Guide to Checking Competitor Backlinks in easy way

Guide to Checking Competitor Backlinks The Easy Way

What is reverse engineering?

Reverse engineering (on link building terms) is the process of checking what a certain website has created or acquired from other pages outside their web properties (i.e. from another non-owned website).

This approach has been a standard practice in the search marketing space often executed at the initial phase of the link development campaign to get an idea of the types of links acquired by other websites (i.e. competitors).

Reverse engineering starts by identifying who your competitors are. Some link developers fail to get results from the process because they dive in right away to exporting backlink reports to any webpages ranking for their target industry keywords.

Identify the right competitors to ensure that you’ll derive quality insights and reports from your reverse engineering activity.

 

Types of Competitors to Reverse Engineer On

1. Generic Competitors

These are competitors who directly compete with your products or services.

For agencies, it is best to initiate asking your clients who their competitors are, before or at the start of working on their link building campaigns.

In most cases, their competitors are the ones they are competing with for industry head terms (check their head term on the meta title on the site’s homepage).

pet supplies search results generic competitors

When using Ahrefs, it is best to use the domain level feature to only look at all of the links to a competitor’s domain.

There’s also an option to remove links pointing to subdomains (e.g. blog.domain.com) but this would filter out some relevant link opportunities, so I recommend you choose the “domains with subdomains” level.

2. Category Competitors

These are pages competing for secondary keyword terms (categories). For example, if you’re selling incontinence products, these are your category competitors who are competing for the industry term “incontinence supplies":

incontinence supplies category competitors search results

Category competitors also include sub-pages of big content assets, such as www.domain.com/guides or www.domain.com/glosary  with linking chapters or definitions beneath.

Use Prefix level feature of Ahrefs site explorer to see all links pointing to a certain section/category of a competitor’s site (for example, www.domain.com/productcategory).

Maximize the aforementioned link building tool by identifying generic and category competitors with their “Competing Domains” or “Competing pages’ features. It shows sites or pages ranking for similar keywords to your domain.

ahrefs competing domains

Tip: Remove large domains and exact match domains from your lists. These sites may just add noise to your analysis. For the example above, remove sites like nih.gov and cdc.gov. 

3. Content asset-specific competitors

These are information-driven pages that include webpages competing for “content asset” keywords (non-commercial industry terms).

For example, this “substance abuse guide for parents" competes with the following  content pieces:

drug abuse guide for parents

kids health guide

On Checking Competitors Backlinks

1. Use Co-Citation Analysis

One strategy I’ve been using quite often is prioritizing link opportunities based on the number of competitors they’ve linked to.

Coined by Garrett French, co-citation is when a single web page links to two or more related domains.

Co-citation analysis is a process of organizing domains or URLs by the number of outbound links to sites relevant to your content/site (for this discussion to your competitors).

The logic behind is that if a page has linked to three or even five relevant sites, they’re much more likely to add a link to your content than a page that has linked to just one related page.

Here are the different options to execute co-citation analysis on your competitors’ backlinks:

Citation Labs Co-Citation Tool

This web product is freely available for Windows users. Here’s a tutorial video that walks you through the process on how to use it.

Unfortunately, the tool only works for Windows users. For those who are using Mac, proceed to the second option.

Manual Co-Citation Analysis

If you haven’t grabbed a list of all your competitors’ backlinks, you can do so with Ahrefs or MajesticSEO.

It will leave you several CSV files which you want to combine into a big excel spreadsheet.

For Mac users, the “Terminal” tool has the capacity to merge all CSVs into one database.

Go to Applications - Terminal. 

mac terminal

Pull up your Desktop by typing the following command and then pressing your “enter” key button: cd ~/Desktop (make sure all your CSV files is located in the same folder on Desktop). 

Type the command to open the folder on your desktop containing all of your CSV files and press the “enter” button again:

For example, my folder is called “NetAddictionCompetitors” so I type this command: cd NetAddictionCompetitors

Finally, type in the following command to automatically merge all of the CSV files in that folder. 

cat *.csv >merged.csv

net addiction competitors terminal mac

merged csv file terminal

You can read this quick tutorial by Trent of Watchman Advisors

Remove unnecessary columns from the list and only remain the column for “Linking Pages”. 

Next is to transfer it in a Google Spreadsheet.

Then create new columns for “Domains” and “Occurrences”.

Include this formula below to strip off page URL to its root domain.

=IF(ISERROR(FIND("//www.",A2)), MID(A2,FIND(":",A2,4)+3,FIND("/",A2,9)-FIND(":",A2,4)-3), MID(A2,FIND(":",A2,4)+7,FIND("/",A2,9)-FIND(":",A2,4)-7))

Assuming the Linking page is on A2, this would be the formula (to be put into B2 cell).

For the “Occurrences” column, insert this formula to check how many times a certain page URL has occurred in the spreadsheet.

=COUNTIF(B:B,B2)

Now you can sort “Occurrences” column by descending order to display highest to lowest number of occurrences.

occurrences spreadsheet

Resource pages, for example, linking to three or more of your competitors have a higher probability of linking to your content when you pitched for link requests.

Ahrefs’ Link Intersect

For link builders who have a higher subscription plan than Lite plan of Ahrefs, you are authorized to use their link intersect tool.

Simply follow the process shared by Tim Soulo in this tutorial video:

2. Determine Link Approaches of Competitors

The next thing that you can do after getting backlinks from co-citated pages is to analyze how your competitors were able to get links in your industry.

Check link types of their inbound links to assess their previous and current link acquisition strategies.

backlink reports competitors

Filter links based on the following link acquisition approaches:

  • Submission-based (niche-specific and generic directories)
  • Link requests (resource pages on .edu/.gov and other non-commercial pages)
  • Content contribution (guest posts, sponsored posts)
  • Earned media (interviews, references/citations)

You can quickly determine the linker’s approach by identifying “clues” on the page/site.

Submission-based

Submission-based websites like directories normally have “submit your page” or “submit your site” pages on their navigation menus.

submission based directory

Supplying the webmaster with details about your website/blog is a requirement to get listed on their pages.

Link-request

Several factors that may indicate if a linking page (mostly in a form of resource page) has been approached by a link request pitch are:

  • Non-commerciality of external links - information-driven pages normally can be requested to be linked from a resource page.
  • Affiliations - a professional organization may include a website in its resource page if it has been associated/has been part of a certain group.
  • Fresh prospects - resource pages with recently last updated section on the page are more receptive to link requests (and have higher chances of linking).

Here are a few examples of link-request resource pages.

Non-commerciality of external links

non commerciality external linksAffiliations

affiliationsFresh prospects

last modified backlink

Tip: Use QuixApp lastmod command to check the page’s last modified date.

quixapp last modified date

The fastest way to determine if you can obtain a link from a resource page is by checking the closest relevant section on the page and the types of links included in that section.

For example, a video gaming addiction for parents guide can be best fit (highly relevant) in Mental Health and Addiction section.

resource page with mental health section

Tip: Use inbound/outbound and followed/no-followed overlay features of Mozbar to quickly check links’ attributes and pointing sources.

resource page mozbar

Content contribution

This is probably the easiest approach to spotting on given that you only have to check if there is an author’s description with a link to another website (not the guest blog site itself) contextually placed within the blog post or author box.

content contribution author descriptionThis could be in a form of sponsored article or a non-paid guest post.

Earned media

Several things that may indicate if a link of a competitor has been earned organically:

  • Exclusive interviews (e.g. podcast and individual interview).
  • Recommend lists of industry personalities, groups, brands, or tools
  • Serves as a reference for further reading (voluntarily-given)
  • Roundups (group interview)
  • Mentioning the brand to check as additional sources

Exclusive interviews (e.g. podcast and individual interview).

exclusive interview

Recommend lists of industry personalities, groups, brands or tools

industry list

 

Serves as a reference for further reading

referential link

Roundups (group interview)

link roundups

Mentioning the brand to check as additional sources

mention additional sources

While not all links with aforementioned indicators are perfectly naturally earned (i.e. interviews being pitched to a future guest), most of them couldn’t be replicated easily by requesting for links.

Further Reading: How to Build Authority Links through Branding and Content

3. Expand Link Lists with Deeper Analysis on Link Opportunities

Creating a huge list of existing links of your competitors is the first surface level of link opportunities.

Expand your database of link targets by taking a deeper look on their other important link data, such as:

High-performing linkable pages

It is best to determine what formats of content have proven to be effective for your competitors in garnering relevant links.

Sort top pages of your competitor’s site by link growth (best by links feature of Ahrefs) to see what pages have received the highest number of inbound links.

This approach can help you get insights on linkable content formats your competitor has been focusing on - which you can replicate if you’re initiating a new content-based link acquisition strategy for your clients.

For example, WineFolly has consistently found success in obtaining links using infographics in the wine industry.

winefolly top pages

You don’t necessarily have to reinvent the wheel always, particularly for new websites you’re trying to build links to.

