as well as an effort for all alumni to have access to a database of relevant, original images to use on their sites/blogs.
So remember, be creative with your content and provide value to your current and potential customers. If you don’t, somebody else will.
Please share any tips of your own in the comments below.