Link Building for SEO: 6 Steps to Earn Links with Outreach

April 29th, 2015 by

This article, which deals with the steps to take to earn links with your outreach efforts, is the fourth part of my series on Link Building for SEO. If you aren’t familiar with link building basics, how to start a campaign, or what outreach is I recommend you read:

link building graphicThere are just a few basic steps to earning editorial links with outreach.

  1. Find an Author
  2. Connect with that Author
  3. Establish Rapport
  4. Demonstrate Value
  5. Request a Link
  6. Continue the Relationship

Each major step of outreach is, of course, made up of little steps.

Step 1: Find an Author

Magnifying GlassI cover the basics of this step in the Adding Outreach to Your Link Building for SEO post. The steps involved with identifying sites are:

  1. Choose your targeted keyword phrases
  2. Review websites with high-ranking in search engines for your targeted keyword phrases
  3. Make sure the websites and their content authors you target:
    • link to relevant content on other websites
    • do not use “NoFollow” links
    • do not require payment for review or link

Step 2: Connect with That Author

wave helloIn the “old days” of link building (think late 1990s) it was common practice to contact website owners via email or contact form on the targeted website to request a link.  Submitting these as “form letters” to as many websites as possible was the norm as each link the sender received counted as a “vote” for their website.

As time marched forward into the 21st century these emails became more personalized to entice action by the recipient and specialized by contextualized targeting.  Still, outreach generally boiled down to a letter requesting a link submitted via email or online contact form in the 2000s.

Today, emails and online contact forms should typically be your last resort.  As a means of contact they are impersonal and it’s too easy to be considered just another spammer by the recipient.  So how should you connect?

Connect Personally

When you are seeking a link from an online author, always remember they are a person and will want to be treated as such.

No-Spam logo

Email and contact forms should be your last resort for link building outreach since your request will likely be misconstrued as a junk message.

A personalized e-mail message may seem like a good bet, but think about it: when you receive e-mail from a stranger that’s not directly related to your business activities do you tend to read it thoroughly or do tend to think it’s spam?  For most of us it’s usually the latter.  I no doubt have trashed messages that may have been beneficial link building requests.

Find Common Ground

Instead, find a way to engage the author in other, more personable ways.  Social media is an appropriate venue for following the activities of the author and initiating the contact.

Follow the Author in Social Media and Subscribe to What They Publish

Chances are the author you want to get a link from is a blogger, columnist and/or commentator.  Show your interest passively at first by following them in whatever social media platform(s) are regularly engaged by the author.  Subscribe to their e-newsletter(s) and any other subscriptions.

Doing so will allow you to get to know the author a bit and see how they prefer to communicate with their fans and followers.

Engage the Author, But Don’t Be Creepy

Laptop Looking

Don’t set yourself up to be seen as an online stalker when trying to earn links from online authors.

No one likes aggressive engagement via social media or blog comments and it certainly won’t help you attain your goals for link building.  If you don’t get a response to a comment you make to an author it’s not the end of the world.

Continue to follow the author and engage when you have something to say that’s likely to generate that response.

Once you’ve received a reply from that author it might be tempting to jump right in and ask for a link.  Sometimes that works, but generally there are a couple of steps between that you should follow.

Step 3: Establish Rapport

After receiving an initial reply to you comment to a blog or social media post, it’s time to grow the relationship with that author.  Point the author to another author’s online article to establish common ground around a subject that interests you both.

Once you receive a positive response to that it’s time to start introducing your own material to the author.

Step 4: Demonstrate Value

You might think this should be the step where you ask for a link, but I recommend holding off on that until you establish the value of your writing with the author in question.  Point him to an article you’ve written, but don’t ask for link – the idea here is to show what you write is worthy of comment.

If you’re lucky, the author will leave a comment on your article; you may even get a link from the author at this stage, but the goal is simply to demonstrate your value as an author and receive feedback of some form.

Step 5: Request a Link

links in a chain

Follow the best practices of engagement with authors and you will be more likely to earn the links you need for greater SEO value.

Once you’ve established rapport with an author and demonstrated the value of the content you write to them it’s time to request that link as part of your outreach efforts.  Keep the request informal unless the author prefers formal correspondence and weave it naturally as part of your engagement with that author.

