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In order to boost your website in the SERPs (search engine results page), you must focus on implementing a high quality content marketing strategy and a viable link building campaign. Search engine optimization, or SEO, involves producing highly useful, engaging, and informative content on your website—as well as building links on authoritative external sites that point to your domain. Great content can naturally attract links over time, and this dynamic is known as “link earning.” Curated content, which is a mix of valuable content mashed up from a variety of authoritative sources in a niche, is likely to earn links over time and gain the favor of search engines.
Link Requests Are Necessary Today
The reality of SEO, however, is that links must be built manually as well. This is not a simple task—it involves a targeted webmaster outreach effort. One of the best ways to build links today is by guest blogging. Guest blogging is the submission of a blog post or article to an external website (that is relevant to your niche), which will hopefully be featured on the site. Some websites have formal guest blogging programs and requirements with clearly articulated policies regarding things like topic, word count, link placement, etc.
There are numerous benefits to building links through guest blogging. Links within guest posts help drive targeted referral traffic to your website, especially when these links appear on blogs that boast a large following. The placement of quality links on external websites pointing to your domain will boost your organic search rankings. You have to be patient, however—this process generally takes a minimum of three months. Finally, building links via guest blogging is an excellent way to develop professional relationships with other webmasters and get your name out there in a specific industry.
Eric Ward’s Take on Link Requests
I have a great deal of respect for Eric Ward, known in the SEO world as Link Moses. Ward has developed and executed content publicity and linking strategies for PBS.org, WarnerBros, The Discovery Channel, National Geographic, The New York Times, TVGuide.com, Paramount, and Weather.com. Today, he offers experienced link building training, ethical and effective link building services, and credible link building strategy and counsel.
In his new book, the “Ultimate Guide to Link Building,” Ward shares little-known techniques for link building via social media platforms, blogs, partnerships, public relations, articles, and more. He teaches marketers which link building techniques will maximize the number of quality links that point to their site, allowing them to charm both search engines and customers. Ward also discusses which methods to avoid.
In his book, Ward highlights what he calls the “elements of irresistible submission requests.” If you choose to contact a webmaster to inquire about a link opportunity, you have to understand that inboxes are busy, so you need a way to make your email stand out.
Ward’s Tips on Requesting Links
Here are the essential elements your link requests should contain:
- A subject line that follows any stated directions given on the site you want to link to yours.
- The site owner’s name.
- Your name.
- The URL of their site.
- Your site’s name and the URL you are hoping they will link to.
- The exact URL on their site where you think the link is a fit.
- A short paragraph that describes your site.
- The exact URL from your site you want them to link to.
- A valid email address and response to any requests made to that address.
- Your phone number.
My Experience with Link Requests
I completely agree with each of the elements of irresistible submission requests outlined by Link Moses himself. From my experience, it is incredibly important to personalize your link requests. Never, and I mean never, begin your request with something like “Dear Webmaster.” I guarantee that your request will never be read or considered.
People are more likely to respond and take some type of action when they are addressed by their name. One strategy I rely on to gather more information about the webmaster I am targeting for a link is to use WHOIS data. “Whois” refers to the registrant information and associated contacts for domain names. Of course, be sure to check out the website’s About Us page, Contact Us page, and existing blog posts to hunt down the webmaster’s name. See a link to a LinkedIn company profile? You may be able to find the owner’s name in the list of current employees.
You should prove to the webmaster in your link request that you are familiar with his or her site. Take some time to read the site’s content—and use this as an opportunity to find connections and parallels between your site and this target site. This is the proper mindset to have when conducting any link building campaign. If you are conducting a link building campaign for a fitness center, ask yourself—does it make sense to post fitness-related content on this target site? It’s always wise to address how the webmaster and his or her site will benefit as a result of the guest post. Do you have groundbreaking news to report that would be useful to the webmaster’s audience? Discuss the value your guest post would bring—and make the point coherently and concisely.
When you prepare your link request, be absolutely certain that you use proper grammar and spelling. Who wants a guest post placed on their site from someone who can’t write a proper email?
The State of Link Requests for Guest Blogging
Many in the SEO community believe that Google will begin to devalue links in guest posts, but I suspect that links placed within well-written posts will stand the test of time. Also, I strongly suggest incorporating outbound links to non-competitive, authoritative sources within your guest posts. When I say non-competitive sources, I mean sources that neither your site nor the webmaster’s site are in competition with. This effectively dilutes or masks the visibility of the link back to your domain—while still passing that all-important link juice. If you’re writing a guest post on energy conservation, for example, try to incorporate a link to the energy.gov website, preferably before the link back to your site. My theory is that your link will appear less obvious to search engines.
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About The Author: Blue Corona is a data-driven online marketing company with offices in Gaithersburg, MD and Charlotte, N.C.
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