Perhaps the newest buzzword in SEO is “relationship building.” It’s not about link building anymore-it’s about the relationship. And while I don’t disagree, it is very easy to start tab jumping or fall into Twitter and not accomplish what you wanted to in the first place: getting this person’s attention.
While there are numerous industry experts who have covered
the topic extensively before, one of the most overriding statements is that relationship building “takes time.” Yes, it does, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t break it up into smaller chunks of time that don’t inadvertently consume your entire morning, or day, or week.
I’m here to offer you ways to build a relationship with your target in just 15 minutes a day. That’s right, 15 minutes. Put on your egg timer, or the alarm on your phone, or whatever you use to keep yourself on track. The team here at Outspoken Media can tell you I’m crazy deadline-driven/time-aware, so when I say 15 minutes, I do my darndest to mean it. While in sum, these strategies could eat up your day, this is my advice: choose one target a day to focus on, and use a few tactics. By the end of a month, you could potentially have 20+ relationships in the works. All for a measly 5 hours.
I’m going to present this from probably one of the hardest positions to work from-an in-house marketer, many of whom I work with every day. I am assuming there is no access to social media accounts (or at least not without a massive headache from legal or the social media team constantly asking “Why?”). All I am assuming is that there is a branded email that you have access to, and maybe that you can get content on your company blog, as, more often than not that is what I’ve seen in-house teams be able to easily access. As an agency SEO or consultant, these tactics are also still relevant and useful.
Yes, commenting. Not comment spam purely for a followed link. Take two minutes and actually read a recent article (that may or may not be related to your company) and leave a thoughtful comment.
And just to clarify for those of you out there that may be wondering, no, I am not categorizing commenting on a person’s blog post as a link that would be reported to the boss or the CEO. All of these tactics are vehicles for the relationship (and link) that you want.
While there are some people whose email inboxes are sacred; I’ve been pretty fearless personally with my own sites when conducting outreach, and had great success. It may not be the easiest thing to hear, but when you’re building a relationship, get rid of canned responses or templated emails.
- Be charismatic and genuine (even if that means using improper grammar)
- Use their language
- Ask a question that doesn’t involve the words “guest post” at all
Respect Their Time
Do you like reading your email when you have 70 unread messages in your inbox?
Then don’t expect anyone else to, either. Take a guess based on the size of a given publication how busy whomever you contact is going to be and craft your message accordingly. The editor of a smaller, niche website may appreciate your long, gushy, email, but the editor of TechCrunch will not.
This also means not following up every two hours pestering them to see if they’ve read your email. Simple answer: No, they haven’t. They have a job. And a life.
I’m not talking about tweets, re-tweets or Facebook shares, or even egobait, I’m just talking about simply mentioning (and linking) to whomever you’re interested in within a blog post on your company blog. A third of all the Internet is on WordPress-and WordPress allows Pingbacks. Chances are, if you mention a person in a blog post, they’ll notice.
Become a Contributor
Sometimes there will be sites that don’t accept guest posts because they are looking for more long-term writers. A lot of pure “link builders” have historically shyed away from opportunites like that because it would build a footprint (if said link builder was working from an unbranded persona) or because it was too much time invested when becoming a contriubutor to a site wouldn’t build diversity in linking domains or C-Blocks. But! For building a relationship, it’s a great opportunity. If it’s within the scope of your responsibilites and you can take on writing with the frequency they desire, do it.
This is yet another reason why going after irrelevant targets is a lost opportunity. When you’re looking at a site that is in the same industry you are in, you can talk shop with them! You both got into the industry for a reason – you both have a passion for it somewhere, somehow. Let that show!
Follow up matters. While people have a life and don’t want to read an email, the flipside of that is: people have a life. Email clients break and lose emails. Sometimes things just get lost in the shuffle, nothing personal. Don’t be afraid to follow up-though usually I give it a week of hearing crickets before I send a second email. A week can be a long time in the world of an email inbox, so schedule yourself a reminder when you send the initial email, whether that’s using a plugin like Boomerang or setting a deadline on a task through Trello.
This is more appropriate after you’ve been in communication with someone for a while, but again – you’re in the same industry, and if you’re doing it right, you’re reaching out to and talking with a LOT of people. If you’re in touch with a blogger who is working on a project and needs help, reach out to some of your own contacts on their behalf to see if they’d be interested in helping said blogger. You’ll generate goodwill both with the blogger and with everyone as a whole. When you help others out without expectation of something in return, it tends to work in your favor.
Rinse and Repeat
Just because you’ve gotten past the “getting to know you” phase, that doesn’t mean you should stop commenting, mentioning, emailing or connecting with them. Keep it going!
What quick things do you do to build relationships online?
About the Author
Amanda King has several years experience in writing, traditional marketing, and the SEO industry. Follow Amanda on Google+.