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052: Link-Building Tactics That Work, and more with Jeremy Moser (uSERP)

Link-Building Tactics That Work, and more with Jeremy Moser (uSERP)

What can a career in SEO teach you about building relationships? Jeremy Moser believes that building genuine relationships with your industry peers and colleagues lays the foundation for trust, business partnerships, and growth. 

As the co-founder and CEO at uSERP, Jeremy helps high-growth SaaS brands gain visibility and traction through digital PR and SEO. 

He talked to us about the differences between digital PR and link building, link building tactics that actually work in today’s world, and how to build relationships by adding value.

Show Topics

  • The difference between digital PR and link building
  • The value of a link
  • Link building tactics
  • Value-driven pricing
  • Building relationships by adding value
  • Brand-building through link building

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Key Takeaways

10:18 – Differentiate your efforts between link building and PR

Link building offers an avenue for brands who already have lots of content, whereas digital PR offers the opportunity to create fresh content to pitch directly to magazines and journalists.

“We look at digital PR and link building as serving a similar goal, though different strategies on how we achieve those and how we acquire, whether it’s brand mentions in that sense for a PR piece or just strictly editorial-based links that are going to push toward specific pages. In terms of a PR push, we really look at that in terms of creating content that we can then go out and pitch that’s interesting to cover in a magazine by journalists or anything of that nature. So it’s a little more from the ground-up work when we’re doing digital PR versus link building, where we’re mostly focused on acquiring links to existing content, maybe tuning and tweaking existing content to better fit some sort of search intent or something that we can pitch in that sense. So, we see those as a little bit exclusive in that sense, but there’s definitely overlap there in the end goals of getting more links to a site, getting more brand awareness, etc.”

15:54 – Set goals based on the stage of your business

Consider the stage of your business and the amount of existing content your brand already has to set goals that align with your brand’s needs.

“I think the best place to start there is usually just determining what the main goals are, both in the short term and the long term. A lot of people come to us and there are a few different sectors of goals that they might have. It could be a larger site where they have a ton of content published — they’re ranking for thousands and thousands of keywords, maybe not on the first page or anything like that, but they have a lot of content published, a good amount of brand strength there, and they really just need a push on those pieces. They need help in terms of refining that, getting more links to those pieces, ranking up at home. So that’s where we’d recommend more of a link focus play. If we were doing more of something for a brand that’s up and coming, or one that’s just starting where they’re coming in and like you said, they have a few content assets, maybe they’ve got a little bit established in terms of a funnel and they’ve got stuff on their site. Then we’d really focus that a little more on a PR play, since we really can see that acquire a lot of links at scale, too, and have a broader impact. But a lot of that does depend on the goals.”

19:30 – Use outreach to dominate SERPs faster than traditional SEO

Link building can produce faster results than traditional SEO efforts as those can take years to gain meaningful keyword rankings, while reaching out to reputable businesses for links only takes research, targeted goals and a pitch that adds value to land quality links.

“If you’re getting picked up by one of these publications, makes things a lot easier in the future as well, going forward. But again, we’ll definitely come back to your budget, your goals, your timeline. If you’re a new company and you’re struggling to get sales in the beginning, maybe this is a shorter-term play, like you need leverage quick. That’s when we would recommend actually a little more of [a] targeted outreach toward sites maybe that are already existing and ranking for content. So, maybe you’re a pet food brand or something for that matter and, ranking for pet food, top pet food companies or top pet food brands as a whole is going to take you a year plus, just for estimate’s sake. What you can do there instead is really see how you can jump the line, essentially, and skip that SEO wait time and maybe dominate SERPs in a different sense. So, looking at what’s already existing out there — who’s already talking about that in terms of, if you search best dog food or whatever, can you target some of those journalists or sites that are already covering that? Can you get listed on there? Can you get on their radar for future mentions? So, maybe they’re writing another piece about something in that space and you can get on their radar, you can give them helpful data or information. So, we see this as a multi-step approach and that it does definitely depend on where you’re at with a company and what your deadlines or timelines are.”

