Tuesday, 22 May 2018

How to Create Awesome Facebook Carousel Ads That Convert

How to Create Awesome Facebook Carousel Ads That Convert

Gordon Donnelly
Gordon Donnelly
May 21, 2018

With GIFs, videos, slideshows, and Canvas ads floating ubiquitously around Facebook these days, one thing has become evident—users prefer interactive content over stagnant content. They want something that moves. Something that’ll give them an experience they just wouldn’t get looking at a still image. Image ads are still prominent, sure, but statistics tell the story: Views of branded video content on Facebook increased 258% as of June 2017. Each day, over 500 million people watch video on Facebook.

These users want multi-pronged brand stories. They want options. They want to go for a ride without getting up. Enter Facebook Carousel ads.

Facebook Carousel Ads Target

Looks great for e-commerce, but not much else, right? Not quite! In this post, we’re going to take you through the experience of creating a Facebook Carousel ad, and discuss some ways you can leverage Carousel ads for a variety of marketing objectives.

Let’s slide right into it!

What Are Facebook Carousel Ads?

Facebook Carousel is an interactive ad format which allows you to display up to 10 images or videos on “cards” within a single ad. Carousels are effective not only because they encourage prospects to interact with your ad, but because they just flat out allow you more room for products or portions of your brand story. They’re a favorite among e-commerce advertisers for precisely that reason.

Facebook Carousel Ads One Product

Here, you’ll notice that the advertiser chose to use cards to highlight specific parts of one product, and that the bottom of each card has its own unique description. This brings us to a remarkably powerful feature of Facebook Carousel ads—the potential for several different calls-to-action, beneath several different products, leading to several different landing pages. That’s flexibility you just don’t get in any other ad format. Ostensibly, if you have 10 unique cards, that’s 10 unique chances for a prospect to interact with your brand.

Another statistic, this one unique to Carousels: according to Facebook, advertisers have seen Carousel ads drive 30-50% lower cost-per-conversions and 20-30% lower cost-per-clicks than single-image link ads. That’s a lot of bang for your buck in exchange for a little more creative.

Facebook Carousel Ad Sizing and Specs

Given the multi-faceted nature of the Carousel format, it’s important to get sizing and specs down before you get into the creation process. Here are some specs you should keep in mind:

  • Image/Thumbnail size: 1,080 x 1,080 pixels
  • Image/Video aspect ratio: 1:1 (square)
  • Text: 125 characters
  • Headline: 40 characters
  • Link description: 20 characters
  • Number of cards: 2-10
  • Image file size: 30MB max
  • Video file size: 4GB max
  • Video length: Up to 240 minutes

Sticking to these specs will ensure you don’t hit any snags in the creation, delivery, or presentation of your ads.

How to Make a Facebook Carousel Ad

To make a Facebook Carousel Ad, head into Ads Manager and select a marketing objective which supports the Carousel format—reach, brand awareness, traffic, app installs, lead generation, conversions, or catalog sales.

Create your ad set, select the Carousel format, and you’re ready to rock and roll. Here’s what you’ll see when you’re ready to create your Carousel ad.

Facebook Carousel Ads Product 1

1. The text here should be overarching, and should encompass every card of your Carousel. If you’re selling one product, say something about that product. If you’re selling a line of products, say something about the line.

2. This feature is only available for News Feed and Instagram ads. Use it if the order of your cards isn’t integral to the story you’re trying to tell. If you’re simply showcasing multiple products, displaying the best-performing card first will pay dividends.

3. While Facebook Carousel ads aren’t supported for the Store Visits objective, you do have the option here of displaying a map to augment local ads. Take this example:

Facebook Carousel Ads Location

4. Your cards. You can drag and drop to rearrange the order of your cards before or after you create them.

Facebook Carousel Ads Cards

Select either video or image creative, then input a headline and (more granular) description beneath it.

Facebook Carousel Ads CTA

Continue to scroll and you’ll see the option to select individual call-to-action buttons for each card—or, if you prefer a cleaner look, to get ride of CTA buttons altogether. The “add an overlay” field allows you to place either a “Free Shipping” or “Cash on Delivery” mini-banner over your card—both of which, conceivably, could make converting a lot more appealing to prospects.

Facebook Carousel Ad Examples

Facebook Carousel Ads Examples

The rumors are true: there lives within Facebook an entire group devoted to showing off the best Carousel ads in town. It’s glorious.

If you’re ever in need of Carousel inspiration, look no further than this group. While it seems to have fallen out of widespread use in the last year or so, there’s still a massive backload of Carousel examples to explore and analyze.

Remember, there are the seven objectives for which Facebook Carousel ads are available—reach, brand awareness, traffic, app installs, lead generation, conversions, and catalog sales. Today, for the sake of economy, we’re going to tuck reach within brand awareness, catalog sales within conversions, and save app installs for a rainy day. Let’s look at Carousels that work to accomplish four common, yet unique objectives—brand awareness, traffic, lead gen, and conversions—and discuss why each is effective.

Facebook Carousel Ads for Brand Awareness

 

What says credibility like Rupert Lordchampion? From a messaging perspective, this ad is great because it melds an image of market longevity with new-age edginess—Rupert is an established guy, but he has a problem with authority, and is prone to millennial-like irreverence.

From a formatting standpoint, you can see why Carousels are effective when telling compelling brand stories (even facetious ones like this). Here, Dr. Pepper is able to squeeze in 3 different 10-15 second ad spots—all short and quippy enough to earn continued viewing—within a single Carousel. Whether you’re developing a character (as Dr. Pepper is here), or simply weaving multiple yarns of a larger story—the ability to string together expansive chunks of messaging makes Carousel ads an intriguing format with tons of possibilities.

Facebook Carousel Ads for Traffic

 

Whether you’re driving general traffic, traffic to unique pages with unique cards, or traffic to a single page with all your cards—the Carousel format makes for a solid traffic driver. For their 4-Course Feast promotion, the Red Lobster decided to separate their cards out by courses and point all of their links to one landing page. This tactic works well when displaying products that are valuable in their own right, but best considered in concert—say, a real estate agency showing off multiple rooms of a home listing.

When you’re crafting traffic-driving Carousels, think about the journeys your customers have realistically taken/will take to purchase your products. You have 10 unique cards to flesh out that journey. Think about your customers’ pain points, and how your unique value proposition helps assuage those points. Tell a story.

Facebook Carousel Ads for Lead Gen

Facebook Carousel Ads Leads

Facebook Lead Ads are the crown jewel of paid social lead generation—and for good reason. They’re cheap, they’re effective, and because your lead forms load directly within Facebook (as opposed to on an external landing page), they’re super fast. Well, Carousel gives you all of that functionality within the Carousel format. Read: more chances to generate coveted leads for your business.

