The link profile — the number, variety, and quality of links to your website — remains one of the strongest signals used by search engines to rank results.
While it’s a good idea to list your business in directories related to the product or service you provide, or the geographic area you serve, getting a link from a reputable, human-edited site that has superior search equity and regular readership is the most beneficial.
Follow these steps to secure quality links.
Look for Linking Opportunities
Here are three of the most common places to find linking opportunities.
Dead Links. Google Webmaster Tools can show you links that point to non-existent or broken pages on your website. Click the “Crawl Errors” report to view sites that contain such links.
The linking pages listed in the report are good prospects for outreach because the webmaster or site owner already created a link to your site. In cases where you find deep links (links to internal content pages) pointing to your site, getting them updated to the new page gives readers access to the targeted information they seek — benefiting both you and the linking webmaster.
Mentions in Lists and Collections. List-type articles are attractive to readers and publishers. No matter how “niche” your industry, it’s likely you will find articles that list products, services, or providers within the space.
Using a search engine, look for lists that compare the goods or services you sell to similar offerings on other sites. Typically, you will find such articles on corporate websites or vertical-specific blogs.
No matter how “niche” your industry, it’s likely you will find articles that list products, services, or providers within the space.
Perhaps your product or service is listed alongside mentions of a few providers. In this case, ask the publisher to include your business. Also, you may find a list that compares offerings in the same category as yours, but that doesn’t include your specific product or service. In that instance, convince the publisher that yours would make a valuable addition.
Unlinked Brand Mentions. Perform a search for your brand name and comb through the results. Chances are, you will find mentions of your company that do not include a link back to your site.
In many cases, you will see mentions on sites that scrape content automatically from other sources. It doesn’t hurt to reach out to webmasters from these sites, but you’ll have a much higher success rate and get more value by making requests to editorial websites.
Request a Link Back to Your Site
Next, it’s time to make your sales pitch, via email. After all, that’s what these link requests are — an attempt to persuade a stranger to take an action that benefits you. Everything you’ve learned about selling applies when conducting these efforts.
Write Accurately. The person you’re writing is likely just as busy as you are, may be inundated with email solicitations, and owes you nothing.
Keeping your writing professional, well-formatted, and free of typos distinguishes you as a human being and a native speaker of your language, and helps you clear the first hurdle: getting your email read.
Here is an example of the type of email that can result in getting a link back to your site (or at least start a conversation leading toward that goal).
Be Courteous. In your messages, be polite, conversational, and friendly. You are asking for a favor and should never make a demand, only a well-supported request.
Include Justification. You are trading something of value in exchange for a link to your site. If your business is well-resourced in the digital realm, you may have whitepapers, infographics, or tools such as financial calculators that you feel would benefit the webmaster’s audience. Clearly illustrate the benefits of your offering in the email.
Follow-up. Sales and marketing success results from a high level of activity. Use a spreadsheet or productivity tool to keep track of who you’ve contacted, and come up with an appropriate timeframe for follow-up, re-engaging those who have yet to respond.
If you end up in someone’s spam trap, a second bump to your initial message may lend the necessary visibility to get noticed among the backlog of the email junk folder.