As most of us know, Google has become incredibly efficient at detecting sites that use spammy link building tactics to manipulate search results. Most of these mass or automated tactics are now becoming obsolete and for good reason. Essentially, the idea that doing anything one at a time, or manually, is a waste of time is simply not true anymore. There has been a lot of talk recently within the SEO community about this monumental shift and what it means for the future of SEO, but we’ll save that discussion for another post.
One tried and true SEO tactic that has withstood the test of time is finding unlinked mentions of your brand and turning them into links. This seemingly simple strategy is one of the easiest and most effective ways to get more traffic and earn valuable links back to your site.
Now I’m going to walk you through a few ways to uncover these opportunities and the process of crafting a good pitch.
Influential Employees & Executives
Google Search is a great place to start. I highly recommend you familiarize yourself with advanced search commands, as they can come in really handy when trying to narrow down search results. I share just a few in this post, so by no means are you limited to the examples shown here. This first search phrase is simple and straightforward.
- “Employee name” “brand” -site:yourwebsite.com
Ideally, it should be a well-known employee, or even the CEO or founder of the company. Using phrases like “-site:yourwebsite.com” help narrow your search and increase your chances of finding the unlinked mentions.
The majority of blogs today do a pretty good job of tagging their posts with keywords/topics. When used properly, tags quickly help readers find posts on the topics they’re interested in. Searching the phrase below looks for sites that have tagged your brand because they’ve talked about it in some way in a post.
- allinurl:tag/brand -site:yourwebsite.com
With the amount of blogs on the web today, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve been mentioned or tagged somewhere.
Top Level Domain Focused
GOVs, ORGs, and EDUs aren’t necessarily more authoritative than other Top Level Domains (TLDs). Google’s John Mueller recently said all TLDs are treated equally in rankings with the exception of geo-specific TLDs that Google naturally defaults to. However, GOV, ORG, and EDU sites are still highly sought after for their age, domain authority, and trust.
- site:org “brand”
- site:gov “brand”
- site:edu “brand”
Using the above search command helps you find brand mentions found on the specific TLD. If they do exist, this command limits results to only include the TLD you specified.
Google Alerts is another great way to monitor any mention of your brand and/or relevant keywords. It does all the work for you and sends the results right to your email. It’s truly an underrated tool that often gets overlooked and should be used more extensively. Using it for discovering unlinked brand mentions is just one of the many ways marketers can use Google Alerts for SEO.
Crafting The Right Pitch
The final step in this process is to find the most appropriate person who makes the decisions as to who to link out to and convince them to add the link. Considering someone already mentioned your brand, you’d think getting a link back would be a slam dunk, however, it’s not always that easy. Some sites are stricter than others and some are just plain unresponsive.
Regardless of who you contact, whether it’s the writer, editor, or webmaster, remember that you’re asking for a favor. The chances of them saying no to your request are much slimmer when there’s something in it for them. Will adding the link improve their site’s user experience? Will you share the post with your social followers? Are there any broken links on the page that they should know about? These are all value adds you can include in your outreach that will help incentivize the intended recipient.
As always, be sure to follow up if you don’t hear back in a few days. I can’t tell you how many times where it took two, sometimes three emails, until I finally got a response. Here are a few actual responses I’ve received.
- “Thanks for your feedback. I have forwarded this to my editor, who should be able to include the link on the online version of the story.”
- “Thanks for reaching out! Updated the post and linked your page. Let me know if you need anything else.”
- “The link has been made clickable. Please check: http://www.businessinsider.com/…”
- Add some personalization and always use a person’s name in the pitch if possible.
- Be extremely cautious with negative press.
- Make sure to follow up if you don’t hear back in a few days.
Clearly, you can’t automate this strategy. This process requires doing research to identify opportunities and connecting with a real life person. It’s link building tactics like these that will never go out of style or become obsolete.