Posted on November 27, 2012 by Kevin Getch Spread the loveIf a large part of success is who you know, then the manner in which you make online contacts for SEO purposes can make or break link potential. Public relations takes link building beyond specific tools and into the world of interpersonal relationships, where sincere communication can score you a guest post on a high ranking site with a followed link. When you know what you want, get savvy with social media, and seek out sources that measure up to your goals, the link searching process becomes both functional and fun. Take note of these tips for a successful — and satisfying — outreach experience. 1. Know your organic: Natural links take on many forms. Guest blog posts, informational quotes, and photos are just a few of the ways in which web pages can feature your content and provide credit with a well-placed link. Study your prospective link homes and ask yourself first: What type of link fits best on this page? (Examine other links on the page, if applicable) What type of content is this site missing that I can provide? Perhaps there is a topic related to both your product and the web page that this blogger/webmaster has not yet featured. Many bloggers focus on weight loss, and if you run a supplement company, you may want to pitch an article about the nutritional benefits of vitamins when beginning an exercise program. Focus on what that page needs and what you can offer. The best links result from teamwork between you and your new contact. 2. Choose a tone: Once you know what site to pitch, read some of their content. Just like getting to know people in “real life,” making an online connection requires sincerity and attention to the individual and product. You wouldn’t approach a new friend and say, “I see that you are wearing a scarf.” Awkward! Instead, you might comment on the color of the scarf or compliment the way its style coordinates with her outfit. In the same way, you will need to brush up on the identity of this blogger or webmaster based upon their content, and consider what tone is most appealing and sincere. Note that it’s easier to sincerely communicate when you actually care about the content of the site. Let your enthusiasm lead the way in the search for new links. 3. Get social… media: Before you reach out, examine all your client’s social media platforms and choose a method of contact that complements your goals. Just as red wine usually pairs best with red meat, one social media form may be a better outreach fit for your link than another. Consider first how accessible the webmaster is by email. Does his site have an online contact form? If the contact section does not include an email address, you may be looking at a person who would rather gain subscribers than fan mail. No worries. Find this person on Twitter and comment about his or her site. This works especially well with bloggers, who often enjoy rubbing elbows with fans. Follow the page or page author and tweet a comment. You can either include a gentle pitch in your greeting or wait for a response before going further. Often, by allowing your comment a day to settle in, you will receive a “thanks!” and begin a conversation that sets the foundation for further connection. 4. Don’t forget the phone: Simple, but often overlooked, this contact method communicates human connectedness, and, like those popular Captcha images, proves you are not a robot. Demonstrate your friendliness with your intonation as well as your words and your pitch will fall on receptive ears. 5. Share comments: Even the best websites have flaws. If while analyzing a site you encounter a broken link or typo, use this as a basis for initial outreach. Bloggers want their sites to look fantastic and often appreciate it when you point out glaring flaws. However, because this can be construed as criticism, go gently into that good night and start with a compliment. Telling someone how bad his site looks because of a broken link will get you nowhere; complimenting his content and saying you wish you could have read more but for this one broken link is flattering and helpful. Best of all, you have done this blogger a favor and he will be more inclined to consider your link pitch. 6. Go for the gold: You’ve established contact; now it’s time to make your request if you haven’t already. Be direct. Bloggers and webmasters run websites and know better than anyone the value of a well-placed link. If a webmaster has any knowledge of SEO and runs a decently ranked site, she will expect people with link objectives to seek her out. State your purpose by first presenting what you can offer. If you have an idea for a guest post topic, pitch it. If not, list a few link options, such as informational quotes. Be sure to ask questions about other possibilities specific to the needs of the page so that webmasters observe the benefits of hosting your link. 7. Wait… but not too long: Pitched yesterday and no response? Give it a day or so. Government sites are likely to provide you with an automated response stating that they received your message, but smaller sites and blogs do not always offer the same. Take a few days, then return to step three and consider which mode of social media works best for a follow up. Sometimes, contact through a method other than your original outreach is a great way to show that you follow that person’s content. A Facebook message as an email follow up demonstrates that you are persistent and perceptive; you are looking at all the online “hangouts” for this product or person. On the other hand, following up in the manner you first used provides a persistent reminder of who you are and what you want. Whatever your plan, remember that the best links take time and often require more than two outreach attempts. 8. If it falls through, be nice: A link mismatch now does not preclude future potential. Keep following this blogger or site on Twitter; refrain from snide replies. Whether or not your link is placed, a friendly online encounter increases your network of contacts and is always a win. 9. Content, content, content (content): Above all else, remember that your outreach strategy depends on your ability to back up your promises with the real deal. What’s the real deal? Excellent, share-worthy content, including highly creative and concise copy; stunning and inventive high-resolution images; and blow-your-mind infographics that offer up pointed information and memorable visuals. By providing top-quality online product, you make link building the “natural” choice for users who will leap to link to your material. Great content not only improves your strategy but can become a strategy in and of itself. Organic link building is all about approach. By using social media as a PR tool to convey mutually beneficial intentions, you build alliances with the people behind the web pages and stand a strong chance of landing your link in a highly trafficked and topic-specific location.