To Get Links you need to Forget about Link Building

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I have been building websites and getting people to go to them since 1998. Doing it for such a long time does not always make you a better link builder, but it does give you a long view. It allows you to note that the current changes in the building of links to increase search engine rankings is just one more change in an constantly changing landscape.

The cost or value of links has changed too, experts would usually quote an average link on an average website, giving an average amount of Google juice would cost around $100 – $150. These would be links that would pass the “natural” test. You would need a few hundred of these links for the average niche to rank and get a decent ROI.

But what has happened is a whole level of the SEO industry has been eviscerated. These are SEOs who would rely on a fixed cost for link getting and could quite easily plan it out with blog network buys, industrial guest posting, web 2.0 articles, plus many more techniques that are available on black hat market sites.

Some of it still goes on of course and still works if you don’t abuse it.

Current link building best practice is more akin to PR than it is to SEO. The ironic thing is that the traditional PR agencies are still quite poor in achieving an effective ROI. This is because power has shifted from those slick smooth talking PR types to the passionate, creative, online digital publisher, or what we would call the Blogger.

Pick a jargon phrase and run with it – conversation marketing – inbound marketing – relationship marketing – content marketing – and so on. These phrases have a high copulation rate and so if you don’t like one another will be along shortly. If you employ a digital agency or find yourself on a self styled “guru’s” website, they will be using these types of terms and explaining how you need to buy their book that will reveal all.

But the reality is, the way you link build is actually quite ancient. It’s called “Publishing”. You create an idea, make it physical (ok digital but lets not distracted by semantics) by using a medium such as a blog post and then you share that idea with other people who react, hopefully in the way you desire.

It’s not about “build it and they will come”, publishing includes marketing, advertising, means of production, delivery etc.

To get links you need to be a publisher, you need to publish. Anything else is mechanics, the way or form in which you publish.

Effective publishing involves knowing the audience, achieving an effective ROI, developing relationships with those who consume the published material.

This is where effective link building resides right now. It could be argued that it has always resided in the concept of publishing (and as we know from Reddit pretty much anything can be argued).

Where does that leave you if you want and need links? You are probably not a publisher but sell something like, plumbing supplies online.

You simply have to build an efficient, effective publishing machine. This can be a one man band or a huge army of workers to build out a magnetic for links.

Your effort will have more effect if it is consistent, rather than a few linkbaits here and there.

Go get published and go get links.

Positive thinking in outreach: How a rejection can be the start of a conversation

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When building links, one is always two emails away from rejection. Aside from practical tips for dealing with this situation itself, there are attitude adjustments that should be made. I believe that leaning towards optimism is a great start because optimists are prone to see failure as a setback they will be able to bounce back from.

In his book, Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life, Martin Seligman writes “The very thought, ‘Nothing I do matters,’ prevents us from acting”. What’s important here is not to see yourself as a helpless observer in the link building process, but as an active participant with the power to change the course of things.

Paddy Moogan suggests that after rejection, you should reach out again and ask the blogger why he/she isn’t interested in your pitch in order to improve your campaign. It’s a solid and constructive approach, but I think there’s more to it than that…

Dismissing a prospect because they rejected your pitch is bad practice

One of the biggest setbacks I see is that link builders normally approach sites with one specific type of link in mind, and if they can’t get it then they move on to the next potential site. When you are open to new ideas, your pitch is much more flexible; hence you’ve got a better chance to turn that ‘no’ into a door to a ‘yes’.

Something that I like to do is to always have more than one link building idea for each site I contact. Whether it is broken link building, guest posting or a different kind of collaboration such as an interview, I’m always armed with 2-3 possibilities. What happens is that when the blogger rejects my initial pitch, I’m in a position in which I can offer them something new they might like.

The key is to spend enough time on their site to learn about their style, their audience and what’s working for them already. Once you’ve come up with diverse ideas, it’s time to choose the top 3 and reach out to them by pitching the least appealing one (which shouldn’t be a poorly thought idea, by the way.) If the first one you’ve pitched works, then great; if it doesn’t, you’ve got backup.

The byproduct of this approach is that you’ll be exercising your creativity A LOT more than when you’re just focusing on one specific type of link. As a result, there will always be a flow of link building ideas that could be applied to different prospects.

Don’t focus on the ‘no’, be glad you got an answer

To me a failure is not receiving a response at all because that’s the loudest and more conclusive ‘no’ you can get. But when a website owner takes the time to reply to your pitch, he/she is open to engaging in conversation with you. What you do after receiving their reply is what will change the outcome of the exchange, so the ball is in your court.

After I’ve exchanged a number of emails with a blogger or webmaster who has rejected all of my ideas, I will usually ask them what would they be interested in. That one would be the next logical step because I’ve already showed them how determined I am in working together, so asking for their opinion is the easiest way of reaching common ground. Of course I wouldn’t do that right after they’ve rejected my first pitch because most answers would be “just pay me, woman”, and this woman doesn’t like to pay for links.

It’s not just about accepting rejection, it’s about what you do with it

Ammon Johns left an inspiring comment on my post “We are missing the point” and I think that part of what he’s said applies to what we’re discussing here today:

“You have to push the envelope. You have to not only think outside the box, but also climb out of it and move the box to a better location. You need to be creative and original.”

This culture of treating website owners as one-night stands is limiting the growth of link building. Imagine being contacted every day by ‘super nice’ people who want to work with you, but will disappear as soon you tell them that you didn’t like their idea that much. “What a bunch of a-holes”, you may say and you’d be right. That’s not how you’d treat people in the offline world, so why do it online?

