how-to-build-links-dmoz

How to Build Links With DMOZ

Today, I want to share a really simple method for using DMOZ to come up with killer linkable content ideas - we've been using this creative link building process for a little while now with some great results.

how-to-build-links-dmoz

The premise is simple: recreate broken content found on DMOZ and get links from pages linking to the original content.

Apparently, you can't access DMOZ now. DMOZ has officially closed last March 17, 2017 after 19 years of providing users with organized directory of websites using volunteer human submission.

However, there's a mirror website that you can access to and use to locate broken content that you can recreate and promote to build links to your site - DMOZtools.net.

The methodology is simple and can be summarized as follows:

Step 1: Find broken content on DMOZtools.

Step 2: Assess the dead page's content using Wayback Machine (archive.org)

Step 3: Check the websites linking to the broken page

Step 4: Create an improved version of the page

Step 5: Start reaching out to sites linking to the dead page

 

OUTDATED CONTENT CREATION

Step 1: Find broken content on DMOZtools

Go through each category that is relevant to your brand. Dig deeper into each subcategory to find the most relevant fit. 

For a quick search, it is best to use site:dmoztools.net along with the category of your website.

google search dmoztoolsdmoztools subcategories

You have to sort through subcategories and only look for ones that make sense to your brand. You could go for tangential markets to expand your search as well (e.g.

Manually check lists for any broken links using LinkMiner.

If you have subscribed to Ahrefs premium access, it'd be more handy to set this option below:

linkminer settings link display

When LinkMiner completes its checking, it'll automatically show how many referring domains does each external links acquires.

broken link on a resource list dmoztools

A broken link with more than a hundred referring domains is worth looking than a defunct page with less than 10 linked-to pages.

Step 2: Assess the dead page's content using Wayback Machine (archive.org)

Take a quick look at the original content of the dead page. By doing so, it can help you assess if it's something you can recreate by yourself or with your team.

Given that the information on the content may be outdated, it'd require certain updates to make it more relevant, more informative and more comprehensive than the original content piece.

For technical verticals, you may hire a practitioner or content developer that has an extensive experience about the subject matter to add more specialized information to the content asset (check out my comprehensive guide on skyscraper technique).

Step 3: Check the websites linking to the broken page

ahrefs referring domains

Understand what types of links are currently linking to the broken page in order to assess their probability to link to you.

In general, you want to be looking for low-friction link opportunities. Curators of resources pages (links pages), for example, may only need to spend a few minutes to add your link as opposed to high-end news that would require a full blog post.

link frictionness of a page

A quick look on the frictionness of the links to the broken (original) page can help you determine if it's worthwhile to promote your recreated content to them.

Step 4: Create an improved version of the page

Besides looking for new information/updates for the content, it is best to find additional authority sources that you can use as a reference to build your own content.

new resource links

If you're fortunate enough to find a resources-type of broken content you can recreate, make due diligence to find all correct links (or the best replacements to broken links on the original page). In such a case, you will produce an industry list of resources that serves your users well.

resource of resources page

Step 5: Start reaching out to sites linking to the dead page

Content creation, as we always say, is 50% of the battle. When you have published the content, it's time to promote the piece to people who'll be interested to link to it (or even share your web asset).

For this link building strategy, you can scour all pages linking to the original broken content. You may use link tracking tools like Ahrefs to find them.

linking pages old content ahrefs

Collect and prioritize linking opportunities with low friction to gain quick wins in your outreach. For example, you can make a list of all resource pages first and prioritize them in outreach. Add industry blogs and high-end news sites to the list, supply email contacts, and start pitching.

Check Referring Domains of Broken Links on Original Content 

If you have produced a list-of-resources type of content, you can check broken links on original content to see if they have referring pages that may seem be qualified as additional link prospects for your re-created content piece.

Now, you'll be able to expand your link list and promote your content asset to as many linkers possible.

Need help with outreach? Check out our link building services here.


brand building strategies

Brand Building Strategies for Modern Day Link Building

Brand building is the new link building.

Keyword-centric link building is long gone. Focusing on a large percentage of exact match anchor text usage on inbound links will do more harm than good for your website.

The way to win in search nowadays is to start thinking brand-first.

brand building strategies

Over the years, search engines and user favor brands that have a strong presence online. Think of a product you need right now and remember a brand that sells a kind of it.

The long-term effects of building your brand through links are overwhelming. It's not instantaneous, but can illustrate a slow yet gradual increase of benefits as soon as the leverage starts kicking in (think link building flywheel).

flywheel link building

For small websites with inadequate size, budget, and resources to win over their competitors, the only way to strengthen their brands is to build the right types of links.

branding-circleBelow are four strategies to effectively help you with your link building campaigns that aims to build your brand.

1. INVEST ON BIG CONTENT ASSETS 

Publishing content assets that are big enough to cut through the noise requires both resources and creativity. If you don't have the former requirement, double down on the latter - creativity.

Start by identifying topics that are frequently searched by people in your industry.

ahrefs sleep for kids keyword

Ensure that there's a substantial amount of pages linking to the pages ranking in your target keyword. This guarantees that there's an audience of publishers that might possibly link to your content asset when you reach out to them.

sleep for kids ranking pages links

[textbox]Pro-tip: Observe niche websites that are focused on a particular topic and are targeted to a specific audience. For example, this website is particularly centered on providing information to parents and teachers on the importance of sleep for kids and how to get them sleep better.[/textbox]

sleep for kids homepage

A couple of pages have been published on the site as well that may seem be better to consume if they are on a single page (on a big content piece).

sleep for kids indexed pages

So, we've created a comprehensive content on the topic - encompassing all big points covered on the website as well as topics we may have to incorporate that are not included yet on the original source.

sleep for kids ultimate guide

It's also important to Identify how to position your content asset as a differentiator in your industry by including content types your competitors haven't built yet.

For example, the sleep sheet page I've found can be best turned into an infographic - making it easily consumable by the audience.

We've created one for that.

add infographics sleep for kids

And we gave credit to where it is due.

Add table:

add table sleep for kids

Embed videos:

embed videos

Always remember in creating big content assets:

Treat your content as a product.

Like a product, before your content asset goes out to the world, you tested it for quality assurance. You may want to check out this content quality checklist from Siegemedia to guide you with the post-content creation phase.

Start reaching out to websites linking to the niche website and get high-quality contextual links:

first link sleep for kids

second link sleep for kids

Other Useful Resource:

10X Content Ideation and Creation Process

2. BE MISSIONAL IN YOUR OUTREACH

In their latest content trends study, Buzzsumo shows that majority of content published online gets zero backlinks and no social shares.

backlinks to content

That's a harsh reality, but it's true.

It's easy to create content. But the hardest part is acquiring links and social shares to it.

Just like a product, the market decides if your content is good enough or not.

To break that content promotion anxiety, one has to come up with an effective approach.

Years ago, I stumbled upon the idea of mission-based marketing at CitationLabs. It speaks about identifying a mission in content creation and outreach.

Primarily, a mission can impact your content marketing campaign in so many ways:

  • It creates a genuine purpose.
  • It enables buy-in from influencers and experts in a meaningful way.
  • It justifies sudden existence in someone's inbox.

When that happens, it's easier to execute parts of your outreach campaign, such as:

  • Identifying potential linkers to your content (linkeratis)
  • Crafting email templates that gets an above average email open rate
  • Engaging publishers/webmasters/link-curators that reciprocate your actions in the end.

Let's dive in a little bit and see how mission plays a vital role on each one above.

IDENTIFY POTENTIAL LINKERS 

There is no actual mission if there's no target people to whom a special purpose is catered to.

With my earlier example, our main target audience are parents who're having a hard time getting their kids sleep. We could target both parents and teachers (on how to teach the importance of sleep), which of course could expand our reach - more link opportunities!) but that would deviate from our focus mission from the very start.

By having a clear target audience, we were able to populate our initial list of link opportunities by reverse engineering similar content assets.

ahrefs similar content assets linking to them

Searching deeper, we've found out pages linking to those who've linked to competitors' assets.

CRAFTING EMAIL TEMPLATES 

By putting mission upfront in your outreach, it brings excitement and passion in crafting your email messages given that you're thinking of how to get buy-in from outreach prospects to your purpose.

Clearly define ways on how other people (webmasters, link curators, bloggers, publishers), can contribute to the cause on your initial pitch. Your subject line and first sentence of the email should encourage collaboration. Through this, they (publishers) can help you in so many ways, such as:

  • Providing suggestions and feedback to your content asset
  • Connecting you with any of the influencer/expert within their organizations
  • Sharing your content piece through other channels (social media, email, etc..) that are aside from linking to your page
  • Contributing data insights that can improve your existing content piece (e.g. calendar, graph, directory, list)

Getting your outreach prospects to buy into your mission is one of the best ways to naturally attract links to your website.

ENGAGING OUTREACH PROSPECTS 

Bringing value upfront differentiates you from the pack of people sending off link requests all the time.

For example, if you practice broken link building, when you elicit responses from webmasters after you've told about their link errors on their resource pages, you immediately suggest pages (including yours) as replacements to their defunct links.

One approach we've found to be highly effective in helping webmasters fix their links is to look for the best replacements for each broken link.

There are three things that we normally suggest to them as replacements.

A. New page (redirected page)

By using the advanced search operator "site:domain", we look for the new page where the old information is now placed - which is published on the same website.

homepage link response

found right page for replacement

In some cases, the new page is a redirected new website where the webmaster has transferred all details of the original information.

B. Homepage

If the old information isn't published anywhere on the website (i.e. a new page) or it couldn't be seen on other sites (or new website), the next best replacement is their homepage.

best replacement is homepage

C. Remove the link

There are broken links that are non-evergreen (i.e. news, article, pdf), of which homepage is not a good replacement - the best suggestion to the webmaster is to actually remove the link.

For a more detailed guide on how to find the best replacements for broken links, you can check out my older post on broken link replacements.

3. COLLABORATE WITH INFLUENCERS FOR GUEST PUBLISHING 

Relationships are vital in acquiring high value links from top industry publications.

It would be easier for your pitch to standout amongst hundreds (if not thousands) of guest contributor emails bloggers are receiving daily in their inbox if they are aware of your brand (you) and the kind of value you can contribute to their website's audience and followers (through your content).

Easier said than done, but bloggers who're still starting to build their own brand may not have the popularity and authority needed to generate interest from target publishers.

One approach that you can use to capture attention of your prospect publishers is to associate yourself with influencers or experts in your field.

The process can begin by Identifying influencers whom you can help out by getting them more exposure on bigger sites/brands.

You can start with popular bloggers who host interviews on their blogs (use Google search - ex. "interview series" + "industry" or "podcast" + "industry").

leadxorg homepage

Check the list of experts being interviewed on the hosted website. Pick those who have their own blogs given that high value links to their websites will be your main value proposition of your pitch to them (more on this later).

leadxorg guests

From there, you can find and collect their email address. List them all in a spreadsheet to have an easier process once you start reaching out to them.

The second part of this process is to pitch industry publications with content topics that haven't been covered yet on their blogs.

initial pitch collaborationWhat you should be offering for them is a content that can rank on keywords that they haven't ranked yet and that includes a high-value information based on your expert's (interviewee's) answers to your niche-specific questions.

send topics pitch

The only answer you'll expect from your initial pitch is their chosen topics for your guest content.

selected topic response

The next part of the method is to reach out to influencers or personalities (from the first part of the process) and try to do an interview with them.

interview content pitch

Come up with questions that are related to the chosen topic of your target publication so it'll be easily integrated to the draft piece you'll be creating (given your guest content is also about the chosen topic).

Once you've received their answers to your questionnaire, you'll then create a highly informative content that you can use as a guest entry for your prospect publication sites.

content collaboration

include insights to content

The great thing about this approach is that it's very easy to generate this type of content and definitely a win/win situation for all parties: the blog hosting the content will publish a content that includes experts' insights (and potentially can rank for informative keywords), the interviewee (expert) acquires a quality for his/her blog (and gets more exposure) and you, as the contributor, build a brand presence and authority on other blogs (which can translate to additional traffic and more potentially linking opportunities).

4. HAVE A LONG-TERM PERSPECTIVE 

When doing link acquisition, it's imperative that you think long-term. You avoid shady link building tactics that leads to short-term behaviors and benefits.

Instead, you target the right types of links that will have a lasting impact to your website.

By providing useful content (industry guides, cheatsheets, data infographics) that gets visibility over time through its ability to rank for secondary/primary keywords, you increase the possibility of attracting links even without doing manual outreach.

Ross Hudgens shared their repeatable blog promotion strategy at SiegeMedia that allows them to increase their client's monthly visitors by hundreds of thousands (month over month).

optimal blog strategy

Targeting keywords where your website has the ability to rank (by creating comprehensive content and manually building links to it), you'll soon be able to level up to more difficult topics/keywords.

Repeatedly doing so can slowly build your brand as an authority publisher of useful information in your industry.

For further reading, you can check out these two guides on building authority links and content writing tips


guide-broken-link-building

The No Non-Sense Guide to Broken Link Building

Broken link building has been around since 2010. From that time on, a lot of things had happened that changed how we approach this link building tactic. Nuances in methodologies, additional best practices, and questions of whether the said technique is still working now, are just a few things we will cover in this post.

guide-broken-link-building

Table of Contents

WHAT IS BROKEN LINK BUILDING?
WHY BROKEN LINK BUILDING?
WHY BLB ISN'T WORKING FOR ME?
STEP BY STEP BLB GUIDE
1. FIND A TOPIC THAT SERVES A SPECIFIC GROUP OF LINKS PAGE CURATORS
2. CREATE CONTENT ABOUT THE LINKABLE TOPIC
3. PROSPECT FOR LINK OPPORTUNITIES AND QUALIFY THEM
4. FIND BROKEN LINKS, CONTACT PERSONS AND EMAILS
5. CONDUCT OUTREACH
6. MONITOR LINKS

Before we get too far though, you might want to know how we define broken link building.

what-is-broken-link-building

Broken link building is a link building tactic where a person contacts a webmaster who has a broken link in his or her website and recommends a replacement of link/s that include his/her target page.

