Missed parts 1 to 3?
- SEO Basics Pt.1: Page Titles and Meta Descriptions
- SEO Basics Pt.2: On-page Tips and Tricks
- SEO Basics Pt.3: How to get (natural) links
In 2014 it remains vital for websites to have a backlink profile of real quality that contains plenty of links from the right sorts of websites. If you are creating this profile properly, there are no easy shortcuts. This really is a task that needs to have time lavished on it if you want to stand any chance of getting decent results in search engine results pages (SERPs). In fact, it’s never ending because if you stop getting backlinks whilst your competitors are getting them then it’s inevitable that you will suffer in the SERPs.
If you have a lot of good quality backlinks for your website then that acts as one of many signals to search engines that your website clearly has something of value on it. Google use their PageRank algorithm to do just this. To use their words:
PageRank works by counting the number and quality of links to a page to determine a rough estimate of how important the website is. The underlying assumption is that more important websites are likely to receive more links from other websites.
Of course, this has resulted in people trying to manipulate the system in a negative and spammy way. To cut a long story short, though, Google is now pretty adept at being able to stop this kind of abuse from achieving results in the rankings (most of the time). This means that good digital marketing agencies are only concerned with creating link profiles in a legitimate fashion, whereby they act as the middlemen to hook up the right websites with the right client.
The right sort of link will also generate you a decent amount of referral traffic. The better the link, the better the quality of the referral traffic. We have seen this happen first-hand when clients have achieved sales and sign ups as a direct result of a link.
What’s the ideal website to get a link from?
You want to be getting links from websites that are wholly relevant and authoritative. In regards to relevancy, use both your common sense and free tools to discern whether it is applicable. One popular free tool is the Mozbar, which despite having its fair share of foibles, does succeed in providing you with a good basic guide as to the worth of a website. When relying on common sense, remember not to be too strict with your guidelines. If you owned a rubbish removal company, then you don’t just have to consider websites all about rubbish. Instead, make your job easier and broaden your search to include sites regarding sustainability and the environment.
It’s also good to glance at the URL of the website you are considering trying to get a link from. As a general rule, a URL with .gov, .edu or .ac.uk in it will be a legitimate governmental or educational institute. We don’t think that the TLD on its own is the indicator, but rather the fact that educational sites tend to link out to good sites, and are in turn are linked to by good sites, meaning that links from such domains can increase the perception of legitimacy and trustworthiness of your site or resource. Governments, councils and universities don’t link out to just anyone, so if you can create the right resource, you can get some very good links.
How do you find these websites?
To begin with, do things in this order:
1. Websites that mention your client without linking to them.
Using search engines find websites that have mentioned your organisation in the past without providing you with a link. This is a surprisingly effective way to get an initial batch of links. We find it best to approach the creator of the actual content, but if that fails then you should contact the webmaster or editorial team. Once you’ve made it clear that you are grateful for the website mentioning you in the past, then make it clear as to what it is that you want.
2. Trawl search engines.
Once you have decided on the suitable niches you want to be targeting for links, then use Google to intelligently find relevant websites to approach. For example, if you would like to invite a restaurant critic or food blogger to dine at your London restaurant then it would make sense to search for:
“restaurant critic” london
“food blog” inurl:london
Very quickly you will have a great list of people who may be willing to review your restaurant. Not only could they drive customers to your restaurant, but they could end up providing you with a link from a respected local news site or blog. In this case, as food critics pay for their meals you are not breaking Google guidelines.
3. Analyse your competitors.
Although you can do this manually, it is worth using something like Ahrefs or MajesticSEO to automatically show you where your competitors have links. This will immediately show you the link profile of your competitors and it is a vital source of inspiration for link building.
How should you approach them?
You’ve got to put yourself in the shoes of the person you are contacting. Be honest, polite and concise whilst making it clear how you will add value to their page.
As many of you will know, we are big advocates of giving content marketing the attention it deserves. If your organisation has created some sort of resource that is genuinely useful and not blatantly ‘salesy’ then you can use it as bait, if you like, to get links.
For example, let’s imagine that a council has decided to advise its site users about mortgages and that your company happens to offer a good interactive mortgage checklist. If this is the case then when you approach the webmaster at the council you should make it clear that you have this fantastic resource. If it’s good enough then you will succeed in gaining a link from a top quality website.
Remember to make everything clear and easy for them. Tell them what specific page you are talking about and tell them whereabouts on that page you envision your site.
When emailing them make the email as personal as possible. To maximise value from your work, make sure you re-contact people again should you hear nothing back after a week.
So there you have it, that’s outreach in a nutshell. For both new and old websites it is important that you make sure that you are fully clued up on this. New websites need to establish a good link profile whilst old websites need to build upon their current one and ensure that they disavow any poor quality links. We’ll cover how to disavow links on this blog in the coming weeks.
Passion Digital provide SEO services for large multi-national businesses, small start-ups and charities. We have a learned SEO team and if you are interested in utilising them for your organisation then please visit our SEO page and get in touch with Mike using the form provided.