Infographic Link Building using BuzzStream

I’ve had a fair few people asking me lately about BuzzStream and how I use it for link building.  I’ve also mentioned it during various presentations including Search London where a couple of people asked me about it after my talk.  So this is the first of a series of posts which will go into a lot of detail on how to use BuzzStream to build links.  Quick disclaimer:  I am a BuzzStream affiliate, but it is my favourite link building tool so I have no problem with recommending it to people.

Love them or hate them, infographics can still get links.  My list of infographics sites is one of the most popular pages on this site and my other posts on infographics have proved to be very popular.  Link building using infographics can work very well if you have the right content and an efficient process.  This post will show you various techniques that I use to build links to infographics with BuzzStream.

Now, this is a pretty mammoth blog post, so here are some quick links to the various sections:

Find lists of infographic sites to get links from

Using Google reverse image search to find relevant link targets

Use Open Site Explorer to find links to competitors infographics

Using BuzzStream to help support future infographic campaigns

Find lists of infographic sites to populate BuzzStream

The best place to start is to populate BuzzStream with infographic sites.  If you are building links to multiple infographics, then having an existing list of sites to look at and outreach to is very valuable.  This “little black book” can save you a lot of time.  This is one of the most useful features of BuzzStream for me, being able to keep all my link contacts and relationships in one place is super useful.  Even better, I can make use of the search and filtering capabilities of BuzzStream to find link contacts quickly.

We’ll talk more about this feature later but for now, let’s look at how to get infographic sites into BuzzStream quickly and easily.

Step 1 – Use Projects and Campaigns to get organised

Before you actually add the sites, you should create a section within BuzzStream which can hold a “master list” of links which you can search and copy from at the appropriate time.  Here is how to do this simply:

 

 

 

 

To give this more context, you could add other types of master lists to this folder such as:

Now you are ready to gather infographic sites and add them to your master list of infographic sites within BuzzStream which helps to keep things organised.

Step 2 – Find lists of infographic sites

I’ve talked about using lists for link building before but here we want to focus on finding sources of infographic sites that we can use in our outreach.  There is a big advantage of using existing lists in that they have been curated by someone else who has already done some level of quality control of knows what a good site looks like.

The search query really is very simple, don’t over think things here:

This returns results which are usually a single page of links which you’ll want to quickly import into BuzzStream.  You can of course go through each one individually and use the BuzzMarker to add them, but this can be a bit time consuming when you have a bunch of sites to add.

To get around this, we are going to use two tools to help us.  Scrape Similar for Chrome and the Import Links feature of BuzzStream.

You can also use the BuzzStream link prospector tool here which is great for automating Google search queries such as this.  You can also go a bit more niche with queries such as this:

BuzzStream will then spend a few minutes gathering link targets and will send you an email when it is done.  You can then view this list and either accept or reject the link targets.

Step 3 – Add these lists of sites to BuzzStream in bulk

So let’s go back to our results from our Google search where we’ll probably end up with lists that look something like this:

This is where Scrape Similar comes in, simply right click on one of these links and click Scrape Similar, you will see something like this:

Once you have this list of sites, you’ll need to dump them into Excel so that we can import them into BuzzStream.

Step 4 – Import your spreadsheet into BuzzStream

The import feature of BuzzStream is great and you can import a bunch of data and connect these data points to the available fields within BuzzStream.  For now though, we’re going to just keep things simple and import the URLs we’ve found.

Then go to the Link Partners tab and click on the import icon:

The following screen will be loaded where you have a few options to select:

Now you need to match up the data in your spreadsheet to those within BuzzStream using the following screen options:

Click on Import these contacts and BuzzStream will drop you an email when the import is complete.  This usually only takes a few minutes.  Once complete, give BuzzStream a refresh and you should see the interface is now populated with the infographic sites.  I’ve noted a few important things on the screenshot below:

That’s it!  The whole process I’ve just outlined will take no more than ten minutes.  You can of course spend longer and find more lists of infographic sites.  Ultimately, the more infographic sites the better.

Another great technique to use when trying to place infographics is to do some competitor analysis and see which websites have embedded similar infographics before.  I outlined a process for link building with reverse image search not too long ago which goes into detail.  Here is another quick example of what you can do here which incorporates BuzzStream.

Step 1 – Find an infographic on the same theme as yours

Go to Google Image search or this handy infographic search engine which I built and search for a few of your keyword themes:

Step 2 – Find relevant link targets

From here you can do some reverse engineering to see who has embedded these infographics.  Let’s take an example of one of them and head over to Google images and click the camera icon:

After you’ve hit search, scroll down to this section:

Step 3 – Gather the target URLs in bulk and import

Again, we want to quickly get these websites into BuzzStream and are going to make use of the Scrape Similar plugin we used earlier and then import them into BuzzStream.

The difference here is that rather than importing them into the infographics master list, we’ll want to import them into a more specific campaign because these sites are specific to the current piece of content you’re promoting.

Here is an example of how this could look within BuzzStream:

This helps keep all of your work organised and keeps outreach targets nicely segmented by your various link building campaigns.

Use Open Site Explorer to find links to competitors infographics

I’m sure many of you have used and are familiar with Open Site Explorer.  It can be a great tool for finding out who has linked to other infographics which are similar to yours.  A word of warning: Open Site Explorer can take a month to update, so it is best to run this type of analysis on older infographics rather than fresh ones.

Step 1 – Enter the URL of your competitors infographic into OSE

Remember to choose an infographic that has been around for at least a month or two so that you are likely to find links to it.

Step 2 – Export results to a CSV

It is a little frustrating that his takes some time, but you’ll need to download the list of results into a CSV:

You’ll also need a free SEOmoz account to do this.

