Linker Outreach: A Method for Social and Editorial Link Building

by Jason Acidre on January 10, 2012 · 77 comments · Search, Social


Social linking has been one of the most significant and realistic indicators of how credible, useful and/or authoritative a content is these past few years, helping search engines identify high quality pages over the web, and to the extent of somehow improving their search results.

With different social platforms being widely used by people worldwide, link building seems to be much easier than before, especially in reaching out and engaging your link targets.

Social links are now being perceived as the future of links (probably the replacement of the old links that most of us have been accustomed to). However, editorial links voluntarily given by authority websites to cite credible sources around the web is still the best kind of link there is, in my opinion.

As this way of linking to documents passes more value, given that the links are in some ways more descriptive, relevant and have longer lifespan that’s capable of constantly generating referred traffic (especially if the linking page is getting search, social as well as referred traffic).

Now, what if you can get these 2 types of strong links through one solid approach? A method that can improve your site’s social branding and link graph, by offering your content to specifically targeted people in your community – the linkers.

Principles:

Let’s start off with the things that you’ll need to get started in using this approach to acquire social and editorial links.

  • A linkworthy content (not your homepage).
  • Social platforms where you can find natural linkers in your industry.

Linkers are the ones who take the time and effort to personalize or even add comments on the things that they share to their circles, that’s how I personally see it. And most linkers don’t exactly realize that they are linkers.

In this age of the web, pretty much everyone is capable of being a linker – on any industry – thanks to the sudden rise of social media, where almost everyone has the liberty to contribute and express their opinions, especially on topics that they are really passionate about.

So in this post, I’ll be sharing some guides on how to find and identify linkers in your field as well as on how you can approach them effectively (including a few samples below).

Finding Linkers in Delicious

Delicious is definitely one of the best places on the web to find great and popular content that people share and save on any niche – also a good place to find link targets.

In finding linkers through this social platform, you can first start by using Delicious’ search feature to find the most bookmarked webpages in your industry:

Delicious search

See the users who have commented on the bookmarked link by clicking on the number of saves.

So what I did after that is check all the profiles of those who have bookmarked the content on new tabs (yes, I did everything manually).

And see if they have links to their websites from their Delicious profile page.

Check their websites and collect their contact details from there (you can list them all in a spreadsheet, to have an easier process once you start reaching out to them).

With the tests that I’ve done a few weeks ago, it was really easy for me to contact CreativeCaravan, since they already have their email address mentioned on their banner, as seen above.

In scaling your link prospecting with Delicious, you can expand your search for possible link targets by tracking the users who have saved other popular (most bookmarked) content related to your niche through your search’s related tags (placed on the right sidebar of the results page).

Crafting your Pitch

After building your list of linkers to contact, you can then start creating your email copy. Here are a few tips for creating a copy for your email outreach:

  • Keep the message short and clear.
  • Let them know where and how you’ve found them.
  • You’ll need to offer a highly linkable content. In the samples that I’ll share below, I used my recent post about different SEO strategies for 2012 as the link that they can refer to.
  • Don’t give them instructions, since they are natural linkers, and they’ll know exactly what to do next after checking out your content.

Below is the actual copy that I used in testing this approach:

Results:

After sending 20 personalized emails, I got 6 positive responses (30% response rate), with 2 offering to write about the content that I’ve shared to them,  1 proposing a possible business partnership, all of the 6 sharing the post on Twitter, and with the rest, I didn’t receive any response at all.

The accuracy of my tests is not that definite at this time, given that I tested it on a holiday season, where most of the people that I contacted were probably on vacation. Although, most of the responses that I received were really interesting, as most of them have replies longer than the copy that I’ve initially sent to them.

Here are some of the awesome responses that I received from the approach I tested:

From Glen McNiel:

Glen also tweeted the post (he’s a great guy!).