Pro tip: Always be on the lookout for broken pages of your competitors with lots of inbound links. Check if you can create a version of the page and do proper outreach to linkers of dead content.

Further reading: How to Build Backlinks Using Your Competitors’ Broken Pages

Recurring backlink sources

Websites that send targeted traffic constantly to a website through recurring backlinks (placed within different linking pages) are strong signals that search engines can use to reward them with better search rankings.

Export link data of competitors and sort it by highest to lowest recurring backlinks (Total Backlinks column).

total backlinks

Repeat this process for all of your competitors to surface regular linkers in your industry that you should start building relationships with.

If you liked this post, you can follow me on Twitter @venchito14.


The Definitive Guide to Guest Blogging

The Definitive Guide to Guest Blogging

For more than a decade, guest blogging has been by far one of the scalable link building tactics used by search marketing agencies, bloggers and business owners to get backlinks for their own websites.

Also known as guest posting, guest blogging is the practice of contributing a content piece to another blog, whether that piece is an article, visual asset like an infographic, video, or any other content formats that will serve the audience of the blog (guest blog).

what is guest blogging

There are many benefits guest blogging does for your website (aside from getting a backlink):

    • Serves as a social proof you can include on your site’s landing pages (e.g. As Seen On or Featured In) or on your outreach emails when reaching out to other industry publishers (e.g. I’ve contributed articles to X, Y, and Z).
    • Increases your brand followers in your social accounts coming from the other blog’s existing audience, which will eventually help amplify your future content assets.
    • Generates assisted conversions (potential customers/clients) to your website.
    • Improves search visibility of target pages for keywords you’re trying to rank for.

In this post, I will share my typical step-by-step guest blogging process from finding guest blog opportunities to tracking results of guest content.

How to Find Guest Blogging Opportunities

In guest blogging, your first initiative is to identify your market audience.

To help you define it, here are some questions you can ask yourself:

    • Who are the direct consumers of my brand, those who will primarily benefit from my products or services?
    • What are the other industries I can tap onto aside from my primary niche? (Brian Dean referred it as “shoulder niche”).

If you are a marketing consultant, you can ask your clients or get some data from their sales data for you to determine their target audience.

Check if your preferred industries have enough blogs to target for guest posting. You can be in a very defined niche, i.e. snoring, where you might only find a few blogs to pitch guest posts to.

In this case, you can prefer page-to-page relevance over domain-to-domain relevance. Here’s an image to explain what this means:

page to page and domain to domain relevance in guest blogging

Once done, proceed to finding guest blogs.

There are many sources out there that you can use to come up with a list of websites to target for guest blogging. To name a few:

    • Google search (using search queries such as inurl:”write-for-us” “snoring”).
    • Portfolio of industry guest bloggers (“guest post by” “Ryan Stewart” - fastest way of generating a list of guest blogs by checking  blogs where an active guest blogger contributed posts to)
    • Twitter search (using search queries such as “guest post” “snoring”)
    • Contacts of other industry publishers (exchange list of guest blogs with a niche blogger).

Recommend resource: Search Engine Queries Cheatsheet

The best way to save time in guest blog prospecting is to qualify websites as soon as you landed on them.

1. Check estimated organic traffic

You want to contribute content to a blog that markets itself. This ensures that your guest post will have a high lifetime link value - which means that it remains to provide direct benefits to your website even after the first burst of traffic it’ll get once published.

Use SEMRush to get an idea how many organic visits a particular blog gets every month (estimate).

semrush guest blogging qualification

Tip: A sudden drop in the blog’s estimated organic traffic may indicate penalties it received in the past.

2. Review the blog’s engagement status

The average number of quality comments a blog receives for his articles is a good indication of how engaged his readers are with his blog.

See if the blog has a substantial # of comments by simply checking his recent posts.

3. Authority and trust

How authoritative and trustworthy a site isn’t accurately measured by metric tools available in the market such as Moz’ DA and Ahrefs’ Domain Rank.

However, having a benchmark (e.g. DA30+) gives you the scalability you need to quickly qualify blogs as you landed on them.

Tip: Don’t use DA/Ahrefs DR for blog qualification alone. There are a number of blogs with low DA but have a high estimated search traffic (as measured by SEMRush’ SEPrice)

How to Pitch Guest Blogging Ideas

Your next step is to pitch potential publishers with content ideas of your guest posts. Effective guest blogging involves brainstorming for the right content ideas suitable for a guest blog.

Here are a few ways to generate guest post ideas:

    • Topics listed in guest blogging guidelines (do a Google search for site:exampledomain.com guest blog guidelines - ensure their preferred topic ideas is your first priority).
    • Blog’s previous articles (site:exampledomain.com “topic”)
    • Blog’s categories (for page-to-page relevance)
    • FAQfox (most commonly asked questions)
    • Buzzsumo (most shared content in the industry)
    • Ahrefs (most linked-to-content based on the # of unique referring domains)

It will help if you organise a list of guest blogs together with the following details:

    • Domain Name
    • DA/Ahrefs DR
    • SEMRush SEPrice
    • Contact details (name, email address/contact form) - see how to find email addresses guide
    • Guest blogging guidelines link
    • Content idea #1
    • Content idea #2
    • Content idea #3

Pitching Best Practices

Whatever outreach platform you use, it is an effective way to personalise your pitch while being efficient in sending outreach emails.

Always address the blog’s owner with his/her name (e.g. Hi Andy).

Include three content ideas (customized for the blog) in your outreach email.

Provide social proofs such as links to your recent guest posts, more importantly, if you’re trying to pitch to high-tier industry blogs. Write a few sentences how these guest posts did performed (# of comments and social shares they received).

Compliment the guest blog when it’s only applicable such as when the blog has a good webpage design). Be authentic at all times.

Pro Tip: Prioritize your guest blogs based on their authority and trust. You can personalize high-tier guest blogs a little bit more by providing feedback or opinion to one of his recent blog posts.

Further Reading:

Definitive Guide to Blogger Outreach

Blogger Outreach Guide by Ahrefs

How to Write Guest Posts

Drafting is important in guest blogging as it basically guides you (or the content creator) on structuring the guest post based on:

    • Level of audience the guest blog caters to (beginners, intermediate, advanced)
    • Type of audience they’re writing for
    • Type of content they’re writing about (list post, case study, tutorial, etc..)

The topic idea that has been accepted by the blog owner should be well-written in the format and context of the details listed above.

It is also important to check the blog’s guest blogging guidelines for other important information, such as the tone and person point of view, that must be taken care of while writing the guest post.

There are two ways to succeed in writing a guest post: do-it-yourself or outsource it to a freelance writer.

DIY (Do It Yourself)

If you want to have a full control over the content, it is a great idea to write the guest post by yourself.

One approach you can consider is dividing the guest content creation into three different phases (drafting, researching and final writing).

You can schedule each phase on different days to help you focus only on one task.

Use Trello to manage your tasks. Personally, I create boards for To Do, Doing and Done to streamline my process in content creation.

Tip: Invest in grammar checking tools like Grammarly to semi-automate proofreading and ensure the quality of your guest posts.

Outsource it to a Freelance Writer

For agencies, one option to scale content creation in guest blogging is to hire freelance writers.

Websites like Upwork, Onlinejobs.ph (Filipino writers) and Facebook writing/blogging groups are sources where you can find quality writers.

Another approach that you might want to consider it is reaching out to bloggers and publishers in your industry and ask if they are doing freelance writing. They may charge higher than the usual freelance writer but the quality of writing will best suit for the guest blog.

Editing, Revisions & Final Publishing

Before submitting your guest post, it should be part of your process to check if there are any corrections that must be made to avoid early rejections to your content by publishers.

For the author bio, make sure you include external links pointing to your target page (homepage or a linkable asset you’re trying to increase visibility with).

Request to publishers, if possible to include your author bio at the end of the post instead of placing it in the usual “author bio box”. In my own experience, contextual “author bio” links gives more link value than a link from an “author bio box’.

Tip: Include internal links in your guest posts pointing to a relevant content within the guest blog. Having the webmaster do less work is a big plus.

Some publishers won’t allow you to link to a conversion page (e.g. product page) - in this case, you may include a link to a category page. This is a good approach if you want to flow link equity down to your deeper pages, such as your product pages.

guest post author bio

Another approach that you can text is including a “guest post lead” or “expanded guest post” at the end of your post.

Expanded guest post or “guest post lead” is an extension of your “guest content” that provides more information on the topic not included in your content (e.g. 3 more advanced tips on X, free cheat sheet, data/report or summary that covers the topic in more details, etc..).

Below is an example of an expanded guest post that generates a good number of email subscribers for SharpRocket.

gotchseo 1

gotchseo 2

gotchseo author box

Personally, I prefer to create a “custom page” to be linked to from a “guest content” (see example below).

gotchseo-readers-landing-page

When you have the content ready for submission, it is best it to send your post in HTML aside from directly attaching the document in your email. This eases the work of the publisher to upload the whole content and properly link to certain pages.