Step 3 – Import your CSV into Buzzstream

BuzzStream gives you the option of selecting the Open Site Explorer template as you can see below:

Handily, BuzzStream knows how to interpret an export fro OSE and does a good job of matching up the data to fields.  But you’ll want to double check them when you see this screen:

Click on Import and you’re done!  It will take a few minutes for the import to complete, you’ll also get an email when it is done.

Use BuzzStream to help with new infographic campaigns

Chances are that you’ll work on multiple infographics and you’ll want to become more efficient as time goes on so that each time you outreach one, you are using previous contacts and work to help speed things up.  Earlier in this post we looked at how to populate BuzzStream with lists of infographic sites.  Now we are going to look at how to use these contacts for our current infographic project which is about football.

Step 1 – Find the contacts you want to copy into your new campaign

Go to your master lists and select the infographic websites project which we created earlier:

Step 2 – Select the websites you want to copy

Now we need to quickly select the websites we want to copy:

Step 3 – Choose the project you want to copy the websites into

Now you will need to copy the selected websites into your current campaign, in our case this is the football infographic campaign.

Now if you go into your project, you’ll see that the websites have been copied over and you can start doing outreach to each of the websites using the outreach module.

That’s about it!  Phew that was a long post.  If you’re not already using BuzzStream, sign-up for a free trial here and let me know in the comments how you get on with the techniques above.

 

Infographic Link Building: Reverse Image Search

This is a slight variation of a technique that the guys over at SEOgadget mentioned in this post.  It is a quick and easy way of getting a good list of link targets to go alongside your regular outreach list for an infographic.

1. Find infographics on the same topic as yours

This shouldn’t be too hard, with the explosion in infographic creation over the last two years, you should be able to find at least a few.  To make things super, super easy I’ve created this Infographic Search Engine which will search this list of infographic sites for you and find infographics related to your keywords.

2. Find who else embedded them

Once you have found a handful of similar infographics, you need to find out who embedded them.  This is the equivalent of doing standard backlink analysis on a competitor.

Head over to Google image search and click on the little camera in the search box:

Then you just need to paste in the URL of the infographic source file – NOT the URL where the infographic is hosted.  The source file will usually end in something like .jpg, .png or .jpeg.  You can get this by right clicking on the infographic and clicking on “Copy Image Location”.

Hit search and you should get something that looks like this:

Keep scrolling down and you’ll get even more results.

3. Start prospecting

Start opening them in new tabs and doing link prospecting, I’d highly recommend using something like BuzzStream for this as it can go off and find contact details as well as link metrics for you.

Using this method, you are finding sites that have embedded infographics that will be similar to your own, so approaching them with your own super, awesome one will be of interest to them.

It will also give you a feel for how successful an infographic in your particular niche can be.

That’s it!  Nice and easy 🙂

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Link Building: Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Exclusive Content Placements

When doing link building outreach for clients which involves pitching a piece of content, I’ve often been asked if the target website can have the content as an exclusive.  More often than not, the people asking this are medium – large media type websites, magazines or newspapers.  So they have the potential to be very powerful links and to help you reach a very wide audience, as well as getting a nice spike of traffic to the client site.

However there are a few disadvantages of agreeing to an exclusive:

  • You can’t offer your content to anyone else during the exclusivity period which seriously limits your link building efforts
  • If the site is a big one, many people will credit them for the content and they will probably get most of the links in the first few days – these are the links your client should be getting

If your goal at the start of the project was to get links to your client, these disadvantages are a big problem!  Having said that, getting a nice guaranteed link, traffic and exposure from a big website is tempting.

Lets take a real example.  Say you pitched a piece of content to Wired and they responded positively and want to write an article about your content – on the condition that they publish it first and have exclusivity for two days.  You know that this could be very valuable to your client and they’d be happy, but its not optimal in terms of link building.

What would you do?

Personally, I’d see what else they could offer me which would get me extra link benefit.  How?  See what other websites they control and are affiliated with and see if as part of the exclusive, they can give me links on these sites too.  Here are a few ways to do that.

1) Start simple – check their website.

First place to start is the footer of the website, here is the one for Wired.com:

Straight away you can see the other websites that are part of the same group, you also have the dropdown menus which include international websites.  Sure not all of these will be relevant to your content, but more often than not, some of them will be.  Lets take a better example from Football365:

If you are promoting a piece of sports content, you have loads of relevant websites here to try and get links from too.

2) Check who owns the website and checkout their website

Many of the largest magazines and media outlets will be part of a larger group, much like Wired are above.  However they will not always make it as obvious and easy to find the related sites.  Again, lets take an example.  Imagine you were negotiation an exclusive with Amateur Photographer, at first glance you can’t see any associated sites in their header or footer.  There are a few links but nothing clear cut.  But notice what else is in the footer:

Notice the IPC Media Ltd bit?  These guys are a huge media group who run a lot of publications, here is the full list on their website:

I know that just having this list doesn’t guarantee you are going to get a link, you still have to work hard but when negotiating for an exclusive, having these up your sleeve as additional requests could pay off big time.

3) Getting more sneaky – finding connected sites which aren’t obvious

I’ve been using this technique for a while and its so quick and easy, that I don’t just limit myself to using it when negotiating exclusives.  I’ve used it on smaller sites to see what other sites someone owns or controls.

Head over to Spyonweb:

Simply enter the URL of the site you are speaking to and you will get details of websites which are associated with the same IP address, Google Analytics account or Google Webmaster Tools account.  I wouldn’t rely upon shared IP address that much though, if a website is on shared hosting, you will get a lot of other sites which they probably don’t own.

