Guest post written by: Imran Khan. (If you want to guest post, click here)
Being in the SEO industry for the last 5 years, I can say that SEO is ever-evolving where you need to stay on your toes, experiment with new strategies and scale the ones that work in order to survive.
Whether you are a newbie at SEO or an experienced webmaster, you understand that links were, are and will be an important piece of the puzzle which complements your SEO campaign.
Links do take some time to show their effect, sometimes in not the way you desire at first, but eventually, they do move the needle in a positive way.
With Google constantly sending its favorite animals from the penalty zoo, its high time you get to know about the three tried and tested link building methods which you can use to improve your off-page SEO and steer your websites clear from those dementors.
If you master these three techniques and use them to juice up your website, then the chances of your site getting hit by future Google updates are minimized to a great extent.
- Guest Blogging
- Top Lists
1. Infographics – My Favorite of the Three
Out of the three link building methods above, I favor infographics the most as I believe that it gives you better returns on your investment compared to guest blogging as well as top lists and can be modified to make it work better for us (some prominent techniques that use infographics include guestographics and skyscraper link building).
When it comes to acquiring links through an†infographic, all you need to do is research for a good topic, design the infographic (or get it designed by a professional) and then reach out to relevant bloggers in your niche and pitch your infographic (along with an introduction)
I will be elaborating the steps with some tips in detail below (you didn’t really thought that I’d move on to the next strategy without properly explaining this one, did you?)
Researching a Good Topic
This is THE most important part of this strategy and if described in percentages, carries 45% weightage towards the success of this technique.
First of all, you need to login to ahrefs and open the content explorer (you can get a trial account if you don’t have a paid subscription, although I highly recommend getting a paid subscription)
Once done, you need to plug in your niche and allow the tool to do its magic and fetch you the most shared articles in your niche.
Here’s a pro tip: Go broader when you are looking for ideas instead of going narrow. Suppose your niche is vacuum cleaners, you search for broad terms like cleaning, health, and family. The advantage of using a broad term is that they are related to your niche one way or the other and you significantly increase your prospects list when you are in the last stage of reaching out to bloggers. It’s simple math guys, the broader audience you reach, the more ROI you can expect from this technique.
Make sure you select 3 to 5 titles from the results list which are good enough to be converted into an infographic. Don’t bother going with the title with most shares, instead, pick one which is eye-catching and intriguing. Try to run those titles with your friends and family if you need help picking the best of the best.
Once you have finalized the title, its time to do some research for the infographic data. All you need is to research 300 to 500 words of data for your infographic (please don’t go beyond 500 words as lengthy infographics aren’t well received).
With the help of Google, list some interesting facts and statistics on your chosen topic. You can also get some ideas from visiting the source URL from the ahrefs’ content explorer and get some ideas.
You can always get a professional writer if you are having trouble writing it yourself.
Designing the Infographic
This one carries 30% weightage. Now, unless you are experienced with designing graphics using either photoshop or illustrator (unfortunately MS Paint won’t cut it 😉 ), I suggest you get it designed by a professional.
It only costs around 50 to 75 USD and you can find some excellent designers on Fiverr.
Here’s another pro tip: While the infographic is being designed, you can Google your winning title and find 5 to 7 websites which published a similar post on your topic. You can add those URLs at the bottom of the infographic as references and then pitch a slightly different email to those particular bloggers stating that they have been featured as a credible source in your infographic.
Webmasters love to see their blogs mentioned and would happily share your infographic (or their achievement) on their blogs. That’s how you land some links effortlessly.
Once you have your infographic designed, publish it on your website along with a 750 to 1000 word article elaborating the infographic data. You can link to your money pages or the articles which need some link love from this data.
Reaching out to the Bloggers
This is the final stage and carries 25% weightage. This step should considerably be easy provided you nailed the infographic design.
To gather the prospects, you need to use ScrapeBox harvester (again, please consider investing in the Swiss army knife of SEO if you haven’t yet) along with a couple of private or rotating proxies.
