A GUIDE TO HELP YOU Measure and present link building Results TO INTERNAL STAKEHOLDERS My first exposure to SEO was, I believe, in 1997 – although I didn’t become familiar with the term until some time later. And wow has it been a journey – this is an amalgamation of hard-won learnings over my professional ... Read more
Testing theories; Taking notes
This is where we keep our lab notes, industry analyses, how-to guides, webinars and experiment write-ups. At Citation Labs, our constant is innovation, and this blog is where we share our findings.
Recently, @marie_haynes put out a Twitter poll. The poll asked respondents whether they ‘believe link building is less effective now compared to a few years ago’. According to this write-up on Search Engine Roundtable: Over 40% of respondents indicated they think link building has become less effective, vs. Almost 30% indicated no, it’s not less ... Read more
Let’s say it’s your job to improve the rankings of the sofa category page on your employer’s ecommerce website. Skip glib, superfluous intro >> Your technical, onpage optimizations and DA are – miraculously – at parity with the top 10 competitors for “buy a sofa” and yet your page languishes deep on page 2. You ... Read more
H/T to @joehall, who recently called out the SEO Industry’s collective over-focus on the “quality” of a backlink. As Joe puts it in his article: “The SEO community has this almost unhealthy obsession with high-quality backlinks. So much so that many ignore the fundamental basics of content promotion and marketing in an effort to acquire ... Read more
Earlier this week, Garrett and I presented a 90-minute webinar that showcased a start-to-finish approach to building links to sales pages. Hosted by SEMrush, about 500 people registered and nearly 400 watched the broadcast live on YouTube and Periscope. Thank you to all who took time out of your day to join us, and a ... Read more
When we prospect for links and resource pages – the classic target for the white-hat style link begging tactic – we often wondered which advanced queries are most-likely to return to us the pages we’re after. Here are the 10 most-productive queries in case you have links-page prospecting to go and do right now. Read ... Read more
Our guide to landing page link building was one of our biggest publication hits of the year… and it’s also a topic I love to talk, write and strategize about as you can see in the article itself. This is the page where the webinar will be watchable. URL for copy/paste sharing if you do ... Read more
(NOTE: This article walks through a prospecting approach that includes mass-scraping auto-complete suggestions using a tool that we have not made public. It’s useful for prospectors even if you don’t have the tool, but just wanted to warn you before hand.) Also, here’s a webinar on the same topic: OK so let’s say you want ... Read more
In 2010 I wrote on the concept of “preciprocation,” which I lifted straight from non-profit efforts I observed at or around that time. TLDR: Do superficial favors in hopes of generating a reciprocal gesture (a link) from a publisher. Nothing wrong with link building gimmicks in my book, but I’d like us to consider thinking ... Read more
As we’ve grown in capacity (currently at 135 FT employees) and pitched Earned Placement services (often called guest posts) for a little over two years we’ve come to recognize a massive knowledge gap at most companies, from small to large. Their sales pages, whether they’re selling products or services, lack citability. In other words there’s ... Read more
If you’re manufacturing outbound links – particularly via guest placements on third party sites – your work must bear potential scrutiny from Google quality contractors… not to mention your peer competitors. How you link out – to your own or client properties as well as other supporting resources – matters tremendously. And listen – how ... Read more
Great stories engage your audience, attract links from authority sites and make your pitches for guest post placements or PR coverage so much more compelling. In this free webinar, Garrett French, Kristina Welch and Ken McGaffin will show you how anyone can find great stories and turn them into terrific content. Here’s the full recording of ... Read more
Public relations efforts tend to focus on the top tier media that everyone knows. But there are thousands of smaller publishers who can be just as valuable.
https://vimeo.com/217999052 Duration: 5:52 minutes – full transcript below. ClifBar.com is a different kind of company… “the kind of place we want to work, that makes the kind of food we’d like to eat, and it strives for a healthier, more sustainable world”. The Idaho company recognizes the value that the team members bring, not only ... Read more
At Citation Labs, we believe in the link-building power of newsletters, and we also believe in holiday-focused outreach. Never did we think these two beliefs could converge in such a powerful way, but they did and the results led to a bit of a fairy-tale ending…for us anyway.
So where can you get new ideas to drive your link building campaigns? In this episode, Garrett tells us what is working for him at the moment, what he’s experimenting with and why there is still great value in tactics that have gone out of fashion.
