Link building is a complex business and forms a crucial element of any SEO campaign. In its best form, link building includes a mix of developing an exciting content strategy for a website and building a brand that offers fantastic service. The knowledge and expertise of an SEO team is then crucial to ensure that great online exposure is also turned into great and relevant links to your site.
One link building strategy I found very effective in the past when working with a number of large estate agency brands was one that utilised Google Alerts. These brands and their parent company release industry data and analysis on a monthly basis, which is highly respected within their market. This content would receive a large amount of coverage online following the release and by setting up Google Alerts to monitor brand mentions online I received alerts as this data was released and covered online.
By receiving alerts that identified news posts I could find this content very easily and I used this as a link building tool. Many websites (including some fantastic BBC and major newspaper coverage) naturally added links into these articles as references but others mentioned the brands but did not add links.
Once these sites were identified I then followed up the coverage to see if the news sites and blogs would be willing to add external links to the posts to the brands who were the sources of the data as references for their readers.
Tips for approaching sites:
- Thank them for the coverage
- Offer the external link as a suggestion and not a demand – a text citation is a great way to develop a brand’s digital footprint and you do not want to jeopardise this and loose the article by being too demanding and rude
- Don’t just send them the homepage or internal page URL with some optimised anchor text, take some time to find the most appropriate and relevant URL. Suggest to the website owner why you are recommending this page and how it will add value to their existing article
- Be polite and helpful – you are taking time out of their day and this contact could be the start of a relationship which you can use to build a relationship for future news and press releases – don’t alienate yourself through an obsession to get some optimised anchor text to a category page!
Setting up a Google Alert:
This is a quick and easy process and one that I like to get completed when I begin working with new brands. We recently began working with an online wine retailer, Vino Direct, who are a new business so we will be looking to develop their brand exposure and a Google Alert has been set up to help monitor this.
- Visit the Google Alerts page
- Search query – Enter the phrase/brand you want to track
- Result type – I choose “Everything” so I can try and pick up as much activity as possible (deleting an email alert isn’t difficult and you can edit your alert settings if you receive too many emails)
- How often – I select “As-it-happens” as it means I can respond to news and mentions as they are picked up by Google, contacting sites about adding a link reference can be more effective if the post has just been added and is fresh content
- Enter your email and create the alert
- Verify your alert in your email account
For new businesses and online brands, Google Alerts can be a great way to assess your exposure, coverage and online mentions. Creating engaging content and delivering brilliant services that will be mentioned and discussed is crucial to growing your business and developing your brand. Having Google Alerts set up as a tool to aid the development of your link profile and relationship with other sites is a recommended step and a simple one.
Thanks for reading, I’m Ben Pethullis and write about SEO and digital marketing for ecommerce websites here at The Distance