We’ve already noted the importance of search traffic, and we’ve already examined what truly drives search traffic: backlinks.
If you need a recap: how to get more search traffic
Today, we’re going to be looking at how to get high quality backlinks to drive your business forward.
Here are the topics we’ll be addressing:
- Definition of Link Assets
- How to Build Link Assets
- How to Find Highly Converting Prospective Webmasters
- How to Conduct Link Building Outreach
On the latter part of the post, we’ll be walking you step-by-step on how we execute on these tactics to produce insane results for your business.
II: How to Build Link Assets
1: What is A Link Asset
A link asset is piece of content that stands head and shoulders above anything anyone in your industry has produced.
Brian Dean of Backlinko calls this the Skyscraper Technique:
The primary objective of this technique is to create something so outstanding that people can’t help but link to it and share it all over social media.
This will aid in the process of attaining links, and will ease the pains of conducting cold-email outreach.
The key is to stop at nothing to make this a masterful piece of work. It can be long, sure. But aesthetics, and the topic itself do play a part.
I want to point your attention to a quick “hack” here: invest in the design of your website. It pays off huge dividends.
When conducting outreach to build links, people who you e-mail aren’t going to sit there and read the whole post, rather – they’re going to skim it and if it looks good, they’ll be more likely to send you the link.
The design of your website, and design of the link asset itself – are imperative.
Take it from Google & Apple: they have a combined market capitalization of $1.5 trillion and place a huge emphasis on design and aesthetics.
2: How to Build A Link Asset
It’s hard to define what makes a link asset, but following this checklist, you might be able to derive some great ideas:
Covering an entire subject in incredible depth is a great way to build tons of links. That’s because people will often refer to it, especially if it becomes a “cornerstone” of the industry.
A great example is the Moz Beginner’s Guide to SEO
Absolutely phenomenal results, this is a great example.
Design is also important, a lethal combination is making something evergreen and with incredible design:
This post as an aggregate of over 2,000 referring domains!
It’s not easily replicable, however, Neil spent over $5K for each one of these posts.
I’ve found not many people are willing to invest to grow their businesses. But those who do – win big.
Something of incredible length ( say: that covers an entire subject with great detail), is also a great way to build an evergreen link asset.
I showed you this already, but it still stands as a great example.
Presenting new ideas that are ground-breaking is also a great way to produce an asset.
Here’s Backlinko, again:
I found this funny: because the study only emphasized what we already knew – links are the #1 ranking factor, and no other metric even comes close to predicting search engine success.
Give tons of value to your visitors, as all of the examples have done:
DigitalMarketer has emerged as one of the thought leaders in online marketing, and their blog posts are of immense value.
Value is the most important metric when it comes to getting more links and turning something into an “asset”.
Offering a unique view point, a new idea, or presenting your content in a new fashion are all great ways to produce an asset, as well.
Hopefully that gives you enough information to start generating ideas in your head.
3: How to Find Highly Converting Prospective Webmasters
That is a mouthful.
In essence: how to find people who are likely to link to you.
That’s easy – as outlined in the Skyscraper Technique, before you produce the content, first do your research.
Produce these link assets around topics that have generated or sparked interaction in the past, and then seek to best the previous piece.
In this fashion, you will have thousands of people who have already demonstrated a proclivity to link out and will make for much easier targets.
The most important factor to keep in mind is to contact the right people. And it’ll save you time, money, and resources.
Like the old adage says: sell to people who want to be sold to.
4: How to Outreach
Ok, so you have your link asset and a list of people to contact.
How do you actually commence the outreach campaign?
Easy: you can do this manually, or use some sort of outreach software.
The key is you want to e-mail each and every person with a pithy, personalized template that’ll convert highly.
Here’s one that’ll get you started:
The template itself is not the most important part, I’m sure you can come up with a better one yourself.
Here are the keys to a successful outreach campaign:
4.1: Keys to Cold E-mail Outreach
#1: Contact The Right People
You need to contact people who are likely to link to you. These people tend to be of the following characteristics:
- Independent Bloggers (meaning: not a magazine)
- Have shown an inclination to link (as explained in the previous section)
- Smaller sites work best (meaning: “influencers” are bombarded with e-mails and not likely to link out)
Basically: independent bloggers with small audiences who have linked out to similar articles before. These people will be your bread-and-butter.
5% or more success rates on command.
#2: Highly Personalized, and Concise E-Mails
1: Respect their time: send short and concise e-mails. Plus – most people will not read an entire e-mail. Bold the important parts to make them stand out more.
That way, they can quickly skim it and get on with their day.
2: Personalize: the worst thing you can do is try to talk to a bunch of people all at once. People love individuality and being addressed directly.
Use their names, use “you” plenty of times, and try to make it seem as much as possible that you’re e-mailing specifically them.
As opposed to a group of people.
Straight Out of How to Win Friends:
#3: Give, before Asking
Let’s be clear here – there’s very little you can do in terms of “giving” when conducting cold e-mail link outreach, but there’s one thing you can do: offer compliments and fuzzy feelings.
You can do that by proffering compliments and stating their article had some impact on you or that you used it for inspiration.
Then, you ask them to read your post and perhaps share it.
Warm & Fuzzy Feelings:
#4: Follow Up, Follow Up, Follow Up
You need to follow up with the people who didn’t respond initially. They might’ve been busy – or the e-mail got lost in the pile.
Don’t take it personal.
Just follow up and remind them. Usually, you can double the response rate on a campaign by following up and this leads to increased success rates as well.