When Saskia Nelson set up her business she decided that she didn’t want to be just another wedding photographer. Instead, she decided to specialize in photographing people for their online dating profiles. Her niche business, ‘Hey Saturday’ has thrived and grabbed a lot of media attention, including a wonderful piece on the BBC, The woman on ... Read more
A website that has been updated in the last month, the last week and even the last 24 hours is what Garrett calls a ‘fresh prospect’. These updates are sure signs of life – that there is a person behind the site that cares about it, adds new content – and is likely to respond ... Read more
Your team can create terrific, newsworthy content if you allow them to use your products as your customers would. For example, Shopify’s have a full-time resident entrepreneur, Jane Lee as part of the staff team. And she has set up a Shopify store, using Shopify software to sell Shopify products – and it has proved to be ... Read more
The Sleep Matters Club from a UK-based bed and mattress company, Dreams.co.uk takes a highly creative approach to content marketing. In creating content for their blog, you might expect they’d concentrate on sleep psychologists and sleep experts. That’s what many of us would do – but that’s not good enough Dreams! So how about a ... Read more
Is the phone the most underused tool in link building? Yes, says Garrett French, founder of Citation Labs. In this podcast he takes us under the hood at his agency to show how the phone is an essential tool in all the link building they do. And he also explains how you can persuade, perhaps, ... Read more
Whenever a new tool is released, the first thing that comes into many SEOs’ minds is how can it help me get links? Certainly, the much anticipated release of Moz’s keyword tool was one of them, as finding good prospecting keywords is often essential for finding link building opportunities in tools like the Link Prospector or Broken Link ... Read more
Megan: One of the first pieces of advice using research phrases, and this is something I think a lot of new users to the link prospect are getting confused about, is we really encourage users to go outside of sales and SEO keyword space. I have this example here of this person, for their campaign, ... Read more
In our blog posts and webinars, we often hat-tip our content creation team. Lindsay Miller is this content curator. She, along with our other copywriters, develop the product behind our outreach campaigns. Perhaps you’ve been avoiding guest posting because it seems like such a pain. You have your own blog, and you write for it regularly. ... Read more
Do you know how to use the Link Prospector as a brand monitoring tool? How to eliminate undesired websites from your reports? How to widen or narrow your search? How to create a highly custom report? In this set of videos from our Link Prospector best practices series, Ken McGaffin and Megan Hannay reveal a slew of ... Read more
First, a congratulations is in order. You made the choice to commit, to hold hands in the hallway, to check YES. I must say – you two make a super cute couple. You’re not necessarily out of the woods yet, but since this client made it through the initial checklist, the good news is that ... Read more
Note: This is a guest post from Michael Fielding, who contacted us after reading the Ultimate Guide to Local Engagement, wondering if the same tactics worked in the UK. Garrett and I told him that we weren’t familiar enough with British culture to say for sure, but that we felt that the spirit of our ... Read more
It’s not a secret that we’ve been focused on local engagement for the past few months. But to make it official, here’s the news: Citation Labs now has a sister agency – ZipSprout – focused on finding local engagement opportunities for national brands. ZipSprout finds opportunities with local nonprofits, events and associations, not with national billboard or television brands ... Read more
In this third video of our Link Prospector best practices series, Ken McGaffin and Megan Hannay review how to find topically-relevant journalists and PR opportunities. Megan: So with reporters, we actually have three report types. The first one is probably our most common. It’s accessible reporters. Search for topics, and we’ll help you find reporters who ... Read more
It’s time for that mid-February Hallmark Holiday – a holiday when we celebrate, or re-consider, romantic relationships. But how many of us take the time and care to assess potential client-based relationships? We’ve all been there: you get an interesting inquiry, you schedule the first meeting, you quietly anticipate your future together, and, at long last, ... Read more
Local engagement is a different take on “B2C” – connecting a brand with community. It’s so much more than PPC or radio ads. Local engagement means branding floats during the Independence Day parade. It means sponsoring an after school program or underwriting a museum exhibit, finding area customer stories for a newspaper journalist or engaging ... Read more
