Learning about SEO and link development can be tough – there’s so much information out there, and much of it is outdated or flat out wrong. Learning who to trust is half the battle in learning search engine optimization.
Fortunately for both new and experienced link builders everywhere, Paddy Moogan published a very valuable link building ebook. If you work with or for link building organizations, you’ll find it helpful, and a stellar collection of ideas, strategies, and tactics, all together in one place.. Most link building resources are either highly theoretical or highly tactical – Paddy’s book connects the tactical to the theoretical, helping readers both develop and execute effective link development strategies.
Here are my ten biggest takeaways from the Link Building Book:
Deliver Business Results, Not Links
SEO reporting is tricky – the connection between business results and links is not always clear, especially to clients and managers who don’t have a deep understanding of SEO.
Paddy suggests you focus on delivering (and reporting) business results – like increases in referrals from search, increases in non-branded traffic, and increase in checkouts from organic search – rather than delivering a report that says something like “We built 20 DA 45 links.”
This makes managers – especially managers who aren’t deeply versed in SEO – very happy, because they can see their link building spend turning into more revenue, instead of just more links.
Don’t Chase Shiny Objects; Link Development is About Prioritizing and Doing
Too often newer link builders get bogged down in the technical details – either trying to get the perfect link, or the 100% response outreach message, or play with new technologies – and never actually get out there and do the work.
Link development is first and foremost about execution. You have to do the right things, but finding ‘the right thing’ isn’t the hard part – doing it is the hard part.
There are many strategies that can work to build a site’s brand and link profile – but all of them require effort and tenacity. Just Do It!
If You Can’t Find 10 People Who Care in 10 Minutes; Don’t Make It
Speaking of shiny objects, often content marketers and SEOs come up with ideas that sound great in their own conference room, but get poor responses when actually launched. (I have personally both seen this and done this.)
Paddy suggests setting a timer for ten minutes, and trying to find ten people that will care about your content idea. If you can’t find ten people in ten minutes with some simple queries, the idea probably doesn’t have legs, and won’t get the response you need for a successful campaign.
Think About Influence and the Multiplier Effect When You Do Outreach
In addition to thinking about the value of the link alone, think about the downstream value of the mention/coverage -will it lead to additional links?
There are some opportunities – especially in highly social channels like StumbleUpon – that don’t have a lot of link value on their own, but lead to tremendous amplification. These are valuable opportunities and should be pursued.
What a Good Link Profile Looks Like
A good link profile increasingly resembles the Supreme Court’s definition of obscenity – “I know it when I see it.”
Paddy defines a good link profile in detail in his book – mostly branded or partial match anchor text, natural anchors like “click here”, many linking root domains, a diverse set of link types (including images, redirects, press links, guest blog links, comments, reviews, and more), and a broad range of link metrics.
He suggests you ask yourself, “If Matt Cutts took a look at this link profile, would he get suspicious and take a closer look?” If the answer is yes, you’ll want to get to work improving your link profile.
Include Personalization, an Offer, and a Call to Action in an Outreach Email
- Personalize the email with the blogger’s name, something about their site, and/or their opinions
- Offer something compelling – like an interview or a great piece of content
- Call them to action and make an ask – for example, for a link or a share
Always Follow Up & Always Respond, Even If It’s Negative
Link outreach always features lots of rejection.
Rather than taking the rejection, silently or audibly (if you work at home), Paddy suggests a more constructive solution.
Reach out again and ask why the blogger isn’t interested in your pitch or content – what isn’t compelling about it? What don’t they like?
Sometimes, it’s something you can’t do anything about, like the commercial nature of your content or your site. But often, you’ll gain valuable insight into how to position your content, or how to build better campaigns in the future.
Make Your Client Look Good in Front of His or Her Boss
Great SEOs make their clients look great in front of their boss. This means not only making sure that your client understands the impact your work has had, but giving them boss-friendly executive summaries and bullet points to use with upper management.
For example, if you’re working for an SEO manager, he or she might care about domain authority and links. But the marketing director, your client’s boss, cares about traffic and revenue. Your report should include both – ideally structured in such way that your contact can copy and paste boss-friendly content into an email.
If you get your client promoted, you may find yourself with a client for life.
Scale Link Building By Scaling Processes, Assets, and People
Scaling link building is challenging – in fact, it’s one of the hardest puzzles in online marketing. Just about anyone can build five links a week for one site, but when you expand to multiple sites across multiple verticals, things get tricky fast.
Paddy suggests you approach scaling your link development in three ways:
- Scale Process – Once you’ve figured out something that works, turn it into a series of process steps that can be measured and executed by others.
- Scale Assets – Figure out what’s working – be it guest posting or something more complicated like interactive infographics – and do more of it.
- Scale People - Grow your team to execute processes and create assets.
Hire for Determination, Sensitivity, and Organization
Hiring link builders is hard – you need someone with internet and digital knowledge, incredible organizational skills, and tenacity.
Paddy suggests hiring for:
- Determination – Can this person bounce back from rejection? Do they have drive?
- Sensitivity - Do they know how to talk to people? Can they understand how to approach different bloggers differently? Do they empathize with folks on the other end of outreach requests?
- Organization – Is this person organized? Are they a big fan of organizational tools like Excel and BuzzStream?
All in all, it’s very valuable book. Newer link builders and agencies looking to train new staff will find it especially useful, and veterans may pick up some new tips and tricks. It also includes great case studies, many of which are broadly applicable to a variety of verticals.
(Disclosure: Paddy Moogan is a BuzzStream customer and affiliate. The link to the book in this post is not an affiliate link.)