Link building is still as important as ever to business owners, even though it’s a bit different today than it was in the recent past. You used to be able to build any type of link and get an SEO benefit from them.
But now, with all the changes over the years, only the very best links have any real benefit to them.
These links are given a lot of weight by Google, and they also usually send traffic directly to your site. The problem is these links are much harder to get than the junk links that used to pass as “good link building.” Because of that, conversion rates are much lower.
You might try to get 100 links and only end up getting a few of these high-quality links.
At first, this seems like a bad thing, but I believe it is good for marketers (well, the smart ones anyway…). Marketers who just want to spam junk links usually try this type of link building but give up when they see that they only get a few links from the same effort that used to bring them dozens.
Additionally, because it’s more difficult, the best marketers who optimize their promotional strategies are able to double or triple their conversion rates compared to average marketers.
In this post, I want to show you a few ways you can start optimizing your link building for better conversion rates.
I’m confident you’ll walk away with at least one tactic that will significantly increase the number of links you get from your link building campaigns.
The Two Main Parts of a Link Building Campaign
Before we can dive into the different ways you can boost your conversion rates, it’s important that you understand the different aspects of a campaign.
While every campaign is different, it generally has two main parts: your content and your promotion.
Improving either of these can lead to higher conversion rates, even though most of the methods in this article focus on the promotional side.
Part #1: Your Content
Any type of content can be used in a link building campaign. Blog posts, tools, image galleries—you name it.
Basically, if it has some value and you want to get links to it, you can use it. The reason most conversion rate optimization tactics don’t focus on the content side of things is because the answer is usually to just “make it better.”
The more impressive your content is, the easier it is to convince people to link to it.
Part #2 – Promotion (Email Outreach)
The other part of link building is your offsite work. There are two types of links.
The links that anyone can build (think blog comments and web 2.0 sites). These links are okay at best.
The really great links are the ones you get from contacting people. And while you can contact people through many channels, most of the tactics I’m going to touch upon involve email outreach, which is by far the most common.
With that out of the way, let’s get started.
Way #1: Save the Link for Later
Can you write a good outreach email?
Let’s say you just wrote an absolutely epic blog post and you’re trying to get links to it by emailing other bloggers in your niche.
- Be polite?
- Not come on too strong?
- At least try to make it seem like you don’t just want a link?
These are three important parts of a good outreach email.
A few years ago, this was enough. If you politely and with good grammar asked for a link, you could get upwards of 10-20 links per 100 emails you sent out.
But now? It’s much lower. If you got 10 today with the same type of email, you’d be thrilled.
Well, marketers started sharing the templates they used for their email outreach campaigns.
The intent of sharing those emails is good because it helps marketers learn what good emails look like. The problem is that too many marketers are lazy, and those lazy ones hurt the rest of us. All of those marketers started copying, almost word for word, those different templates.
The end result is that bloggers and journalists today receive several (popular ones get hundreds) of similar emails a day asking for a link. Most of these go straight into the trash bin.
The signs of a bad outreach email: The bloggers or staff manning those busy inboxes look for a few telltale signs of templated fluff that make it obvious that it’s just a link request.
For example, they will look to see if there is any personalization.
If the first line of the email is:
I love reading your blog
That seems really fishy. Compare that to something like:
I loved your blog post on Facebook advertising. I finally got my first profitable campaign thanks to it!
It’s obvious that the email was written for that specific blogger.
The other main sign of a bad link request email is…a link:
If someone includes a link in an email to you (or a blogger), they usually want something from you.
People don’t like feeling used, rightfully, and will often delete any emails with a link in them if they have any suspicion at all.
The solution? Be different: If most marketers are sending their emails with links like that, do the opposite: don’t include any links in your first email.
The one reason you might be hesitant is that now you need to get a response first before you can even ask for a link. Trust me, though, if you have something worth linking to, you’re going to get a reply.
Additionally, if someone won’t even reply to an email, do you think they’re going to go through the trouble of giving you a link? Rarely.
If you test this, you’ll find that your reply and overall link rate goes up significantly.
How do you actually do this?
It’s simple. If your normal outreach emails include a line like:
I just published a great guide on washing cats, here’s the link: (link)
Replace it with something like:
I know that you’re always writing about cats, and I did a little research on washing cats properly (I actually found a lesser-known technique that’s amazing).