Step 6: Continue the Relationship

If you truly establish rapport with that author, continue to follow and engage them.  Your link requests should be infrequent and only come when what you write complements the subject of an article the author has written.  Doing so will help maximize the effectiveness of your efforts at outreach for link building SEO.

Once you start receiving links from the authors who have established their authority for your targeted topics and keywords you will start to see the search engine visibility of your published blog posts start to rise.

Contact us if you need help in with link building.  We offer consultations and ongoing services for link building outreach and other SEO-related services.


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Responsive Bed and Breakfast WordPress Theme for Longtime Client’s Website Redesign

March 31st, 2015 by

We are pleased to announce the launch of the new 1795 Acorn Inn website, which features a completely customized responsive bed and breakfast WordPress theme built in cutting edge HTML5 code and CSS3 styling to ensure a competitive edge in the online marketing efforts of innkeeper Sheryl Mordini. Thanks to this redesign, the 1795 Acorn Inn website is ready for the new Google mobile-friendly algorithm that launches in April. on iMac, iPad & iPhone

Our Longtime Relationship with This Great Finger Lakes Bed and Breakfast

1795 Acorn Inn Website, circa 2005-2014

BEFORE: 1795 Acorn Inn website, circa 2005-2014 looked OK, but was cramped into a small space on higher resolution monitors.

Sheryl has been a web services client of InsideOut Solutions since 2005.  Our first website redesign for 1795 Acorn Inn, elegant bed and breakfast in Canadaigua, New York. launched in September of that year.

Sheryl worked with Beth, our lead designer, and internet marketing staff to keep that website an effective online presence for her business for 10 years.  A WordPress blog addition came in 2009 and soon after we began providing ongoing internet marketing services for SEO.

Sheryl loved her website, but by the summer of 2014 knew that, while it had served well for 10 years, it was definitely in need of a makeover worthy of showing off her inn’s updated decor and style.

Keep reading →

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Google Mobile-Friendly Algorithm – Is Your Website Ready?

March 24th, 2015 by

The launch of a new Google mobile-friendly algorithm is scheduled for April 21, 2015. The official statement from Google indicates that it is critical for website owners who are marketing to mobile device users to make sure their website is ready for this change, or lose visibility in and traffic from Google mobile search.

Google Mobile-Friendly Websites logo - is your website ready?

What Is the “Google Mobile-Friendly” Algorithm?

In this new algorithm Google defines “mobile” as smartphone devices only and does not include:

  • Tablets, which Google considers a different class of device
  • Multimedia phones, which are mid-grade phones with HTML5-compatible browsers, but don’t support all features
  • Feature phones, which are low-end phones that have web browsers unable to display webpages in their normal desktop format

One thing to note: Google has stated that recommendations are geared toward smartphones, but they also encourage website owners – when they feel it appropriate – to follow the same advice for multimedia and feature phones.

Keep reading →

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Transferring Ownership of an Inn, B&B, or Dude Ranch?

February 28th, 2015 by

Transferring or taking ownership of a new business in any industry can be a daunting task. Handshake Demonstrating Transfer of Inn, B&B, or Dude Ranch OwnershipOn the one hand, if you’re the seller and you care anything about the business, you want it to go into good hands and you want the transition to be a smooth one. On the other hand, taking over a business as a new owner can be intimidating, and there is always much to learn and numerous responsibilities to assume. Being equipped with as much information as possible can make your new role as an owner much easier.

InsideOut Solutions has developed a service for helping incoming innkeepers during the transition process.  We also offer a handy guide for exiting owners/innkeepers to help ease the transition process for both you and the incoming owners.

Orientation Package for Incoming Owners/Innkeepers

New innkeepers have a lot of responsibilities and assuming ownership can be overwhelming. So we developed a set of services that will help a new innkeeper get started on the right foot. Our “orientation package” includes:

  • How to use your WordPress website – 1-hour training
  • How to read Google Analytics reports – 1-hour online meeting
  • How to blog and optimize your blog posts for the search engines – 1-hour training
  • Guidance for setting up business email on your mobile phone – .5 hour support
  • Availability to answer technical questions about social media – 1.5 hours support

Since your website is an important feature of internet marketing, it’s important that you have a solid awareness of how to use it and how to take part in promoting your inn, bed & breakfast, or dude ranch. Think of your website as an asset you can use to grow your business. Because we’re the experts in internet marketing, we want to help you understand how to use your website to grow your business and partner with you in your success.