Now, unfortunately, you can’t set up unique lead forms to open in within unique cards. If you wanted to leverage your Facebook Carousel ad to accrue unique leads, you’d have to link to unique external landing pages. Instead, the purpose of utilizing Lead ads in your Carousel is to bulk up your creative.

In the above ad, for instance, Connectio uses three different images with three unique headlines—appealing to three different segments of their prospect base—in attempt to gather names and emails. Their descriptive text is broad enough to encompass and appeal to all three segments. The prospect need merely click any card to enter his information, at which point he is immediately taken to a “Thank You Screen” with the option to visit your website or download a guide.

Lead ads in Carousel form. Magical.

Facebook Carousel Ads for Conversions

Facebook Carousel Ads E-Commerce

At long last, the objective for which Carousel ads are seemingly tailor-made: conversions. Above, we have a Hawkers Co. Carousel ad optimized for e-commerce. Now, targeting multiple audience segments in a single ad spot is nothing novel:  

Facebook Carousel Ads Playtex

But, as I’ve been harping on, having the ability to send those segments to unique landing pages allows advertisers to cast a much broader net than they could with just a single image ad. Because you’re advertising multiple products to multiple segments, you can be a little intentionally cavalier with your audience targeting. Hawkers Co. leverages that functionality to send prospects to product pages containing the same pair of sunglasses with different sets of lenses.

You’ll also notice the cross-card “blending” of creative imagery—the same tactic Target used in my first example. Blending your cards is a creative way to turn your Carousel into a graceful panoramic, and give prospects a holistic look at your product or story.

Some Thoughts…

If selling products online is your game, don’t hesitate—Facebook Carousel ads are an ideal medium to showcase multiple products to multiple segments of your prospect pool. Still, don’t sleep on Carousels just because you’re running an awareness, traffic, or lead gen campaign. Compelling visual storytelling, in some form or another, has become nearly a prerequisite for Facebook users making their way through purchase funnels. In that regard, Facebook Carousel ads have become an effective tool for a diverse array of campaign types.

Gordon Donnelly

Gordon Donnelly

Gordon Donnelly is a college hockey washout turned SEO & content marketer. He"s a sucker for: fly fishing, mudslides, and Jim Morrison driving around aimlessly in the desert.

Backlink Blindspots: The State of Robots.txt

Posted by rjonesx.

Here at Moz we have committed to making Link Explorer as similar to Google as possible, specifically in the way we crawl the web. I have discussed in previous articles some metrics we use to ascertain that performance, but today I wanted to spend a little bit of time talking about the impact of robots.txt and crawling the web.

Most of you are familiar with robots.txt as the method by which webmasters can direct Google and other bots to visit only certain pages on the site. Webmasters can be selective, allowing certain bots to visit some pages while denying other bots access to the same. This presents a problem for companies like Moz, Majestic, and Ahrefs: we try to crawl the web like Google, but certain websites deny access to our bots while allowing that access to Googlebot. So, why exactly does this matter?

Why does it matter?

Graph showing how crawlers hop from one link to another

As we crawl the web, if a bot encounters a robots.txt file, they"re blocked from crawling specific content. We can see the links that point to the site, but we"re blind regarding the content of the site itself. We can"t see the outbound links from that site. This leads to an immediate deficiency in the link graph, at least in terms of being similar to Google (if Googlebot is not similarly blocked).

But that isn"t the only issue. There is a cascading failure caused by bots being blocked by robots.txt in the form of crawl prioritization. As a bot crawls the web, it discovers links and has to prioritize which links to crawl next. Let"s say Google finds 100 links and prioritizes the top 50 to crawl. However, a different bot finds those same 100 links, but is blocked by robots.txt from crawling 10 of the top 50 pages. Instead, they"re forced to crawl around those, making them choose a different 50 pages to crawl. This different set of crawled pages will return, of course, a different set of links. In this next round of crawling, Google will not only have a different set they"re allowed to crawl, the set itself will differ because they crawled different pages in the first place.

Long story short, much like the proverbial butterfly that flaps its wings eventually leading to a hurricane, small changes in robots.txt which prevent some bots and allow others ultimately leads to very different results compared to what Google actually sees.

So, how are we doing?

You know I wasn"t going to leave you hanging. Let"s do some research. Let"s analyze the top 1,000,000 websites on the Internet according to Quantcast and determine which bots are blocked, how frequently, and what impact that might have.

Methodology

The methodology is fairly straightforward.

  1. Download the Quantcast Top Million
  2. Download the robots.txt if available from all top million sites
  3. Parse the robots.txt to determine whether the home page and other pages are available
  4. Collect link data related to blocked sites
  5. Collect total pages on-site related to blocked sites.
  6. Report the differences among crawlers.

Total sites blocked

The first and easiest metric to report is the number of sites which block individual crawlers (Moz, Majestic, Ahrefs) while allowing Google. Most site that block one of the major SEO crawlers block them all. They simply formulate robots.txt to allow major search engines while blocking other bot traffic. Lower is better.

Bar graph showing number of sites blocking each SEO tool in robots.txt

Of the sites analyzed, 27,123 blocked MJ12Bot (Majestic), 32,982 blocked Ahrefs, and 25,427 blocked Moz. This means that among the major industry crawlers, Moz is the least likely to be turned away from a site that allows Googlebot. But what does this really mean?

Total RLDs blocked

As discussed previously, one big issue with disparate robots.txt entries is that it stops the flow of PageRank. If Google can see a site, they can pass link equity from referring domains through the site"s outbound domains on to other sites. If a site is blocked by robots.txt, it"s as though the outbound lanes of traffic on all the roads going into the site are blocked. By counting all the inbound lanes of traffic, we can get an idea of the total impact on the link graph. Lower is better.

According to our research, Majestic ran into dead ends on 17,787,118 referring domains, Ahrefs on 20,072,690 and Moz on 16,598,365. Once again, Moz"s robots.txt profile was most similar to that of Google"s. But referring domains isn"t the only issue with which we should be concerned.

Total pages blocked

Most pages on the web only have internal links. Google isn"t interested in creating a link graph — they"re interested in creating a search engine. Thus, a bot designed to act like Google needs to be just as concerned about pages that only receive internal links as they are those that receive external links. Another metric we can measure is the total number of pages that are blocked by using Google"s site: query to estimate the number of pages Google has access to that a different crawler does not. So, how do the competing industry crawlers perform? Lower is better.

