As you have heard from both Patrick and Tim – Penguin has been a huge issue in the SEO world.The implications from a link point of view are that we need better quality links from trusted sources. As an off shoot of this, other SEO’s have upped their own outreach strategies which is beginning to saturate the market. We just need to up ours even further.
I’m going to talk to you today about the process of the link building I’ve been working on for the past few months This focuses of first researching a niche as a whole and then sending targeted outreach to target sites within the niche.I’ll also go into some tools and techniques that can be used to shorten this process down
Bloggers know the value of an opinion from their site, let alone a link.Barack Obama gave the keynote speech at the latest Blogher conference in America last month. He knows how powerful their influence is on his election campaign and so do they.
The foundation of getting a good link is mutual benefit. What’s in it for them? Traditionally this has been money which Google isn’t so fond of. Bloggers wont do something that only benefits the other party, so… it becomes our job to give them a win-win scenario. Which doesn’t have to be a monetary incentive
This is the process that we have been working on to get those really great links that Google will love for a good while to come.The process consists of 4 parts:A research stage – where we profile the nicheA brainstorming stage – where we determine what value we will offer bloggersThe outreach stage – where we write up, customise and track our outreachAnd the evaluation stage, where we look back and evaluate what we have done
Why is niche profiling necessary?If we profile a niche, it gives us a much better chance of developing an approach and incentive that they will benefit fromThis is a compromise between profiling bloggers individually because that can prove to be somewhat time consumingSo, how do we go about profiling a niche?
First we look at what it is we want to find out – these are the basics that are relevant for all nichesThe architecture of a nicheWhat does the niche postWhat kind of content is most popularA brief look at their writing styleAnd researching whether the niche is guest post friendly or not.All to the aim of finding out how we can reach them for linking opportunities
Each of these niches cater to different target audiences so a generic approach simply wont cut it across all of them, we need to tailor our outreach efforts differently to each of these mini-niches
This is the template that I use when I’m doing this and will be available here: b3.io/niche-profile-templateThis is designed to be customised – each niche might have different elements that are important but the ones that are in here are the core ones that we use for all niches.
This could be a labour intensive process – but we’re all busy peopleThis is why we useresearch samples of sites to get an overall picture from a small section of sites in that nicheSizes: Depends on how much time you want to invest. Minimum of 5 sites per mini-niche. I usually take around 10 for each mini-nicheI find these by doing some Google searches for the most popular keywords e.g. film blog, movie blog, horror movie blog and picking the relevant sites.
This is the most important element of this profile.At the core of it, bloggers want content that their readers will love and share. If we can tailor our offers around what already works in their niche, we stand a much better chance of building that link. There are a number of ways that this can be done for different budget sizes.
The first is Open Site Explorer and is really simple.Just put in the site you want to research and click search. Jump onto the top pages tab and then click ‘download CSV’
Turn this into a table and then organise the shares from high to low. Note down the top 3 or 4 most shared articles from the highest SM platformDo this for each of the sites you want to profile
SearchMetrics is by far the easiest to use for this.Just enter the urlof your profile site and press enterAutomatically gives you the top social postsIt even breaks each post down into what was best on which Social Network – As before note down the highest performing pages and run through the next site in the profile
Importing XML SitemapsThis is the most complicated option, but can be done with just Excel and this free Excel plugincalled “seotools for Excel” which pulls back the amount of shares a URL gets from Twitter, FB and G+
First, you want to import a sitemap itself which you can do by typing in the URL of the websites which is usually found at the homepage followed by sitemap.xml
This will appear, click the top left check square and click import. Then OK 3 times.
Then run the social metrics tool for each URLNote down the top posts and run the process again for each site
Now we have our data we can analyse it to find out:Where are their audience on SM and…What kinds of content do the best?Categorise each of the best posts into their types of content and find trends that occur
Insights into the personal characteristics of a nicheIndicates the tone that should be used in the outreach templateas well as the kinds of content they might accept from a 3rd party. E.g. A funny piece of content may not be relevant if the writer has a serious/formal writing style
Are they guest post friendly?This can be done by jumping onto Google and running a few site searches for guest post related keywords as stated aboveIf no, it indicates they’re probably notopen to receiving articles and a different approach is needed
You should end up with something like this.We can see from this that the majority don’t accept guest posts, take a serious approach to writing content and on-topic lists do the best in terms of content types
This is all geared towards upping your outreach success rate – which means more links and relationships
The next stage is to create mutual benefit that we can use in our outreach emails when contacting the niche
Now that we have a good understanding of each niche in depth it is possible to go on and create a ‘hook’ to lure them intoIf you don’t have this, they’ll just think “what’s in it for me?”When looking at these, bear in mind the popular content from the niche
A good thing to keep in mind is that all links are paid for in one way or another - they cost resourcesin the form our time and effort – we just need to dress up how we incentivise bloggers in a way that keeps Google happy.
