How Aaron Anderson Builds 150+ Free and Relatively Safe Earned Links Per Month
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Want a masterclass in effective link building strategies?
Aaron Anderson joins the Niche Pursuits podcast to share all the tricks of the trade he's learned over the years.
Aaron's journey into marketing came as an offshoot of his time cold calling and doing door-to-door sales.
He figured link building in particular matched his skillset and he was right.
His agency focuses on earning links through outreach rather than paid or guest post links. And they have found success with broken link building, resource page link building, and unlinked mentions as their core strategies.
In fact, Aaron's agency has managed to earn links from top-tier sites like the New York Times and Men's Health through broken link building alone.
The key challenge in this strategy lies in actually finding the broken links, which can even be best accomplished without tools - Aaron describes how.
Then comes the process of manually finding the right person to contact. And Aaron also does a great job of explaining how the outreach email template used should be short, straightforward, and avoid fake flattery.
The focus in broken link building is on finding broken links with intent problems rather than just 404 errors. The goal is to provide a replacement for the broken link that aligns with the original intent. And conversion rates can vary, but campaigns with recent broken links tend to have higher success rates.
Then when it comes to resource page link building, the value of resource pages varies depending on the number of external links and the credibility of the curator.
To be successful with this approach, brands need to have something of value to offer. And positioning the brand as altruistic and offering free resources can increase success rates.
Unlinked mentions can also be an effective strategy, but it requires using multiple tools and search operators to find all opportunities. But Google search operators can help identify unlinked mentions and refine the search for better results.
These types of earned links don't work for every industry though. And Aaron is honest about where it doesn't.
Overall, Aaron does a great job of sharing ways you can get powerful and free links with tons of actionable tips to help along the way.
And as he says, link building is merely one part of the equation. His focus is on finding opportunities where Google already likes the content and using links to accelerate or solidify Google's opinion to maintain a high ranking in the SERPs.
Hope you take notes!
Watch The Interview
Topics Aaron Anderson Covers
- His background in cold calling
- How he got into SEO
- Overlaps between sales and link building
- Earned links
- How many links his agency builds per month
- Core strategies
- Awesome broken link building tips
- How to find broken links without tools
- Outreach email tips
- How to find the right person to contact
- Gauging if you can land a broken link
- Providing free value for links
- Tips for finding unlinked mentions
- Importance of where links are pointed
- Which industries are hardest to build earned links for
- And much more...
Links & Resources
- Link Building Outreach Services Company – Linkpitch.io
- How to Scrape Google Search Results for Free (linkpitch.io)
- Aaron A. | LinkedIn
- Let's Talk Link Building on Apple Podcasts
- Let's Talk Link Building | Podcast on Spotify
- Get SEO Consulting from the Niche Pursuits Podcast Host, Jared Bauman.
Jared: All right. Welcome back to the niche pursuits podcast. My name is Jared Bauman. And today we are joined by Aaron Anderson with link pitch. io. Welcome, Aaron.
Aaron: Thanks, Jared, for having me on the show.
Jared: It's great to have you here. Always a good day when we're talking link building. We haven't talked to link building a little while.
We've got a certainly a bit of a different angle on it than maybe some of the, the times we've talked about it prior. Uh, so really looking forward to today and what we'll learn. Um, before we get into link building, maybe give us some backstory on you. We always like to start by hearing a little bit about you before you got into what you're doing now.
Aaron: Sure. Well, uh, I guess my, how I got into marketing is, uh, you know, I used to, uh, you know, I was, uh, working for my uncle and we, uh, we were did like wood refinishing and I was getting sick of the cold calls. I used to do all the sales for them and I was getting sick of cold calls. So this led me to, uh, I want to figure out how to get leads.
And so I started just doing some stuff online. I started generating leads and then. Um, you know, we, we focused on commercial and these leads were for a homeowner. So then I was like, well, we don't want these leads. Then I took the leads and found someone to give them to. And that kind of was my initial introduction to marketing.
I was like, Oh, I love this, that I was able to, you know, create this, this source of leads. And then I was able to sell those leads kind of like the rank and rent model. Or then I, and then I tried to kind of go down that path of, you know, doing the rank and rent. And, you know, that led me into. Uh, you know, getting into SEO more and, uh, my first kind of, uh, more deeper experience in SEO is I reached out to a bunch of consultants, SEO consultants that said, Hey, uh, I want to learn and I'm just looking for an opportunity to learn and I'll work for free.
And then I kind of, you know, got into an agency and it was kind of partnered an SEO agency and did that for. You know, while I had a couple of failed, I guess, partnerships that didn't work out and then eventually got into link building because I saw it was a pretty good fit for my skill set. I thought it was like more of like project management and that's kind of where I had always been more on the project management operations.
I was like, well, this doesn't require as much of a technical expertise. It's more of like just finding a process and executing it properly. And that seemed like a good fit. And so then I got into link building and now. That's kind of been what I've been doing for the last five years or so.
Jared: How much crossover is there from cold calling to link building?
I mean that open endedly, but I feel like I have, uh, I already have some ideas. Yeah,
Aaron: well, that's some of the, what I saw in terms of overlap, you know, for link building in terms of my own skill set is that, you know, you have to be a good communicator, um, you know. It's good if you don't care about rejection, you know, and I had done door to door sales and so rejection wasn't,
Jared: I mean, I don't wanna say it's brutal, but that, that certainly will put you in your place quickly.