21:29 – Build relationships by adding value

Whether you’re connecting with your brand’s audience on Twitter or reaching out to build links, be authentic and always add value.

“A lot of big success for us is through Twitter, as well. So, connecting with people not on a promotional or pitching basis, at least at the start, just so you’re kind of building a relationship network that you have to leverage at a later time. So even if you don’t have an existing client right now in a specific niche, it’s still worthwhile building relationships with people at all different types of media companies, all different types of sectors, job titles, roles, etc., and kind of just building a network of people that you can tap into at any given point and say, ‘Hey, we’ve connected here and I know you do this and here’s some cool stuff going on with this company. Maybe you want to check that out.’ But if you don’t have that time and you’re a little more in a crunch to kind of get things sped up, really what we find successful is doing email out outreach and having a clear proposition for them that’s valuable. So, what we see there is really keeping things short and sweet and not really diving into things like here’s me, here’s my company, here’s how cool we are, here’s the funding we raised. A lot of people don’t care about that. They just want to know what’s in it for them and how they’re going to push either their own company goals forward or they’re going to look good to their boss. How are they going to create a piece that’s going to stand out within their company or the magazine that they’re creating content for?”

24:34 – Offer a free product to increase the success of your pitch

People are naturally curious, and by offering free products when you pitch, you can entice people to experience how your product delivers on its promises, securing a link and a fan at once.

“So, going off this example, you’re pretty early stage, you have a product but you need sales pretty quickly. You don’t have six to 12 months to invest, whatever $40,000 plus into a lot of PR and then a lot of push there. I’d still recommend going to those companies and those lists and trying to get on those and then really just offering something like a free product in exchange. We’ve seen this work well through all different types of industries, upwards of things like lifestyle, travel, anything where you have a physical product is actually kind of an advantage in that sense because people are very curious about a lot of these physical products. Especially if this company, for example, has products made and it’s not pre-market or anything like that. There’s a lot of opportunity to reach out there and just say, almost like an influencer-style outreach there in the sense like, ‘Hey, I’d love to send you a free product here. I noticed you posted a piece on the best kettlebells. We think we’re really competitive in this space and we’d love for you to try it out, see what you think, and go from there.’ And we see a lot of success with that overall. We do see that successful in software too, it’s just a little more competitive.”

29:44 – Focus on link building tactics that work

All you need to deliver quality links are a few reliable link-building tactics like performing a content gap analysis and pitching engaging content that adds value.

“What we see to be really the most effective is narrowing down on a few of those tactics and just going all-in on those. For us, those tend to be things like contribution. So, submitting fresh content that sites actually want to publish. It’s kind of like guest posts. We don’t call it that in a traditional sense because when you think of guest posting, it’s usually sort of spammy, mediocre quality content done at scale. You write the piece and then you try to find an outlet that will hopefully take it. You hopefully get that published. You maybe search ‘write for us’ and then your industry. You know, peel back the top 100 sites on there. We try to avoid all that and we just go direct to source. So we find 10 companies that have cool blogs. They have overlapping audiences. And we say, let’s do some research on our end and say, ‘Okay, this is your top three competitors. They’re covering these three or four or five different types of pieces and you’re not, and here’s why you should be covering that.’ So, doing essentially a mini content gap analysis, in that sense, and really looking at where they’re potentially missing out on traffic, on valuable customers coming into their door and really saving them time and money in that sense. Because we all know how expensive it is to create actual, really good content that’s going to rank for those key phrases. If you’re putting in that extra time and that effort, you’re going to get really good publicity. You’re going to get a lot of those links there that normally would be unreachable, or normally you’d have to have some sort of crazy connections there from the past to get in those doors. So, we’ve seen that as being a really effective tactic that we’ve not doubled down, but 10x down on.”

32:49 – Produce high-quality custom content to stand out from the crowd

Crafting a targeted piece of content to pitch to a select few people is a more effective strategy than writing broad content that ultimately won’t serve your audience.