Note – I don’t bother with this much on websites I haven’t got a positive reply from.  It can drain time so I’d only tend to do this if I’m speaking to the site owner and trying to see what else they may be able to offer.

If you find sites on the same Google Analytics or Webmaster Tools account, go and take a look at them and see if they are relevant for your content.  If they are, see if the owner is willing to drop links to your content on those sites too.  Be careful not to come across as a stalker though when telling them you know about their other websites!

To wrap up, exclusives on link building can be of great benefit as long as you make sure you are getting as much bang for your buck as possible.  These methods should help you to do that and to negotiate a good deal for your client.

Building a Content Fulfillment Machine For Your Guest Posting Campaign

The following is a guest contribution by James Agate from content and outreach agency Skyrocket SEO. See his complete guide to guest posting for link building on SEOgadget.

By now, you are probably aware of the benefits of guest posting but one of the questions I commonly get asked is on the issue of scale.

Guest posting (the decent kind) can be well-organised and well-executed but as much as you systemise and automate, you still need to add more people to the mix to grow the campaign which for me makes the process semi-scalable. There’s nothing wrong with that and in fact I think part of the reason link building tactics like guest posting are so effective is because it requires real effort rather than just offloading your PayPal balance to India.

Paddy has covered several strategies and tools on ways to scale link building tactics like guest posting (see here and here) and these are well worth looking at in terms of making the outreach side of things much more efficient.

Aside from the outreach, one of the reasons why it can be hard to scale a campaign of this nature is because you require a constant supply of top-notch content. Today I wanted to cover how we’ve built our own content fulfillment machine (and I would be interested on ways to improve this?).

Our process

From speaking with others, I think we operate in a slightly different way when it comes to the content element of guest posting. It seems many choose to work up the content ideas, have it all written and then pop on their outreach hats and head into the wild to hunt down some bloggers who’ll take the pre-produced content.

We don’t work like this for a few reasons:

  • Pre-produced content just doesn’t feel as good or relevant to the sites you are pitching to. In my experience, it can feel like you are shoe-horning the content into a site rather than creating something which fits perfectly with the audience.
  • You tend to get some of your best content ideas cruising around the prospect’s site
  • Most savvy website owners can smell generic content a mile off
  • It can look a bit suspicious to send a ‘bespoke’ guest post right back at the prospect who has just agreed to let you write it.
  • We try to ensure the post resonates with the target audience rather than simply offering content that is industry themed.

Our process for the content side of things typically involves the following:

  • Themes/topics agreed upon
  • Content idea brainstorm
  • Loose, potential post ideas shortlisted
  • Outreach team work their magic – personalising the loose content ideas to the prospective link partner
  • Orders get fed back to our content manager
  • Assignments are then dished out to the appropriate writer or source of content (see below)
  • Completed work goes back through our content manager who then puts her commissioning editor’s hat on to make sure it meets our requirements
  • It then heads back to our outreach team, who perform the final checks and send off to the link partner.

If we break that process down it is essentially three phases:

  1. Ideas
  2. Writing
  3. Quality control

Generating Content Ideas

Coming up with ideas for guest posts is certainly the most intensive part of the content fulfillment process. Getting it wrong makes outreach difficult and the chances of a successful campaign much less likely.

Some projects require external help from a specialist (or the client if they have the time!) with a much more detailed understanding of the industry. You wouldn’t hire a generalist writer to put together a specialised financial analysis post so it also makes sense to involve an expert at the ideas stage – if anything so the person doing the outreach doesn’t look stupid.

Someone with a detailed understanding of the market may also be able to come up with ideas which are irresistible to the bloggers and website owners in the space because it fits nicely with a current industry theme or is a really popular topic within the space.

Involving a specialist isn’t always practical and isn’t always necessary – if you’ve got a bit of creativity and some research skills you can usually put together a topic list.

Here are some of my favourite creativity aids:

  • Quora – quickly becoming a great source of content inspiration
  • Q&A sites and forums – a very straightforward way to see the types of problems readers in the target industry have, many of these problems make excellent posts.
  • Content strategy generator – from SEOgadget (SEE HERE) – yes that is the second of five links in this post to the SEOgadget website. Who said good content can’t earn you links naturally!
  • Competing sites – I’m not suggesting blatant rip-off content but there’s nothing wrong with learning which posts proved ‘most popular’ with the readers of a competitor’s site. Many blogs have widgets offering this kind of information, which makes your life much easier.
  • The client site/your site – there is usually plenty of inspiration to be found from browsing their archives (that is if they have any!). You might find the way to take a new angle on an old topic they wrote about or a particular piece that could do with a refresh in the form of a guest post.
  • Ask the client about common questions they get from their customers

 Sourcing the content

When it came to constructing our content fulfillment machine we needed flexibility to source different content from different sources quickly, easily and cost effectively.

Having more than one source setup will ensure you don’t find yourself with a bottleneck – nothing worse than an abundance of opportunities but no way of fulfilling on the content front.

Having an appreciation of the capabilities of each source is also vital as this helps to maximise the ROI of a campaign; a guest post on a top blog requires really top-notch content but will be worth the investment, a guest post opportunity which is perhaps less prominent is likely to accept a slightly lower standard of content so you can adjust your sourcing accordingly.

Here are a couple of the sources of content which I am familiar with and how I would classify them in terms of pricing and quality.