How to Promote Your Guest Posts

Publishing your guest posts is only 50% of the battle.

It is best to promote your “guest content” once published on the target blog.

Here are my favorite ways to put more eyeballs to guest posts:

    • Write a “promotional email” sharing your latest guest content and send it to your email subscribers.
    • Get more visibility by distributing your content on different social platforms.
    • Link to it from other external web content assets, like guest posts on other industry blogs.
    • If budget fits, invest in promoting a guest post through Facebook advertising (only when you have secured it on a high-authority blog).

facebook ads promote guest posts

How to Track Results From Guest Blogging

No one succeeds without tracking results of work.

Identify which of your guest posts helps achieve your business objectives. It will be more beneficial for your brand to land more solid links from them (and more brand exposure) by regularly supplying with “guest content”.

Create a Custom Report in Google Analytics (Customization - Custom Reports).

customization - custom reports

Click “Source” and “Landing Page” for Dimensions and “Goal Value” and “Users” for Metrics.

For Filters, click “Source” and type in the domain name for exact value. 

filter - google analytics

Then click save.

save - google analytics

You will generate a custom report wherein you can get insights on the following:

    • Number of users each guest post received for a certain period of time.
    • Which pages (Landing Page) users landed on coming from the guest blog.
    • Business value these referral visits/users generate on your website (depends on your custom goal values). 

If you have setup a custom lead magnet/page on your website where referral users from guest blogs will land on, you can check how many referral visitors have converted into email subscribers.

gotchseo email subscribers

Personally, I use ConvertPlug to create lead magnets and to track the # of new email subscribers these guest content pieces generated.

Tip: It would be a best use of time to only create a custom lead magnet if the guest blog has high potential to drive converting visitors to your website. I suggest you check how many estimated organic visits the guest blog receives on a monthly basis using SEMRush.

Leverage new opportunities from guest posts

To further see the business value of your guest posts, check if there are referring links to your guest posts as well as positive mentions of your brand (right after these guest content have been published).

Reach out to these new linkers for opportunities to collaborate on content (guest post) or get exposure in other ways (podcast interview, getting featured on link roundup, etc..).

TL;DR

    1. Prospect for guest blogging opportunities using search engines (Google), Twitter and/or reverse engineering industry guest bloggers.
    2. Check the blog’s estimated organic traffic using SEMRush.
    3. Check if the blog receives quality comments on his content.
    4. See if the blog has an authority and trust using metrics like Moz’ DA or Ahrefs’ DR.
    5. Pitch bloggers/publishers with three or more customized guest post ideas for their blogs.
    6. Create a draft of the “guest content” based on the chosen topic idea of the webmaster.
    7. Build the content either by doing it yourself (DIY) or outsourcing it to a freelance writer.
    8. Ensure quality of content by checking its information as well as add important details such as author bio, external links to your target page and internal links to guest blog’s relevant content.
    9. Promote your guest content to your email newsletter, social media accounts or on your other guest posts.
    10. Track # of visits and conversions generated from your guest blogging campaign using Google Analytics and conversion monitoring tools like ConvertPlug.

edu backlinks

How to Build EDU Backlinks Using Scholarships (Without Spending a Penny)

edu backlinks

 

If you’ve been in the SEO industry for years, then you know how important it is to scale link building to help multiple clients rank in search for their respective keywords.

Given that almost every year, there are new link building strategies being created, the best way to be on top of the game is not to think of new strategies (since mostly they’re just revised version of old ones), but to create scalable processes for your link building campaigns.

In this post, I’m going to walk you through one scalable strategy we’ve tested internally that can give significant results to your website: building .edu links using scholarships.

It’s amazing because we hadn't spent a single penny yet when we built 14 .edu links in two months’ time.

Want to learn how?

Keep reading:

STEP 1: TARGET RELEVANT NICHES

Audience targeting is not only a necessity when executing common link building strategies like broken link building and guest blogging.

In fact, even when you build .edu backlinks, you still have to know your target audience that is highly relevant to your website or your client.

Here’s how to make it simple.

Identify audience of students who’d be interested in your scholarship program.

With our link building company, for example, we focus our scholarship efforts to students majoring in courses related to marketing, business, and advertising because we’ve found them to be more relevant to our website.

scholarship pageedu scholarship

This is critical because if you got backlinks from .edu pages that are too far from your industry, it would be less valuable to your website. I’m not saying that generic .edu links aren’t good enough, they are of course, but if you can get a high-quality link from a much more relevant page, that would be better.

Here are a few examples of audiences you can target for scholarships:

health scholarship example

legal scholarship sample

STEP 2: CREATE A SCHOLARSHIP PAGE

It’s very simple to create this type of content.

However, you’ve got to have the important details.

Here is a few information that you need to include in your scholarship page.

1. COMPANY DESCRIPTION

Provide a short description about your company. This is actually where your whole domain will mostly get value from.

Internally link to your homepage or other important pages to pass link juice to these pages.

Here’s a quick example of what I did for our link building company site.

[internal-links-scholarship]

2. ELIGIBLITY

The more specific you are when stating who will be your target applicants, the better you’ll get responses from university and college staff members.

These are necessary details you need to do include in the eligibility section:

  • Full-time or part-time students?
  • Specific and relevant courses of students
  • Upcoming college students (high school), undergraduate or graduate?
  • Target country (if it is within a city or local, make sure it is stated).

See this example:

eligiblity scholarship

3. AMOUNT VALUE

The amount of scholarship depends on your budget for your client or your website. But I’d prefer the minimum to be $1000. Any amount lower than that won’t be attractive to educational institutions. I’ve seen $300 scholarship program, not sure how it went.

4. APPLICATION DETAILS

This section should include how your applicants will be able to get the scholarship. This could be a submission of a written or video-based answer to a question related to the industry.

For example, we’ve asked our applicants to submit a short essay or a 4 to 5-minute video answering any of these questions:

What would be your main strategy to market your business online?

What is your number one tip to manage a team of millennials?

Alongside the process of application, you should also state the deadline and award dates.

To make the application much easier, provide a contact form at the end of your page so they can attach and send their requirements right away.

STEP 3: PROSPECT FOR EDU LINK OPPS

Not all educational websites have relevant scholarship listing opportunities you could get links from.

When finding those link targets, I use two different methods to find opportunities that best fit my scholarship page.

METHOD 1: USING SEARCH ENGINE OPERATORS TO FIND OPPORTUNITIES

Search engine operators are useful to help you seek possible link sources straight from search engines – Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

Combining appropriate search operators with proper keywords can filter the right prospects, enabling you to do link research much faster.

I use different search phrases, which I’ve collected and listed down in a spreadsheet to find .edu link sources with scholarship pages.

scholarship spreadsheetThis is pretty handy as you can hand over this task to a virtual assistant, freelancer or your in-house SEO specialist (thanks to Jayson Bagio!).

What you are looking for in a scholarship page are two things:

  • Solely list down relevant scholarship links or has a specific section that caters to your audience (i.e. a generic scholarship listing page with marketing external scholarship links).
  • Has linked mentions of your scholarships (you want to get the most value from your effort of course – so make sure they provide external links).

With this strategy, you don’t have to worry about domain authority, ahrefs rank or other metrics you are using to qualify link opportunities since most .edu websites are within the range of DA40 to DA90.

You should also make sure that external links point to individual scholarship pages, not just to scholarship search engines or websites solely for scholarships.

METHOD 2: REVERSE ENGINEER A SIMILAR SCHOLARSHIP PAGE

If you are running out of .edu scholarship listing opportunities, another way to expand your link list is to reverse engineer scholarship pages with edu referring pages.

You can use Ahrefs to plug in a similar scholarship page (which you can simply search in Google for the “keyword” “scholarship”).

reverse engineering scholarship

Scan through the list of backlinks and .edu websites with scholarship listing pages.

Once you’ve exhausted all possible link opportunities from one scholarship page, find another similar page and do the same process again.

Rinse and repeat.

MAKE SURE YOU ORGANIZE EVERYTHING

The key to properly scale this .edu link building strategy is to organize everything.

I use Google Docs spreadsheet for all tasks accompanied in a link building campaign.

Once you find a qualified link opportunity, include it in a Google Spreadsheet with all these required fields:

  • Scholarship Listing Page
  • Domains
  • Relationship Status
  • Name
  • Email Address
  • Remarks

scholarship opportunities list

FINDING CONTACT PERSON

Universities and colleges have several staff members, and the only way to build Edu backlinks is to reach out to the right person.

There are two types of emails we consider for scholarship link building technique:

scholarship@domain.edu – you can get this email straight from the scholarship listing page

financialaid@domain.edu – if you can’t find the first email above, look for this one by checking out the admissions and/or finance aid department/section of the website.

contact@domain.edu  or contact form – if you can’t see any of those emails above, you can simply send a simple message (email template later) to a generic email or through a contact form, asking for the right person to contact to about your request.