“People say link-building average is getting really tough. No one’s responding to my emails, and that’s kind of music to my ears when I hear that. People think it’s bad that there’s a lot of outreach, that it kind of creates a spammy field in the industry, but it also makes you, if you’re doing that outreach correctly and you’re doi ng it well, stand out that much more. So when you’re emailing and you’re contacting with a journalist or a site or a company or a site owner for that matter, it’s a lot easier to stand out if you’re actually putting in the work behind the scenes, you’re actually creating a piece of content that you would publish yourself and not one that you’re writing, shoving a bunch of links in there, and then spraying and praying and hoping that that gets published somewhere down the line. So really taking that custom approach is really what we see work best.”

38:06 –  Use a value-driven pricing model

A single link can drive thousands of visitors and lead to a high volume of qualified conversions, so the cost of link-building services should reflect the value they provide.

“That’s something that we do, too, is really value-driven pricing and a lot of it will depend on the type of client that we’re working with too. If we’re driving links to a really bottom of the funnel page that’s heavily conversion-driven, if you’re getting a link to that type of page on a really high traffic site. Say a target site does like 2 million organic visits per month and they have an existing piece of content that’s ranking for whatever and you get a link on that page, you’re probably going to be driving upwards of a couple thousand visits per month to that specific piece that you’re linking to. We’ve seen that on the backend with analytics, et cetera, and seeing tons of referral traffic can come in from just a single link on a high traffic piece, especially if it’s coming from a good reputable site. That’s worth a ton of money in terms of both ad spend and then also the conversion trickle down that you’ll get from some of that, especially depending on the company that you’re working with. If the conversion is low ask…that’s super invaluable. If you’re doing that, you should not be charging $300 or something like that per link you should really take into account, obviously, the business size, the business goals, and then what a single conversion might mean to them in terms of their bottom line revenue.”

44:53 – Prioritize your brand voice above ranking for SEO keywords

Content marketing is more powerful when it prioritizes value-driven content for the reader rather than SEO keywords for the search engines.

“A lot of people seem to think that content marketing, at least at the start, is really SEO-driven. And I see it as more than just an SEO play. So, what I mean by that is not every content piece that you create has to be ranking for a given keyword and actually most of the best link building and PR pieces aren’t driven towards ranking for a specific keyword there actually more survey-based or they’re maybe just a keyword that people are not searching but it just an overall topic area that people are interested in. And we see a lot of that as trickle-down opportunity to other stuff you’re working on. So, for example, a lot of people might think, ‘Okay, we need to publish more content this month. That means we need to do more keyword research,’ but maybe not necessarily. Maybe that means we need to figure out what people care about in our space. What are they talking about? And how can we kind of capitalize on some of that? And then how can we also predict some of that future trends so that we’re not just capitalizing on what’s existing out there, but how are we kind of creating a mindset or narrative shift that goes towards the future of these topics?”

47:26 – Treat links as a brand-building effort

High-quality links garner more attention and brand awareness, making link-building an essential part of your brand-building efforts.

“If you look at where Google rankings are shifting these days, we’ve seen this time and time again, it’s just big brands that have awareness, that have a lot of links. They have a lot of links because they’re generating a ton of awareness and people are talking about them online. And so links are really just an extension of your brand in terms of, we like to think of it as almost like a Yelp review or something, or a Google review, for that matter, to where each time you’re acquiring one, it’s just another benefit to you in terms of, if someone’s looking at this and they see that you have 500 reviews and it’s all five-star ratings, that’s really powerful for your brand. And when someone’s looking at that, reading that piece, they’re more likely to click on that. They might remember you from your brand being mentioned in all these different types of places. So, we really see links as a brand-building effort overall.”

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Alex Birkett

Alex is a co-founder of Omniscient Digital. He loves experimentation, building things, and adventurous sports (scuba diving, skiing, and jiu jitsu primarily). He lives in Austin, Texas with his dog Biscuit.