Over the years, inbound marketers have focused their attention on building links.
Whether you are a white hat, gray hat, or black hat marketer (or lightsaber-wielding Jedi), doesn’t matter. They all want links.
Because nothing impacts your rankings like a good link.
“Out of the top [50 Google search results for 15,000 keywords], a full 99.2% of all websites had at least one external link…
In other words, if you’re looking for a site that ranks well with no external links, be prepared to look for a very long time.”
– Cyrus Shepard, Can You Rank in Google Without Links? New Data Says Slim Chance
So what did I do after creating my guide on how to get influencer attention, even if you are a nobody?
Tried to build me some links!
What I did not realize is how much cross-over influencer marketing has with link-building.
Here are 3 things I’ve learned about link-building on my journey of connecting the stories of entrepreneurs together.
1. Influencer marketing is about building relationships
Back in March, I created an article on the top 100 SEO experts to follow.
I knew that in order to get the article seen, I could not simply sit on my butt and wait for the SEO Google fairy to grant me free traffic.
And I had no email list…
So, what did I do?
I emailed the influencers and let them know!
I’m not gonna lie.
Finding those emails alone took some 11 hours.
But it was definitely worth it. Like over 1,800 social shares in 3 days and 2,300+ visitors worth it.
And that was with no email list.
I say that not to impress you, but simply impress upon you the value of doing this.
Now I know you may not have the time to do something like I did.
So I’ve created a simple step-by-step guide for you to find (almost) any influencer’s email in 3 minutes or less.
My favorite tool in the list, ContentMarketer.io, was even able to find the email address of Michael Phelps, Jeff Bezos, and Kim Kardashian.
Back to my story…
From a marketing standpoint, many would consider my article a success. But there was something I felt was missing…
Connection. Interaction. Trust.
Most on that list, I haven’t interacted with much since.
But there a few that did.
And as those relationships developed, so also came some links.
How to find influencers in your niche
- Head over to Buzzsumo.com.
- Type in the topic you want to focus on.
In this example, I’ll pretend you are an organic food blogger.
- Click on “Influencers”
- Search for influential bloggers.
On the left column under filter types, remove everything aside from “bloggers” and “influencers” and hit search.
You may also find it easier to start by clicking just “influencers” and filtering out anyone who isn’t a blogger.
- Begin filtering through the sites.
See the links by the arrows? Click on those.
Pro tip: I open these in new tabs so that I can click on each link on the page (ctrl + left click or command + click)
If you notice in the picture above, Chef Brooke doesn’t have any page authority or domain authority on her blog.
Without going into all the technical details, sites are ranked how important they are on a scale of 1-100.
Clicking on Ms. Brooke’s site, we find it is blank, which explains the score.
BTW, you can snag a 14-day free trial of Buzzsumo Pro and export all the information into a spreadsheet by exporting it.
Makes things super simple.
Now, it’s a matter of learning how to add value to that person’s life.
Your first thought might be to focus solely on the top “AAA” people in your industry.
I admire those like Rand Fishkin, Dharmesh Shah, and Seth Godin who’ve made huge contributions to internet marketing as we know it.
While you can get a response from these guys (I’ve done so with all 3), doing something that really gets their attention is HARD.
I’ve found it best to work with those that are a few steps ahead of you (the A and AA players).
2. The right relationships can lead to powerful links. Here’s how…
Now that those in my industry knew about my “epic” article, I started getting some powerful links.
And there were some decent sites that linked to my site too, including from SEM Rush and Search Engine Watch.
How did I get links from power sites like those?
Shane Barker and I chatted a couple of times and gave me some guidance as a new content marketer.
I was very appreciative of it and didn’t expect anything more to come of it.
But he wrote an article on SEM Rush and linked it to my site.
Keep these 2 tips in mind
- In order for your article to be linked to, it needs to be worthy of a link.
One of the best ways I do this?
Provide actionable steps.
Some practical words of wisdom from Dan himself:
“One way to do it is through extreme utility.
What can you do to the extreme to make your content more useful?
- Can you add action steps?
- Can you add detailed images to explain things better?
- Can you have supporting documents and resources that people can use and actually apply to their own business?
- Can you give them pre-filled templates for software apps like Google apps or Trello to help them get started immediately?
Take utility to the extreme and give people every opportunity to actually take action on your content.”
This has been one of the biggest game-changers in how I blog.
- There’s never a guarantee.
Even if you provide the best article on your topic and get some of the right people to see it, there’s never a guarantee it will get a link.
The biggest challenge is making sure the right people actually see your content.
Spend some time (and perhaps even money) amplifying your content.
3. Relationships lead to other link opportunities (like this one)
A few days after the SEO article went live, I asked Adam if I could write a guest post for the Blogging Wizard.
Although he politely declined, he did refer me to two others.
One of them, “10 Tools You Need to Create a Blogging Empire” became the top 3 most shared articles in the past year.
It should be obvious.
But sometimes I forget I can build links myself with a guest post.
Naturally, that should not be your prime focus when writing an article.
It should be about delivering exceptional value to your audience.
Think about it this way:
If every link on the Internet was treated equally (in SEO terms, all dofollow links became nofollow), would you still include it?
Simply including a link won’t drive meaningful traffic to your site.
Providing value in the right context will.
Some final thoughts
There is still much for me to learn about building links and growing a blog.
But if I had to put my money on two strategies to get free traffic from Google, it would be this:
- Create quality content worth sharing.
- Build meaningful relationships with influencers.
I’m not gonna lie. There’s still much for me to learn. And it’s often felt like an uphill battle.
Want to connect with influencers in your niche?
My goal is to help internet entrepreneurs connect with experts, influencers, and linchpins so they can rapidly grow their business together.
I want to do an experiment with you:
Tell me a little about the project you are working on and, if applicable, the expert you want to connect with in the comments below.
In return, I’ll do my best to provide you simple step-by-step ways to connect and add value to them so that you can grow your blog together.
Feel free to share this with a fellow internet entrepreneur who would benefit from connecting with influential people in their niche.
My offer stands for the rest of this week. I’ll try and fit in another week if this gets crazy and we go above 50 comments.