From Paul Wylie:

Paul shared the post on Twitter:

Paul also took the time to contextually link to the post I’ve shared to him (with brand and author mention) on his post about Marketers’ dependency on Google for Traffic and Advertising:

From Andy of CreativeCaravan:

Andy’s tweet about the post:

Bonus Round

You can use the same approach on other social sites (like Twitter, Stumbleupon and Google+) by finding linkers in your industry from these social networks, contacting them, providing a link-worthy content and sharing it to them.

In finding Linkers on Twitter:

You can use Topsy to search for personalized tweets for a popular web content (within your niche) on Twitter, because these users are the ones that will possibly spend time writing about your content (especially if your material is exceptionally written or extremely useful).

Topsy allows you to see the people who’ve shared any web content on Twitter, and it also displays the profile of the users when you hover on their Twitter handle, and there you can see their websites (where you can contact them through email).

In finding Linkers on Google+

What I like about Google+ is that most of its users are very descriptive and more often than not express their own opinions when they’re sharing content to their circles – definitely the linkers that you want in your circle! You can use Google search to track users who have shared a content on Google+ (using this query: “URL of the post” + “site:plus.google.com”).

You can also use this scrapping method to export search results to excel. Once you have a list of Google+ pages/users, you can find their contact details or contact them directly through their Google plus profile.

Ok, that’s Gianluca (he’s a popular figure in the SEO industry), so you’ll really have to provide a great content to be prepared for these kinds of situations (contacting an influencer).

In finding Linkers on Stumbleupon

Stumbleupon is a vast place full of linking opportunities, knowing that this social networking site is home to highly intellectual social media users (most people that I personally know who’re using Stumbleupon are really smart people). In searching for Stumbleupon users (or stumblers) who have bookmarked a particular site/content (in your industry), you can also use Google search by using this search query: “URL of the site/page” + “site:www.stumbleupon.com/stumbler/”.

Extract the list of search results and start contacting them through their profile pages.

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to my feed and follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre.

We are also offering Search Marketing and Link Development services, you can hire us here.

Image Credit: Shortgreenpigg

Jason Acidre

Jason Acidre is Co-Founder and CEO of Xight Interactive, marketing consultant for Affilorama and Traffic Travis, and also the sole author of this SEO blog. You can follow him on Twitter @jasonacidre and on Google+.

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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

James@carbuzz January 10, 2012 at 3:11 am

Interesting to see how you got a fair few tweets as responses. We do a fair bit of link building with infographics, and find that we get a large proportion of tweets (or people uploading to their FB page), but not as many links as we’d like.

It’s so easy for someone to tweet a link, whereas uploading a quick blog post takes a lot longer. We try making it easier, for example by providing an embed form, and saying if they want a custom size to fit their post width that it’s not a problem, but doesn’t seem to help much.

Obviously the tweets have value, but we’d prefer the links!

Reply

Talha January 10, 2012 at 5:04 am

Very innovative approach, and it looks like it worked well for you.

However doing it all manually like you have will take some time but I guess the results will be worth it.

Have you every used Google Blog Search to find relevant people for outreach?

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Alex January 10, 2012 at 8:14 am

@James, Sure, we’d all love more links, but with Google starting to move away from using links as a ranking factor, strategies like this will become more and more important.

Awesome post!

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Vernon January 10, 2012 at 8:40 am

This one is new to me and very interesting to know all of this. Its been a quite of time that I heard about editorial links and now I really read an article based on it. Thankful for me that I already read it and it seems very useful for me. Thanks for sharing this one. I can share this one to my co-social media partners.

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Chris January 10, 2012 at 11:40 am

Jason, an excellent guide & great to see some of the feedback you received as part of the process.

This is a very good guide for helping SEO’s who are new and possibly a little reluctant to reach out to webmasters or influencers.

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livingseolife@seo analyst January 10, 2012 at 10:07 pm

Jason,
I have used delicious and misterwong to search bookmarker and it worked for me.
Great case study here, you are an amazing link building machine!

