There are a number of factors that prospective customers consider when choosing a construction firm. While word-of-mouth (WOM) and recommendations are extremely important, it can be difficult to earn that kind of traffic. To help you get there, you’ll need to take marketing into your own hands. Think – what is one of the first steps you may take when considering a major purchase? A Google search. While it may not be the final destination, the search gets consumers familiar with the product or service and the different companies providing the service/product. Having your name pop up on the first page, at a minimum, creates some brand recognition for the potential customer, leading to possible future interactions. How do you increase the likelihood of your first-page placement? Through link building.
Links are essentially how Google crawls the Internet and find new sites. With algorithms growing increasingly sophisticated and the widespread adoption of SEO practices, links are used for another reason – deciding which links should rank. The more (high-quality) websites linking to your page, the better you’ll rank. But you can’t just purchase or spam links. Google penalizes that and your rank will plummet. You need to earn links organically. Give other pages a reason to want to link to you.
On a very basic level, consider your content. If you want to optimize your content for the most possible shares, consider these forms:
- Data Visualization
- How-to Guide
- Image Gallery
You’ll want to ensure a strong content strategy, but once you know you have that, then it’s time for some link building outreach. Outreach is one of the most basic ways of gaining organic links, and crucial to understand if you ever want to get into more advanced tactics.
The Five Steps of Link Building Outreach
Actively search for and reach out to websites that can link to yours.
Step 1: Decide on the links you want to use.
Identify your assets.
What is your strength? Is it the content on your webpage? The products/services? Are you comfortable sharing these assets with a potential influencer? If not, re-evaluate your website before moving forward.
Identify the types of links you need to build.
Include links to the homepage, deep pages (products/categories), links containing the brand name, and links containing the keywords you’re targeting.
Step 2: Find link targets.
Identify your target audience.
Who will be interested in your content? Let’s take, for example, a roofing company. You wrote a guide on winter-proofing roofs and now want to get the word out. Who should you contact? Any construction or renovation blog would be a good place to start, but think of all the other sites that may want to share your guide – an insurance company, tile company; maybe even a homeowner’s association has a website and would be willing to share! Try to consider good target audiences in unexpected places.
Identify link target.
- Google: Google may be a good place to start. Look for blogger lists (“top construction blogs,” “list of construction bloggers”).
- Advanced search: Advanced search queries allow us to zero in on more specific results. As an example, using “inurl:resources” in the same search as “construction blogger” allows you to find construction blogs with resource pages. Your roofing guide could act as the perfect addition to their resources page. These make for good, easy targets.
- Twitter:Followerwonk lets you search Twitter bios. You enter a keyword to search, and can even narrow the search to number of followers and locations.
Gather link target information.
Keep track of any potential targets in an Excel spreadsheet. Include the website and any contact names and emails. You can you usually locate a contact’s email address in the header or footer of the page. Many sites also have a ‘Contact’ page with contact information.
Prioritize link targets.
When you’ve gathered a sizable list, you’ll need to decide which websites to contact first. There are several ways to prioritize contacts on the list.
- Domain metrics: PageRank and Domain Authority will tell you how strong the domain is. The stronger the domain, the higher the quality of a link from that site, which means greater impact on search engine results.
- Blogger influence: How many followers does the blogger have? You can also use Followerwonk to find the blogs with the best influence scores on Twitter.
- Likelihood of linking: Ask 3 questions. (1) Have they shared external content before? If no, they’re not very likely to link to you. (2) How relevant are they? A construction blogger is more relevant than an insurance blog. (3) Are they active? Have they posted recently (within one month)?
Step 3: Outreach
Remember, you’re contacting a real person. Write accordingly.
Focus your message.
3 questions to ask when deciding your message:
- Why should they care about you?
Going back to step 1 when you identified your assets, you need to give the target a reason to use one of your links.
- What action would you like them to take?
Clear calls-to-action make it more likely that the receiver will follow-through. Unfocused messages without a clear objective are less likely to result in action. Some potential CTA’s include: (1) sharing your content on their social networks, (2) embedding your content (infographic, videos, widgets, etc.), (3) accepting a guest post from you (where you can link back to your own blog), and (4) requesting the blogger write an opinion piece on your content.
- Do you appear genuine (i.e. not spam)?
Some tactics to appear genuine/not spammy include: (1) use their name, (2) create a good subject line, (3) mention something specific about their work, (4) use a proper email signature, (5) use a genuine email address, and (6) use your location (if relevant).
Step 4: Follow-Up
There’s a variety of reasons why someone may not have read or replied to your first email. Accordingly, follow-up is just as important as the initial email. Use an Excel sheet to keep track of who replied and who didn’t; who is linking and who is not. This will help you determine who to follow-up with and how.
Step 5: Responding to Negative Replies
Always respond to negative replies. There’s two major reasons for this: (1) responding allows you to continue the relationship (and potentially get links later on) and (2) you can ask for feedback, which will help you improve both your content and your outreach approach.
Launch a Link Building Outreach Campaign
There they are, the five steps of outreach:
- Pick your links.
- Find link targets.
- Craft a message.
- Respond to negative replies.
Using the right approach, you can be earning those links in no time; your hard-worked content will finally see the light of day.