Three steps to promoting linkable assets for shares, links and relationships

Securing links doesn’t happen by creating linkable assets, it happens by promoting linkable assets to relevant, engaged site owners. 

If you’re creating content, involved in content marketing, or crafting a content strategy, you should be devoting resources to content promotion. And a consideration within that content promotion should be links.

Search is a vital channel for marketers, site owners, and businesses. SEOs have an important role to play in content marketing. They help to ensure indexation, crawlability, good internal linking, strategic keyword usage, opportunity prospecting and even manual outreach for links. 

Backlinks, in particular, will aid content’s lifetime value, discovery and visibility. 

Not all content needs to be designed as a link magnet. But within your content strategy, a certain percentage should align with link acquisition. 

Last month here on Search Engine Watch I wrote about how to locate linkable assets on large, enterprise sites. My reasoning was twofold:

  1. Demonstrate what content and pages lead to link opportunities, using a real-world example. 
  2. Showcase the SEO process for finding high-opportunity content on any site, within any niche, since I had no prior knowledge of my example, Sur La Table. 

My demonstration was limited to three methods: 

  1. Manual discovery via site exploration
  2. Exploring social shares with BuzzSumo
  3. Finding link opportunities with Majestic. 

Roger Rogerson, a frequent commenter here on Search Engine Watch, correctly pointed out there are an additional two ways to find linkable assets:

  • Most visited pages (traffic)
  • Trending topic pages. 

Today I want to demonstrate the next step after finding linkable assets: promoting your content for shares, links, and hopefully relationships. 

The content assets

In my examination of Sur La Table, I found a few pieces of content I considered to be linkable assets:

  1. Not So Much a History of Pumpkin Spice
  2. Meet Kristen Miglore of Food52
  3. How to Put a Cheese Board Together
  4. How to Make a Vinaigrette
  5. Recipe: Cold Brew Irish Coffee
  6. Cooking Classes (for individual localities)

Today I’m going to show you my own processes, thoughts, and considerations for promoting one of these pages for links. Hopefully this will demonstrate how SEOs can suss out link opportunities, and how you should be approaching link building.

Important: this is NOT a demonstration of how I would run a link campaign. This is a 1,500 word post using limited research for a site and industry I’m unfamiliar with. I’m demonstrating the basics of how to take a linkable asset and find promotion opportunities for links. A real campaign would involve information from the client, industry research, site analysis, set campaign expectations and goals, and more. 

Disclaimers aside, let’s dive into promoting these linkable assets. 

Qualifying the assets: which presents the greatest opportunity?

I’ve already determined each of these pages have link opportunity. But which has the greatest opportunity?

All things being equal, I want to spend my time in the most valuable way possible. 

In analyzing a piece of content I typically look at whether the content is: 

  1. Ranking close to page one for relevant, traffic-driving terms.
  2. Best in class. It needs to deserve to rank on page one, if not #1.
  3. Broad, appealing to several different audiences.
  4. Fresh, evergreen, or preferably both. 
  5. Converting, building brand affinity, solving an audience problem, etc.

Using my gut and a couple of the metrics mentioned above, I’ll use Recipe: Cold Brew Irish Coffee.

recipe-cold-brew-irish-coffee

I chose this page for a few reasons:

  1. The page has broad appeal, is formatted well, uses a great image, and answers searcher intent for the phrase ‘Irish coffee recipe’ well. 
  2. Search opportunity – [Irish coffee recipe] rings in at 9,900 searches per month. Sur La Table’s recipe is currently ranking ~100, which isn’t great, but it has zero real links. Majestic reports 34 referring domains but it appears to be picking up some sort of weird mall network of simon.com, potentially tied to social shares.
  3. The content is evergreen and freshly created, making ongoing promotion viable. 
  4. The recipe mentions a coffee company by name, embedding promotional opportunity.

