Let me start by telling you a little about my link building journey as I think it will help you to see why I consider attitude as important as skill when it comes to acquiring great links. Winston Churchill famously said that ‘attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference’ and boy is he right.
I realised early on that if you want to build great links you need to throw yourself into the entire process wholeheartedly. Those who know me will know that I am not the most social of people (preferring pizza and PJ’s at home to a night out in every instance), that I am prone to the odd old lady moan (25 going on 65 some have said) and that I ‘like what I know and know what I like’. I soon discovered that these natural tendencies were not going to serve me well in a post penguin link building world and that they were causing me to approach the process in a half-hearted way. Being a huge believer in continued personal development, I decided to push through and adopt the qualities it seemed obvious to me that every great link builder must have to succeed. And as Churchill predicted…it made a big difference!
Strategic people see the bigger picture and always have the end goal in mind. Strategic people will forgo short term temptations (link directories, article spinning and other low quality tactics that may provide a very quick yet short lived win) for the sake of the long term vision. They won’t build links purely for links sake but will look at things like whether or not the link will provide quality traffic back to their website and the right kind of brand exposure amongst their target audience. This is the kind of link building that a person can really believe in and be proud of. In turn this means that their enthusiasm will not wane later down the line and cause a decrease in work quality.
Ditch the black hat tactics and go inbound all the way. Draw up a list of target sites that it would be an absolute dream for you to work with and then plan your content and outreach accordingly. It doesn’t always have to be a link either, co-citation is becoming more recognised and sometimes a mention of your brand on a hugely relevant and popular website is more worth your time and effort than a link on an irrelevant site that offers no brand benefits.
One thing I have really come to appreciate is that one size does not fit all when it comes to link building. Ditch the template emails and tailor your pitch to the website in question. I love this post on Point Blank SEO called ‘The Most Creative Link Building Post Ever’. I like the story from Chris Dyson who offered to provide a mommy blogger with a new blog header in order to get a link to a client’s website in a Christmas gift list round up. There is also James Agate who took a sports site editor out to play golf in order to build his relationship with him. This led to James writing a review which was published on the sports site.
Think outside of the box. What can you offer the webmaster that no one else can? What content can you create that is out of the ordinary? A spoof or practical joke piece, an exclusive interview, infographic, e-book, custom illustration, slideshare, checklist or videos perhaps?
How many of us have fired out a lone email to a blog owner in anticipation of them replying instantaneously and biting our hand off for the content we say we can create? I realised almost immediately that this wasn’t the case and that for every reply I received there were 20 webmasters who did not get back to me. After the rage subsided, the temptation for me here was to have a bit of a defeatist attitude. This negativity really casts a shadow over the process and often means that the work completed is not of the best quality. An overridingly positive attitude and general outlook is essential here and is something that will come across in your outreach!
Don’t just fire off e-mails and feel deflated when you get no reply. Before you contact the webmaster sign up for an account with them (if this is an option), comment in their forums and interact with them via social media. When you do make your pitch try calling the webmaster (yes, I mean on the phone) and sending a follow up email or tweet. And finally, if you get a ‘not interested’ reply why not get back to them asking what you could create that they would be interested in? And if they are still not interested don’t take it to heart, some you win and some you lose!
Organised & Flexible
Being organised means knowing who you have contacted in the past and not irritating them by repeatedly pitching the same ideas. It means knowing exactly when and how to follow up and meeting submission deadlines. Being flexible means that you don’t go into meltdown when they request several amendments, when they decide to publish later than your ideal time or (heaven fobid!) when they get your anchor text wrong.
Ensure you record all your link building efforts in one central, easily searchable location. Consider having status markers so that at any one time you can see your hot leads or those where content is pending publication. Record the ‘next step’ and a ‘due date’ next to each lead. This could be something like ‘send an introductory tweet by Friday’.
I know it sounds cheesy but a bit of ‘get up and go’ can make a huge difference to your link building efforts.