Also: when people agree to link to you, follow up if they didn’t.
A simple e-mail asking them if they’ve found the time to, often, works wonders.
Carry the conversation as long as you need to: don’t just “get yours” and then stop answering.
#5: Warm ‘Em Up
If your article features any influencers or specific personalities, send them a quick e-mail that you’re going to be featuring them and that if they’d like to take a look at it.
If they respond yes, simply send them an e-mail afterwards with the link included.
With influencers, if they like what you’ve published, often they’ll share it with their people and can end up in an influx of traffic coming your way.
This is always a great tactic, as well.
Such posts are called “ego bait” and have worked well:
III: Steal Our Link Acquisition Process
Ok, so now you know the importance of high quality backlinks:
The more referring domains you have, the more traffic you get.
I’ve showed you in this post how to get high quality backlinks. Now, let me show you the system we’ve built to get these results consistently.
1: Creating Link Assets
The creation of link assets is typically the most time-consuming portion of the campaign. I highly recommend hiring a team of contractors to put this together.
This will include a writer, a designer, and a developer (if applicable).
The steps are:
- Conduct Research
- Perform keyword research to find previous successful link assets
- Analyze the current top standing content pages
- Would this be a viable avenue to pursue a link asset?
- How many people have linked to previous posts?
- Is the “contact list” big enough to satisfy the expenditure?
- Plan The Asset
- Can you stand above the rest?
- What’s it going to take content-wise, and investment-wise?
- What could be the potential results of pursuing this asset?
- What methods of promotion and distribution can I use?
- Do I need custom graphics? Do I need a video? Do I need written content?
- Hire Contractors
- Video Editors
- Manage Project
- Set procedural benchmarks (length of content, how many graphics, etc.)
- Set draft, review, and due dates
- Set aside budget
- Set communication parameters (daily communications, or reporting)
2: Conducting Outreach
When conducting the outreach, you need to follow these steps:
- Prospect the list (are they the right people?)
- Collect contact information (name, website URL, e-mail)
- Formulate templates
- Select outreach methodology (manual, software, etc.)
- Set KPI’s (emails sent, referring domains expected, success rate)
- Write up follow ups
Some additional tips: best time to send emails is around 2 pm – 8 pm on Monday through Thursday.
3: Project Management & Communication
This is up to personal preference, we use Google Sheets for tracking and Slack for communication.
In Google Sheets, people can edit the files real-time and you don’t have to send excel sheets or documents back and forth.
I can’t share live sensitive information but here’s a rudimentary way to assign and manage tasks:
Communicating is important to make sure everyone is on the same page, and solving problems as they arise.
Any type of instant messaging platform will prove adequate…(Slack, Skype, IM, Facebook, etc.)
We like to use Slack:
4: Team Members & Structure
We have a very specific way in which we structure our teams, it most closely resembles the Ford Motor Company’s “Assembly Line” approach.
It helps us assure quality, promptness and results by maintaining high levels of integrity in procedural operations.
We have identified and carefully assessed each key process to reach our desired goals. Then we hire and train people specifically for that role and that role only: this allows us to execute with unparalleled excellence and deliver results consistently.
Our teams are highly specialized and expert at what they do. Here’s how other agencies structure their teams:
#1: Project Manager – #2: SEO Manager – #3 Content Writer – #4 SEO Specialist – #5 Accounts Manager
And this group of people are supposed to handle 100 accounts on their own?
And deliver for your business at a high level?
Rather, our teams are highly compartmentalized and focus on no more than a dozen accounts.
They know what to do, they execute at a high level, and this allows us to offer first-class services with certainty in our delivery.
Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night.
There’s no secrets, we don’t believe in shortcuts or tricks – only sound fundamentals and extreme attention to detail in execution.
Here’s our team layout:
4.1: Project Manager (SEO Manager): (Oversees campaign performance, assigns tasks, dictates campaign direction, and manages the daily activities of the team.) [Currently occupied by me]
4.2: Link Prospector: (Assesses link opportunities, collects contact information, and performs keyword research to seek possible contacts.)
4.3: Outreach Manager: (Sends the e-mails, manages responses, and ensures follow-up’s and follow-through’s for best performance. Think: Public Relations-ish role)
4.4: Contractors (Writers, Designers, Developers): People who do the “creative work” and produce the link assets. Although they work on a “contracting” basis, we’ve built strong relationships with those who’ve produced incredible work for us in the past.
So, that’s how we roll. That’s how we do things, how we communicate, how we manage, and how we do the work.
Quality is emphasized at every step of the way and is the sole focus during the day-to-day. If you want a more, highly detailed look at how to build links, check out this post: Link Building.
Be warned: it’s 10,000 words in length.
You may notice, there’s no mention of “accounts management” and that’s because we’re very transparent. You can see live, how the work is being done (we give you access to the Google Sheets); who we are contacting (you have access to the e-mails); the responses we’re receiving; you approve of each asset before it goes live; and have complete access to everything we’re doing, every step of the way.
We do send monthly reports on traffic, rankings, link acquisitions, and the success rates of outreach – but these are things that you can see yourself through Google Analytics, and other available online tools.
We hide nothing from you, it’s like you’re a part of the team at every moment.
If you’d like more information on how we can work together, let’s have a chat: Schedule A Consultation.
Otherwise – in the next e-mail, we’ll be talking about The Mathematics of Link Building.
A complete exposé of the numbers: costs, success rates, conversion rates, traffic numbers, time windows, everything…