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By Ryan Boog
If you want to take your digital marketing campaign to the next level, then link earning is the key to success. It's not just about securing any links, but earning quality links that can boost your website's credibility and improve its search engine ranking.
In the past, link building was a haphazard process that relied on any means necessary, but now link earning is more refined and focused on quality tactics that can bring real results. As any experienced digital marketer will tell you, link earning is the cornerstone of any successful digital marketing campaign, and you can't afford to ignore it.
Hoist has worked on a number of different digital marketing campaigns in the last ten+ years, and below we’ve put together some of our best practices for finding quality links--along with some examples of how it’s worked for our clients.
Set up a tracking system that will allow you to record all your initiatives. One of our favorites is Google Sheets. Google Sheets allows you to create Excel-like documents with multiple tabs--which is perfect for organization.
This is low hanging fruit that takes almost no effort to get after. You likely have pretty solid relationships with your business partners and vendors, so asking them for a link is easy and has a pretty high success rate.
Let's take a proactive approach to uncovering new opportunities for your business. Get ready to roll up your sleeves and do some digging. Start by simply searching your business name on the web, and you'll be amazed at what pops up. Google offers various categories that allow you to sift through general web mentions, news stories, existing directory listings, and images featuring your business name.
But don't stop there. A quick search may reveal an old news article that mentions your business but doesn't link back to your website. You can easily reach out to the publication and request a link. It's as easy as pie.
Of course, search results aren't always perfect, so keep refining your search and adding relevant keywords to get a more comprehensive picture of what's out there. Don't get discouraged if you come across some irrelevant or similarly-named businesses. Use your common sense and keep searching until you find the hidden gems that can take your business to the next level. Let's get strategic and make things happen.
Let's get serious about crushing the competition. Take out a pen and paper and start jotting down the names of your top three to five competitors. Now it's time to dig deep and do some serious reconnaissance.
Head over to their websites and see what they're up to. Take note of the keywords they're targeting and the type of content they're producing. Don't stop there, snoop around their social media pages and search the web to find out where they're getting their links and who's talking about them.
And let's not forget about their online reputation, scour the web for any reviews they have. Remember, any information you can gather about your competitors' successes and failures is gold. Take all your findings and put them into a spreadsheet so you can keep track of everything. It's time to get strategic and take down the competition.
Let's talk directories. They may get mixed reviews, but we believe they can be a powerful tool in your marketing arsenal. Directories give potential customers another avenue to find you on the vast expanse of the internet. And if you add your website address, it sends a little bit of valuable juice your way. Plus, many directories allow customers to leave reviews, which can provide a further boost to your business.
Now, you may be wondering which directories are worth your time and effort. With thousands of directory sites out there, it can be overwhelming. And chances are--if it looks spammy it is spammy. So, use your best judgment on this. Some of our favorites are Yelp, SuperPages, Facebook, Houzz, Manta, Angie's List and Home Advisor.
Let's revisit that web search you conducted earlier. Did you happen to come across any existing directory listings for your business? If so, it's essential to check them out and ensure that all the information is accurate and consistent across all platforms. This not only helps with the overall image of your business but also boosts your SEO. It's crucial for search engine bots to recognize you as the same business across different platforms.
We have been working with Xcel Energy HomeSmart, a provider of top-notch appliance repair and maintenance plans and a division of Xcel Energy. We discovered that many directories linked to Xcel Energy's website instead of HomeSmart's. We took charge and claimed profiles where possible, updated information ourselves, and submitted changes directly to the websites. HomeSmart was listed on 36 directory websites, and we found 11 with incorrect or missing website information. By cleaning up the information, we not only ensured the accuracy of HomeSmart's online presence but also earned some valuable links in the process.
Don't underestimate the importance of directory listings, as they can significantly impact your online presence and SEO. Let's get to work and make sure your business is accurately represented across all platforms.
This is something that you will hear over and over again: Content is king. And it’s true. Your website content is what keeps people on the page. And it can also be an opportunity to draw people to your website. If you don’t have a blog or tips section, get one. If you have one but you’re not updating in regularly, make time for it.
