This post is based on episode 159 of the ProBlogger podcast.
Incoming links to your blog are vital. They not only drive traffic to your blog from other websites and blogs but also help you rank higher in search engines, which again leads to more traffic.
Here’s the quick version:
Look for mentions of your blog (or keywords that are relevant to your blog) on other people’s blogs. Reach out to them to see if there’s an opportunity for them to link to you.
It’s not rocket science, but it really does work. And here’s the system I use to do this in just a few minutes each day.
Monitor Your Keywords Using a Tool Like BuzzSumo
In the “Monitoring” tab of BuzzSumo I monitor:
- My brand names (ProBlogger and Digital Photography School)
- Keywords that are relevant to my niche.
Once you put those words in place, BuzzSumo monitors thousands of blogs and creates a daily report showing any new content that uses these words.
With the keywords, you need to choose ones that are fairly specific and put them in quotes (e.g. “food photography”) or the results will be overwhelming.
Think about the key articles on your site that you’d like to build links to – articles that will be particularly helpful to people. Think about keywords that could relate to those. Start with two or three articles, and some relevant keywords for each.
Then go through the reports every day (or once or twice a week if you want to do it in a larger batch) and look at the list of content.
What to Look For When Monitoring Your Brand Name and Keywords
When you’re monitoring your brand name and keywords, your outreach will depend on what was mentioned.
Mentions of your brand name. These may not relate to your blog specifically (e.g. sometimes people use the term “problogger” to describe blogging professionally rather than to reference my blog), but often they do. The BuzzSumo report will tell you whether there’s a link in the post to your site or not, which is really useful.
If someone mentions your brand and they don’t link to you, send them a polite email saying something like this:
“Thanks for mentioning [the name of your blog]. I really found it interesting to read. [You can add something personal here about their article]. Would you mind linking back to my article that you mentioned? You know, every link helps!”
I don’t do this every single time someone mentions ProBlogger. But in some cases I can see there’s a good opportunity to get a link, such as when they mention a specific article.
Mentions of relevant keywords. If your blog is fairly new, your brand probably won’t get mentioned a lot. In that case keyword monitoring will be more useful to you, where you keep an eye out for opportunities to invite someone to link to your site.
How This Works in Practice
Here’s an example. One keyword I monitor is “food photography”. I found an article on a parenting blog where the blogger shared some recipes and some photos of the food. They apologised for the photos not being as good as they could be, and mentioning they wanted to learn how to improve their food photography.
I sent them an email saying I thought their post was really good, and that their photos were pretty good as well. I gave them a couple of links to some articles we’ve written on the topic of food photography.
I didn’t ask for a link. I just wanted to be helpful. And I had no idea who the blogger was. We’d had no previous contact whatsoever.
They replied a few hours later to say thanks. And I went back to the article to see they’d updated it with a couple of the links I sent them.
Interestingly, a week later they wrote an entire article about photography. Not only did they mention the food photography links, they also wrote about taking photos of kids and linked to some of our posts on that.
This led to an ongoing conversation between us by email. And now they’ve asked us to write a guest post for their site.
Opportunities open up when people mention things that are relevant to you, particularly things you can help them with.
Directly Asking for a Link
Sometimes I’ve been a little bit more cheeky and specifically asked for links where we have a relevant article.
For instance, I read a post a couple of weeks ago on a blog about dogs, called “Three Tips for Beginners Photographing Dogs”. It was a short, simple article that was ideal for beginners. I emailed to say it was a great article and I loved the images in it. And I shared a couple of links to articles we’d published on the same topic that were at a more intermediate level.
I made it clear there was no pressure for them to use those links in their post. I just thought they might be useful to the blogger and/or their readers. I try to tread very gently with these emails, because I don’t want to seem spammy.
But in this case the blogger thanked me and added a couple of those links within a few hours.
How Many Opportunities Should You Follow Up?
Some of the reports I get from BuzzSumo contain 20 or 30 different pieces of content that mention my keywords. And I probably act on around four of these each day.
When choosing which bloggers to contact, I look for pieces where I can really add value. And I try to tailor my approach to every situation. It’s really important to pick and choose carefully, rather than emailing everyone indiscriminately.
Even a few links a day add up. If I get three or four links a day, that’s 100 a month or 1,200 new links every year.
It’s still a good idea to monitor keywords associated with your blog even if you don’t send out any emails. It lets you see what other people are writing about the same topics, which can give you both ideas for content and avenues to build relationships with other bloggers.
Making Time for Link Building (and Taking it Further)
This link building tip works best when you can build it into your routine. You could set aside five or ten minutes each day, or perhaps half an hour in a specific time slot each week.
It might be a good task to do when you’re not feeling particularly creative, but have some time to tackle an administrative task.
Of course, you don’t have to contact people by email. You might find sending them a message on Facebook or shooting them a tweet works just as well (or even better). This might seem like a less spammy way to begin the conversation.
If you want to go further with your link building and SEO, you might want to check out these episodes of the ProBlogger podcast:
- Episode 94: 5 Mistakes Bloggers Make with SEO and What To Do About Them
- Episode 36: Find Readers for Your Blog Through Commenting and Relationships
Lastly, drop a comment below and let us know if you try out this link building tip and how it worked for you.
Image credit: Perry Grone