Aaron: Yeah. So I'd had some of that experience, which made it me not as afraid. And by email, the rejection is, is, is very minimal. It doesn't like affect me at all compared to like, you know, in person. Um, so yeah, there were, there is some, you know, there's like, Not much of a sales element to link building, but just the ability to deal with rejection is probably what I would say is the biggest overlap.
Jared: I don't, I don't, um, I don't talk to a lot of people about link building in bulk. But when I do, one of the biggest things that people say is the, the, the reason that they don't do well with it is because they, they got no. And you ask them, how many times did you get no? And it's like, well, maybe ten. And you're like, oh, well, it's a, it's a long play for sure, so.
But, uh, anyway, I digress. Okay, let's dive into your link building. And I think that some, just to set the stage, what, tell us a little bit about link pitch because you do run a link building agency and that'll help us kind of understand the type of link building that you're doing, your team, and then obviously we can.
We're going to talk a nerd out about link building today, so we'll get into that after that.
Aaron: Yeah, so with my agency, we focus primarily on getting earned links, meaning links that we're not paying for or doing guest posting. It's really like getting links because we reached out to someone and they liked.
The, the content that we were, uh, we were letting them know about. So it's outreach oriented link building. So we're doing a lot of email outreach, but trying to earn links without, uh, either paying for it or guest posting. And we'll do some of that, like a very small percentage of what we would do would be like, you know, uh, link exchanges or these things.
But I would say kind of 90 percent really earned links. It's kind of our goal.
Jared: Cool. And, um, like how many links are you guys building a month or, you know, team? So I'm just curious how, you know, what kind of scale you guys have.
Aaron: Sure, yeah, currently we're, uh, we're doing kind of in the range of about 180 to 200 links a month, uh, we have about, uh, 15 team members.
Uh, my model when I started, uh, you know, I wanted to build a team, but I was really anxious about quality and really wanted to ensure that happened. So, uh, for me, I found the best way to maintain that was, uh, hiring people with zero experience and training them from nothing. Um, so my entire team, uh, you know, had no prior experience of link building.
They've all been, uh, trained from, uh, from zero.
Jared: Okay, let's get into it here. And I want to kick off with this question for you because I think that this is maybe A buzzword of sorts these days, which is earned links and the difference between that and the other types of links, you know, and obviously there's an ecosystem nowadays for link building that involves, you know, a monetary exchange.
We probably everyone listening has heard of different tactics from, um, you know. Uh, cold outreach to try to place a guest post or a link insertion and such. So maybe from a high level, let's talk about the approach you're taking and maybe drill deeper so people understand the differences in earned links and then these other types of links.
Aaron: Yeah. When it comes to link building, you know, it can be a little difficult to navigate. the as an industry. Um, and the way I look at it is I don't necessarily have, uh, like, Oh, this is a good or bad type of link building for me. It just all comes down to your risk profile and, and how risky you're comfortable with being and how you view that risk in terms of links.
So, you know, you have this PR.
Uh, where you're focusing on a certain topic and trying to pitch more of like an idea or a topic or like a data, uh, study or something to, to, to journalists, then you, you know, you also have, uh, and then you also have HARO, which I would say is earned links as well, which it's based on people pitching or asking for input.
And then, you know, this is also on the PR under, um, um, umbrella, then you would have the outreach, uh, earned links is just kind of what we do. Um, and then further down, you get, you know, uh, things like guest posting, uh, which has a wide range of quality in terms of guest posting. And then, you know, you also have, uh, you know, link exchanges, uh, and the link exchanges within that, there's people doing it where they're doing.
You know, adding guests posting within the link exchanges, or they're doing like a three way link exchange or things. And then you have the more just, uh, explicitly, you know, compensated relationships, which is the direct link pay link insertion, uh, or something like that. And that's kind of, uh, you know, from a high level perspective, all the different approaches that, uh, people are doing.
Jared: Earned links is, did you choose earned links because you think they're better? Because they're safer, because they're easier. Uh, like why did you go after earned links at the day?
Aaron: Yeah, well, it, it takes me back to when I wanted to do the whole rank and rent model. And the issue that I had with the rank and rent model, for those that don't know what that is, you get a local website ranking for something like, oh, Plummer city name, uh, Plummer, uh, Boston, whatever.
And you get that ranking and then when it's generating... Calls you send those calls to a plumber say hey, I'll charge you on a per link basis but the thing is I had such a hard time with this because you have to in order to build these sites you have to like Like get a fake address pay someone on Craigslist to use their address You know or do something to get an address that you can use, you know, and I kind of struggled I've always I guess maybe been more of a rule follower and so I kind of struggled with that and so maybe that kind of led me more on the earned type of link building that it's like the least risky type of link building the way you know I looked at it that it's like links that will last long term that you don't have to you know, Like always be wondering, Oh, is the next update going to decimate the efforts that I'm taking or whatever.
So it just, for me, it felt like, uh, I guess the right way to, to build links for people. And when you're doing it like services for others, I don't want to be doing services and then have to re imagine or re invent what those services are. I want to do something well and then something that I can just, you know, execute that properly on an ongoing basis.
Jared: It makes sense. Yep. I agree. I think that's why a lot of people, uh, when they're trying to figure out what types of links to build, they would turn to that. Certainly. Um, so let's talk about the types of links you're building. If, if we can, like, let's get into maybe roll up our sleeves and kind of get into some of the tactics that go into building these types of earned links.