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Levi January 11, 2012 at 2:03 am

I didn’t know that there were strategies like this at any social bookmarking site like Delicious. I’ve got an account with it but didn’t know this idea till now, I saw your test response and it’s quite encouraging to try for mine. Although I’m not sure about my open rate or the response rate, getting awesome feedback like you did is such a relief.

Thanks for sharing this!

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Juphet Mislang @ SEO Outsourcing Philippines January 11, 2012 at 2:09 am

Jason,
Man, you’re such a genius. Very nice technique and very descriptive guide too. This strategy is somewhat challenging though, for me. As one main reason is that I’m new. But, this is worth a try, hope to see good results as what you gained. Thanks man.

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Anna January 11, 2012 at 2:33 am

Awesome approach to link building via social media. This is one of the best posts I read on this topic. Thanks for sharing the real-life example instead of just writing some general blah-blah about how good social media is and how important it is to utilize social media for SEO.

Do you think this approach will work in less techy niche than SEO, where people don’t really understand what you are contacting them for? Let’s say mobile phones or travel?

Thanks again!

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Dennis January 11, 2012 at 4:29 am

Building links using social media has always been a concern to me and I have always searched for new ways to do it. Thank you!

Warm wishes,
Dennis

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Eric at Evergreen Search January 11, 2012 at 2:33 pm

Jason – really actionable stuff here. One suggestion I recommend for keeping track of your outreach is using Boomerang for g-mail. By using this, e-mails that don’t receive a response will get shot back to you so you can try it one more time. I’ve added this post to my Evernote!

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Matt@HR Resources January 11, 2012 at 10:39 pm

Kaiser The Sage: Thank you so much, just created my very first Delicious Stack + will follow your recommendations with Delicious Professionals Following (this is how I call it, a bit nerdy hey!).

Also via Eric, previous blog post, yes, I have also stumbled upon Boomerang, seems to be an awesome service, but what I also do if I want to send emails out later, I just put them into draft and send them out whenever I feel like it :-).

PS
There are two versions of Mister Wong (German original version and the international one), they are very good indeed to find other specialists from your niche! Keep in touch you all & again happy New 2012!

Reply

Doug Gene January 12, 2012 at 5:07 pm

You really provide some solid advice surrounding blogs, links, etc. I’m hoping to implement some of these tips, soon. Thanks, Kaiser.

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Gabe Arredondo January 12, 2012 at 5:52 pm

Jason, Great stuff, I’m new to all this, but I’m a fast learner. I have several sites in different
phases of development, but wanting to build my empire as a white-hat SEO/Developer.

Thanks again, I plan on reading, comprehending and wrapping my head around all of this.
Look foward to further communications in the future, Thanks, Gabe

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James January 13, 2012 at 10:16 pm

That was such an innovative approach. Great stuff. Blogging will surely be more fun when all the tips you’ve been providing are applied. Thanks a lot.

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Mat Bennett January 14, 2012 at 4:12 am

I’ve had this post on my ‘to read’ list since you first tweeted it, waiting for a quiet moment to read & digest it without interruption!

Well worth the wait – another great post. I’ll echo what Anna says above, the fact you give real examples makes your posts crystal clear and is greatly appreciated.

Reply

Gravytrain@Vancouver SEO January 15, 2012 at 1:18 am

This is a great quick how-to, and thanks for sharing. I’d be prone to target those who have either high readership numbers (via Compete) or sites that have high authority signals like PR / Mozrank / whatever is the soup du jour.

Sure, it’s great to get a few tweets and links from “real people” but in the time that it took you to do this you could have busted out a few guest blog posts or articles that would gather you significantly more backlinks.

Have to weigh the positives against the negatives, as with anything!

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Matt Kinsella January 15, 2012 at 5:29 pm

I keep saying I need to give Delicious another look, after reading this I will.

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Sam @ Online Fundraising January 16, 2012 at 3:32 am

This is an unorthodox but evidently very successful technique – I like that. It’s all about reaching out to people as opposed to doing the same thing as everyone else.

