fishing. There were lots and lots of mentions of fishing. Did you know Todd fished? Because he does. A lot. You should have been there.
Here’s a brief version of what you missed.
Todd started off the session polling the audience to find out where people worked (agency/in-house) and getting a sense of what industry they fall into. This is also how we learned we had two gentlemen in the room competing in the bean bag business. See, you don’t know until you ask? ;)
Two years ago off-page factors accounted for 70 percent of search factors. In 2011, we were still between 40 and 50 percent. You simply can’t over-emphasize the value of links to your overall SEO strategy. And that’s not going away because of social – social is merely augmenting it. It’s adding more accountability.
Before you launch a link building campaign, know what the battlefield looks like. Look at where you’re at and where your competitors are at. Even if you’re not working with a new site – do an audit of your link profile. You may find you have to give penance for some of those bad links you went after when you weren’t so smart (or before Google cracked down harder).
Things to consider:
- How many links to you need to be competitive in your space?
- How much are you willing to pay (even if you’re just paying in time) to get a link? Know what links are worth $10, $100, $1,000, $10,000 to your business.
- How you’re able to pay for links – money, creativity (linkbaiting ala The Oatmeal), development
Shocking to no one who knows him, Todd compares linkbuilding to fishing. [Michael Gray was in the audience and suggested we all drink each time Todd mentions fishing but…we would all be dead. So I hope you weren’t doing that at home.]
- You have to understand the weather and the climate
- You need reliable bait and good hooks: You can’t go out and ask for a link anymore. You need great assets.
- A great team catches together: You’re not going to catch fish or get links unless you’re working together. Everyone say, “aw!”
- If you want quality, it’s going to take time and practice.
- Experience is the best teacher: When you’re learning to fish you spend a lot of boring hours on the water. When you’re learning link building, you spend a lot of boring hours on the computer.
- Strategy evolves with experience
From here, the conversation turned to strategy. Todd did an incredible job flipping through slides about tools, process methods, and actual templates for attendees to use.
Creating Your Process
You have to start somewhere internally. He mentions the iAcquire Link Building Process graph that they recently shared on their site:
Whatever you create, it has to be something that everyone on your team will be able to use. There has to be a vetting process to help team members find the people, the sites, and the combination of both to go after for your link building efforts.
- Find your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) or two. This is your hook.
- Understand your vertical and competition: Establish the BEST competitors list, start by getting 50 percent of your competitors links. Target specific keywords by page using KOB
- Populate a CRM: This will help you keep track of targets. Consistency is key for key, tracking is necessary, improvement is mandatory, and you need quality control. He recommends Raven Tools and BuzzStream
- Develop a discovery process: After you have your CRM populated, where do you go to start looking for links? What influencers are going to be important? What are the best/easiest sites? You only need a single link from a single website. The best guest posting strategy is to hit every site once.
- Create an outreach strategy: Who is going to do your outreach? What are they going to offer? When will they launch? Where are the prospects they’ll target?
- Keep learning and innovating
SEO isn’t black magic, but you do need to understand how to measure off-site equity. As previously mentioned, know how much a link is worth to you and how much you’re willing to pay for it.
Sites/People Prospecting Strategies
There are a lot of tools out there to help you identify both people and sites for link prospecting. Todd outlined a number for both:
- Blogger LinkUp
- My Blog Guest
Note: Don’t just let your link builders loose on the top influencers you find via these sites. You don’t want to immediately attack the people who are the most influential bloggers. You need to develop a repartee first. Reach out to them slowly over time.
- Link Prospector
- Yahoo Site Explorer
Note: All links aren’t created equal. You need to know the difference and you need to be able to communicate that through your organization.
To get links, you need content. Types to focus on: Web tools, national days and events, sponsor contests & clubs, badges, plugins, drupal themes, widgets, petitions, finding malware, printable resources, 404 reclamation, review something new, etc.
Todd says that the most important link prospective tool is the ability to search creatively, which includes using advanced operators to find new opportunities. Use queries like [keyword + intitle “write for us”] and focus on out-of-the-box keywords like:
- Marketing defining keywords
- Customer defining keywords
- Product/category keywords
- Industry thought leader keywords
- Competing company keywords
Armed with creativity, it’s all about creating those relationships and establishing trust when reaching out for the link. You can’t just ask for a link – you have to earn it through interaction. This one was chock-filled. You might want to bribe Todd for his slides. ;)