Use the same terms you used in ahrefs’ content explorer to find prospects.
I won’t be diving deep on how to use ScrapeBox and the modifiers as there’s an excellent resource available at QuickSprout or you can use your old pal Google to find tutorials for it.
However, I will explain you the advanced part of cleaning your list and finding emails. Once you have found around 10000 URLs in your ScrapeBox harvester grid, it’s time to …
Trim the list
Check the sidebar for “Trim” option. Click on it and select the “Trim to root” option. Then click on “Remove/Filter” and then select “Remove Duplicate Domains”. This should trim your list down to 3000 to 4000 unique domains. Minimize ScrapeBox.
Once done, open notepad and then paste the following and save the file in a .txt format named as Domain Filter.
After that, go back to ScrapeBox and again click on “Remove/Filter” and then select “Remove URLs containing entries from…”.
This should open up a dialog box where you can select files. Select the “Domain Filter” file you created in the previous step. Doing this will remove all the subdomains from the free blogging platforms as well as eliminate the .gov and .edu websites.
The reason why we remove .gov and .edu websites is that they never grant our request to link to our infographic (there’s scholarship link building for such sites, which is under scrutiny by Google due to abuse of that technique by many affiliate websites)
This should cut down the fatty layer from your list and get it down to 2000 to 2500.
The last step in cleaning your list is to sort it on the basis of DA. You can use bulk DA checker for that. DomDetailer is my favorite tool. Once the tool spits out the DA, PA, TF, and CF of your list in a beautiful excel sheet, open that sheet and use the filter function on the DA column to arrange domains in the descending order (sites with higher DA will be on top).
After that, just keep the sites in between DA 20 to DA 70 and eliminate the rest (the reason we do this is that low DA blogs aren’t worth it and we don’t really want to waste our time for super high DA sites (usually referred to as Sharks or Whales) as they won’t accept your linking request.
Now you have a list of good blogs which you can email. Save that sheet and pat yourself at the back for a job well done. The next step is to …
Find the emails
Open the sheet and then select 20-30 URLs (a little less if you have a computer with low processing power) and paste it in a bulk URL opener (you can find numerous extensions in both Chrome and Firefox marketplaces)
You might be wondering why we aren’t using ScrapeBox’s Email Grabber for this job. Well, to be honest, ScrapeBox sucks when it comes to email gathering. Too many wrong email addresses and if there are multiple email addresses on a page, then it will grab the first one it finds (which isn’t the one we need since we need to reach out to the blog owner and not his daughter or wife or content creator.
Sure this takes some time but you can rest assured that you have the correct email address of the people you want to reach. I suggest you start with a doable level of getting emails from 250 sites per day (shouldn’t take more than 4 hours)
Here’s a pro tip: Make sure you get their name if you see it on their website’s about me/us page as people love to be addressed by their names. Make sure you have the right name though, else leave the field blank.
Reaching out to the bloggers
It’s time for the last step guys. All you need to do is to plug the email addresses into your favorite email outreach program like Mailshake, BuzzStream or GMass. I won’t be diving deep on how to use these tools as there are tutorials available online.
Time to hit that SEND button guys! If you followed everything outlined above, you should start to get positive replies from bloggers willing to link to your infographic. Send them over a small introduction of 300 to 400 words and slip in your link with your desired anchor in that intro for a juicy contextual link.
Congratulations, you have nailed the method of infographic link building and also mastered the technique of manual outreach. Three cheers for you! Let’s move on to the next technique.
2. Guest Blogging – the Second Best
Guest Blogging or Ghost Blogging stands the second place on my list.
Just like infographics, this technique also involves reaching out to bloggers with just a small change that is we pitch some content ideas to the blog owners instead of an infographic.
Although this requires a little more investment (in the form of quality content) compared to infographic link building, it is a sure fire way to land some good links from blog owners who rejected to publish your infographic as you can suggest or accept the suggestion of the blog owners and get started on the draft.
