Archive for the ‘Enterprise Link Development’ Category

The Essential Guide to Effective Link Building Outreach


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As content marketing and link building become about building relationships, the ability to identify and connect with individuals, organizations and influencers relevant to your industry plays an important role in increasing the awareness and visibility of your brand.

I wanted to share the “essentials” that cover the components of my outreach process which will help you build relationships and keep your response rates high.

Social Research & Analysis

Before sending any outreach emails, I like to use social analysis tools like Topsy to get a feel for the social sharing, discussions and types of content being published on a website.

If you’ve identified a prospect, researching a website’s community and the conversations happening around existing content is important as social signals and sharing can greatly influence the visibility and reach of a post. Finding link partners with an established, active community should be a top consideration when prospecting and qualifying websites for guest post placement opportunities.

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Customize Your Emails

Every outreach email needs to be specifically tailored to the prospect.

For guest post opportunities, try including a few links to other articles you’ve written for the same or similar audience. For link requests, try sharing a few related websites that are already linking back to the pages you’re suggesting. Add credibility to your message by making yourself available to answer questions by including a phone number and links to your personal social profiles.

For guest post outreach, it’s beneficial to mention a recently published article on the prospect’s website that you feel was well written or to include one or two points about why you like the website.  Prospects will be much more receptive to your message if they see you understand their website’s purpose and audience.

Efficiently Communicate Value

I view outreach emails as being similar to a cold call: you’ve got a limited amount of time to prove you’re worth someone’s attention. Clearly explaining why linking to your website or allowing you to contribute content will provide value to their visitors should be the main focus of your message. In a few sentences, tell the prospect why you’re a good fit and make your case as to why a relationship will be mutually beneficial.

In an effort to provide immediate value, I like to scan pages of a prospect’s website for any broken links (404 Not Found) using the Check My Links Chrome extension. Finding a broken link and suggesting a relevant replacement for one is a great way to start a relationship.

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Tip – Find Additional Opportunities

Any broken links on a prospect’s website that are relevant to your products or services should be researched using Moz’s Open Site Explorer to find other sites (and more outreach opportunities) that are linking to the broken page.

Templates Save Time

Customizable templates are an effective way to ensure that your brand voice and messaging remain consistent and also allow for the personalization needed in every outreach email.

Using relationship management tools like BuzzStream can make testing multiple email templates simple and effective by showing you the response rates for each template. Using this information will allow you to be strategic with the templates you create.

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Persistence Pays Off

It’s important to follow-up with a prospect as it can significantly improve the success rate of your outreach – just consider it part of the process.  In a study performed by the search marketing agency iAcquire, the team discovered that they received 60% more responses by sending a second and third email to the same prospect. BuzzStream’s new follow-up reminders feature allows you to schedule notifications so you always remember to send a follow-up.

Social Outreach

Social media has changed the way we connect, share and consume information. It’s important to remember that many relationships and connections are established on social networks making social outreach an effective way to engage with prospects and influencers.  With more organizations utilizing content marketing and strategic guest posting, authoritative websites are seeing an influx of outreach emails. It can be difficult to get noticed in a flooded email inbox filled with similar requests. You can cut through the noise of an active inbox by making social outreach part of your strategy.

Enter Followerwonk

Followerwonk is a Twitter analytics tool designed to help you maximize your sharing on the network and identify prospects, users and influencers who are relevant to your industry.

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Once you’ve identified Twitter users you’d like to build relationships with, it’s time to connect your Twitter account in BuzzStream which will keep track of your social outreach and conversations with prospects and link partners.

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Building relationships is fun but takes time, research and perseverance to make your efforts effective. By incorporating these outreach essentials into your strategy, you should have everything you need to increase your email response and success rates.

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How to Connect with Content Curators to Build Links, Audience, and Traffic

Getting included in round-ups and other curated posts is a very effective strategy for promoting your content and growing your traffic, permission marketing assets, and link equity.  So I was surprised when we surveyed BuzzStream customers and found that less than a third were looking for content curators and roundups as promotion opportunities.

So today I’m going to show you how to find content curators, connect with them, and gain links, traffic, and audience.

Why Reach Out to Content Curators?

Content curators – the people that publish round ups, links of the week, and the like – actively look for new resources to include in their content.  If you’re publishing content on a regular basis (like a blog that’s regularly updated), it’s perfectly appropriate and often welcome to reach out to them and ask them to take a look.  (This stands in stark contrast to most link opportunities, where you have to persuade someone to do something they would not do normally.)