Everybody has probably heard of Harrow at this point. Um, doesn't mean everyone's using Harrow. And I know that, you know, as soon as you mentioned Harrow, there's all the frustrations that go along with, with, with building on Harrow. I think probably a lot of people have heard of some of the PR concepts, you know, and maybe not all of them, but the ones where you're, you know, you're supposed to, um, you know, come up with some really cool, unique idea and pitch a journalist on it.
Uh, and it sounds great. And then for many of us who've tried it, it kind of falls apart. Like what types of earned media are you guys having the most success with, uh, right now?
Aaron: Yeah, so in terms of earned link building, you know, both harrow and these PR concepts Those aren't really our focus and we don't do that type of link building yet It is something that I would like to eventually kind of get into but our core focus is in the outreach Oriented link building and earning links that way.
So these are Link building tactics, but there's nothing new This is like the og link building tactics that have been around forever and it's just executing them properly So it's like Broken link building. That was like the original broken link building tactic that people were doing in the 90s. And then resource page link building.
Uh, those are probably like our two, uh, you know core strategies and then something like unlinked. Uh, unlinked mentions, uh, as well. Those are probably our main strategies that we do the most. There are different strategies that, uh, you might do on a limited basis, uh, here and there based on the client and whatnot.
But those are probably our core strategies that we execute the most. Oh, I love
Jared: it. This is a blast from the past. We are, we are three things I haven't heard in quite a while. Let's let's talk about, can we talk about each of them and kind of go through it? Because I, I'm guessing every single, not every person, but I'm being, I'm being stereotypical, but I'm guessing like we're like broken link building.
Come on. You know, what is this? 2017? Um, but I want, clearly you're having success with it. Like you have a team of 15 people and you, you know, you're building 200 links a month. So, maybe let's start there, uh, talk to the skeptic who, like me, maybe is saying broken link building, is that really a thing anymore?
And how, maybe you're having success with that.
Aaron: Sure, I, I think when people are skeptical, I start telling them the sites that we've earned broken, uh, we've gotten links from with broken link building strategy and we've gotten links from New York Times, Parade. com, Men's Health. Shopify, like we've gotten some links from some really top tier sites and people are generally very surprised at that and I, you know, and I've, I'm amazed at how many people actually respond quite positively to these messages and that's, that's the thing is like, I'm not doing anything creative with the template.
You can Google broken link building template and it's just like, um, but it's something that is still is a value you're giving to people and, uh, the biggest challenge with broken link building is all about. Finding the broken links, but if you find good broken links like they they definitely work But you know, I think why people give up or they say it doesn't work or whatever Maybe they try it on an isolated basis or they just struggle finding a broken link or they find one broken link that has one Page linking to it and then it seems so monotonous.
How do you scale this when you're just find? Like, there's one broken link, and then you find the one site linking to it, and you try to... So, all those things, I think, can make it challenging. Um, and from a perception standpoint, or why would you want to do it? But, if you can execute it properly, it can definitely work quite well.
Jared: I mean, we don't need to get into, like, the basics of how to build a broken link and that sort of thing. But, um, you know, people can Google that, or there's probably lots of podcast episodes on that. You know, the concept is go look at websites, find links that are broken, offer your website as a replacement to that, whether it's a piece of media you, you know, content you've already created, or whether it's some, maybe something new you would create.
Where are you finding, you know, broken links these days? Are you using kind of some automated crawl methods, or do you like have a repository that you go to?
Aaron: Sure, so I would say there's two different types of kind of broken link building. One is you have a piece of content that you, like, is your replacement, and then you're looking for links that are related to that topic.
The other is maybe you find a broken page that's, that's broken and has a lot of links pointing to it, and then you would recreate that content. So there's different situations, and you might use them. Yeah, you know, definitely. But I think we do use tools. We use like a traps. You can use their content explorer and filter by broken links and you can find some that way you can.
If you find one link on a domain, like one of the secrets of broken link building is any anytime you find one broken link, you will find more broken links. So if you find one broken link from a domain, now you want to take that domain, you put it in a traps, you search by like You know, uh, best pages by links, uh, report.
And then you pull up all the pages that have 404 errors. And sometimes you found one broken link and then you see there's a bunch of broken links from the same domain. And some of these pages have a lot of referring domains to it. So once you find one, and in the same way if you find a broken link on a page, then you want to...
Look through that entire page and see if there are other broken links, because if there's one broken link, they're not keeping that page updated frequently enough, you're probably going to find others. So, you know, we do find, you know, we do use tools, uh, but I would say one of the, the ways you're going to find the best broken links is by not using tools.
And I think this is one of the things that helps us have staying power for us is that. You know, as things get more automated, we have AI, everyone wants to try to optimize for the most efficient, most scalable, the process that, you know, requires the least amount of effort, and, but like, the best opportunities sometimes are those that are found, you can't find with a tool, because usually the tools, uh, they all have the same process, they're gonna search, For a 404 error code.
But there are certain types of links that won't show that. For example, um, on a, a domain that maybe that domain is now being parked or is being sold on a domain registrar. So it just is a 301 redirect to a domain registrar. So that's not going to show up on a broken link tool. Uh, if you click to it and then you go to like, now you're at GoDaddy, you're like, Oh, let's go see, you know, let's take a closer look.