As I mentioned before, optimists view adversity as temporary and specific, as opposed to pessimists who are more likely to give up when facing setbacks because they see adversity as unchangeable. One could say that optimism is an important component of achievement: Those who have an optimistic outlook will be more proactive, persistent and won’t abandon hope that easily. For some people, being optimistic comes naturally but if that’s not your case, consider that optimism is an attitude that can be learned and practiced.

I have a tendency to be optimistic and that makes me the way I am in the face of rejection. But there’s another reason why I always try to be proactive in both link building and life: showing how much I care. When you show link prospects that you don’t mind being flexible for the sake of their site and their audience, that’s when the conversation begins.

By Gisele Navarro

I Build Great Links for my Clients, and what do they do? GIF War

@ChrisLDyson and @barriemoran I am calling a GIF War!

This is what happens to my clients after I build great links for them

 

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Meanwhile the haterz are giving it this. 

 

 

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Inspired by the great minds at:

http://www.barriemoran.com

http://tripleseo.com/

 

I think I should leave this kind of linkbait to a younger crowd, I mean, substituting Z for S in haterz. It really has gone too far this time.

 

Where I got this stuff from:

 

http://weareheadoverfeels.tumblr.com/post/42196945509/listen-up-fives-a-ten-is-speaking-in

http://denissevelazquez.tumblr.com/post/45886903344/pelea-de-dinero-suele-pasar

http://leftphalange.tumblr.com/post/36437710156/black-friday-shopping

http://youngmoneygifs.tumblr.com/post/39066154532

How to ask for a Guest Post

I talked about guest posting in the last post I wrote, it seems it’s still the fashionable term of the online marketing fish bowl I swim in.

However, it’s important to understand that what most people are talking about is something very specific. Even though asking people to host your content in exchange for a link back for seo purposes has existed for over a decade, the way the term is used now seems to be talking about something that is systemised and geared up to achieve the highest ROI possible.

This of course leads to a lessening of quality in the guest post requests that bloggers get as it becomes more about numbers and less about the quality of the writing or even the pitch.

In the past I have found guest posting a very useful way to connect to other bloggers and also to help with back links to clients. But I am finding it increasingly difficult, some bloggers now ask for cash to place a guest post, which would make it a sponsored post rather than a guest post. Not that I have that much against advertorials, as long as they are clearly stated as such.

But lets cut the bullshit.

Publications, both offline and online take money to publish paid for editorials. It’s the way of the world and naive not to expect otherwise. This is what you have to compete with.

However, lets look at this from the bloggers perspective. I have been talking to a few blogs who do guest posting, to ask them what they think about the hordes of mercenary seo types swarming around their blogs asking for a guest post with a link back.
Mitch from Top Finance Blog, said this.

The best way to ask for a guest posting opportunity is to actually visit the person’s blog first to see if they have a guest posting policy, and if so then following it. I get tons of requests to guest post and most of the letters are generic and immediately lying when they say “I have followed Top Finance Blog for a long time and enjoy its content”. If they liked it so much, they’d have commented at some point, and they’d already know what the guest posting policy was before I need to send them to read it. Help us decide you’re worthy; yes, we get a benefit from it as well but if you’re looking to place your content on someone else’s site, act like you want to without making it seem like you’re doing it for their benefit; that’s just insulting.

He went on to say he could easily write more about this subject.

I think the problem is when you dehumanise the process. Sure, still have tools to help you find a blog that will post your content, but you have to invest time, politeness and commonsense to connect with the blogger.

I confess I have on the occasion taken shortcuts in this regards and it has led to failed guest post campaigns. When you do a lot of link building it’s natural to try to make things as efficient as possible.

Trying too hard to squeeze links out of bloggers can lead you to take your eye off the ball.

I know I am not alone in this as I daily get guest post requests and press releases that seem to be geared to the short cut. I think only twice in the six years this blog has existed has there been requests that result in stuff happening.

Which is interesting.

Because, if you take the time, invest in the initial connection and develop relationships, rather than “guest posting” or that awful word “outreach”, you will probably have more success.

Most of us are uber busy and have hectic lives, my own has increased of late and I probably need to pay more attention to investing in real conversations than acting like a one legged, starving marmut with rabies out to get links whatever the cost.

Yes, this is part confessional, part do what I sway not what I do, but this is part of the process. You constantly have to relearn the basics. And it’s not the “20 ways to do guest posting”, type posts you really learn from. It’s the real experience of people out there in the trenches, working it.

In the meantime, if you want a guest post. You know where to find me and you should know by now how to ask me.

What Tools do you use for Outreach?

I will be honest, my outreach is limited because I mostly implement linkbait and so the linkers come to me. But sometimes you want something else and need to have a campaign to reach out to website owners and bloggers.

You can do this with email, twitter, spreadsheets, text templates (modified to be personal of course) etc., but there are a number of tools these days that streamline the process and allow it to be scaled.

I asked the question on Twitter and got some very interesting replies.

ysekand

@lyndoman I use Social Crawlytics and Buzzstream

Tuesday, November 06, 2012 8:47:03 AM

paddymoogan

@lyndoman I don’t use many, mainly Google (gives you everything you’ll ever need) @followerwonk @buzzstream & common sense :)

Tuesday, November 06, 2012 6:23:10 AM

seo_monkey

@lyndoman the scrape similar add on for chrome is also useful as in some industries bloggers tend to link heavily to one another through

Tuesday, November 06, 2012 6:29:57 AM

pagesauce

@lyndoman Search operators, Twitter, ahrefs, OSE, Google Docs to record everything, and the best content I can write

Tuesday, November 06, 2012 9:07:01 AM

We are testing out dashburst…its 50 dollars a month but could be useful. From @dannyashton

Links
socialcrawlytics.com
buzzstream.com
dashburst.com

Any more suggestions, you can either Tweet them @ me or pop them in the comments.

Thanks to all those who shared their tools.