What you will learn
In todays podcast, we’re talking about one of the main things everyone wants to know about when scaling their authority site…
…scaling white hat outreach/link building.
To get other episodes in this mini-series, and for bonus content, check out the series home page.
Traditional White Hat Link Building
One thing we always tend to notice is that people love finding new ways to build links. The truth is, you can get far better results by doubling down (and scaling) the proven link building strategies. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel.
Here at Authority Hacker, we use a combination of Skyscraper and guest posting to build links. And even though we exclusively focus on those two tactics, we’re able to build more links to our sites than ever before.
Here’s a brief overview of how they work:
For guest posting, it’s all about finding a site (or prospect) you want a link from, and simply asking them to write a guest post for them. It’s probably one of the first white hat link building techniques that gained popularity after Penguin, and we talked more about it in last weeks blog post.
For Skyscraper, the premise is simple. Create linkable assets on your site, find similar (outdated and/or lower quality) content, and reach out to whoever links to that resource asking for the link to be changed to yours.
We much prefer Skyscraper because you can get multiple links to one piece of content, whereas guest posting is generally just a single link, making it a lot more expensive overall.
Skyscraper doesn’t work well in every niche, however, so guest posting is a good fallback option. You can also overlap the two by offering prospects a guest post if they refuse your Skyscraper proposal. (And that converts reasonably well, by the way.)
Breaking Down Our Process
Our process is mainly built on the Skyscraper model, however we do incorporate guest posting whenever possible.
Let’s run through the entire process, step-by-step…
Step #1: Creating Linkable Assets
This involves looking at content that’s already generated a signficant number of links, and simply improving upon it.
You can do that by making it more informational, more value-driven, longer, prettier, etc. And obviously, avoid any affiliate links, opt-in popups or ads. At least until you’ve completed your outreach campaign.
You can outsource this, and any good writer should be able able to produce something better if you provide them with a competitor example. Just be sure to provide a solid brief of the angle your trying to achieve.
Step #2: Building Links To Those Assets
This involves finding the prospects (or link partners) who have linked to your competitors resource, and actually asking them for a link.
The first thing to do is just Google your topic, take the results, and look at how many people are linking to those pieces of content.
After that, it’s just a case of exporting everything to get your final prospecting list.
Step #3: Scale It Up
To scale, the first thing you’ll need is more prospects. A lot more prospects, in fact.
Rather than searching Google with a single keyword, you’ll want to create a list of 15-20 keywords using tools like UberSuggest, Scrapebox, or Keyword Shitter (yeah, it’s actually called that). Not only that, you’ll also want to take the first 100 results from Google for EACH keyword.
(There will be a lot of duplicates, but you should be able to fix that easily in Excel or Google Sheets.)
This alone will likely generate thousands of prospects, and repeating the Ahref’s export process thousands of times is far from efficient. One way to overcome this, is to copy the export URL (which includes the filters) and create a formula to replicate it for any new URL.
Finally, use a merge tool (like this one) to merge all the sheets together and create a final prospecting list with thousands of potential link partners.
(This is also where you do any final filtering, removing any unsuitable link prospects like Youtube, Amazon, Wiki, etc.)
Step #4: Finding Contact Info
When it comes to actually finding names and email addresses, you pretty much have two options.
The traditional approach is to manually go through each prospects and find their name and email listed on one of their sites pages, or even social accounts (i.e. about page, contact page, Facebook page etc.)
Obviously this is very time consuming and expensive, especially when your trying to scale. That’s why prefer the automated approach, which leverages tools like Hunter (previously Email Hunter) to scrape contact information for around 50% of your prospect list in a matter of minutes.
The tool has a limited free plan but it works if you’re just getting started. Knowing how much time this saves, we’ve easily been able to justify the cost of upgrading. The one downside, however, is that it often finds multiple email addresses for each prospect, meaning you have to manually go in and delete all but one.
Any domains where Hunter didn’t return an email goes into a separate database. We then assign people to go through those prospects manually when they have nothing else to do.
Step #5: Scaling Outreach
When we first started out doing this, Buzzstream was considered the go-to tool in the industry, and we were able to use it quite effectively at the time. It’s particularly good for what we call the “sniper approach”, a very targeted, relationship-focused form of outreach. (Useful for small niches with limited prospects.)
In order to scale, we were forced to move away from Buzzstream to newer tools like GMass and Mailshake. These are great for what we the call “shotgun approach”, a more spray-and-pray form of outreach that focuses on reaching as many people as possible.
While we don’t advocate blasting the same exact email to thousands of irrelevant prospects, we do take a middle ground on this one. Both tools mentioned not only give you more sending power, but they also allow you to scale personalization using mail-merge.
They also take care of auto follow-ups, sending a number of follow-ups to any prospect that hasn’t taken a specified action. This alone is MASSIVE for scaling, and something that will multiply your response rates and, of course, placement rates.
We have a bunch of outreach templates in Authority Hacker PRO, and the problem is, a lot of people use them without taking some time to customize. That leads to a huge chunk of people sending the same template, and recipients get confused about who they’re talking to.
Step #6: Handling Responses
Finally, there’s a few common roadblocks people face when handling responses from this process, so let’s cover what they are.
#1: Confusion – Sometimes, people just wont understand your request. Maybe they don’t know what a link is, or they don’t know how to update the content to include. Whatever the reason, this kind of thing does happen and you should have pre-made responses ready to tackle it.
#2: Disagreement – You will occasionally get responses from people who refuse to link to you because they flat out disagree with something you said (or did) in your article. If this happens, you’ll have to make a decision whether you want to modify your content in order to please them.
#3: Outsourcing – When things really start to pick up, you’ll definitely want to look into hiring someone to handle responses for you. In this case, we recommend hiring a “people person”, as in someone who has some form of customer service experience. We find that “data people” tend to be less effective with their responses.
(We also strongly recommend a native English speaker. Yes, they’re more expensive, but they provide a much stronger ROI in the long run)
#4: Rejections – When a prospect simply refuses to place a link, it’s often hard to turn a hard ‘no’ into a ‘yes’, though it can be done. We prefer offering something else, whether that’s a guest post or another form of value add in exchange for a link. (We see a 40-60% success rate with this approach)
Don’t be afraid to go back to link partners later down the line, and ask them to link to one of your money pages as well. You’d be surprised how often this works.