Our Orientation Package is $400.

We also offer the following services:

  • Website updates – but not reservation system updates, since they often involve confidential financial information that requires you to make updates
  • Internet Marketing Services – we typically want to discuss this down the road after your familiarity with running your inn, bed & breakfast, or dude ranch has increased. Internet marketing services include:

    • Search Engine Marketing (SEM) including Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Cost-Per-Click (CPC) advertising & remarketing
    • Inbound marketing, including blog writing, Social Media Marketing (SMM), email marketing/newsletters
    • Referral marketing, including local search citations and link building.

These services are priced separately and we work with you to create a custom set of services that will best serve your needs.

Guide for Exiting Owners/Innkeepers Offers Technical Advice

Often, there is a lot of information that the former owner/innkeeper needs to provide to the new one. Providing this information can help the transition go smoothly, as well as prevent questions occurring years down the road when memory or records regarding directories, listings, and social media accounts have either been forgotten or lost.

Consult us for a list of essential information that you can gather and provide to the incoming owner/innkeeper before closing the sale.

If you’re interested in either of the above services, please contact us.

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Get Customized Monthly Google Analytics Reporting

February 27th, 2015 by

Often, our clients want to dig in a little deeper to see how their site is performing. Unfortunately most soon come to realize that they don’t have the time to learn the more complicated aspects of Google Analytics and how to find and understand the data that they need to see. Sometimes, they’re not even sure exactly what kind of data they need.

This is where InsideOut Solutions steps in.

We generate customized online marketing reports in thatSample Raven Report Showing Google Analytics Data
pulls select data from your Google Analytics account and presents to you in a report formatted to give you the information you need. The difference between our reports  and using Google Analytics on its own is clarity. While Google Analytics allows advanced users to do detailed analysis, this isn’t really necessary for innkeepers & dude ranchers, who typically only need to see specific higher level data. We take all of this complex data, consolidate what’s important to you and present it in a clear, understandable way. Further, to help you evaluate performance the reporting period we use is year-over-year, specifically comparing the month of the current year to the same month of the previous year and quarterly and annual reports are also available.

The immediate value to you is that getting this report requires nothing of your time to start receiving information that is critical to your internet marketing efforts. Once you tell us you’d like to subscribe to monthly reporting, the technician sets up a report that is delivered at the same time each month to your email inbox as a link to a downloadable PDF file. You don’t have to go looking for the login to Google Analytics or remember passwords. Unlike Google Analytics automatic email reporting, our reports never expire until you unsubscribe from them.

Currently, we offer the reporting for $25/month, or $240/year pre-pad.

Contact us to subscribe or learn more.



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Google Knowledge Graph Gets Social

January 26th, 2015 by

Ever been searching for a business in Google and wish that you could see its social profiles in the search results? If so, your wait is over. Late in 2014, Google created some template coding that enables users to add social media profiles (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.) into their website’s own coding. After a short time, these social media profiles become visible in the Knowledge Graph panel on a search results page.

Google Knowledge Panel Search Results

Even if the coding isn’t added to your site right away, Google assures website owners that it will still be “crawling” the internet for this information, even without users filling in the template code and adding it to their sites. However, it’s a good idea to get ahead of the game. By adding the appropriate code instead of waiting on Google to do it, the social profiles will be indexed more quickly. Also, adding the code before Google attempts to do so helps ensure that the correct social profile links are added.

If you’re an SEO, SEM or Internet Marketing services client, we’ll be rolling this out soon, but feel free to ask us to double check. If you’re none of the above, but you’re interested in having this done by us rather than waiting on Google, feel free to contact us for a quote.

Find out more in Google’s article on the recent addition to knowledge graph.