Low

  • oDesk – you’ve probably heard about oDesk and you probably know what it is and isn’t good for. We have sourced a couple of great freelance writers through oDesk but the good writers are few and far between. However, the platform is very useful for managing payments to our a team of freelance writers (see below)

Medium

  • MediaPiston – a startup content platform which in its own words offers “high-quality, original content on demand”. MediaPiston integrates with your oDesk account if you have one, making payments seamless. MediaPiston does take some of the hassle out of managing a freelance content team but as a result of this you do sacrifice slightly on the quality front. MediaPiston is a useful way to fulfill content for your mid-level guest post opportunities as we do at Skyrocket SEO. The lack of control when it comes to who picks up your brief and how specialised they are on that topic doesn’t make it suitable for sourcing higher level content. That being said, their stringent quality control procedures mean you can rest assured the content is original, grammatically correct and free from spelling pisstakes. We are very happy with MediaPiston and if you have an awareness of its limitations then you’ll likely be pretty happy with the platform too.

High-end

  • Contently – Contently has dubbed itself a content marketing platform that connects quality writers with great brands. We’ve signed up to the service and I am currently playing around with it so if anyone wants to know how we get on just drop me an email in a couple of weeks.
  • In-house (or the client) – this can be a good way to source high-end content if you or your client has the luxury of an in-house team. Naturally this isn’t always an option because it can be expensive having writers on the payroll or impractical if you are waiting on the time-pressed client to send you over guest posts. Furthermore, in-house writers at agencies also tend to be a little more generalised which means content sourced via this method can sometimes be missing that je ne sais quoi.
  • Freelance team – as I alluded to earlier in this section, we source the vast majority of our content from the freelance team we have assembled. Whilst it can become a headache to manage individuals all over the globe, we do benefit from superb quality content, highly qualified individuals in every market we work in and no fixed overheads which makes this option very flexible.

See how to manage a freelance content team (part 1, part 2 and part 3). I would also add to these excellent posts by saying that hiring a content manager/commissioning editor is one of the best decisions we made – she makes sure the right writers get the right assignments and all content passes back through her on the way to the outreach team to ensure it meets our quality standards.

Quality Control

We have very high standards and for good reason; top-notch content makes establishing relationships, fostering loyalty with link partners and gaining valuable links much easier.

We have two layers of quality control – the first being our content manager who acts in a commissioning editor-esque role to make sure everything is ship-shape and appears to be in line with the assignment brief.

Our outreach team then act as the final check before sending the post out to the link partner, we do this because they were involved at the pitch stage so if they don’t think the post is quite right we’d much rather it comes back for the writer to put right since the chances of getting a second shot with a link partner are practically zero if you send them junk content the first time.

A couple of lessons I’ve learned…

  • Sometimes you just have to get it out the door – we have a number of relentless perfectionists here at Skyrocket SEO (myself included) and whilst that is often a good thing, in many situations the content is actually good to go.
  • Content will get declined regardless of how good it is – some folk are pretty fickle and bloggers are no exception.
  • Think practically – always be mindful of ROI; producing a post that wouldn’t look out of place in The New York Times just isn’t always necessary.

In conclusion…

Constructing a content fulfillment engine isn’t easy but it is worthwhile and absolutely essential.

When it comes to a guest posting campaign the output is directly impacted by the input – with content being a main ingredient. Think of it like this… if you feed shitty offal (crap content) into a sausage machine, it doesn’t matter how hard you turn the lever (outreach) you’ll never get premium grade Lincolnshire sausages (valuable links) out the other end.

Using Trello to Manage SEO Projects

If you haven’t heard of it before, Trello is an online collaboration / project management tool.  We’ve been testing it on a few projects at Distilled and personally I really like it.  Most people who I’ve spoken to use it differently, its very flexible.  In this post I’ll talk a little bit about the features and how I use it to manage multiple SEO projects.

Trello
Will actually did a short Pro Tip video over on the Distilled YouTube channel on Trello a few days ago –

Why I like it

Trello allows you to create a “board” for each of your projects, you can then break this board down into various stages in a project life cycle.  This tends to lend itself well to web development / software development projects where you have stages such as in progress, testing, live etc.  You can see a good example of this as well as other Trello features by looking at the public board for Trello itself –

The cards are very easy to organise because you can drag them up and across the columns.  You can also “flip them over” and write more details on the back such as adding comments, due dates, attachments etc.  Here is what it looks like –

Back of Trello Card
This is great because you can chuck all your notes, links, ideas and other stuff to the card and when the time comes to do the work, you have all your required information in one place.

Another great feature which makes it great for collaboration is the easy assignment of cards to team members.  You can do this just by dragging their profile picture into a card.  So you can easily see at a glance who is meant to be working on what within your project –

Front of Trello Card
The one thing to remember here is that to truly be effective, all team members must embrace and use the system.  Its no good assigning cards to people if they never login and check them!

Update: Thanks to Marc for pointing out this nifty little Chrome extension which lets you copy a Trello board including the columns, preferences etc.  This is really cool for using the same board template across multiple projects.

How I use Trello for SEO Projects

At first glance, Trello doesn’t lend itself well to my SEO projects.  Particularly as some tasks are ongoing and happen once a month.  For example these may be tasks which you repeat every month or continue over the course of several months –

  • Review Google Webmaster Tools
  • Link building
  • Competitor analysis

However you can break these tasks down and make them more precise and actionable.  For example, just having a card for “Link Building” is never probably never going to get moved to the done pile.  Its probably going to be ongoing.  However you may have different types of link building which are more precise –

  • Red widget infographic outreach contact list creation
  • Scrape competitor As links and order by DA
  • Survey SEO team for existing contacts in client industry

You can make these into cards and they can be moved to your done column.