Um, or if, sometimes you go to a page and there's like, just a white page of death. Uh, that's what I call it. So it's just a white page, but it's a 200, uh, HTTP code. But it's just a, a blank screen. Um, other situations that happen is sometimes you go to a, a website and then there's like a banner across the top say, Hey, we've closed our doors.
Or this website, um, is only going to be active for the next six months and then we're shutting it down. Or something, there's sometimes these error messages that you can find that, you know, you're only going to really see that if you, if you click. So there are lots of opportunities that... Or, uh, another example is sometimes a site has been purchased and now it's being re redirected to an adult site, to a casino site or something.
Again, that would be a redirect. Or even let's say, um, you, you, you, there was a, a link to an article and now you go, you go to that article. But that article has been redirected to a homepage that's not relevant. Like the, there was a, a link that was specific to an article and I, I, I kind of grouped this all under.
like broken link, um, Ahrefs calls this one middle man method. But, um, however you do it, like for me it's the same thing. It's like, has the original intent of that link, is where it's final destination, is that different from the original intent? And if so, that to me is a broken link
Jared: opportunity. I would say the vast majority of people stop it with the tools or report it as a 404.
And so that's really interesting. And so basically the concept is By going out to these sites, where it's not a 404 error problem, but it's a intent problem, right? The link that is, it is, it's there, but it's not the intent of what that link was. Is there, I'm guessing, a higher success rate with your conversions of getting that turned into an earned link?
Aaron: Yeah, the success rate varies. There are certain elements that make success rate more or less likely. One is how long has it been since that link was changed or broke. If you find a broken link and you can check it in the Wayback Machine, you see this broke like seven years ago. Your success rate on that campaign is going to be, sometimes you can still get great links from those, but it's probably not going to be super high.
But if this just broke like last month, then you can be quite confident that we're going to get a pretty good conversion rate. Like we've gotten conversion rates as high as like 20 percent on a broken link campaign. Um, that's not what we average but you, we've had, had campaigns that have converted quite high.
So there are certain elements you know, one is like the recency, the one is like what was the reason behind they, like why they were linking to that, were they linking to it as a source, were they linking to it because of the brand, like the name recognition. So there's certain elements, um, and then how authoritative was that source?
So are they linking to like a government site? If you get like a broken link from a government site, and you're very commercial, like the chance that they would swap yours in with that one is less. So there's these different elements that you can, you know, when you've been doing it a long time, I can look at that and say, okay, this is an awesome opportunity, I know it's going to convert really well.
Or I can say, well, I don't know how it's going to convert. We can give it a try and see. But there are certain elements, um, that will dictate kind of your
Jared: success rate. Hmm. That's, there's a lot there for people listening. There's a lot there to kind of drill into in terms of. Because like you said, I mean, like it's, it's a game of margins when you're trying to find link opportunities and like going from a couple percentage points of success up to five or 10 percent is a game changer, you know, um, you know, uh, expecting to get a hundred percent or even 50 percent of your outreach kind of landing a broken link or really any link is, is, is a bit far fetched.
Um, you, you kind of teased it. You said, I'm not doing anything special with the way I reach out, but. Yeah. Even so, like, what types of things are you trying to do in an outreach? Are you doing it via email? Are you doing it in other ways? Like, are you trying to find something? There's so many different ways to reach out.
I know I've heard like, oh, use a joke, or, you know, have a crazy subject line. You know, like, all these different tactics. Like, anything that you are landing on when it comes to the actual outreach component of the Broken Link building campaign?
Aaron: Sure, so there's, there's two components. One is, um, you know, what's the email template and how are we structuring that?
And then the other one is, how are you identifying the right person? So we can cover these kind of separately. But, um, the first about the template, um, I do have some rules that I try to abide by. One is absolutely no fake flattery ever. I hate that. The other things is try to keep it as short and straight to the point as possible.
Um, I'm very obvious with what I'm doing. I'm not trying to hide behind what I'm doing, but I'm not wasting your time either. Like, you're gonna know before you click on the email what I want. Like, what I'm telling you. Um, once you read the email, it's like, there's no, there's no jokes. There's no fake flattery.
There's no trying to act like I'm your friend. Um, it's just like... We found a broken link. It goes to this page. Here's a replacement. You know, that's, you know, that's the essential element. So, uh, but those are kind of the, the principles that I always try to stay by is, you know, don't put anything in there unnecessarily.
Just get straight to the point and, and be as short and succinct as you possibly can. And you always have to... You know, make sure, am I putting anything in this email that's unnecessary, or that will make someone just like, ignore, and, and, again, this, like, we're not gonna ever get 87%, 70 percent success rates, this, like, you know, it, it's, it, it's a numbers game at the end of the day, um, so that's kind of the template.
Uh, kind of rules that I try to abide by. In terms of the, the person we're identifying, this is something that we also, uh, we tend to do quite manually. So, uh, you know, there's a lot of courses and things that people are always talking about how to, like, automate this process, you know, you know, get a hunter.
io and export and, and have it. I have a tool that chooses, that prioritizes the editor and if not the editor, this, you know, and I think that can work if you're, if there's certain types of sites, you have like one certain type of site that you're always reaching out to, but we'll have like a wide variety of sites.