That seems a very simple thing by definition but actually, the work to execute all steps behind that takes a lot of effort.

Though it may be time-consuming, if you understand the value that broken link building can provide to webmasters, it'll give you confidence of its effectiveness as a link building tactic and that it can also be implemented to many websites, if found to be fitting to use.

why-broken-link-building

Broken link building helps fix the web by letting webmasters know of their broken links and its best replacements.

Broken links (or linkrot as some refers to it) happens when a web page becomes permanently unavailable, due to one of many reasons:

  • Expired links; temporarily created for a short-term purpose (for example: sponsorship page)
  • Content is intentionally removed by the webmaster.
  • A website where the broken link is hosted may be closed or taken down by the owner.
  • A website changed its domain name (some links are not redirected to their corresponding pages in the new website).

No one wants to have broken links in their websites which users would find to be of no value because they don't see the exact resources they are looking for.

page not found

If you have helped someone fix his/her links, you will be reciprocated by adding your recommended resource on his/her page (which most of you will recommend a link to your target page).

Reciprocity matters in link building. Value to value. If you help someone, you will be helped. That's why broken link building works.

why-blb-isnt-working-for-me

This question has been raised several times. From a perspective of a link builder who practices broken link building, there are some common misapplications I see of this technique.

First is tying any content type to links pages curators.

Who is a link page curator?

A links page curator is a type of linkable audience (from the term itself) curates links in a specific page about a particular topic for the sole purpose of giving its intended website visitors references and resources that they can use either for personal consumption or business research.

A link page curator is attracted mostly to educational guides or academic driven content.

Suggesting to them an infographic to be added as a resource to their links pages is less likely to accomplish its linking purpose, unless it has a text section (beneath the image) that has comprehensive information about the topic.

The best way to increase likelihood of acquiring resource links is to produce educational or academic-driven type of content that are more comprehensive than what other publishers create (more on that later in this post).

educational guide

Second reason why people think broken link building doesn't work for them is the difficulty to find a linkable topic that fits your brand.

There are cases wherein you wouldn't find a topic that is both highly linkable (i.e. there are a lot links page curators linking to content on the topic) and that also fits directly to your brand.

The solution here is to think of a specific linkable audience and brainstorm ideas how you can best serve them. Check if it's tangentially relevant to your site. (I'll show you exactly how you can execute that part later).

For now, let's dive into how you can implement broken link building tactics to your website.

step-by-step-blb-guide

There are a lot of published resources on executing the exact process of broken link building. But one thing I noticed is that these don't give you the exact picture of implementation from diferent role perspectives.

So as you go through each step below, you'll see some tips on how to do the exact process based on your current role.

if you are an agency marketer/SEO

if you are an In-house SEO

if you are a business owner

If any of these phrases is not included, the tip applies to all.

That avoids you saying, "I can't do this because I'm not ___."

Note: If you have any questions how you can do that yourself or with the help of someone, feel free to contact me.

Let's start with the process.

find-topic-specific-group-links-page-curators

You don't have to go too far. Start first with your informational keywords.

If have keyword excel sheets in place. Begin with that. Go through your list and find top of the funnel keywords.

Use the inurl:links.html as your litmus test to check if a topic is serving a number of links curators.

Why links.html? Because most links pages are in their html page, not adding .html may leave off some good numbers.

So what's a good number of indexed links pages to find?

Anywhere from ~300 to ~500 is feasible. More than that is highly linkable.

For example, if you searched for inurl:links.html "sleep apnea", you'll find that there are 552 vailable links pages indexed in Google (as of the time of this writing).

links curators litmus testing sleep apnea

For the topic, "bruxism", the number of indexed links pages is 272 (as of the time of this writing).

links curators litmus testing bruxism search

WHY LINKS CURATORS LITMUS TESTING IS IMPORTANT?

If you find there are enough links curators who are waiting to link to your content asset from their links pages, you can ensure that the topic you'll be creating is worth of your investment to create.

No waste of time and money. That doesn't means it always attain success, but at least there's a confidence of results when you pursue a topic that is linkable because it has an existing audience giving you links. You are proving linkability in your content.

WHAT IF THERE ARE ~300 LESS LINKS CURATORS AVAILABLE ON MY TOPIC?

This question may arise, and there are two answers for that.

One is doing a Google search for the topic. This is to ensure that there are still links page curators that are available who couldn't easily be discovered through Google search and could only be found through reverse engineering - more on this later. 

Going back, if you use Moz, you can see immediately the number of referring domains each page on SERPs is getting.

referring domains links curators litmus testing

If you find that each page has at least 20 plus unique referring domains, you can further investigate its linking pages.

Otherwise, you find another topic keyword and run it through the process again.

Further investigation involves finding at least 100+ links pages that have the specific page on the topic. The reason for doing so is to ensure that when you promote a content piece, there's an available audience dying to link to your content.

How to do that is to simply grab each URL in SERPs and check using a link checker tool if there are links/resources pages linking to the URL. 

links pages to url content ahrefs

My tip here to quickly find links pages is to use the search function of Ahrefs.

Type in links or resources to find resource pages with links or resources in their titles. 

backlinks list ahrefs filtered

Collect every links page you find and qualify as you land on the page or choose to qualify them later. You can skip to this section of Link Qualification stage.

Make sure you create an Excel sheet purposefully for those links pages.

spreadsheet links pages

If you have collected at least 100+ links pages (qualified), then the topic is suitable for broken link building.

WHAT IF THERE ARE ~300 LESS LINKS CURATORS AVAILABLE ON GOOGLE SEARCH AND ~100 LESS LINKS CURATORS THROUGH REVERSE ENGINEERING ?

If you find less links curators on the topic, you can still create a content piece but you won't expect much links from links pages given that not all of them would link to you. There is a conversion rate of around 3-5% to be expected from this topic depending on the number of emails you send to qualified links pages.

create-content-linkable-topic

Hopefully you now have an idea with identifying if a particular topic is suitable for a broken link building campaign. Now comes the hard part - actually creating the content.

You know this, you don't just have to create a content. It has to be 10x better than other content pieces on that subject matter.

How can you do that?

If you are a business owner or if you are an agency marketer/SEO, you can try hiring academic industry writers from freelancing websites.

You probably have done this because it is way cheaper than hiring full time in-house writers. It may not be feasible at first, to hire a full time in-house writer given there's still less bandwidth of work for content writing.

Academic industry writers can produce educational guides better than Fiverr generic writers. The cost of hiring the former may be higher than the usual rate you pay for a writer, but you can expect a higher quality output from them.

Now the question is, how can you find an academic industry writer?

There are a hundreds of ways on how you can look for them but there are methodologies I've found helpful in looking for the right academic industry writer.

HIRING ACADEMIC WRITERS IN UPWORK

First is by using Upwork as your hiring channel for writers.

upwork

Upwork is a top freelancing website wherein you can post a job that can run either hourly or project basis and that targets freelancers in a specific industry, skillset and level of skills you're looking for.

The process of hiring in Upwork is simple:

  • Identify who you need to hire.
  • Post a job board.
  • Interview people
  • Hire your preferred freelancer.

For a more detailed reference on how to post a job on Upwork, here's a resource from the website that you can check out.

To give you an insight of how it works specifically when hiring an academic industry writer, below is an example of a job post that I posted.

upwork job post blb content writer

Simple note: The writer I was looking for was specifically tasked to write product reviews and informational articles, but later on, was assigned to create educational guides for BLB.

As you can see above, the post is very simple. It covers almost everything you need to know about the job.

But what I'd like you to take note are the following points:

  • Title - the key here is to be very specific with the kind of writer you're looking for. Cater the job title to a niche writer, that would mean not just a health writer, but someone who knows specifically about sleeping or psychology - as another example.
  • Fixed price - depends on where you're more comfortable with, but if fixed price is what you prefer, you can even negotiate that further to cost per word (e.g. 0.027cents per word).
  • Level - you need someone who is an intermediate or an expert on the subject to write comprehensive and academic content pieces, particularly on jargon-heavy topics.

INVITE FREELANCERS TO A JOB POST 

One trick to ensure you're making the shot of hiring a great industry writer is to find freelancers and invite them to apply to your job post.

Instead of waiting for freelancers to apply to you and start filtering which ones deserve the slot, you can initiate looking for the best ones and negotiate

Most skilled freelancer writers are not applying massively to relevant job posts, but some even are getting inbound potential clients that hire them.

So if you proactively invite people to apply for your job, you increase the possibility of getting skilled freelance writers.

upwork invite freelancers

Once you've hired a freelance writer based on a certain skillset and expertise, it's time to create the content.

CONTENT CREATION PROCESS

If you're an agency or in-house, there are other roles in the team you should consider who can aid you with the content creation process - starting from research down to publishing.

It's critically important not to overlap tasks of each others' roles to get an easy flow of work and to excellently complete each content writing project.

As a small team, the SEO “the one who actually did the research” creates the outline and then just send it to the content writer for completion. If the content requires creative work, our designer has to come in and collaborate.

jayson bagio gobiggr

 

 

 

- Jayson Bagio, Founder of Gobiggr

The distribution of work depends on the internal process of a team.

However, the quality of output should be checked if it's going to be a linkable content.

One way to ensure the quality of your content piece is to use a framework where you will base its success probability.

USE A QUALITY-CHECK FRAMEWORK

One framework that has been mostly considered is the Made to Stick's SUCCESs model.

The idea is to run a quality check of your content based on these six factors:

  • Simple
  • Unexpected
  • Concrete
  • Credible
  • Emotional
  • Stories

made to stick model

If you're a business owner, you may not have the luxury to go over each content piece and run it through a quality success framework. But having someone to look after the writer is advisable, either you get a senior editor or copywriter just to ensure the content piece can pass a certain standard of quality.

Aside from internal checking of quality, it's also important to ensure your content piece is far more comprehensive than other content assets on the same topic.

You can check what's lacking in other content pieces that you can add and emphasize to your own content piece.

For example, we've recently created a guide on types of sleeping disorders.

By looking at other content competitors, I've seen that they haven't had a huge list of sleeping disorders with their respective categories. They also lack customized visuals to entice social sharing.

With those things in mind, we've produced one that's far more comprehensive than other content assets - not just bigger, but better.

comprehensive

Note: If you do well know of your industry, you need to provide key points to your content writer as to the format and flow of messages based on how you think your content can be best consumed by your target audience.

prospect-link-opportunities-qualify

You may have a linkable content asset, but without a list of link prospects to reach out for content promotion, your content may not see the light of the day.

So where can you collect a list of link targets?

RESOURCE LINK PROSPECTING METHODS

A. Save your link targets as your early list

It begins when you run a link curators litmus testing.

As soon as you are checking if there are existing links/resources pages on the topic, you can immediately create a list out of that. Save them as your early targets.

You can use Ahrefs or Majestic when checking links pages or resources pages on pages ranking for a topic you are targeting.

ahrefs links to ranking pages

B. Reverse engineer content competitors

Content competitors are content assets that discuss the same topic of your content piece.

Find them either by using a Google search or by looking at related resources on a target page for links.

content competitors

Once you find them, go and check all backlinks using a link checker tool.

Grab only resource pages. You may use words like "links" or "resources" on the Ahrefs search bar to quickly find them.

reverse engineering content competitors

C. Check for broken links on your initial list of resource pages.

You may find that there are other external links on a specific section of the resource page wherein you want to get a link from.

See if one of the external links is broken either by clicking on them or by using LinkMiner to scan the page for any broken links. linkminer finding broken links

If you find a broken link, check if there are referring domains linking to it. It's a good opportunity then to find more resource pages.

D. Use Google search queries to find resource pages in your niche.

This is the most common type of link prospecting and one that will give you tons of link opportunities if you use appropriate search terms and advanced search operators.

There are many link prospecting search terms to finding resource pages.

But to help you with this process, I've shared a spreadsheet tool below that semi-automates the activity of using advanced search ops (specific to BLB) h/t to Jayson Bagio.

blb-query-generator-spreadsheet

All you have to do is to insert a keyword/topic on Column A and click on Column F to direct you to the search result.

When you land on each search result page, you'll find relevant links pages. Go and check each one and quality according to your metrics (Section: Qualification Metrics).

E. Use Citation Labs Link Prospector

If there's one tool I'll recommend in finding hundreds even thousands of links pages,it is this Link Prospector by Citation Labs.

It's nothing new to advanced SEOs out there, but if you're starting out in broken link building, the said tool can help you maximize your prospecting efforts and save hours of time spent.

Here's a tutorial video that shows you how to use the tool properly.

QUALIFICATION METRICS 

Before giving you metrics to consider when qualifying resource pages, the reason why I didn’t' separate Link Prospecting and Qualification, is that you can execute them simultaneously.

When you land a resource page, you can quickly qualify it according to your metrics.

This saves you a lot of time in qualification, as you don't have to assign a team member to do this task alone - qualifying each resource page you've collected.

Though it requires practice to do that, it's something I'd recommend SEOs to master over time.

Going back, there are qualification metrics need to be considered in broken link building.

A. Relevance - top priority!

There are three aspects of relevance we need to talk here.

First is page-level relevance.

A links page that is highly relevant to the topic of your content piece increases your chances of getting a link from that resource page.

Let's say, you own a content asset about the types of sleeping disorders. A highly relevant page for that is a resource page on sleeping disorders or sleeping issues. In this case, it makes sense for the webmaster to link to your content asset because it actually what he covers on his page.

sleep resources page

Second is category-level relevance.

There are resource pages that don't cover specifics for your content topic but has a section for it.