STEP 4: REACH OUT TO EDU SITES

When all details had been filled up, you are now ready to do outreach.

This is the exact email template that I used to reach out to .edu contact persons.

Scholarship for [ UNIVERSITY / COLLEGE ] students

Hello [ NAME ],

I noticed that you provide a list of private scholarship for students.

I'm sending you a message to let you know that my company offers one (1) [ AMOUNT] scholarship to [ UNIVERSITY / COLLEGE ]  students that major in [ INDUSTRY ] courses.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have so that I can send more information about our scholarship.

If it's not you who directly manages scholarships, can you forward me to the right person, please? I'd greatly appreciate that.

Regards,

[ YOUR NAME ]

When you send pitches to these people, you’ll most receive three types of responses.

RESPONSE #1

edu-outreach-response-1

If you receive this positive response, you just have to send all the details of your scholarship to them either via email or via a form which they will provide.

Once your scholarship is posted, they will give you a heads-up. If you don’t receive a reply, make sure you are monitoring new backlinks to your site so you can see if you’ve got a backlink from one scholarship page. Pro tip: use Monitor Backlinks to ease this process.

live-link-scholarship-outreach

Anchor texts on Edu backlinks are diversified: some are naked URLs, others are exact scholarship titles.

RESPONSE #2

scholarship outreach budget

If you can only offer less than $1000 or $500, some Edu sites won’t include yours in their scholarship listings, since they have a certain threshold they consider.

RESPONSE #3

scholarship-outreach-local

Another case is when financial/admission departments restrict scholarship listings to one or two districts or local-based scholarships only. See the response below.

A few more things:

  • Some Edu sites don’t list individual scholarship pages, but they get to add new scholarships from scholarship search engines. To increase the chance of getting an Edu backlink, you can try submitting your site to scholarship search engines.
  • Be specific with audience targeting because some EDU financial departments do not add any scholarships not thematically related to courses of their students (e.g. if it’s a marketing-centric scholarship, don’t dare to reach out to psychology-based scholarship page).

WITHOUT SPENDING A PENNY

The title of this post says, “Without Spending A Penny.”

That’s true because I’ll only spend some money ($500 in my case) on the scholarship award date.  I would have received the returns on the efforts before the money is spent. For a $500 budget for 14 links, that already amounts to $35 per 1 Edu backlink.

BEFORE YOU LEAVE…

I want you to execute this scholarship link building strategy. For our giveaway, here are exclusive bonuses just for you:

  • Exclusive access to Scholarship Query Generator to help you prospect for hundreds of EDU scholarship opportunities.
  • Exclusive access to 620+ Free Qualified Blog Link Opportunities to help you build contextual links even if you have zero SEO experience and don’t have a network to help you out.

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link-exchange

Link Exchange: The Proper Way To Do Reciprocal Linking

link-exchange

Link exchange or reciprocal linking is a link building strategy wherein 2 different websites on a similar niche or industry give a link or links to each other’s webpage.

Though this practice has been abused for many years, e.g. a webmaster tries to rank for terms like “car insurance Australia” will find other webmasters in a same/different industry who would be interested to do link exchanges. The approach is to link to another website with exact match anchor text (another webmaster is trying to rank for) and get a link from that other website (for a target keyword he is trying to rank for as well).

Google itself instructed SEOs and webmasters about this approach of trying to manipulate Google search rankings.

“ Excessive link exchanges ("Link to me and I'll link to you") or partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking. “

Does that mean, link exchange isn’t effective anymore these days?

THE RISE OF THEMATIC LINK EXCHANGE

I’m sure many SEOs and bloggers will disagree with me that thematic link exchange still works up to this date.

Thematic link exchange is a relationship-based link building strategy that involves intentional or unintentional linking and getting a link to and from another webmaster in the same industry who isn’t a direct competitor of the business.

Here are four thematic link exchange methods that works pretty well in most industries, especially those that are sitting in very competitive ones.

1. RELATIONSHIP-BASED LINK ACQUISITION

Link exchange often occurs in an unintentional way. For example, I’ve been blogging for many years now with my first blog and here at SharpRocket.

I’ve built relationships with industry friends who also blog about SEO and link building. By acknowledging their work through linking to their content assets that serve as additional references or resources in my existing posts, it’s an added value initiated to build trust which strengthens the opened relationship with them.

For instance, I linked to Rohit Palit’s post on tiered link building. After a few months, he gave me a backlink pointing to my content creation and promotion guide in his article about increasing the domain authority of a website.

We’re not direct competitors, as he is not accepting sole link building services as his website client offering.

But here’s another case where one of my direct competitors linked to me.

PageOnePower is a link building company that has been in the industry since 2010, they blog about the same topic I’m passionate about.

Here are a few backlinks I gave to PageOnePower.

link to pageonepower

link to pageonepower 2

Relationships take time to get some returns. Guys from PageOnePower have give contextual backlinks to DigitalPhilippines many times. These are backlinks not built through manual outreach, but simply because they’ve known our brand, we have already given them and have established an authority in the link building scene. These backlinks are naturally earned.

backlink from pageonepower

Here is another example of how relationships can be effective for link exchanges. It is a conversation between Rohit Palit and Patrick Coombe.

conversation patrick rohit

Both have provided value to each other, as they’ve been commenting on each other’s blogs many times (see image above).

If you’re wondering how you can start building relationships with other industry bloggers, here are a few tips you can apply:

  • Start showing yourself in the blogosphere. Comment on other people’s blogs. It’d only take you 3 to 5 minutes for each comment per post (only look for relevant content you can give valuable insights to). If each blogger posts once every week, it won’t consume much of your time.
  • Send a “thank you” email for sharing his actionable tips on his blog or find a similar interest both of you can relate with. For example, I often receive responses that they’ve visited Manila or some other parts of the country, so I asked them how’s their vacation experience here. It starts a smooth flow of conversation.
  • Share other bloggers’ content on other blogs. Don’t use the default Twitter share: TITLE OF POST by TWITTER HANDLE. Add descriptive call-to-actions to let your followers click on the page and start reading it – it’s way to add more value than the simply doing a default Twitter share.

2. CONTENT SWAP

Guest posting is still one of the mainstream link building method these days because it’s pretty scalable and can really help skyrocket one website’s traffic even in just a short period of time. Combined with other link building tactics, it is a robust link building strategy one can ever wish to implement and see results for themselves.

However, there’s one problem I’ve seen with a lot of guest posting enquiries these days -- they aren’t giving any value. Even if the content they intend to provide is relevant to my blog, I won’t see that as high value.

Content swap is the solution. It is a link acquisition process where both bloggers will provide high value content to each other, both with the goal of bringing exposure to a new reading audience for both sides.

This is very helpful when building links to websites in difficult industries like legal.

You can actualize this process by prospecting for list of local opportunities, where most legal industries focus on local marketing/branding.

You can try Google searches for “Miami” “legal” for example, then find any company websites that have recent blog updates so you’ll know if they are publishing content on a regular basis. Make sure that you don’t include link prospects that are not in direct competition with you – it’ll be close to impossible to get links from them.

miami google search family law

Once you have a list of local industry bloggers, it’s time to reach out to them.

Here’s a template that I used for content swap outreach.

Subject: Content swap for your legal blog, NAME

Hi [ NAME ],

My name is Tiffanny Chappels, an immigration lawyer and legal blogger based in Miami.

I came across your website and really like what you recently published. I would like both of our blogs to grow website traffic and would like to know if you'd be interested for a content exchange - I write for your blog, you write for mine.

I'd love to write a post for your blog related to child custody or family law.

If it needs to be in a conversational tone, I'd be happy to do that.

Let me know if your thoughts.

All the best,

Tiffany

A few things why this pitch works:

  • Industry to industry-based outreach emails are much more effective as they become more relevant to the recipient of the email.
  • Adding where you’re located as a company adds a quick connection, with that, you can use a corporate email of your client.
  • Propose added value by sharing a customized content for your guest post – conversational tone. This helps you get a higher conversion rate.

3. CONTENT PARTNERSHIP

Another ethical backlink exchange strategy that works is content partnership, originally discussed by Jason Acidre on his SEO blog.

I’ve found that this is not scalable to all industries, especially in niches where there are no active bloggers.

But the key to make this link building method work is making yourself familiar with the brand you’re reaching out to. After all, you want a partnership that can generate consistent results for both ends.

The difference with this link building technique compared to content swap is that you can offer different types/formats of content based on each party’s needs, options such as:

Conducting a back to back interview. See this example at SEO Hacker and Kaiserthesage.

seo-hacker back to back series

kaiserthesage back to back series

Inviting your content partner to write a guest blog on your site and writing a content for them as well (see this guest post at GotchSEO and Webris).

gotchseo ryan stewart

webris nathan gotch

Offering an exclusive write-up or promotion/sponsored post on his site and in exchange, making him as your media partner. I wrote a promotional post for my previous startup workshop for Tycoon, in return, I added him as my media partner for my book.

tycoon workshop feature

For the outreach phase, here is an example pitch Jason sent to one of his content partners. You can make variations of it based on the value proposition you’d like to provide to your targeted content partners.

content partnership outreach email

The value of this thematic link exchange strategy is far more beneficial than a single link you’ll get from the typical link exchange, because this content partnership can help generate leads for both parties (of course they shouldn’t be competing with each other), referral traffic, expanded branded exposure/influence and additional following for both social accounts.