Once again, Moz shines on this metric. It"s not just that Moz is blocked by fewer sites— Moz is blocked by less important and smaller sites. Majestic misses the opportunity to crawl 675,381,982 pages, Ahrefs misses 732,871,714 and Moz misses 658,015,885. There"s almost an 80 million-page difference between Ahrefs and Moz just in the top million sites on the web.

Unique sites blocked

Most of the robots.txt disallows facing Moz, Majestic, and Ahrefs are simply blanket blocks of all bots that don"t represent major search engines. However, we can isolate the times when specific bots are named deliberately for exclusion while competitors remain. For example, how many times is Moz blocked while Ahrefs and Majestic are allowed? Which bot is singled out the most? Lower is better.

Ahrefs is singled out by 1201 sites, Majestic by 7152 and Moz by 904. It is understandable that Majestic has been singled out, given that they have been operating a very large link index for many years, a decade or more. It took Moz 10 years to accumulate 904 individual robots.txt blocks, and took Ahrefs 7 years to accumulate 1204. But let me give some examples of why this is important.

If you care about links from name.com, hypermart.net, or eclipse.org, you can"t rely solely on Majestic.

If you care about links from popsugar.com, dict.cc, or bookcrossing.com, you can"t rely solely on Moz.

If you care about links from dailymail.co.uk, patch.com, or getty.edu, you can"t rely solely on Ahrefs.

And regardless of what you do or which provider you use, you can"t links from yelp.com, who.int, or findarticles.com.

Conclusions

While Moz"s crawler DotBot clearly enjoys the closest robots.txt profile to Google among the three major link indexes, there"s still a lot of work to be done. We work very hard on crawler politeness to ensure that we"re not a burden to webmasters, which allows us to crawl the web in a manner more like Google. We will continue to work more to improve our performance across the web and bring to you the best backlink index possible.

Thanks to Dejan SEO for the beautiful link graph used in the header image and Mapt for the initial image used in the diagrams.


Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don"t have time to hunt down but want to read!

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Could the Breadcrumb Technique Help Boost Your Landing Page Conversions?

We’ve all heard the term “less is more”. And we’ve been told this applies for landing pages too. I.e. your forms should be short and only ask for only the bare minimum of required information if you want to convert.

However, when used across the board, this advice can backfire.

As an example, one of the main questions someone typically has when faced with a landing page is is how much your offer will cost. But if the offer on your landing page is for a free quote, you can’t necessarily disclose pricing on the page. When there’s no pricing, but instead a form requiring a name, phone number, and email, the visitor knows:

  • They’re going to need to talk to someone to get an answer to their question (they’re well aware you can’t give a customized quote from such limited info), plus, prospects are very reluctant to give their information out to just anyone.
  • They can click the back button and find a competitor that will give them what they want faster.

So why would we expect a form with super generic fields to be compelling enough for someone to engage with us in all cases?

As we’ve found at our agency KlientBoost, by increasing the amount of steps and the amount of form fields, we could actually increase conversion rates. The key here for us has been the order in which we present our steps and what info we ask for first.

Can more form fields really increase conversions?

As you may know, adding form fields goes against everything we’ve typically been advised to do:

You can find the sources for the above here, here, and here.

And while there are certainly cases in which fewer form fields are best, we’ve found adding more of the right form fields in progression can help ease conversion anxiety. When done correctly, it can take your free quote/lead generation landing pages to the next level.

At our agency we call our multi-step form approach the Breadcrumb Technique – think Hansel and Gretel where the breadcrumbs lead them in the right direction.

Experimenting with the Breadcrumb Technique

This is the landing page version of the sales technique called the “Yes Ladder”. It’s the art of eventually getting to what you want (the conversion) as a marketer, by getting visitors to say yes to much smaller requests first.

Click above to see a larger image of our landing page form flow. As each step progresses, the questions become more personal in nature.

Instead of having one page and one form to capture leads, you spread the form fields across two or more steps. So potential leads that visit the first page via your ads will fill in a short form and, after clicking the CTA button, they’re directed to the next step.

The first step starts with the least personal questions that allow the visitor to stay anonymous, whereas the second (and possible additional steps) ask for more, (albeit) reasonable, personal information. Here’s an example from one of our clients ZipLending. Their landing page offers a quote for rates on mortgages:

Notice the questions being asked in the step one form:

  • What kind of property are you considering?
  • What is your estimated credit score?
  • What is your desired loan amount?

All fairly low threat questions that allow the prospect to stay anonymous but feel like they’re going to get a quality answer they’re looking for, tailored to them.

Next, they’re directed to the second step form fields:

This step asks for more personal information, but logically reminds the prospect we need this information to send custom rates their way.

And while I can’t share the nitty gritty numbers of this test, I can share some high-level results. After the multi-step changes were made in the form above, we were able to bring in 35 more leads for ZipLending from March 2017 to May 2017. The client also noticed they were really high quality leads because of the qualifying questions we had included in our first step.

When we experimented with a multi-step form for another client, Garza Law, we were able to steadily increase the number of leads, bringing in 66 more in March 2018 than in December 2017, for example. Here’s a look at that:

Depending on the industry you’re working with and the typical value of a lead, 35-66 more leads in a given month can be a huge upgrade for a client and it’s why we’re thrilled to be able to deliver this via the multi-step form approach.

Why the BreadCrumb Technique is a cool experiment

If you want to try this with your landing pages, on the first step form, you set up questions pertinent to what the prospect might ask had they called you on the phone. This establishes the custom nature of what they will receive in return.

In the particular example we’ve outlined above, the visitor is interested in getting a no-obligation quote. So surely we’d need certain information on what they’re looking for to be helpful, and because the prospect understands this they’re more willing to participate for the perceived, increased value.

Replacing highly personal, red-flag-raising questions in the first step with questions that help the prospect hone in on exactly what they’re looking for will not only grow your conversions, but often improves lead quality as well.

Additionally, on the ZipLending page, notice the the headline changes between step one and two to let people know that they’re not yet finished with the process.


The “get rates” CTA button text also changes to “send rates”.
If the language does not differ from your step one to step two, this could cause a drop in conversions as people may think the form just refreshed and they’re done with the process.

Remember: all your landing page forms need to be GDPR compliant by May 25, 2018 (featuring privacy policies and opt-in checkboxes). Learn how to make your landing pages compliant by design here.

The psychology backing up this technique

After filling out the initial questions in step one, the last step of filling out the more sensitive fields like name, email, phone number becomes much easier because of compliance psychology.

