Building relevant links from high-authority sites is not easy. Many companies outsource link building to agencies and link building experts, allowing them to focus on their core service.
Those that try to build links themselves quickly realize that there are more nuances to the process than one might think. In an effort to increase the efficiency of their outreach process, they scour the web for valuable advice.
As an agency that offers content marketing and link building services, we decided to make an internal round-up and give a helping hand. We asked our link builders and project leads to share the most useful tips they learned over the years. We concentrated on general advice that can be applied to any niche or link building strategy.
Before we share the tips from our link building experts, let’s make one quick detour to frame this discussion in a broader context.
The way you build links should be a reflection of what you are trying to achieve
There are three main reasons why companies build links:
- they want to increase organic traffic to specific posts or pages
- they are looking to increase brand awareness in specific niches
- they are hoping to earn relevant referral traffic
In most cases, brands that focus on digital marketing look for all of the above, but have different priorities.
Why are priorities important?
Well, some link building strategies are great at building brand awareness or delivering SEO value, while others are more suited to bring in referral traffic. Oftentimes, the link building process needs to be adjusted if you want to maximize one over the other.
For example, if you are interested in getting maximum exposure, you can look for industry round-ups and ways to be featured on high-authority sites like Entrepreneur or Business Insider (or equivalent niche sites), even if that means getting nofollow links that hold low SEO value.
If you are focusing strictly on referral traffic, you might want to look into building affiliate links or publishing sponsored posts with links to your service or landing pages. This can be a part of your lead generation campaign.
The most common approach our clients take is building editorial links through blogger outreach. When executed right, it is the best link building tactic to simultaneously work on your SEO, brand awareness and referral traffic.
Of course, there are other great link building tactics like broken link building, resource link building, infographic shares, HAARO, etc. They all come with their own set of pros, cons and requirements.
The variety of available options is one of the reasons why companies consult link building experts in the first place.
Insider tips from our link building experts
Without further ado, it’s time to share tips from link building experts at Point Visible. Some of them might hold other job titles now, but rest assured that building links is or was a major part of their work experience.
TIP #1: Start with link-worthy content
Before you start your link building campaigns, you need to make sure that you have link-worthy content on your blog.
Editors and content managers are way more open to linking to content that offers something of real value. This makes link building A LOT easier, because it instantly increases the conversion rate of your outreach emails. Moreover, it reduces the chance of the editor declining your content or removing the link during the review process.
Ida Flegarić, Internet Marketing Specialist & Graphic Designer at Point Visible
TIP #2: Build your prospecting lists based on the “perfect opportunity”
Every business knows 2 or 3 great sites in their niche they would like to be featured on. You can use those sites to jumpstart your search, focusing on similar opportunities first.You can find their competitors using Ahrefs (or a comparable SEO tool) and pitch them your ideas. Since they compete for the same keywords, they should automatically be a great fit for your brand.
But you can take this a step further: check which keywords they are ranking for and throw those keywords into an outreach tool like Pitchbox, or straight into Google search. It is an easy way to quickly build a list of relevant sites worth reaching out to.
Anita Sambol Baniček, Content Strategist at Point Visible
TIP #3: Find the right person/email to pitch to
One thing I put a lot of focus on is finding good contacts. By “good contact” I mean the best person to pitch to – and an email address that won’t bounce. Blogs that regularly publish content from guest contributors often state the email you should use on their “write for us” page, which makes this process trivial.
For other sites, we found that it is best to use an email finder tool like Clearbit or Hunter. They will help you reach the right people in the right places. Aside from giving you a list of relevant contacts, some of these tools also show job titles next to the email. As it makes way more sense to send a pitch to an associate editor or a content manager than an accounting intern or CEO, this little feature can be extremely helpful. Below is what we found to be the best contacts.
Take a couple of minutes to find the right contact info for each opportunity. You can have the best pitch and a really good offer, but your email is getting deleted if it ends up in the wrong inbox.
Nikola Baniček, Internet Marketing Specialist at Point Visible
TIP #4: Know your audience
Preparation is the number one thing that will determine the success of your outreach campaigns. At this point, I would stress the importance of studying and defining your target audience.
It’s not only done for the purpose of brainstorming topics that will be accepted by blogs and publications. A good target audience analysis will help you in your link building efforts in many different ways. If you look at it closely, a lot of the people you reach out to for link building are actually representatives of your readership. Getting to know them beforehand will help you create engaging email copy with a high degree of personalization, ultimately helping you stand out and get better results.