Would you mind if I sent you a link to it and got your thoughts on it?
One big thing is that this forces you to frame it in terms of the benefits to the person you’re emailing.
And since your emails aren’t automatically being thrown in the trash, you’ll get a lot of responses that say “sure, send it over.”
That doesn’t guarantee a link, but if your content is great, you’ll get a very good conversion rate. One final note is that you don’t even have to mention your content in the first email as long as you open a dialogue.
Building a long-term relationship should be your goal here, not just getting one link.
Way #2: Make it Shorter
I told you about the marketers who basically copy templates.
Now I want to talk about the marketers who despise that and do everything they can to go the extra mile. You might be one of them.
I love this type of marketer, but they make a few common mistakes. One is that they make their emails way too long.
If you’re emailing someone who gets hundreds of emails a day, they do not have time to spend 10 minutes reading a 2,000-word email. After all that work, your email will end up in the trash.
If you’re trying to cram in personal stories in order to “make a connection,” stop.
Instead, include only the most important point. If it’s really interesting, you’ll get a reply with an invitation to expand on it.
A good email should be under 200 words long. You’re looking for 4-6 sentences in most cases.
Way #3: Stop Asking for Too Much Work
If someone comes up to you on the street and asks you to take a picture of them, most of the time you’ll probably agree to. But if they asked you to do a full photoshoot for them for an hour, of course you’d never say yes.
The point here is that the more you ask for, the less likely you are to get it.
At some point in your conversation, you’ll have to ask for a link. But there are many different ways to do that.
Unfortunately, many link requests go like this:
Here’s the link to my content: (link).
I’d really appreciate it if you linked to it from anywhere on your site.
Do you see why this is really bad? It’s asking for a lot of work.
First, the blogger needs to look at your content. There’s no way around that. Next, they need to look up their old posts and find one that’s relevant to your topic. Then, they need to find an appropriate space for your link in that post.
Unless you’re a really good friend, why would anyone say yes to this? That’s one reason why your conversion rate stinks.
Make it easy: You can instantly make your conversion rate go up by making it easier to link to you.
Here are a few ways you can do that:
- Provide a specific page on the blogger’s website, where a link to your content fits really well. Write any text that is needed so that their content still makes sense.
- If you’re promoting an infographic, offer to send them an embed code.
- Give them future post ideas that they can use (make them great) that would naturally include a link to your content.
- Offer to edit and improve an old post they wrote if they’ll allow you to include a link. Send them the finished HTML code so that they can just copy and paste it into the post.
These are just a few ways. If you think of any other ways to make their lives easier, do it.
Way #4: Targeting is Crucial for Conversion Rates
There’s one easy way to ensure that your conversion rate is 0%…
Send emails to the wrong people.
If you wrote about cat washing but tried to get links from home improvement bloggers, you’d, of course, get no links. But that’s obvious. Most marketers make subtle mistakes with their targeting.
For example, common advice is to find bloggers to contact using tools such as BuzzSumo. It’s not bad advice, but you need to keep your targeting in mind.
Let’s say you wrote a guide on social media marketing. If you just type in “marketing,” you’ll get SEO bloggers, paid advertising bloggers, sales bloggers, and many more that aren’t social media marketing bloggers.
If you sent emails to 500 of these, you’d definitely get some responses and links. However, most of them will simply delete your email because it’s clear that you don’t even know what they write about.
There are some exceptions where you might want to ask for a link from a blogger from a non-directly related niche, but you’ll need to be very clear explaining your reasoning to them.
If you want high conversion rates, you need a highly targeted list of people who can actually link to you.
Filter out the irrelevant contacts in your list—it’ll save you time and won’t make an impact on the number of links you get.
Unless you already have a site with tons of traffic, you’ll need to conduct ongoing link building campaigns.
Quite obviously, the better your conversion rate, the more traffic you’ll get as a result and the less time you’ll need to spend on your campaigns. That’s why I shared these four ways of boosting your link building conversion rates.
If you implement all of them, it’s possible to achieve a conversion rate that is double or triple what the average marketer gets. That’s a huge difference in the short and long term.
I’d love to hear whether you’ve put any of these tactics into action and how they’ve worked for you. If you’ve had any problems, leave me a comment about those too, and I’ll try to point you in the right direction.
This post originally appeared on Quick Sprout, and is re-published with permission.
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