Note: if Sur La Table was a client, I probably would start by analyzing internal links. Specifically checking internal links to this page, as well as a general site analysis. I’d like to be sure this page was fully optimized before jumping to outside promotion.

For example, I’d add the recipe schema markup, and add in brand name suggestions for the flavored syrup and whiskey if possible, based upon relationships. Give love to get love.

Step one: promotional opportunities within the content 

Start at the start, pulling opportunities from the content itself. 

The first obvious opportunity within the content is the mention of Blue Bottle, the coffee company. I’m guessing there’s some sort of relationship between them and Sur La Table, since it’s the only outbound link on the page. If not though, we should try to start a relationship (with client consent). 

I’d dig to find whoever is in charge of digital marketing, SEO, or perhaps social media at Blue Bottle Coffee. They have a strong digital presence, and even highlight when they get press coverage

It’s a bit thin to call this mention press coverage, but it’s worthwhile to contact the appropriate person and let them know about our mention of their brand. It could lead to social shares or further marketing opportunity.

Example outreach:

Hey (name of person),

Cory Collins here representing Sur La Table. We love your mission of only selling coffee within 48 hours of roasting. 

Recently we published a recipe for Irish coffee and our writer mentioned your fine work and included a link to your homepage. 

Not sure if this counts as a press mention but I just wanted to let you know we’re sharing our love of your company with our audience. 

If you have any questions don’t hesitate to reach out – perhaps it would make sense to collaborate more in the future?

Best,

Cory

The next potential link opportunity is the image itself. Assuming this is a proprietary image (which it may not be, I’d have to discuss with Sur La Table), anyone using the image should link back to our recipe to credit the original source. 

A quick Google search for the image reveals five other sites using the image a variety of ways. A simple request to cite image source should secure a link (if we so desire).

Embedding promotional opportunities within the content itself is important. If you’re ignoring these, you’re not marketing appropriately. 

Don’t jam in promotional opportunities, either. That’s worse than overlooking the opportunity in the first place. Any brand coverage needs to be natural and make sense. 

Step two: what’s currently ranking and which sites are linking to those pages?

Next we should take a peek at what’s already ranking for our primary search ‘Irish coffee recipe’.

Those pages should be ranking in part due to links, and since I’ve already established Sur La Table’s recipe deserves to rank highly there’s no reason I can’t secure the same links as any result on the front page.  

Hop into Majestic (or the backlink explorer of your preference) and make note of what pages are linking to page one results, why, and how.

Here are examples of sites I could reach out to, and the pages they’re linking from:

  • http://www.knsales.com/view-newsletter/?id=38
  • http://firstwefeast.com/drink/st-patricks-day-cocktails-you-should-drink-instead-of-green-beer/
  • http://www.foodandwine.com/fwx/drink/secrets-behind-perfect-irish-coffee (syndicated content? Could be an opportunity to partner in the future)
  • http://www.thedailymeal.com/must-have-ingredients-for-fall-cocktails (again, syndicated content)
  • http://www.entertainmentcruises.com/blog/category/food-and-drink/
  • http://backbaydentalcare.com/blog/signature-boston-dishes
  • http://liquorandwineoutlets.com/blog/the-luck-of-the-irish-whiskeys/
  • http://www.gourmetgiftbaskets.com/Blog/post/6-Foods-to-Serve-on-St-Patricks-Day.aspx
  • http://blog.uncommongoods.com/2015/its-coffee-time-8-uncommon-facts-about-the-worlds-favorite-bean/
  • http://www.townandcountrymag.com/leisure/drinks/how-to/a2121/preppy-cocktails/
  • http://gustotv.com/cooking-2/6-hot-drink-recipes-to-keep-you-warm/
  • http://hotpenguin.net/30-best-whiskey-drinks-essential-cocktail-recipes/
  • http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/know-your-whiskey-from-your-whisky-82944763/?no-ist (this is old, might not be worth pursuing)
  • http://www.cheatsheet.com/life/liquid-luck-beers-whiskeys-and-7-recipes-to-toast-st-patrick.html/?a=viewall

…and on the list goes. I was able to find all of these within ~10 minutes.

