Don’t do Outreach like one of those PR types, do it like an SEO


When building web links you should be using FBI powered, psychographic profiling during outreach.

It’s no longer enough to simply show people content and expect them to do what you want them to do, which is sharing and linking. You need to put a particularly crafted piece of content in front of someone you KNOW will desire it.

You KNOW they will desire it because you have conducted psychographic and cultural analysis of your target.

This is actually very simple.

  1. You find out someone eats pies.
  2. You give them pies.
  3. They eat pie.

If this is too simple for you I can find a Digital Agency who will charge huge amounts of money to explain the same thing in a more complex way.

This series of posts is part of my current Instagram experiment

Using SEM Rush to determine link quality

This is a guest post by Ryan Stewart, who first came to attention from me with his great blog post on, Why I Stopped Selling SEO Services and You Should, Too

Link building is about one thing: driving traffic.

That’s it. Mostly.

So what about link building using social media?

I see a lot of sites actively marketing themselves through social media, and I get it. From a purely business point of view, any link that drives traffic to your site is a good link. Traffic is traffic, and social media can bring it in.

However, from a traditional SEO view, those kinds of links lack the domain authority and trust flow (often less than five) and wouldn’t be considered a good link.

Search engines crawl between websites through links, so it’s easy for them to measure how much traffic is passing through a link. And that’s the measurement you want to tap into.

Measure The True Metrics

SEM Rush, a paid subscription service, is my favorite link building tool.

There are a lot of third party tools that promise to help you measure traffic with their own custom metrics–domain authority, or trust flow, for example–but what you need to be measuring are the metrics from Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Third party metrics are fine–don’t get me wrong–but they aren’t true metrics from search engines and they aren’t as useful for link building.

SEM Rush is the place I go to measure what the search engines are measuring, and it’s what I use to help me determine which websites are a good target for my link building efforts.

SEM Rush has the ability to gather a lot of data, but for determining link quality, it is particularly easy to use:

  • Take the URL from the website you are targeting for link building, and paste it into the top search bar.
  • Click on “Organic Research” on the left-hand side and a drop down menu will appear.
  • Click on “Positions” from the dropdown.

SEM Rush

On your screen, you’ll see lots of data with an at-a-glance graphic, as well as a traffic and keyword chart. (Click on “Try new design of Organic Search Positions” if your screen is different than the screenshot below.)

semrush 2

You will do these few steps for each website you are researching, concentrating on the information provided on this one screen. From here, you can use a simple three-step process to streamline your link building program.

1. Look At A Site’s Link Quality

The first step is the main step: figuring out which sites have high quality links.

There are a few things we need to look at to determine that link quality, and SEM Rush makes this information pretty easy to find. The questions you’ll need answers for are:

  1. How many keywords is that website ranking for?
    1. How much traffic does that website have?
      What is the cost of that traffic? (This is calculated by how much it would cost to pay for that traffic via Google adwords.)

SEM Rush creates a graphic that tells you these three things at a glance.

SEMrush 3

If you figure that keywords are approximately a few cents each, you can do some rough math and figure out how much the traffic costs per keyword.

The main thing, though, is you want to see more keywords, more traffic, and higher cost. For the three metrics in this graphic, the higher the better. Any potential links that you might end up placing on such a site, whether through guest blogging or other methods, can drive lots of traffic back to your site as well as increase ranking.

We’re going to come back to link quality in the third step, when we get to prioritizing our link building targets.

2. Look For Clean Domain History

Next, you want to find out whether the website you’re targeting is clean.

Look at the graph located to the right of the link quality graphic we just talked about. This graph shows traffic or keyword rankings over time.

A huge spike and then a sharp plummet is not a good sign. A spike and a huge crash means the domain could be potentially toxic. It has stopped growing and its traffic is drying up. Mostly likely, it was penalized for shady activity in the past.

SEMrush 4

What you want to see is a graph that shows the domain moving up and to the right, like the screenshot below.

SEMrush 5

A graph like this shows a site that is actively gaining traffic and actively marketing itself. Sites with these types of graphs are ones you want to place on the top of the list for link outreach.

3. Prioritize Your Efforts

Now that you know the quality a potential link has, and how healthy a domain is, you’re ready to prioritize.

But first: even if a website has low traffic or evidence of traffic drops, you may still want to work with them.

The point in searching out quality is so that you can prioritize your outreach efforts and make better use of your resources, not to avoid connecting and networking with other sites. High quality websites always go first because they have the most impact on your site’s SEO rankings, but don’t write off the other sites.

So, what is a high quality site? It’s a site with lots of keywords, lots of traffic, and a high cost for traffic with a clean and steadily growing history for its domain.

To target the high quality links first, follow a few simple steps.

1. Set standards based on link quality.

Set a standard between 1 and 5, with 1 being the lowest, signifying a link that isn’t as powerful, and 5 being the highest with a powerful link and your ideal target. Use the chart below as a guide to help you categorize the link quality from your SEM Rush research.


These rankings will be your tags for each link.

For sites that have a mix of rankings, such as level 3 keywords but level 2 traffic and cost, you would assign a level 2 ranking. Essentially, you’re trying to average out the data to determine the best quality ranking for each site. It’s especially important to honor the traffic history (i.e. if all the data is a 3 ranking, but there is a traffic drop, the true ranking for that site will be a 2).

