Link building is tough in any industry. And with the advent of aggressive algorithm changes like Panda and Penguin in the past year or so, SEOs and online marketers have to be increasingly smart about how we build links. Since a lot of links from low quality sites with the exact anchor text for the term you want to rank for will now get you penalized instead of helping you rank, we must increasingly find ways to get high quality links back to our sites.
So how do we do this?
We need the dual strategy of building relationships with influential people, as well as knowing how and when to ask for a link.
Let’s look at some examples.
If you work in-house, you already know who the movers and shakers in your industry are. If you work at an agency, whether a creative or marketing agency, you need other ways to find and begin building relationships.
If I were trying to find people influential about real estate in California, I would go use Followerwonk, a tool that searches Twitter biographies and returns a list of people with their following and follower counts, as well as the age of their account and a calculated “influence” score. If I ran a query for [california real estate], this is the result I’d get and my first people to try to build a relationship with:
Building a Relationship
Other than building a relationship in real life, which is always going to be the most effective way, you can use some smart tactics and tools to help you get on their radar. These include:
- Stalking them online;
- Using Rapportive to see their social activity and connect;
- Blog comments and social media engagement
Let’s go through these one at a time.
“Stalking” can be a bad word. I’m not talking about the creepy kind of stalking here, but rather adding value to important people in such a way that they cannot help but notice you. We can use Google’s own tool iGoogle to build a dashboard that will help us keep track of a high value target. Here is a screenshot of one of mine, set up to build a relationship with Tim Ferriss:
Learn how to set up a dashboard of your own by flipping through this presentation from Wil Reynolds, the founder of SEER Interactive in Philadelphia.
Sometimes tools come along that make your life much easier. Rapportive has been one of those tools for me. Simply put, it is a Gmail plugin (that has now been bought by LinkedIn) that shows you relevant information about the person that you are going to email. It will show you:
- Their most recent tweets;
- Their most recent Facebook updates;
- Their LinkedIn profile which you can connect with directly from the plugin;
- and more!
Rapportive is phenomenal for helping you build links, as you can both become familiar with the person’s face and reference a recent tweet of theirs easily. Check out all the information you can get (screenshot from this post about linkbuilding with Gmail):
Blog Comments and Social Media Engagement
The average person sees your name and your website seven times before they are willing to buy. This rule can be applied to marketing and building relationships as well.
One simple and effective way is to add value through commenting on the person’s website and engaging with them on social media. Now remember, if this person is quite well known, it may take you more than seven times commenting and tweeting at them before you get their attention. This is why we are seeking to <strong>provide so much value that they cannot help but respond to you</strong>. And even then, it may take more work to actually get a link from them.
Don’t be creepy. Add value. People can sense when they are a target a long ways off. So don’t let them sense it!
I hope this post has sparked some ideas for how you can build relationships in order to build high-value links for your own business or your clients.
Your thoughts and any additional strategies that have worked you are, of course, welcomed and appreciated.
A special thanks is due to John Doherty who provided the tips outlined above. John Doherty is an SEO Consultant/Inbound Marketer and blogger based in New York City. He writes on his NYC SEO website a few times a week. During his free time he travels, takes lifestyle and travel photos, and enjoys checking out new restaurants in his home of Brooklyn.