Now It’s Your Turn…

Do you have a thematic link exchange strategy that works for you?

Or maybe you have a question on how to implement any of the tactics in our above list?

Either way, leave a quick comment below.

I'll be more than happy to reply to comments and answer questions.


anchor text definitive guide

Anchor Text: The Definitive Guide

anchor text definitive guide

This is an anchor text guide for beginners and advanced practitioners of SEO and link building. If you want to skip the first few sections and go to the meat part of it, you can click here to go to the anchor text optimization best practices section.

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WHAT IS ANCHOR TEXT

Anchor text is the visible and clickable text in a link.

ahrefs anchor text

TYPES OF ANCHOR TEXT

To make things simple, let’s say I want to rank for the term, “link building” and I’m publishing a post for another link building blog with a link to my page.

If I’d use these types of anchor text, here’s what the link with each type of anchor text looks like.


Exact match anchors – the anchor text is the target keyword you’re trying to rank for.

I’ve shared at SharpRocket a post about link building that includes all actionable tips you need to get quality backlinks for your website.


Partial match anchors – the anchor text contains the target keyword or keyphrase you’re trying to rank for.

I’ve shared at SharpRocket a post about actionable link building tips you need to get quality backlinks for your website.


Branded anchors – the anchor text is the name of the brand.

I’ve shared at SharpRocket a post about link building that includes all actionable tips you need to get quality backlinks for your website.


Naked URLs anchors – the anchor text is not a word or phrase but the URL of the page or domain itself.

I’ve shared at SharpRocket a post about actionable link building tips. See it here: http://sharprocket.com.ph/link-building


Descriptive anchors – the anchor text is a description of what the page or URL is all about, it may or may not include the target keyword.

This post at SharpRocket explains what link building is all about and 101 link building tips that includes the exact step by step processes to apply each of those tips.


Generic anchors – the anchor text is a generic phrase that does not include the target keyword.

I’ve shared at SharpRocket a post about link building that includes all actionable tips you need to get quality backlinks for your website. If you want to check it out, click here.


LSI anchors - the anchor text is a synonym or related word or phrase of the target keyword you’re trying to rank for.

I’ve shared at SharpRocket a post about off-page SEO that includes all actionable tips you need to get quality backlinks for your website.


Image anchors – the anchor text is the alt text of the image.

image alt text

GOOGLE PENGUIN IN 2012 AND IN 2016 FORWARD

Before the Google Penguin update, websites can build massive article directory and guest post links with ~100% exact match anchor texts. This was not a problem for SEOs as they can literally automate everything, from prospecting link opportunities to putting these links into their desired pages, not considering the relevance between linking pages.

Private blog networks wasn’t a big option for link builders at that time too, since the usual massive spammy link building tactics is already enough in getting ranking results for websites.

But then Google Penguin came in 2012, which affect websites in different industries. As you can see in the image below, it shows a few statistics of niche websites that were hit back then.

inbound links anchor text graph

ANCHOR TEXT USAGE

Anchor text usage on all inbound links is one factor Google considers in determining if a page should be penalized and be demoted in its organic rankings.

Aggressive anchor text or too much usage of exact match anchor text on all inbound links for a certain page isn’t a normal activity to think about. Websites with all backlinks that have more than 50% exact match anchor texts, “payday loans” for example is questionable to be natural in its backlinking method.

SOURCE SITE

Google’s Gary Ilyes has been tweeted/asked questions on Penguiin 4.0 since its launched last September 23, 2016. One point he made is how Google Penguin targets a specific page. He clarified that it’s not just about the link, but rather the “source site” where the link comes from is what they also considers.

Questionable or penalized websites have much more risks to give to you when acquiring links.

To ensure you’re only building high-quality sites, you should check out the site’s organic traffic data if the linking site has a history of organic drop. This organic drop is a possible sign of Google penalty/ies.

SEMRush can aid you with this task, so be sure to have someone checking the site’s estimated organic data.

semrush organic traffic

MORE GRANULAR

Granular attack of Penguin to pages need to be demoted in its rankings isn’t any more new to the SEO community (in Penguin 2.0, it seemed to be on page-level and keyword-level concerns already). The only thing that becomes clearer here is the word, “more”, which we should all consider as we work on the website’s link acquisition campaigns.

It’s just that Google is taking on account page-to-page or a few website parts as its consideration for penalties. In that sense, you shouldn’t be confident enough to think that spammy link building tactics you are doing right now won’t have a negative effect to your website’s health in the future.

More Google Penguin 4.0 Resources:

9 ANCHOR TEXT OPTMIZATION BEST PRACTICES

1. AVOID ACQUIRING TOO MANY EXACT MATCH ANCHORS

I’ve worked with a lot of SEO agencies and digital marketing agencies all over the world, catering 100+ clients throughout my SEO corporate experience and there’s one thing people are still confused about:

Are exact match anchors good for my rankings?

When you answer them “YES” right away, they’ll defend you with their “NO”s and just tell you to use generic anchor texts, like click here and go to this site because they think this is the best anchor text strategy.

Wrong.

Exact match anchor texts aren’t bad all.

In fact, Ryan Stewart had an interesting short case study of how he was able to rank for Miami SEO after he published a guest post on Ahrefs with the exact match anchor text: “Miami SEO”.

ahrefs guest post webris

You don’t have to think about the anchor text distribution percentage in your backlink profile - say 3 percent or 5 percent.

You can test for yourself building one or two backlinks to your page with an exact match anchor text.

Don’t be afraid. Your site won’t get penalized with 1 or 2 backlinks. After all, if you have hundreds or thousands of backlinks, those 2 exact match anchor text links accounts to less than 1%.

Check how the site will react to those two backlinks and see what movements your page will take you (e.g. from position 40 to position 12). You’ll then also see how tight the competition is for the target keyword you’re trying to rank for.

2. FOCUS ON LINK TYPE

It’s so easy to be stuck with the idea of anchor text ratios. While having to run other SEO activities like technical audit, content creation and outreach, you still have to think about how to establish a natural backlink profile.

Instead of getting a headache with that issue, focus on link type. After all, why do you need to create a list of anchor texts with exact/estimate percentage if you’re aiming for a natural link profile.

That itself is unnatural.

A natural link profile is composed of backlinks with different link types.

Here are some examples of different link types.

1. Community-based link

inbound org community backlink

2. Referential link

reference backlink

3. Blog comment link
blog comment backlink

Don’t focus too much on anchor text diversity, but ensure that you are getting a variety of backlink types for your website.

Note: There’s one exception here, I’ve seen websites that focus only on contextual (both earned and built) and resource types of links and they didn’t acquired directory or citation links, but are still dominating SERPs. But if you’re into local SEO, it’s a must to combine those contextual and resource links with local-centric profiles/association/directory links.

But if your site is plainly getting directory and citation links, with a few to zero contextual backlinks, that looks unnatural.

3. OPTIMIZE CLICKS USING VALUE-CENTRIC ANCHOR TEXTS

If you are still thinking what anchor text strategy to use for your link building campaign, let me give you one simple tip.

If you are reaching out to bloggers in your industry (assuming it is a linker outreach approach), let them choose what anchor texts to use.

As a matter of fact, they wouldn’t tell you what anchor texts they choose. They’d only give you a heads-up if they have linked to your page and you’ll see the anchor texts for yourself.

Most of the time, backlinks built using linker outreach method are in descriptive anchor texts. The advantage of that type of anchor text is that they encourage clicks from users.

While links can help increase rankings, their other purpose is to drive referral traffic.

Letting bloggers choose how and in what section of the linking pages they’ll add anchor texts with backlinks to your webpage has an effect to the number of visitors those referring sites will drive back to your site. Backlinks placed on the higher position of the content have high chances of more clicks.

more clicks more referral visits

One good example of this is the number of conversions (email subs) I’ve got from my guest post on GotchSEO. That post itself drove 100+ impression with 60+ converted email subscribers. That backlink is aimed to be clicked given that it was placed under the bonuses section.

gotchseo email subs graph

In cases where you have a control over anchor text usage, i.e. content distribution on other blogs, it’s imperative to understand LSI and Co-occurrence as part of your overall anchor text strategy.

4. UNDERSTAND AND USE CO-OCCURENCES

Co-occurrence s the frequency and proximity of similar keywords across one context in a content. These are topically relevant keywords but not exactly the same with your ranking keyword.

Instead of frequently using your ranking keyword as your anchor text to be exact match, what you can do is to place your target keyword near descriptive anchor texts.