In my given example, a category-level relevant page is a resource page about disorders. It's not necessarily about sleeping disorders but if it has a section on sleeping disorders, then it could be considered as a good link prospect.

B. Use tool ranking scores

Moz has DA and PA. Ahrefs has DR and PR (know how their new DR is calculated).

moz metrics

It's been a discussion in the SEO community which one to use for link qualification. Is it Ahrefs metric or Moz metric?

To be honest, I personally don't have a specific answer to that.

Given Moz has built its brand and its metric is dominantly used by SEOs. If you're an agency, you'll talk with clients that highly considers Moz metrics as their metric.

You may have to educate your clients to consider relevance as your sole metric or sole metric + other tool ranking scores.

If you're in-house and if you're a business owner, you can have your own list of metrics, i.e. relevance alone, Moz DA + relevance, Ahrefs DA + relevance, or others.

Note: Later, I'll show you a visual resource on what metrics we use for broken link building.

C. Ask yourself, can I really obtain a link from this page?

Not all highly relevant .edu DA70 resource pages will give you links. But there are signals on a resource page you have to see that will help you determine if that page is obtainable for a link or not.

C. 1. Last Updated

There are resource pages that explicitly note the date their page was last updated. If you reach out to a webmaster that has a resource page last updated in 2008, there's a little chance you'll get a link from that.

The more frequent an update on a resource page, the more receptive it is for new resources or links.

C. 2. Matched Content

Are the external links on the resource page match the content you want to build links to? Are they page-level relevant or category-level relevant? If you say yes to these questions, you have a chance to obtain a link.

C. 3. Explicit Notes

Sending pitches to webmasters with no clue of whether they entertain new resources or not is difficult. But there are times when resource pages explicitly state that they are open to add new links or new resources to their links page.

It increases your chance of getting the link, given that the webmaster is open for any link suggestions. Though not a guarantee of link success, but definitely increases your obtainability.

So those are signs that you can acquire a link from a resource page.

Now let's move on to some red flags that once you notice or see on a resource page can immediately give you an idea that's it's not a fit for your content piece or it is low-quality.

Red Flags to look for:

  • Too many outbound links (150 links or higher)
  • Outbound links pointing to low-quality or spammy websites (e.g. .blogspot websites)
  • Page isn't properly designed 
  • Page linking to general lists or resources (no specific topic that they cover 
  • Page linking only to professional organizations, .edu or .gov pages.
  • Old version of HTML page signals that the owner no longer updates it. 

When you landed on resource page, you can immediately see some of these red flags. You may hover your mouse to check pages' URLs for glance.

You can always move on to your next link prospect on your list if you found the current one is not a good fit. 

This simple activity to add to your process is helpful for two reasons: first, you ensure that links that'll be added to your link list is definitely high-quality and second, it saves you minutes/hours of time - otherwise, reaching out to them will add up to your outreach hours.

For more visual learners, and to provide a resource for this process, we’ve created the following handy flowchart for your decision tree on whether or not to collect the resource page.

Case to case basis, there are other factors to consider but this guide should give you the thought process of link qualification.

find-broken-links-contact-persons-emails

Now that you know how to prospect for resource page opportunities and qualify each one of them to suit your link objectives, it's time to find any broken links (if there are existing ones on a page).

FINDING BROKEN LINKS

You don't have to manually open each external link to a new tab to see if they're working or not. It’s pretty time-consuming if you do that.

There are tools to help you with finding any defunct (broken) links on your prospect page.

First is LinkMiner. It is created by Jon Cooper of PointblankSEO which only requires a click on your toolbar then the tool itself will automatically check the entire page for any broken links and highlights them in red color.

linkminer

Next is AtomSEO Broken Link Checker (h/t to Jayson Bagio). Another Chrome Extension tool for finding broken links which you can also run using a keyboard shortcut.

atomseo link checker

Note: It's important to check again the external link if it's a 404 or a live page. Those aforementioned tools aren't perfect, they may at times, highlight links as red (meaning its 404), when they're otherwise not.

CONTACT FINDING

Next is to find the right contact person and look for his or her email address.

There are a lot of advices about this matter. Many SEOs recommend using a contact finding tool to scrape any available email addresses on a given website and all you have to do is to choose one or two you can use for outreach.

I've been doing outreach for years and I'd say that one factor to a failed outreach campaign is reaching out to the wrong contact person.

No matter how linkable your content piece is, if it's not seen by the right contact person who actually manages the resource page, it won't acquire the desired link.

The best way to find the correct contact person and his/her email is to manually search for on the page/site.

I'm currently working with a VA whose role is to find broken links (if any) on resource pages and look for the right contact persons with their respective contact emails.

If you have a document process, it'd be easy for you to delegate this task to a team member/VA whether you're an agency SEO or in-houseSEO.

So here are two document processes for contact finding and broken link finding that I personally use.

broken link finding process

conduct-outreach

This section focuses on conducting outreach in Gmail. It is geared towards SEO teams with ~2 link builders and those agencies who prefer a low-cost approach when doing outreach.

If you're currently using premium outreach tools, I recommend reading this outreach guide in using Buzzstream at PointblankSEO.

For Gmail users, continue reading.

gmail for outreach

First off, Gmail is fascinating because it is free and is easy to use. The orientation for its usage is so low that if you hire someone for outreach, you don't have to spend lots of time to train him/her on how to use the platform. 

However, if you don't have setup a workflow process that organizes everything from initial pitch to converting the links, you'll end up wasting time in identifying outreach status level of every conversation.

The key to make Gmail organized for outreach is to use Labels.

Labels

Labels is a cool feature of Gmail that allows you to “segmentize” your emails by their current relationship status. It means that when you see your email inbox, you know that a thread is for a particular link building campaign (client), a thread has gotten a link or a thread is waiting for a response from the recipient.

gmail labels

Organization in Spreadsheets

Given that you don't have a platform to collect your link targets (unlike with Buzzstream), you should have a spreadsheet for collecting link prospects and for tracking your outreach relationships when you pitch them.

For example, at SharpRocket, we've been using colors to highlight a certain row in Spreadsheet and know if it's been reached out already, needs a follow-up or we had just acquired a link from a resource page. This allows our outreach specialists to know which stage a prospect is currently in.

spreadsheet rows

We also created a column for the status of a link.

status relationship level spreadsheet

These two micro-activities to our outreach workflow helps us to avoid confusion and manage our link builders' performances properly.

Once you've setup labels and spreadsheets, it's time to pitch your outreach prospects.

Personas

You don't start your outreach by creating email templates, though that is important and should primarily be used to scale sending off your initial emails.

However, if you want to create initial emails that are relevant and that catches the attention of your link targets, you first have to start with defining your outreach personas.

Outreach personas are commonly used to better understand a certain industry’s' outreach market's behavior based on demographics, needs and interests.

For example, Jayson Bagio at Gobiggr use four personas when reaching out to contact persons of .edu websites.

gobiggr outreach persona

As you can see, these four student personas have different needs and interests when pitching link curators on .edu websites, whether it's for a research or project purpose or simply just recommending a resource they've found useful on their behalf.

The other reason of using outreach personas is to test which persona is more receptive to outreach prospects and could more likely acquire links in the process.

By doing so, you can replicate the same process on other link building campaigns (not only for BLB) to increase your response and link acquisition rates.

kaiserthesage outreach personasOnce you're done with creating your outreach personas, your next stop is to start pitching your backlink targets.

There are two outreach methodologies that you can use: broken link outreach and content suggestion.

Broken Link Outreach

You are applying here the law of reciprocity. That is when you tell to the webmaster which of his/her links aren't working (and sending appropriate link replacementsl), he or she will be more likely to return a favor to you - that is, to include your content asset as an additional resource to his page.

If you're eyeing for a template in this post, here's one good example from Jon Cooper that we've been using effectively for initial resource link pitching:

Initial template with broken links:

Subject: Found an error on your [Resource Page Template]

Hi [First Name],

I was browsing the [Page Title] page on your site when I encountered a few broken links. I didn’t know if you’d be interested in knowing, but if you are, I’d be happy to point out which ones I stumbled across.

-[User First Name] [User Last Name]

Keys to Success:

  • A/B test your initial emails' subject lines (you can use Found a problem on your {Resources} page or Found a 404 on your page).
  • Not aggressive, but polite and brief email message - coming off as a real human.
  • You can customize based on your persona but the principle of baiting a response by saying you've found errors is still the same.

By this time, you're expecting responses like, "Please let us know which link is broken".

give me errors email

Your response to that is based on his/her response. But basically, you can use a semi-template to answer the question, "Which page are you referring to and which link/s is/are broken?".

Template response with broken links:

Thanks [First Name],

I’m happy to send them over. The ones I encountered were here ([Linking From]):

  • [Broken Link #1]
  • [Broken Link #2]
  • [Broken Link #3]

Hope that helps. Also, is there any chance I could make a quick suggestion? *CRAFT CUSTOM FROM HERE*

Well, if I come across any other website errors, I’ll be sure to reach out.

-[User First Name]

Here's what this template looks like in actual outreach:

sending errors emailContent Suggestion

Your main value is offer a content asset that is worthy to be added on the resource page, and that is dependent on how comprehensive and educational your content is.

Below is a template you can use as your initial pitch for links pages without broken links:

Hi [First Name],

I was checking out some of the resources listed on the [Page Title] page of your website, and I noticed that I knew of a couple resources that might be worth adding. Would you be interested if I sent them over? If not, I totally understand, just thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask.

-[User First Name] [User Last Name]

We've encountered several responses wherein they don't accept new link suggestions from outsiders, so another way to start your pitch is to ask if they're still updating their page (A/B test these two initial outreach templates).

Hi [First Name],

Just saw your note on your Resources page about new suggestions, so thought I’d check and see if you’re still updating the page. If you are, I'm happy to pass along a few new resources for review. If not, can’t say I didn’t ask!

-[User First Name] [User Last Name]

When the webmaster replies, your response should be as direct and short as possible, but ultimately explaining how valuable the content asset that you are suggesting.

Response without broken links:

Thanks [First Name]!

*CRAFT CUSTOM FROM HERE*

Well, thanks again for your time, I really appreciate your consideration. Anyways, hope you have a great rest of the week!

-Jon

An example of an actual response that got us a link is here:

live link email

For many reasons, some webmasters will not respond to your initial emails. You then need to follow them up.

Your follow-up isn't to harass the person to get back to you immediately. We are human beings and as you come off as polite as possible, you're more likely to receive a response from them.

This template below is easy to customize when you send it to your prospects who didn't not respond initially.

Follow-up:

Hi [First Name] – just checking to see if you ever got the below. If you have, my apologies!

-[User First Name]

monitor-links

Your prospects may tell you if they've added your content link to their resource pages.

link added email

Some aren't kind enough to tell you, so that leaves you to monitor links prospects that you pitched them and have added your link without saying.

You can manually check each resource pages' source codes and find your domain there.

view source code

That might consume a lof of your time, so I highly suggest to use MonitorBacklinks where you can upload all your links prospects and it'll ease the entire process of telling you if there is your link is active on the page.

monitor backlinks

Over time, you'll see the results of your hard work. One way to monitor the link performance of your content piece is to use Ahrefs page level section.

new backlinks monitor

Most linkable assets designed for broken link building are supporting sections of middle and bottom-of-the funnel pages by internally linking to them. That being said, links generated for those linkable assets can lift the authority of the overall domain one way or another.

If you've been wondering if broken link building can work for your site, or if you haven't gotten through the entire process I've shared above, you may consult us for link building analysis.

We are also looking for potential clients whom we can work together for our blogger outreach services.


image link building

9 Powerful Image Link Building Strategies (That Actually Work)

If there's one under-utilized content asset of any website today for link building, I'm pretty sure it's images.

Most of you think it has lesser link acquisition value than other content types - probably for two reasons: One, it doesn't catches longetivity.  Unlike a typical 3500-word utlimate guide, normal images don't inform a lot of messages.

Two, it's plain, simple and most of the time, it's commercial-context. If a visual asset originates from your company for example (i.e. branded team photos), you would think it's not usual for a blogger to link to such a particular piece. And your next problem is, how can I can remove the commercial intent in these images?".

These examples of link builder's dilemma causes you not to believe much in the power of image link building.

I hope that at the end of this post, you would have plently of ideas how you can use images to build links for your site.

Below is a list of 9 image link building strategies that we had the most success with. They can be used in conjuction with others in order to increase the value of the proposition for outreach.

1. SKYCRAPE OLD INFOGRAPHICS

If the word "infographics" is for sale in the SEO market, I think it's sold out already (and perhaps a best seller).

Just kidding..

Infographics are abused in almost all industries. Try searching for your "industry" + "INFOGRAPHIC" as your keyword phrase in Google, and you'll start seeing tons of infographics published.

Not all of them are giving much value to users, ofcourse.

One way you can do to breakthrough the noise is to observe your industry's visual market and see which visuals previously gained success and which ones didn't worked out well.

By doing that you can start digging into old and most-linked images. When you see one, you start to strategize how to update it and give a revamp.

Skysrape an old visual asset.

How can you do that at scale?

Use Buzsumo and its "infographic filter" and go search for a topic that's relevant to your industry.

buzzsumo search filter

filtered infographics search results buzzsumo

You enter industry keywords and look for previous infographics that gotten shares and links, some just earned shares, and it's okay. In visual marketing, there's a neat probablity shares could result to a few links.

Further Reading: 4 Intermediate Tips to Improve Guestographics

2. UTILIZE EVENT EXPERIENCES LINKS USING FREELANCE PHOTOGRAPHY

Events become memorable because of great experiences. No one will deny that he wants go back to certain events where he had a great time with, at the same date and same place, if possible,.

It's classic. And what would make someone remember those events?

Photos.

If you can utilize event experiences with freelance photos, there's a huge link opportunity that awaits you. Get someone to cover an event with freelance photography.