[Psst! Want more? Watch our webinar on local engagement.] Billboards, radio, television and print publication ads are an essential but ultimately limited method for reaching your local customers. At Citation Labs, we help nation-wide clients establish or expand their presence at the local level – online and off, and we’ve noticed that there are a multitude of ... Read more
In our 2nd video in the Link Prospector series, Megan Hannay and Ken McGaffin explain the best strategies for links and resource pages finding with the Link Prospector. Check it out, or if you’re more of a reader, we’ve got a transcript below. Megan: I’m Megan Hannay, and we’re today going to be talking about ... Read more
This video is the first in a series between myself, Ken McGaffin, and Megan Hannay on finding outreach opportunities with the Citation Labs Link Prospector. Megan: We’re just going to go through quickly, in a few minutes, if you’re looking for guest posting opportunities in your niche, how to use the Link Prospector to find ... Read more
For our final webinar of 2015, we rounded up Shari Thurow and Eric Ward to discuss an often neglected topic among link-builders – where in the heck do you put link-worthy assets? A gap exists between the asset and site usability. Watch the entire webinar, or click on the links in the summary below to hear your ... Read more
We had way too much fun live brainstorming with Eric Ward last year, so this holiday season, we did it again. And this time we invited site usability expert (and Citation Labs friend), Shari Thurow. We gathered site suggestions from webinar participants before the session and chose four to analyze off-the-cuff during the webinar: At ... Read more
This is a post made of 4 parts: 1. Outreach elements we test (and recommend others test in their own campaigns) 2. Citation Labs experiment examples 3. The Citation Labs Best Practices Record 4. A webinar conversation between Garrett French and Megan Hannay on Citation Labs Outreach Hacks. The first rule of outreach is that there are ... Read more
This fall at Citation Labs: We just launched our first website refresh in 4 years, and it seems that you all are liking the new look. We recently wrote a case study on our first PR client. Today, we completed our first Citation Labs team webinar. Garrett was missed, and he’ll certainly continue to share his ... Read more
Sign up for our 10/7 webinar more insights & tips on PR thinking for link building & content teams. Your promotion doesn’t happen in isolation. You have to compete for attention and links with competitor activity, industry events, new product launches, research reports and breaking news stories. If you launch a piece of content at ... Read more
How we secured our agency’s 1st PR client a national magazine cover story within 2 months.
We're not supposed to pick favorites, but this may be our most beloved webinar so far. It's no secret that Garrett loves prospecting in a way that can only be described as "devout and fanatical," so he couldn't wait to share his favorite tips during this session.
Watch our recent webinar, Agency Hacks 2, to learn some of our most stellar secrets and favorite link building tactics. We've included a summary with corresponding points in the video, so you can jump to tactics that you're most interested in.
The Citation Labs + Whitespark Link Prospector has developed with the times, from a link building research tool to an engine that includes a journalist and blogger database. And bigger things are coming. Get grandfathered into Link Prospector pricing by July 31.
Our "Agency Hacks 2" webinar is coming Thursday, July 23. Learn how to put some of the tips from this article into practice, and add on to your link builder tool belt with more organization and enterprise-level execution tips.
On June 17, Garrett French and Nicholas Chimonas of Page 1 Power joined forces on the SEM Rush stage for a Link Building Panel Discussion. Watch the entire panel, or skip around to various commenter questions using our included timeline.
What do our customer groups call themselves? Our customers are more than buyer personas; they’re members of communities and online audiences. Most content marketing and link building efforts lack audience-centric design. Focus on the person behind the persona, and you’ll reap the rewards.
Our content creation series has been pretty theory-heavy thus far. In an effort to make our ideas more concrete, we developed out a working list of 601 potential linker-valued audiences for your content. A linker-valued audience is just that - an audience of people who are valued, served and even cherished by linkers.
At Citation Labs, we see PR as an essential component of any link building campaign, and we wanted to know if our clients and customers felt the same way. So earlier this year, we surveyed Citation Labs newsletter readers and customers with two questions in mind: How much is PR a factor in your link building efforts? How well qualified do you feel to develop your own PR campaigns? Here are our key findings.
As Google continues to toughen up its algorithm, search engine optimization experts (SEOs) are rushing to learn online PR skills. That’s because positive media coverage is a strong signal that a site is legitimate and useful - and therefore worthy of top positions in search engine results. Read our survey results here.