I checked your services tab and would be interested in learning about your thoughts on helping to promote the site in my URL. Feel free to get in touch if you’re interested

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Manuel Marino January 16, 2012 at 5:50 am

the test seems very good. of course the number of total responses is not enough for a huge boost of visitors, but it’s a beginning.

I contacted in the past linkers, but on LinkedIn, and now I’ve got more than 20000 contacts there. I spent years, anyway. Just to tell you that it’s hard work :(

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Jack January 18, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Jason excellent post. Btw a good place to find people on google plus is by using the tool Findpeopleonplus

A quicker way to research for prospects to contact I find.

Hopefully it helps you.

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Marisa@Rinoplastica January 18, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Hi Jason,
what puzzles me is that stumbleupon, facebook or twitter links are nofollow, so they can help increase traffic but not to increase the pagerank.

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ben January 20, 2012 at 8:36 am

Thanks for showing us how to find ‘sharers’ on Delicious. I always wondered how people were meant to find the content of new sites so that its links would build naturally.

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Tristan @ Virtual SEO Assistant January 22, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Another new approach for link building and social media. Very new to me, however, I will try to implement them to my blog or my client’s site.

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Sheena@Clip in hair extensions January 23, 2012 at 2:52 am

This is a very comprehensive guide, Jason. I really appreciate what you have written here. I have never used this strategy before but thanks to you, I’ll start doing this. The responses that you got from the linkers are amazing and inspiring. Congratulations!

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Ben Jackson January 26, 2012 at 11:04 am

Jason, great stuff again. I’ve never been that good with outreach, so this is going to help me out a lot.

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Nica February 5, 2012 at 3:54 am

WEW! Great post! I am not much of “linker” per se but I can try this one. I just need to determine how it would help my virtual assistant practice.

But I will definitely do this for the posts I optimized. Thanks, Jason! i look forward to reading more of your posts.

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Alex February 14, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Great post Jason. I tried something earlier last year before reading your post and had mixed results. Most responded proposing a guest blogging opportunity (which was good in some respects) but very few retweeted or reblogged the article.

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Dr Pauley March 22, 2012 at 3:36 pm

That was without a doubt the most interesting and informative article that I have read on link building. Loved your illustrations. I have accounts with Delicious and Stumbleupon but never thought to use them as you outline. Also, I check Topsy just to thank Retweeters, but again your slant is different. I am just starting to use G+ so that information also is very useful. I am going to forward your article to my web builder who does a lot of my SEO even though I am actively link building on a regular basis. Thanks again for a great article.

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Alex Simring April 26, 2012 at 6:48 am

You are definitely right that social signals appear to play a major role in search ranking factors. The only problem has been how to get more of those social signals. I like your idea about how to find those linkers. I suppose it all comes down to whether your site has content worth linking to.

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Brian Dennis May 7, 2012 at 4:53 am

Awesome genius idea man. Social reach increases traffic indeed but not in PR, so the best way to increase PR is to still do link building. I’ve never been to good on outreach so I guess this maybe the time to try something new. It’s tough? yes?

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SEObuilder November 5, 2012 at 9:34 pm

Big hatch idea shared Jason. I always get points of view every time i finished reading a articles and i most likely your articles have given me more innovative enrichment of concept adopt. Thanks anyway !

Reply

Christal@Royal Sofa January 6, 2013 at 7:02 pm

That is a good tip particularly to those new to the blogosphere.
Brief but very accurate info… Thank you for sharing this one.
A must read article!

Reply

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Sanjay Shenoy June 26, 2013 at 12:44 pm

This is amazing! This is pure genius. I am going to try this and see how this is going to work out.

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Frank August 1, 2013 at 9:32 pm

Great article, Jason! Thanks for sharing it. This method for linkbuildung seems to be quite easy but nevertheless very successful.

Reply

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