A Guide to Asking for Links
Link building can be a complicated and exhaustive process and one that can walk the line in terms of white, black and gray hat SEO tactics. There are, however, completely legitimate ways to ask for links from reputable organizations but it requires brands put in the work.
Of course we’re talking about guest blogging – and not the spammy, link-filled, promotional type. Providing a like-minded company with quality, relevant content to earn a valuable link back to a brand’s site is still an effective SEO tactic. Here’s how to go about asking for links.
Step 1: Identify Prospects
A brand’s first goal (and step) should be to identify companies with audiences that are similar to their own. For instance, a local SEO service provider would want to reach out to either media outlets that cover search engine optimization or perhaps companies that provide resources to small businesses. Similarly, a local spa owner could write beauty tips for a company selling makeup products or try to contribute to a beauty publication.
A brand-new tool that makes this process a bit is easier is called ClearVoice, which is a no-cost platform that indexes more than 90,000 author profiles and includes portfolios of their published content, social shares, topic analysis and more. Brands can use this for link building by contacting particular writers at news organizations, which is more targeted than simply sending an email to info@wherever. Additionally, it can be used to compile a more compressive list of news websites (than a simple Google search would allow).
Step 2: Reach Out to Prospects
Now that companies have a list of prospects to reach out to, they need to, of course, correspond with the people on their list. As most know, however, the email inbox is a battlefield and trying to get busy professionals to open (and respond) to messages is tough. And, even though this is more time consuming, companies looking to earn links from guest blogging should personalize each message to the recipient and tailor it to their company. It’s frustrating for someone on the other end to get a mass email because they don’t know if the content is exclusive to them and if it’s worth their time to investigate. (Also, be willing to write unique pieces of content for each company on the list, so Web workers may want to keep the list small at first.)
Brands should create a pitch that is well-researched and highly relevant to each recipient. Some of the best contributed pitches include who the person is (a.k.a. why would anyone want to read their article), what they want to write about and some element that ties the email sender to the company they want to guest blog for (a.k.a. longtime fan, nearby business, longtime reader, etc.).
Step 3: Follow Guidelines
Hopefully the person requesting to guest blog has received a response and the go-ahead to guest blog (if not, don’t be afraid to send an appropriately timed – give them at least a few days – follow-up message), so now it’s time to write the content. Most likely the business or media outlet has provided contributor guidelines, but if not ask for them. It’s important everyone is on the same page to ensure the content will actually be published. So, if the guidelines state not to include in-article links or not to go over a certain word count, the writer will want to make sure to follow them because he or she is just developing a relationship with this person/organization.
Step 4: Live Up to Agreement
Chances are, the recipient of the guest blog is not hitting refresh multiple times a day to look for a guest blogger’s content, but he or she may have scheduled the content into their editorial calendar. This means, guest bloggers should stick to what they agreed to, which is likely a deadline and a word count. Also, if the assigned topic was on social media, for example, guest bloggers shouldn’t throw the publisher a curve ball and submit an article on QR codes. If the original topic didn’t pan out, simply contact the publisher and brainstorm other ideas.
In short, guest blogging remains a valuable tool in any company’s SEO initiatives, but it’s important to establish a strong foundation with the prospective publisher, which means being relevant, following rules and living up to any agreements.