On April 24, 2012 the world’s largest search engine changed the link building landscape, by ending the conversation between robots and forced link builders, Internet marketers, Webmasters and business owners to establish real relationships. Don’t be fooled by all the so-called experts who keep saying that link build is dead or that links don’t matter to increase or keep your rank in the SERPs. I am not going to lie and say that I was a bit annoyed with the Penguin update because up until then, I used to buy back links and build one or two multi-page web 2.0 sites on WordPress.com, Weebly.com and many others; and my job was done for the month. So as a result of this update I have had to change my approach when it comes to link building.
My Reaction to Penguin
I still remember the day I heard about the Penguin update. I and two other colleagues had an office in the lovely city of Brea. That morning I sat at the desk I worked at, flipped open my lap top, logged into my email, opened the first blog post I subscribed to and began to read about the mess that this cute little animal had done in just a matter of hours. After my two colleagues strolled in, I asked them what they thought about Penguin. Neither had anything nice to say about it. However, rather than dwell on it we each began doing our own due diligence to find a way to help the clients that we harmed unknowingly; recover.
I knew then how to build quality links and still do, so it’s like I only built easy or bought links. While working on a link building account for a low vision products company I helped earn a few .edu and .gov links. However, the in-house SEO person was not very patient, he wanted about 100 new links to the website per month to show that he was doing a great job. Had this person been patient and understood the link building process, he would have known that earning quality back links is a time consuming process. But he wanted lots of links so I gave him web 2.0, industry directories and other types of good but not great links.
How I Changed my Link Building Tactics
One thing that I have not mentioned is that prior to me joining the SEO/Internet marketing industry, I was in the public relations for about 2 1/2 years. And now more than ever I am glad I interned for over a year without making a dime. Public relations professionals have access to editorial calendars and media contacts, thanks to the tools they use. One of those tools that I love is Vocus. This is a very robust tool that gives PR professionals access to media contacts in every industry in minutes as well as the topics they will be writing about in the next six months to a year. Buzzstream can be used as an alternative but it’s not as robust. I do research manually since I don’t have access to Vocus and I can find what I am looking for.
Tips for Finding Media Contacts and Outlets
“publication/website name”+”editor email”
“publication/website name”+”media contacts”
“publication/website name”+”editors, writers, or columnists”
“keyword”+”editorial calendar year”
By using these search queries, we have been able to get two clients featured articles published on some well-known destinations. For client A, we had 5 featured articles on trade publication destinations and one white paper in 2 months. That may not sound very impressive but we only reached out to 8 trade publications. For client B, in the last month we got them four featured articles published on CEO related destinations. For this account we are batting 400, we only reached out to 10 destinations and 4 of them published the articles.
My Current Link Building Tactics
Post Penguin, my link building tactics have changed and I am glad for this update, although the overseas so-called link builders are not. Why, am I glad? Because it has made me as a link builder more valuable. My current link building tactics are more aligned to public relations and content marketing both on the clients’ blogs as well as on quality destinations. The challenge we are currently facing is, there are still clients that don’t understand the importance of earning a few quality links over building or buying a few hundred low quality links per month.
Therefore, I also rely on the low hanging fruit such as using competitor back link profiles. AHrefs and Majestic work wonders for this type of link building. Another tactics that I use is the broken link method, you may not know but there are many opportunities to get mentioned where your or client competitors are mentioned or where there is a resource that is no longer in business or the website is gone. Give Screaming Frog a shot and you’ll realize that upgrading to the paid version is worth the money.
Although many links builders are using the ego-bait approach to build links and its working great for them, I face the challenge of getting clients to buy into it. Due to the fact that they do not want competitors or other industry professionals mentioned on their websites. Which throws a monkey wrench into build a best of the best list or top ten list as link bait pages.
Final Thoughts on Link Building
As a link builder, I recommend that you still focus on building links as long as they are relevant to your or clients’ websites. Give the public relations angle a try, but don’t send every editor or writer the same boring template. Instead read a few of the articles they have published in the past to understand what they are interested in writing about and having access to Vocus is not a bad idea either. Once you are able to establish a relationship with an editor that knows you are not going to pitch him a garbage article topic, they will listen to you rather than marking your email address as Spam. So put on your PR hat or hire a public relations person to help you earn links, you won’t be sorry!
I would love to hear feedback from others regarding some of the topics I covered and find out whether we are on the same page or maybe your tactics are better than mine.