Instead of sponsoring bucks or free pizzas for after-event parties, hire a freelance photographer to cover that event.

Get those high-quality captures and upload them on a specific page on your website - and dedicate that page just for that event.

event photos

Reach out to event organizers and let them know that you have captured great experiences on your website, and these are publicly available for republishing/resourcing. Politely ask those who have used your photos to credit you as the original source.

Depending on vertical markets, if there are niche bloggers/marketers/PR professionals who may have attended the event, there are more link opportunities that you'd see coming from participants' own websites.

3. CREATE CONTENT FOR "QUOTES" KEYWORD

People love inspiration. And getting quotes from anywhere is one way to hype up one's day.

fitness quotes

Knowing that, if you take industry quotes (e.g. parenting quotes) to a keyword research tool, you'll see that there's an immense opportunity to cover a content specific to that.

parenting quotes

Though most industry quotes that you'll see is just a compilation of all sayings/wordings from different sources or people, there are sure-fire ways to help your content get more visibility and definitely help it rank on search.

Ross Hudgens shared that in a post on ranking for "quotes" keyword:

  1. Aim for the Most Quotes on the SERP - which means if you see 80 quotes, try to aim for 120 or 150 for example.
  2. Make Shareable Images for Some Quotes - shareability is important to get more visibility to the content.
  3. Use Longtail KWs as H2s or Filters - to rank for related keywords, like "parenting a child with disabilities" quotes", you can categorize quotes based on different audience intent.
  4. Add Share CTAs on Individual Quotes - add customized tweet-to-share buttons to individual quotes to increase social shares.

In addition, here are some more actionable tips to maximize quotes content for link building.

First is to include sayings or statements of your industry influencers.

By having them at your blog spotlight, there's a reason for them to share your "quotes" page as you give them exposure upfront.

One way to find their best statements is to check their top-performing/best articles. Get one or two statements they said powerfully (and probably would be found valuable to other people in your industry).

Create an individual graphic just for that. Then, reach out to those influencers and share your content.

Second is to make it part of a big post.

If you're creating a content that you think one quote from your "quotes" page can best fit, make it as part of that content. By doing so and including a link to your "quotes" page, you increase its visiblity - that more people wil visit and check the page.

4. REPOINT SLIDESHARE LINKS TO YOUR WEBSITE

Whether it's a personal brand or corporate profile, if there's a brand ambassador, marketer and industry practitioner in your organization that gets invited to speak to different events, then chances are you'll have a library of slide decks.

You may haven't uploaded them yet on your own website or on public platforms like SlideShare.

But if you do, congrats! Otherwise, there's a missed opportunity there to get links. In fact, in industries where there is a huge demand for expertise information, slides are strong assets for links.

If you have uploaded your slides in Slideshare, track how many links it organically receives. You can semi-automate this process by creating alerts to give you email notications when a link to a specific page has been found.

Ahrefs can help you with this.

slideshare links

You can go deeper by tracking mentions of a popular slide you have uploaded (which you probably have the confidence that it'll get shared massively and earned links based on its initial visibility).

Say, if it has been viewed thousand times without much promotion, you may be expecting it to be seen more organically and if boost it with manual promotion, there's a high chance it can receive some links.

Your next action then is to send emails to publishers who have embedded your slide/s in their content and ask if they could link to your website.

Nudge bloggers with specific anchor text that they may use, i.e., you can state lines like this in your emaill, "You may link to [domain.com] with texts like, via "Brand/Persona".

via link slideshare linksBy doing so, you increase your conversion rate, as you remove the commerciality intent of your pitch.

This link building tactic is simple yet undertutilized by link builders for clients with strong speaking portfolio.

Further Reading: The Definitive Guide to Link Reclamation

My fifth image link building tip is connected to the method above.

5. CURATE CONFERENCE SLIDES

One clever way I've seen in company blogs doing to get more site visibiity is publishing a curated list of slide presentations of all the speakers when they have organized an event.

search love 2017 slides curation

Some SEOs may just look at it as a simple marketing strategy, but it's a crafty newsjacking idea to put a list of visuals that often have high demands for consumption.

How many people have asked speakers this question, "will you upload your slide presentation online?".

There's many of them - attendees who are always looking for speakers' decks.

And if they've found the organizer's blog that puts up a page for those resources, would they not be willing to share or link to it?

The essential here is that you have to be the organizer yourself and been able to publish slides first among every other else (because speakers tend to publish theirs on their own blogs as well).

Besides creating a page that is dedicated to those slides, it's also important to upload those pieces in your Slideshare account to get more organic visiblity (as they have chances to rank for long-tail industry keywords).

slideshare links rank page one

Imagine if there are 3 to 5 slides (just you curating it) has earned links from blogs in your industry. It's 5 or 10 links acquired with just simple method!

Just reaching out to them and reclaiming those links, asking if they can credit you as the source of those visual assets.

6. TRACK MENTIONS OF FLICKR ACCOUNT

Flickr maybe an old platform for people uploading photos online. But it can still be a gateway for links in respective industries where images are heavy-indexed, like travel, lifestyle and home improvement.

flickr links account

Flickr profiles with customized photos are getting links from time and time - and if you've got one, find out who used your images.

You email the contact person and ask if it is possible not to link to your Flickr profile, but to your direct website itself.

There are strong signs of linking, such in the case with links that have via [Name] or Photo captured by [Name] below the embedded slide deck.

photo captured by link

You can insert lines in your email that say, You may provide a source of link in your caption text (via domain.com).

If you got it right, that's a few homepage links you'll never just easily get from other link building methods.

7. RANKING OPPORTUNITIES WITH VISUAL CONTENT USING PINTEREST

When ranking your website in Google, it's imperative to find low-hanging keywords you can easily rank without much due diligence in promotion, especially if you're a relatively new website.

Those keywords are goldmine opportunities that may only require you to put a content that is only 2x better than other pages in search results.

And be mindful that you don't have to create 10x content just to rank. With an average DA of your domain, it's possible to steal those easy organic traffic.

One brilliant tip to find those visual ranking opportunities (h/t to @dan_shure) is with the use of Pinterest.

Pinterest pages rank for keywords you may haven't thought that are relevant to your industry. Some keyphrases even have high link intent, which gives you enough confidence for manual outreach.

How to start this content creation approach?

Put Pinterest into semrush.com. (I prefer SEMRush than Ahrefs when filtering millions of organic keywords straight on the platform without exporting CSV files).

domain pinterest.com

Your next step is to filter keywords by your topic + "ideas" or "images".

industry ideas semrush

Then filter again with keyword difficulty.

Do this method every month to find newly suggested or searched keywords and you'll have endless visual keyword opportunities you can rank content with.

For example, "backyard fence ideas" keyword has Pinterest pages with good link intent (20+ average linking root domains).

backyard fence ideas

That keyword opportunity alike, given in your respective industry, is something you can grab and create 2x content with it which passively helps you earn links when you rank.

8. REVERSE ENGINEER IMAGE SITE LINKS

Image links, for some of you who don't know, are links pointing to your site not with the use of an anchor text, but with an image.

Image links are acquired from different approaches. Here are some common examples:

Image directories 

Example link

indulgy

Loyalty cards

Example link

loyalty card image site link 1

loyalty card image site link 2

Partnerships or Sponsors

Example linkpartnership or sponsor image link -

Professional Organization Links

Example link

professional organization image link

As you can see, these are legitimate links, that are mostly executed from a traditional partnership perspetive, i.e. the case with professional organization. You join a partner group and they give you link from their partners/association page.

In most cases, these links are hard to get by just doing outreach, and requesting for a link.

You don't do that. for sure. These are gold mines. You think and plan how to acquire the link properly.

But with good approach and if your brand permits you to sponsor/partner/join or even create a loyalty card for customers, it's not only a branding opportunity. But along the way, you can create image links.

How did it started?

Put up a competitor's domain to a link prospecting tool.

competitor link analysis

Go to its Backlinks profile and export a backlink report (CSV).

csv backlink report

Filter the list with words containting "Image" to only find image links, either do-follow or un-follow.

image type filter

Search through potential link opportunities. Understand how your competitor acquired links. Some may take manual outreach, others may take weeks to partner for a program. But there are a few that only requires to create a profile and upload images, just like this one.

polyvore image link

9. IMAGE SHARE WITH OTHER WEBSITES

Honestly, not all image link building tactics can best fit for your website.

But if there's one tip that is very simple to do to build links through images is you approach publishers and give them permission to use any of your visuals.

By giving them permission, you provide value upront that sets you apart from other link pitches, that say, "give me a link".

Jason Acidre established a solid image link building strategy of creating a private gallery/library of images and cinemegraphs and offering it to bloggers in exchange of links.

cinemagraph example

With more bloggers caring more about the design of their content, they'll likely perceive your pitch as highly valuable, especially if it's given for them intentionally and for free.

If you don’t have the time or inclination to do them, you should probably find someone who can. Learn more about our link building services.


23 Actionable Tips to Get Backlinks in 2016

23 Actionable Tactics to Get Backlinks in 2018

23 Actionable Tips to Get Backlinks in 2016

As a company who loves building backlinks, it’s a must to do for us to come up with new innovative link building tips, not for the sake of posting something new here on the blog, but for keeping continuous improvements on how to get backlinks to our clients.

How to Get Backlinks

Here are some tips to get backlinks to your site in 2018.

1. PRIORITIZE AUTHORS' FAVORITE LISTS

author favorite lists

You might have used “list-type” of queries to find backlink sources. However, the problem with some directory sites listing “top industry blogs” is that they are outdated and often include bloggers’ other websites (private blog network) – when overlooked, this might actually lead you to low-quality backlink prospects.

Instead of getting quick backlink sources from “top x” blog prospecting, you can look for author’s personal recommendation of websites by using simple Google searches like “personal [industry] blogs I recommended”. With this, you’ll find an updated and topically-relevant list pages of recommended blogs. This is  actually part of personalizing search queries for a targeted link prospecting approach.

personal finance blogs recommended

Adding a few lines to your email like, “I stumbled upon a list of personal recommended blogs from domain.com and saw that you’re part of it” could make outreach significantly more effective. When you are giving people an idea where you got their contacts, you are instantly building connections with them.

2. USE CMS ATTRIBUTION TO QUALIFY PROSPECTING

cms attribution

Using footprints to make backlink research easier has been a common practice in the internet marketing space. If you typically prospect with “guest post-related queries”, it becomes less hassle to find blogs that are accepting contributed content pieces.

Of course, do this sparingly if you don’t want search engines to detect backlinks with only one keyword in place – i.e. “guest post finance”.

That’s not to say that footprints aren’t of good use for link builders. The best practice is actually using them as a backlink qualifier.

For example, you probably have seen blogger attributions at the footer section of every website (“powered by blogger” or “powered by wordpress”). Websites with this type of attribution are personally developed by sole bloggers or those who are at their newbie blogging phase – not with company sites, they’ll likely remove this default attribution and replace it with something else, “Designed by [Web Company” or “Copyright 2017”.

If you’re seeking blog opportunities, you can use CMS attribution to separate blogs from company sites – giving you better response and link acquisition results.

3. RECONNECT TO EMAILS WITH AUTOMATED RESPONSES

out of office email

When you send pitches to webmasters and get automated responses, it’s fairly easy to ignore them and proceed to another prospect in the list. However, if you spend time finding these potential backlinks, it would be best to reconnect again and build bridges to them.

For this reason, you can check the exact date the person is likely to return to work – 100% of the time, this is visible in their automated emails (see the email above).

Schedule follow-up emails at return dates, and use the same value proposition you’ve initially pitched.

4. LEVERAGE TWITTER LISTS FOR BULK PROSPECTING

twitter list personal finance

Marketers talk about using Twitter solely for content promotion all the time. However, on a link building perspective, you can actually use this social platform to prospect for blogs that aren’t just giving you social shares, but also qualified backlinks.

Start your Google search with query, site:twitter.com inurl:lists inurl:members inurl:finance “finance blogger” and prioritize Twitter lists that are labeled with recommended experts, influencers, top bloggers and titles alike, so you would spend less time qualifying linking websites from Twitter profiles in lists based on link metrics.

twitter list google search

This works more efficiently if you can automate this link prospecting process using URL Profiler. You can check out this step by step guide to scrape Twitter lists to for bulk prospecting.

5. USE FACEBOOK FOR CONTENT AGGREGATION

facebook content aggregation

James Norquay introduced me to this idea of generating content ideas through the use of Facebook page. A simple trick like asking a relevant question to thousands of followers (if the client happens to maintain this growth) can ease the difficulty of brainstorming a content theme that resonates a target audience.

Having said that, this is a powerful workflow a content marketer can repeatedly execute, not only for content creation, but also for increasing the chances of promoting the content. If you aggregate answers from followers, you can effortlessly ask them to share the content piece, once published.

Facebook allows for more content visibility when people get nudged for every comment that is added to the post, as it pushes back to the timeline every time – giving some feedback to every answer, i.e. saying thank you also provides extra nudge.

6. BUILD PERSONAL BRAND IN WEB COMMUNITIES

inbound ama

Generating backlinks from web communities is tough. If your main strategy is creating individual profiles from each of these community sites and inserting backlinks to your brand, you’re missing out huge potential equities you could derived from them.

The best 2017 link building practice is to impress members with contributed content, interesting questions and immediate submission of 10x content. If you repeatedly do this, you’ll create a flywheel effect that builds an impressive online presence, which will eventually result to backlinks.

One pro tip here is to observe Ask Me Anything-like opportunities and become the first one to grab it – while moderators qualify based on expertise, there is a higher probability to be included in their line-up of AMA experts if you become the first to pitch them.

This strategy works for us at SharpRocket, as we’re able to build high-quality backlinks from Reddit (DA70) and Inbound.org (DA90). Not a surprise – this drives converting visitors to our sites who became our current clients today.