In our last post, we explained how to transform your SEO keywords into linkable topic subject areas. Now that you can turn SEO Keywords into linkable topics, we’re concentrating on discovering and defining the linkable audiences who generate links.
With a linkable topic and audience, you’ll be fully equipped to spec and create your own linkable content pieces for outreach!
In this video, we'll go through the process of finding three types of press opportunities with the Link Prospector:
1) Finding accessible reporters
2) Finding press resource linkers
3) Finding opportunities for audience input
Pollen Spring is in the air, link builders, meaning we have another season's worth of great SEO, link building and content marketing posts from some of our favorite influencers in the space.
Linkers go for evergreen, informative, educational content. The process outlined in this post is part of our content generation routine here at Citation Labs. It helps us determine topic areas for that content from a starting list of SEO keywords.
A video discussion with Garrett French, and new resource: the Linkable Content Brainstormer Spreadsheet.
Garrett French discusses how to approach broken link building from the right perspective. This is a great resource for teams and link builders who are looking into BLB tactics, but just aren't sure where to start. We highly recommend this video for all new users of our Broken Link Building tool.
Whether we’re prospecting for links pages, bloggers or even broken links to rebuild, it’s important to keep the needs of our intended audience in mind. This article, the first in our series on content strategy for link builders, explains the difference among content audiences and the type of content each seeks.
Media stories have recognizable patterns that appear time and again in all sorts of outlets. Learn what they are, use them to tell your own PR stories and you’ll create pitches that resonate with journalists - and that increases your chances of coverage.
Our new Co-Citation Tool organizes domains or URLs by the number of outbound links to sites relating to your content or website. The philosophy is: pages linking to three or four related sites are much more likely to add a link to our content than pages linking to just one related site. So why not go after those highly linking sites first?
Great news, Prospectors! We're releasing new language prospecting options in the Link Prospector Tool, meaning our customers will soon be able to search for blog partnership opportunities among native speakers of many more European languages. We're partnering with UK-based communications agency, ICS-digital, to create and implement these new international language report types.
Today Ken McGaffin & Garrett French spoke with James Clark of Adaptainer, a successful shipping container company that hasn't quite reached its PR potential. Looking at the news coverage Adaptainer has received, we mapped out a PR plan for building highly influential online media links, using The Golden Rules of Link Building.
We brainstormed link-building, content creation, PR opportunities and business growth ideas for ten businesses, randomly selected from 101 newsletter respondents.
See how even companies that describe their product as "very boring" have great content waiting to be found, and hopefully, you'll gain an idea or two for your business.
We've been beta testing it for a couple of weeks, and we're finally ready to announce the arrival of a new feature in our Link Prospector tool.
Our three new report types search through Google News to help prospectors and PR teams build thorough press lists for any topic area.
On Thursday, December 18th (at 12pm ET), Eric Ward, and Garrett French will speed brainstorm link building ideas for ten websites. They'll be developing content and outreach ideas for each business as if working for a new client.
Want your website to be considered for a free on-air speed consultation? Fill out our survey to enter.
In this webinar, Ken McGaffin and Garrett French take on PR for Link Builders, discussing the types of stories that capture journalists' and readers' attention. Ken lists ways that any company, even a business in an over-saturated industry, can stand out and place unique press pieces.
Every day businesses of every size get media coverage and valuable editorial links - but many SEOs and link builders don’t quite know how to approach the media to get this type of coverage. It takes much more than just sending out a press release - it takes effort and hard work. But the opportunity is very real and the good news is that link builders will already have many of the skills they need.
What a Fall we're having at Citation Labs - new Director of PR Services, Ken McGaffin, making our link building agency service offerings stronger than ever. We held our first webinar, and we're currently planning our second.
We're also big fans of learning from our fellow link builders. Explore our round-up of the best link building & SEO posts we've read this fall (so far!)
Ken McGaffin and Garrett French will use your business PR concerns to fuel the discussion on PR Strategy from a link-builder's perspective. From our first webinar, we learned that participants join with questions and ideas already brewing. This time, we're making viewer participation a key component of the Webinar. In other words, WE NEED YOUR INPUT to make this FREE WORKSHOP a success!
We held our first Webinar - "Agency Hacks for the In-House Link Building Team" on Friday, October 17. If you missed it, or would like to watch again, the video and Webinar notes are below. Or, to skip to a hack or audience question of the video, check out the minute-by-minute here.
