Linker Outreach: A Method for Social and Editorial Link Building

by Jason Acidre on January 10, 2012 · 85 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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