My Trello Setup

I try to keep my setup as simple as possible and will tend to only have four columns –

  • Deliverables
  • In Progress
  • Delivered
  • Waiting for Client

I make sure that at the start of an SEO project, the Deliverables column includes EVERYTHING that the client has requested as part of our contract.  Of course these may change as the project progresses, but as a starting point, I make sure I have written down everything we have agreed to do.

I’ll tend to order the deliverables roughly in order of which ones I’ll work on first.  Then when I’m actually working on that deliverable, I’ll move it to the In Progress column.  I try to make sure that I have no more than 2-3 deliverables in progress at one time.  Otherwise it can be too easy to spread yourself too thin and end up not finishing anything.

When working on multiple clients, I’ll often come across relevant opportunities for clients I may not be working on at that precise moment.  For example I may find a good link opportunity, but I don’t want to get distracted away from my current work.  So I’ll quickly pop over to Trello, find the card that is relevant and add a note on the back.  If a card doesn’t existing, I’ll just add one and come back to it later.

Possible Additional Column – Ideas

In relation to this, you can also have another column for “Ideas” which can be things you think of which may not be part of an agreed deliverable.  You still want to capture these ideas somehow and make sure you don’t just forget about them.  So an ideas column which you check every few days can be very good for this and possibly adding extra value to your SEO project.

This also sits well with the Getting Things Done system which encourages some kind of way of capturing all your ideas into one central place.  You can just do this in a single column and if an idea becomes a deliverable, you can just move it along the columns and delegate accordingly.

You can combine this with another nice feature of Trello – the ability to vote on cards you like.  You can see this on the public Trello board I linked to above, each card has a number of votes which can help the guys at Trello see what ideas people want the most.  This can be a great way of collaborating on ideas you have for clients and seeing which ones your team think you should work on next –

Vote button in Trello

Where Trello could be better

The one thing I’d love to see Trello do is create a way of filtering cards across multiple projects. For example if I want to see all the cards that are currently “In Progress” across five projects, it would be great to filter and see what I should be currently working on.  Right now, its a case of going through each project one by one which isn’t terrible, but can take time.

Overall I really like it, its not perfect, but most tools for project management are not perfect for everyone.  If you use Trello, let us know in the comments what you think of it and any tips you have for using it.

Use Buzzstream to Scale your Link Building

Firstly a quick bit of clarification – scaling link building != spam.

Sometimes it can be easy to see the words scale and link building together and immediately think the worst.  Sure, some link building on scale is spammy, but it doesn’t have to be and thats not what I’m talking about in this post.

What I want to talk about in this post is efficiently getting volume of links for your site.  This is probably a tip more for agency SEOs and work across multiple sites all the time, I’m going to talk about how to us various features of Buzzstream to do this.

The fact is that right now, sites still need volume of links in order to rank well in competitive industries, I personally think this will change very soon and Google will turn the dial down a bit (more on anchor text than volume I think), but right now, its what we need to do.  Of course, you need to combine volume link building with higher quality links too, so don’t neglect that side of things.

The type of links which I think are scalable which aren’t spammy include –

  • Quality directories
  • Quality content submission sites
  • Infographic submission sites
  • Ecommerce store submission sites
  • Local citation sites

I’d class these types of sites as easy win link targets, sure they are probably not going to get you to number 1 on their own.  But they do allow you to get several important parts of a good link profile –

  • Linking root domain diversity
  • Anchor text (branded and non-branded)
  • Volume of links

Now all that is a bit clearer and we know we aren’t talking about spammy links, let talk about getting them easily and on scale.

1. Collecting your list and organising

This is by far the hardest bit, but it is worth it.

You simply need to start collecting the sites where you can submit multiple clients, such as the ones pointed out above.  Here are a few to get you started –

Now an important bit – you need to use the Custom Fields feature within Buzzstream to classify your sites.  This will serve two purposes –

  1. Find types of links quickly and easily assign them to people
  2. Easily copy types of links to other Buzzstream projects (ie your other clients)

To edit and add Custom Fields, go to Settings > Customise Fields:

Under “Custom Fields for Link Partners”, you then want to click on “New Custom Field”:

You will then see these options, you can call the Custom Field whatever you want, in this example I’ve called it Link Type.  I’ve also chosen to have this field as a checkbox because sometimes a link may be classified as multiple link types:

I’ve put a couple of examples in the choices.  Click on Save.  Then when you next go to add a website to Buzzstream using the Buzzmarker, you’ll see some checkboxes which you can select.  Here is an example of how this may look once you have added a few options:

 

So now you can go through websites such as the ones I’ve linked to above and add them to Buzzstream.

A sidenote here, you can also do this in bulk by importing a spreadsheet into Buzzstream.

Once you have all your sites in Buzzstream, its time for Step 2.

2. Copying to other Projects

This is the bit that is most useful for agency SEOs working across multiple clients.  There are going to be times when you have clients who need volume of links as part of their link building campaign.  So having easy access to a list of quick wins for this will always be useful.

To do this, go into the project where all your links are currently kept and filter by the type of links you want to copy.  For example you may choose to filter by “Infographic Sites” if you are about to launch an infographic for another client.

Once you have filtered, select the checkbox on the left hand side to select all of the list.  Then click on Projects > Copy to Project:

From the dropdown menu, select the project you want to copy the links to then click ok:

Thats it!  So now you can switch over to your other project and you’ll have all the link targets copied over and ready to use.

3. Assign the links around your team

This is another bit that can allow you to scale this part of your link building.  You can even assign to external outsourcers if you set them up with a basic Buzzstream account.

To do this, select the link targets using the checkboxes on the left hand side, then go to Edit > Assigned to:

Then from the dropdown menu, just select the person within your team who you want to build these links:

Nice and easy.