This technique has three phases to it namely researching for some good topic ideas (at least 30 of them), reaching out to relevant bloggers and writing the desired post on approval.
Here’s the elaboration…
Researching for Some Good Topic Ideas
For this, you can use ahrefs’ content explorer or Google to get some interesting title ideas. Aim to get at least 30 ideas so that you can rotate them in a set of 5 and use them for the prospects. The reason we do is that we can suggest a different set to a particular blogger if he or she doesn’t like the previous ideas. You are more than welcome to be creative with ideas and rotation in this step.
Reaching out to Relevant Bloggers
Scraping the lists using Scrapebox and finding the emails manually is similar to the method for the previous technique (refer to the final stage in infographic link building strategy if you need help) with just a minor addition.
All you need to do is to make sure you read the guest blogging terms (if the blog has one) and see if they have any particular emailing requirements. Majority of bloggers won’t have any but some ask to use special subject lines, request them to address in a particular way or ask to include a “secret” word in your pitch to ensure you read the terms.
Once done, you need to email them (use Mailshake, BuzzStream or GMass) with the title ideas in a set of 5 (feel free to repeat the sets in a serial order to avoid confusion).
Writing the Desired Post on Approval
This is the last step where you actually start writing the articles as per the title requests you received from the blog owners.
Make sure you read the terms and conditions carefully and structure the article as per the liking of that particular blogger to tremendously increase your chances of getting published.
Congratulations, you have nailed the method of guest blogging. Three cheers for you! Let’s move on to the next and last technique for today.
3. Top Lists – a Technique with the Least Investment
This is a good finisher technique for your link building campaign which requires the least investment of all and naturally a little less returns (but hey, you get a free link, so it’s not that bad after all)
This technique comprises of three steps which are finding the prospects, writing a list article on your site mentioning those prospects and finally emailing them.
Here’s the elaboration…
Finding the Prospects
This is the least time consuming of all the strategies above since you only need to find around 15-20 prospects. All you need to do is to search for the following in Google:
Top <Your Niche> Bloggers
Needless to say, you need to replace <Your Niche> with your niche 😉
Browse at least 10 such list articles which you found on Google.
Naturally, you will find that the list has featured some bloggers in your niche. Make a note of all the blogs you find from those ten articles in an excel sheet (you should easily be able to find more than 50 unique domains from those lists combined). Save the sheet as “Top List Prospects” and keep it aside.
The next step is to open ahrefs (or your favorite backlink checker) and then find the referring domains pointing to those 10 lists one by one (you don’t want to check the referring domains of the entire website but just the top list page on that website).
After that, open the “Top List Prospects” excel sheet and then mark the blogs which link back to the original list they have been featured on. These are the golden nuggets which you need to target and email as they have a proven record of featuring their accomplishment by linking to the page which awarded them.
Make sure you find at least 10 such golden nuggets out of minimum 15-20 required (you can pick the remaining 5 or 10 blogs from the Top List Prospects sheet as you see fit).
Writing a List Article
Now that you have your top list golden nuggets, you need to visit all those blogs (use the Bulk URL opener) and make note of following details:
His/her photo (or website’s logo if a photo isn’t available)
Social media handles (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin, Google Plus etc.)
A small excerpt from his/her about page (make sure you rewrite that in your own words instead of copy-pasting directly)
Here’s a good list article if you need an example.
After you are done writing, publish that article and add the current year in the title (ex. Top 15 SEO Blogs to Follow in 2018)
It’s the same thing again, just like the last two techniques. All that’s left for you is to email those bloggers that they have been featured on your list and enjoy the free links either from their homepage or “mentions” page.
Congratulations, you have earned your black belt in safe link building techniques. You are more than welcome to share the knowledge with your friends and family by forwarding this article to them.
There you have it guys. Keep practicing these three highly scalable techniques and improve them using your creativity. Please feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions and I will be happy to help you out.
Now it’s time to take action and get those links! I wish you all the best!
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