One good example of this are co-occurrences within links to Kaiserthesage. Here are a few examples:

co occurence kaiserthesage 1

co occurence kaiserthesage moz

co occurence kaiserthesage reddit

co occurence kaiserthesage searchenginejournal

Google understands the relevance of a link without having to use exact match anchor texts all the time. Adding co-occurrences to linking pages can help search engines fully identify the context theme of your website with its linking webpages.

5.  FIND NEW ORGANIC RANKING KEYWORDS

When a linkable asset has been ranking for several long tail keywords, it’d be strategic too find untapped keywords your content isn’t primarily catering to.

These are keywords you tend to rank (or had some impressions on SERPs) because your content has been highly perceived by search engines as worthy to rank for pages 3 or so.. (may not be visible on the first two SERPs pages).

The advantage when monitoring new keywords is that you’ll be able to upgrade your own content to cater new audiences or be more desirable to rank for newly found organic ranking keywords by adding some topical sections to your piece.

What’s the implication of this to your anchor text link strategy?

If you’ve added a new section in your content piece to service to those new organic keywords, it’d be additional anchor texts to use for internal and external manual link building. This will add more trust and authority to your content and help it dominate searches for those newly found organic keywords.

6. SEARCH FOR RELATED PHRASES AND INSTAGRAM TRENDS

There is no such activity of finding new ranking keywords to add to your current list of target anchor texts, as you don’t want to use them all for exact match link strategy.

However, when trying to add descriptive anchor texts to internal linking pages and to manually build linking pages (i.e. guest posts), you have to know what keyphrases are thematically relevant to your target keyword. Thus, it’d be easy for you to write robust content with LSI keywords and strategically do co-occurrences on links.

Two simple ways to find related search phrases of your target keywords.

First, do a straight Google search for the exact keyword or keyphrase you’re trying to rank for. You can try two different searches, one is with quotes, second is without. See at the bottom of search pages related search phrases Google provides based on the keyword you entered.

Second, just type in your keyword and wait for Google to suggest more specific/relevant search phrases. You’ll find out that some of them aren’t included in your keyword list from Google Keyword Planner or other common keyword research tools you use. They don’t need to always have high search volume to decide whether or not they are good to target for content pieces.

Watch this video from Ryan Stewart on how he was able to drive thousands of organic visits to his eCommerce blog without solely relying on keyword research tools. He was able to gather new topics even from Instagram observation.

If you ask me, where is this going to? The answer is adding more keyphrases for your anchor text link strategy to be used for LSI keywords for internal and external content assets and to be better at co-occurrences on backlinks.

7. OPTIMIZING CONTENT USING CONTENT GAP MONITORING

I’ve been discussing how to find new organic keywords ranking in your content, plainly because these are useful for you to upgrade your content to its next version (or to 10x content if it hasn’t achieve yet).

While you can simply just focus on your content’s search performance alone, you’d want to try seeing new organic keywords of similar content pieces, which is normally produced by your competitors.

The only difference of this process, which I’d like to label as “Content Gap Monitoring” with the typical, “content gap analysis” is that you’re doing it regularly – as if part of your monthly SEO or content marketing activity.

SEO agencies that want to test this process out doesn’t have to worry about the time it’ll consume to run the entire process, as it is scalable through the use of Ahrefs, as our primary content gap monitoring tool.

First step is to find similar competing content, only choose content assets that are specifically ranking for your target keyword. If you’ve done a robust competitor keyword research analysis as your first SEO initiatives, you can skip this part already.

Second step is to monitor new organic keywords of competing similar content assets. Go to Ahrefs, then click into Alerts - New Keywords.

ahref new keywords

Click add alert button at the right section.

ahrefs add alerts

Choose URL as its mode, so you’ll only receive list of new organic keywords that specific page has been acquiring, not the whole domain. For volume, the default, “All” is good so you can also see low volume keywords.

For email frequency, it’s your decision whether to receive those organic keyword-centric emails weekly or monthly, but I highly recommend you go with weekly, to upgrade your existing content for potential ranking keywords as sooner as possible.

add alert ahrefs anchor text

8. LINK AUDIT ON EXACT MATCH ANCHOR TEXT LINKS

With the recent Google Penguin update (most SEOs believe that it is indeed real-time), our activity to continuously monitor our site’s incoming links and make sure there aren’t any negative SEO isn’t anymore a tedious task for us (SEOs/link builders).

If you have read posts on Google Penguin’s specific effects on SEO activities, there’s no need to take some serious efforts in removing existing bad/toxic links to your website, as Google tends to devalue them anyway. So if site has been receiving new low-quality links from a Negative SEO attack for example, the efforts now shouldn’t be focused on removing those types of links, but on continuously acquiring new high-quality backlinks for your site (this posts of mine on how to get backlinks and actionable link building tips will help you a lot).

What’s the implication of this to my anchor text diversification?

In cases where those incoming toxic links are on exact match anchor texts, you don’t have to focus your efforts on removing them from your backlink profile, but in driving new high-quality backlinks to your site. Since websites are dealt on a granular basis, those bad links won’t be affecting your site as a whole, only on parts where it should be affected.

Nonetheless, link audit is still a must. Google states that bad links are simply being devalued, the possibility of needing to disavow more links is unlikely. However, if you have a lot of unnatural links and never disavowed them, you need to disavow them. It may be the reason why you’re still not recovering from the penalty.

You still have to do some ground work of disavowing bad links. But keep in mind that while doing it, the focus shouldn’t just be there, but more on helping your site continuously acquire good links to boost your site’s health over time.

If it’s actually real time, your site can easily get recovered (and some have proven this to happen to some fully/partially-recovered sites) and there’s a lot more work now to be put into a higher-level link acquisition.

9. CONVERT HIGH-QUALITY EXACT MATCH ANCHOR TEXTS TO BRANDED LINKS

Other posts on link audit (which I highly suggest need to be updated) talks about managing existing exact anchor text links by converting them into branded links.

In my own experience, filtering your exact match anchor texts based on their quality should be every one’s link builders/SEOs’ first initiative.

Don’t spend time converting low-quality exact match anchor texts to branded links, as these will be devalued (if it’s negative SEO attack) or if they’ve been built by your past SEOs (do link audit and link removal/link disavow).

What you have to focus now is checking on only existing high-quality exact match anchor text links. These links shouldn’t just be any type, i.e. directory or any massive link types, but only editorial links that are manually built, i.e. guest posts.

Whether or not these high-quality exact match links are affecting parts of your website, you should still be converting them into branded links (as possible as you can), by manually reaching out to webmasters where you’ve contributed guest posts in the past. Ask them if they are capable of changing those exact match to branded types of links. This should help some parts of your site not to be negatively affected by real-time Penguin.

Bring this HUGE guide anywhere...

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Now It’s Your Turn…

How do you diversity your backlinks' anchor texts?

Or maybe you have a question on how to implement any of the insights in our above list?

Either way, leave a comment quick below.

I'll be more than happy to reply to comments and answer questions.

So if you have a question, insight or new tactic, leave a comment right now.


definitive guide to link reclamation

The Definitive Guide to Link Reclamation

definitive guide to link reclamation

what is link reclamation

Link reclamation is the process of identifying and fixing broken links on your website and getting links from other publishers who mentioned your brand or content but didn’t linked to your site. This is perhaps the most effective link building tactic that can drive initial set of links to your website with ease – it won’t require new published content, you utilize your existing web assets for link reclamation (website, images, text, article, etc..).

Let's also see how other link building experts define link reclamation.

Link reclamation is the process of fixing broken links on your company website and other websites that link to yours.

razvan cognitiveseo

Razvan, Founder of CognitiveSEO and BrandMentions

Reclaiming links is a process that happens when you've either lost links and want them back or when you've not been properly linked to, such as with a broken link or a non-linked mention. Links can vanish for multiple reasons. Sites get moved, pages get removed, and your link isn't always foremost in a webmaster's mind. Keeping an eye on lost links and non-linked mentions is a fantastic way to keep and add to the good links you want in your profile.

julie joyce

Julie Joyce, Founder of LinkFish Media

is link reclamation the right tactic for your business

If you’re asking whether or not link reclamation is the right tactic for your business, the answer is – it depends.

Link reclamation is best utilized by brands who have already established authority in their industries whether through word of mouth marketing, content development, press publication and other branding initiatives. Given that link reclamation requires tracking of existing publishers who mentioned the brand in any form, authoritative brands (i.e. Fortune 500s) that have a set of content followers would more likely benefit from this link building tactic.

For newly established brands, link reclamation isn’t the initial link building technique that could be easily implemented right away, unless they have content assets readily available on their sites that can potentially earn links from time to time.

link reclamation best practices

1. COINED TERM

Coined term is a word or phrase created by a publisher or content creator used to refer to a new thing (an event, strategy, place, tip, etc..). The term has been mentioned a lot of times by other industry publishers in their content pieces – exposing the word/phrase to an existing audience and using it as well in their daily conversations (whether online or offline).

