Link Building No-Nos: How to Self-Sabotage Your Content In a Hot Minute
We all know that truly successful link building campaigns employ both online and offline relationship building and networking. Nowadays, bloggers and editors are so overly bombarded with pitches, guest blog post opportunities, and “truly groundbreaking” material – your e-mail is likely adding just one more number to their ever-growing inbox.
When it comes to the mysterious world of link building, there are a few things you can do to make yourself stand out from the gazillions of other would-be link donors. We’re going to take a slightly different approach in this post. Rather than preach tips and special-ops tactics for getting links, let’s explore some of the definite no-nos of link building. What you can do to ensure your efforts won’t result in a link? How can you be sure your link building campaign will flop? What are the step-by-step directions to Rejection-ville? Read on to find out. (And don’t worry – there’s light and good advice at the end of the tunnel!)
9 Surefire Ways To Not Get The Link You Want:
1. Pitch bad content. We know, we know. Everyone says to make sure your content is worthy of getting a link to. That’s because it’s true. The fact that your content relates to the publication or blogger you’re reaching out to isn’t a guarantee they will be interested. A good question to ask yourself is: “If I were XYZ editor/blogger, would I post this to my publication? Why or why not?” You may be surprised by how often you would veto the content.
This is why it’s so imperative to have a really creative content team. Think outside the box. There are so many types of content to choose from. In fact, it would be well-advised to design a piece of content with a specific publication in mind. Have you ever tried the ol’ PR outreach tactic of finding out if an editor is interested in a piece of content before creating it? This applies to link building as well. Don’t waste your time on content that won’t get placed.
2. Pitch to sites unrelated to your content. Right on the heels of the last tip, pitching good content to the wrong publications is essentially pitching bad content. You’re wasting hard work and worthy material on the wrong target. The backfires of this approach are three-fold (at least): (1) Pitching unrelated content could result in a slap from Google’s Penguin and (2) You’re just wasting everyone’s time. (3) You run the risk of appearing ignorant, sloppy, and irresponsible – don’t be surprised to receive a snarky email response asking if you even bothered to read their website.
If you spend the time and effort creating content that is truly mind blowing, do yourself a favor and reach out to publications that care about that content. If the publication cares, the readers will care, and they will be more likely share your content. If they don’t care, you’ll be missing out on exposure, social shares, and overall success.
3. Only reach out through one avenue. As you’re perusing that publication’s website in search of an editor’s contact information, ready to shoot over a quick email with your idea… bear in mind, email isn’t the only way to make contact. In fact, it’s not even always the best way. Really take the time to learn how the blogger/editor prefers to be reached. Oftentimes, they WILL list their preferred contact method. Use it.
If they don’t list it and you’re not having luck via e-mail, don’t hesitate to strike up a conversation via Facebook or Twitter. Do not, I repeat, do not lead with your pitch. Introduce yourself. Ask thoughtful questions about content on their site. Find out if there is specific content they’re looking for. Perhaps there is, and you can come up with something that will fit both of your needs.
4. Focus on one method of link building. It’s so easy to lose creativity and the wow factor when you focus too much energy on just one type of content. Therefore, the name of the game is diversification! Varying the type of content you’re creating is a great way to keep things fresh and conquer several link-building methods. Infographics, contests, videos, articles, live events, guest blog posts, and resource round-ups are just a starting point. Each type of content should have a tailored pitch to help make it as appealing as possible. Really play on each type’s strengths and features.
5. Disregard (or simply forget to follow) pitch instructions. A lot of bloggers and editors will automatically dismiss your content if they don’t receive it in the format they explicitly request, so follow their instructions to the tee. You wouldn’t want to miss an opportunity just because your lazy self couldn’t be bothered to include “Submission: Culinary Digest” in the subject now, would you?
This also applies to the type of content and the method of outreach. If publications say they don’t want content related to beluga whales and your content is about beluga whale migratory patterns, don’t even bother wasting your time. If they explicitly ask for a Word document, you better make sure you didn’t paste your content into the body of the e-mail or it will likely end up in the trash.
6. Write an essay in your outreach. Keep it short! Anyone reading your initial pitch will stop reading it if it’s too long, too boring, not pertinent to their publication, or if they’re too busy. Get to the point quickly and explain why it will be beneficial for their publication and its readers.
7. Send the same pitch to everyone. If you send the same initial pitch to every common-themed publication, they will notice. And they won’t like it. It’s important to tailor your outreach so that it’s specific to whomever you’re reaching out to. Do your research. Find out as much as you can about the publication and frame your outreach in a way that packages your content into an irresistible gift. Ask yourself: “What does this editor/blogger want to hear? How can I make them pay attention to what I’m showing them?” The only way to achieve this is by researching exactly what a site is looking for or needs and making them want your content. Make them think they thought of it
8. Forget to follow up with your pitch. This is a big one! After you fire off that initial outreach, do not sit idly and wait for the publication to get back to you. When you feel enough time has passed for the publication to review your content, go ahead and reach out– see if you can provide any clarification, answer any questions… you may even want to straight-up ask if they’re interested in what you submitted. Busy bloggers sometimes need reminders, gentle prodding.
That said, don’t be too aggressive in your follow-up. Be careful with phrasing; don’t write as if your piece has already been accepted, alluding to its future publication date. Simply inquire, politely and coolly. Ask yourself, “What would be acceptable if the roles were reversed?”
9. Forget to build relationships. If a publication publishes your content, it’s important to maintain that relationship. Even if the publication doesn’t publish your content, it’s important to maintain that relationship because they might be interested next time. Maintaining contact can be achieved in so many ways including sharing their content on social, commenting with questions, perspectives or advice, or even e-mailing to find out if they’re in need of any specific type of content. Just don’t overdo it. Don’t be a pest. Interact with the blogger just as you would with a blogger you personally follow. Building relationships applies to the offline world as well. Making and maintaining friends who support your link building efforts is absolutely essential to continued success.
These are prime examples of mistakes newbies make when it comes to their link building outreach approach. While there are plenty of others, these highlight the biggest ones that will ensure your link building campaign will result in a surefire flop! What else would you add to the list?