7. BUY-IN CONTENT GAP

content gap

Content matters, but it’s not actually the king – value proposition is. What keep pages ranked for a long time is their ability to satisfy users with information they’re looking for.

When you stumble a keyword with high search volume, but with high content gap from any ranking pages, you have spotted a goldmine there. This tip is actually inspired by Dan Shure’s post on Twitter - that is executable when targeting informational searches with nothing to compete in the SERPs.

By giving content chances to rank in low-competitive non-commercial keywords, it’s very possible that many publishers and researchers will pick up the page when it gets ranked and use it as a reference to their content works.

If you can create different content pieces that easily rank in search, of course, you earn high-quality editorial backlinks over time – doing less efforts in outreach.

8. ALIGN OUTREACH WITH HIGH TRAFFIC PERIODS

high traffic periods

If you’re pitching webmasters with right timing – early morning on peak days of the week, you probably see good results in your outreach response and conversion rates. Even if content can speak for itself, when an email isn’t read on days and hours when people are likely to see it, you potentially lose the likelihood of hitting a link.

Having said that, there’s also one best practice that supports right timing – that is, aligning outreach with high traffic periods.

If your most visited days in your newly published content are Tuesday and Thursday, it would be best to reach out to people where there’s higher probability that the relevant outreach market is ready to link to your page. If you’ve got an access to client’s analytics, track the highest traffic periods and match this up when scheduling emails. You can check out this guide for a complete setup on the blogger outreach process.

9. CREATE SUCCESS STORIES-TYPE OF CONTENT

success stories

When working on a round-up post, it’s pretty easy to start emailing industry influencers with a question – what is your best X strategy in 2017?, then end the email with a straight call-to-action, “mind sharing the post?”. This strategy works for some content marketers, but there’s a higher probability that this may not resonate to verticals who understand what this game is – influencers might answer the question but won’t be enticed to share the curated piece.

However, there’s a more advanced way to come up with round-up posts that are likely to result to shares and high-quality links – which only a few content management teams dare to create…. success stories.

Have you encountered a case study that walks you through the entire process on how to do a thing? This immediately takes you to action, right? and encourages you to share the piece to others even without testing it first.

Combine success stories with a round-up post and you’ll end up with a 10x content that is worthy of social shares and high-quality links.

One best example of this is the annual success stories (2013, 2014 and 2015), produced by the content marketing team at PageOnePower. These linkable assets combine different success stories from top link building experts on areas of content promotion, relationships, publicity and mentions, innovation and creative and business-oriented links.

Success-type curated content is unique, comprehensive and repeatable – there’s unlikely contributions will be the same since they’re based from own experiences. Experts combined into one post make the content also comprehensive – making it repeatable given that there are actually new stories to tell every year.

10. INCORPORATE PROSPECT LISTS TO SEARCH QUERIES

xy prospecting

The ability to construct productive Google search queries will separate success from failure in link prospecting. The more concrete and specific a search query is, the better search-driven pages it would yield – after all, it’s about the quality, not quantity. If you see 5 million results from a particular search query while not being sure if most of them pass your link metrics, then it would make sense to get more particular with your link prospecting keywords to discover high-quality link targets instantly.

In our day-to-day tasks of finding and qualifying blog targets for our clients (an average of 500 each client), we’ve noticed that list-type of content dominate the search results.

If you take a look at them, they are constructed in such a way like this:

              • 10 keyword tips for industry
              • 21 reasons why industry
              • 16 rules for industry
              • 27 ways on how to keyword industry
              • 18 types of industry
              • 8 lessons learned from industry
              • 10 steps to keyword
              • 8 facts about keyword

The secret to expanding a list of outreach prospects is using above keyword-formats along with the intitle:”1..300” advanced search operator (hat tip to @pointblankseo)– the first and last number serves as the start and end point, respectively. For example, if you’re looking for blog posts with 10 or more photography tips, you can use the search query: intitle:”10..300 tips” “photography”.

Take advantage of this when you have content – product or resource that is perceivably useful to the audience, which is likely be included in a list-type of content.

11. PREDICT LIFETIME LINK VALUE

Like in other areas of digital marketing, maintenance is critically practiced in link acquisition to ensure link values won’t deteriorate. Backlinks could potentially lose their values for many reasons, such as:

              • When they are placed in off-topic pages or in websites with multi-categories.
              • When they are placed in solely-trending pages (top 2015 best practices) – as time passes by, these pages aren’t perceived as valuable to visitors.
              • When backlinks are temporary placed for particular listings – i.e. sponsorships / annual rented paid links.
              • When backlink growth goes downward – implicating that the webmaster isn’t building links to its webpages anymore.

When link value depreciates, the overall backlink profile could negatively affect the site’s top ranking pages - pulling them down to lower pages of search results. This often happens when backlinks is a differentiating ranking factor to compete in a certain vertical.

Having said that, lifetime link value considers to be a standard metric when qualifying if a link on a particular page/site can offer long term value to the linking brand.

Making the above reasons opposite are the exact tips to ensure backlinks appreciate in its value:

              • Prioritize websites/pages that are topically relevant to your niche – avoid multi-category sites as they have diversified topic values.
              • Invest in getting backlinks from evergreen content or pages that’ll get updated often times due to the demand of the topic. Pages unlikely to be extinct are valuable pages that can rank for in search as well, which translates to constant flow of referral traffic to your site – once you acquired links from them.
              • You can use CognitiveSEO to check the site’s backlink growth and link velocity – if the graph goes upward, it’s a good signal that the webmaster acquire backlinks to its website over time.

When you can predict the lifetime link value of a backlink from a particular domain/page, it’s easy to prioritize outreach prospects – looking at the highest return of investment you could get even from a single backlink.

12. MANIPULATE LINK LISTS WITH LINKCLUMP

linkclump link lists

I’ve been using Linkclump for almost a year now, and it’s a guaranteed of big help for link builders trying to expand their link lists in less time. The tool enables you to open links on search results or custom lists in new tabs or new windows - with a simple drag using the right mouse button on the target area.

Linkclump also allows multiple links to be bookmarked or copied to clipboard for immediate or future use. Smart select opens done this way, when combined in several minutes is a huge time saver for bulk link prospecting.

There is still one particular use of Linkclump that others aren’t familiar with, but definitely provides great value - filter links that contain or exclude particular words. For example, if you’re working on a guest blogging campaign – with no particulars on sponsored posts, you can add the words, sponsored post, sponsored, paid post as words to be excluded when manipulating link lists. With this, you won’t open links that contain particular words that aren’t relevant to a link building tactic you’re using – another time-saver tip.

13. LEVERAGE CONTENT REUSAGE

content reusage workflow

Content reusage, commonly termed as content curation coined by Aleyda Solis, is the process of organizing and presenting outside content in a new, meaningful way either through updating, expanding, reformatting, curating and refocusing a particular content piece.

Utilizing content reusage as part of your entire link acquisition campaign drives significant advantage to determining an outreach market. For example, an outdated content piece with 100+ referring domains linking to it, can be revisited and plugged in to a favorite backlink research tool (Ahrefs, OSE or CognitiveSEO) to see which of the links are obtainable. Once the updated version of the content has been published on your site, it’s easier to build backlinks to the page given that there’s an available and qualified backlink prospects to reach out and to acquire backlinks from.

14. USE TAXONOMIES TO EXPAND LINK LISTS

categories

There is one advantage when competing in non-marketing heavy verticals – some bloggers and webmasters aren’t taught of non-indexing pages to avoid duplication issues and help the website maintain only quality pages as part of the site’s search-driven pages.

While this is unfortunate to some publishers, you can use this to your own advantage by constructing search queries with taxonomies, such as tags and categories.

Based on our internal research, we’ve found out that using the above search queries generate more qualified backlink prospects than using normal searches like how to x in industry – being more specific with keywords when using inurl:tag (i.e. inurl:tag “startup tips”) are more topically relevant than generic tag keywords.

inurl tag google search

15. COMMENT ON POSTS LIKELY TO RANK

Comment marketing is one of the overlooked and misused link acquisition techniques, primarily because most SEOs don’t see the benefits one can gain from this simple link building trick like setting yourself as an expert in the industry, being invited to become a guest contributor, building relationships with other authority publishers, so on and so forth.

Most importantly, one comment nudge from community-based blogs like this and this can generate hundreds of referral traffic to a site, which may lead to actual assisted conversions without actually spending much time to execute the entire link building tactic.

referral traffic

Be the first one to comment on an authority blog (use RSS feeds plus email to get you notified immediately if there’s a new post that has been published) and make it as part of your regular content efforts with the intent of getting clicks from blog readers (see example above).

Target pages that are likely to rank in search – content assets that are targeted with keywords or content themes instead of plain theories, so when you build a link from these pages, you can constantly send relevant traffic to your site.

16. GENERATE LEADS FROM SOLUTION-BASED BACKLINKS

Increasing visibility in search results through proper link building while getting leads from referral visits (conversion link building) is hitting two birds with one stone. While this may not always happen, but if you can actually anticipate that links built from a relevant site/page could drive potential customers/clients to your brand, this is something you must prioritize in your link development campaign.

Find and participate on topically-relevant discussions that people are actually searching for when looking for recommended products/services. Here is a list of example Google search queries that you can try:

              • Where should I buy / where to buy / “keyword” + inurl:forum
              • Where to get / where can I get / where can you find “keyword” + inurl:forum
              • Who do you recommend “keyword” inurl:forum

Another link building trick here is to find commonly-asked questions with commercial intent on AnswerthePublic and utilize them as search queries with combined search operator inurl.

answerthepublic

Additionally, if you’re targeting multiple verticals or you’re handling a set of clients with the same target audience (i.e. Australian-focused), you can acquire backlinks from multi-category forum sites like Whirlpool. This type of sites often get visited by people who can easily be converted into customers/clients – so it’s a big win to earn backlinks from them.

whirlpool forum

17. PROSPECT EASILY WITH MILLIONSHORT

million short

Link prospecting consumes a lot of hours, three times more than time spent for outreach. So it’s a definite need to use link prospecting tools that filter sites better in less time but still providing relevant pages.

There are a lot of this kind of tools, but one I highly recommend is MillionShort. From the name it derives, it ignores the 1 million most popular websites on the internet, which makes it easier for link builders to find less-authoritative blogs. Needless to say, this is not actually fit for high-level development campaigns, specifically targeting huge online publication sites.

MillionShort has a drop-down list that also provides you the option of removing only the top 100 or the top 100,000. Definitely fit for low to medium-level link development campaigns, the search engine tool helps the entire link prospecting process focused on pages derived from long-tail searches.

dropdownmenu millionshort

18. ESTIMATE LINK PROBABILITY

When you can predict if backlinks are obtainable from a certain page/site, it’s actually easy to decide whether or not that link prospect is worthy to spend minutes of outreach. While there’s no guarantee of exact percentage of link probability, you can estimate it based on a number of indicators, which are listed below:

Consider the context of a link and purpose of page when qualifying prospects. The page may be exactly relevant to your vertical (gardening to gardening) but only offers to demographic-based visitors. For example, in this particular resource, you’ll have less chances of acquiring a link from it if you have a Texas gardening resource page given that the purpose of the page is to provide research-based information to Georgia gardeners – take note that cities of USA have different gardening and landscaping atmospheres/areas.

gardening resource page links

Another indicator to look at is link type – determining if link is local, national or general-focused, contextual or site-wide, resource page link or blog link. If you have an AU-focused html page and is itching to get a link, you will immediately reach out to the owner of this resource page and request for a backlink. But you’ll likely end up in failure because the page mostly links out to pdfs and publications sites.

gardening resource page

Make sure these considerations become part of metrics so you can save time in your outreach process and most importantly, helps you personalize outreach emails with the right context.

19. REQUEST EDITORIAL LINKS FROM SOCIAL LINKERS

Publishers and content creators often reference co-authors in their content assets by mentioning their social profiles (see image above). These social content can actually earn more backlinks than any page in the website, which is a lost equity if you have many of those but are not pointing to your website.

With the use of link tracking tools (see image below), you can discover pages currently linking to your social profiles. Some social links aren’t convertible into editorial links, such as those that are included in a list-type content (top 50 SEOs to follow on Twitter).

ahrefs twitter links

However, there are backlinks that of good use like those that referenced your content, quotes/statements – Brian Dean shared an actionable advice to… and stolen your assets – copied infographic that linked to your social profile, not to your website.

Once you’ve filtered high quality domains that can benefit your site, you can use this email copy to reach out to them:

Hi [Name],

I noticed that you mentioned my content about [topic] in one of your blog posts at [SiteName]. I appreciate you linked to my Twitter profile.

Just wondering if there’s any chance you can link instead to my profile page in my website.

Thank you again,

[Your Name],

The key here is to create a branded page in your website so it’ll be easy for publishers to link to you.

20. RE-ENGAGE DOMAINS THAT REMOVED BACKLINKS

Not all backlinks remain for a long time, some are actually lost or deleted due to webmasters’ preference – either they removed the link in the content or replace it with another content source.

Lost backlinks aren’t easily recovered since the webmaster may actually abandon the site – leaving no rooms for re-engagement. While removed backlinks can still be recovered by doing an outreach to webmasters and asking if they can add back your link or acquire another link from a different page in the same website – both are best ways to get backlinks.

You can start this link building tactic by using Ahrefs to grab websites that removed your backlinks and put them in a list – since these links are normally labeled removed, you can easily identify them in the Ahrefs dashboard.

links removed

Once you’re done with the link list, you can get their contact details and reach out to them. A few ways to make your outreach works more effective:

              • If the page doesn't exists anymore, you can ask current linkers if they are interested in republishing the page but with updated information this time, and if they did say yes, collaborate with them for the new version of the content.
              • If  the page still exists but your link was removed, there are higher chances that the publisher is looking for new and updated resources. Go back to your content and update it, then loop back to the publisher and ask him to let the resource be included.