Almost every industry has its own coined term. Whether you are in finance, health and even in search, you’ll notice a lot of words that are mere creation by influencers and by highly respected SEO publishers. In fact, the topic of this post, link reclamation, is just a coined term created by Eric Ward way back in 2004.

So how can you leverage coined term creation in acquiring links?

First, you’ll have to think of something new to contribute to the industry – i.e. a tip or trick that would highly benefit a specific group of audience. It shouldn’t be a copy of another principle, but is unique or a revised or twisted version of a thing.

For instance, Brian Dean coined the term, “Skyscraper Technique” on his SEO blog, Backlinko. It has been used multiple times on other marketing blogs as one of the effective SEO strategies for ranking a website on Google and acquiring consistent traffic from search engines.

backlinko skyscraper technique

Once you created a coined term, it's time to promote them to your audience. Here are a few ways to get traction to your coined-term-based content:

  • Build links pointing to your content asset from relevant websites within your blogosphere.
  • Get internal links from pages that can support your content - i.e. glossary.
  • Include your coined term when answering commonly-asked questions in forums and Q&A sites.

Finally, if you've seen high interest to your coined term from your web community, you can track which publishers and content creators have used your created term in their own content pieces. Tools like BrandMentions and Mentions.net can aid you with this.

2. DRIVE VISIBILITY TO UNLINKED CONTENT

Reaching out to webmasters through email outreach and asking them to credit references by linking to the original creator works effectively for most of the link builders out there – 50% or higher is the usual conversion rate.

However, if you nudge potential linkers with pre-acted efforts i.e. distributing their content on content promotion platforms, you’ll receive more responses and more links reclaimed for your brand.

One way to show that you initiate connections with these potential linkers is to actually share their content on social media sites even before you reached out to them via email. Notify these publishers by adding social handles to your social updates to make them aware that you shared the original post.

Putting email postscripts like, “I’ve shared your post on Twitter already, twitter status is here: www.url.com to your pitch helps build enough trust to get them link to your website.

3. FILE LOCATION LINKS

file location links

Not utilizing images for link acquisition is an opportunity lost especially if you have multiple images uploaded on your site (i.e. ecommerce branded product images).

Those images particularly branded images intended for distribution (i.e. infographic), should be monitored regularly to see if there are websites that have already linked to you as their source. However, if they’re linking to the file location (i.e. domain.com/images/photo.png) instead of the page that image is uploaded (i.e. domain.com/blog-post/), then content creators who linked to you this way should be asked to change their destination link.

Monitor file location links using Ahrefs, CognitiveSEO or OSE and ask content creators to change the destination link – from file location link to the linking page.

4. EXACT MATCH IMAGE SEARCH FOR EASY IDENTIFICATION

One of the difficulties when finding pages to reclaim links from, particularly for enterprises, is seeing several pages in search results with the need to further filter out irrelevant pages – i.e. those where content are not owned by you.

For instance, if you are reclaiming links from content creators who uploaded your infographic from their sites but not having link to you as the source, then doing a search for [ blogging ] [infographic ] would reveal branded visuals from other publishers.

At SharpRocket, our main qualifier for exact branded image reclamation is the use of allintitle – advanced search operator. This helps Google drives out pages with page titles that are not similar to the title of the branded content.

google search allintitle infographic

One thing to keep in mind, if your visual titles aren’t unique (i.e. it’s the most common keyword others are trying to rank for as well), then there are filtering efforts you still have to do in search results.

Even having unique visual titles, there is a ~10 to ~20% inefficiency here since you’ll also weed out pages from allintitle search but happen to be the pages where your content has been placed on, examples are:

  • Pages with a different page title but uploaded your branded content.
  • Pages that only includes a portion of your visual (sliced infographic into sections), then getting only one portion as a resource to their content.

For 90% of the time, using allintitle search operator for image link reclamation helps you easily target pages that used your branded content. And when they haven’t credited you as the source, reach out to them with tested copies and secure those links (sample outreach copies in the latter section of this post).

5. SHORT FORM TEXT

buffer social media stats

Short form text is a small piece of content that is worthy of mention on other publishing sites for reference to a certain topic. This varies in many kinds, such as:

Having a few short form texts in your website doesn’t only increase brand exposure but also help you gain editorial links from other publishers who’ll be referencing your small content from their blogs. If fortunately they’ve linked to your site, reach out to them and send a simple “thank you” message. Building a rapport with these content creators would amplify additional links in the future – as they can also refer to your short form text from their content pieces on other blogs (their guest posts).

If in case some publishers didn’t credit you as the source, you can pitch them to reclaim unlinked mentions of your content.

If you are starting out to build your our own brand and don’t have a set of followers yet to spread your short form texts on the web then here are some ways to promote these small pieces of content:

  • Participate in industry forums and Q&A sites by answering relevant questions, particularly those that require definition of terms – so you can simply insert your short form texts easily and still get value from the discussion – clicks and assisted conversions.
  • Track publishers who frequently use the industry phrase and offer them to add your own definition.
  • Include them to your site’s external web assets (i.e. linking to them from your contributed content on other blogs). This nudges readers from other blogs to make it also a reference in their own content pieces.

Building short form content assets isn’t scalable. You can’t force your brand to create this type of content if it’s not totally remarkable. Otherwise, it will serve as a plain text in your page without any publishers stealing your content.

The solid gold process for creating remarkable short form texts is to think of something unexpected hook in it – the “amazing thing” that initially captures the interests of majority of industry publishers.

6. GIF FORMS FOR QUICK TUTORIALS

gif tutorial

The growing industry of content marketing creates new types of content that helps consumers read, see and digest information easily on the web.

One form of content asset that I noticed became popular and useful these days is GIF-based quick tutorial. It is almost similar to the traditional video tutorials created by startup agencies and bloggers trying to entice customers or clients to purchase their products or services. What only differs is that they are easy to consume as you don’t need to click the play button to watch the full tutorial, it automatically runs even without initiatives from the user.

So how can you maximize the use of GIF-based quick tutorials for link acquisition?

Before anything else, let’s first understand that not all quick tutorial GIFs could get you earn additional links. In most cases, this type of content is actually a portion or one step in a whole definitive guide or resources. Unless, the content can stand on its own – i.e. it doesn’t need other quick tutorials to support its idea, it isn’t a feasible content to be promoted.

How to come up with ideas for useful GIF quick tutorials:

  • Generate content ideas from Top GIFs on Reddit.
  • Brainstorm common problems in your industry that don’t require long form tutorials to provide solutions to. An example of a useful quick tutorial is this Resetting Password gif –almost everyone who uses computer encounters this problem.
  • Look for frequently asked questions (FAQs) page in your niche and answer one question with a simple GIF quick tutorial.

When you are done brainstorming for topic ideas, you can use any of the following tools to create your own GIF quick tutorial:

Once content is published, spend time monitoring publishers who have used your quick tutorial in their own webpages. You can use Tineye to track websites that stole your branded GIF, which you can reach out to reclaim unlinked mentions.

tineye results

7. OPTIMIZE YOUR PHOTOS FOR IMAGE SEARCH

image optimization

Image optimization is one of the best practices in search marketing as it helps sites’ branded visuals to rank for targeted keywords and absorbs additional search traffic from organic source.

Given that content creators are using search engines to look for high quality images, ranking highly for image search also allows your visuals to be featured on other relevant blogs. – and if they’re not linked to you as the source, you can pitch them and ask for a link.

Here’s a quick checklist of points to complete for each visual:

  • Optimize your image traditionally for target keywords (e.g. star-wars-jedi.jpg).
  • Describe your image in a few words using the alt attribute tag – maximum number of characters is 125.
  • Try to come up with unique versions of images since Google also treats duplicate images in image search similar to what it does in universal search.
  • Use correct image types for page speed purposes: JPEGs for images with rich colors, no transparency; GIFs for images with flat colors; PNG8 for transparent images with flat colors and PNG24 for transparent images with rich colors.

8. CHANGE LINK REQUESTS FOR OLD DOMAINS

When building links to new domains of your brand, one tactic that search marketers often overlook is reclaiming links built to old web properties. These are links pointing to hosted sites like Wordpress.com and other free platforms or links to old owned domains. You may have started blogging using these old/hosted sites and received several links to it, but sooner have a blog on your own domain or have bought a new one.

The optimal process is to check your old web properties and see if there are other websites (not owned by you) pointing to your old website. Get these links changed by asking existing linkers to link to the right destination pages or you can permanently (301) redirect old pages to their equivalent landing pages in your new website. This is very important since you don’t want to redirect all pages from old site to new site’s homepage only unless it’s relevant and beneficial to do so.

