In almost any line of business, it is customary to do some sort of background check on a person or company you may be doing business with before embarking down the relationship building and partnership route. The more you know about your future colleague or perhaps adversary, the better you can connect with them on an emotional level. This is one of the cornerstones of networking, and should also be applied to the online marketing world as well.
Take link building for an example. In link building, the core strategy which will lead to success is building a relationship with the key bloggers and publishers in the vertical markets you are targeting. I’ve been asked many times, “How do you email a publisher to get a link?” or “How do you properly approach a professional blogger?”
Being a professional blogger myself, I can speak from both sides of the track as I get just as many requests for links on Search Engine Journal as I do ask for links for my SEO clients on other blogs. Speaking from the perspective of a blogger, I know the emotional joy when a constant reader participates on Search Engine Journal, gets into the conversations, becomes a fan on Facebook, or takes the time to compose an email – either thankful or critical.
By using these same techniques in blogger relationship building, one can cut past the boilerplate emails and link requests, and build not only a business relationship with a publisher, but also a long term friendship. Here are some steps to building such a cohesive connection, which will assist both parties in the long run.
- First I’d like to say, take the time to read some of the blogger’s posts. This may sound very basic, but the more you read into the blogger and their opinions on subjects that reflect the business your site or your client does, the more you can connect with them. After reading 10 or more posts, then select 3 or 4 that you really identify with and can write an intelligent and heartfelt response to in their comment field.
- Now write out some comments (here’s a guide on the importance of comment participation) and be sure there is some depth and understanding to them. Use your full name, your correct email and link to either your own site or your client’s site (or better yet, YOUR BLOG) in the URL field. DO NOT use keywords for your name. If you do, then you are a spammer and you will instantly ruin your credibility with this publisher.
- If the blogger has the option to subscribe to comments via email then do so. This will alert you as to when others reply to the blog post or even your comment. If this happens, be sure to revisit the post to reply to others’ comments. By doing so, you are now actively participating in the blog conversation.
- By actively participating, you are making the blogger happy for many reasons. Foremost because you are providing content and thought for the blogger, which will assist in more content and perhaps even better traffic and revenue for the blogger, as comments can influence the search ranking of a specific post. Secondly because by your efforts, you are also motivating the blog’s readership to actively participate more also. This can have a snowball effect.
- Now you are definitely making your mark on the blog and if the blogger responds to you in the comment space, take this opening to continue to build the conversation not only in commenting, but also by communicating with the blogger outside of the blog. Does this mean write an email? Not really.
- The beauty of Social Media is that we now have multiple inboxes with different levels of intimacy. No longer is my GMail account the best way to contact me. Hitting a blogger up on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook by far has become a much more intimate and trusted way to not only contact the blogger, but show them who you are.
- Most bloggers have links to their social media profiles on their blogs. Be sure to look for these and befriend these bloggers on Twitter or Facebook. Then send them a direct message like “Really enjoying the conversation over on Search Engine Journal. You have a great blog there and it’s now in my RSS Reader forever!” or something like that. When I get a message with so much positivity, it really makes my day.
- Once the blogger befriends you, check them out. What do you have in common? What do you REALLY have in common? How do they use Twitter? Are they a Twitterholic? Don’t become a social media stalker, but do become an educated friend.
- Now that you’ve built the relationship, the trust, the status and the credibility of a contributing force to this blogger, and perhaps an actual friend, then take this relationship to the next level by closing the deal : Ask about doing a guest blog post or contributing to their blog in some fashion. By doing so, you will have a much more valuable link on the blog itself, in their blogroll or sidebar perhaps, and also introduce your company to their readership since you will be contributing to their blog as a source of knowledge and a subtle company evangelist.
Sure, these steps can be modified based upon the importance of the blogger and the client. And you’re not going to want to work your way up the blogger relationship ladder to be invited to Thanksgiving dinner by the blogger, only to ask for a link at the dinner table. If you’re just going for a simple link in their resource section, once you’ve made the connection ask for it.
If you are looking to evangelize your brand or your company mission on a credible blog, well taking all of these steps should lead to some sort of strong and trusted long term relationship with not only the blogger, but their audience.
And a long term trusted relationship with a blogger or publisher will always eclipse the value of one link.
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