Given that you’ve built previous relationships with these webmasters in your initial pitch, you would get a better response rate compared to pitching cold emails to new outreach prospects.

21.GUEST POST PROSPECTING USING BRANDMENTIONS

Guest blogging still works, but how it is practiced differentiates great content marketers from newbies. If you’ve been prospecting in search using the same and only footprints in 2012 (guest post by, sponsored post, etc..), you are missing out a lot of other opportunities that could easily be converted into links.

One way to prospect for guest blogging opportunities is through the use of web mention tools like BrandMentions or Mention to find recently published guest posts that are relevant to your industry.

Finding these link targets makes a lot of difference in your link acquisition results given that they are more receptive to outreach compared to domains gathered through search footprints.

22. EARN LINKS USING SLIDE DECKS

In a content-based link acquisition process, it always start with finding the available resources a client/business have. Whether it’s online or offline, these assets if used extensively, can entice publishers and niche-like content creators to link to your site.

Offline events like trainings and seminars have slide presentations that are ready to be uploaded to Slideshare. If you’ve got a client with these assets, you’re reaching a goldmine others won’t consider in their own link acquisition campaigns.

If you take a look at Rand Fishkin’s Slideshare profile, he had 100 different slide presentations on his account, which if you’ll plug in over to your favorite link building tool, you’ll discover 3,778 total links from 252+ different LRDs – linked by publishers in three different ways:

              • Directly linking to the presentation
              • Linking to the Slideshare profile
              • Embedding the slide deck on their websites.

slideshare links opensite explorer

Export a list of linking sites or create your own and filter them based on quality. Once done, you can brainstorm link building tactics on what to execute for each filtered domain, below are some examples:

              • Create your own page in your website with all presentations embedded then pitch publishers to source link to that particular page.
              • Offering them exclusive write-up about your upcoming events or overview of presentations and they’ll get the benefit of exposure on your client’s talks (e. featured on this news site/publication – one slide).
              • Ask bloggers if they’ll be interested to conduct an interview with your client in relevant proportion to his slide presentation.
              • Propose a guest post idea to the publishing site that expands the content theme of the slide deck.

The main advantage of these slideshare link opportunities is that they convert better than other asset link sources, as some (event participants) had actually interacted with your client.

23. PERSONALIZE EMAILS TO GENERIC EMAIL ADDRESSES

generic emai -addresses

If you know a person runs a website but can’t find a particular email address, you’ll likely send a generic outreach email to a generic email address – asking the person if he can forward your email to the right person. You won’t be aware but this type of emails often get deleted instantly. The webmaster may only be using the generic email address for personal conversations.

Additionally, if you are not doing outreach for generic emails and proceed to another prospect on your list, you’ll miss out the link that could be converted through a conversation with the person behind the generic email-ad.

Needless to say, always use the name of the webmaster or publisher as part of your greetings – personalizing your email even for generic email addresses.

OTHER USEFUL RESOURCES:

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 backlinks.

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


link prospector

Link Prospector: How to Get 3000 Prospects in 5 Minutes

In my work in SharpRocket, I often am asked what is the "best link prospecting tool" to scale link building campaigns for clients.

This post aims to answer that question.

Disclaimer: I'm not an affiliate of the tool that I'll be sharing with you - it's just that I highly recommend you try it out if you struggle with link prospecting.

There are only a few link builders that I respect in the industry because of their deep expertise and love for sharing insights that will best help the SEO community. Garrett French is one of them. He is the founder of Citation Labs, a link building agency and creator of Link Prospector Tool.

His tool can help semi-automate the search-query prospecting process that will definitely save hours of doing it manually.

Here's a walkthrough of how you can use Link Prospector.

If you already know how to use the tool, jump in straight to Feature Tips to get some goldmine tips.

Step 1: Create a Campaign

As soon as you sign up and login, you can start creating a campaign. I recommend that you name it after your Client or your Website so as not to get confused if you have several clients to work for in the future.

create new campaign link prospector

Step 2: Choose a Specific Link Type

Next is to start finding link prospects. Click on Find New Prospects in the Navigation bar.

find new prospects link prospector

Select the report type that suits your link building needs. For example, if you want resource or links pages, then choose links pages (pretty easy right?).

report type link prospector

Click on Create Links Pages Report

create links pages report link prospector

Step 3: Name Your Link Report and Set Advanced Options

I suggest naming your report under a niche such as snoring or flood planning. You can always go back to specific reports when you have another very specific client in the same industry or have a content asset on the same topic. 

report name create link prospector

ADVANCED OPTIONS

If you want your link prospects to be very targeted, I suggest you choose customize search features on advanced settings.

Click on Show Advanced Options.

show advanced options link prospector

Let me pause a few seconds here.

You need to strategize your prospecting based on these options.

advanced options link prospector

Let's check each one of them:

    • Report Update Frequency - if you want your reports to be updated with new link prospects, you can choose update frequency as weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. But if you're doing an ad-hoc campaign, I suggest you choose Run Once.
    • Language - don't change the default (English) unless you're tapping into Non-English markets.
    • Select Region - choose the location you want searches to be queried from. This is best customized for country-specific link prospecting campaigns (e.g. tapping .co.uk backlink targets).
    • Select Scope - leave it default if you're not targeting news pages.
    • Select Depth - this allows you to choose how many results you want from each query. For example, if you type 4 custom queries and you choose a depth of 700, you'll get 2800 total results.
    • TLD - choose the top level domains preferred for the results. They can be .edu, .gov, .org, .com, .us, .mil or other.
    • Date Range - choose whether you want to get results from the past 24 hours, week, month or year.
    • SafeSearch Filters
    • Send Email Notification - choose whether you want to be sent the report to your email address or to another email address.
    • Exclude Domains from - click or unclick Global Exclusions or Campaign Exclusions (more on this later).
    • Research Phrases - include topical keywords to yield better search results. For more insights on non-SEO keywords, watch this video below:

Step 4: Start Prospecting and Wait For Your Report

When you have customize your report based on your needs in the advanced options and have included research phrases, the tool will give you its equivalent report cost, and show your available credits.

When you have decided your options are final, click on Start Prospecting.

report cost start prospecting link prospector

Once you've submitted a report, wait for around 10 to 25 minutes for it to be ready. Do something else while waiting. The report will give you a number of results based on the number of research phrases and in-depth scope. For example, for 5 queries (research phrases) with 700 in-depth, it will give you 3500 prospects.

Here's what individual report will look like:

link report link prospector

When you have run a few reports, your campaign page screen will look like this.

niche prospects link prospector

It shows you how many prospects you have for each report.

Step 5: Export Paths/Domains to Get Your Report

You'll see two options at the upper right side of your report screen, "Export Domain" and "Export Paths".

export domains paths unique link prospector

Export Domain feature gives you a list of the domains found in the report as a CSV file (e.g. sharprocket.com.ph) while Export Paths gets you a list of all the URL paths found in the report (e.g. sharprocket.com.ph/links-pages).

For each domain, there may be two or more URLs found that are queried based on your link types. See example below.

paths to domains link prospector

When you click on the number drop down, it shows you two URLs within the website.

I suggest you choose Export Paths for page-level link opportunities (resource pages, guest posts opportunities, sponsorships, etc..) and Export Domains for domain-level link targets that doesn't require you to target a specific page to get a link from (e.g. content promotion blogs).

Once you've exported URLs (for Export Paths), your CSV file when downloaded will look like this:

csv file link prospects link prospector

LINK PROSPECTOR FEATURE TIPS:

This section is to give you some tips on how to use Link Prospector more effectively helping you provide better targeted link opportunities.

The first tip is:

1. USE NON-SEO KEYWORDS AS RESEARCH PHRASES

If you have watched the video I've shared earlier, Garett French emphasized heavily about using non-SEO keywords or words as your research phrases in the tool. The reason is that the topical keywords can give you more page-level link opportunities, as they are more informational than commercial in nature.

One method that you can use is by doing a Google search for research phrases to check if they are more topical than commercial. If most webpages on the first page are commercial pages, you're less likely to get links.

research phrases link prospector

If you are struggling to add more research phrases, I recommend that you do a Google search for one topical phrase. And have a simple look at page titles and descriptions of URLs on the first page search results.

You'll then uncover phrases you haven't thought of relevant to your topical phrase that can be used as research phrases in Link Prospector.

other research phrases google search

Useful Resource: 4 Advanced Link Prospecting Techniques for Increased Efficiency

2. LEVERAGE .EDU AND .GOV TLD SEARCH FILTER

If you've been very specific with your prospecting, I recommend that you utilizeTLD advanced search option of Link Prospector.

For example, if you only want to find .edu and .gov links pages, it's better to choose .edu as your preferred TLD to filter results to only yield .edu link targets.

tld edu link prospector

It's plain and simple.

3. MAXIMIZE GLOBAL OR CAMPAIGN EXCLUSIONS

Here's my recommendation:

Before you start creating a report, make a list of sites or pages you need to exclude from searching. These may include social sites like Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter or even the site of your client.

This aids you with the cleaning up process.

For campaign exclusions, I recommend that you get your list from backlink reports of your website generated from a link building tool like Ahrefs - the report is a list of links that you have acquired already for your website.

Make sure you exclude lost links in your campaign exclusions as you may still want to reacquire them in your outreach.

4. PROSPECT FAST BUT QUALIFY BETTER

The hard work isn't exerted in using the tool, but primarily on what you do after you have collected thousands of link opportunities in your hand - that is qualifying them.

Prospect fast but qualify better.

The tool gives you the edge of scalability. But the work doesn't stop there. You have to qualify each and every link target based on relevance Otherwise, it'll be difficult for you to acquire links from them (irrelevant to your niche) or most of your link opps will be too bad (not authoritative websites and spammy). 

In addition, it's important to know the estimated number of quality link targets you can quality from a big report of links.

For example, in my list of 10,000+  unqualified pages, we've generated only 400 DA20+ niche-relevant link opportunities.

On average, we qualify 1000 prospects based on relevance and obtainability within 15 to 25 minutes. So the total time it took us to conduct relevance test for 10,000 pages was 2 1/2 hours to 5 hours.

That may be time-consuming to some of you, so I suggest that you hire a virtual assistant to do the task (a VA with basic skills charges $3 per hour).

With a good documentation/process (.doc) on how to quality each link opportunity, you can generate targeted possible links from thousands of unqualified ones.

5. PUT MORE EMPHASIS ON RELEVANCE THAN DA THRESHOLD

When qualifying link opportunities, some SEOs are heavy on DA numbers as their threshold. It's okay if you've got clients who look at and measure your deliverables based on that.

However, if you have the luxury to strategize on yo ur campaigns and its results, I suggest that you give more emphasis on relevance over DA because if not, you'll miss out on good opportunities.

Tip: Educate your clients regarding link metrics.

In conjunction to this topic, Jon Cooper killed it with his tweets:

jon cooper tweets

If you liked this post, subscribe to our newsletter and follow me on @venchito14.

Need help with your link building campaigns? Check out our link building services here.


guestographics

4 Intermediate Tips to Improve Guestographics

Guestographics is publishing visual assets on external industry blogs with the hope of getting contextual links pointing to a website.

Coined by Brian Dean, the said link building strategy has been abused used in acquiring legitimate links to their sites. It's effective in industries where bloggers want to delight their audience with new content type (visuals), or want to share data/story/message that deserves to be heard.

A lot of SEO case studies have been published about guestographics. Here's one article where a blogger used guestographics to grow his pet blog's organic traffic by 975% within 6 weeks.

To execute this link building strategy, Brian Dean shows a five-step process that you can run smoothly in your industry.

Step 1: Post an infographic on your site

Step 2: Find sites that write about your infographic’s topic

Step 3: Show them your infographic

Step 4: Offer them unique content (“the bribe”)

Step 5: Get your contextual backlinks

I recommend you read Brian's entire guide to get further details on how to execute each step above.

But for you to get something new today, I'll show you 4 actionable tips on how you can improve the strategy further and also share with you other areas where it can also be applied.

Here we go.

1. UTILIZE EMAIL FRAGMENTS IN VISUAL CONTENT OUTREACH

It's easy to copy and paste an outreach email template from an SEO blog and replicate it on your own outreach campaign. However, without knowing the principles why it worked in the first place, it can only give you initial success.

Emails like I like your blog and found you on [insert link source] or I stumbled upon you on [source] and thought that you'll be interested in my infographic hammered many inboxes of industry bloggers and publishers. They mostly go to spam folder and don't help get returns in email outreach.

The way to stand out in email is to use a compelling, short, and personalized subject line such as this SiegeMedia's subject line format:

[ASSET TYPE] for [WEBSITE]: [POST SUMMARY].

The reasons it's effective is because publishers can easily glance what content type you're trying to pitch to and what your asset contains by simply reading your subject line.

One-punch line can help improve your emails' open rates.

But effective outreach doesn't stop there.

It's important to include specific details that only that website has (Ross calls it email fragments) which gives a personalize hook to your email that will make it look like a one-time sent off email rather than a blast-off one. . 

To test how important email fragments are in linker outreach, I sent a bad outreach email to a high-authority industry publisher with their Website Name not correctly spelled out. Scheduled it to be sent at peak hours.

Then after a hours, I received a response from the editor.

wrong email fragments

Negative.

Five months later, I sent a similar pitch (but with the correct spelling of the website's name) to the same editor.

This time, I received a positive response wanting to publish the visual asset that we've created. They are asking for a custom intro and jpg/png version of the infographic.

correct email fragments

That may be a lame test (just one email) but I believe there are hundreds (if not thousands) of publishers checking their email inbox and choosing which email deserves a response based on how the pitch is structured and personalized.

The more you include email fragments in your pitch, the better results you'll get.

