How to Build Links and Make Friends

Okay so friends might be a little much, but building strong relationships with influential members of the internet community is absolutely vital to both getting decent backlinks to your site and showing your brand in a positive light. Demonstrating that you want to build links the ethical way by providing bloggers with something they might actually want to read or use is a fundamental part of an off-page campaign and it all starts from your very first point of contact.

An experienced blogger can spot a marketing email a mile off and unfortunately most of the time that’s just something that you have to deal with. However, there are ways you can get them on side from the start. The evolution of social media has also opened up a new and more personal route to potential link opportunities.

The following are a few tips which in my experience have led to a good response rate. Although there’s never any guarantee that a blogger will welcome your guest post with open arms, following these points should be a step in the right direction.

Honesty

Why honesty is key

Tell them who you are and who you are representing from the get go.  No one likes being lied to and if you try to masquerade as something you’re not, such as an innocent member of the public making a “suggestion” about a certain product or brand, the blogger will not be happy when they look you up on LinkedIn. This can reflect very badly on your brand if they decide to go public. If you don’t want to use the dreaded ‘marketing’ term, there are alternatives, such as

My name is James and I’m writing on behalf of….”

If you’re using Twitter to contact someone, 140 characters is fairly limiting so including an introduction isn’t necessary. However, make sure you make it clear on your profile who you work for and what you do. Also, try to avoid tweeting about drunkenly belting out Abba at the company Karaoke night (although your song selection might actually aid the link building process in some instances), so choose wisely!

Play nice

This tends to vary between industries, but certain types of bloggers particularly like to be told what you like about their site. Whilst you shouldn’t come across like a total creep, if a certain post led you to their blog in the first place then comment on why you liked it and pick out some interesting points. You should make a point of reading over the blog anyway before contacting to get a feel for the type of content they post and the tone of their writing

Short and Sweet

Stick to the point

Twitter obviously forces your hand here, which is no bad thing in some cases – ultimately most marketing emails can be condensed down to “Hi! Would you like a guest post on…?”

Keep your email to a brief introduction, short section about how you came across their blog and why you like it and finally suggest some content for their site which you can offer. That’s all they need to know, so leave it at that.

Spelling

An obvious one, but it’s amazing the number of emails that get sent without a cursory glance over for typos or misspellings. It takes a couple of minutes and modern email clients even do their best to correct you when you’re mashing at the keyboard in a Friday afternoon daze, so there’s no excuse really.

“Hai yu want a gest bloog?”

No, no they don’t.

Engage

Engage!

Lastly, try to engage them in a dialogue. These are influential contacts that you want to maintain so try to build a relationship. Ask about topics they’ve covered on their blog, drop them an email asking if there’s anything they’d like you to write about, follow them on social media sites. Basically, e-stalk them, but on a business-only basis. No Rebekah Brooks tactics here thank you very much.

So there’s a few fundamentals to be going on with, all fairly straightforward but easily forgettable when trying to juggle a major SEO campaign!

 

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4 Responses to How to Build Links and Make Friends

  1. Dane Cross says:

    This is an absolutely wonderful article. Bravo, James, bravo.

  2. Gaz says:

    We get several enquiries to our blog, and its common to see several of the issues mentioned above.

    The obvious one not on the list os to reply back, if we take the time to reply to an enquiry, asking a question or providing information back, then sometimes we hear nothing again. If you are going to contact people then make sure you reply back to them even if its to decline what the blogger is suggesting.

    Its much better to deal with people who are clear to the point in what they want, but also those that will work with a blogger to reach something thats acceptable to both parties.

    Suggested guest blogs nearly always read like a guest blog often written by someone who doesnt really know the subject, and will stand out on a blog as being an advert. Personally we much prefer to write our own content or heavily edit suggested guest blogs to fit our site.

    • James Bentham says:

      Hi Gaz,

      Thanks for your comment. I definitely agree with the points you make, particularly about replies. There’s no point in leaving conversations unfinished as it does nothing to benefit either party. You never know when you might be able to work together in future so it’s always worth following up.

      James

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