Backlinks are links from other websites to yours. They are, and have always been, the primary ranking factor Google uses in its algorithm to determine which sites go to the top of its index. Backlinks are an essential component of search engine optimization. I previously blogged about two ways to get organic backlinks. What if the backlinks don’t just roll in organically? This blog post covers that topic by covering two ways to reach out for backlinks: (1) guest blogging, and (2) press outreach.
(1) Guest blogging
You can reach out to the content managers of related websites to ask if they will let you write a guest blog post. This guest post will link back to content on your site. There have been rumors over the years that this technique doesn’t work any more. This is false. Guest blogging is the #1 method affiliate bloggers use to rank high. Here are a few tips and best practices:
Websites to reach out to:
- Sites that rank well for your target keyword(s) or in your topic area (but not direct competitors)
- Sites that have a blog or some way to post fresh content
How to reach out:
- Email them through their website or connect with them on Linkedin. You can also use a tool like Rocketreach to try to find their email address. On Linkedin you can see all of the employees of a company and search within it. Look for a content manager if it is a big company. For small companies, look for the owner or marketing manager.
- Consider offering a payment for placement (they may also ask you to pay to place your blog post). $50 to $150 is the range that I usually see. This is way more cost-effective than buying Google ads by the way.
- Consider suggesting two different topic ideas you might write about, letting them choose one. These topics should be very relevant and useful for their site. Also link to some of the content you have created on other sites to highlight the level of quality they should expect.
Guest blogging can be a slog but over time if you’re consistent the links can really add up.
(2) Press outreach
The other option for outreach is through the press. There are several approaches to this. Here’s what I’ve gotten to work well:
- Build and manage your own email list using tools like Rocketreach and Saleshandy or subscribe to a service that already has journalist emails available like Prowly.
- Scour Google News for stories that are relevant to your topic area to see what kinds of stories are press-worthy within your niche.
- Write a press release that (a) tells an interesting, timely story, (b) has relevant, useful data, and (c) has lots of expert quotes from people at your company (doctors, analysts, lawyers, etc.). The press release should not directly promote your company, your products or services.
Press releases should go out on a regular, consistent basis so that reporters get used to seeing content from the same PR people. The goal of this kind of outreach is just to get a backlink to your site. For example, the journalist may link to your press release or the profile page of the subject matter expert you’ve quoted in the press release.
To build a great relationship with the press you should do the following:
- Regular, consistent press releases of high quality
- Add a newsroom to your website. This should include press releases, a short company bio, bios for your subject matter experts, any press mentions, and a point of contact for the press. If you have all of this it gives reporters the impression that you will be easy to work with and worth their time. They don’t want to have to call through your phone tree. Make it easy by showing that you’re used to working with the press and make it easy for the press to contact you.
Don’t be discouraged if your first few attempts at press outreach fall flat. Learn from early failures by using them to help you figure out what reporters want and how to reach them. Consider, for example, going back to Google News to study more of the content that gets published in your area. Also, consider taking a class to get better at crafting press releases.
Backlinks don’t always show up organically. Given their importance in Google ranking it’s important to have a few tools to help you go out and get them and rank higher. I have successfully used both press outreach and guest blogging over the years and I can confirm that they do work. Such tactics are more important when you are small and starting out as you can benefit more from organic backlink growth once your site is more established.