Calibrating the Juice: Solutions to Scaling Link Building

Calibrating the Juice-Solutions to Scaling Link Building
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.
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Be an Outreach Mercenary – Target the Right Community

Outreach Mercenary

“If you build it, they will come.” Damn straight. Sometimes, my client’s content would not go as far as I thought it would. The team would look at it and think, “that is a mighty fine piece of infographic, and it deserves all that it gets.” And there were times when that might have been the case. If planned correctly, we would already have target sites for submission and target people for sharing requests. Boom, great, everything is setup and good to go. Then, it just… does not… get there. All of the expected traffic and blowing up… it was MADE it to be viral, goddammit!

WTF, WORLD?! YOU ARE WRONG.

No, sadly, we cannot blame this one on the internet.  Like in most instances, you try like hell not to blame your customers. In this case, we should not be blaming our content consumers. There are probably a few problems with whatever it is you made did not do its job, and that is okay. The first step is accepting that the content did not succeed at meeting the goals and to move on to figuring out why so that you can improve the what or how.

Entirely Wrong Ocean

Sure, there might be plenty of fish in the sea, but what are you doing in the wrong ocean? You could be in the entirely wrong community for all you know. This is one of the reasons why clients need to be a part of the content creation process. They know their industry better than us. They should also know where their traffic lives on the web. People use the web to talk, interact, get their licenses to become preachers, and bitch about each other anonymously. We need them to do that about our content. If you do not know where those people are talking and hanging out, you are probably wasting your time and money. Just because that dude over there says that forums are complete shit does not mean that the old fogies in your niche are not there ready to promote your content for you on some ragged-ass forum. Find them like you are an assassin. They are your targets, and your clients are paying you to be a bad ass outreach mercenary.

Well, It Ain’t the Illiad

Yeah, yeah, yeah, stats, dates, numbers, sizes, … data, data, data. We get it. Infographics have data on them. Come the hell on. You can do better than that! Create a whitepaper, a resource guide, a how-to, an original meme… something! I have faith in this interesting, and, if that last post is an indicator about how I feel about content, let me tell you: there is more bull shit being published than ever, and I think it is our duty to steer our clients away from it. Do something different. More importantly, take your awesome content and push it to a variety of communities. Be out there and test who the right users are for you. Your content might be highly complex, and it will be hard for that one blog to eat it up. They need to be able to chew and swallow the food you are giving them. If you are going around choking everybody, well, then you’re a Scranton strangler, and no one appreciates that.

I Have a Dream… of Clients Interacting with Their Community

Do not discount forums, blogs, social sites, or anything that allows you to interact with your community. You cannot let any potential group of customers go because, when marketing is done correctly, they will become your biggest advocates. Build the relationships up with the people who can help you out in the long run. When your brand is not huge enough to be easily recognized by a commonplace person, you are going to rely on the little guy. The internet might be full of douchebags, but they are your douchebags.

Wake Up Call at Stop Dicking Around o’ Clock, Please

My main motivation for writing this post is because I have fallen for most of these issues. Now I greatly enjoy seeing fresh content. Instead of trying to pump out a specific number of articles or infographic, I want to push for a specific quality of content. I want to make our clients linkable. That is what it comes down to for me. I love link building, and I love having something to reach out with to get links. I want the ammunition.

To date the most successful piece of content I have dealt with did not take weeks to create. It was not going back and forth with an agency trying to get some text fixed. It was five hours of my own time doing hilariously easy number tweaking. I published my content in the right places which, in this case, were Reddit and a video game forum. Now, it is not amazing, but for five hours it is cost effective:

Reddit SuccessForum Success

In the first 24 hours of my forum post, I had over 16000 views on my forum thread and 50 comments. These people are engaged because my content was simple, digestible, and interesting. They were the right community.

Talking with people on the forum and Reddit threads was FUN and attracted a lot of attention. Be linkable. Find the right people. Tell them about your crappy product or service that they are going to love, but you do not stand out there like a bard telling tales of your greatness. No, you sit around a campfire telling your story to people who are wildly interested in you. Then, they take your story, and they tell it in their homes and around their own fires. Damn, that kicks ass.

The Internet’s Bubonic Plague: Content Oversaturation

The Internet's Bubonic Plague-Content Oversaturation

Days of content are uploaded to YouTube in less than an hour. Blogs are published by the hundreds around the world in various niches. Infographics are plastered everywhere across the web every day. We live in an odd age. We have too much information. What is happening to the internet now is a dilemma in that we have an oversaturation of content. It is like a Christmas with divorced parents, and the children gave them the same list. They get double the presents but the same toys, and they are just stacking up on each other. That is one hell of a mess.

In the SEO world, we know that content is an extremely important facet of a website. It gives users a place to learn more about your business and its knowledge as well as provides a place for them to discuss it. Even though this is good, when we have thousands of companies who do know how to do it properly, you end up with the same or very similar content. This is a bad user experience. There are so many ways that you can screw in a light bulb, and writing different blog posts about it is not helping the user.

So, what is the solution to the internet plague of content oversaturation? Content innovation. What is going to happen is that users will gravitate towards platforms that are very simplistic and have the most diversity in content and social interaction. We already have content hubs where we recognize the thought leaders but even the content there will wax and wane. This is why Reddit is as successful as it is. Content is curated at a scalable rate, and the terrible content does not stay for long because of votes and moderators.

My argument is that content creation is good, but you are wasting your time and money if you are publishing content that you can easily find in other places on the web. You have to push your business to find new ways to market to your customers with different types of content. Don’t just do what all of the other cool kids are doing. Get your hands dirty, create some content that you are not sure will succeed in a new way, and let it fail or succeed. Properly market that content, test it out, and see if it is any good. Even if it fails, you will know something that other people do not, and you are ahead of the game. I would rather see a junky piece of content that is delivered in an interesting way than a blog post I can read elsewhere.

Social media, video, and infographics WERE great and still are very effective. But what is next? Whoever comes up with that answer is going to kick serious ass because some of us are tired of list blog posts and crappy infographics. Be that guy/gal.

I recommend at least listening to Distilled’s video on 2013 link building here.