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Introducing Millennials, Your New Guests

December 16th, 2014 by

The Millennials? No, it’s not a science fiction TV show or a new, bestselling novel. It’s my age group, those born from the early 1980’s until the early 2000’s. If you’re just now hearing about them, it’s time to start doing some research because their purchasing power is estimated to be around $200 billion in 2017, and around $10 trillion in their lifetimes. Also, the consensus amongst researchers is that tried-and-true marketing strategies for previous generations (i.e. Gen X’ers, Baby Boomers, et al.) will not work with Millennials. They are notably different in their purchasing habits and methods than previous generations.

Trust, for instance, is a huge factor for Millennials in their purchasing decisions. In fact, if Millennials want to make a purchase, Erin Mulligan Nelson of AdAge writes that “they actually trust strangers with relevant information and experiences the most when it comes to making purchase decisions. Some 84% of millennials said social opinions influence their purchase decisions, and 51% said they trust ‘strangers’ more than friends, according to a report by Bazaarvoice and Kelton Research.” While they are actively engaged in social networks, they don’t consult those arenas for help in making those decisions. Nelson points out that “…millennials seek out blogs, sites, and applications where experienced travelers share tips about the best hostels, deals on train tickets, and hidden restaurants.” You can see how reviews might become an important part of destination sites that seek to market to the Millennials.

For B&B’s, boutique inns, and dude ranches, getting to know who the Millennials are and how they think is important. With their vast purchasing power, it’s important to begin considering how you might tailor your marketing efforts to reach them. To make sense of my research about the Millennials and help you learn a bit more about who they are, I created the infographic below. Infographics are useful because they take lots of information and package it into digestible parts. So instead of a reading through a lot of narratives and charts, you get to see the main points drawn out, which can help you retain them and recall them. Younger generations like infographics for those reasons, because they don’t want to spend a lot of time reading, and yet, they want to be educated, as well. Infographics are ideal tools for quickly getting the gist of information you want.


Information about Millennials for Marketing

View this infographic as a pdf or feel free to save it so you can read it later.

Keep these characteristics of Millennials in mind, and join us for our next post as we begin to explore some methods for how to market to the Millennials.

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Longtime Client Gets Responsive Site by InsideOut Solutions

November 19th, 2014 by

Azalea Inn Print Marketing DesignsWe’re proud of the relationship we have with Teresa and Michael at Azalea Inn. For over 5 years we have worked together to present the beauty of Azalea Inn to the visitors across the web. Ours is a successful relationship, one that has strengthened over time. Recently, Teresa explained that they needed to update the site in order to incorporate their new vacation villas. She loved the site as it was, and wanted specific branding elements to remain the same, but needed to add new content and refresh parts of the site for the new identity.

Azalea Inn & Villas (Savannah, GA)

Part of Azalea Inn & Villas’ branding is reflected in some soap labels and other print marketing that we furnish as part of our graphic design and print services. Teresa wanted the branding to remain consistent not only for this reason, but also because the B&B’s identity is already established. So our Lead Designer, Beth Edwards, went to work. She recreated the logo to no longer read “Azalea Inn & Gardens”, rather “Azalea Inn & Villas”. From there, she redesigned some of the larger site features, and changed the primary typeface to be a bit more modern. Beth did all of this with careful consideration and subtlety to preserve the recognizable identity of the bed and breakfast, while making it new enough to present the addition of the villas.

Azalea Inn Before and After Site Launch

Working with Clients to Build a Beautiful Internet

Azalea Inn & Villas knew that their website must be easy to use. A beautiful, but difficult to use website will send visitors elsewhere to choose a different hospitality venue. But being easy to use isn’t the only factor. A website must be visually appealing, as well, especially a B&B website. Our clients trust us to know our business, to know how to create a beautiful and easy-to-use website. Responsive website design means controlling the mechanics of HTML5 styled with CSS3 so that elements on the page move about freely, and scale for various screen sizes without sacrificing readability. Think of HTML5 as the vehicle and the CSS3 as the vehicle design; both of these work hand-in-hand in responsive design. To work properly and smoothly, responsive design requires a lot of planning in the design phase, as well as careful consideration and execution during the development phase. Read our June post: Responsive Web Design – Is It Time to Redesign or Upgrade Your Website? and contact us with any questions or to request a quote.

