(with Garrett French of CitationLabs.com)
Compiling lists of all kinds is integral to the work of a link builder. Not only do lists make the job easier, they save a lot of time and make sure you don’t miss easy opportunities. Both Garrett and I almost build our working lives around lists.
In the draft outline of this article, we envisaged around 17-20 lists would be good to share. But when we put our heads together, we came up with over 50 lists. Which just goes to show another benefit of creating lists – the process of writing a list encourages you to think of stuff you ‘never knew you knew’, if you get what I mean.
Garrett and I take different approaches to link building. Garrett does a fantastically meticulous job of step-by-step approaches to many individual targets: I prefer to work on ‘spectaculars’ – great pieces of content that can be promoted to many targets at the same time and can get a ton of links without asking.
Yet while our approaches are different, we both make great use of lists in our daily work. So we thought we’d share some of our thinking and create a ‘master list of lists’ that we think every link builder should have. As well as being useful, we hope this will also give you a good idea of what we’ll be covering in our new webinar and video course, ‘Get Links Pro’ that will be launching shortly.
Within our lists there are at least three types:
- lists that can be used right away to generate links. For example, draw up a list of ‘magic middle’ blogs in your industry and start approaching them.
- lists that will make you think a bit deeper and incorporate business objectives into your thinking. For example, draw up a lists of sites that already link to you and ask the question, “how can I build on the relationship I’ve already got with this site?”
- lists that might puzzle you a bit and think that they’re not really about link building at all. For example, a list of at least 10 debates or controversies in your industry. These may not lead directly to links but they’ll strengthen the impact of your writing and that in itself will make your posts more linkworthy.
Anyway, we’re more than happy to share our lists with you. But one thing is for sure, we’ve left some important ones out. So if you don’t see your favorite list, please share it with us all in the comments below!
To be effective as a link builder, you’ve got to know your industry inside out. Compile these lists and you’ll know more than most of your competitors.
- Top 20-50 bloggers in your industry – they’ll be hard to get links from at the start, but it’s something to aim for.
- ‘Magic middle’ bloggers in your industry – magic middle bloggers are those that are not in the top list, but are also very good blogs – it’s often easier to get links from them because they’re not inundated
- Offline and online trade publications – look for the names of editors, journalists and contributors, and keep an eye out for any industry lists or resources they publish.
- Journalists who tweet about your industry – follow them, retweet their good stuff, and try to build a relationship with them – but don’t push too hard.
- Industry associations – especially any web based ones that give links to members
- Resource lists about your industry – (yes, even directories!) – the owners of such lists want to be as comprehensive as possible so they’re usually easy to persuade.
- Forums and discussion groups relevant to your industry – it’s where people have been congregating for years – you should be part of their discussion.
- Niche social media sites – ditto to above
- National, regional and local trade shows with dates – good to attend (and even report on the event) but if you can’t get there perhaps you can piggyback on increased awareness they generate.
- Twitter users in your industry – they don’t have to be top influencers, anybody who tweets good stuff can be courted.
- Colleges that teach courses that feed into your industry – and would just love to have a real person come and talk about their real experiences
- Professors and researchers who write about your industry – and could include you in research studies or reports.
- Authors who’ve written books about your industry – they’ll have great authority and are surprisingly easy to approach (all it takes is a bit of flattery)
- Experts who speak at trade shows, run webinars or publish slideshows – how could you help them?
- Holidays and observances relevant to your industry – these holidays and observances raise media interest and give you a hook on which to pitch your story – you’ll find a great list of them at http://www.brownielocks.com/ – just go through them and pick out the ones that are relevant to you.
- Sectors that your industry serves – you’d be surprised at how many sectors your industry serves. Here’s an example of the sectors SurveyMonkey.com get links from:
Knowledge of your customers will feed your content planning and make sure that what you produce interests and resonates with your customers. Time spent compiling these lists will never be wasted.
- Customers who subscribe to your email newsletter – probably the most important.
