Acquiring links is not easy and it becomes even harder when you don’t know the person you are asking from. In link building majority of time we ask strangers to help us. And I think this is the main reason of poor conversions /responses we get when we outreach for links. Strangers generally don’t help. So we should be asking for links from acquaintances if not friends.
If your link target doesn’t know you then this is the right time that you do something that he knows you and most importantly remembers you. Why? Because this is the only way to get links repeatedly from your target. Value of a link doesn’t last for long and at some point you will need another link from the same domain. I am talking about building long lasting contacts which can help you in getting repeated links for the foreseeable future and not just ‘one night stand’ type link building outreach where once you get the link you forget the webmaster and move on.
Following are 7 golden rules which help me in acquiring links:
Rule-1: Don’t freak him out
It is quite common in link building to freak out webmasters by sending guest posts and interview requests out of the blue. “Hello! Who are you? ” Unless you are a BBC or other big brand, not many will be interested or comfortable being interviewed by a random person or entertaining a guest. Look at this scenario in other way. You are picking up random people on the street and asking them for an interview or being their guest. You don’t seem to be from BBC or other news agency but you expect an interview. What will happen? Majority of people will say “no”. This is what exactly is happening in your link building outreach.
Unless your intentions are not clear to your linking partner, no matter how diplomatic you appear in your outreach, your target won’t trust you. So you need to build up the trust first and what is the better way to build trust than striking up a conversation.
Rule-2: Get on the radar
Before you strike up conversation with your linking partner, it is important that you first get on his radar. Otherwise your conversation starters may look out of place on its own. Make yourself aware of him. One good way is to share his posts. Tweet his posts. Make sure you personalized the tweet by complementing him for his blog post (even if you don’t really mean it).
Comment on his blog post. Leave a comment which stands out. Not the usual ‘thank you for your awesome post. Love it” type comment. Make him your hero in the comment (but don’t go overboard). Wait for a response. If you have boosted his ego enough, you will get a response. Once you get a response, strike up conversation. Even if you don’t get a response, you are at least on his radar.
Rule-3: Strike up Conversation
You already know that you need to build a persona first and get some back ground information about your target (what makes him tick, what he likes to talk about…) before you strike up conversation. So now let us strive for building a connection here. The first thing that you need to remember is that you won’t form a connection with everyone you interact with. It is pretty much like the offline world. With some people you just can’t connect. In any case don’t give up easily and try your best. Don’t get disappointed if things don’t work out.
Look around and see if there is anything worth pointing out. Can you help your linking partner in any way? Many webmasters ask for opinion or help. Helping someone is one of the best way to strike up conversation. When you see such opportunity jump straight in and offer help. Subscribe to the twitter feed of your linking partner so that you can monitor his conversation. If he is talking to someone and you see an opportunity to point out something or give your opinion then jump straight into the conversation. You may feel awkward but then you don’t have your whole life to get him to know you. Now wait for a response.
Once you get a response ask open ended questions (like what is your favorite…) to maintain communication. It is important that you maintain the communication flow at least 2 or 3 tweets/day or whatever platform you are using. It is also important to remember that if the linking partner remains largely unresponsive at this stage then you should consider moving on or change the way you interact with him.
Rule-4: Keep a timer in hand
It is quite common to get carried away in chit chat on social media so you should set a timer whenever you talk to a person or share his posts. Make sure you don’t spend more than 10 minutes a day on any person. To make the most use of your time, talk to multiple people simultaneously.
Keep a note of when a person is usually active on social media. Subscribe to his twitter feed, his blog feed, set up social alerts. If chatting is not the best use of your time then hire someone to chat with your potential linking partners in different industries using different personas all day long. If you have dozens of clients then you may need to maintain a whole team just to carry out these activities on daily basis.
Rule-5: Be consistent and Patient
Talking to your linking partner should not be your one time activity. You need to maintain the communication flow daily at least for 2 weeks before you outreach for links. Maintain communication flow even after you have got a link. This will help you in getting repeated links. Build some sort of trust before you ask for any help otherwise a person may doubt your intentions and this is not good for a long term relationship. At the end of 2 weeks, I would recommend you to write a blog post which makes your linking partner a super hero or super heroine (if you targeting a female). People love to talk about themselves.
Note: Respond thoughtfully to female bloggers. Earning their trust is harder as they are simply more intuitive than men. They think differently and usually have a stronger ‘gut instinct’. Also remember that not all people respond positively to ego baiting. Different people have different needs and you need to fulfill that need which motivates them the most. I would strongly suggest you to read Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
Rule-6: Document important interactions
Maintain a database of all your important interactions (any important talk) with your prospective linking partners. Document everything which you think is important to understand their personality, likings etc. I use highrise for this where I store all the important conversation of linking partners along with their contact details. If you don’t document your interactions and other important details, you may forget what you were talking to whom after some time.
Don’t expect big favors from people in just few weeks’ old relationship. Take it slowly. Start with ego bait, then a group interview and then a solo interview. Once you have done all this (or any one of this) you are now at a stage where you can strike any deal (with a little bit of caution). Now your outreach should no longer be a hit or miss. Whatever link building tricks you have learned from other bloggers whether it is broken link building or guest post should do wonders.