I wanted to share this quick case study on link building – in particular because it highlights both a strategy and execution tactic for the kind of link building that is required in the current search engine landscape.
I’ve received a lot of questions from clients in the past few months who are wondering what exactly we are doing in the area of link building, now that blog commenting, directory submissions and other traditional methods have become less effective (and in some cases harmful). Hopefully this post will help clarify and provide some insight.
A peripheral focus of this post is to dispel a myth that modern link building always takes up too much time to be worth the effort. Blog comment spam and submitting to marginally significant directories all over the Web aren’t the only way to get links quickly. It is possible to earn quick links that are white-hat and actually worth something!
1. Finding a Target
While old link building strategies used to be made up of finding directories to dump a URL in, or finding blog posts to leave unsolicited comments with links, modern link building is much more a game of finding places where it would naturally make sense for there to be a link to a client’s website. There are a lot of different strategies for doing this:
A. Find reviews or write-ups about a client’s product that don’t already include an attributing link
B. Find copyright protected images your client owns that are being used without permission and don’t include an attributing link
C. Find a link to a resource that is of lower quality than a similar resource that a client has to offer.
D. Many more.
In this case study, we went with option “A”. We found a website that had posted a review and giveaway of a client’s product, but didn’t include an attributing link.
2. Making Contact
Although a lot of people compare modern link building to public relations, I think it has a lot more in common with sales. Once you find your target, the next step is to make contact. But simply sending an email introducing yourself and asking for a link probably isn’t going to get you very far. The key is to get a dialogue going before you even broach the subject of links.
Although it is almost always an option to connect with a webmaster via email, I’ve found much more success – and much faster responses – by connecting via social media. Does the target site have social media buttons on their website? Try reaching out to them via Facebook message, Twitter DM, or a Google+ comment. These channels get checked WAAAAAY more frequently than a “firstname.lastname@example.org” address.
In this case, I reached out on Facebook:
*Facebook messages are also great because you can include an image with a thumbnail for the page you are referring to!
3. Engaging a Dialogue and Closing the Deal
Because social moves so much quicker than email, I received a response within the hour! You can expect email to be as long as a few weeks.
I replied to the response with a very genuine and transparent request, without sounding like I was trying to “get something” from them:
The deal closed within the hour:
Amazingly, this whole process – from start to finish – took less than 30 minutes of actual “time” (not counting the time spent finding the target), and we went from initial contact to having a live link posted in just over 1 hour.
Of course, not every case will be as quick and smooth as this one. Earning a link in this manner often requires patience. Sometimes it entails multiple communications exchanged over several weeks. But the more you work at it, the better your closing skills will become and the quicker you will be able to earn quality links.
In order to make a significant impact on your client’s link profile, one link isn’t going to cut it. The idea is that this is an organic, ongoing process; a link builder’s work is never done.