Council Post: From Business Cards To Backlinks: Expanding Your Network
Adam Binder is the Founder & Creative Director of Creative Click Media, a full-service digital marketing agency headquartered in New Jersey.
If you’ve spent any time researching ways to drive traffic to your company’s website, you’re probably familiar with the term “link building.” You know it can be an effective tactic in your search engine optimization efforts, but like many technical elements in an SEO strategy, it can be intimidating.
I’m going to let you in on a secret that most SEO experts probably won’t tell you: There’s really nothing technical about link building at all. In fact, if you’re good at networking, you’ll probably be good at link building.
Think about the components of a typical conversation you’d have at a networking event: You make a strong introduction, find common ground, establish ways in which your businesses can benefit each other and exchange business cards. The main difference between networking and link building is you aren’t exchanging business cards, you’re exchanging backlinks.
What Is Link Building?
To put it in the simplest terms, link building is the practice of enticing other websites to link to your website. Taking it a step further, link building is the process of generating valuable backlinks from high-authority websites in an effort to drive traffic and bolster your SEO.
Now that we’ve covered what it is, why is it so important? Link building is a critical element of your SEO campaign because it signifies to search engines that your website is an authority in your field. Google’s ultimate objective is to provide users with the best possible results for their search queries. If multiple websites are all linking to your website, it must be because you’re doing something right.
Link building can be done organically, such as another business finding your company’s infographic and linking to it on their blog. This may seem ideal because it does not require any additional effort on your end, but it eliminates any control you have over the types of backlinks you obtain. The goal is to receive high-value backlinks from reputable outlets in order to boost your website’s authority on the web.
What Makes A Backlink Valuable?
Not all backlinks are created equal. It’s a great feeling whenever any business finds enough value in your content to link back to your website, but what you should really be aiming for is backlinks from sites with high domain authority.
Domain authority is a numerical score assigned to websites on a 0 to 100 scale, primarily based on their number of total and unique backlinks. If they have high domain authority, it means their website has been linked to by many reputable websites. Receive a unique backlink from one of these high-authority websites, and your domain authority will likely increase as a result.
In essence, your domain authority serves as an indicator of how trustworthy your website is based on the number of sites willing to link to it. With this in mind, how do you determine who you should be connecting with to build these high-value links?
Crafting An Effective Outreach Email
This is where your networking aptitude comes into play. Knowing who to reach out to and how to appeal to them are the keys to generating the highest return on your link-building efforts. The question is: How do you create a winning formula?
• Select contacts strategically. Don’t spread yourself too thin by trying to connect with prospects who cannot provide a path to achieve your goals. In addition to striving for those high-value backlinks, look for outlets that frequently publish guest or roundup posts. If you see that they have a history of featuring outsourced content on their website already, they’ll probably be more likely to link to yours as well.
• Personalize. While templated pitches can save you time, your reader may easily be able to tell that they’ve received a copied and pasted email if there is nothing in the message that addresses them directly. Find ways to personalize each pitch, such as connecting with the recipient over their alma mater or complimenting a design element on their homepage. At the very least, make it perfectly clear that you’ve spent some time looking over their content. I recently had a marketer send me a photo of him reading our blog, and we did end up linking back to his website.
• Demonstrate your value. Craft every link-building email under the assumption that your reader will ask themselves, “What’s in it for me?” Rather than simply asking your recipients to link to your content, explain how it would add value to their existing website. If you notice a gap in the types of topics covered on their blog, ask whether you can provide content to fill it. If you would be willing to offer them a reciprocal backlink on your website as well, mention it. In addition, make it as easy as possible for them to see the value you’re promising. If a blogger asks to contribute a guest post, for example, we are far more likely to respond if they include topics they would be interested in covering along with links to writing samples.
Link building and networking are far more alike than you may think. Make the right connections, identify areas for opportunity and offer a mutually beneficial quid pro quo, and you will be well on your way to establishing your business as an authority in the eyes of your audience and search engines alike.
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