Establishing a diverse, high-quality link portfolio is crucial to increasing your organic rankings. Between July 2013 and July 2014, more than 80 percent of companies increased their spending on tactics that earn links.
When launching a campaign, you must be acutely aware of where your campaign spreads after the first exclusive goes live. Most campaigns that earn a top-tier pickup will spread through social networks, messaging systems, news sites, and blogs, allowing you to secure a cascade of links from your original placement.
If you’re not monitoring this spread and optimizing it for your clients’ benefit, you’ll end up missing out on establishing a more diverse, high-quality link portfolio that would require little additional work from your team. Here’s where you should start:
Link Reclamation – The process of finding natural syndications of your campaign and working with the editor to optimize the story for the biggest client impact.
Link reclamation should occur shortly after your first exclusive goes live, allowing you to leverage the recency effect.
Recency Effect – When people are asked to recall a list of items that are presented to them, they tend to be able to best recall those at the end of the list (the recency effect) and those at the beginning of the list (the primacy effect) better than those in the middle of the list.
Using this theory, you’ll want to reach out to writers shortly after they’ve published your campaign, so it’s fresh in their minds and ripe for updates; if you reach out several weeks after they’ve published, sometimes the story can be too stale for an update.
Below, I’ve outlined the important steps of link reclamation and the strategies that will have the biggest impact for your client.
I. How to Find Publishers Who Have Syndicated Your Campaign
At Fractl, we dedicate 30 minutes, or more, per day to link reclamation, depending on the initial reach of each campaign. For example, one campaign may garner 100 syndications, while another campaign may earn only 10 syndications.
You’ll want to dedicate the most time to the campaign that has the largest number of syndicators because that campaign will provide the most opportunities for reaching out and optimizing a writer’s story.
In order to change a story, the first thing you have to do is find the story. Here are our favorite tools for finding natural syndications.
Step 1: CognitiveSEO
CognitiveSEO offers an Instant Backlink Explorer, which allows you to find publishers who are linking back to one of your original pickups. Once you’ve searched an original, exclusive link via the “Explore Links” field, select the “Page” option on the subsequent page and perform independent searches for the placements that likely garnered the most syndication, such as:
- The client’s campaign landing page
- The URL of the exclusive pickup
- The URL of any top-tier pickup
This search will generate a comprehensive report analyzing the total number of referring domains, the total number of links, page authority, and domain authority.
Step 2: Google News
Google News allows you to search for any pickup that was a syndication of the original campaign but perhaps didn’t link to the original story. Using Google News, you may perform a broad keyword search for any term that might relate back to your campaign, including:
- Client name
- Campaign name
- Campaign landing page
- Exclusive placement headline
- Major placement(s) headline
- Anchor text
- First sentence of exclusive/major placements
- Combination of the above
Since not all publishers are included in the Google News results, you can expand this same search via the “Web” function. Using Google “Search Tools,” narrow your results by selecting “Custom Range” and then input the date of your exclusive launch and carry it to the current date. This will allow you to find any natural syndications that occurred after your exclusive went live.
Familiarize yourself with the Google Search operators to expand the queries used to find your campaigns.
Step 3: Reverse Image Search
Google’s Reverse Image Search and TinEye both allow you to find publishers who have syndicated a graphic from your campaign but might have left off the proper attribution that would otherwise help you locate their story. Simply drop the Imgur URL (or relevant image link) of your graphic into the image search box and you’ll find an array of pickups for your campaign.
In the browser Chrome, a reverse image search can be executed by simply right-clicking on an image and selecting “Search Google for this image.”
A word of caution: An image search will often pull a mix of placements and URLs with graphics that look similar to yours, so make sure you verify before including the pickup in your client report.
Step 4: BuzzSumo
Similar to CognitiveSEO, BuzzSumo offers a tool that allows you to look for publishers who have provided attribution to a specific campaign link. The benefit of BuzzSumo over CognitiveSEO is the added social metrics, which give you insight into the other pickups with high engagement that might have generated additional syndications as well.
Step 5: Google Alerts
Google Alerts provides an easy way for you to track client pickups directly in your inbox. Simply enter the client name, campaign title, or exclusive placement headline and you’ll receive an email anytime a new story is written with your keywords. While this tool is at the bottom of our checklist, it never hurts to add an additional source for tracking pickups.
Now that you know how to find the majority of your syndicators, how do you determine which links are worth changing?
II. How Link Type Determines the Changes With the Highest Impact
Not all publishers are created equal, nor are their link types. With link reclamation, there’s little value in changing a co-citation link to a “dofollow” link on a publisher with a domain authority under 20; however, there’s high value in hunting down top-tier pickups that provide no link at all.
First, how are different links defined?
- Nofollow: The publisher provides a link back to the client within its post. Right-click on the page to find the “Source Code” and then search the code for a “nofollow” condition. If “rel=nofollow” is present, the link is not passing value to your client.