A few more tips to keep in mind when requesting to change links from old domains to new websites:

  • Check if old properties are still owned by the brand you’re working for. You can’t simply grab content assets (images, rich media, etc…) and anything that has been hosted in your previous domain and publish them in your new website. Otherwise, you’ll be the sued by the new owner of those aged sites.
  • If it’s possible, redirect old pages to their equivalent landing pages in your new website. This allows users to find the information they’re actually looking straight ahead as opposed to using the homepage’s search bar to look for the right page.

the 7 best link reclamation tools

There are a hundred options of tools on the web that helps link builders track unlinked mentions, identify broken pages in their websites or initiate conversations through email outreach, but here is my own recommended toolset that can assist you in a link reclamation workflow.

1. BUILTVISIBLE’S LINK RECLAMATION TOOL

builtvisible

This is probably the most accessible tool in the market that supports in-house and agency link builders for tracking existing mentions - whether linked or unlinked. This free tool also allows viewing websites’ data – domain authority, page authority and number of linking root domains, which makes it easy for search marketers to prioritize outreach prospects that might generate the highest link value.

Agency link builders can execute link reclamation at scale by renaming Google sheet with their own labels of clients’ campaigns.

If you are lowering costs on premium SEO tools, then this one might be a good option to add to your link reclamation toolset.

Note: Google is a bit slow returning data in the spreadsheet, but aside from that, the tool works pretty well.

2. BRANDMENTIONS

brandmentions homepage

Brandmention’s main value from a link reclamation perspective is sending email notifications whenever a mention of your content has been tracked. It enables you to monitor branded mentions in real time while doing your other marketing tasks. This keeps you on loop for new publishers you can get in touch for content partnerships.

What keeps this tool distinct from other mention tracking products are its notable features – language filtering and location-based sifting. This allows you to prioritize mentions from certain audiences where you could further analyze why and how these mentions had been placed.

3. MAILTRACK.IO

mailtrack io homepage

If you’re tracking open rates in outreach, MailTrack.io provides a free option to guarantee reporting for that said key performance indicator. If you play in an industry where publishers aren’t responsive in emails, open rates enables you to counteract communication issues. Options might include switching to another subject line that captures immediate interests from recipients or adding more personalization straight to subject lines in order to nudge email opens from prospects.

It also allows you to know when content creators read your emails, giving you a framework for optimal email scheduling times. If you’re using emails for link reclamation outreach, you need to be using MailTrack.io.

4. TINEYE

tineye homepage

Tineye might be the most underrated image reclamation tool that exists on the web. It enables you to track websites that stole your branded visuals – whether it is a logo, infographic or company staff photo and when these publishers haven’t refer to you as their original source, reach out to them and reclaim image-source links.

Additionally, if you are working in an image-heavy space where every section of the content requires photos, you might consider adding Tineye to your link reclamation toolset for image reverse engineering purposes.

5. EMBED CODE GENERATOR

siegemedia embed code generator

Siegemedia’s Embed Code Generator is a simple but powerful tool for distributing visual content to other publishing websites with the full guarantee of linking to you as the original creator.

Aside from its customization features which include image and embed box resize, it enables you to see the preview of embed code straight from the platform itself. The tool gives you lower probability that other industry content creators will not link to you as the main reference for customized images.

6. MENTION.NET

mention net platform link monitoring

Mention.net is the next-best option in terms of uncovering mentions of your brand based on various sources such as social, news, blogs, videos and forums.  The difference-maker of this tool is its capability of filtering web mentions using sentiments (neutral, positive and negative). This aids you to easily see negative mentions that you can counteract immediately through proper response.

It also allows you to filter results by tags which you can use to sort data according to industries, keywords and content properties.

7. 301 REDIRECTS

simple 301 redirects

301 Redirects is a simple and free tool for Wordpress users. For introductory link builders without a set of programming skills or access to FTP files, this plugin enables you to permanently redirect links to corresponding webpages.

On a link reclamation perspective, this workflow helps you preserve a smooth flow of link equity through your website by minimizing internal broken pages.

link reclamation outreach copies

The main course of link reclamation is outreach, which is basically asking publishers who haven’t linked to you as the source, to get them attribute to your content asset by linking to it.

Conversion rates using this workflow normally gets 50% and even goes up to 100% if everything is executed correctly.

To get the best results for your link reclamation outreach, below are a few outreach strategies with examples of email templates that you can test for yourself.

1. RECLAIMING LINKS OUTREACH

Once you tracked all publishers who’ve mentioned you or grab a certain content asset (but didn’t linked to you), you can reach out to them and ask to give you credits as references.

Being aggressive – i.e. using copyright law or license as the initial paragraph in your pitch that doesn’t sounds polite often decreases response rate.  Though this is not the case maybe for publishers whom you’ve built relationships with before as they would normally take time to go to their site’s dashboard and give you links from their pages.

The best practice still is to make your pitch sound that you actually want to spark connections with them and being kind to ask for links from their websites.

Here’s an outreach template for asking links from publishers who haven’t credit you as their references:

Subject: Thanks for mentioning [ SITE/BRAND NAME]

Hi [ NAME ],

Hope you’re doing great day.

I would like to drop a quick message to say thank you for mentioning [ BRAND NAME ] in your post - [URL].

I noticed that you hadn’t included details of our brand and was wondering if you would be kind to include a link pointing to our website, so your visitors would see more information about your reference.

Thanks again

Kind regards,

[ YOUR NAME ]

2. REQUESTING TO CHANGE DESTINATION PAGES

The request to change destination pages in links pointing to your old properties, sad to say, is often ignored by bloggers and content creators. What we’ve tested that best nudge these publishers to take an action is to give them reasons why doing so is useful for their websites.

Here are a few points that you can add to your pitch that increases the odds to get bloggers change links’ destination pages:

  • Emphasize how changing linking to pages helps their website achieve a positive user experience, given that visitors would be able to see the right information on pages referred to by their content as opposed to seeing broken pages - if your old web properties have been moved.
  • Include additional unique proposition to your pitch – i.e. offer free content pieces to publishers.
  • Make sure that you properly include details of your request – page where the link has been placed, anchor text used in external linking, old page’s URL and the new site/page’s link.

Here’s an email copy to use for email outreach.

Subject: Broken link on [ SITE NAME ]

Hi [ NAME ],

Hope you’re doing well.

It’s [ NAME ] from [ BRAND NAME ]. I noticed that you were linking to one of our old page, which has now been moved.

The link is on this page [ URL OF THEIR PAGE ] and is pointing to [ OLD URL ] using the phrase [ ANCHOR TEXT].

I’m wondering if you could possibly update the link to [ NEW URL ].

Your readers would benefit from this as they can now see the information they are actually looking for.

Thanks for your time.

Best regards,

[ YOUR NAME ]

3. BRAND MISSPELLINGS

One of the most obvious but often overlooked strategies in link reclamation is finding publishers who had misspelled your brand or product name in their mentions and asking them for spelling corrections. This process may be useful to a few cases where brand names are spelled incorrectly:

  • A digit in a brand name (Believe2Succeed spelled as Believe to Succeed).
  • Unusual sounding
  • Foreign names
  • Rhotacized words (inserting an r) – e.g. surport for support, and de-rhotacizing (removing an r) – e.g. supprise for surprise (source)
  • Countries (e.g. Philipines for Philippines).

There are still other cases where brand names could be misspelled aside from what’s mentioned – use this tool to generate misspelled variations of your brand name.

Once you’ve identified misspelled mentions, it’s time to reach out to publishers using this email template:

Subject: Could you edit this?

Hello [ NAME ],

It’s [ YOUR NAME ] from [ SITE NAME ].

We noticed that your page [ ENTER POST URL ] is linking to [ SITE NAME ]  - thank you so much for the love. Unfortunately, the link is spelled incorrectly and we’d like to ask you for a favor if you could correct this – so your readers could easily find our website.

The proper spelling of our website is [ SITE NAME ].

Is it possible to update the link?

Thank you,

[ YOUR NAME ]

Additionally, you can monitor misspelled variation of your brand name with the highest number of mentions using tools like BrandMentions. This workflow, when found to be successful over time, can also be added to your link reclamation process.

ADDITIONAL LINK RECLAMATION OPTIONS:

There are several other options you can try to get backlinks from other content creators besides aforementioned link reclamation methods.

  • Make youtube linkers link to primary domain. Video-heavy publishers have more than average chances of earing links from content creators uploading non-owned videos in their websites. Instead of preserving links to your youtube content, why not get them link to the original source – your primary domain. Use Open Site Explorer to find these publishers.
  • Make ”links to tweets” point to primary domain. In an event where tweets could be used as references for actionable tips, news coverage or short form data, leveraging links to tweets for your own website’s benefit is a sure fire way to improve your site’s backlink profile.
  • Reclaim links from stolen powerpoint. If this visual type of content has been uploaded to Slideshare or had been shared on similar sites, same steps for the two above will work also work for this workflow.

Have We Been Helpful?

Want to take your link building to the next level – — but don’t know where to start, and are feeling overwhelmed by this post.

We are here to help you. SharpRocket is a team of link building specialists who love building high quality links.

To learn more about how we can help, take a look at the services we offer.