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Responsive Website Launched for New Client by InsideOut Solutions

November 6th, 2014 by

It’s always gratifying when anyone compliments our website designs. We believe we generate quality work and our clients aren’t bashful about confirming that. But even better is when a new client references site designs from our portfolio when describing what look and feel they want. This brings us to the responsive website launch for one of our new clients, The Majestic Hotel.

The Majestic Hotel (Ocean Grove, NJ)

The owner, Valerie, told us that she wanted a clean, fresh look for The Majestic Hotel’s aging website. She recognized right away that clean and fresh are important to the public “face” of a bed and breakfast website. She explained that The Majestic was Victorian in appearance on the outside, but contemporary on the inside, and that she wanted to stay away from the blue colors of her old website. She then named other websites that we had designed that had a pristine look and were easy to navigate: The Barlow, The Inn at English Meadows, and Brayton Bed and Breakfast. Taking all this into consideration, Beth Edwards, the lead designer at InsideOut Solutions, proceeded to choose a softer, toned-down blue, and then combined that with a complementary green to remind the audience of a seaside view. The layout of the site is logical and uncluttered, and the photos really accent the beauty of the Hotel and its surroundings. The result is uncluttered, clearly navigable, and visually appealing website for this boutique hotel, restaurant and event venue on the New Jersy Shore.

Before and After Shots of The Majestic Website

For a couple of years now, InsideOut Solutions has made it a standard that all the sites we design should be responsive because this increases the likelihood that site visitors will find a client’s site easier to use across various devices. Such is the case for The Majestic Hotel, which is just as usable and beautiful on a smartphone as it is in a desktop browser.

Get a New Website with InsideOut Solutions

We value good website design and functionality. We  also want our own clients’ businesses to flourish, and so we work hard to make sure the websites we design will make a lasting positive impression, entice deeper exploration and encourage conversion. Responsive website design is just one factor that contributes to having a great website for users. Read our June post: Responsive Web Design – Is It Time to Redesign or Upgrade Your Website? and contact us with any questions or to request a quote.

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Dreamy Responsive Website Launched by InsideOut Solutions

November 4th, 2014 by

We are always excited to work with our clients to design a website and to offer them a design that not only meets their needs, but that also pleasantly surprises them. From the beginning, our new clients, innkeepers Dorothy and Richard Friesen, brought great ideas and creative direction to the table for their Sweet Dreams Luxury Inn.

Sweet Dreams Luxury Inn (Abbotsford, British Columbia)

Sweet Dreams Responsive Website Launch Preview

Working primarily with Richard, our lead designer, Beth Edwards, learned that the innkeepers wanted us to employ our strengths in creative web design to come up with a design that captured the traditional luxury of their boutique hotel. While they liked the colors of their previous site, they wanted the overall site appearance to be revamped to look more upscale and polished. They did agree that a traditional floral background was preferred, and that they wanted to target more business guests and to schedule more events, as they host corporate and private banquets, and some weddings. So Beth went to work, designing and working with Richard to fine tune and really come up with a final design that inspired his and Dorothy’s confidence, something they could be quite proud of. Beth’s richer, darker background colors are contrasted by light, subtle colors that really convey a sense of luxury, refinement, and elegance. Beautiful, high quality photos transition softly on the homepage, revealing to the audience the grounds and face of the inn and event facility.

In addition to the beautiful design, the website is so flexible as to be viewed across multiple devices thanks to its fluid responsive design. Site visitors or potential guests are ensured a top-notch user experience on any device, which gives users confidence in Sweet Dreams’ website.  The responsive website design standards also ensures fast loading times, a longer useful lifespan, and gives the site a leg up in search engine visibility.

Get a New Responsive Website with InsideOut Solutions

Sweet Dreams is an excellent example of what clients are doing right. They approach us to solve their problem, and are open to our expertise. We want their businesses to succeed on the internet. Having a responsive website design means that you’re not punishing users who visit your website on a smartphone or tablet. We, as well as our clients, understand the importance of making it easy for site visitors to navigate the site. Read our June post: Responsive Web Design – Is It Time to Redesign or Upgrade Your Website? and contact us with any questions or to request a quote.

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