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In a perfect world every SEO client would be extremely engaged – you’d have on-page and technical recommendations implemented immediately, they’d make internal experts and resources available for any brilliant content idea you have, and your point of contact would respond to all of your emails immediately. In the real world, of course, this is frequently not the case. Clients are busy and have multiple responsibilities, they have resource constraints, and sometimes get pulled onto projects that are just more urgent for their business and might not be able to provide support to your SEO and content marketing efforts.
In these instances when you’re paid on a retainer basis, as an SEO contractor you obviously want to continue to add value while your client is unresponsive. So what types of tactics can you execute with minimal involvement from the client?
1) Audit & Promote Existing Content Assets
An obvious option if you’re having difficulty getting new content on to the site, turn-around time for edits are slow, etc. is to identify existing assets available for promotion on the client’s site. Identifying these opportunities should likely be part of your process in starting an engagement anyway, but you might be particularly interested in prioritizing some promotable assets that already exist. So how can you go about actually auditing this content to identify opportunities?
Scan Blog & Resource Content – The most obvious areas where linkable assets may be housed is obviously on the blog and within resource sections of the site. Look for most commented on / viewed /shared post widgets, content that they’re highlighting (such as well-researched white papers), etc.
Find Heavily Linked to Assets – Using tools like Open Site Explorer, Majestic SEO, or Ahrefs identify the pages on their site that are heavily linked to. In many cases this will show you the most linkable content on the site, and even though this is content that’s already generated the most links on the site, there are almost always untapped opportunities here.
Identify High Social Share, Low Link Count Pages – Another good opportunity for links may be to find “link inefficiencies” where content’s been shared socially but hasn’t generated a large number of links.
You can do this using Open Site Explorer by:
- Exporting a Top Pages report into Excel
- Creating a filter for sites with a low number of linking root domains
- Sort the filtered data by Facebook shares / likes, tweets, and/or +1s
Content that’s socially sharable isn’t always a 1-to-1 fit for link outreach, but frequently you’ll find content that people liked enough to share might be highly linkable and may have simply been under promoted.
Look at Referral Data in Analytics – As with looking at pages that are highly linked to, you can mine analytics by looking for the specific pages that have driven the most referral traffic. This is a slightly different metric from most-linked-to pages and may unearth an asset that got strong press attention (and a spike of referral traffic) but hasn’t had a steady stream of link building / promotion since that you can build links to.
Ask the Client! – While response times for implementation may be slow, hopefully you still have some level of communication with the client, so ask them what the best content on their site is – they may not highlight content that’s a great fit for outreach, but in many cases the cornerstone pieces will be the content that’s also easiest to promote.
2) Audit and Promote Existing Press Announcements and Leadership Profiles
Just as you’ll want to look at existing research, video, and other content types you can also find some opportunities by analyzing existing press announcements and company profiles.
Scan Their Press Page for Announcements & Promotable Assets – They may have done releases around specific events, studies, and news items that didn’t get traction with traditional press outreach, but that would be useful for targeting in resource-oriented outreach.
Look at Company Founder & Leadership Bios for Hometowns, Alma Matters, etc. – The people in the client’s company had to come from somewhere and likely went to school somewhere as well – leverage their past (in combination with their title, the company’s accomplishments, and/or their personal accomplishments) to get links from local newspapers or some great .edu links.
3) Competitive Link Research
Identifying opportunities with competitor and/or tangentially related sites is another good way to unearth opportunities that you can execute outreach around. There may be opportunities that competitors (or closely related sites you’re not directly competing with) have a acquired that you haven’t. Again here there are a few different tools you can use to identify the areas where your competitors have links but you don’t:
There are a lot of different ways to execute on competitive research to find links you can acquire on a client’s behalf. Here are some additional resources or executing competitive research:
4) Find Citations that Aren’t Links
Another way you can leverage existing client assets without requiring client intervention is to identify brand citations that don’t include links, and turn those into live links. As with competitive research there are a number of different ways to find citations and turn them into links, but generally you want to start by monitoring some sort of alert-based tool for brand mentions, such as:
And then from there you want to conduct outreach and turn those citations into actual links.
5) Have Guest Posts Placed on the Client’s Behalf
If the client’s signed off on your having guest posts placed on their behalf, this can also be a nice way to have quality links built with minimal client involvement. If you’re not familiar with guest posting there are a number of great resources on the subject, such as:
For any of these tactics its obviously preferable if you can get client input and involvement, and longer term a consulting relationship where you’re not able to get feedback and interaction with the client isn’t likely to be sustainable, but in the event that there are patches of slow response and you’re looking to continue to deliver results, there are actually some tactics you can execute to help improve rankings.