Thats it for this post, let me know in the comments if you are using this or any other ways you are using Buzzstream to help with your link building.

My Own Getting Things Done System

I wanted to talk a little about the system I use for (trying) to get things done.  I say trying because I’m aware that my system isn’t perfect.  Well, actually, the system could be totally fine.  The problem is probably me!  I feel that this topic isn’t covered very often in relation to SEO, one of my previous similar posts went down quite well so I wanted to (finally) do a more tip focused follow up.

I get distracted easily which probably doesn’t help me get things done no matter what system I use.  However, since I started using this system and adopted GTD principles in general, I’ve noticed a change in my productivity and general happiness at work.  I have always loved my work, but now when I walk away from it, I feel much more in control of my projects.  I think the following is true and key to all of us –

I’m in control of my projects – they’re not in control of me.

I wanted to share my system to try and help others and also to get feedback on this one.  I’m always looking to improve it so any thoughts are welcome.  This system is heavily based on the principles outlined by David Allen in Making It All Work, I’d highly recommend you getting a copy of it as well as David’s original book Getting Things Done.

There are basically 3 stages to my system

  • Get Clear
  • Get Current
  • Get Creative

I run through this system every Friday afternoon, I actually block out the time in my calendar so no one can book meetings during this time.  This helps me make sure I actually do it.

Get Clear

This involves making sure you’re caught up on everything you need to be and that you are aware of the big picture.  Only when you know you have everything you need to do in one place can you decide what to do next.

Step 1) Inbox=0

If you are unfamiliar with the concept of Inbox=0, take a look at this presentation that Merlin Mann gave to Google on the topic.  I’ll also briefly explain the principles below.

For now, I’ll give you the fundamental principles and benefits of getting into the Inbox=0 mentality.

  • Your inbox should NEVER be your to-do list
  • If you can reply to an email within 2 minutes, do it straight away
  • If a reply will take longer than 2 minutes, it is a task and should go onto your to-do lists, then archive the email
  • You shouldn’t be distracted by emails in your inbox also known as “stuff”
  • Getting to Inbox=0 gives you a sense of calm which strangely makes you feel more in control

I’ll eventually get around to writing a post all about Inbox=0, but for now the points above will do and of course you have the video from Merlin to take a look at.  You should also take a look at the series of blog posts he wrote:

inbox zero
So this fits into my process right at the start.  I clear out all my emails in one swoop.  I’m usually pretty good at keeping my inbox under control throughout the week, so this task shouldn’t take that long.  Every email is either replied to, or put onto my to-do list.

Step 2) Go through all my notes from the last week

Like many of you, I use a notebook to capture meeting notes, random thoughts, as well as my daily tasks.  I actually undervalued the power of a good notebook.  At the start of last year I started using a Molskine notebook and it makes it a pleasure to take notes.  I’m going to go into more detail about good note taking in another post.

moleskine-notebook
So I go through all my notes and make sure that any actions have been moved onto my to-do list.

Step 3) Get everything onto your to-do list(s)

To-do lists is a whole other topic, again which I’ll cover another time.

I’ve recently changed my to-do list management and have started using Trello.  I used to use Remember the Milk which is simple and has lots of cool features if you need them including an iPhone App.  I changed mainly because I was getting a bit bored and wanted a change, not because of any issues with Remember the Milk.

Update: I’ve written a blog post on Using Trello to Manage SEO Projects

I have a few different to-do lists for different projects that I work on, each project then has different lists which are usually along the lines of “to-do”, “doing”, “done”, and “waiting for”.

At this point I should have absolutely every task on my to-do list.

Step 4) Review past weeks calendar for outstanding actions

Ideally, you should have captured any actions from meetings etc in your notebook.  But sometimes this won’t capture everything, such as a meeting that got cancelled and needs to be rearranged.  So its best to review your past meetings to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything.

Step 5) Review next weeks calendar for actions to be taken

If you have meetings coming up, there may be some actions to be taken in order to prepare for those meetings.  These are easily forgotten about.  The last thing you want is to be preparing 5 minutes before a meeting starts – although we’ve all been there!

So if you have actions, these should be moved onto your to-do list.

Get Current

This involves organising your tasks and upcoming events so that you know exactly what needs to be done next and when.

Step 1) Review ALL to-do lists and capture tasks for the next week

At this stage you want to go through all of your tasks and pick out the ones that need to be done over the next week.  This can be tricky but you need to learn to prioritise.

Step 2) Decide my to-do list for Monday

As I do this on a Friday, I make a to-do list for the following Monday.  There is a lot of value in deciding your to-do list before the day.  It helps you a lot to keep things clear in your head.  I’d highly recommend getting into this habit, arriving into work and having your tasks already written out is a great feeling and much more efficient.

So I go through my tasks and choose 5 that I want to get done on Monday.  I write these into my notebook.

3) Review ALL projects I’m responsible for – make sure each one has an action next to it

This is more of a good project management tip rather than strictly GTD.  But it is still good practice for this time.  I have a wall in the Distilled office with all my teams projects and I keep this up to date with cards which are the next actions for each.

4) Review tasks that I’ve delegated to others

I also have a list of tasks that I’ve delegated to other people.  It is good to review this list and see if you need to check in with any of the people you’ve delegated to and check the status of the tasks.

Get Creative

This allows you to have some fun and get creative with your projects.

1) Review ambition list

I have a list which I call my ambition list.  This isn’t necessarily related to work, it can be just about anything you want.  Reviewing this list doesn’t mean you’re going to take any actions, but it helps to keep your long term goals in perspective and in your mind.  But the key is that it shouldn’t matter if you don’t take action, you should rest assured that you will get to this someday and you should trust yourself that you will.