2. LEVERAGE INFOGRAPHIC PROMOTION WITH EMBED BOXES

Publishing your infographic is finishing the first half of the battle (content creation). You have to put more eyeballs to it in order to get traction and naturally earn links - that's the second half (content promotion).

As you know, people put embed boxes after infographics. This allows other bloggers to republish the exact visual asset on their own blogs without asking for permission from the original publisher.

This approach initiates the promotion of the visual asset.

Now take this step to the next level by giving a code to bloggers that'll allow them to put their own embed box on their blogs when republishing your visual asset. The publisher who then embeds the asset will also have an embed code with your details.

When bloggers look at your republished content and are interested to do the same on their own blogs, it's easy for them to republish it.

That way, it multiplies the promotion two times without having to reach out to bloggers who have read/connected with republishers.

When you pitch bloggers, you only give them an attachment of the image (png/jpg) for them to upload it on their sites. But it'd be much easier for them to publish the asset it you just send them a code.

The code should contain not only the image but also an embed code after the image. The code should look like this:

Let bloggers share the opportunity of links with you in the embed code. It looks like they've partnered with you in the promotion (co-marketing) when the visual asset is republished on another blog.

Customize the code by replacing Blogger with the Brand Name of the blogger and Your Blog with Your Brand plus links back to respective sites.

It's a win-win situation. You get a link, the blogger acquires a link as well.

3. SLICE OUT INFOGRAPHICS INTO MICRO VISUALS

I normally see long infographics that require several mouse scrolls to see the entire image. It's tiring to look at it on your screen, right?

While this denotes authority in some industries (because it's filled with a lot of data), what I've realized is that not all visitors will dare to check all the details inside the image. They only check the title and get the important facts.

One approach that you can do to not overwhelm your audience with too much content is to slice out a long infographic into two to even four micro images that won't break the entire message of the content, but rather help visitors pleasingly get each detail on a micro level.

However, it may not be applicable to all types of infographics, such as the case with instructographics or how-to visual assets because it obviously breaks the process of how to complete/do a "thing" (e.g. how to choose a bottle of wine).

how to choose wine instructographics

Nonetheless there are infographics that you can break down into micro pieces, like those with five or more data points, that are contextually related but can be divided into two. For example, "How Technology in City1, City2 and City3 Impacts Teen Dating and Women Violence", you can create micro images for Teen Dating and Women Violence. This is the case when both these two main data points can stand out independently in messaging.

4. LOCALIZE VISUAL DATA

Local-targeted links still play a huge role in ranking a local website for city-specific keywords.

There are a lot of link building strategies out there that helps you build local backlinks, such as local sponsorships (events, local clubs, schools), local alumni, student, and employee discount programs.

I’ll let you in on a secret. There's one link building tactic that is underrated in the SEO community - that is, local infographics creation and promotion.

It's common to see an industry-specific infographic, but having both industry-specific and local-targeted visual is rare.

Now the question is, how you can localize industry-specific visual data?

The first step is to find a local content source. You can use your company's internal data if you have one. But if you're looking for external source, you may search for available content in public data sites below:

Scour out these sites using local and industry keywords and see if there's a local and relevant public data source.

As an example, we've sourced out a research study about teen dating, abuse and bullying in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania by using the keyword, "bullying".

nacjd public data source website

The next step is to assess the relevance and credibility of the public data piece by looking at the version history. This helps you check whether the information is updated for the current year.

Lastly, transform the public data into a visual data either by hiring a freelance infographic designer or designing it yourself.

teen dating infographic

I hope this four-tips article gives you some spark in using guestographics effectively as one of your main-go link building strategies.

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Need help with your link building campaigns? Check out our link building services here.


Scalable Link Building Tips

4 Scalable Link Building Tips

For the past few years, the debate about quality versus quantity in link building has been subsiding as more SEOs and business owners have gained a deeper understanding that it's the quality of links that matters over quantity.

Given that, some link builders still find it difficult to consistently acquire relevant links on a monthly basis.

But it's certainly possible with the right approach and improvements in processes to provide solid high-quantitative link reports.

Agencies like Citation Labs, based on their 2015 slide presentation, can accommodate a total of 300 resource backlinks every month to their clients.

Our team at SharpRocket is able to supply links ranging from 6 to 30 in volume to each client on a monthly basis.

It may not be a big number to most readers, but using sweat-and-blood approaches in link building, it's the highest quantity that you can achieve with a handful of resources you have.

Scalable link building requires speeding up phases in the area of link qualification, link prospecting and targeted outreach. Subtle changes that you can make to each phase can tremendously impact your campaign's efficiency.

For the past several months, we've noticed and tested a few approaches that if done well, can create success for your next link building campaign.

1. SOURCING MICRO AND MARCO CONTENT FROM INDUSTRY INFLUENCERS

Content creation for external distribution (or guest blogging) is easy to scale if you've got a team of in-house writers or outsourced freelance writers to accommodate your content writing needs.

However, if you're in scarcity of resources, one approach that you can use to facilitate guest blogging is by interviewing industry influencers and using their Q&A content as external assets for distribution.

Initially we start sending outreach emails to productivity publishers who might be interested to accept any of these two content formats:

  • "How-to" [ topic ] interview content
  • Guest post on [ topic ] (that includes a few insights from productivity experts)

The key to make this pitch standout is to highlight that you'll be including insights from industry experts in your guest article. Given that publishers would normally ask for high-quality guest posts (as we always request for outside contributors for our blogs), the approach of emphasizing the credibility and value of your content up-front can improve your chances of getting a response and eventually increase your closing rate.

Then you can throw-in topics of content that they can choose from.

influencer outreach emailTo generate a content idea, you can do a Google search for site:domain.com with any of your targeted keywords or topics (e.g. "personal kanban") and check if these are topics they haven't covered yet.

search results content ideasProviding unique content ideas can increase the chances of letting them buy-in on what you can offer.

Further reading: How to Improve Your Link Outreach Success Rate

When they've chosen a topic to write about, it's time to create the content.

There are two ways on how you can approach content creation: create content with validated insights from influencers or use Q&A content with an influencer and format it as an external asset.

A. Validation To Your Insights

Instead of providing one generic round-up question to your target influencers and compiling them into one big post (just like what you normally read see in most round-up posts), you can ask influencers for insights to questions being discussed in your article draft.

Statements from influencers can serve as a validation to your article points that adds credibility to the overall content.

As an example of this approach, we've looked for productivity bloggers/experts to get their expert opinions on different subjects of productivity.

In my earlier example, the topic that the publisher wanted us to write is "personal kanban" - a personal productivity system.

We had to look for industry bloggers who have personally experienced using such productivity tool in their professional lives.

To speed up the entire blog prospecting process, we chose an authority website that has outside content contributors and that interviews niche influencers on its podcast show (these influencers/contributors were then our target prospects for interviews).

authority website to source links to

industry experts

Using URL Profiler to scrape data from author and podcast pages, we've managed to create a list of 20 industry influencers (who are past and current contributors of LEADx.org's blog section and who became guests in their podcast show).

You can also do this process manually, if you're not a subscriber of URL Profiler.

In estimate, the manual approach will only take you 25 to 30 minutes.

Your next step is to gather contact details of your target interviewees to prepare for the outreach campaign.

As for the outreach, it's important to ensure that your authority bloggers will also benefit from the content partnership you're proposing. Reciprocation in a form of getting a link on a guest post written on a top-notch industry blog can increase the chances of getting positive responses from them.

Here's the exact email template we used for this kind of outreach:

Short interview with you [Name]

Hi [Name],

I'm [Your Name], a blogger and productivity enthusiast. I've found you on one of the podcast episodes of Kevin Kruse at LEADx.org and learned great insights from your conversation with Kevin.

I'm fascinated and wanted to conduct a short interview with you. I'll ask a few questions, compile your answers and use it as a guest content for a top-notch productivity site (not mine).

I greatly appreciate your response in advance.

Thanks,

- [Your Name]

From 20 authority bloggers we pitched for interviews, we managed to get 14 positive responses.

Here are some takeaways why the outreach campaign worked:

  • Used prospects' name and their websites' name.
  • Included the source where we've found them (I've found you one on of the podcast episodes …) - helps strikes a more personal approach on the email.
  • Stated the value proposition to easily catch the interest of the outreach prospect (use it as a guest content for a top-notch productivity site). It helps secure confidence that their answers to questions can reach more audience.
  • Straightforward subject line to get the message across.

You may want to check out this guide on blogger outreach to get more tips on how to effectively craft email copies specifically for blogger outreach campaigns.

Finally, you have to submit your finished content with great insights from niche influencers for content approval.

Then, acquire links:

A link to the influencer's website (for his contribution):

live link oneA link to our website:

link to our website

B. How-to Interview Content

There is another way to maximize interview content besides using it as a validation to your article points - that is, utilizing the entire Q&A content as your guest post.

It is best to format it as a "how-to" article rather than just compiling expert's answers into a Q&A format and submit it directly to your target publisher.

You also have to structure the content in a way that is easy to scan and read, and that emphasizes the "specific topic" you're discussing about.

So the title can be something like, "How to [Topic] with [Influencer's Name]".

how to interview content

2. SCALE BLB PROSPECTING WITH CITATION LABS

For the past several months, I've been using Citation Labs heavily to scale prospecting for resources pages (or links pages) for our broken link building projects.

Disclaimer: I'm not an affiliate marketer of this tool.

Given that broken link building requires tedious work on prospecting especially if you're working on several BLB campaigns, using a tool to prospect thousands of relevant link opportunities is definitely a big help.

Using Citation Labs for a broken link building campaign, we've managed to create a list of 22,000+ job and career-specific link prospects with Domain Authority of 40 and above.

keywords usedcitation labs platform

The list is further qualified to pass the relevance test, which resulted to 400 targeted prospects out of the first 10,000+ unqualified pages (4% qualification rate).

400+ link opportunities

On average, we can qualify 1000 prospects based on relevance within 15 to 25 minutes. So the total time it took us to conduct relevance test for 10,000 pages was 2 1/2 hours to 5 hours.

Assuming you have a newbie link builder and he manually searches for link opportunities, it'd probably take him 3 to 4 hours to find 30 to 40 links pages qualified based on relevance and certain metrics like Domain Authority.

So for 400 qualified prospects, he would consume 40 hours equivalent to 1 week of work.

Notable advantages of utilizing Citation Labs for bulk link prospecting are:

  • Improved efficiency in prospecting - as it requires less hours to manually prospect for link opportunities, so time can be spent on qualifying link targets based on relevance and obtainability.
  • Expand link lists for untapped link opportunities - pages discovered by the tool aren't necessarily ranking for linker-based queries  (inurl:resources "topic").

Besides searching for links pages, Citation Labs can also help link builders to find other type of link opportunities such as review pages, forums and professional organization sites.

other types of link opportunities

3. HIRE VIRTUAL ASSISTANTS FOR MENIAL TASKS

Apparently, outsourcing is a cost-effective strategy that can improve your link building campaign's efficiency. By giving menial tasks to freelancers, it helps you allocate more time on other important activities, which can help elevate individual and team's output and productivity.

Basically, the tasks that you'll be outsourcing are ones that'll only require basic knowledge and skills and can somehow be executed right away even without much deeper training.

Here are a few examples of link building tasks you can outsource to:

  • Contact finding (name, email address, contact forms and social profiles - if email address is not available).
  • Finding important page or site-level details (page tilte, article title)
  • Initial pitching (sending your outreach emails using an email template with only a few tags to replace details with)

As an example, we recently started hiring virtual assistants locally (freelancers who are based here in the Philippines) and from other countries like Bulgaria to help us with bulk link building activities.

Instead of posting online jobs to facilitate hiring, we use Linkedin as a platform to manually search for freelancers who had previously worked for a similar company (either a full SEO service agency or a link building company).

linkedin hiring

The advantage of doing so is we were able to hire freelancers who can deliver more output than someone who just undergo a training process.

We also checked their work histories if they handled previous link building campaigns or any associated tasks like contact finding and daily checking of emails.

Before jumping straight to outsourcing, we created simple step-by-step documents that walks them through the entire process of executing the task to avoid recurring questions we'll then received from them, as they work on each campaign.

We use GDocs to easily share documents to our freelancers.

broken link building processes

This outsourcing approach can certainly improve your campaign's efficiency with the right people and processes.

Further reading on outsourcing:

4. PERSONALIZED EMAIL MERGE

As quoted by Jason Acidre on his SEO blog, "Outreach is probably the most tedious component of our marketing discipline because the activity primarily intends to build relationships."

I couldn't agree more with this statement, as we've done hundreds of outreach campaigns and to only succeed is to put the hardest work in creating the best offer (value prop in emails), in prospecting for highly targeted publishers and in sending email copies that'll mutually benefit both parties.

There's one subtle approach we've tested to improve the efficiency of our outreach campaigns - that is using a personalized email merge tool.

We initially start by installing Yet Another Email Merge to Google Spreadsheet as an add-on tool. It allows us to send 50 emails in every outreach account for free (there's a premium price if you're sending 400 emails a day).

yet another mail merge

Unlike the typical mail merge system that blast off email spams to publishers, this email merge tool allows us to personalize email copies while semi-automating sending off emails and scheduling them at the right time when prospects will likely to open.

schedule emails - draft

Note: When using this approach, it's extremely important to set intervals in outreach, not to trigger Gmail from spamming your account. Instead of sending 400 emails one-time off, you can divide them into 5 or 7 days with intervals if possible, and just send 40 emails a day.

Here are a few advantages that this tool can bring to your outreach campaign:

  • Enables scheduling features for different timezones.
  • Tracks open and response rates as well as how many emails were sent and bounced back (or had errors in sending).
  • Failed messages (bounced back emails or emails with technical errors) can be replaced immediately with secondary emails which streamlines your follow-up or second-pitch processes.
  • One-click away from Google spreadsheet to schedule emails.

email tracking report

The said outreach tool requires a draft email which serves as your outreach copy to send or schedule emails. Using tags ($/Name/$) in your draft email is important to extract data from your spreadsheet and produce personalize emails.