These curators are often experts in their fields – after all, they read hundreds of articles in putting these round ups together, often for years – so not only can they help you build audience, but they can help you make better, more differentiated content – the sort that makes the people that land on your pages, and know and trust your brand.

So Who are These Content Creators?

Content curators create content by finding the best of other people’s content.

An example you might be familiar with is the great Daily SearchCap over on SearchEngineLand:

example curation - searchcap

But these curated roundups aren’t limited to the search space. You can find them in areas like software development:

(Java FX links screenshot)

Digital Art & Design:
(example curation - art)


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Link Building & Content Promotion Interview Questions

link building interview questions

Hiring is exciting. Running a hiring process means your group is growing and you get more muscle to apply to hard problems.

At the same time, hiring is frustrating and stressful. It’s a high risk decision, often made after a mere 3 hours of questions and answers and some reference calls.

While we can’t make hiring easy for you here at BuzzStream, we can suggest a few interview questions and techniques for link building and content promotion professionals.  And for those readers on the other side of the table, here are some great prepatory questions to study before that big meeting with your (potential) new boss.

But before you jump into the questions, it’s important to get your goals in order:

Decide What You’re Looking For

You can’t hire until you’ve thought about what the ideal person in this role will look like.  What will this person have to do? 

Do you need someone more junior, more experience, or someone entry level?

We’ve seen people hire people out of school, not train them, and then be deeply dissatisfied with their results.

By contrast, we’ve also seen people over hire, and give a professional looking for a big challenge’ a fairly standard link building role, leaving them unhappy.



Measuring the Impact of Content Promotion & Link Building

One of the biggest challenges link building and outreach professionals face is measuring the results of their work and connecting them to revenue.

Today we’ll look at how you can measure the impact of outreach, link building, and content promotion across multiple dimensions, including referral traffic, brand lift, search engine performance, and direct sales.

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Why is Measurement Important?

Effective measurement not only allows you to show the fruits of your labor to your manager/clients, but enables you to effectively lobby for future investment. Business cases can be built based on previous success rather than generic platitudes about great content.

Additionally, without measurement, it’s difficult to form hypotheses for future improvements. You might notice things like “Despite strong Twitter traffic, our piece didn’t generate many new Twitter followers for our brand,”, and form a hypothesis like “In our next content piece, we’ll try to use CTAs with Twitter Web Intents to increase our Tweets -> New Followers and Traffic -> New Followers ratio.”

Measurement is only valuable if you take action based on that data – be it organizational action or marketing action. Otherwise, metrics are an exercise in vanity, not data-informed marketing.

Showing the ROI of Content Creation and Outreach

Content creation and outreach can be a very effective set of tactics, but it can be difficult to show their results. While traffic and pageviews are simple to measure, they reflect only one part of the value of the value of creating excellent material and placing it (or links to it) on other sites.

This content + outreach combo delivers value far and above those pageviews (especially when benchmarked against ad impressions or something similiar) due to not only the increased fundamental value of those pageivews – where potential customers aren’t just being yelled at but actively engaging with content that’s somehow related to your brand.

So let’s start by looking at the impact of all of these activities from a 10,000 foot view: What does link development impact?

Good link development and content promotion can achieve the following outcomes:

  • Drive referral traffic
  • Increase Search Engine Traffic for a Specific Page
  • Improve Domain Wide Search Engine Visibility 
  • Grow Brand Awareness in Target Markets
  • Create Social Mentions and Shares
  • Drive Sales/Leads/Other Conversion Actions from the Above Increases in Visibility

So let’s dive into how to measure these things. In these examples, we’ll concern oursleves mostly with Google Analytics and Google search impact – if you use another analytics product or target other search engines extensively, you can apply the same foundational principles, but the actual execution of the measurement will be different.

We’ll go through each of these outcomes and their measurements in detail:



How to Build Your Content Promotion & Link Building Opportunity List


In a previous post, we discussed crafting a content promotion strategy.  Subsequently, one of our wonderful readers wrote in:

“The part I got hung up on was the step on building the initial wishlist for placements. Could you please elaborate some more on how to arrive at this? Rather than just put down a list of the top blogs and influencer sites off the top of my head and through a quick search, I’m striving to do so in a more formal, “scientific” process.”

