Of course you want to keep an eye on your Google rankings. When crawling the web, Google looks in particular for your website’s backlinks, to understand how your pages are connected to one other and in what ways. Certainly there are hundreds of ranking factors. But backlinks represent the most important metric for SEO
Now, needless to say, quality backlinks are hard to get, but they shouldn’t be. In fact there are smart ways to build or earn backlinks, to get authoritative websites to link to your online business.
Broken Link Building
Most websites have hundreds, if not thousands, of links. Many of them link internally, while others do it externally.
For whatever reason, these links can easily break and stop working.
Most website owners don’t realize this when it happens, and it can break their user experience, reputation, and SEO.
Finding broken links represent a magnificent opportunity for you to build a relationship with the website owner, add value, and most importantly, get a high-quality link.
All of that makes this one of my favorite types of link building.
Broken link building is the tactic Nikolay Stoyanov used to acquire 15 links in 1 day with a 15% conversion rate.
The people of Your Outreach also used broken link building to help one of their clients in the drug rehab niche (a very competitive one) quadruple their organic traffic in under a month.
It really is one of the most under utilized link building strategies in my opinion.
The process of finding and fixing broken links is straightforward:
Define A Target Website
The first step is to define the website where you want to get a link from.
You can pick any website you want, but I’d recommend you be realistic about your expectations.
The chances of getting a link from Inc or The New York Times after you find a broken link are slim to none.
The best websites where you can get a link from are personal blogs and small companies’ blogs.
The owners and managers will be grateful for your help, and they will likely thank you with a link.
Finding The Broken Links
Once you have created the list of the websites you want to get a link from, you need to start searching for the broken links.
To do so, you can use two tools: Check My Links and Ahrefs.
Check My Links is a useful Chrome Extension that finds for links within a specific page.
This tool works great if you have a page with lots of links, like an article with a list of recommendations or a resource page.
For example, let’s say you sold cooking tools. This page features a long list of tools they recommend.
In this page, you’d click on the Check My Links extension and wait until the tool analyzes the whole page.
Unfortunately, on this page, the tool didn’t find any broken links.
It’s a good habit to search for broken links on every website you usually visit, so you become aware of the opportunities available.
In every page you do find a broken link, you need to create a list where you add each link from each page you search. You will use this later on.
If you find this process too time-consuming and prefer to search for broken links within a site, regardless of where the link is located, you can use Ahrefs.
Ahrefs will analyze the site thoroughly and will make a list of all the broken links it has.
To do so, go to Ahrefs’ Site Explorer and add the website you want to analyze in the main search bar in the middle of the page.
Then, go to Backlinks > Broken.
In this page, you can see all the broken inbound links the website you are analyzing got.
This represents a massive opportunity to pitch the site that linked to the one you are analyzing to get a link from them.
Export this list and save it to a separate Excel sheet.
After you are done with this, go back to the left-side menu, and click on Outgoing links > Broken links.
There, you will find all the broken outbound links from the site you are analyzing.
You can use this list of links to let the website owner know about them.
If the page they linked to still exists, let them know about it.
After you do so, you can also recommend a similar page on your site that’s similar. Later I will show you a template you can use for this purpose.
Just as you did before, export this list.
Finally, you are going to find all the internal broken links. To do so, click in the search menu bar under Pages > Best by links.
There, click on the third button from the left, and click on “404 not found.”
In here, you will find the list of all the internal broken links organized by its URL rating.
This means, the higher a page is on the list, the more link authority it carries. Therefore, if you can get a link from a top page, you will get an important link boost.
As you did before, export the list of links and save it on your sheet.
Repeat the process for every site you want to get a link from.
Contacting The Blog Manager
Once you finished analyzing all the sites and pages, it’s time to contact the blog owner or manager to let them know about the broken link.
Your first goal should be to create a relationship and build some trust.
If you have a page that’s relevant to the page where you find the broken link, then let them know about it.
Don’t do it to get a link; do it to help them have a great page for their readers.
If you don’t have something relevant to offer, focus on fixing the broken link at hand. It’s likely you will find more opportunities later on to ask for a link.
You can use the following template to contact the blog manager:
Hi [MANAGER NAME],
I was searching for some information on [INSERT TOPIC] today when I found your [PAGE TITLE].
I liked it a lot, I already shared it with my Twitter following.
Unfortunately, I came across a few broken links in that page:
BROKEN LINK URL 1 (Add replacement URL–yours or not–if available)
BROKEN LINK URL 2 (Same as before)
BROKEN LINK URL 3 (Same as before)
By the way, I recently published something relevant to your [INSERT TOPIC with URL].
It could be a nice addition to your page.
Anyway, I hope this helps.
Send this template to every owner or manager you have found on every site on your list.
You’ll be amazed at the types of responses you receive from people!
But guest blogging is one of the most popular, simplest, and most effective link building strategies there is.
The idea behind guest blogging is simple:
- You create a high-quality piece of content
- You add a few links in the content piece pointing to your site
- You get the piece published in another site, preferably one with a high DA
I won’t lie to you;
Guest blogging isn’t what it’s used to be a few years ago.
Back then, you could use guest blogging as a link exchange without adding much value to the readers.
More recently, however, Google learned the way some people used guest blogging with the intention of “hacking” their algorithm, leading to Matt Cutts (Google’s former Web spam team leader) to say guest blogging was dead.
That statement, nonetheless, ended up being nothing but a threat. Guest blogging, when done with good intentions, still works.
Most websites–both large and small–generally accept links within the content and in the author bio, and these links still provide good value.
