How should you be building links in 2023? That's what we're going to be discussing today with a GenX entrepreneur who enjoys playing Dungeons and Dragons, ukulele, and eating raw herring. She is a fan of natural link-building by humans, not automation. And she is the founder of the Link Voting Agency, Bibi Buzz. A warm welcome to the In Search SEO podcast, Bibi Raven.
In this week's episode, Bibi shares three key elements to creating linkable assets, including:
Focus on your audience
It doesn't have to be epic
Bibi: Hi, it's so cool because this year finally my business partner came to visit me. He's in Florida and it was his first time in Amsterdam. And of course, we had to eat raw herring. Whenever you go to the Netherlands, you have to eat raw herring. And he loved it. It was really really cool. That made me smile to hear you say that.
D: You don't have to do you?
B: Oh, you have to. Otherwise, you're a fake tourist. You have to experience raw herring.
D: You can find Bibi over at bibibuzz.com. Bibi, today we're talking about key elements in linkable assets. What is a linkable asset?
B: A linkable asset can be anything. It's usually a piece of content that either checks links passively without you asking for it or it's very easy to build links to or both. It's something that is usually not super commercial, and people would find a lot of value in it for their audience to link to.
D: And today, you're sharing the three key elements to include when building a linkable asset in 2023. Starting off with number one, focus on others.
1. Focus on others
B: Yeah, I definitely wanted to include that because I think a lot of businesses find it hard to focus on something else other than their products. And when you're talking about linkable assets, of course, when you have a fabulous product, or it's groundbreaking, or there's a huge story behind it, people will link to it. But overall, when you just talk about yourself, when you’re broadcasting about your product, people won't link to it, because they see there is some kind of commercial benefit to it.
However, if you focus on others, and others can be your audience or other companies that target your audience, it's way easier to get links. And you might think that this is not relevant enough for you, but in a roundabout way, it will be relevant. So I would definitely encourage people to not just think about yourself and your products and what you’re trying to sell. Linkable assets aren't there for selling.
D: What do you mean that in a roundabout way it will be relevant? How do you ensure that you can actually drive value from the campaign? I guess it's easy if you're not focusing on your brand to get a little bit off-topic and not attract the right audience.
B: It depends a little bit on what you want for your domain. Let's say it's a new domain, and you just want to boost it, then you can definitely stretch the relevancy further. But if you want to stay close to your products, a little bit off-topic is totally fine. Let's say that in a hop and a skip, you would be at something that's indirectly relevant to you.
Maybe it's better if I give a concrete example, otherwise, I can go on for years. I have a client who sells experience gifts, simple things from gin tasting, but also really bizarre things like going up in space or having a Michelin dinner in a cabin and stuff like that. So part of their audience are honeymooners, people that have just been married. So a honeymoon is a wedding customer journey and when you think of relevancy, I was thinking of what's relevant to people who are getting married like cakes or dresses or whatever. And one of the things is jewelry because you have to give engagement rings or other things. And in jewelry, you always have gemstones. So what I did with a client was come up with ideas around specific gemstones, because it's never about the products. A lot of times it's about the meaning. So if you use a specific gemstone, what does it mean for the engagement ring. So I did all these pieces on all the meanings and benefits and origins of gemstones. And then we got a passive link from US Weekly around the engagement ring of Jennifer Lopez because she got engaged. And they quoted the client on the meaning of the specific gemstone in her engagement ring. So when I talk about roundabouts, yeah, you wouldn't think that gemstones are directly relevant to the product that the client is selling. But indirectly it is because you're sharing space in the customer journey of the same audience.
D: Understood, so don't focus on yourself, but focus on elements of interesting stories or items that your target audience may be likely to be drawn to.
And element two is it doesn't have to be epic. What do you mean by that?
2. It doesn't have to be epic
B: Yeah, so with the same example. It wasn't some juicy story or newsworthy. It wasn't something groundbreaking or a tool that nobody has talked about. It was just about combining a lot of information that's out there in a useful piece of content. So in this case about the stone, let the others draw their value from it or their story from it.
Another example is stat pieces. I know a lot of other link builders who do this as well. So think about relevancy. So for clients that are in food and hospitality, veganism is a trend in food. It doesn't say much about their products. So we did a stats piece around veganism that gets renewed every year. But any journalist or publisher that talks about something related to veganism uses that data. And then they refer back to the clients. But it's really dry. It's a compilation of internet data that's already out there. It's not owned by the clients. But a journalist has to do their homework. So they have to look up all this data for their story. So if you do their homework for them, because they have to do seven pieces a week, that saves them time, and then they refer back to you.
