A successful link building campaign starts and ends with the quality of the websites with which it engages. Over the past 6+ years as a link builder, I have executed linking strategies for clients large and small, and I have lived through multiple link building apocalypses.
Link building is not dead, and in fact, it will never be an extinct SEO tactic. It is a vital SEO strategy. Link builders are a strong bunch of people because we adapt to the ever-changing landscape of naysayers and dramatic news headlines. So how do you set yourself up for success? Using a combination of marketing, SEO, and community listening to find your client’s ideal niche. The majority of the work begins before the email is sent. Let’s take a look at the process…
Step 1: Do Your Research Offline
You may be thinking that this sounds like a waste of time, right? Aren’t we “Internet” marketers? Well, yes, but the “marketers” part is important. Begin by asking your client how they handle their public relations, marketing, and social media. Some larger companies will work with multiple agencies; others will do this in house. Schedule a phone call with all agencies including your client contact. This will not only ensure that everyone is “playing nice in the sandbox,” it will also give you a chance to communicate your goals, as blogger outreach for SEO purposes may sound similar to what PR is doing with press kits.
Here are some goals and talking points to keep in mind during the call:
Goal: Gain buy-in and alignment between brand and agencies on all details.
Talking Points: Product-focused linking is a type of link building that combines social and PR, but with an emphasis on SEO metrics.
- This is different from what PR and social media do because this drives keyword rankings with the placement of optimized inbound links.
- We carefully choose the sites that we work with to provide optimal SEO value.
- Building links while simultaneously driving social engagement is thought to provide a larger reach then doing either on its own.
Who else currently works with bloggers?
- Assure that there is no overlap in blogger communication with a PR or social media team.
- Usually it is best to send over your list of potential bloggers to vet against theirs and remove duplicates.
What are products that you leveraging? (If applicable.)
- Agree on the product and quantity or dollar amount of product allotted per month.
What email address to use for outreach?
- If possible, obtain a branded email account to use when communicating with bloggers to increase the efficacy of the program.
When to begin?
- Decide on a timeline to correspond with existing efforts or agree on a monthly plan.
Who are you going to target?
- Obtain press materials, marketing demographics, etc. from the brand to help you better understand the online consumer.
Marketing materials that outline consumer demographics and buyer personas can give you valuable insight that you can translate to your online strategy. Information such as age range, location, education, and hobbies can clue you in to where these consumers would spend time online.
Step 2: Search Smart
I have tested many blogger research tools (even back in the day using solely Google search commands) and GroupHigh has proven to be a time saving tool that allows me to get as hyper-targeted (read: OCD) as I like to be.
Let’s take a look at a client in the skin care industry that sells an at-home treatment device for wrinkles and fine lines. I knew that they would be a great candidate for product-focused linking, but I also knew it would be a challenge. The client has a niche audience of women, generally over 30, who have an interest in beauty and a willingness (and disposable income) to seek out treatment for anti-aging benefits. Not only did I have to find woman in this demographic, I also had to find someone willing to do a rather in-depth review, requiring before/after documentation, and willing to use the product for a prolonged period of time to make a fair decision on its affects. Last but not least, I had to contact potential candidates and offer them a product to treat their wrinkles without offending anyone.
After some brainstorming sessions with the client, I created a list of parameters to help me find this specific blogger…
- Woman in mid-late 30’s or older
- Beauty blogger
- Has done in-depth product reviews before
- Has the bandwidth to try the system for 4-6 weeks, documenting progress along the way
- U.S. resident
- Has a large audience of active followers & readers
- Is a trusted voice & authority within this niche community
In addition, I needed to factor in my SEO criteria, to ensure that the links placed would be beneficial and reach a larger audience though social media.
- Total audience (monthly visitors x social reach)
- MozRank & Domain Authority to gauge the trust factors
- Outbound vs. inbound links
- Social followers & share numbers, as there would be a giveaway element included
Using GroupHigh, I began to narrow down the vast blogosphere to those who fit my criteria. Here are the steps I took:
- Begin to compile a list of influencers to contact using any press materials or marketing insights from the brand to guide you.
- Use this information in conjunction with a tool like GroupHigh to drill down into specific niches to find the exact target audience.
- Take advantage of the metrics you can set on GroupHigh, such as Moz. Rank and min/max social followers to achieve this.
- If you are looking for a ‘power middle’ blogger who is over 40 and in the northwest, set all parameters and search settings to reflect this.
- Lastly, submit the list of URLs (leave out tracking data) to Brand/PR to vet for duplicates, if necessary.
Step 3: Organize Your Outreach
Save yourself time by prioritizing your final list:
- Sort by SEO metrics to put the most important influencers to your campaign at the top, and then work your way down.
- Only send about 10 emails a day to gauge response rate. You do not want more positive responses than product that you have on hand (adjust this number accordingly). If you have 25 products to giveaway look for about 2 to 3 times more contacts. Sort in order of SEO authority (use Moz ranks on GroupHigh) and factor in number of followers on social media outlets you want exposure on.
- The first email is more of a feeler email to start a conversation and gauge interest rather than around receiving something.
- Link to something specific that they would find interesting besides the homepage.
At the end of the day you will be glad you took the extra time to do some background research and establish a solid foundation to work from. Getting to know your client’s consumers from an offline perspective will help you to deliver the results you are looking for online. Remember to connect with all parties involved prior to beginning your campaign to compliment each other’s efforts and eliminate duplicating tasks. Utilize the many filters provided in GroupHigh to sort and prioritize your outreach list before you send the first email.
Finally, use the monitoring tool within GroupHigh to be alerted of any posts that have gone live, and the tracking feature to show the results of your efforts to the clients with potential impressions and a quantifiable pie chart showing interactions across various social platforms.
I am sure the client will be pleased. Happy linking!