In a world where nine out of ten startups fail, there are still loopholes that can be used to trigger your startup’s success. If the performance of your brand new business depends on its internet presence, then identifying quick wins can solve many issues.
Being visible on the Web means appearing on the first results page, since 75 percent of users don't scroll past the second page.
There are various SEO hacks that you can use to push your way forward. However, launching a startup means having to operate your business with few resources.
So what's the most cost-efficient and relatively time-saving way to get your site on Google's first page with limited resources? Link building is the answer.
SEMrush recently held a webinar with link-building expert and entrepreneur Jon Quinton, the owner of Overdrive Digital. Jon shared some strategic startup hacks and personal insights on link building. The webinar itself is online, so you can easily access Jon's presentation on the freelance way. Basically, the path to link-building success, if you are new to the business, is:
The SEMrush team received many questions addressed to Jon, and we asked him to elaborate on the topic while answering some of them.
How does one begin building links from scratch?
Starting from scratch can often seem pretty daunting, and it can be tricky figuring out where to start.
The most helpful exercise I’ve found is to start by jotting down a list of ideas, mainly focusing on things you’re confident can be executed quickly. This could include looking at current business relationships to see if a link can be gained, looking at any PR opportunities, or reviewing your competitors to see if there are any quick wins you can take advantage of.
Going through this process is a helpful way of getting some ideas going and focusing the mind on what you might want to get started with first.
What are your tips for building links with very limited resources and time?
I’d say forget about big content ideas and anything that’s going to be overly complex. Often, there’s at least a handful of links you can build pretty quickly with no content at all. If you decide you do need to build some content, then focus on things you can do with as little time as possible, while still generating content that people will want to read, reference and share.
As an example, I’ve picked up quite a few links in the past by recording interviews with influential people, and then promoting the content on social. For the sake of a 30-minute phone call and paying for the recording to be transcribed, it’s very little effort on my part, but it also happens to produce a genuinely interesting and unique piece.
Beyond the above, I’d highly recommend looking at what aspects of your link building you can outsource and bring in some outside help on. For example, building an outreach list can be extremely time-consuming, but outsourcing that side can be a cost-effective way of getting a good head start.
What is your general SEO process?
Over time, there are a number of principles that have remained true. Developing an understanding of what keywords to target and ensuring your site is accessible to search engines is an obvious place to start.
In general, my first step is to get the house in order, and then move on to promoting the site through content and link building.
Ultimately, if you haven’t got the basics right, then no matter how many links you build you’re never going to maximize the site’s potential for traffic or revenue.
What are your thoughts on paid link acquisition?
Getting paid link building right and not causing yourself future issues is now harder than trying to build links in a long-term way. I have no moral issues with paid link building (as some do), but I do think it requires its own skill set to do it right. There’s also a huge gray area over what constitutes a paid link, for example would you consider a product review to be a paid link?
I would say that unless you’re confident that you can pay for links in a way that’s undetectable, then avoid doing it and concentrate on other ways to attract links.
How do you get links from high-authority domains if you don't pay for them?
The trick is to think like a PR and building an understanding of what journalists on your target sites want.
My approach has always been to get links based on the merit of the content I’m offering alone, and I have never found this to be an issue. In theory, it’s a simple switch between putting your money into the placement vs. putting your money into producing a piece of content that a journalist will want to write about.
I understand the proposal process for getting backlinks in general — there are tons of tools and info online. But, if you could just offer some tips, that would help as I think a lot of people struggle with this sometimes.
Firstly, I don’t think there’s a secret formula. If you’re going to reach out to journalists or site owners, then you really need to consider what they’re going to want or need. In short, put yourself in their shoes.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but if you’re pitching your content to a publisher, then I would definitely put some time into answering the following questions:
· Which journalist is going to be most receptive to your pitch based on previously published stories?
· What assets (if any) do they tend to feature in their articles? Do they even use third party content?
· What could you do to build a relationship before offering your content? What value could you add?
· How can you concisely explain what’s in it for them? Why should they consider your offer?
When you reach out in an attempt to get a backlink, do you try to pitch a specific anchor (an optimized anchor) or do you leave it up to the other site’s owner to decide how to link to you?
I used to spend a lot of time managing the outreach process to ensure I got the best possible mix of anchor text; however, since Penguin I’ve tended to be as ‘hands off’ as possible. This tends to result in a natural mix of anchor texts as the decision is in the site owner’s hands.
Have you had success building natural backlinks via infographics? What about video content?
Yes, and these can still be really effective if used in the right way. I’ve found a far better approach is not to suddenly decide you need an infographic or video, but first setting your sites on what you want to achieve, and what topics are going to work best.
You can then make a sensible decision on what format is going to work. As an example, I’ve been working with a yoga company to research and formulate an ongoing strategy (note: I didn’t put a link in!), and a big part of what we’re looking at is content.
In this case, a video is so suited to teaching people how to do yoga. How could you do that so effectively via an infographic? It just wouldn’t work out so well, and it would end up being far harder to communicate the message.
To tune in or sign up for our forthcoming webinars, check out our Webinars’ page.