Josip Mlinarić, Email Marketing Specialist & Outreach Specialist at Point Visible
TIP #5: Personalize your outreach emails
Make sure to spend extra time personalizing your emails. Have a unique approach for each editor, or whoever you’re contacting. In other words, mention their name and use a conversational tone – don’t be too formal. If possible, refer to something you read on their site, something that inspired you or made you curious. Be as specific as possible, show them that you actually read their content.
Keep away from email templates (it is fine to use them for inspiration, but write your own words!) Click here to read a research-based guide on how to pitch your content to editors and content managers. Here’s a sneak peak:
Petra Šestak, Internet Marketing Specialist at Point Visible
TIP #6: Respect the editor’s workflow and guidelines
Sites that accept guest content, especially the big ones, have a streamlined process for guest contributors. They often require you to submit a pitch through a specific form. Some might want you to include an outline, keywords and links you plan to cover. Others want to see different specifications, depending on the type of content you are offering, or the type of collaboration you are interested in.
If they want a Word file, send a Word file. If they have detailed writing guidelines, follow them. The guidelines are there for a reason.
It’s important to not push your way of communication and workflow just because it’s easier that way – your success rate will suffer and that’s no one’s goal! If the blog does not have any guidelines, mention that you are open to their suggestions and other types of collaborations. Showing flexibility says you’re not only thinking about your own needs. Editors will appreciate that!
Katarina Raguž, Internet Marketing Specialist at Point Visible
TIP #7: Establish quality guidelines with content creators
When producing a lot of content (a natural course of action when scaling up your link building process), you will inevitably have to work with content writers and freelancers.
To ensure a consistent quality of the content you’re pushing out, you have to build an efficient content production process and set clear quality guidelines. Detailed guidelines will help writers create content that matches the editor’s vision and hits on the pain points of their target audience.
The content must be shaped in a way that transmits the right message to the right target audience. Using tools like Grammarly can help you correct typos and adjust the spelling (British vs American vs Australian English). The main aim behind every draft proof-reading is to shape the content so it comes out as a natural and organic communication between the writer and the reader.
Quality content written for the right audience is unlikely to be declined for publishing. This will significantly improve the overall effectiveness and efficiency of your link building efforts.
Filip Vulić, Internet Marketing Specialist at Point Visible
TIP #8: Don’t just build links, build relationships
Most outreach campaigns are built as one-time efforts: “Get a link in exchange for something and move on to the next opportunity.” We believe that a better, long-term approach is focusing on building relationships with relevant non-competing sites in your industry, not just getting links.
Maybe you will need the editor’s help with research or a future round-up. Maybe you want to stay in touch and be featured in one of their round-ups. Maybe they are organizing an event or publishing a magazine you want to be featured in. Maybe you want to become a regular contributor at their blog and have constant access to their audience.
There are many reasons why it pays off to nurture relationships with top sites in your niche. Realizing this too late can significantly stifle your link building efforts.
Deana Kovač, Internet Marketing Specialist at Point Visible
TIP #9: Link building is just one part of a much larger equation
The biggest mistake I’ve seen small businesses make in the context of SEO is building links without a plan. They’ve heard somewhere that building links is all the rage now, and that they need it to bring people to their website. Since that is the only thing they know, they are unable to see the big picture.
Link building for the purpose of increasing organic traffic, without a proper plan, is a waste of money.
For example, let’s say you have a 400-word post on your blog and that you want to rank for a highly competitive keyword. You can build thousands of backlinks and still not take the top spot in search results. Why? Because your content sucks compared to competing guides. Links can do a lot of heavy lifting, but they alone won’t carry you to the top.
The same thing goes for promotional pages. If your service page isn’t optimized around a specific keyword and doesn’t have enough content on it, it is extremely unlikely it will rank well. The exception might be keywords with zero competition, where Google has to take whatever it can get. But those are becoming increasingly rare.
Keyword research + quality content + on page optimization + great links = recipe for success.
Dario Supan, Chief Marketing Officer at Point Visible
Start building your online presence today
If you want to grow your business through digital marketing, it is never too late to start working on your content and building links to your website. With the right approach and research, even smaller brands can compete for relevant organic visitors.
If you’re unsure on how to get started, consult link building experts and let us help develop a plan that is right for you.