Paddy Moogan from Distilled was next, speaking on “Myths and studies of outreach success”. For those of you who do not know, Paddy is an incredible linkbuilder and is always offering great insights on his blogs for Distilled and SEOmoz, and is an approachable guy on Twitter. Paddy’s talk was full of insights and rich tips from his time in the data, and you can tell the guy loves data and linkbuilding!
You Need A Plan
First, according to Paddy, you need to plan. You need to know what links you need. Do you need anchor text? Do you need brand links? Know your needs before starting a linkbuilding campaign.
Paddy showed a great resource for structuring your campaign. He listed three major columns: Technique required for the link, type of link needed, and the resources required (developers, client, etc). He then recommended having a 3-month plan, and you can plan along the way. For example, on the 1st of Month 1 you gather the link targets, follow them on Twitter, and start creating your linkbait. On the 1st of month 2, you begin building relationships with your contacts. On the 1st of month 3, you release your linkbait and let your link targets know.
Paddy talked about the following two tips for linkbuilding campaigns:
1) Automation and outsourcing; and
2) Scaling without being spumy.
Automation and Outsourcing
Will Critchlow told me “You can automate everything except content and relationships.” Paddy definitely adheres to this mantra. Paddy suggested finding link target URLs and filtering them using different tools, such as Influence Finder, Linkdex, SEOmoz Labs tools, and Buzzstream. These help you easily gather contact information and organize it, helping you keep track of where you are in the relationship aspect of linkbuilding.
When creating content for a linkbuilding campaign, he recommends using InfoGraphic World for infographics and infographic ideas, and oDesk for finding designers. (CHECK). Paddy also said to use TextBroker, if you want to outsource content, to get content written cheaply by professional copywriters.
Paddy gave some helpful tips on scaling without being spammy. Most linkbuilders gather URL, name, and the email address of contacts. Paddy said you need more information, such as Twitter handle and a specific page to get the link from, in order to be personal on your target level. He also suggested documenting what type of link you think you can get (SEER recently published a great blog about qualifying link prospects), and writing down a few personalized sentences for the email to your contact. Paddy does all of this within an Excel spreadsheet, which is then easy to segment and scale in order to get what you need. For example, if you need “anchor text” links for a page, filter out any non “anchor text” type contacts, and focus on those that give anchor text links. Boom.
*Good tip* Paddy and the Distilled crew use SEOmoz Pro Campaigns (boy I’d love to get into that data) to track keywords. Paddy recommends tagging keywords you are tracking with the technique being used (email, linkbait) and the person working on the campaign. Brilliant! Then you can know what techniques are working and for whom.
Back to automation. Paddy suggests automating and outsourcing the basics of linkbuilding, such as articles, directory submissions, and press releases. Focus these efforts on a few keywords, so that you can measure the effectiveness of the outsourcing. Then you have the time to spend on higher level targets and linkbait.
Guest Blogging Tips
Paddy gave some helpful tips on guest blogging as a linkbuilding tactic and how to construct your emails:
1) Pitch four ideas to your target;
2) Send a templated email to many similar bloggers, as this saves time;
3) Produce the content;
4) Send it over;
5) Follow up.
*Note* Don’t send the same article to many different bloggers. This is frowned upon and most bloggers will not accept guest posts that are also live elsewhere.
Ego Bait Tips
Paddy then gave some helpful tips on creating “egobait” to get links:
1) Find active blogs and websites;
2) Write a paragraph about each on your site in a blog post;
3) Embed a survey to create a competition, so people will link in order to get followers to vote;
4) Tell the blogger and get them to spread the word via links and social;
5) Create a badge for all participants (and maybe a special one for the winner);
6) Follow up with the bloggers (Paddy says to bug them!)
Changing Old Links
Now for a strategy to use to get old links changed:
1) Move your content from a subfolder to a subdomain
2) Use OpenSiteExplorer to find links to your content;
3) Find the contact information for the linking sites;
4) Since 301s lose some value over time, contact them to change the link target URL (and maybe anchor text) to the new location;
5) Follow up.
Paddy gave some great concluding tips, such as being honest in your outreach and using humor. He cited a time when a linkbuilder accidentally sent emails to a number of high-level targets using “Link Request” as the subject line. Paddy figured those contacts were lost forever, but to his surprise, the response rate was great! Sometimes you’ll be surprised.
Using Old Content for New Targets
Paddy also suggests producing one piece of killer content and using that as an example of the fact that you (or your client) know your industry. This can be useful to build trust with a potential linker. Don’t be afraid to use old content as linkbait!
Finally, Paddy suggested using a Twitter scraping tool to find URLs. He wrote a great post about this recently. You can build you own scraper to do this (but be careful! Many sites do not like you scraping their information), or use Friend Or Follow to find your contacts. Then use Qwerly for finding your follower’s website, or Hunch.com for other publications (such as newspapers).
Paddy was asked during Q/A if he did his emailing from the client’s domain or a different domain. Paddy said that this is something he has tested, and surprisingly, emailing from a different domain than the client’s did not hurt response rate too much.