Sometimes we'll be reaching out to universities. Sometimes we'll be reaching out to high schools, sometimes to government sites, sometimes to large content sites that have a lot of editors and a lot of editorial control, sometimes to small blogs, uh, sometimes to, there's these, this is something in universities called like libguides that we have, so we have like these 10 different types of sites, and we have training on each type, so if it's a libguide site, this is your approach, if it's a, you know, and then, um, You have to understand, okay, how do I identify, you know, sometimes in the, when I started, I was trying to hire like people that would do a lead generation and lead generation, you give them one role and then say, go find all these people of this role.
But with link building, it's like, well, each site you have to figure out who the right person is to contact. I can't tell you. And so I have to teach you for this type of site. This is how you're going to find that right person. Maybe you're looking at the site architecture, you're looking at the, you know, there's different.
So, I'm going to show you And so it's making sure we find the right person first, and then you find their email. So, I haven't figured out any good way to automate this, um, and so we don't do it. Every single time we're finding a person, we're thinking through manually, okay, who is the right person and make sure we find that right person.
And then we use Pitchbox because you can get multiple contacts. So, Okay, we'll send an email to this contact, and it'll do automatic follow ups, but if they don't respond, then we'll, then maybe, we'll do up to three contacts per site. So, on a university, let's say I'm on a university and the page is within a department, maybe the department chair is one that we might reach out to with no response, maybe the vice chair with no response, maybe the communication person if they have one in that department.
But there's, like, a couple of contacts, they could all be good contacts, and a lot of the outreach tools that I've tried to use in the past, they don't allow the ability to, uh, If the first contact doesn't work, reach out to the second contact. Um, and so that's one thing that we, uh, we like to do as well.
Jared: any trending thing you've seen in terms of who is best to reach out? And I'm just taking it from a high level. Like, let's say I go and I find a great opportunity on a page. Should I look to reach out to the author of that and try to find the author? Should I try to find a communi, like a, a communications director or somebody, um, somebody maybe at an editor level and, or higher?
Um, should I just, uh, typically reach out to the, the, the generic email address that's often provided in the contact form? Like, does one have a higher kind of hit rate than the other? And is there a connection, um, when, when you're looking at these sites? I mean, you mentioned government websites, and I think that's really interesting.
EDUs and universities and stuff. But what about maybe for smaller websites where it doesn't appear they have this huge structured kind of team, you know, where the website really is the driving force of the brand. Yeah,
Aaron: it really depends on the type of website. So if it's a smaller website, if it's a one person blogger, you know, it probably doesn't matter as much, because maybe all the emails are going to the same place.
Uh, we still always prefer to find a specific email to the right person. Um, but at a bigger website, like, is it the author the right person or not? So for example, if it's like a bigger content site, like, you know, like a big media site, like New York Times or something, um, Is the author the right person?
Well, it depends. Is it a staff writer or not? A staff writer, they're going to be full time, they're more likely going to be able to help you. If it's a freelance writer or a contributor, which a lot of times it is, then I would, usually I don't reach out to them, then I would prioritize the editor. And then if it's an editor, well, what editor is it?
If you have to find the specific editor of that specific section of the site. So if you're, if it's in the business section, you reach out to, uh, an editor in, uh, in fashion, like they're not going to be able to help you. So, um, so yeah, it, it depends the smaller, the website, the easier it's going to be to find the right person, but generally speaking, the smaller the website, the less valuable the link.
Um, so the larger the website, the more nuanced. Uh, and the more like rules and, and structure there is about how to identify the right person and also the more beneficial the link is. So it's going to be worth more effort to put in and figure out that right person on a site where, you know, the link is going to be more valuable to you.
So, I know a lot of people want to optimize this, this process. Um, but I, I personally haven't figured out a way to, to do it well enough. So
Jared: fair enough. Well, let's talk about the next one you mentioned, resource pages. Um, uh, let's talk about their value overall, and where you see their value in an overall link profile.
Um, when I've talked to people about resource pages, some kickback will be, well, are they really, do they actually pass any page rank? I'm using air quotes. Google's old, or supposedly retired, but many think not retired way of valuing a link. Um, or if they do, does it matter? Because maybe I'm one of a hundred people on there, right?
Like. So maybe talk to, talk about why a resource page is still a valuable, uh, type of link building that you do.
Aaron: Yeah, well there are different types of, of resource pages and, and to group them all into, to like one thing is kind of, kind of oversimplifying it because you're right that there are some resource pages that have links to like over 400 websites on the resource page.
Are those super valuable links? Um, not really. Um, but there are also other resource pages where maybe there's only like 10 external links. And those are gonna be more valuable. But also, it's also who is curating these resources. Uh, and sometimes if it's like a, uh, if it's like a commercial website, or is it like a, an EDU, uh, is it like a library.
So, Yeah, the, the, the value does differ, but the value of any link building is going to differ, uh, uh, on the page, uh, with these same types of factors. You get an article, sometimes articles like, uh, or it's a contextual link. There are 20, 30 external links in these, you know, and sometimes people link a lot and other people, they don't link as much.
So any type of link building, there's going to be, uh, a range of value. But, uh, yeah, I mean, I've, I've seen the impact that these links can have, and especially in the right type of industry. You know, normally if we're reaching out to universities and stuff, we have to have resources that we think they're actually going to be of value.
So if anyone comes to me, like if someone comes to me, and they're an affiliate site, and everything on their site is promotional and commercial in nature, and they, like, oh, I want to get edu links, I'm going to say, well, Like, what do you have of value to offer universities? And if you don't have anything of value, like, just running the process without anything of value isn't going to help you succeed.
