Linkbuilders: Learn PR Or Die – A Call To Action

The mother of all links is a link from The New York Times. Right?

All of us want links from news sites. Besides for being very strong domains, news sites drive social interaction, resharing, reposting, and downright scraping. Best of all, being quoted as the expert on a topic even once can lead to becoming the go-to guy or gal for anyone looking for information on your topic of choice.

Basically, a link from the NYT is even more awesome than this adorably cute kitten;

Okay, maybe not more awesome, but awfully close.

But do you, oh linkbuilding friend, do YOU know how to get a link from the NYT? Do you know what reporters are looking for? Do you know how to reach them?

Nope.

And that has got to change.

White hat link builders must learn PR to survive – Tweet This

I truly believe this. So much of what we do is with the goal of receiving coverage from a major news publication. So much of what we do is what PR professionals are trained to do.

You see, when it comes to online outreach, outreach to the small blogs, or big blogs. Outreach to SEO sites, or niche blogs, we know how to do that. We speak that language.

But we don’t speak the language of big media. Of reporters on tight deadlines. Of news desks sifting through mountains of press releases every day.

And we need to speak that language.

Here is a Quora thread listing the best PR/Social Media sites. Skipping the social media sites here is a list of three PR sites I’m planning on reading from now on, and I hope you will commit to joining me. Please feel free to share some of your favorites in the comments.

PR Squared

A PR blog by Todd Defren. The RSS feed is a great way to follow this site.

PR In Your Pajamas

This site is run by Elena Verlee, you can follow by email or follow the RSS feed.

O’Dwyer’s

Another good looking site, grab the RSS feed.

I am starting with these three, I hope you will join me.

But more importantly, it is time for a change. A change in the way we as link builders think. Let’s start being marketers and PR professionals instead of just linkbuilders.

Because if we don’t, they might become the linkbuilders.

Outreach – Twitter vs. Email

So many articles have been written about how to design and structure an awesome outreach email.

Many articles have been written about how to connect with a target before an outreach email.

Something I don’t see mentioned as often is the power of reaching out on Twitter. I wish I could pull the numbers and show real data, but off of the top of my head I’d have to say that Twitter outreach typically gives ten times the results when used preceding an email, over using email alone.

When scouting out a site for a potential link opportunity, find a Twitter account for the site if it’s a one person site, or if a specific author if it’s a multi-author website.

Check to see how active that person is on Twitter, do they tweet on a pretty consistent basis, do they answer people who tweet at them? Too big is also a problem, if they are followed by ten thousand people it will probably be a struggle to cut through the noise.

Once you’ve located a Twitter account that seems like it is worth targeting, you are good to go. “Bob, I see you wrote about flux capacitors recently, how can I reach you with some cool info?” A simple tweet like that can really help your prospects of getting a link. Surprisingly often you’ll find that people respond with their email address. Often, it’s the same email address publicly available on their website but now they are expecting your email and you’ve made the all important connection.

Email them immediately and then tweet to tell them you’ve sent it along.

Most importantly, don’t fear rejection, and keep at it!

Outlook Templates = Link Building Magic

As a linkbuilder I am always looking for ways to speed up the outreach process without automating and therefore dehumanizing the emails. There are many options for templates in Gmail such as Canned Responses from the Gmail labs, many of which have been covered before in other posts. However, because the company I currently work for uses exchange, Gmail is not the best option for me and I was forced to find an option for Outlook.

So here’s how you do it in a few easy steps: Create a new email. If you have a signature erase it, because when you open the template it will insert your signature, and if you don’t erase it before saving the template every email will have two signatures.

If you have multiple “send from” accounts choose the appropriate account, the template will rememember which account you’ve chosen and will always send from that account.

I use Buzzstream to keep track of my linkbuilding outreach. Every email BCC’s our Buzzstream account. If you use Buzzstream or something of the sort, put that email address in the BCC field now. It will autopopulate with the rest of the template.

Enter a subject and the body of the email.

Use colored text to indicate the parts that need to be tailored for each specific recipient. For example, here is the template I’ve been using for outreach about a backpack giveaway I’ve been promoting.

 

I use red and green to indicate parts of the email that I need to tailor for each recipient. I will also always try to add a sentence or two that is completely personalized to that specific site.

As an aside, if you like to track the clicks on your links as an indicator of engagement for your outreach emails, edit the hyperlink after typing it in to the email,

 

then insert a bit.ly link instead, without changing the text, so you can track the clicks.