This outreach approach can benefit you in so many ways, such as:

Initial-pitching using successful outreach copies

If you've tested a couple of outreach templates and one of them has successfully earned the highest open, response and closing rates (or even just the highest closing rate), you can use your most effective outreach template as your email copy in Yet Another Email Merge function for your next outreach campaign.

Follow-Ups

It would be more efficient to send short and straightforward follow-up emails using Yet Another Email Merge tool, which only takes 10 to 20 minutes to complete, than manually sending/scheduling all follow-up emails using your outreach accounts.

follow-up email

Considerations When Using Yet Another Email Merge

As you get your hands on to this tool, you may experience a few mishaps that can be avoided if you've taken a note of them.

Semantic Breaks

Ross Hudgens discussed semantic breaks in his outreach best practices post that should be noted carefully if you want to secure positive responses in your outreach campaigns.

A good example of this is when you send an email to a person with a tag, "I saw your post on venchitotampon.com blog" and you're addressing it to the blogger himself, "Venchito Tampon". A normal person would rather say, "on your personal blog" instead of naming the whole domain.

When you start using the tool, you might create a column for Website/Blog Titles that includes all branded names of your target link sources.

If not carefully checked, you might put the whole domain (venchitotampon.com) instead of inserting "personal blog" or "personal website".

Leaving off blanks

The tool requires you to create columns for Names, Email Address and other tags such as, Blog Name and Asset Title to further personalize your email copies.

necessary input

All columns should be filled out with necessary input. Otherwise, you might see an email sent that sounds like a spammy build blast.

My trick here is to input the word "there" to blank cells in the "Names" column for email addresses with no available and visible names.

The final email copy will look like this:

hi-there-email-2

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How to Identify and Pursue Linkerati

How to Identify and Pursue Linkerati

Who are linkeratis?

Linkeratis are web users who have the capacity to link to a certain website (the destination page) from a domain/page (the linking source) where they have an access to.

Linkeratis (coined by Rand Fishkin), also known as linkers, genuinely link to a content in two ways:

  • Active - they constantly search for new references/resources to include in their resource page.
  • Passive - they wait for other people’s suggestions of recently published linkable assets that might serve as additional citations for their content works.

In this post, I’ll be sharing actionable tips on how you can identify and find active and passive linkeratis (linkers) as well as how you can approach them effectively to build or earn links (with a few given examples).

How to Find Linkeratis

1. Leverage Link Neighborhood

In scaling link prospecting, it should be a vital part of your process to constantly look for untapped sources of link opportunities regardless of the difficulty and depth level of the niche you’re working in.

Given that if you take serious efforts to dig into new link sources, it would help speed up your collection of high-quality link targets in your industry - reducing the time you have to spend in finding hundreds of link opportunities.

One way to scale link prospecting is by leveraging link neighborhoods.

Link neighbourhoods are surrounding external links on a given page where your primary link target has been found.

For example, in this resource page that I’ve prospected for a broken link building campaign for a finance client, I’ve seen that there is a Payment Processing section that includes SaAs payment gateway/processing tools (Stripe, Braintree, Square and NMI).

digital marketer payment processing section

While these websites are non-competitors of my client from content and direct product competition perspectives, there might be relevant opportunities if I start reverse engineering their inbound links.

I chose Stripe, a SaAs online payment platform among the tools listed as it has a Domain Authority (DA) of 84.

stripe domain authority

It is best to check the website’s Domain Authority or Page Authority to quickly assess and sense if there are possible linking pages before spending time to reverse engineer all of them for any pointing links, because checking low-DA sites for links may not reveal a handful of opportunities, in most cases.

Also, I do consider industry tools and products to reverse engineer on, as they normally can acquire links from resource pages given their utility as the context for linking (i.e. Resources for Entrepreneurs).

Checking all links pointing to Stripe, we were able to gather 25~ qualified resources pages that are potential outreach prospects.

With 3 to 5~ conversion rate in our broken link building service, we are able to acquire resource backlinks, including this link from a resource page (which is exactly a page linking to Stripe).

In addition, if you want more efficiently, you can also assess the page’s number of potential linking pages. The best tool to use is LinkMiner chrome extension. It has an option to quickly see the page’s number of linking root domains (LRDs).

linkminer unique referring domains

Although the data is based on Ahrefs API that you have to setup if you’re a subscriber of the tool, that little change that you’ll add to your link prospecting process is highly worth of your time.

2. Tap Exclusive Linkable Markets

Linkable markets can be separated into two divisions: inclusive and exclusive.

Inclusive markets are more receptive to outreach emails than exclusive markets, as they’re less often being pitched by bloggers and outside publishers (on average, they may only receive ~10 emails a day). These are low to mid-tier bloggers who aren’t yet at the pedestal of their industries, but already have a good number of blog audience and social following.

Meanwhile, exclusive markets constantly receive an estimate of ~100 outreach emails a day (even more to some publishers) that (the act of pitching) unintentionally pushes them to only respond to quality emails. 

Examples of exclusive linkable markets are news writers, journalists and high-tier bloggers.

While there are a lot of opportunities in the inclusive linkable market to capitalize on, it’s also essential to spend time tapping the exclusive linkable market since this is where most authority links may come from.

To get responses and conversion links from pitching these exclusive markets, you may need to have pre-existing connections with them, or have an interesting story that can capture their attention to cover your brand on their websites.

But there’s one great tool that can help you out in securing link placements from exclusive linkable markets - that is HelpAReporterOut (HARO).

HARO is an email service that benefits both brands and journalists - by providing journalists with sources for upcoming stories and by giving brands branding opportunities for their stories to get covered on relevant high-tier industry blogs and top news sites. 

Lately, I’ve been spending 20 minutes a day to answer queries from publishers and journalists that are all coming from HARO”s daily emails.

helpareporterout email

In answering press requests, it’s imperative to only pick topics that you’re knowledgeable about and/or passionate about like in my case, I only answer queries related to office productivity, link building, time management and teen addiction.

To get you started with the process, I highly recommend that you check out this post by Matthew Barby for insights on how to semi-automate picking relevant HARO press queries and answering them effectively.

For HARO requests you’re not familiar with, you can forward it to your client or hire an expert writer from Upwork (got this tip from Christian Sculthorp) who are knowledgeable on that certain topic of your brand.

haro upwork job

This will ensure that you’ll get a higher positive rate from publishers who’re likely to include your citation/story in their content.

3. Target Big Interest Areas in the Blogosphere

The blogosphere has evolved throughout the years in terms of the number of online enthusiasts from different industries who are building their personal and corporate brands.

Outside of the tech world (where huge blogs are stunning in numbers), there are indoor and outdoor enthusiasts alike travelers, foodies and DIYers who are capable of linking to external recommended resources.

Creating content assets that will serve these big interest areas can give you higher chances of building as well as earning links from the linking enthusiasts.

For a plumbing client for example, you can produce an instructographic targeted to DIYers that shows how to fix a simple plumbing stuff at home.

Brainstorming a little further can give you ideas that it can well serve homeowners in your city. This may be unwise from a conversion perspective (as to who would buy from the market if you teach them DIY guides), but for link acquisition purposes, this is highly practical to target if you consider both quantity and quality.

Moreover, the impact of social shares and natural links garnered from a link bait content can translate to more linking opportunities not only from direct linking enthusiasts but from other industry markets that can generate new leads for the business.

John Doherty, for instance, is a search marketing specialist (founder of Credo) has tapped big interest areas such as travel and productivity, since these topics aligns to his interests and passion.

Having that mindset of tapping big interest areas, he was able to acquire editorial links from top-tier sites using HARO.

Here’s a video that explains his process.

If the industry you’re in is too boring from a content marketing and link building perspective, try to come outside of your market and check if there are peripheral interest areas that are close to your niche.

4. Generate Content Ideas from Niche-specific Podcasts

In this age of the web, pretty much everyone is consuming information whether through video or audio, not just entertainment content on a regular basis.

The idea that time is a valuable asset allows people to consume content while acting on other things (i.e. while driving) to make every second/minute productive.

Podcasting for example, is becoming mainstream, as everyone in every specific niche is starting to build their own personal brands to capture as many audio listeners as possible who might be potential customers or clients in the near future.

If you’re stuck with what content topics/themes to create for a specific industry, checking or listening to the latest industry podcast series, where those so much valuable information in store can be extremely helpful in generating niche-specific content ideas for your brand.

For example, this Inside the Mind of Teens and Tweens podcast (searched from Podcast Addict) has 118 podcast episodes (current number of items in Itunes) that are educational in nature with targeted audience composed of teachers, parents and counselors. itunes podcast teen

If you’re in the neuroscience space, you can generate some content topics here that can be brainstormed and picked for a linkable content asset.

You can research in-depth if there’s linkability in keywords found on these episode topics to ensure if there’d enough linking sites to market your content to.

Grab and check some and assess if there are considerable linkable markets by checking each ranking page’s unique referring domains.

For instance, the “sexual health” keyword (derived from one of the episodes above) has hundreds of linking opportunities to most of the ranking pages for that search term.

sexual health google search

If you’re taking linkable content creation campaigns for clients, that approach is a good practice to take on to semi-automate content brainstorming process for their websites.

How to Pursue Linkeratis

The next step after completing your initial list of link prospects is to strategize how you will approach them. It’s vital to know how they behave as linkers to customize your pitch way better so you can stand out among all the pitches they’ve been receiving multiple times a day.

Here are some actionable ways to improve your outreach pitches 5% better to see greater link acquisition results:

1. Identify Who Handles and Controls Pages

If you are doing large-scale link outreach campaigns, you probably have stumbled across many websites where the webmaster doesn’t have the authority/decision to update the page. Some of which are only capable of fixing errors on any page of the entire website but they have to put in another person in the email conversation to decide whether or not your link can be included in their resource page.

Linkeratis in most .edu websites are ones the who strictly decides which resources to include in their pages - that means that it’s not a guarantee that you’ll acquire a link unless they’ve seen your content piece as a valuable reference for their audience.

Asking the person up-front (like saying "Can you forward this to the right contact person?") if you’re not sure whether the email you’re pitching to will respond is a subtle tactic to consider when doing initial pitch.

Emails such as services@domainname.edu may connect you to a career service representative or admission department staff of an .edu site but not to the tech/admin person who handles the resource page you want to get a link from.

Meanwhile, if you receive responses that let you forward your resource suggestions to a certain person, it is best to create another message with a subject line where you got his email.

For example, I’ve received this response from a .gov agency staff that I pitched which she (the person I emailed with) includes an email of the right person to contact to.

Below is an example of a little addition to the common approach of forwarding the email but it’s one effective way to let link granters (the ones who update resource pages  know where you actually got their emails.

forward email government backlinkBy doing so, we’ve acquired a .gov (DA89) link (not bad for a quick content suggestion email).

gov resource backlink

B. Provide Shared Mission and Interest in Outreach

Knowing the value proposition of your content up-front is an important step to better position your email in front of your potential link targets.

But more than just sharing your content’s value proposition to your outreach prospects, it’s also imperative to define your shared mission with them. 

For example, this resource page in the small business sectors covers different recommended tools and resources that obviously, acts as a source of information for startup entrepreneurs.

small business resources page

Besides checking the relevance fit of our content’s client to their resource page, it’s our own way of simply adding how the content that can best help their audience within the same context of their mission.

shared mission outreach email

These simple addition texts to your email can really help position your content’s utility to the audience (being targeted by the resource page) and thus, increases the likelihood of getting a contextual link.

For industry blogs, it’s a good idea to compliment their recent article or website only if it’s authentic to say that their blog is well-designed, for example, or if they have said great insights for a particular topic in their latest blog post.

Saying compliments for the sake of getting responses and links is way less effective than making outreach emails plain and straightforward as possible.

C. Include Outright Content Suggestion in Link Outreach

Little tweaks in an outreach template can make or break the success of an outreach campaign. Far more if these small changes are predicated to actions made by the linkeratis themselves. 

For example, you may have come across resource pages that mention their willingness to accept content suggestions for their links pages outright or to email them for any defunct links that visitors see in order for webmasters to fix them by simply removing these links and replacing with new relevant and/or updated resources. outright mention emailIf you remind them in your outreach pitches that those links were actually stated in their resource page (and they let you tell them to do so), they’ll more likely be positive to your pitch.

While it’s not a guarantee to acquire a link then, it’s a differentiator to several link request emails they are receiving to get a link from that specific page.

D. Drive Curiosity with Refined Outreach Process

With the inbox flood industry bloggers and publishers are experiencing on a daily basis, outreach pitches need to be refined over time to land more coverage from target blogs/sites.

Quality assurance on email templates for any contextual errors and adding/changing tags for personalisation can close the gap between good and great outreach pitches.

But besides these basics (must-have) of outreach, learning the psychology of conversations to secure positive responses can tremendously bring better link results.

SiegeMedia’s outreach team, for example, was able to increase outreach placement rates by 63% by refining their outreach process - which was inspired by Brian Dean’s outreach strategy on providing custom intros for guestographics.

The refined outreach method of SiegeMedia looks like this:

1. A pitch is sent to the recipient, explaining in 100 words or less what the piece of content is and why we thought they’d be interested. This pitch does not include the link to view, rather says if they’re interested to let us know and we’ll forward along.

2. If response is positive, we then forward them the link to the content. In addition, we offer to write a custom intro to support the post if needed.

3. If there’s no response after forwarding the link, we follow up with the blogger if they’ve gone silent after 3-7 business days.

It’s one way to seek for new outreach tactics but it’s a better way to keep and improve older techniques that can also be applicable not just to one specific content asset (infographics for example) but also to other content formats that might obtain the same or even better results.

Further Reading: The Definitive Guide to Blogger Outreach

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


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.