How am I finding these? I’m literally just plugging URLs of the top ranking pages into Majestic and clicking on the pages linking under the Backlinks tab:

majestic-back-links-tab

Example outreach, which would need to be personalized to the person, publication, and site:

Hey (person’s name),

Cory Collins here representing Sur La Table. I came across your wonderful post about (what the page is about), and noticed your mention of Irish Coffee: URL. 

We recently published our own recipe for Irish Coffee, with a twist: cold brewing. You can see it here.

We really love this new recipe and thought you might wish to include it so your readers have the opportunity to try it, too! Variety is the spice of life, right?

Hope it’s helpful and your readers enjoy. 

Best,

Cory

Depending on the date of publication, the person I’m contacting, the page, how they linked to the competing recipe, etc., I will emphasize different aspects of our linkable asset within the email. 

Step three: prospecting for link opportunities through advanced Google search

Google is every SEO’s best friend. 

Advanced search strings are one of the best tools we have in prospecting for link opportunities. 

Given that I’m looking for pages that might find value in linking to Sur La Table’s Irish coffee recipe, here are example search strings and pages I found using them:

“drink recipes” OR “mixed drinks” list

  • http://drinks.seriouseats.com/2013/05/25-essential-cocktails-everyone-should-know-cocktail-101-easy-mixed-drink-recipes-classic-cocktail-guide.html#IrishCoffee 

news “Irish coffee” “2015”

  • http://abcnews.go.com/Lifestyle/ways-make-irish-coffee-weekend/story?id=22913442# – missing our cold brew recipe. Worth reaching out and suggesting
  • http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/irish-coffee/ – some stories are linking to other Irish coffee recipes
  • http://metro.co.uk/2015/09/29/international-coffee-day-5-wicked-ways-to-spike-your-coffee-5390267/ – out of date (was done for international coffee day), but worth noting for future opportunity

 “irish coffee” “2015” inurl:blog

  • http://blog.plumpjack.com/tag/irish-coffee/
  • http://blog.cupsapp.com/2015/06/02/10-coffees-from-around-the-world-you-need-to-try/
  • http://www.housekeeping.org/blog/24-blogs-sharing-refreshing-cold-coffee-recipes-to-enjoy-this-summer/ (again it’s old – needs to be further qualified, but good content) 
  • http://workpulse.io/blog/10-iced-coffee-drinks-you-must-make-this-summer/ 

history of Irish coffee

  • http://www.irelandwhiskeytrail.com/irish_coffee_history_and_recipes.php
  • http://whatscookingamerica.net/Beverage/IrishCoffee.htm
  • http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com/2Kitch/aCoffee.html

This list isn’t perfect, it’s a quick example. There are likely some sites in there I would remove after quality assurance. But as you can see, it’s pretty easy to pick out link opportunities. Be creative in your use of search operators

Example outreach:

Hello (name of person),

My name is Cory Collins and I work with Sur La Table. Recently, we published a brand new recipe on cold-brew Irish coffee. It’s a bit of a spin on the more traditional Irish coffee. 

I stumbled across your page about Irish coffee (URL) and thought your readers might enjoy this slightly different take. 

Hope you enjoy! 

Best,

Cory

A final thought

I had intended to use more creative examples of how to find link opportunities and demonstrate wonderful marketing. 

I’d also intended to be more thorough, listing a variety of different tactics to pursue links. 

In the end though, it wasn’t needed. Link building isn’t a magical process, it’s simply strategic promotion to people with relevant audiences and a reason to link. 

Online marketing is growing increasingly important to companies. Search continues to be dominant as a source of traffic, branding, and discoverability. If you’re investing in online marketing, links need to be part of the equation.

All it takes is a bit of strategic promotion. 

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