Dr. Robert Cialdini said it best:

“Once we’ve made a choice, we will encounter personal and interpersonal pressures to behave consistently with that commitment.” Influence – The Psychology of Persuasion

In other words, once you commit to small things, you’re more likely to continue onto bigger commitments aligned with your initial decision.

Scott Fraser and Jonathan Freedman also conducted research on how to get people to say yes. They went door to door asking people to put up a sign that read: “Drive Carefully” in their front yard, but only 20% of people agreed to this.

They then did the same test in a nearby neighborhood, but this time they asked people to put much smaller signs in their yard. This created the opportunity to get them to eventually say yes to putting up the original, larger signs.

Next time around, 76% people agreed to put up the larger signs compared to the original 20%. Psychology baby!

Following the multi-step model designed to ease visitors into a commitment, here’s another successful built-in-Unbounce landing page example from one of our clients:

The first step

The first form step asks about what the prospect needs.

The second step

The second step, reminding the prospect that what they want is almost ready to go.
Notice how the first step asks for make, model, and year of the car. In this first step, make sure to ask questions that are super easy for the visitor to answer, but also strongly relate to your offer.

Successful multi-step forms weren’t a one-time thing for us

What’s cool is that this multi-step landing page technique has worked for us at KlientBoost several times for different clients.

Below you can see our client Mention’s Unbounce landing page offering their free demo, Auto Buyer’s landing page for their offer on your vehicle, and Watchex’s estimate for purchasing your Rolex. These campaigns all followed the same breadcrumb technique:

Client example: Mention.
Another client example: Auto Buyer’s.
Another client example: Watchex.

Progress bars can help light the way

When it comes to multi-step landing pages, something to consider testing is adding a progress bar, or a step wizard. This is especially handy when you have more than two steps, like the following example:

Step 1 says 0% complete.
Step 2 let’s the user know that this is the last step before completion.

The wizard signals to people just how much they will need to fill out, which can help ease any uncertainty about how much information is required.

In our experience, we’ve found it works best to include the wizard starting on the second step form fields and not the first. Visitors are more likely to continue through the whole process if they start the process, as per compliance psychology.

How do you try out The Breadcrumb Technique on your Unbounce landing pages?

It’s easy! Instead of having your usual one-step form, head to your form confirmation dialog and make your first-step’s form destination direct to the url of your second step (See below).

When you select the form in the Unbounce builder, you will see options on the right of where the form confirmation goes. Under confirmation, select “Go to URL”, then paste in the url of the second step form, and make sure that the “Append form data to URL” is checked.

For the second step of the form, you must make sure a very crucial step is completed, otherwise the information from your first step will not pass over and you will not receive a full lead. See below:

You will need to create hidden fields with the same field IDs of the form fields on your first step. If they don’t match, the information will not pass over. As long as you have all fields from the first step as hidden fields on the second step, you should be just fine.

Now that your first and second step are linked together correctly, you can continue with your regularly scheduled programming of sending the second step form to your form confirmation dialog (or a thank you page). All done!

Unbounce has an easy multi-step function

There’s always more than one way to do something! Although this requires some development work, Noah Matsell from Unbounce has some helpful tips on creating multi-step forms within the same page/url. This means you won’t need to paste in the second form url as the destination of your first form.

Note that this workaround allows you to create a form with one field per step, so this may not work for those who would like to have several form fields appear in a given step, however you can test out what works for you.

To create these multi-step forms on the same page:


Step 1.
Create your form in Unbounce.

Step 2.
Create a new button element for your ‘Next’ button and one for your ‘Previous’ button. Keep in mind when positioning these buttons (and your form submission button) that only one field will be shown at a time.

Step 3.
Copy the JS from ‘multistep_form.js’ and paste it into the Javascripts section of your page with placement ‘Before Body End Tag’.

Step 4.
Update the script with the ID of your ‘Previous’ and ‘Next’ button elements. Tip: Make sure you exclude the ‘#’ in the ID.

Step 5.
Copy the CSS from ‘multistep_form.css’ and paste it into the Stylesheets section of your page.

That’s it! See the whole process and the required code here.

Test out the technique on your next landing page

It might take a bit of practice to figure out the correct questions to be asking on your first step, or to find out the type of language to use on your form; but that’s what conversion rate optimization is all about: testing and trying new things to see what sticks. Ask the questions your visitors want answers to, and ask the questions your sales people need answers to to give a prospect a more personal answer.

If you give this a try, we would love to hear about your experience with a comment below.

Remember, all your forms (multi-step or otherwise) need to be GDPR compliant by May 25, 2018. See how to make your landing pages compliant by design and allow a visitor to opt-in here.
Unbounce

8 Steps to Kick Off an Ultra Powerful Link Building Campaign

We can already see a convergence between digital marketers, SEOs and webmasters. Although they all have their own tasks and responsibilities, at some point all of their work will revolve, more or less, around the concept of link building. This is the topic that we’re going to talk about in today’s article.

 

While link building, alongside content, might have a bad name in the industry it still is the number one signal Google looks at when deciding to rank a website. There are countless guides, tips and “top five ways to build links” articles out there, but we’d like to take a deep dive into the technical part to approach this subject. We want to make sure that when you get into the link building process, you do it the right way, since we all know what happens when you get bad and harmful links pointing to your website.

 

How to Kick off an Ultra Powerful Link Building Campaign in 2018

 

It’s crucial you follow tested guidelines and link building tactics when planning the link building process. So, here they are, 8 steps for doing proper link building in 2018.

 

  1. Step 1. Preparation 
    1. Agree Upon Concepts, Budgets and Reporting Metrics
  2. Step 2. Strategy
    1. Develop Context for Your Link Building Strategy
    2. Create a Content Marketing Strategy
  3. Step 3. Quick Wins
    1. Take Advantage of Broken Link Building
    2. Practice Internal Link Building
    3. Turn Mentions into Links
  4. Step 4. Content
    1. Craft Content for Influencers and Existing Customers
    2. Integrate Online and Offline Campaigns
    3. Create a Variety of Content *Types*
    4. Build Surveys
    5. Initiate User-Generated Content
    6. Create ‘How-to’ Videos
    7. Make Quality Images Available Under CC License
    8. Use Blog Reviews
    9. Re-purpose Existing Content
    10. Consider Every Possible Idea
  5. Step 5. Prospects
    1. Prioritize Link Prospects that Can Deliver Traffic, As Well As SEO Benefits
    2. Perform Competitor Research
    3. Look for Expired Domains in Your Industry
  6. Step 6. Networking
    1. Engage with your customers and with the influencers
    2. Establish an Online PR Mindset
    3. Become an Industry Expert
    4. Offer Giveaways, Contests and Special Offers
  7. Step 7. Promotion
    1. Promote to Your Customer List
    2. Promote to Your Prospect List
  8. Step 8. Report & Debrief

 

We’re now in 2018 and the times when you were hunting for links for the sole purpose of ranking higher in the SERPs are long dead.  Yes, it’s totally OK to want links, shares, and mentions as a result of something worthy you did, something real that people found to be worth sharing. The higher ranks in the search engines and driving traffic will come as a result of this, the algorithms are already advanced enough to notice when people are speaking about you. And the more people are speaking about you, and the more influential those people are, the better the results. 