 

Now for the magic. Select Save As,

 

Choose Save As Type “.oft”

A personal preference of mine is to save my templates to a Dropbox folder so that I can access them from any computer. Because I use these so much I also pin the folder to the taskbar.

That’s it, you are done! Now let the linkbuilding magic begin!

 

 

Outreach, a guide for humans

Are you human?
Probably. So why do you insist on acting like a robot when writing your outreach emails? Why do you write canned, templated, boring plain vanilla form letters? Easy, because you don’t have time to form a personal connection with every outreach opportunity you come across.

That’s why I’ve written this post, (my first ever on Searcherize, here’s to many many more), to show some of the ways I try to build a quick connection with a webmaster before I send that form letter out.

Nothing in this post is going to blow you away. In fact it’s quite possible you already use many of these tactics in your outreach, but this post is about real down to earth easily applied tactics that you can start using today. Hope you enjoy and find something useful!

Be Human – Form a connection 
That’s really all we need to do. Remember to act like humans when we email people. First form a connection, get to know the person in some small way. Then email them. The connection necessary for Link Building does not have to be as deep or as firm as the connections we make in real life.

In real life, we rarely ask favors of complete strangers. Favors are more generally requested from family and friends. People who we already have a connection with. So that’s were we start, by forming a connection. Of course, online favors are usually not as involved as offline favors so online connections do not have to be as strong as offline connections should. In fact, often, as is the case when offering guest posts, the outreach target will be receiving a benefit as well. So the connection doesn’t have to be strong, but any kind of connection will increase the probability of a successful conclusion many times over. There have been a few awesome articles on natural outreach written recently. One by Michael King called Throw Away Your Form Letters (or Five Principles to Better Outreach Link Building) is simply put one of the most awesome outreach posts ever written. If you’ve never read it, stop, read it, and come on back. Another incredible outreach post is by Justin Briggs. It’s awesome, epic, and of course, full of zombies, it’s called Content-based Outreach for Link Building and it is another must read post.

Those two articles are great. But what if you are doing quick hit link building? What if you don’t have the time to build those great natural relationships, or if the sites you are reaching out to simply aren’t worth that kind of time investment? Should you drop the whole relationship thing and just go straight with form letters and hope for the best? I say nay. Here’s how I do quick, low-level relationship building for Link Building victories without too much time.

  1. Twitter: I love using Twitter for outreach relationship building.

    The response I received to this tweet was the same contact info publicly available on the MLB website, however I believe that the reason the I got a response and a link on MLB.com from the email I subsequently sent was because I asked for contact info on Twitter. Suddenly I wasn’t just one of many many people emailing Richard Justice every day, I was the guy who contacted him on Twitter. A small difference, but one that often makes all the difference.

    Notice that I specifically mentioned our Twitter conversation in the subject, that’s crucial. I even misspelled his name and still survived, how do you like that?! Of course for all I know Richard is an email responding machine who answers every email ever sent to him including emails in foreign languages that Google Translate says are telling him about his late Nigerian uncle who left him a fortune. I doubt it.

    Here is another tweet that led to a link.

    In short, quick relationship building for outreach is easy and quick through Twitter.

  2. Forums: Joining a site forum and engaging/messaging through the forum is a great way to cut through the noise and grab someones attention. When pitching an Infographic to a large auto industry site, I noticed that one of the author’s who often posted Infographics was very active in the forums. I joined the forum and messaged the author directly apologizing for being “stalkerish”.
    WIN! 🙂 Forum outreach is so much more personal and so much harder to spam, that it kicks every other outreach method into another continent, provided that the author in question is active on the forum.
  3. Step out of the box: It works in real life why wouldn’t it work online?
    1. Send a letter. No, put down that email, I mean a real letter, through the post office. It’s out of the box, and I guarantee a higher rate of success. Much higher.
    2. Call them. Pick up the phone. Talking to someone on the phone means you have their attention, and when they feel you are a real person, your chances increase many times over.

Hold the connection for future use

When you’ve formed the connection, established the relationship, and gotten the link, the very last thing you want to do is lose that connection. Follow them on all social networks you are active on and interact with their content, +1, retweet, comment, whatever, just do it. In fact, some of my best online “friends” have come through link building relationships that have turned into real relationships. (Or as real as online relationships can be).

That wraps up my very first post on Searcherize. I’m very excited with this new project and I hope some of you will take the time to subscribe, share, and drop me some words of encouragement in the comments. Any tips would also be much appreciated.

Steven out.