Being an awesome brand certainly makes life a lot easier but that doesn’t mean that an unknown brand can’t offer a blogger a great hook – if its targetedHere are some hooks that work well – some will work better than others in different niches, that’s where we look at our profiles to determine which is most appropriate
Event InvitesHosting an event? Get them to write a round-up it courtesy of you and your company/client. No events coming up? If the niche is relevant host an “exclusive” hangout event on Google+ and select a handful of the best bloggers to attend.Can’t do this? Buy them tickets to attend another industry event and review that for you.
If your business is based online offer then a free trial of your product.If not, buy them a trial for a relevant product and get them to review it
Infogr.am is great. It’s a site that allows you to create infographics from a set number of templates. Not good for posting infographics on your own site as link bait. But work great as a blogger incentive - if you offer a blogger a custom infographic for their site based on something meaningful to them and their readers.If you can’t find anything meaningful, there is plenty of free data out there to get some good relevant data
Product reviewsThesestill work great. Who doesn’t want free stuff? If the product isn’t on the market yet that would work even better.Something to keep in mind: generic review sites aren’t really the way to go – keep your prospects as targeted as possible
Like reviews, these still work. But remember to keep the competitions relevant.A blogger will be hard pressed to turn down the opportunity to get some free visibility and potentially tap into a new reader base
Guest postsThese still do workif the content is tailored around the sites audience – which we can do from our niche research
Search these kinds of sites for your mini niche and content types so it comes back with related content around what they would like. If using this approach, a few example titles should be used in your outreach email.
Turn answer threads into how-to guides from questions on Yahoo Answers and Quora.The content is already in demand because people are actually asking for it, if they can’t find the answer on Google, they’ll ask someone on an Q&A site. Plus most of the content will be there and organised with the most relevant first.It’s a good idea to tell this to the blogger and estimate how much traffic they might get from Google if it ranks – because not much else does.
Next up is outreach. I’ll talk about the process of improving your outreach. There is no one size fits all method with this – if there was we’d all be doing it.Each niche is different so you should always be perfecting your outreach – here I’ll let you know how you can do this
It’s all about getting a high success rate, by putting in as little time as possible.Use your niche profiles to determine your hooks and scale outreach to its a customised as possible in the most automated wayI’ll go through a couple of tools that can be used for customising mass outreach in a few slides coming up
ObjectivesIf you want to be improving your outreach then you need to be setting outreach objectives as a benchmark to evaluate against once the campaign has ended.It’s always a good idea to keep these SMART
Writing customised templates for mass outreachand response tracking can be scaled by using a couple of different tools:We have found the best to be BuzzStream and ToutApp
BuzzStream is a great tool – It’s a link building dashboard that allows you to store contacts and use these when sending emails through the BuzzStream platform.It has loads of great features for link builders – Once you store contacts in there and BuzzStream will fetch their personal information and contact details from their website – which you can then integrate easily into email templates to give them that personal touch. Buzzstream will also track the response rates of the templates that you send out so you can measure their success.
ToutAppisn’t as user friendly or as link oriented as BuzzStream but it integrates with Outlook and has a much more powerful tracking capability. Templates can be customised like BuzzStrem but the contact details and personal information need to be manually entered.Once an email is sent you can get real time analytics and it will tell you when a user first opens your email. It offers that bit of extra insight to know whether you messages are being read and ignored, or just not being read at all.
Each niche is differentand will need to be targeted in different ways.What is AB testing?For each mini-niche from the profile, a couple of templates should be created for each outreach campaign and AB tested against each other.We always start with the bigger stuff such as Long vs. Short word countsDirect or indirect subject linesWhich hooks work bestNever stop trying to improve your outreach success rates
Use the profiles to customise your outreach templates you want to send outCategorise your target sites into mini-niches determined in your profilesEach template will be different depending on the hooks being used
Tone your emails to the tone of the nicheSpell out the benefits of your incentive– just because they are obvious to you doesn’t mean they are to everyoneCustomise your emails on a personal level using the mail merge features of Tout and BuzzstreamIf contacting the sites analysed in depth – you can go really specific with this personalisation
Follow up emails give us around a 20-30% better response rateUse calendar reminders so you don't forget to do thisAs with the initial outreach – a couple of follow ups should be used for AB testing
Rejection is a good thing. It proves that the AB testing is working.