Local link building stumped us when we first began. The "local web" presents a shallow microcosm of the broader web. Topically speaking it's an inch deep and a mile wide. Our initially dismal results forced us to retool our strategy design process, which we present below.
You’ve got a small SEO team. Your organization understands the value of building links, but you don’t have the organizational power of a full-on link building agency. From prospecting to content creation to outreach (and then reporting!), it can feel like you need an office full of you-clones. How do you pull off a thorough link-building campaign with an in-house sized team?
Though our team has passed the 30 member mark I still hold tight to link and audience prospecting. This is in part because I love the hunt, but also because the relevance of our prospects to our promoted assets massively impacts conversion rate (being on a mission helps too...).
That said, I have recently formulated a scalable and repeatable process for some of the deepest, broadest niches of audience and link opportunities that exist. Think 10s of thousands of ops at a strike. Here goes…
Creating something to be excited and passionate about has become our first and foremost task at Citation Labs. We make sure we're "on a mission" with every new project. That's because over the past four years we've learned that exciting, passionate outreach brings us brand mentions and new audiences like nothing we've done before.
Terry Van Horne of the SEOTrainingDojo presents the first video in a series of tips for using Link Prospector to perform SEO and Webmaster tasks. Use two tools to solve a common problem for anyone marketing a large website with multiple departments and webmasters constantly adding content to the site.
Getting responses from email outreach can be difficult. You must ask the right questions, and crafting the perfect survey can be difficult without adequate preparation.
For expert insight into survey development, we asked Buzzstream’s Content Marketing Director Stephanie Beadell to share some of her essential tips.
I have a confession. It’s more than a little embarrassing… Off and on for the last several years I’ve gathered contact info by hand. Yup that’s right, I’d spend hours going site by site to copy/paste contact us form pages and email addresses into a spreadsheet. Usually for batches of 100 or fewer sites. Sometimes ... Read more
You want it? You got it!
The Link Prospector now provides domain authority on demand for all of your qualification needs.
Here's how it works.
As an itsy-bitsy entity you have all sorts of advantages that your behemoth cousins do not. A teensy-weensy effort is infinitely better than no effort at all. With a few hours and few dollars a month you will be able to outshine 90% of your competitors.
In a world where our inboxes fill up faster than a Justin Bieber concert, email has become a less effective form of communication. We get backed up, our inbox becomes clogged and things get lost.
That’s why I’m proposing a radical way of link building: Pick up the phone.
We get a small but steady trickle of inquiries about using the link prospector in languages other than English. The answer, in short, is YES, absolutely.
The Link Prospector now supports searches in some non-English languages, including French, Spanish, Dutch, German or Portuguese.
Congrats, Link Prospector - you've come a long way in learning how to use the link prospector tool. You've selected your link building tactic, discovered productive research phrases, dialed in your parameters to a razor focus and qualified your list down to 100 or 1000 of the best-suited prospects.
Now, at last, it's time for you to start on the final outreach portion of the process.
Congratulations, Link Prospector - you're moving right along! By now you've selected your tactic, identified some productive prospecting phrases, and dialed in your parameters.
Now, learn some next steps, including using regular expressions, tracking your non-op domains, and learning about special options the Link Prospector provides.
Once you've selected your report type and found some productive research phrases, it's time to "dial in" your prospects with the Link Prospector's Advanced Targeting Parameters. Setting the parameters can help reduce your time spent qualifying your results by "weeding out" or narrowing the non-prospects before you even download your results.
The Link Prospector takes your research phrases and combines them with tactic-specific footprints. This is what we use to find prospects for you. Your research phrases determine how useful and relevant your prospects will be. Learn our three rules for selecting successful research phrases.
This is part of a series on using the Link Prospector. After creating a new campaign for your account (campaigns are essentially "folders" for organizing your link prospects) it's time to click "Find Prospects" and pick a report type. The report types in the Link Prospector are roughly organized around tactics. Here are a list of the report types, the tactics they support, the resources you're likely to need and any notes.
My team and I are pretty heavy users of the link prospector tool. Combined with a couple of other sources, Link Prospector helps us to find a large number of guest posts consistently every month for our clients.