2) Go through your projects – what cool, creative ideas can you add to them?

Here I can add any new or creative ideas to each of my projects.  This is good because in the course of my day-to-day work, I may not have time to do this.  But at this time when I review projects, I have the perfect chance to pull out these ideas and add them to my lists.  It doesn’t mean I’m going to action them immediately, but it does mean that creative and different ideas do get onto your list and you can review them at the right time.

Conclusion

I know this seems very long winded, but its not.  It takes me 20-30 minutes to do this, the main time is taken on getting to inbox=0.  If my inbox is already empty, this whole process takes 15 minutes or so.

I’d love to hear how you guys approach getting stuff done, particularly managing multiple client projects at the same time which is always a challenge.

Using Boomerang for Link Building Outreach

Quick and easy link building post today. Hat tip to John Doherty for mentioning the awesome Boomerang Gmail app to me whilst we were in New York.

Update: Looks like great minds think alike! John published this post a few hours ago over on SEOmoz which talks about Boomerang and other great ways to use Gmail to boost your outreach efficiency.

Boomerang for Gmail
Boomerang is designed as a productivity tool, particularly for those who are fans of inbox=0 and processing email at particular times rather than as it comes in. The basic features allow you to schedule sending, tell you when someone doesn’t reply as well as Boomerang an email back to you at your chosen time of processing email.

I originally installed for these reasons and to aid to my inbox=0 and email processing efforts, then quickly realised a couple of the features could come in handy when doing link building outreach. I started using it as part of my own outreach and it has worked pretty well thus far, so I thought I’d share.

Letting you know when you don’t get a reply

Its always nice to get a reply from your link targets first time, but sometimes that doesn’t happen and you’ll need to follow up. Using Boomerang, you can get a reminder if someone doesn’t reply using this setting:

Boomerang for Link Building
Really nice feature and it takes literally two seconds to set up. If I don’t get a reply, the email will “come back” in two days or whatever time period I choose.

Scheduling emails

I haven’t used this one loads to be honest but if you are doing some advanced link building in terms of timing your outreach, then this could come in handy. I know that some people (mainly journalists and high level bloggers) can sometimes be more likely to respond at certain times, so this feature could help with that.

Basically, you can compose your emails, then set them to go out at a certain time:

Scheduling Email with Boomerang
It is very easy to do and thus far, very reliable.

Going through outreach replies at a specified time

I haven’t used this one but it occurred to me that it could be useful depending on how you manage your time on client projects.

If you get a reply to an outreach email, but you are buried deep in another client project, then you can tell the email to come back at a time when you are planning to work on that client. I know some of you are thinking “why not just leave it in your inbox until you’re ready?”. Well those who are thinking that may want to watch this video on inbox=0 🙂

Boomerang for Later
 

As I said, I don’t do this but I can still see how it would help some people.

If you use Boomerang, please let me know if there are other uses for it which I’ve not mentioned here (including non-link building uses!).

List of Infographic Sites for Link Building

My dislike of (bad) infographics is pretty well known.  The fact is that even bad ones can get links, so it would be very silly of me to totally ignore them given the amount of time I spend on link building.  To make things easier for other SEOs and myself, I’ve put together this list of sites that focus on promoting infographics.  I’d still ask you not to submit bad infographics to these sites, give them a good reason not to say no to your submission.  Thanks to the guys at Linkbuildr for giving my list a kick start.

If you have any additional ones, or if you own an infographic / data viz site that you’d like added to the list, feel free to leave a comment below.

You can sort each column of the table by URL, Price or Domain Authority.

URL Fee DA
http://vizualarchive.com/ $35 27
http://www.onlineinfographics.net $49
http://infographick.com/ Free
http://www.infographicsonline.net// $45 17
http://dailyinfographic.com/ $350 65
http://fuckyeahinfographics.tumblr.com/ Free
http://nfogfx.com/ Free
http://iheartinfographics.tumblr.com/ Free 97
http://iinfographic.com/ Free 20
http://infographic.co.za/ $10 25
http://infographicsbin.tumblr.com/ Free 97
http://infographicsite.com/ Free 29
http://www.pureinfographics.com $40 32
http://infographipedia.com/ 2 Euros 34
http://infographr.tumblr.com Free 97
http://submitinfographics.com/ Free 53
http://theinfographics.blogspot.co.uk/ Free 66
http://videoinfographic.com/submit-infographic/ Free 33
http://visual.ly/ Free 83
http://www.bestinfographics.co.uk/ Free 30
http://www.bestinfographics.info/ Free 26
http://www.cloudinfographics.com/ Free 30
http://www.infographicas.com/ $30 30
http://www.infographicpost.com/ Free 31
http://www.infographicsarchive.com/ $49 49
http://www.infographicsshowcase.com/ $100 57
http://www.omginfographics.com/ Free 32
http://www.coolinfographics.com/ Free 68
http://chartporn.org/ Free 59
http://www.fastcompany.com/tag/infographic Free 93
http://www.infographiclove.com/ $40 31
http://infographicdatabase.com/ Free 21
http://www.info-graphic.co.uk/ $20 27
http://newsfix.co.uk/ Free 28
http://www.infographicreviews.com/ $30 20
http://infographixdirectory.com/ Free 31
http://www.nerdgraph.com/ Free 30
http://www.infographicsubmission.com/ Free 16
http://www.ratemyinfographic.com/ Free 20
http://www.infographicsmaze.com/ $50 30
http://infosthetics.com/ 79
http://www.easel.ly/ Free 54
http://www.infographicfile.com/ Free 19
http://www.discoverinfographics.com/ $25 20
http://www.infographicgallery.co.uk/ $15 7
http://www.infographicsposters.com/ $20 28
http://www.bestinfographic.co.uk/ £25 34

Using Buzzstream for Link Prospecting

I love Buzzstream, if I could choose one piece of software to help me with link building, it would be Buzzstream.  For those of you unfamiliar with it, take a look at my Buzzstream review to get up to speed.  I’ve also blogged previous about using Buzzstream as a searchable database of links.