So try to reverse engineer what's already getting links or what type of content is already getting links, and then do something similar. This client which I've been working with them for years now has a strong domain, they get ranked for a lot of keywords. But let's say you're not a strong domain yet, just bid on the keywords for CPC for Google Ads that a journalist will look for. So let's say veganism statistics, veganism trends, or something with a really low search volume, and then boost yourself up to position zero with ads. So if you're not a strong domain, do a dry stats piece, and then bid on it so that you jump all the big domains. And that's how you get links.
D: Your reverse engineering advice is really good, actually, because it reminds me of the good advice of looking at the SERP to see what's currently ranking for your target keyword phrase to get a feel for the type of content that Google is looking for. And I like that because you're advising people to look at things like what journalists are already linking to and using as resources, and you then get a feel for what they want from you. And then you can provide them something similar and better, progressive, more relevant, but similar to what they've linked to in the past, giving yourself a better opportunity to use that resource in the future.
And your third key element is outreach. So what works for outreach now?
B: So what I've noticed from a lot of people is that, yes, they have an amazing piece of content. And yes, they do all the research. And then for some reason, the outreach is like an afterthought. Then they fall into a template that's been so overused that it no longer works, even if it's a well-written template. As soon as people start recognizing certain link-building terms, their brain just shuts off. So apply the same things of elements one to your outreach. Focus on the other. Research why these linkable assets are good for them. And then explain it in an email. But don't say stuff like, "Oh, I saw you talked about x. And you mentioned this, but I actually have a better why. So can you put it in there? It will be very valuable for your audience.” Step away from those formulas. And if you ever say stuff like, "It's very valuable for your audience,” that's an empty statement if you don't back it up. You have to back all those claims up. So stay away from empty statements like that, but also from fake flattery. Things like, "Hey, you wrote a really cool piece on this, and I enjoyed it. And I've been following you for a while. Can you please link out to this?” That’s not going to work anymore.
D: So if you're stepping away from a formulaic approach, does that mean that automated outreach on mass is never the way to go and you have to communicate with people on a one-to-one basis?
B: No, of course, communicating to people, building relationships, and sending out bespoke emails is always the best. But it's just not always doable, but you can still create a template that stands out. Everybody writes new songs every day and they're all about love but you can still write a song that stands out in a new way. So you can definitely use templates but research the pain points of a specific type of audience.
D: Are you able to share one element that you've introduced to outreach that is quite different compared with how it's been done in the past?
B: One thing that I use that helps well is to focus on a specific type of prospect or specific types of companies like marketing agencies, graphic designers, dentists, or budget coaches. And then you identify some kind of trend or pain point in that specific niche and you use that as your opener in the email.
For example, for graphic designers or web designers, I found this article, it was about 10 things your graphic or web designer doesn't want you to say. It was talking about clients. And one of the things was where a client would say, "Oh, I really like your style. But I wanted this font to change. I want it to be more like Apple, and can you do it tomorrow by five?” That's when clients want last minutes changes. And they want you to look more like a brand that's already out there. So I used that as an opener. So in the subject line, I wrote, "Oh, I really like your style, but…” I would do something exactly that the client would say to them last minute. And then I went into that I didn't really say this, but I know this sucks, right? So here's what can help you educate your upcoming customers.
Pareto Pickle - Reach Out to People in Your Existing network
D: That’s a really good example. Let's finish off with the Pareto Pickle. Pareto says that you can get 80% of your results from 20% of your efforts. What's one SEO activity that you would recommend that provides incredible results for modest levels of effort?
B: That's a really good question. It’s an oldie but goodie, but even with big seasoned clients, they still leave a lot of links on the table. It's just about looking to the person next to you. Look at the people in your existing network, your suppliers, your business partners, and other partnerships you have, and just come to them with an open question like, how can we work together to improve our online visibility? And they might have tons of ideas, or they might already have suggestions of things that they did themselves. So I would definitely, always look at your existing network first and tap into that.
D: Great advice. It's not the sexy way of building links, but it could potentially be the most valuable at least over the short term.
B: Yeah. Isn't it funny that it's one of the easiest ways to get links and still people don't do it? It's like they want to make their life difficult first. Maybe they want to make things complicated because they think it's a bigger reward but you can get a lot out of the software that you use. You can do a customer journey story for them and get a link back and it's already in the pocket.
D: I’ve been your host, David Bain. You can find Bibi Raven over at bibibuzz.com. Bibi, thanks so much for being on the In Search SEO podcast.
B: Thank you so much. It was a pleasure as ever.
D: And thank you for listening. Check out all the previous episodes and sign up for a free trial of the Rank Ranger platform over at rankranger.com.