O, link building, how I love thee but the challenge of scalability… it ails me! And it seems to crucify plenty of other people’s link building efforts as well. I have a few solutions that I think can help a tiny bit and take you farther in getting the juice flowing towards and around your site. There is one certain fact about scaling link building: you are going to work with enough people or on a large enough scale that you are going to most likely compromise some of the quality of your work. Now, let’s crack some codes.
EZ PZ Wins Feel So Good Internally
Everyone loves easy wins, and, hey, everyone’s a winner – yay! Internal links, bro. You need them. You are missing a huge boat if you are not putting in internal links on your site. Good grief, what are you doing without putting anchor text on your blog posts, you fiend?! If someone is reading your post, they might want to read something related to what you have going there and click through to some other pages. Hell, isn’t that why we’re here? The user! All right, let us be real with each other – we are here for the links. Internal links are super sweet because you get to control everything about them. You know where they are going, and you can point them to where you need them with what anchor text.
Sail the Seas of Your Site
It is all too easy to overlook the navigation and footer of the site. If your web team has run out of things to do (very unlikely), check out improvements you can make on the site. There is always something you can change up. Redesigning your navigation to include more or less links could help your site. If you want to emphasize a particular page and it makes sense, that page can get a quick internal sitewide link from your navigation or footer. It might be way down there, but a link is a link is a link (see Boyd Norwood).
0110100 0110000 0110100 Errors
If you have pages that are throwing up 404 errors, fix them as soon as possible if they have links. This is too easy to do not to take care of it. You are going to get link juice out of it, and your site is friendlier to everyone – user and search engine alike. There really is not much more to say about it – DO IT, broheim.
Redirect the Juice to the Party
When you have a large site, you have probably accumulated links to pages that you might not need any more, or, bless your heart, your content was not evergreen and there is an updated version on the site. Whenever it is applicable, you want to 301 redirect those old, decrepit pages to the youthful, beautiful pages that deserve all the juice in the world. No longer shall we live inside of a network that allows old pages . Do note that if your page has a lot of authority, it does not always make sense to redirect it. Having good, old pages is a great part of a site, but, when you need the juice, squeeze the ball and pull the band around the arm… inject link juice. Too much? Yeah, I am a little tired!
Once Friends, Twice Friends
We have to get into the nitty gritty now; at this point in time, I feel like you have done what you can with onsite SEO to scale and recover as much juice as you can. Everyone has their favorite tools for pulling backlink data for their site. I do not care how you get it, but you get it fast. What we are going to focus on here is cleaner prospecting. Guess what you are going to do with all of that backlink data? Get the contact information by using a program that pulls bulk WhoIs info or the Citation Labs contact finder. Why do these matter? Because you already have a link there! You have already staked your claim on that site. It is always harder to get through the first trial. Going back and asking for some more might not be as bad. Plus, you can show them that you added value to their site by that time. If you did not before, ask yourself how you can improve that. You, sir/madame, already have a good list of prospects in your own backyard.
Gotta Have Booty to Get Booty
How is your linkable asset inventory? Don’t have shit? Your site is probably shit. Create some damn content! Everyone gets it; you are not going to pump out award-winning content every time, but that does not mean you should not try occasionally. Do not think creating a piece of content automatically makes it viral or good. It is so incredibly volatile, and we are at the mercy of the user here. The reason why SEO loves content marketing and promotion so much right now is because, in the end even without links, you end up with a great piece of content that might be linkable to another community down the road, and it could be useful for your users. There are so many wins in creating solid content it is sad to see sites not making it. To do it properly though can be a bit of an art. If you have not been practicing up on your outreach e-mails, this is as good a time as any. Before you even create your content, make sure you know who your community is and some people who might be interested in pushing it for you. Oh, yeah, here is a thought: ask those people before you even make it. It could save you time and money. “Hey, Jack Mehoff, does this infographic about self lubricating oil interest you or your followers?” “Why, yes, it does! I love stroking!” There you have it. Jack is on board with the project, and you are at least creating more avenues of success.
The more people you have on board beforehand the higher the chance your content will succeed. After your content goes live, do everything in your power to make sure it gets in front of the right people at the right time. No sugarcoating and bull shit here – template your e-mails, do whatever you have to do. Use canned responses. Getting it done somewhat okay is better than not doing a damn thing.
Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel
What the rest boils down to is prospecting by list building. USE ADVANCED SEARCH QUERIES. If you do not know them, you shalt learn them now, and you shalt practice them for eternity (or be lame and use the excellent query generator at Ontolo). You have to become a prospecting master at this point in time. You need to be able to create a list of tens of thousands of prospects. Okay, not too shabby except for the fact that a majority of the list is trash. From there you can use Excel to filter out exactly what you want, and you have a cleaner list. One way I like to clean up lists in Excel is to use conditional formatting and sort by color. If the Excel route is not an option, you still have a backup – ADVANCED SEARCH QUERIES. Your query just blew ass. When you practice using queries enough, you learn the patterns behind the types of links that you want. After seeing repeating words or specific niche-related words, you can include them in your query and specify where it should appear on the page (e.g. title, anchor, etc.). You can clean up lists so well with advanced search queries it is a crime not to use them.
Reaching out to these prospects varies because you could be reaching out to them for hundreds of reasons. Tweak your template or e-mail, whatever, and message it appropriately. Do whatever you can to get the link. So, say, I want to get a guest post on the Bob Loblaw Law Blog. I am going to send a different e-mail to them than I would to the Seymour Butts blog where I want to post a contest. Essentially, you end up basing the e-mail on what you are offering the site owner.
Note: if you do not have a way to open a massive amount of links in your browser at once, Ontolo provides.
One Size Fits All Hats
I will reread this post when I am more awake and probably need to take it down. In the mean time, we can review our link building efforts. Scaling link building is a bitch. I mean, it is a force of nature in itself. With link building, you can do the “normal” stuff for pretty much everybody, but each niche has funny quirks that you need to know about. Agencies need to better understand the industry of their client, and in-house SEOs have no excuse. Get out there and talk to the communities and clients. The links are waiting.