 

Before starting a successful link building process, you need first to know the rules, the lines that you shouldn’t cross, which basically translates to “What can I do in order to avoid Google Penalties?”. Whatever your goals for the link building efforts may be, you must stick to the guidelines in order not to shoot yourself in the foot with your actions. Let’s take a look briefly.

 

Manual Penalties

 

The first type of penalty you want to avoid is Google’s manual penalty. As the name suggests, this kind of penalty refers to actions taken by Google employees who personally go through your website, review it and penalize it. You will encounter this situation if Google believes that you may have deployed some shady tactics in your link building actions. Dealing with this kind of penalties takes a lot of work but it can be done. Our advice would be to stay clear of any shady tactic and read up on the guidelines.

 

Algorithmic Penalties

 

The second type of penalties are the algorithmic ones. These are the penalties received from the Penguin or the Panda updates and, as the name suggests, they are automatically applied to your website if the Googlebot detects an unhealthy link profile, duplicated content on the pages and other shady behavior on your website. Google is constantly updating the algorithms in order to minimize the involvement of human reviewers.

 

The biggest difference between these two types of warnings is that you will not receive any message or email from Google when your site is affected by an algorithmic penalty. You’ll just see your rankings drop into the void. There are also ways to recover from a Penguin penalty, but again it takes time and effort so we suggest you should avoid any shady action in your link building process.

 

Main Guiding Principles

 

Before we get into the action, let’s go over some guiding principles that we’re going to pay attention to when starting the link building process.

Never get unnatural links. Always aim for earning good, natural and high-quality links.

Let’s go through an example by using the cognitiveSEO tool to check the aftermath of a backlink profile. Remember that this is not one of those link building tools that guarantee 10 high quality links in one day. What the cognitiveSEO tool does is to automatically classify the links you’ve alreadygained into three separate categories: unnatural link/black hat link (the ones that will draw the wrath of Google), suspicious link (the ones that may raise a few flags) and OK link/ white hat link (the good ones).

 

Lots of good links

 

Above you have a somewhat good link profile. The vast majority of links (87%) are awesome, but still, there are some bad ones. The thing to get from this link profile is the fact that if you have this many good links, you can get away with a couple of shady links. If you find yourself in the situation above, with a lot of good links, you shouldn’t worry about those grey/suspicious ones (though you should check each one of them to make sure they are not actually unnatural). You should still get rid of the unnatural links since they may bring penalties, no matter what percentage of unnatural links you have.

 

Lots of unnatural links

 

Now the example above is what you don’t want to see after you’ve done some link building. In this situation, all your efforts have been in vain and you just gave yourself a lot of work to remove the links you have gained. You should pay close attention to unnatural links, especially in the early stages when you have few overall links.

Always Look at the “Brand” value first. Ranking value is a by-product when you talk about the acquisition of a link! Don’t Make “Rich” Anchor Text Links!

What we suggest when starting a link building campaign is to focus more on the brand terms and not on commercial terms. 

 

Anchor text cognitiveSEO

 

Even if you want to rank for that keyword, it’s best to have your brand’s name in the anchor text. We’re not saying that you shouldn’t get any keyword rich anchor text, but keep track of the balance between brand anchors and commercial anchors. If you have the majority of anchors pointing to your website in commercial terms, it could very well raise some red flags at Google and “decrease” that links’ quality.

 

We know what you’re trying to do with link building, you know it and you can be sure Google knows SEOs are trying to influence its search engine. Building links should be natural, a reward for great content or a great product, not some guy spamming comments to various websites. Keep that in mind when starting such a process, don’t make links that are clearly unnatural, “build” them as if people found value in what you do and want to spread the word.

 

When calculating risk, you weigh-in the benefits vs. the harm. Well, in this case, let us be as clear as we can be, the harm of building low quality, unnatural links is immensely bigger than the reward. Not to mention the fact that Google’s algorithms get better each day. Google is a pattern recognition machine, so don’t leave a pattern in your links that match spam sites. Get only small amounts of links from easy-to-build neighborhoods.

Less manual link building!

Don’t go around asking for links to your business. Even though it could be a great one, and even if you know links are an important rank factor, people are less likely to link back to you if you do that. Instead do cool things, write great content and people will share that. Present your own product to potential link building prospects, ask for reviews and if they find it ok or not, they might link back to you.

Always monitor your links!

If that product review gets a link, and Google might see it as unnatural, then ask the reviewer to include a nofollow tag on it. By monitoring your links you can notice if you get a wave of bad links that could indicate that you are the target of a negative SEO attack. By noticing it, you can easily disavow those links and rid yourself of a potential Google penalty.

Target links from sites and articles relevant to yours. The same semantic category of content means a lot nowadays.

When you’re running some SEO audits, you will surely agree with us that it’s rather shady if you’re in a US car insurance business and the majority of your backlinks come from a cooking magazine, from Sweden. Those links are toxic. Now, even if you bought some advertising space on that magazine, those links don’t help you all and they may even raise some flags over at Google and may get you penalized in the future. Within your online marketing campaigns, when building links, focus mainly on your business, and build links in the country that you are targeting.

 

Step 1. Preparation 

 

So we went over the guiding principles of link building and now it’s time to get to business. And that word, business, is exactly how companies should view link building.

The link building process is not something that some guy over in IT can easily do once a month.

It has to be well thought out and the campaign needs sound business practices, including budgeting, good relationships between all the people and departments involved and agreed monitoring metrics in place before the process starts.

 

1.1 Agree Upon Concepts, Budgets and Reporting Metrics

 

The main idea you should get from the first step in the link building process is what your client does, what your business wants. As an SEO, you need to sit down with your client, boss or colleague and go over the definitions of what a link represents if the social mentions and discussions can be counted toward links. Get to know all that and make your client understand the concepts that you’ll be working with.

 

After going through the concepts and the budget, the next step is to go over the metrics that will measure the success of your link building campaign. Define these metrics together with the client and agree on what you’ll report on, be it ranking improvements, number of links/referring domains, social visibility and so on.