The last part of the process is evaluation
The outreach campaign should always be evaluated against the initial objectives that were set to determine the success of the campaignAlso make note of:The good parts of the campaignThe bad partsWere the bad parts in our controlAnd how can we avoid making these mistakes in future
Final note: Maintaining RelationshipsCheck in with the blogger a few weeks after the link acquisition – were they happy with the benefits gained?Its important to remember that link building is an ongoing process – building and maintaining good blogger relations will breed more benefits a further way down the way.
B3 Seminar: Advanced Outreach & Niche Profiling - Joe Griffiths
Advanced Outreach & Niche ProfilingIntroduction• Penguin has made everything harder• Rankings and link acquisition has never been so difficult• Everyone has upped their outreach strategies
Advanced Outreach & Niche ProfilingWhat I’m going to talk about• Niche profiling• Advanced outreach• How these work together• How to scale them for day to day use (throughout)
Advanced Outreach & Niche ProfilingKey Concept: Mutual BenefitBloggers know the value of linksThey also know how powerful theirinfluence is.Even recognised by Barack Obama whogave the keynote speech at the Blogherconference.
Advanced Outreach & Niche ProfilingKey Concept: Mutual BenefitThe foundation of getting a good link.It’s our job to create a win-win scenario.This doesn’t have to be a monetary incentive
Advanced Outreach & Niche ProfilingNiche Profiling: Why?If we know certain characteristics of a niche, outreach success will improve becausewe will know the kinds of incentives that will appeal to the sites within that niche.It’s a good compromise between profiling bloggers individuallySo how do we profile a niche?
Advanced Outreach & Niche ProfilingWhat We Want To Know How is the niche broken up What does the niche share What kinds of content do they post Tone of voice Are they open to guest posts? Ultimately: How do we get a link
Advanced Outreach & Niche ProfilingBreaking Down A NicheExample – Film and movie bloggers:• Film news• Independent film• Horror• Action• Film reviews• Film makingA generic approach simply wont cut it across all of them, we need to tailorour outreach efforts differently to each of these mini-niches
Advanced Outreach & Niche ProfilingPutting Together Your Profiles
Advanced Outreach & Niche ProfilingResearch SampleCould be labour intensive so we need to scale this down.Scale down to samples to research.Sample size: minimum of 5 sites – I usually take around 10
Advanced Outreach & Niche ProfilingShared & Linked To ArticlesWhy do we need this?The most important element of the profileIf we know what articles are shared and linked to – we can tailor our contentand outreach hooks around thisThere are a few ways this can be done for different budget sizes…
Advanced Outreach & Niche ProfilingOpen Site Explorer
Advanced Outreach & Niche ProfilingTurn into a table and sort by social metrics or link metrics – note down both
Advanced Outreach & Niche ProfilingSearchMetricsSearchMetrics is by far the easiest tool to do this.These are the top, socially visible posts.
Advanced Outreach & Niche ProfilingImporting XML SitemapsFor this you will need:
Advanced Outreach & Niche ProfilingType in the URL of the sitemap you want to import
Advanced Outreach & Niche ProfilingCheck the top left square and import.
Advanced Outreach & Niche ProfilingRun SeoTools Social function to get the social data for each entry.
Advanced Outreach & Niche ProfilingAnalysing Popular PostsPopular medium e.g. Twitter, Facebook?Is there a common theme of popular content?• Breaking news• Humour• How-to’s & Guides• ListsNow you have an insight into what kinds of content their target audience likes, and where theyconcentrate their presence online.
Advanced Outreach & Niche ProfilingBlog ToneThinking of outreach - Indicates the tone thatshould be used in the outreach templateAlso give indication to the right content to fit theniche
Advanced Outreach & Niche ProfilingGuest Post Friendly?Have guest posts been posted previously?
Advanced Outreach & Niche ProfilingWhy Is All Of This Important?Upping your outreach success rateIf an approach is tailored in a way that offers them something they actuallywant they are likely to bite first time.
