This article, which deals with link building outreach best practices is the third part of my series on Link Building for SEO in 2014. If you aren’t familiar with link building basics or how to start a campaign I recommend you read:

link building graphic

A core concept for link building for SEO is to earn links from websites that have greater authority for desirable keywords.  Natural editorial links,  earned when a web content writer finds your content and links to it, are great when you can get them, but sometimes you need to take your efforts to the next level.

An example: You have been blogging for awhile and are getting good feedback comments from readers. You aren’t, however, seeing referral links to your posts show up in your web statistics. What now?

Link building outreach efforts can earn you valuable referral links and increase the SEO value of your content at the same time. Rather than hoping your content is found and linked, it requires you to directly contact website owners and bloggers to request a review of your content.

Here are the steps for adding outreach to your link building strategy.

Find Potential Referring Websites to Contact in Your Link Building Outreach

The whole point of building incoming links for SEO is to receive links from websites who have greater authority for targeted keywords, so how do you find them to start your link building outreach efforts?

1. Choose Your Targeted Keyword Phrases


Use private search functions on Google, Bing and Yahoo to determine who ranks highly for your targeted search terms.

Before you go off and start searching for targeted keyword phrases to see how your website ranks, its important to understand that your personal search results will likely be filtered in search engines based on a variety of factors (web history, search history, your location, etc.).  It’s vitally important to start your search without this “results customization” to see the “raw strength” of your website compares to other for your targeted keyword terms and that starts with your browser.  My recommendation to choose and configure one web browser (either Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome) that will be dedicated to private searching and follow the requirements of the major search engines to keep those searches free of personalized results.

It’s a good idea to read up on what the major search engines require for private searching:

2. Review High-Ranking Website Search Engine Query Results for Your Targeted Keyword Phrases

List the websites that have higher ranking for your targeted keyword terms and review each for their suitability for link building outreach to improve SEO, including:

Site Authors & Bloggers Link to Relevant Content

links in a chain

Make sure a website is worth your precious time before engaging its owner or author for links.

A website will not likely entertain the idea of linking to you, no matter how good your pitch, if it does not already link to other websites with relevant content.  Also Look for contact info for authors/bloggers on the website and in social media; if you can’t find contact info easily, it’s probably not worth your time.

Site Does Not Use “NoFollow” Links

It used to be that all links were considered a “vote” for the content they linked to.  These days, a link with the “nofollow” attribute tells Google to not count the link as a vote.  This link attribute is growing in use and is now widely seen wherever a link is paid for (i.e. banner advertising your website on another site) or the referring website owner/editor may not have full control over the link, such as:

  • “Advertorials”
  • Article directories
  • Blog comments
  • Forum posts and signatures
  • Guest book comments
  • Guest post signatures
  • Press releases
  • Wiki pages (e.g. user-editable pages such Wikipedia)
  • Yahoo! Answers

That’s not to say that all these sources on all websites will be “nofollow” links, but it pays to check before spending your time trying to get your link on there for SEO purposes.  When you’re on a page with a link(s) to external websites pull up the page source code (typically a View selection in your web browser) and look for an example link.  If it looks like this:

<a href=”” rel=”nofollow”>Example Website</a>

then you will know those links are not counted by Google and do not contribute to SEO efforts.  Please note that “nofollow” links may still give big value in terms of the referral visits they bring, so be sure to add these websites to your referring links efforts.

The following can help you narrow down your targeted sites and set their priority if you end up with a long list.

Site Does Not Require Payment for Review or Link

If the website in question only reviews sites that pay for the service then it’s not worth your effort.  The major search engines are constantly looking for sites using paid links and downgrading or eliminating them from search results so that link you buy today may be worthless tomorrow.

Don’t Forget Check Your Own Readers’ Comments

Sometimes a reader who leaves a comment on your blog post is also a writer for a blog or other website and a potential source of links.  If they have engaged you by leaving a comment on your blog post, chances are they will be open to linking to you.

Next Up: How to Earn Links with Your Link Building Outreach Efforts

My next post in this series with present best practices for engaging website owners and bloggers to get their attention and earn those links.  Contact us if you want help in getting your link building strategy off the ground.  We offer consultations and ongoing services for link building outreach and other SEO-related services.