It’s been years since the digital marketing industry started touting “outreach” as the future of link building. The concept of actually communicating with a human being to build links has historically been overlooked.
Over the last year or two that viewpoint has slowly changed as Google’s algorithm has caught up and eliminated the easy-to-execute tactics that put outreach on the back burner.
Today the concept of outreach seems like a broken record. Every industry expert now touts outreach as the preferred form of link building.
In such a crowded space where everyone is using the same basic tactics, only those who utilize creative forms of outreach specific to their target vertical will be able to separate from the pack.
Google Maps is a great resource for finding all sorts of businesses, associations, and link prospects. Depending on your target vertical, local search engines can provide a refreshing new source of prospects, especially for geo-specific campaigns.
For example, let’s say you have a home services website that sells roofing in various DMAs. Creating personas around the types of related companies is the first step in finding new prospects using Google Maps. Using our roofing example, we might want to target homeowners associations and realtors, as roofs can be extremely expensive to repair and significantly impact the value of a home.
Now that we’ve established our targets, it’s time to search for geo-specific candidates. It’s important that the target prospects link to our related geo page.
Ideally we want all the realtors and home owners associations in San Diego linking to our San Diego roofing page. This is going to greatly increase our ability to rank for San Diego roofers, roofing, and other derivatives.
As the image above shows, this query produces 1,763 home owner associates near San Diego that can potentially promote our roofing services in the San Diego area. Although this form of prospecting won’t work in every niche, a little creativity will uncover a variety of untapped targets. In order to get the most results possible, try searching for established categories within Google Maps.
While only a small minority of the Internet uses Google+ regularly, those who do are prime link building prospects. Why? The answer is authorship.
Every semi-savvy blogger wants their face next to their content in search results. In exchange for that privilege, bloggers and webmasters have a Google+ account. So how do you find relevant bloggers?
On Dec. 6, Google launched its answer to Facebook groups with Google+ communities. These communities are literal goldmines for finding bloggers on a variety of topics.
The key to finding new prospects through Google+ is engaging with and becoming a contributing member of a related community.
Let’s say our target audience is mom bloggers. These types of sites are able to promote a wide range of products and services. A two-second search for “mom blog” results in the following:
This quick search leads to three communities with more than 4,800 members – all of which have blogs that you can potentially get links on. One even has a sub-group within the community called “blog SEO”.
In this instance, you don’t even have to create a persona. You can simply join the community as yourself and add value to the user base through SEO tips and strategy. Serving others will always lead to others serving you in return.
LinkedIn groups can be used the same way as Google+ communities; however, the tactics required for success are slightly different.
On Google+, personas can be used to “infiltrate” related communities and build relationships. While this can theoretically work on LinkedIn, I recommend be yourself.
If you have a feeder site or blog you use for other outreach purposes, add that to your summary and experience. This enables you to help bloggers by utilizing your industry expertise and at the same time, you are sharing a common hobby or interest.
As with Google+ communities, a simple search of LinkedIn groups focused around “mom blogs” yields over 2,500 potential prospects. You can also search for general blogger groups and then filter by relevance to find even more prospects.
Google’s algorithms are finally catching up to the ingenuity of the SEO industry. In the not so distant future, creative outreach will be the cornerstone of any long-term link building campaign.
Always remember to think outside the box. Going to the same places, using the same footprints and scraping the same advanced search parameters will only result in obtaining the same links as everyone else. Combine the tactics mentioned above with your own unique ideas to obtain not only high-quality links, but also a competitive advantage.
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!