You still need to get, have something that they're going to find valuable enough to want to link to you. So that's, that's an important consideration. Um, but as far as the links and whether they have value, I've seen it firsthand that they, uh, they definitely still do, but yeah, it varies.
Jared: What's important about having your brand be positioned well to earn a link on a resource page or even going back to a broken link building campaign, but maybe specifically for a resource page.
Like what types of things does a brand need to have to be even in the, in the ballpark of being considered.
Aaron: So this is a, I'm going to share a quick story. Because it's, it's hard to set like a hard and fast rule. And with outreach, you can prejudge an opportunity and say, Outreach won't work here. Um, but then sometimes you run a campaign and you might be surprised. For example, when I was first, like, very first kind of doing link building on my own, getting my first clients, um, someone came to me, it was a content mill.
So, they help people with their schoolwork, you know, you hire them to write your research paper or whatever.
Jared: Man, where were they when I was in school? I kid, I kid.
Aaron: So, there's a lot of content mills, and their link building is generally more on the spamier side. And so I was like, okay, is there a way that I can do, like, earned link building for this site?
And, and I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to, like, be successful with them. But I ended up finding a writing tool that was broken. And it had, like, a bunch of links to it. And, and I was like, well, I don't know if this is going to work. But I basically said, okay, if you can build this tool. Um, on your site, then I can reach out to everyone that's linking to this now defunct tool and try to get them to point to yours.
But I was still, I still questioned whether it would work because I'm going to be reaching out to academics. Um, it had links from school professors and stuff like on personal classroom website pages and stuff. And I was like, I don't know if this is going to work, but this is like. If it would work with anything, this is what I had most confidence in.
So they built the tool, I did the outreach, and I was kind of floored that I was getting academics adding a link to, and, and the URL of their website was very obvious. That it was money for, um, like writing papers. It was like, very, very clear. And so I was like, I don't know if this is going to work. But it worked, and I was like, oh my goodness, I, that's crazy that that works.
And so I saw that sometimes, like, you can prejudge it and you think, okay, there's, no one would ever do that. Like, no, like, history professor is gonna link to this or something. But sometimes, like when it comes with outreach, sometimes you just gotta run the outreach and see, like, you know, you never fully know until you try.
And so, normally I would say there are some parameters, um, but there are, there are things you can do. Like, also I saw this too, like a, a title company, and I saw some resource pages that were doing really well. Well, they took all their branding off the page, and they just had the text of the resource. So, maybe it was like, um.
Good songs to sing on like a, uh, a car drive or something, but then you just go to the page It's like good songs to sing and just listen that you don't see anything about the title loans or anything Then you scroll to the very bottom of the page and then you have branding and the internal links to the rest of their page but like They recognize if we're reaching out to someone and we say, Hey, here's a resource we think would be helpful and they want that page to look as generic and helpful as possible and least commercial.
And so that's sometimes what we do with clients who say, Hey, we're going to try to build links to this page, but can you turn off the ads to that page? Can you remove this big old CTA? Can you like turn off that annoying pop up? Whatever it is that we think. Obviously, when you're reaching out, especially to schools, governments, anything that comes across commercial in nature.
is going to negatively impact your conversion rate. So, ideally, sometimes you can, you can just remove those elements, you can turn them off, um, even sometimes if you have a free resource, you can build links to the free resource, and then later that free resource becomes a paid resource. Um, you know, all those things can influence your success rate.
Jared: That makes a lot of sense, the commercial side of things. Um, do you recommend, potentially, like, if it's the right opportunity, like maybe even, um, I don't want to say change the nature of the content, but kind of like what you teased at the end there, like maybe it's, uh, it's, it's devoid of all the things that you might want the end product to look like on that page and then you would go back and add those after your link building campaign is complete.
Aaron: Yeah. So, I mean, I, I just have to communicate to clients what is going to help us get the best links possible. And so if it's like a, if it's a freemium SAS and they have a freemium, Model, it's going to be better for link building because it's much easier to reach out and say, Hey, we have this, this tool that has this free resource that, you know, your community can use for free, you know, because any, like the, the term that I always like to say, as I say, altruism is what converts in link building.
So if you can appear to be altruistic. Like, here's a free resource, here's free information that, you know, here's something that's of value and we're not looking to get anything in return, we're just trying to help. Those things will help you get more success rate. And sometimes people try to be altruistic, but it's still, it's like...
Okay, but it still seems a little too commercial. So the more you can, like, really try to give something a value, uh, the better your success rate is going to be.
Jared: It's good food for thought. Let's tackle the last one that we had on this list you gave, which is unlinked mentions. And I feel like in many ways, this is, and I could be totally wrong, so I'm setting the stage and inviting you to either agree or disagree with me.
But it feels like this could be the easiest one. It could be the easiest one to find, and then the easiest one to reach out at, and then um, either get the links or move on from. Is that true or is that not exactly true?
Aaron: Uh, in terms of conversion rate, uh, I would say yes, it's the easiest. Uh, but in terms of finding, uh, I would say...
A lot of people think they're doing this well, and they're actually not doing it very well.
Jared: You don't know any of the ones you're missing, you know. To be fair, you're right. See, you're like, I found them all. And it's like, well, you think you found them all, but you didn't find them all.
Aaron: So, as an example, someone came to me.