 

Step 2. Strategy

 

So, you’ve agreed on the metrics and the budget with your client: it’s time to start planning and strategize the next steps. And just as the greatest strategist wrote: “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat”, in order to achieve success you need a well-established plan with a list of tactics.

That plan should be placed within the context of the owning company’s goals and any historical and existing marketing and sales strategies.

 

2.1 Build Context for Your Link Building Strategy

 

Before going on with the strategy, you need first to understand the context. Context is very different for each company, for each industry and market. You will need to have answers for all of the following questions:

  1. What is the brand?
  2. What are you selling?
  3. Who’s it being sold to? What do they love and hate?
  4. Are there personas to represent target audiences?
  5. What are the big world goals of the company?
  6. How important is the website to those goals?
  7. What are the expectations of link building?
  8. Who are the decision makers?
  9. What’s the history of this company’s link building – what has/hasn’t worked, and why?
  10. Does the site have an existing Google penalty for bad links? If so, fix first.
  11. Do you know the company’s editorial calendar (online and offline)?
  12. What stakeholders do you need to work with (ie. other departments)?
  13. Find out what you need to know about internal company politics.

Only after you’ve answered all these questions you may proceed to building the strategy.

 

2.2 Create a Content Marketing Strategy

 

Make your content marketing strategy as in-depth as possible. This is the only way to ensure that when executing it, you won’t waste time on details such as “Who am I writing for”, “What do I want the reader to do after finishing my article”. You strategy should include:

  • the topics to tackle
  • the headlines for each article
  • the frequency of posting
  • the length of the articles
  • the articles schedule
  • inspiration and research sources
  • call to action for each article

After you’ve finished the overall strategy, it is time to move on to the tactics. We advise you use a broad range of tactics to achieve your strategic goals.

 

Step 3. Quick Wins

 

The next step in the link building process is the “quick wins”. These refer to quick and easy fixes to your website that can bring in a lot of results.

 

3.1 Take Advantage of Broken Link Building

 

The first quick win tactic is fixing the broken links on your website. To find out exactly which links have 404’s, you can use Site Explorer. Follow these steps:

 

Microsoft Broken Pages SiteExplorer cognitiveSEO

 

As you can see, having broken pages might mean losing a lot of traffic, rankings and link juice. You can also see the type of error by looking at the status code. In our case, we have only HTTP 404 (not found).  

 

You’re now presented with a list of all of the 404 errors that Google crawlers have found on your site. The next step of this quick win is to add 301 redirects from these 404 error pages to pages that you wish your visitors to go to. To see exactly who is linking to the broken pages you can use the cognitiveSEO tool and check each of the broken 404 pages.

 

Filters for 404 error pages

 

Now that you’ve found who is linking to your broken 404 pages, you can even send a message to the webmasters to fix their link and have them link wherever you wish. This is a great advantage for you, but also for the owner of the webmaster who has broken links. Usually, they don’t even know about this situation and offering to fix this issue and replace their broken links with new ones should be hard to refuse.

 

3.2 Practice Internal Link Building

 

Optimizing your own website is the key here. Make sure you review all the pages from your website and make sure that from each one you can get to any page which has a similar and related subject. You can use here relevant anchor text to link to the pages that can provide value to a user who’s on one of these pages. What we mean here is to keep the user behavior in mind and try to place links to any page on your website that users might be particularly interested in.

If your users see you as a Hub of Quality Content, the Search Engines will follow.

It doesn’t really matter if you are linking up and down or even across the site’s hierarchy. Make sure related and relevant pages are inter-linked and if your site is big enough to be organized into categories, a separate menu for each of them might help you out. Should you have a smaller website, linking from content can also provide great help to both the user and the search engine.

 

Remember that wherever the pages are in your site’s hierarchy, you’ll need to present your most important pages on your home page. Take a look at how Tripadvisor does this on the image below:

Internal Links on Tripadvisor

 

As you can see from Tripadvisor’s home page, you’re able to quickly access its most important pages. By linking them this way, lots of link power from your homepage is transferred to the deep pages of your website.

 

3.3 Turn Mentions into Links

 

Another quick and easy win to gain some great links is to be on the lookout for your brand mentions on the internet. BrandMentions can help you perform a quick search for your brand and analyze what you get. The tool has a special feature that will let yo identify those 

 

BrandMentions unlinked mentions

 

Check out each site from the Web category and each post from the Social category to see if they point back to you. If they don’t point back to you, convert those mentions into links. Just go ahead and contact the webmaster or the author of the articles that mention your brand and ask them nicely to add a link to one of the mentions of your brand. There is a high chance that they will do since they are already interested in your product or business to talk about.

 

Concert Brand Mentions into Links

 

Brand Mentions offers you the possibility to track your brand name, topics from your niche or anything you might be thinking of.  Patiently wait for notifications when you’ve got a new mention and, if it’s the case, transform that into a link. 

 

Step 4. Content

 

Now that we went through the quick and easy gains of link building, it’s time to get to the hard stuff. The content in itself is where most of your focus should be directed to.

 

4.1 Craft Content for Influencers and Existing Customers

 

Links can be gained from both influencers as well as from your existing customers. If you make evergreen content, we assure you that there is a higher chance they will share it and even link to it. They are one of the targets of your content marketing strategy.

 

When you write, make sure you have the overall strategy in mind and your strategy should include valuable information for influencers and for your existing customers. 

 

That way, you can adapt your content to their preferences. Find out what makes your audience tick, so you can make sure your content contains the best baits and hooks to draw in the audience’s attention.

 

One of the simple ways to find topics that create the most emotional response is to invest time on forums, Facebook pages and read blog posts and see which kind of content gets the most traction. Let us give you an example and let’s say that you’re targeting Chelsea FC fans. You go to one of their unofficial forums and take a look at what gets the most attention (now write about Jose Murinho and Eden Hazard).

 

Popular Topics for Your Audience

 

This example says it all. You go in, check for what’s “hot” with your audience and immediately start producing content that will be of interest. If your content and opinions are great, you will probably be receiving links from them.

 

cognitiveSEO offers you the possibility to spy on your competitors and see their most shared content on social media to get inspiration for topic ideas. 

 

Social Visibility Module Competition

 

Directly from the tool, you can spot content marketing insights from your competitors and some content ideas that might work in your niche and audit your content through the power of social shares.

 

4.2 Integrate Online and Offline Campaigns

 

Make sure you build online hubs for every offline campaign. Especially in the case of events, where many people are invited, gathering them in an online hub on your website or on a social media site could provide some great linking opportunities. If you heavily promote the campaign in the online world, make contests and start engaging users, they will link to it and you’ll build some great natural links that way.