Today, I'm sharing a few of the little tips and tricks we’ve uncovered after several months of heavy usage of the tool.
The process we outline is not elegant, but it does help you cover a lot of ground - you can find and analyze thousands of resources and root out the dead pages and sites quite quickly. I've been building 40+ links a month with this method for one of my clients, and selling BLB prospecting as a service to others. As I've said before, link rot is your friend.
In some types of campaigns - value-add commenting and broken link building for example - you know the URL where your link will show up, assuming it gets published. And until today though I've always had to go, URL by URL, to see if my links went up. So I built a bulk backlink checker tool for my fellow link monkeys out there!
Link builder, there remain deep wells of link prospect opportunity... Even if you've queried every last prospect from Google and snatched every last link from your competitors' backlink profile. If you can make the right offer and have a ready team for outreach then list-scrape prospecting could add a steady stream of powerful links to your portfolio.
With "Advanced SEO's 7 Curiously Obvious Rules," Gab identified and filled a "necessary niche" in the SEO Book space. His work is more accessible and engaging than the (necessary reading) Art of SEO, and narrow enough to make itself a requirement on book shelves containing Aaron Wall's sprawling (and mandatory) SEOBook. And while his is certainly a book about SEO, and contains fresh, timeless advice, it's more a book that urges its readers to retool their mindset.
Nick LeRoy, the Minneapolis SEO, adds to the broken link building interview series that began with Melanie Nathan and moved next to Napoleon Suarez. I'm conducting these interviews to add to my knowledge base for my August 25th webinar: The Content Marketer’s Guide to Broken Link Building.
Prospecting for broken link building opportunities typically begins with a "seed set" either of competitor/relevant sites to check for 404s, relevant pages with lists of links and old/niche directory pages.
You can also use the new Broken Link Finder tool for industrial-strength broken link prospecting.
I'm currently at work on a sort of "multi-tool" for large scale broken link building. Obviously I'm learning by doing, but reading definitely adds to my education that culminated in the launch of the Broken Link Building tool!
Here are broken link building tools, articles, interviews, forum posts, videos and link rot information that you may find useful in your efforts as well
Big thanks to Napoleon Suarez of SEO Company Seer Interactive for generously contributing to my education on broken link building... I will be citing both him and expert broken link builder Melanie Nathan in my upcoming webinar: The Content Marketer's Guide to Broken Link Building.
In preparation for my upcoming webinar - The Content Marketer's Guide to Broken Link Building (August 25th 8:30 AM - 9:30 AM PDT) I sent some "best-practices" questions over to Edmonton SEO Melanie Nathan, creator of a formalized broken link building process.
Read her broken link building tips here.
Through marketing with tips and tip inventory creation I came to think of tips as the smallest expressible unit of expertise. From a research query perspective, tips are quite easy to extract from a market's community of practice.
But what about larger and more complex units of expertise?
Marketers who develop a methodology for classifying, collating and documenting their market research queries facilitate, speed up and create meaningful work segmentation opportunities at all stages of a content marketing campaign. This article outlines not a methodology, but the elements I believe are required for developing your own methodology.
Combine these tip-stems with your subject matter phrase roots to create an initial body of research queries for use in your favorite search engine or search scraper tool. These queries are meant to be used in conjunction with your tip inventory spreadsheet.
Tips are the distilled, actionable wisdom of subject matter experts. Tips become apparent to the subject matter expert as his general principles encounter reality. For the content marketer, creating a tip inventory of a market's knowledge provides a deeper understanding of a market's pains and opens up the opportunities outlined in this post.
Every market comprises a universe of subject matter phrases that, once discovered and cataloged, provide a marketing researcher's basis for mapping, understanding and engaging that market or market segment with content. These phrases enable a researcher to identify a market vertical's content needs, its subject matter experts, its publishers and its potential content-promotion targets.
While link building techniques are important for marketers to follow, I find that the nuts and bolts of link building campaign design and execution - especially at the agency level - gets short shrift.
Agency-side link builders Arnie Kuenn and Michael Schwartz share how they design link building campaigns, manage clients, and design & price their services.
While link building techniques are important for marketers to follow, I find that the nuts and bolts of link building campaign design and execution - especially at the agency level - gets short shrift.
Agency-side link builder Julie Joyce shares how she designs link building campaigns, manages clients, and designs & prices her services.