They have one of these, like, livability type websites that, um, that gives livability scores based on neighborhoods and stuff. And they told me, like, Well, we're already doing unlinked mentions and they're like we're using mention. com or something and every month we go in and we check it and we reach out and, and, uh, but when I started looking on my own, I said, Okay, I understand you're doing it.
Um, but there's a lot more out there that you're not finding. And this is the case with any tool you're using. You might be using if you're just using one tool or two tools, any tool you're using, you're only getting a fraction. You're never going to have like The complete picture because we signed up with them the only that was the only strategy we did was unlinked mentions And we built, you know, we worked with them for a year or two built Zoic over I don't know the number 150 200 links from unique referring domains all with this one strategy because there were a lot of Opportunities.
Yeah well, because that type of site generates these types of mentions a lot because you know a government's like Oh, we were ranked the best place to live and they want to talk about it So there were a lot of these opportunities and they weren't finding them, so You know, it depends on the brand. It depends on the niche you're in.
But, uh, my favorite approach is to use as many different, um, angles to find things as possible, but we found that consistently, uh, using Google is going to give you the best result in terms of just using search operators and then searching, for example. Let's say you have a brand name, and so our search operator might be search for brand name, um, exclude Facebook and stuff, so we exclude that on the operator.
And then we find, you, you find a term, like an operator, that gets you good results. We're finding a lot of, um, mentions here. And then, once you find one where you're getting a lot of mentions, then you start tweaking the operator to say, okay, let's look for any mentions, like this operator, let's only search Google.
Uh, within the last, like, last month, let's just search in September and find it. And then, and so you're downloading all the results from Google with all these different variations. And then maybe sometimes with s or without s or maybe sometimes the, the name is really common, and so you can't find just that brand because that, that name is so common.
But then you have to look for the brand name in conjunction. Well, let's find both this term and this term of the same article. Then it's a high court. Um, so there's all these, you know, really it's about like just tweaking and, and doing all these different, uh, Google, you know, you know, modifiers to get a bunch of results and then you're just getting as many results as you can downloading them and we have a, like a free tool we use.
It's on our website where you can just download, um, like Google SERPs to CSV. So as you're doing this, you just, you know, just every time you're clicking to download to a CSV file. So then you get like. You know, 20, 30, you know, however many, you know, CSV files, and then you have to combine those files and then, um, dedupe that and then check to see if there are, um, um, any backlinks to the client, um, which There is like some free tool I used to use from scrape box.
We've built our own tool now to do that internally, but That's basically the process is to look and and we'll also use those tools So we're doing a bunch with Google search console. I mean not with Google search operators Then we're using like one of those tools and seeing what it comes up with and then we're also using Ahrefs content Explorer and then doing a similar fashion and then combining all those
And then you have to manually inspect and find which ones, um, so that one, the, the effort has to be on the finding side, uh, but once you find them that you can, you can get a nice conversion. And the thing that I love about that type of link building is that you can generally ask them to link to whatever you want and they'll be.
They'll be amenable to that.
Jared: So almost a combination in that regard of like, the manual meets the tool, and you combine where it makes the most sense to use a manual process to circumvent where tools have gaps, but then also use tools to kind of help you, um, I guess, quicken the process. It's interesting to hear where you use a tool and where you'll use a manual process.
I mean, you seem to, from a high level, like as we kind of start to look back on the interview so far, it's been very much, hey, tools miss a lot of stuff. And when you really manually start doing your homework, you can find a lot of opportunities that others miss.
Aaron: Yeah, exactly. And I, I want to automate everything.
It's not that I don't want to. It's just if I think the manual way is a better way, I'm just gonna go where I think the process is the best. For example, we had a tool built specifically to find broken links and to try to not only find broken links, but find significant redirects. Like if it redirect test fits these certain parameters that, you know, and also find these and stuff, but the issue that I had with that, but then it would find so much data and then I have to go through this data and find of all these broken links that is fine, which of these are valuable.
And then I couldn't find a, like an automated way to do that without basically Ahrefs. And so then it's like, if I have to, so, because when you click on a link on a page. You have all this context, and you're seeing where the link is, and so you, you're already, like, sifting out all the, anything that might not be relevant.
And so then you're only, you know, clicking on the links that could, could be relevant and helpful. But when you're, a tool is automatically finding you 500 broken links, and then you have to go through those one by one, you have no context, and it could be, so, you know, I, I always want to try to automate the process, but if it, It doesn't end up being better than, I just gotta stick with the manual approach,
No, I, I appreciate that. And especially in an age, like you mentioned at the outset with AI, and um, uh, all the chatter about what can be automated, even within the last year. You know, like link building at scale with tools has been a thing that's been talked about for a decade or longer, right? But even last year, that conversation has taken on a new intensity because of AI.
And, um, and oftentimes when you see everybody zigging, you know, zagging is the right approach because there's just opportunities that lie underneath. So. I think you've done a really good job about explaining where a manual process makes the most amount of sense. And then, you know, where you, where you get success by, by adding tools in.
Um, maybe as we kind of come to a conclusion here, or as we start to, to wrap it up, I mean, we've just taken a real deep dive into some different link building approaches than we've talked about here in the podcast. Um, I guess from a high level, from what you're seeing with your clients, like. What types of links are you able to correlate?
Which types of links seem to, to move the needle? You know, are you seeing, um, uh, uh, relevant links? You know, links from, from relevant websites? Or are you still seeing like high powered links move the needle? Any insights just into what types of links are working best in today's environment?
