In 2023, most businesses already realize the importance of link building for SEO. It helps you boost your authority in the industry, promote your content, grow organic traffic, gain higher positions on the search results, and, ultimately, grow your business. Organically! Sounds cool, right?
While it is clear that companies have to make efforts to do link-building, many still don’t understand how to do it without accidentally damaging your rankings.
This guide is full of tips and actionable advice on how to do your link building right.
Let’s start with the basics.
What is link building?
In digital marketing, link building is a strategy of increasing your SEO rankings by gaining links to your website from other domains. Links serve the purpose of ‘votes’. The more votes you have, the higher your rankings are. Fair enough, right?
Link building has many shapes and forms. People exchange links, write expert quotes for media outlets, send massive digital PR campaigns, establish ‘outreach relationships’ with fellow SEO specialists, and even buy links (we really don’t recommend this tactic).
In any case, one of the most effective strategies is gaining links by offering value to other websites. If your content has something unique (e.g., one-of-a-kind statistics that you researched), fellow bloggers will want to feature it and give you a link back.
But how will they find out about your unique content?
That’s where outreach specialists come in. They set up a link building campaign to spread the word about your blog to relevant websites. And that’s where the magic starts!
Read on to find out what a perfect link building campaign consists of.
Read more: Check out our big guide on link building for SEO.
The recipe for a successful link building campaign
It’s important to note the difference between a campaign launched with the purpose of link building and other kinds of outreach (e.g., to find partners for link exchanges). A link building campaign usually has essential elements that define it:
- An article (or a set of articles) that you want to build some links to
- A list of contacts of journalists and/or bloggers you contact
- An email sequence created for the campaign
- Usually, an email outreach tool to automate the campaign and get analytics later
So, is creating a nice email asking people to link back to you and sending it to a predefined list of contacts an outreach campaign? Pretty much.
Getting links is getting harder and harder. And to win the attention of bloggers and journalists, it is crucial to stand out from the rest in their inbox.
Here are some of the top tips to be successful with your link building efforts.
Tip 1: Choose a perfect piece of content
You might already have plenty of good articles on your blog. However, you should carefully think about which ones you want to promote for link building and how. In some cases, you might even have to create a new piece.
Some types of content are pretty easy to outreach (e.g., statistics pieces). Such articles are often called ‘linkable assets’. They are informative, interesting, and usually have something other articles don’t - unique data. Winning backlinks to these pieces is good for your authority, website credibility, and overall SEO health score.
Another type of content you would want to promote with outreach campaigns is the so-called ‘priority pages’. Those are the pieces that drive traffic and make visitors turn into paying customers. They might need a little push to get to the top of the SERPs (or, for instance, win a featured snippet). That’s exactly why you would want to create a link building campaign for those pages.
In any case, no matter what article you choose, it should be a quality one. The phrase ‘content is king’ is still very relevant. Even the best link building campaigns don’t really matter if the content you are trying to promote is too generic, badly-written, or spammy. Make an effort to ensure that your piece is SEO-friendly, written for the user, interesting, and showcases your expertise in the industry.
Right, you have your polished ‘priority link’. What’s next?
Tip 2: Research your list of contacts
A good piece of content should land in good hands. How do you ensure that? By researching a solid list of contacts that might be interested.
Those could be outdated pieces that could benefit from an update or, for example, articles that miss out on some important data. If you contact a content specialist or a fellow outreach professional from the website and show them how featuring your content can bring value to their website, you have a good chance of winning a link.
Usually, there is a dedicated SEO research team that scouts the internet in search of potentially interesting pages. They look at the website rankings, relevance, content, and try to get the contact information of relevant people. Then, outreachers are presented with a contact list, and that’s where their work starts.
Tip 3: Create an email template (make it fun!)
A well-written email is the heart and soul of every outreach campaign. Even if your content is good and absolutely worth linking to, people will not find out about it unless you catch their attention. Everyone is busy, and everyone gets dozens of emails per day… How to create the one they will pay attention to?
First, you should create a template. It’s good to automate your work as much as possible (especially the manual parts), so using an email outreach tool comes in very handy. As an option, you could use MixMax or Pitchbox. They allow you to create a sequence template that will automate adding things like first names and article titles as well as later personalise the emails based on every particular contact.
What should you focus on when writing an email? Definitely spend some time thinking about a catchy subject line. You shouldn’t reinvent the wheel here, however, make it the one people will want to open. It should wake up their curiosity, be eye-catching, and not too long. You can experiment with using questions in the subject line, adding an interesting statistic, or using emojis. It’s also a good idea to create 2-3 different subject lines and test which one works better on small batches of contacts.
As for the email itself, it’s important to find a golden middle here: it should be concise and not too long, but at the same time show the value you can provide. There should be a catchy beginning, a clear CTA, and an element of fun! You can use a GIF or a nice infographic, which will help make the email more visual and catchy without being too wordy.
Tip 4: Personalize, personalize, personalize
An automated template is not enough—people see a generic email from the moment they open it. It will discourage them from replying to you and, unfortunately, from giving you a link. How could you ensure this doesn’t happen?
Use plenty of personalization! This should be more than simply adding a person’s first name in the opening like instead of a generic “Hey there!”. Read the article you are targeting, check out the person’s Linkedin page, and think what they would appreciate hearing from you. You can look up their profile on MuckRack if they have one—this way, you will also see their latest tweets. Perhaps they recommended a book or a movie recently? Comment on it in the beginning of your email! This will give your contact a feeling of a personal approach coming from you, and they will definitely appreciate it.
Remember that behind every email address, there is a person who would appreciate a bit of a personal touch. They might still not give you a link but they will probably remember your company and the quality outreach they got from you.
Tip 5: Follow up (even twice)
A good rule of thumb is not to give up if you don’t receive a response to your initial email. All outreach tools allow you to set up follow up emails that get sent in case the first one is not answered after 3-4 days.
Following up once or twice (not more) is a good way to give the person a little nudge and remind them about yourself. Maybe they were out of office and missed your email? Or it was a very busy day for them and they forgot to reply? In any case, the success rates of your campaign rise with every follow up you send.
Follow-up emails are amazing since they really increase the chances of getting a reply (hopefully, a positive one!). So, don’t give up if the open or reply rates are low after the first try—they will definitely increase by following up.
As you can see, launching a successful link building campaign is a tricky but rewarding task. Rather than being a way of “cold outreach” where you shoot the email and wait until something happens, it’s more of a way to connect with fellow bloggers, establish long-term partnerships with them, and offer your value and expertise to others.
Not every campaign results in a lot of links. However, by following these guidelines, you greatly increase your chances of good wins and also pave the way for future collaborations. Quality link building for SEO is one of the surest ways to grow your website organically, so it’s high time you tried this strategy.