The former is very effective, as it can be used with a more natural and better-targeted anchor text, but sometimes is forbidden. The latter is widely accepted, despite not being as effective as the former.
Alex Turnbull, the founder of Groove, used guest blogging as his main link building and content marketing promotion tactic to grow his business to reach over 1 million people.
After publishing in sites like OnStartups, Shopify, KISSmetrics, Buffer, AngelHack, and Copyblogger, Alex ended up attracting more than 10,000 subscribers to Groove’s blog, which drove revenue and growth up.
Another company that was able to drive significant growth thanks to their guest blogging efforts was Buffer.
Leo Wildrich, co-founder and former COO, published 150 guest posts in the first 9 months of the company’s existence, driving over 100,000 signups.
To get started with guest blogging, there are 5 steps you need to follow:
- Find your prospects
- Qualify the right blogs
- Create the content
- Build relationships
The really easy way to do that is with NinjaOutreach that makes the entire process really easy (In fact: I highly suggest you take advantage of the 14 day free trial for your first campaign)
But you can also do it the “good ole fashioned” way-
Find Your Prospects
The first step to getting started with guest blogging is to find your prospects. These are the websites where you are going to publish your piece of content.
Ideally, you want to publish in sites with high DA (domain authority) and high traffic.
To find sites that let you publish your guest posts, use some of the following footprints:
- Keyword + “guest blogger”
- Keyword + “Guest Post”
- Keyword + “guest article”
- Keyword + “Add Guest Post”
- Keyword + “Submit Guest Post”
- Keyword + “Submit a Guest Article”
- Keyword + “Guest Post Guidelines”
- Keyword + “become a contributor”
- Keyword + “contribute to this site”
- Keyword + “Add Content”
- Keyword + “write for us”
- Keyword + “write for me”
- Keyword + “submit your writing”
- Keyword + “submit article”
- keyword + “inurl:category/guest”
For example, let’s say you wanted like to publish a piece of content about tourism in London.
This is how the results on Google would look like:
Open Excel, and make a list of all the sites you find.
Qualify The Blogs
With the list you have created, run each site through Ahrefs, my favorite backlink analyser, to check their domain authority.
Take the first website in your list, and go to the Site Explorer.
Once you are there, add the website you want to analyze and click on the orange loop icon.
In the menu, take the number that you see in the center of the screen, under the DR sign.
Add these numbers to your list and repeat the process until you have the DA of every site.
If you want to get an approximation of the traffic the websites get, you can also run the sites in SimilarWeb.
In there, add each prospect to the top search bar.
Scroll down, and under “Traffic Overview”, copy the number that shows in “Total Visits” and paste it into your Excel sheet.
Of course all of that takes a lot of time:
Which is why you should use the NinjaOutreach trial for your first campaign that won’t cost you a penny and does all of that in a couple of clicks-
I highly recommend that you customise that a little bit and also take a peak at any specific guest post guidelines they may have.
Creating Incredible Guest Post Content
Once you get accepted, start creating the content.
As always, write with the blog’s audience in mind. If you need to dig into the site’s audience, read the comments from previous articles and check the posts that got the most shares and comments.
Don’t hold anything back, write everything you know about the subject.
Add quotes, links to other relevant articles from the site, add images and anything you have to make the article great.
Once you finish writing it, send it their way.
A great thing about guest blogging is that it helps you build relationships with the blog managers.
Creating a network is important if you ever need help promoting a specific piece of content from your site and you want to publish often in a high-authority site.
One of the key elements of any effective link building campaign is creating great content that stands out and commands attention.
Creating content that has a higher likelihood of going viral, however, isn’t easy.
Instead of wasting time trying to figure out what people may like, you can take what people are already talking about and use that as inspiration for your next piece of content.
This tactic is known as “newsjacking” because you are taking advantage of a popular topic from the news and use it to create and promote your own content.
A classic case of newsjacking is what Oreo did in the Superbowl 2013.
This Oreo tweet got more than 15,880 retweets and 6,200 favorites in just a few hours. They also got a lot of press (and the links that come with it), including mentions in The Huffington Post, Wired, and CNET.
You can use this same press to get links to your site.
Here’s how you do it:
Find Popular Topics
You can put your own ideas in the top search bar and see their popularity, or write down the list of topics that show up on the homepage.
The royal wedding, for example, represents a great idea for many articles, especially if you are in the design, beauty, and fashion industry.
If you want to get a deeper look at the current trends, click on the All categories button in the right.
Select the category closer to your industry.
If you click on the Business category, you will find many interesting topics:
Go broad with your list of ideas; later you will analyse them in more detail.
Brainstorm content ideas
With your initial list of popular topics, brainstorm a list of content articles. You want both to have some relationship with one another.
For example, if you have a blog that talks about leadership, you could write something related to Tim Cook’s leadership style-
- 5 Things Sales Managers Can Learn From Tim Cook
- How Tim Cook’s Leadership Style Will Accelerate Your Success
- The 3 Leadership Mistakes Tim Cook Made That You Must Avoid At All Costs
Define And Create The Content
With your list of content ideas, define one that suits you best, and start creating the content fast.
Time is your friend in here. The popularity of some topics lasts only a few weeks, if not days.
Make sure to have the article done no longer than a week after you found it.
Publish And Promote
Talking about a popular topic makes promotion easier, but it’s not a fool-proof way of creating viral content.
As it always happens with content, focus on the promotion. Don’t promote it on social media alone; use it as a way to call the attention of people both within and outside your industry.
Reach outside your industry. Using the previous example, you may want to reach blogs that talk about technology, business, Apple, and Uber.
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