Today we’ll address this question – How do you get to a great list to begin your work? And if you start with a few prospects, how do you build out your list of mid-tail and long-tail influencers?

Let me begin by saying like many marketing tasks, there are many ways to build good lists – lots of tactics will work. 

In the method presented here, you’re going to start with a few examples, and then based on their characteristics, you can expand your sample set to something very large.

Start with a Few Examples

I like to start by sourcing a few examples of the sort of blogs I’d look for, and then analyze them for common signs that I can use to find more sites.

For example, let’s say you have a new software productivity tool that you want to pitch to sites about productivity and LifeHacks.  In this case, you can pitch the ‘chunky middle’ of influencers – blogs that are neither giant nor tiny.  These middle influencers aren’t besieged by constant pitches like the big guys are, yet their audiences and authority (social, link, and otherwise) are large enough to move the needle on a campaign.  Additionally, you can ‘trade my coverage up the chain‘, and get larger publications writing about the product.

Now there are a lot of these, so you should be able to generate a large list to work with.

Start by trying to find 5 or 10 sites that are representative of the genre, and see what sort of opportunities for broadening your list they’ll present.

Start by cruising over to Alltop, and checking out the LifeHacks category:

 alltop list

Now choose some of the medium-sized blogs on the list.  Let’s start with – it looks like a good fit.  The blogger focuses on time management and occasionally reviews products, so he’ll be someone good to pitch.



The Imaginary Separation Between Link Building and Content Marketing

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When you blog a lot, you notice things.

Sometimes they’re obvious things, but sometimes they’re strange things.

One particularly strange thing I’ve noticed has been around the words ‘Content [word for marketing or promotion]’ and ‘Link [words like building, acquisition, and/or development]’.

If a headline had “Content Marketing” in it, it appeals to one set of publications and people on social media.

And if it had “Link Building”, a completely different group of people would share it. It would appear in different industry round ups.

But the true irony of this, is that it could basically be the same article, with ‘content marketing’ swapped for ‘link building’, and ‘content piece’ swapped for ‘linkable asset’.

The SEOs Dilemma? Or Two Roads Diverged on a Whiteboard

Rand Fishkin and his team at Moz recently recorded a video called, “The SEO’s Dilemma – Link Building Vs Content Marketing“, talking about making the decision between content marketing and link building.

Rand said, “I want to address a dilemma that a lot of SEOs and a lot of marketers face and that is sort of choice between what should I be doing to move the needle on my search traffic? Should I be doing kind of classic SEO, the keyword targeting plus link building, which moves the needle? Or should I be thinking more broadly in terms of kind of a full content marketing spectrum?”

It’s a pretty good video, so I highly encourage you to cruise over to Moz and give it a watch. (Don’t worry – barring NSA intervention, this post will be here when you come back.)



Competitive Link Building with Open Site Explorer and BuzzStream

Competitive link building is identifying and acquiring links to your competitors’ websites. Going after these types of links is a great way to “help level the playing field” and may have a higher success rate than other types of link requests since websites (prospects) are already linking to one or more of your competitors.

In this post, we are going to walk through the process – from identifying to the links with Open Site Explorer to requesting these links using BuzzStream.

Step 1: Getting Started

Let’s pretend I’m working for a client that sells high quality dog collars at a competitive price.  While I may already know my client’s top competitors, it’s valuable to use Google’s results pages to get a feel for who ranks highly for different competitive keywords and search terms.

The first step in the process will be to choose a keyword or search phrase that we’ll perform a non-personalized search for in Google. We will be looking at and making note of competitor’s specific pages and domains that are ranking on the first or second page that we can analyze for link opportunities.

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I use the Mozbar for Chrome extension (it’s also available for Firefox) to quickly qualify prospects by examining the Page and Domain authority and the number of backlinks pointing to a page or domain.

After you’ve found and made record of 3-5 competitors’ pages, it’s time to login to Open Site Explorer so we can start exporting data.

Step 2: Gathering Data

After logging into Open Site Explorer, enter one of the competitor’s URLs and hit search. Once the tool has loaded the results, filter them to make sure you are getting just external backlinks and not internal results from the root or sub-domain.

Set the filters in OSE to show “all” links from “only external” pages to “pages on the root domain” (or to “this page” if you’d like to limit your results to a specific page relevant to the query) and “show links ungrouped.”