2. Track rankings and interactions.

Create a spreadsheet in which you track the name of the site, the status of your contact and interaction with the site, the numerical tag ranking, the type of link you’re requesting (e.g. guest post), and the site URL.

Our concern here is tag each target domain for the quality of the link.

The tags can be used for different reasons other than just easily identifying top targets. For example, they can be used to assign writers for your guest blogging program. To get a guest post on a site with a 5 ranking will need a higher quality writer (which will cost more), while a 1 will not.

Once you have the sites prioritized and tagged using the SEM Rush data, you’re able to pursue successful link building without wasting time and basing your actions on guesses.

Wrapping it up

There’s a lot of information on the web about how to build links the “right” way. While a lot of SEO metrics like Domain Authority, Trust Flow and Citation Flow are helpful, they aren’t Google’s metrics. Simplify your efforts by focusing on one thing: building links that drive traffic!

Why you should use psychographic profiling when building links

psychographic profile

The above is the most clipped slide from my Content Publishing Strategy presentation on Slidedeck.

This presentation forms the backbone of the content strategy training I offer and the aspect of the “psychographic profile” is always the most interesting to people.

People think content is king, but this is wrong. Content is merely the vehicle for the idea.

The real action happens in the mind of the reader. It’s not the content that the focus should be on, but the psychology of the person it is aimed at.

The mind of the target reader must define the content, not the creator’s whim and fancy.

I’ve worked with a lot of creatives and a lot of them seem to be focussed more on a particular aspect they are interested in such as infographics, or a new javascript trick, than the actual job which is to communicate and influence the reader to perform a specific action.

But that’s not what Shakespeare and Hemmingway did, they were true artists!


That is exactly what they did. They looked at what triggered the audience to action. What ideas infected the minds of their target audience. Shakespeare was a brilliant content publisher and we could spend a few hours discussing this but lets not get distracted.

Lets get back to links.

Forget most of the guff talked at you by PR people who wear very heavy watches that are advertised in magazines with pictures scantily clad women.

Links are the key, they are what get you ranked in Google.

Ranking in Google is still the best way to get people to your website and buy stuff.

To get links, you need to influence the people who give links.

To influence people to give links you need to know what would make them link.

Content is not the trigger, it’s the idea behind the content. Thus it’s all about what is happening in the mind of the reader who can link.

  • Who are these people?
  • What do they read?
  • What websites do they look at?
  • How old are they?
  • What apps do they use?
  • Are they an Open World, MMO gamer or do they prefer Candy Crush on a smartphone.

These and a hundred more questions such as these, need to be asked in order to know what actually communicates to and influences your target linker.

Because it could be as simple as a picture of a kitten, or as complex as an interactive HTML5 driven infographic.

Getting links used to be simple, but cutting edge, link building theory has become a lot more complex.

Psychology and neuroscience are subjects that need to be studied if you want success in the digital marketing landscape of today.

Why you should not be working to get links from websites

Websites do not link to websites

People link

People share interesting stuff from other people.

Real people exist behind the website you want a link from. Think of the person you are going to outreach to and not the website when you do your link building.

It’s sounds crazy to say it, but the people who can give you a link are just like you and me, well maybe not me, I wouldn’t want to inflict that on them. But they have real needs and desires, most want to communicate and want to share, which is why you should communicate and share with them as fellow human beings.

If you are looking for ten top tips to optimise outreach, you are already thinking wrong. Change your mindset and stop thinking of people as a process and communicate with them as you would like to be communicated with.

You will be amazed at the success you will get.


Image source

Link to me and see how much I will like you

Links makes likes

I really like it when people link to my websites, it’s different to a retweet or being told your cool by a stranger over email just before they ask you to publish their guest post about a new device that removes hard skin from feet.

A link is the most genuine of recommendations.
A link is powerful stamp of approval, even more so in these times, as fewer people seem to be linking out.

The Google hack, the sticking plaster that is “Penguin” which attempts to fix a failing system has turned a lot of SEO agencies into “penalty removal” agencies, rather than what they should be which is, “cool content” publishing agencies, building brand over multiple platforms.

Blegh, that last sentence was spiky, but sometimes you need to get a bit jargony to communicate effectively to the tribe.

However, (FU Gove*) people in the niche of online marketing tend to go overboard with jargon, terms like “content marketing” miss the target putting the focus on the content rather than the reader. And wanky terms like “inbound marketing”, which I still don’t quite understand seem to permeate like a rank fart in a bean and chile, festival tent, where the extractor fan has broken and someone left a dead meerkat under a chair for a few days.

The first thing I look at when someone is asking a favour for me is, “Do they link to me?”.
I love linking to people I like, like Taylor Swift, although I wouldn’t recognise here music if I heard it she faced down the greedy gits at Apple who wanted to give her album away for free for three months to build THEIR platform.

We don’t have a “Link to your friends day”. But maybe we should.
Maybe everyday should be “Link to your friends day.”
I do bit by linking to people and business on my SEO Services UK page. Make sure you link to those who do good things for you.

Feed your allies, starve your enemies.

* Michael Gave, aka "Twat", has told us we should never start a sentence with a preposition such as "However,". I am not of the "these are the rules for writing English and you shall keep to them on pain of death", group of writers. You will find those who do chastise usually break the rules themselves and the rest have rather arid sex lives.

Image source