Link Building 101: How to Soothe the Skeptics

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Link Building 101: How to Soothe the Skeptics - Eric Sachs SEO

I’m not going to lie; link building isn’t as easy as it was a couple of years ago. Of course, that’s not really bad news – we’re now better focused on creating quality backlinks on relevant websites in the industry than ever before.

The problem is that your average website owner or blogger (someone involved in business but not necessarily SEO) may not realize the value of a backlink. And let’s face it, some of them are downright skeptical when approached by other business owners asking for links.

So what’s a good link builder to do?

Let’s explore this topic!

What is Link Building?

To review, true link building is simply the act of getting other websites to create hyperlinks that direct back to your website. All of the search engines use links to “crawl” between websites. The more they find a website is being linked to from outside sources, the more important and credible that site becomes.

Sometimes, search engines discover new pages on your site (or brand-new sites) thanks to links pointing back to them. In the past, search engines would simply count the number of inbound links a site had.

Why is this an issue? Ultimately, building links became more about volume and less about quality. Link farms and link directories cropped up, giving grey and black-hat SEO experts the ability to game the system. Google was flooded with spammers for a short time and it became obvious that this is why we can’t have nice things.

Later changes to Google’s algorithms ended up hurting sites that practiced this form of trickery, especially if they had a lot of irrelevant links, and doubly especially if they were coming from sites that had no credibility of their own.

Today, link-building is more about strategizing, building relationships, and making logical connections within industries. It’s harder, but it’s also more powerful than ever.

Developing a Link Outreach Strategy

So we know that link-building is harder, and that it just isn’t as simple as slapping down links on sites anymore. All of this is to say that link building is still important, but it’s probably going to be one of the most challenging components of your overall SEO campaign. You need to have a separate, ongoing link outreach strategy to slowly and securely build an arsenal of valuable links over a period of time.

The problem with outreach is that it is similar to sales. You need to reach out to people you don’t know and essentially ask them for something. Awkward, right?

But very easy with a few of the right skills.

The better you become at outreach, the easier it will be to build partnerships with other site owners. The ongoing relationship you create is just as important as the end result you achieve in getting the link. These relationships may open the doors to future partnership or joint venture opportunities.

Assess Your Own Value

The first thing to remember is that you are not just asking for a link; you should be offering something of value that the other website’s users would find useful. The other site owner needs a reason to link back to your content. What information can you share that isn’t already on the site you are targeting?

This usually means creating a unique piece of content that you’d like your backlinks to point to. Save the short, sweet blog posts for your everyday audience; now’s the time to flex your content creation muscles and put together something truly special. It might be a long blog post, an infographic, an ebook you link to from a site page, or even a case study showcasing some of your company research. Make it amazing and worth sharing.

Building Relationships

Only after you are sure you have something great to share should you start looking for sites to contact. These sites or companies should be somehow related to your niche, but not necessarily competitors. Connect with the CEO on LinkedIn, follow their social media pages, and start reading their blogs. Begin building a relationship by making your name known. Leave thoughtful comments, share their content, and tag them in your own social posts.

Do not dive right in and ask for a link.

Building relationships and starting conversations takes time. Make sure your interactions are being noticed before you reach out to offer your own informational piece or ask for a link.

Sending the Link Outreach Email

Confident your relationship building strategies are on the right track? Now it’s time to prepare your email. Here are some things to remember as you craft your request:

  • Thank the person for connecting with you on their blog or social platforms. Or, compliment one of their blog posts by saying something thoughtful about the content.
  • Mention your content and how it relates to theirs; ask if they might consider including it as a reference in their own piece.
  • Consider not asking for a link at all. Instead, ask a question that may prompt a reply. Then, relate a piece you wrote back to the conversation you initiated.
  • If they don’t have something related enough, suggest a topic and explain how it relates to their other content. Ask if you can submit the piece as a guest post.
  • Never use a blanket template when sending link outreach emails. They read like templates and they are often ignored.
  • Consider what you can offer the site owner in exchange for the review, guest post, or link. Could you offer a coupon code their readers can use on your site?
  • Consider asking for a share instead of a website link. You may end up being shared on social media, but a lot of times they’ll share the link on their website as well. Even if they don’t build a link, social proof is still valuable and could result in a nice surge in traffic.

The number one guideline: never take a link and run. Continue to be social and comment on that site’s posts and social platforms. Remember, ongoing relationships are key and could even result in referrals to other sites later on down the line.

Lastly, always remember what link building definitely isn’t about: building web directory links, commenting in strange forums, and forcing links where they don’t belong.

Need advice on your link-building campaign? Book a consultation and we’ll find the perfect way for you to move forward.

SEO virtuoso, CEO @Sachs Marketing Group. Focused on being of service to business owners - helping to better position them in the eyes of their audiences.

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