Choose “all” links to look at no-follow and non-equity passing links in addition to followed links  – nofollow links are still valuable for diversifying a backlink portfolio and potentially sending valuable referral traffic back to a website. Once the results have been filtered, click Export to CSV and follow this process for all competitor URLs you’ve collected.

Once the results have been filtered, click Export to CSV and follow this process for all competitor URLs you’ve collected.

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Being Efficient: 404 Analysis in OSE

Because we’re already in OSE looking at competitors’ backlinks, let’s also navigate to the Top Pages tab in the OSE tool for each competitor, and look for any pages that are returning a 404 header status in the HTTP Status column.



How to Combine Industry Events with Videos for Link Building Results

Today’s guest post comes from BuzzStream customer Tristan Pelligrino.  Tristan is the co-owner of 522 Productions and Marketing Director for 522 Digital. He enjoys writing about the intersection of video and the web and connecting with peers online.
combining industry events with video
I’ve always enjoyed attending industry events. They’re an important part of growth on both a personal and organizational level. Even though it can be difficult to squeeze in a 2-day conference, events unlock many opportunities. Major events provide access to industry leaders and peers while shedding light on trends related to your business.

Despite the obvious advantages of an industry event, many marketers don’t take advantage of these situations for link building. Since industry leaders, peers and interested attendees are all gathered in one place, you can’t afford to miss out on this chance to build your online network. But, how can you break through the noise and develop compelling content from an industry event? Well, that’s where video comes in.

Using Video Content for Link Building

 It’s becoming more difficult to conduct outreach and get a featured post. Now, more than ever, you need compelling content to entice webmasters and business owners to include your material. Video is one of the best ways you can differentiate your content.

Video provides an opportunity for you to integrate a human element to your content. Testimonials and interviews are a perfect example for how you can establish a personal connection and add another layer to text content. Industry events are a perfect avenue for gathering short video clips. If you can develop resourceful written content and mix with video, this helps you cut through the clutter on the web.
How to Maximize Your Budget for Video Content



eCommerce Link Building in 2013 and Beyond: 6 Experts Weigh In

Building links for ecommerce sites is one of the most challenging and most lucrative parts of SEO.  With complex information architecture, highly commercial content, and often little differentiation, ecommerce link building is difficult but rewarding.

This month, I asked 6 experts for their top tips on link building strategies for ecommerce sites in 2013 and beyond.

Todd McDonald




Todd is the Director of Link Strategy at RKG.  You can find him on Twitter or Google Plus, or read his posts about link development on the RKG blog.




One challenging aspect of ecommerce link building is prioritizing page types. How do you prioritize building links to category versus product versus home pages?

To me, priorities are determined by your combining your goals, your current situation in relationship to the competition, and your own limitations.  Something like…

Goals + Competitive Situation/Standing + Internal Limitations = Priorities

There are some other things that need to be considered, but this line of thinking will get you thinking more strategically about how to prioritize.

As an example, lets take a cigar store that sells online – company Z.

Goal: Increase revenue by 50%
Competitive Situation: Company Z is a relatively unknown brand that has been selling cigars and cigar paraphernalia for the last two years online.  From an SEO perspective they are relatively knew to the game and have few backlinks compared to their competitors.
Internal Limitations:  Currently, Company Z has a part time employee and a budget of $1,000/month for link development.  Also, their product changes frequently as they often get leftovers from suppliers that they sell for cheap (read, their product pages will disappear and may not come back).



Convincing Management of the Need for Link Building

One question we got through our Qualaroo survey was: “How do I convince management of the need for link building?”  This is a good question, and I’ll take it on today’s post.

Making More Money

One of the most difficult things about SEO link building is that if someone asks “How many more visitors will we get if we do X?”, it’s almost impossible to come up with an exact answer that has any hope of being correct. 

Even with the number of correlation studies that have been done on SERP CTR, saying decisively that “If we rank #1 for this term, we’ll get X traffic” is impossible to do with any degree of accuracy.  Connecting this traffic to revenue and conversions (particularly if you work in a sector with a considered purchase process and multi-touch conversions) is even more difficult.

However, if appropriately caveat’ed, it can be valuable to show management what sort of traffic is available.  You can use the Google Adwords Keyword Tool or (dramatically more accurate) impression data from PPC ads.  Then you can show, under different projections, what sort of traffic could be expected.