 

4.3 Create a Variety of Content *Types*

Content doesn’t refer only to blog articles.

Sure, they are the backbone of a well-structured content marketing strategy but there are so many ways to do it. Surprise your audience once in a while and produce an infographic. This type of content gets often shared, and it can be easily linked back to your business. Or better yet, start writing e-books for your audience.

Depending on the industry you’re in, make sure you take in consideration video content, too.

It has such a great potential in almost any market. Even though it is more expensive to produce, it could provide amazing results.

Make sure you don’t get stuck with blog content as a content marketing strategy. Start to include ebooks, webinars, press releases, podcasts and video content in your content strategy, too.

 

4.4 Build Surveys

We’ve even talked about surveys on our blog a while ago. They are a great way to get tons of ideas, better understand your users and get tons of data from them. You can create surveys super fast with tools such as Survey Monkey or services as Reserchnow. Emphatic or unexpected survey answers can inspire interesting articles that are worth promoting to “big media” publishers (such as infographics).

 

Let’s take the Forza supplements survey as an example.

Forza Supplements Survey on their Blog

 

They first ran a survey for research purposes on their site. Following the success of the research and the traction this is what happened:

 

Forza Supplements Survey Gets Linked and Mentioned

 

Tons of links from high authority websites pointing back to the survey. Now depending on your industry and market, make sure you’re able to produce these types of survey. If you do it well, the reward for such content is big.

 

4.5 Initiate User-Generated Content

 

Getting your users to actively engage with your brand in such a way that it makes them want to generate content for your brand is an art. It’s such a difficult thing to do that the majority of businesses simply don’t even bother to focus on it. Well, that’s not necessarily true. Let’s say that you have a small cooking website, a simple way to build up user-generated content is to make a contest and ask them to post their own recipes on your website or on social media. We find that contests work best here, they are really easy to come up with, only require resources for prizes and the community can promote the contest among themselves.

 

You can incentivize this with a giveaway if you don’t make a contest. Let’s take Starbucks for example.

 

Starbucks User Generated Content

 

From the Starbucks’ example we can learn that it doesn’t have to be some great over the top contest, but just a simple idea that doesn’t require a lot of work from the community and which yields great results and, in the end wil,l get many links.

 

Another valuable user-generated content idea is the received comments for your articles. Passing the days when comments were spammy, now you can filter them and accept only those that are relevant and weigh information. Comments can complement your articles, generate new content ideas, create relationships and bring new clients. 

 

4.6 Create ‘How-to’ Videos

 

How-to videos have always bee on the wave right. They’re somewhat easy to produce, depending on your industry, and provide great linking and social share potential.

 

To get some ideas on what to focus on let’s use the Site Explorer tool to find the most linked pages:

Find Most Linked Content on cognitiveSEO

 

Once you get the idea of what piece of written content gets a lot of traction, you can try to turn it into a “how-to” video. You already know that it can raise a lot of interest for your audience so you won’t take the risk that all the effort will go to waste.

 

Another way is to use Google’s autocomplete feature to find out what people are searching for:

 

Get Ideas from Google

 

Google provides tons of great ideas for “how-to” videos. Use the autocomplete feature from Google as seen above.

 

Create How To Videos

Take a look at diy. We can see that the most popular videos are the ones that appeared in the autocomplete feature from Google. We can’t say for sure that this is the way they get ideas for content, but for their website, it seems to work really well.

 

Looking through Google related searches is a good recommendation to get ideas for how-to videos based on the query you searched for:

 

Google related searches for how to paint a room

 

4.7 Make Quality Images Available Under CC License

 

A simple and effective way to get some links is to upload images to your company’s Flickr account and mark them available through CC license. This will get lots of links since the only requirement for using the images is linking back. Ford seems to be using this strategy really well. The company profile is filled with images, graphs, and pictures of their cars that are used in different media and are linking back to the company’s website.

 

4.8 Use Blog Reviews

 

Review great blogs and websites in your market. This will draw the attention of the big players in the industry and if your review is a positive one, in most cases they will link back to you.

 Blog Review

 

In the example above, Dailymeal made a top of the best food blogs in 2014 and posted it on its website. Now tell me which blogger doesn’t want their name to appear in such a top and which of them wouldn’t want to link back to this top in order to show how great they are.

 

  • Collaborating with Generic Influencers to Receive Product Reviews 

 

These two next content types go hand in hand. The Generic Influencers product reviews refer to giving away your product, for free, to influencers in the industry. Depending on the product and industry, they will usually write reviews about and link back to you. Influencers are looking for content that will be of interest to their user base. It’s tough to convince influencers to try your product but here is where your “sales” tactics should come in handy.

 

  • Getting Product Reviews from Experts

 

The second type of product review is getting experts to review your business on your own website. Now with this content type, you’re betting on the authority of the expert that writes the review. You’re betting that their authority will draw in the social attention that will be enough to get links from. In general, this kind of practice works best in auto industries, to get a celebrity to write a review of your product on your website will get a lot of people talking about it. You can even view it as an endorsement.

 

4.9 Re-purpose Existing Content

 

If you’ve been working on your content for some time, we’re pretty sure that you also have some old and great content that rarely sees the light of day. You can re-purpose the content in ways that it will bring additional value to your users. Creativity is always the key! Old content can be gathered up, cleaned up and promoted to your audience once again. You can easily make an e-book out of the content that has gathered over the years in your blog archive and promote it to your users.

 

Content pruning is a strategy that you could apply. We documented a comprehensive article about the topic and we also gathered some experts’ insights to find out whether it is an efficient strategy. It seems that most of them experienced some eye-catching results, such as 31% increase in organic traffic, a boost of 2,500 visitors, improved search visibility and so on.  

 

4.10 Consider Every Possible Idea

 

Always try to improve and never settle for the same ideas, even if they worked and provided great results. We all know the saying “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it”, but in today’s world, what works today might not work tomorrow. This is why you always need to be constantly up to date with every new link building technique out there.

 

Consider Every Idea

 

Even if you’ve done your research and worked in the same field for years, it’s still best to go over what’s new. There are a lot of sources out there from which you can learn, experts and people in the industry are always publishing and are trying to create conversations around the newest strategies. That way, you can make sure you’ll never be one step behind the industry and that your efforts are always up to date.

 

Step 5. Prospects

 

This part is done now. Now it’s time to move on to find the people and sites that should be outreached to in order to maximize your contents’ external linking.