- Customers who comment on your articles or posts – they’ve show an active interest in what you do and are not afraid to share their opinions so get them on your side
- Customers who makes suggestions for improvements or new products – often a source of great new ideas
- Customers who’ve got great websites – how could you persuade them to link to you?
- Customers who blog – how could you persuade them to write about you?
- Customers who’ve won awards – why not congratulate them, give them a link? They’re sure to return the favor.
- Customers who’ve featured in the media – again congratulate them, get them on your side.
- Customers who’ve been with you for years – they’ll be your most loyal supporters. How could you encourage testimonials?
- Customers who praised your products or services in the past – well they’ll do so again, particularly if you encourage them.
- Customers who’ve had problems with your products or service – solve their problem and you’ll turn them into an advocate.
- Customer sectors that your company serves – think of the sectors your industry serves. Have you got a particular strength or niche within that?
As the Chinese general, Sun Tzu said, “Know thy enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles, you will never be defeated. When you are ignorant of the enemy but know yourself, your chances of winning or losing are equal. If ignorant both of your enemy and of yourself, you are sure to be defeated in every battle.”
Sure holds true for business and link building.
- List of your direct and indirect competitors online – you need to know who they are and what they’re up to
- List of quality websites that link to your competitors but not to you – so how can you persuade them?
- List of articles written about your competitors – what are they doing well that you’re not doing?
- List of reasons why your competitors get links – e.g. new products, good prices, special offers, contests, nice article, PR announcement, anniversaries, personal profiles of owner or staff
- List of strengths where your competitors are better than you…
- List of weaknesses where you’re better than your competitors…
- List of businesses or websites that partner with your competitors…
Even if you’re a national operation, involving yourself in the local community can pay dividends.
- Local newspapers, media and news sites – they can be desperate for news – so learn to be a good source and the links will follow
- Local bloggers – a great way to find local bloggers is to do a link analysis of local media, hospitals, local government and libraries.
- Local government offices – do they publish local resources?
- Local government initiatives – you could support
- Local business initiatives – you could be a part of
- Local job fairs and career events – you could participate in, recruit staff or interns from
- Local associations relevant to your industry…
- Local charities you could support…
- Local schools you could become involved with…
- Local sports clubs you could sponsor…
- Local organisations your staff are involved with…
- Local meetup groups relevant to your industry…
- Local businesses relevant to your industry…
- List of colleagues or friends who will give you links – just because you’re a friend and will probably be able to return the favor sometime
- List of benefits your products provide – constantly update these and make sure you include them in your writing and marketing
- List of reasons why people will link to you – this list is probably much longer than you think and it’s worth spending some time on compiling it
- List of articles you could write about – I write down article ideas all the time and probably have 30-50 at any one time
- List of sites where you’d like guest posts – and could pitch some of the article ideas above
- List of bloggers that already link to you – if they’ve done it once, they’ll be likely to do it again
- Lists of journalists who written about you – ditto
- List of great things you’d like to read about yourself in an article in the NY Times – or other prominent media of your choice – how could you make it happen?
- List of at least 10 debates or controversies in your industry – together with a handy sound bite for each
- List of great promotional ideas that just blow you away – no matter where they come from – can you adapt them to your own industry
- List of clever people you should reach out to one of these days – be ready for the opportunity when it presents itself
- List of people who you can bounce ideas off – this is one of my most important lists and a great way to test out ideas – even if I ignore the advice I’m given.
That I think is enough to be going on with!
There’s a lot of work in creating these lists and we don’t expect you to do it all overnight. But everyone of these will boost your link worthiness. So work on them over time – create one or two lists a day, or one or two a week – whatever fits into your schedule.
But follow this process and you’ll see that the task of getting links gets easier and the quality of the links you get will be higher.
Our new webinar and video course, ‘Get Links Pro’ that will be launching shortly – follow the link to join the waiting list!
Author: Ken McGaffin
I’ve been working online since studying entrepreneurship at Boston College, MA since the early 90s. I now consult and provide training in digital marketing, public relations and link building. If you’d like to have a chat, give me a call on +44 (0)1292 263801 or drop me a line to ken @ kenmcgaffin.com