- Dofollow: The publisher provides a link back to the client within their post. Perform the same search within the “Source Code” to see if a nofollow condition is present. If it is not present, then the link is passing value to your client.
- Co-Citation Link: Publisher A writes the exclusive on your campaign and then Publisher B writes a story about Publisher A’s original exclusive. Publisher B links to Publisher A but doesn’t link to your client. E.g., Original Story → Co-citation on Wired to PC World.
- Text Attribution: When a publisher credits your client by mentioning the client’s name in its post, but there is no link back to your client’s site.
- No Attribution: When a publisher writes about your campaign but provides neither a co-citation link nor a mention of your client.
When performing link recon, the links you want to focus on changing and to which links you should change them are as follows:
- Co-citation → Direct client attribution
- No Attribution → Dofollow
- Text Attribution → Dofollow
- Nofollow → Dofollow
So how do you go about making those changes?
III. How to Perform Link Attribution Requests
Reaching out to a publisher to change a link is a tactic that requires a very sensitive approach. If you’re too aggressive with your approach, most publishers will perceive you as one of the dozens of link spammers that flood their inbox daily, like the one I received yesterday:
It’s important that you set yourself apart with the following best practices.
- Reach out to the original writer.
When you reach out to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, it’s easy for your request to get lost in the shuffle. It’s also easy for people to perceive you as a spammer when they don’t immediately recognize the story you’re referencing. When going for the recency effect, you’ll want to find the email address of the specific writer who wrote the story you’re seeking to change.
- Open with a positive angle.
Mention how happy you are that the writer found this story worthy of covering. If the post performed well, highlight in which ways (i.e., engagement in the comments section) his or her audience found this content valuable and engaging. Find a way to connect with that writer on a personal level, to show you did your research and you’re not another bot. Taking these steps sets a positive tone before you make your request.
- Explain why your client’s landing page is a value-add.
If a publisher syndicated your campaign, it might not be aware of your client or the additional landing pages for your campaign. Building landing pages that include additional findings incentivizes the publisher to link back to the client’s page as a value-add, rather than just offering a link to the client’s homepage which can be perceived as a more salesy approach.
Take the piece “Dying to be Barbie” as an example. By creating a research-focused landing page for our campaign (which elaborated on our study), we were able to secure two links for our client rather than one.
This landing page also enabled us to follow up with publishers who didn’t cite the client as a source and provide them with an asset that would add value to their stories if updated. More than 60 percent of publishers want to see something new or exclusive in a campaign, so be sure to highlight the new stats you’re hoping to include in their write-up.
- Keep your email brief.
When it comes to pitching best practices, 45 percent of publishers want a pitch that is less than 100 words, and another 43 percent want you to keep it under 200 words. Since updating a story can be a pain for some writers, I suggest keeping your pitch as friendly and brief as possible.
- Include the relevant links to make it easier to update.
When requesting an article update, you want to make it as easy as possible for the writer to remember and access the article you’re referencing. Be sure to include a link to the writer’s original story, in addition to the link for the correct client page and/or landing page. This makes for a quick plug-and-chug for the writer, which makes you less of an inconvenience and more of a help.
- End by building a new relationship.
Since most of these writers picked up the story naturally, there’s an opportunity for you to establish a new relationship with a writer who has already published your content. Although your request ultimately serves one goal – to fix improper attribution – keep in mind that, like the link, the relationship with the writer or editor also has long-term value. Keep your approach personable and find opportunities to continue to build a relationship with that writer – whether you’re offering a new campaign that fits his or her beat or you’re continuing to engage with that person on social media.
In closing, here are a few of our link reclamation pitches that enabled us to secure a larger link portfolio for our clients.
Sample Pitch – Turning Co-Citation Into a Dofollow
I’m contacting you in regards to your post XX. I’m part of the creative team at XX, and we’re responsible for creating the study in your article. I’m thrilled our infographic inspired you to “double the number of selfies” you’ve taken, and I hope your readers were inspired as well!
I noticed you provided attribution to XX for this study. While it was the first publisher to cover our campaign, there’s actually an additional page that provides even more insight into our research. For example, did you know XX or XX?
I thought you might find this interactive landing page to be a great value-add for your write-up, so I wanted to reach out in case you wanted to update your post. If you have any questions about the study or are looking for an exclusive quote from our client, let me know how I can help.
Sample Pitch – No Attribution
Wow, your post on our study XX was so in-depth! Thanks for taking the time to write the article – I’m glad to see it gave you some engagement as well.
I was reaching out in hopes that you would update your story with proper attribution, giving credit to the team that created this in-depth research project. Here’s a link to the original write-up, which provides additional insights on our methodology and findings.
If you could let me know when proper attribution has been provided, I would greatly appreciate it.
Does your team practice link reclamation? If so, share your favorite tips in the comments below!