In this post, I want to outline a very simple process for quickly gathering, filtering and contacting link prospects.

Step 1 – Gathering Lists of Link Prospects

There are lots of ways of gathering link prospects, many people will just look for sites using advanced search operators on Google.  This can work fine, but isn’t really that efficient because there can be a lot of low quality results when you get past the first few pages of results.  A better method that I’ve made lots of use of lately is to use lists that have been created by others.  The advantage here is that if you find the right lists, the link prospects will have already been curated which means you have more chance of finding high quality sites to contact.

Finding these lists is so simple, I often laugh at some of the fancy tools and search queries that crop up when I get great results using something like this:

Seriously, its that simple.  Just that one search query gave me a few links that gave me hundreds of link prospects.

You don’t just have to rely upon Google to give you these lists either.  Take this search on Dmoz for example:

Or you could take a look at this page on Best of the Web blogs:

I’m sure you get the idea.  But meh, here is one more for you 🙂

These lists are absolutely everywhere, you just need to have a good look for them.  Once you have these lists, you need to add them into Buzzstream using the Buzzmarker.  At this point, its worth adding in any notes that hit you straight away or any contact details you spot.  Don’t worry if you don’t find anything at this point, the next step gets into more detail about this.

2. Cleaning the List and Finding an Angle

At this point, you will have lots and lots of link prospects saved into Buzzstream.  Now we need to start going through them and qualifying them for outreach.

A quick note at this point.  Some may say that you should qualify prospects before adding them to Buzzstream so that you only end up with high quality sites within Buzzstream.  I can see what they mean, but there is a good reason for adding everything to Buzzstream and cleaning them afterwards.  That reason being that you can reject sites and add a note as to why.  Then if you come across this site again in the future, Buzzstream will tell you that it is already saved and you’ll be able to see that its been rejected.  This will save you lots of time and allow you to build a list of sites you definitely do not want to contact.

Right, so the first way to sort your list of contacts is to sort by a metric such as PageRank or MozRank highest to lowest:

After some time, Buzzstream will start to suggest contact info that it has found from your list of link prospects:

As I go through each link prospect, I’ll usually click on these and if the contact details look accurate, I’ll add them straight away.  Next I’ll start visiting each site and seeing whether its one that I feel will be interested in the piece of content I’m promoting.  Its worth noting that the first thing I tend to do is look for contact details if Buzzstream hasn’t already found them.  Reason being that I do not want to spend ages looking through a site and deciding its a good one to target for a link, only to find that I can’t contact them.

Assuming I like the look of the site and feel it could be a good one to contact, I’ll usually do the following:

  • Find a previous blog post of piece of content similar to the one I’m pitching them (assuming mine is better!) and add a note to Buzzstream
  • Add a note to Buzzstream with the angle I think I can take, I’ll sometimes even write the opening lines of the email I’m planning on sending, so when the time comes, I can just copy and paste and I will have made my templated email unique to the link prospect

I know what you are thinking – this sounds like a lot of work and time.  Well, it kinda is.  High quality link building outreach is like that.  But I bet that after you get into the swing of it, it will not take anywhere near as long as you are thinking.  For me, I can probably tell if a site is good quality or not within ten seconds of it loading.  Assuming it is good quality, it will probably take me another minute or so to figure out if there is a good angle I can use to pitch my content.  At this point I’ll change the relationship stage to Qualified / Rated.

For low quality sites, I’ll usually change the relationship status to Rejected but make sure I add a quick reason for why.  So if I come across the site again in the future, I can see why I rejected it.

After this process, the aim should be to left with a clean list of sites that are all categorised within Buzzstream as Qualified link prospects which I also have the following for –

  • Contact details
  • A previous piece of content they have written (which I’ll reference in the email to them)
  • The opening few lines of the outreach email saved in their notes

Then I’ll go make a coffee 🙂

Step 3 – Sending the Emails

Depending on the content I’m pitching, I may do this step immediately after step 2, but it depends at which point the content is in being completed.  Sometimes I will do outreach before content is completed to test the water a little and get feedback, which I’ll do a separate blog post about at some point.

At this point I’ll also write a new template email which pitches the piece of content I’m promoting.  Its hard for me to give an example here because every template will naturally be different.  Also, I’ll never send exactly the same email to every link prospect.  I’ll always put something in which is unique to them.  Buzzstream is great for doing this.

First I’ll segment all my targets so that I’m left with a list of link prospects which are Qualified and not been contacted yet.  I’ll then select them all using the checkboxes on the left hand side of the Buzzstream interface:

Once you have all of these selected, its time to use the Buzzstream email outreach module:

I mentioned templates earlier, so I won’t go into this again.  After selecting my template, I’m presented with this interface where some of the features of Buzzstream really help.  The left hand side of the outreach module looks like this:

The bit I’ve highlighted is an example note that I added when doing my link prospect qualifying in step 2.  I can simply copy and paste it from the left panel into the email template on the right:

Buzzstream Email Outreach

This means you have made the email unique to the link prospect and give yourself a better chance of getting a good response.

That is about it!  This process is one you can certainly replicate and use yourself, feel free to leave a comment with your feedback and ways you think this process could be improved – I’d love to hear your thoughts.