As the web gets wiser to the practices of SEOs the nature of link building has evolved from simple outreach to an art form, which relies upon more strategic, PR-like tactics. Link builders can no longer mass automate link requests, but must work at building relationships with online influencers if they wish to be successful.
For the many SEOs who hid behind their computers all these years, integrating human interaction into the link building process may seem like a daunting task but there are many lesser-known tools on the Web that make the task of building relationships online a little easier.
Listed below are some of these underutilized, free-tools that can assist with the discovery and engagement of link building prospects.
Founded by Peter Shankman in 2008, Help a Reporter Out (aka HARO) connects journalists and bloggers around the world with news sources for their stories. Journalists seeking information post queries with their requests and in return sources provide the pertinent information while receiving mentions and links from online publications worldwide.
Since its inception the service has boomed facilitating over 7,500,000 media pitches, many of which result in links from high authority sites, such as CBSnews.com and NewYorkTimes.com. Queries are segmented by industry; join for free and see who’s seeking information in your vertical.
Most people are familiar with the popular Q & A site, but few realize Quora’s potential for link building research. Quora has an active user base of journalists, many of whom list their profession in their profiles. A simple site search using your industry + journalist, (for example, “automotive journalist site:Quora.com”) returns several SERPs of relevant journalists and bloggers. Many users list their contact info right in their profile, or you have the option to send a direct message through Quora. Start engaging with these individuals by following them, or answering a question they post; begin building a relationship with them on Quora so they’ll be more likely to answer a future request for a link.
Quora is also a great resource for discovering current trends in an industry. Look at the popular questions related to your line of business and post the answers on your site, or create a fun infographic with the information. Use Quora to syndicate your content to an already engaged audience.
Topsy is a real-time search engine for the social web. Type in any URL, brand name or keyword and see who’s talking about the topic on the web, on Twitter, in images or amongst ‘experts’. Topsy highlights authority figures and the most common hashtags associated with each query so you get a better understanding of the context and sentiment surrounding these mentions. Use Topsy to find existing brand advocates, or individuals who have shared other similar content to improve the likelihood that they will positively respond to your link request.
Buzzstream E-mail Address Finder
One of the most time consuming aspects of link building is finding contact information for prospects you want to reach out to. While automating the actual outreach process is inadvisable, using Buzzstream’s e-mail address finder to automate e-mail address search queries is a highly efficient way to mine for contact information across the web.
Enter simple information about the prospect’s name and website and Buzzstream will generate search queries to help you track down their active e-mail addresses.
My Blog Guest
My Blog Guest was founded by notable SEO Ann Smarty to help connect guest bloggers with sites looking for writers. Bloggers can post their unique articles with teasers to their content, or search the directory to find relevant sites looking for guest posts. All blog posts placed through the site allow for two or more Followed links. Site owners and writers can also arrange to promote the blog post via their owned social media channels.
My Blog Guest also gives site owners the option to provide ‘direct access’ to their site, allowing bloggers to deliver blog posts right into the drafts area of their CMS, but don’t worry site owners always have the final decision on what content gets posted.
This solution is so simple it’s often forgotten. Use Google Alerts to monitor keywords, brand mentions and even site-specific content to find potential link building prospects. Google Alerts allows you to filter mentions by news, blogs, videos and discussions so you can find sites with the most relevancy and value based on the content you are trying to promote. Google Alerts is also a great way to monitor the type of content that is currently being syndicated amongst your target sites so you can discover unique angles from which to approach link bait and targeted outreach.