Are you link building to your website (and is it actually working?)

We all do it – we fire off blog posts and social media updates into the ether, and don’t give the links within them a lot more thought. Hopefully, you’re monitoring things like engagement, CTR, and time spent on your page… but the idea of analysing who else is linking to your site within their posts and scouring the internet for external mentions of yourself and your business sounds like a tiresome job that no-one has time for.

Asking other brands to link to your site, using the correct hyperlinks and keywords, sounds difficult – the time is takes to find these opportunities, reaching out to people, actually getting them to do as you’re asking: it’s not an appealing prospect, especially with all the other aspects of your role you’re trying to balance! But there are some quick ways you can start link building (without being spammy), and it's pretty important you do. 

As HubSpot explains:

“In search engine optimisation, inbound links are a marketer's most powerful asset. Given that off-page SEO (as opposed to on-page SEO) accounts for the majority of a webpage's ability to rank for a particular keyword, building authoritative and relevant links into your website from external sites isn't exactly something you should overlook in your SEO strategy.”

So we’ve compiled some of the simplest, quickest tactics to help you build those links to your site across the web, improving your SEO rankings as you go (and allowing you to keep up with your existing workload.)

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How do you find unlinked mentions?

You can do this the old-fashioned way – by typing your business name into Google and checking the pages you're mentioned on which aren’t yours, seeing that people have linked to your site. The recommendation from Rand Fishkin at Moz.com is firstly to type in your names to Google, then:

“Manually check the top, let's say, 50 to 100 results to confirm that:

1. They link to the right place, and if they don't, we're going to contact those people.

2. If you can control the anchor text and where the link location points, you can update it. For example, I can go to my LinkedIn (and update my website info)

3. If it's missing or wrong, I find the right people, I email them, and I fix it.

As a result…Every single mention in Google has a link on their page to my website. I can get that from brand name, from domain name, and from founders and executives. That's a lot of great links.”

Or you can use a specific platform designed for the purpose of searching for mentions of your name, such as BuzzSumo or SEMrush. Don’t only check your business name is being linked to your site, ensure your product titles are, plus your founders’ names: all of these are direct opportunities to create inbound links to your site.

By searching for your existing links in this way – it may take you a couple of hours – you’re tidying up your SEO without having to do very much.

Top tip: Irina Nica, Content Strategy and Outreach at HubSpot, suggested at her recent ‘Grow with HubSpot’ presentation (which we were fortunate enough to attend):

“Create an email template to reach out to brands – be very specific about the link you would like updating, the exact keywords you’d like to hyperlink and include the link itself. Make it as easy as possible for your peer to update their site with your link so there’s no excuse for them not to – keep it friendly and offer the same action in return.”Screen Shot 2018-11-26 at 11.57.40

Which pages on your site need boosting?

Chances are your homepage, ‘about us’ page, ‘contact’ page and blog get the most traffic already. These are the ‘workhorse’ pages of your website that visitors are most likely to explore in order to find out who you are and what you do. They’re really important to build brand awareness, and they’re likely the ones peers will most often link to externally – but in reality, it’s your product and services offering you really want users to pay attention to.

These are the pages where people will actually make purchases, or you can gather information to pursue sales. But these “boring” pages are generally more difficult for marketers to create links to: it’s far easier to link to relevant “sexy” keywords in blog posts or general information home pages.

Top tip: Another tip from HubSpot’s Irina Nica at ‘Grow with HubSpot’ was to:

“Ask the people you have a “foot in the door” with to start linking to your product pages. These are people who are already regularly linking to your site and are clearly happy to do so: send them a handful of your product pages you’d be grateful for them to link to. It’s best not to approach new or infrequently linking people with this request; it needs to be a brand you’ve already built some rapport with.”

When emailing a “foot in the door” contact, start by asking for a small favour, e.g. to add a product link into a recent blog post that seems a missed opportunity to you.

Once they’ve done that, the door is open for you to start moving towards bigger requests (see the next section): just remember to keep in mind that the level of request you’re making needs to match the level of commitment you’re currently getting from that linker – they aren’t going to start discussing guest posts, or trawling their old content to update your links if they’ve only mentioned you in a single blog post.

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How do you build content partners?

Once you’ve started building links from inbound sources to your site by contacting marketers directly, you can begin getting more tactical and adventurous with the way you create new content. It’s all very well ensuring other brands are linking to your old pages, but what considerations should you be making about the new ones you’re creating?

Building a small network of content partners who aren’t competitors but do have a similar audience to you – and already link to your pages in their content – will quickly allow your content to grow a bigger reach. You need to make yourself as appealing as possible to these businesses: be organised, read their current content, and be pleasant and easy to work with. Convince & Convert’s Ryan Kettler recommends being helpful:

“Prepare to do as much of the legwork as possible while minimising the amount of time and effort your partners need to commit to the relationship. This also refers to the content you provide.The articles should be helpful in nature and should address a topic that you’re an expert in. The more authority you have on the matter, the larger the audience you’ll receive.”

You are certain to know more about some topics than your peers, so use this to your advantage and help one another out. Getting a pro from within your industry to feature on your blog is exciting and authoritative for your readership, increases links to your own site, and includes a few to their pages, too: it’s a win/win strategy for everyone.

Top tip: While you’re reading a potential content partner’s existing website and blog, you might want to do an informal audit: note down the topics they don’t seem to have covered in much depth. This is your way in – explain that you’d love to create some content for them on that topic as a guest writer.

By building stronger links to your existing pages, increasing the links to your product pages and creating content that links to yours – and your content partners’ – websites, Google will be able to throw you up in results far more easily to searchers. This will help you improve your SEO ranking and enable you to create a much cleaner, less jumbled path to your business across the internet. By dedicating just a small amount of time to these simple strategies, we hope you’ll see traffic to your site (especially those all-important service pages) increase.

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