With Search Engine Optimization at the forefront of inbound marketing these days, companies with an online presence must figure out how to remain competitive and relevant. There are few different approaches to this, including social media management and Search Engine Marketing. But there is one aspect of SEO that no company of any size can afford to let go: link building.
The TrustRadius guide to SEO tools provides a good description of the substance and importance of link building:
Backlinks (other websites linking to your website) show search engines that your website matters, or that others value your content. Backlink acquisition, tracking and analysis is an essential element of SEO tools given the importance of backlinks in site rankings and reputation.
In other words, backlinks help both your Google ranking and the general market awareness of your company. If you haven’t yet entered the world of backlinks, you may be wondering where to jump in. To help you get started on your link building campaign, consider these tools and tricks of the trade.
Tips for Getting Started With Your Link Building Campaign
Before jumping into specific tools that can help you with your link building campaign, let’s address some specific tips in making the campaign more effective in both the short-term and long-term.
Tip #1: Focus on Quality Over Quantity
When you’re just starting out in the world of link building, your goal should not necessarily be to paste as many links as possible all over the Internet. Oftentimes, less is more when it comes to SEO. It can be fast and easy to technically get hundreds of backlinks - but very rarely is it fast and easy to get hundreds of quality backlinks. When starting out, avoid the easy options like paid bloggers, advertising, directories, and affiliates. Instead, focus on guest blogging, shared infographics and videos, and social media. SEO is not an exact science, but there is no question that quality content will be much more helpful to your link building campaign in the long run.
Tip #2: Set Goals
Your link building campaign should be exactly that - a campaign. Link building (and SEO in general) is not something that can be approached haphazardly or without a plan. As you get started, you should set some very clear and achievable milestones from the outset (SMART Goals, anyone?). It’s not enough to simply say your goal is to “get more links.” Instead, ask yourself what you truly want to accomplish with your link building campaign. Do you want to increase market awareness? Improve local rankings? Build a relevant keyword portfolio? Use the answers to these questions to set specific goals in the first months of your campaign. Good benchmarks include moving from the 2nd to the 1st page for certain keywords and building the your backlinks by a set percentage.
Tip #3: Keep It Personalized
The last thing you want to do is let your quest for efficiency and drive for more backlinks affect your personal approach. Keyword research is the impersonal (and relatively easy) part of any link building campaign. The process can become more time consuming and take more finesse once you start to reach out to sites for guest blogging opportunities. In this stage, don’t turn to automation. Take the time to write customized emails that are both well-written and say something about the site or blog you are reaching out to. This type of outreach is likely to have a much better response, even if it’s not exactly scalable.
7 Tools to Help You With Your Link Building Campaign
Now that you have an idea of some of the basic elements of link building, you’re closer to being ready to jump in. As you get started, these tools can help you keep your link building campaign on track.
Moz is one of the most popular SEO tools on the market. It also features a dedicated link building tool called Open Site Explorer. The tool helps companies research backlinks they already have, conduct competitive keyword research to find opportunities for link building, and monitor links that could be damaging to SEO.
BuzzStream is dedicated to helping companies conduct effective link building campaigns - it’s even in the tagline! The comprehensive tool features research tools, prospect tracking and directories that allow more personalized outreach. It also makes the communication piece much simpler, with built-in follow up reminders and email templates.
Once your link building campaign is in full swing, it can get difficult to keep track of all of your keywords, prospects, and outreach emails. Google Calendar is useful in getting organized in this stage. Use a calendar to create deadlines, visualize a timeline, and sync with prospect emails. Similarly, Google Sheets allows you to create organized lists of prospects, keywords, agreed upon blog posts, deadlines and more. When it comes to organization, everything is better with a spreadsheet in the mix.
While not necessarily built for link building, Boomerang is useful in the outreach stage. The Gmail plugin automates reminder emails when you don’t hear back from a prospect - it also allows you to schedule out emails for later.
Link Prospector can be extremely useful in the middle stage of your link building campaign. Once you identify high quality keywords to put to work, Link Prospector uses these keywords to find the most relevant link opportunities in your market. The tool can save you quite a bit of time in the research stage of link building.
SEMRush is an online marketing suite, but it features a specific link building tool. The tool helps companies move from having zero links at all to having a healthy portfolio of quality backlinks. By taking you through the process step by step, SEMRush helps you determine the best backlink opportunities, actually reachout out to backlink partners, and monitor the backlinks as you acquire them.
Figuring out which tools to start with can be difficult, especially if you’re new to link building. Online customer reviews are a great place to help you figure out what your needs are and which tools address them. From there, you can jump in and build traffic to your business site!
This post has been written in collaboration with Brooklin Nash, a blogger who writes about the latest tools and small business trends for TrustRadius.
John oftentimes takes the lead as the Agile Project Manager and SEO expert on selected projects, which allows him to be hands-on with the latest trends.