If you're looking for a new way to promote your business, why not try reaching out to your local municipality and seeing if they have a business directory? While some cities may not offer this opportunity, it's definitely worth a shot.
For example, our client, Precision Landscape & Tree, is a tree care company that is licensed to work in a number of cities around the Twin Cities metro. We looked at all these cities’ websites and found that many of them offer residents a list of tree care providers. We also found that many of them have forestry pages with links to resources.
We decided to reach out to all of them in the hopes of being added to the list of approved providers or having them create a new list or link to our comprehensive guide on emerald ash borer. Fortunately, many cities were willing to oblige, but not all of them. However, in those cases where we were not added, our name was still exposed to civic decision-makers who may one day become valuable customers.
Don't hesitate to explore new opportunities for promoting your business, even if it means reaching out to your local government. You never know what kind of doors might open up as a result.
Are you offering discounts to students? Are you an alumni of a university or college that has an alumni page? Don't underestimate the power of websites with a ".edu" designation. They can pass on valuable authority to your site. If you have a legitimate reason to get a link from them, go for it!
Schools are always on the lookout for successful alumni to promote. If you have a compelling success story that ties back to your education, they'll be more than happy to share it with potential students.
Alternatively, you could consider sponsoring an upcoming event or offering a scholarship. It may require some investment, but it's an excellent way to get a link back to your site while also contributing to the community.
You already know that you should be on social media to promote your business. But, just having a page isn’t enough. You need to engage with our followers regularly, share a range of content to keep them interested and also utilize other organization’s pages to give yourself a little PR. This is where that shareable content comes into play.
For example, did your company recently participate in a food drive? Write a blog post about it, share the link on your Facebook page and mention the organization you helped out in your message. In addition, go directly to the organization’s page and share the link there, too. This is a way to spread your content around and have it picked up by others.
Tip: Strap a jetpack to your blog post by boosting it with paid ads or promoted posts on social media.
Looking to expand your network and create high-quality content? Guest blogging is a fantastic way to achieve both, all while gaining valuable backlinks to your website. To make the most of this strategy, be sure to seek out websites and blogs that are relevant to your business and offer a quality user experience.
Pro Tip: Aim to become a repeat guest blogger for the same website or blog. This approach not only generates more backlinks to your site, but it also helps you build a loyal audience base and strengthen your brand over time.
Now it's time to take action based on the insights gained from your initial web search and competitor research. Did you come across any articles that mention your business but without a link? Or perhaps a blog post that features one of your competitors? Craft a well-crafted and personalized message to the author or business contact, and simply ask them to update their content or consider featuring your business.
While this tactic can be challenging to execute, it's worth the effort. Don't be discouraged if you don't receive many responses. Take the opportunity to refine your approach and research what makes a successful outreach message. With persistence and a bit of luck, you may just land a valuable backlink or two.
This tactic is known as the "moving man method" and it's a powerful way to boost your website's link profile. Essentially, you help other websites by finding broken links and offering to replace them with a link to your own site.
To get started, research companies in related industries that have recently gone out of business or shut down their websites. You can use tools like Google News, as well as Moz and Ahrefs, which we use with our pro memberships, to gather information on existing backlinks to those sites.
Once you have a list of backlinks, identify the good sources and make a targeted list of websites to reach out to. Craft a personalized message that mentions the broken link and suggests a better replacement with a link to your website. This method can be highly effective, so don't be afraid to give it a try!
Follow up with everyone you reach out to--but don’t spam them. I generally like to send out my first email, wait a week or two and then send out my follow-up. Occasionally, I may send a third message, but generally, I think that if you don’t hear back after the second attempt that’s usually a sign. The key here is to avoid automation, people can sniff that out almost all of the time. Personalized emails almost always win.
Link earning is a crucial digital marketing strategy for anyone seeking to boost their online visibility and climb up the search rankings.
While this isn't an exhaustive compilation of all the tactics available for link earning, these methods are all fairly straightforward and yield significant results when added to your checklist. It's worth noting that while links do play a role in search rankings, they are not the sole determining factor. Thus, combining link earning with other digital marketing endeavors, like developing and executing an on-site keyword strategy, is critical for overall success.
In what ways do you earn links? Let us know