 

5.1 Prioritize Link Prospects That Can Deliver Traffic and SEO Benefits

 

Always go for link prospects that have high authority and can bring in lots of traffic and SEO benefits. We’re not saying you should ignore the low authority domains but focus your efforts on the big fish. It’s likely that you’ll have to analyze the prospects with a Pro tool.

 

cognitiveSEO Link Rank

 

With a quick analysis, we can already see that this prospect is one of those “big fish”. They have a good link rank and a large number of referring domains that are pointing to the website. This is what you should be looking for. Next up is to check the link velocity:

 

Link velocity prospects

 

By studying the link velocity charts, we can tell that this site is being worked on. Once you have data about the growth potential of the website, you can add it to your outreach list. In the chart above we can see that the website has a good link growth with nothing too shady about it. Getting a link now on this website will probably be worth a lot more in the future.

 

In Site Explorer, you can perform quick researches for potentialy linked websites, where you can view the link velocity, the domain performance, the number of links and reffering domains as long as the overall rankings.

 

5.2 Perform Competitor Research

 

You’re probably already checking what your competitors are doing. So why not check where they are getting their links from?

 

Compare websites in cognitiveSEO campaigns

 

The cognitiveSEO competitive analysis allows you to benchmark your metrics to those of your competitors. But that’s not all it does. You can also check out your competitors’ links. By using the link intersection technique you’ll be able to find a lot of new link opportunities for your website.

 

View competitor

 

Once you apply the filters, you should be left with only the high authority link prospects.

 

Filtered high authority links

 

Above you have the filtered version displaying only the high authority link prospects. They are a great opportunity for your business to tackle. They are already linking to your competitors, meaning that they are somewhat interested in the business area you’re in. Once you contact them and present your product or your content, there is a high chance that they might mention you.

 

There are other ways to view your competitor’s links. For example, you can see which links you have and don’t have in common. In your SEO campaigns you can see a list of all the links your competitors have and you don’t. Those are all link opportunities. 

 

Link opportunities

 

5.3 Look for Expired Domains in Your Industry

Another way to find quality link prospects is to search for expired domains in your industry. By using the cognitiveSEO tool, you can easily track and find links that are pointing to expired domains. Next step would be to try and contact the owners of the sites in order to fix the dead link issue. You can present them with another link (to your business) and tell them that broken links are hated by both users and Google alike. You will get some links this way. Here you can read more about identifying link from dead businesses

 

 

Step 6. Networking

It’s all about building a community, a tribe around your business and market. In the age of the internet, time flies faster than in the offline world. If you are not communicating online for a week, or a month, people will forget that you even existed, so don’t let that happen.

 

6.1 Engage with Your Customers and with the Influencers

 

Social media is a great way to speak to your customers. Have your company or your client set up accounts on all the major ones and with each piece of content that you create, spread it out. Find out what works best for each social media platform and fine-tune the content for the one that works best or for the one that you wish to tackle.

 

Targeting influencers is a more in-depth topic that should be tackled separately. Basically, you need to start and nurture a relationship with them in order to be able to even start to ask them for “favors”.

 

6.2 Establish an Online PR Mindset

 

When you engage in a link building process, you’re no longer an SEO or a marketer. You’re supposed to be all of it: webmaster, SEO, marketer, copywriter, PR specialist researcher and so on. Always pay attention to the industry news and get to understand the content that they publish. Reach out directly to the journalists and editors and offer them tailored content. If the content is great and if it offers value to their audience, it will be posted. Our advice is to be persistent and polite. Following up emails with phone calls is not something that you should shy away from.

 

Make sure you research on the person you have to contact, make a friendly and polite email for outreach. We’ve tackled some techniques for cold emailing you could follow to get the attention of your recipients.

 

6.3 Become an Industry Expert

 

People need reasons to listen to you.

You can “scream” as loud as you can on the internet, but if people don’t see the reason, they won’t be bothered to look at what you’re saying.

The only way to fix that is slow: step by step become an industry expert. And, since you’re working in that industry, it will help you as much as it helps your business. So our advice is to become an expert, prove your knowledge through blog posts, user engagement, books, and guest articles. Once you reach that level, you’ll find it a lot easier to reach your audience. Eventually, others will come to you for quotes and ask for content from you, the links will also follow shortly.

Become an Industry Expert

 

HARO (Help A Reporter Out) offers a great service. You can use them in order to get on the radar for the journalists that are looking for experts in specific areas of expertise. Moreover, they could mention and quote your expertise in their own articles, getting really great and high-quality articles.

 

6.4 Offer Giveaways, Contests and Special Offers

 

Invite bloggers and other influencers to run contests and giveaways on their blogs with your top products. Everybody likes a contest and we’ve mentioned earlier that they have a lot of link potential.

 

You can use the rafflecopter platform for giveaways that require entrants to follow, like and share. With a simple giveaway, you can get links and a lot of social media attention.

 

Step 7. Promotion

 

There are lots of ways to engage in this action. You shouldn’t focus only on social media. You can opt for email campaigns, paid advertising (search and other forms), content syndication or guest posting. 

 

7.1 Promote to Your Customer List

 

Each new piece of content should get announced to your audience.

You’re not running a monologue website, you need people to talk back to you, to engage, share or challenge your ideas.

Keep an email list of your readers and regularly email your content (with their permission). Use social media to promote your content and use their groups and circles to promote it to relevant users, the users that you want to promote your business to them.

 

7.2 Promote to Your Prospect List

 

The same goes for influencers. Emails, social activity are all welcome, but for them you need to go that extra step. You need to always have a conversation going on, help them out on their articles and even meet up with them at social events.

 

Step 8. Report & Debrief

 

We’re finally at the last step of the link building process. The one in which you check if all your efforts were successful or not. Now is the time to go over the notes you initially talked about with your boss or client and study the metrics that you set out to follow.

Only by constantly monitoring metrics you can improve future campaigns.

 

Conclusion

 

It looks like 2018 has a lot to offer to digital marketers. The link building process is getting more and more creative while Google tries to reward great content with higher rankings.

 

Always keep in mind Googles’ guidelines so that you won’t shoot yourself in the foot while trying to grow your business. We advise you to creatively build natural links and to try to create lots of conversation around your business. Google is constantly upgrading its algorithms to finds the unnatural links and a penalty is the last thing you want to deal with when you try to grow your business.

 

The present article is not intended to be an ultimate guide for link building resources. It’s more of a process backed up with link building tips that might positively impact your ranks in Google. Some are more advanced link building tactics, including some technical SEO topics, but most of them are link building opportunities easy to find and implement. There are many great research tools that can help you reach your goal of having high search engine rankings, yet, remember that the greatest tools you have at hand are your own brain, your common sense, and your experience.

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