Aaron: Yeah, I think when it comes to what links matter the most, um, I think sometimes those that sell links, uh, try to oversell this as if like links are some magic bullet that's going to make all the difference.
But the fact of the matter is link building is only one part of a much larger equation. And so, you know, the on site SEO matters, the content quality matters, and the way I like to... to evaluate how much success a link is going to have. See, take cues from Google. I like to look at a site and say, okay, this page, uh, with no backlinks, Google already likes it.
And if Google already likes it with links, Google's going to like it better. So not to think that, oh. You know, if I just build, if I get the best links, whatever, you know, then it's going to have this huge impact. It's more about like, we'll see how Google likes your content, and then with links, that'll just accelerate Google's opinion.
So I like to do more of that approach, try to focus where Google is, is leading you, uh, because that's where you can have the most success. And then in terms of whether it's a high DR link or low DR, like, you know, Yeah, of course, like a link with better metrics is probably going to have better results.
But, again, it's where the link's pointed that I think generally... Has the biggest impact as the links. If you get a huge, amazing link to your homepage and you're already an established site, that's not going to probably do much, but if you get a, that same link to a specific page, that's going to have a bigger impact.
So I find the impact is more about where the link is pointed to, uh, than the, the link itself. So tell us
Jared: about your agency a bit. Um, I mean, it's interesting because I'm just thinking through like you guys go after certain types of links that maybe a lot of people aren't going after. So even I'm thinking about people who are already actively maybe doing outreach, like you still might be able to fit a nice role within some different companies.
Aaron: Yeah, you know, I think with, with every client that we work with, it's all about like, okay, does this process, is this going to work for your type of site and your type of industry? Because when you're, if you want to do more of an earned link approach, like there's just some industries that that won't work for.
And so you have to. You have to evaluate, like, do you have something of value that people are going to be interested in? Because there's some link, some industries where you're kind of left to mostly paid links, um, or maybe on the PR side there would be some opportunity. So, for us it's all about evaluating, making sure it's the right fit, and that we can be successful, uh, with a potential client.
And then, even then, you know, I, I don't know exactly how, like, what's, what it's going to be until we start sending emails, and that's... That's why this model is not super popular because from a business perspective, it's much easier if I can build a like a portfolio of sites that I can know I can pay for the links and I'll get them.
It makes it much more of an easy Um, business to create, because I can sell links to whoever, I can get the links right away. But with us, there's uncertainty, because until I start sending emails, I don't know what we're going to be able to produce. So we just have to try to find the right fit, as best as we can, up front, and just be open and transparent with clients about what the process is like.
And then, you know, we'll have to see how it goes once we start sending emails.
Jared: So, I realize we're kind of, you know, circling the wagon here and wrapping up, but you just said something that I have to ask you about before we finish, because I know everyone is thinking it. From your, from your experience, like, which industries don't work well for this type of stuff, you know?
And I realize I'm like going back into the weeds here, but I just have to ask before we leave.
Aaron: Sure. I mean, I think it's, uh, the more difficult industries where, like, you know, casino and gaming, uh, you know, adult, uh, CBD oil, I, I tried and failed, and, and just because I've tried and failed doesn't mean it's not possible.
I'm just, you know, I, um, anything that's possible. overly commercial and that there's, um, where maybe, maybe it's not even like the, the industry is the problem, but the site that comes to me and I say, well, there's no content currently that I see is possible, uh, to do this with. So it could just be like, for example, like an affiliate site where everything is just commercial in nature.
There's no informational, helpful content. Uh, so you know, it's, it's that altruism thing. Are you being, is there some altruistic angle that you have or. You know, are you just, uh, you know, just trying to, to pitch your product or sell your, whatever you're selling. And if that's the case, then that's going to be
Jared: a challenge.
Yeah. Okay. Makes sense. So there's some industries and, and those make sense. Like the ones you start rolling off, like, okay, I got, I got an avatar in my head of industries that are more difficult and really don't work well. But then there's also just websites in general, like brands in general, and going back to that altruistic play.
And if you can't make the case, if you can't justify it to yourself. Then chances are the, the, the website you're reaching out to will have a hard time justifying giving you the link to. Yeah, exactly. Well you're at um, let's see, linkpitch. io if people want to go get in touch with you. Any other ways people can follow along with what you're doing?
Aaron: Um, well, I mean, I, I was running a podcast. It's kind of taking a little pause, but it's all about link building. Let's talk link building. Um, and, and so that, that's been the really, uh, the main places, maybe on LinkedIn as well, which I also have taken a bit of a pause, uh, trying to figure some stuff out on the business side, but, uh, we'll eventually be back because I love like talking to link builders and really getting into the weeds with kind of how different people approach the link building.
Uh, but those would be the main areas. Okay.
Jared: Good. Hey, um, a podcast dedicated to link building that that's going to scratch the itch for a lot of people who, uh, who really love this stuff. So, Hey, Aaron, thanks so much. The, uh, the hour flew by there. I really appreciate you dropping by. I learned a lot. Um, like I said, I haven't talked about, uh, I mean, I wrote BLB down.
I don't know if you use that acronym, but that's the old acronym I would always use for broken link building. And I haven't written that in a long time. That was fun.
Aaron: Yeah, I really appreciate it. It's, uh, it's fun getting into the weeds. I hope it was helpful to the audience.
Jared: Till we talk again. Thanks.
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