Advanced Outreach & Niche ProfilingCreating Mutual BenefitNow possible to create a ‘hook’ to lure them into responding tooutreach emails.Just as a business needs a USP, an outreach email need a hook.When deciding on these, bear in mind the popular content fromtheir site
Advanced Outreach & Niche ProfilingAll Links Are PaidThey cost time and effortWe just need to dress up how we incentivise bloggers ina way that is Google friendly
Advanced Outreach & Niche ProfilingWhat Hooks Work?Any brand can offer a blogger a great hook – it just needs to betargeted.Here are some hooks that can be used by anyone toreach a blogger – the trick is picking which one will workfor your profiled niche.
Advanced Outreach & Niche ProfilingEvent InvitesHosting an event?No events coming up? Host an “exclusive” hangout event onGoogle+Unable to do this? Buy them tickets to attend another industryevent and review that for you.
Advanced Outreach & Niche ProfilingFree TrialsOnline based business? Offer a free trial.Don’t have anything to trial? Pay for them to trial somethingrelevant that isn’t connected with your company.
Advanced Outreach & Niche ProfilingInfogr.amCreate an Infographic in minutesYou could offer to visualise posts that were popularfor themIf that doesn’t work data is also freely available atlots of governmental websites
Advanced Outreach & Niche ProfilingProduct ReviewsStill work really well.Generic review sites aren’t ideal in the long run,try and keep the sites as targeted as possible.
Advanced Outreach & Niche ProfilingCompetitions & GiveawaysTried and testedAn opportunity for bloggers to engage with their existingreadership and gain visibility to extend their reader base
Advanced Outreach & Niche ProfilingHigh Quality Guest PostsStill works IF you use the profiles to tailor the contentand pitch around them
Advanced Outreach & Niche ProfilingCreating Guest Posts Using The ProfilesMini-niche related keywords (e.g. horror movies) and contenttypes (e.g. videos) – input these (and variations of them) into thefollowing sites:• UberSuggest• Quora• Yahoo Answers• List sitesAlways pitch a few ideas of posts in the outreach emails.
Advanced Outreach & Niche ProfilingHow-to GuidesCreate a how to guide from some of the questions answered on Quora andYahoo.The content will be in demand.
Advanced Outreach & Niche ProfilingOutreachIts all about getting a high success rate, by putting in as little time as possibleUse the details of the profiles to determine your ‘hooks’ and scale your outreachattempts so they can be automated as much as possible by using customisabletemplates
Advanced Outreach & Niche ProfilingObjectivesAny outreach campaign needs specific objectives.E.g. number or quality of links, anchor text,cost per link.Try and keep them SMART.
Advanced Outreach & Niche ProfilingCustomising & TrackingTemplates for mass outreach and tracking the success rates of thesecan be scaled by using a couple of different tools:• BuzzStream• ToutApp
Advanced Outreach & Niche ProfilingBuzzStreamStore contacts and send emails through BuzzStream
Advanced Outreach & Niche ProfilingToutAppReal time analyticsIntegrates with Outlook
Advanced Outreach & Niche ProfilingAB TestingEvery niche is different and responds in different ways to differentthings.AB Testing success should be measured against response andsuccess rates of emails.Start with the big stuff then hone down to the specifics until youknow what works inside out in the target niche.• Long vs. short word counts• Subject lines• Hooks• Signatures• Client description
Advanced Outreach & Niche ProfilingWriting Outreach TemplatesWe can use the details from the profiles in order tocustomise the outreach templates that we plan onsending outProspect your link targets and categorise them intothe mini-niches determined in the profilesEach of these will receive a template with the pre-determined hook(s)
Advanced Outreach & Niche ProfilingWriting Outreach TemplatesTemplate tone.Spell out the benefits of the hook that has been pitched.Use the features from BuzzStream and Tout to personalise your outreachIf contacting the sites that were analysed in the profile, you can go really specificwith your outreach.
Advanced Outreach & Niche ProfilingAlways Follow-upFollow-up emails give us around a 20-30% better response rateSet calendar reminders so you don’t forgetAB test these templates too
Advanced Outreach & Niche ProfilingHandling RejectionRejection is an important part of link building, it only improvesoutreach success in the long run.The point of AB testing is to see what fails.
Advanced Outreach & Niche ProfilingEvaluationGo back to the objectives and see if they were fulfilled.Also analyse:• What was good?• What was bad?• Could the bad have been avoided?• How?
Advanced Outreach & Niche ProfilingMaintaining RelationshipsCheck in a few weeks down the road, get back in touch ask howthe blogger benefittedWas it enough?Link building isn’t a transaction based practice, good relationshipsbreed benefits in the long run