Whether you are link building for one website, or 100 websites, organisation will make-or-break how successful you are in achieving your predefined campaign objectives.
There is a cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable relationships.
If you are trying to do this en masse, on behalf of what might be several websites at once, then it’s fair to say that you will have your work cut out.
Because it’s so difficult, any tool that can help make link building easier and more effective becomes extremely desirable.
These tools are always going to be akin to joining a gym: they’ll gives you the platform and inventory to achieve your objective, but they ain’t gonna hit the StairMaster for you.
The same is true with link building CRM tool, BuzzStream. If you think paying the monthly fee is enough to bring instantaneous success and transform your link building campaigns, then think again.
If you are willing to put some work into maintaining and utilizing BuzzStream, then what you will end up is an incredible tool for researching, organizing, scaling and conducting link building.
Here are a few ways I have found that help get the most out of BuzzStream, in terms of its house-keeping and administration.
(There’s more you can do in terms of getting it to research your link prospects, but I’ll save that for another post.)
Essentially, this is what BuzzStream allows you to do.
Before getting into its nuts and bolts, let’s expand on the little black book analogy.
If you think of a single person’s little black book, each of the entries will represent a different type of opportunity that can be called upon in different circumstances.
One entry might be a potential marriage candidate, another might be someone fun to hang out with on a Saturday night and another might be the one you call after 11 pm when you’re feeling just a bit…ahem…lonely.
It’s important that you — or anyone who picks up the book — can differentiate which opportunity is which.
If all you have is a name and a phone number, the book’s not gonna be much good, especially as the data grows. You need to differentiate.
The same is true with link building. Each contact becomes an entry into the book and represents a different type of opportunity.
Some you will want to build a lasting relationship with and engage in conversation; some, dare I say it, you will want to pay for.
With this in mind then, we can understand how we can achieve better link building through Buzzstream and the proper management of this database.
Let’s say then, you’ve caught the eye of a website you want to get a link from. For now, how you have come across it doesn’t matter; the point is you want to identify it as an opportunity and add it to the black book.
For the sake of argument, let’s use my personal blog as the example. Pretend I’m link building for an SEO agency and looking to secure guest posts, amongst any other opportunities that may be presented.
I come across this link building blog and particularly, this post:
There are a few basic questions every link builder needs to answer when qualifying a prospective websites:
What are the opportunity types?
What do the owner care about and how is this relevant to what I care about?
and most importantly..
How do I establish contact?
The last point is most important because it makes or breaks whether or not you end up with a link. The process and research helps, but ultimately, it doesn’t push the needle.
With these questions in mind, let’s add the prospect to BuzzStream and see how it can improve the link building process.
To add the prospect to BuzzStream, simply click the Buzzmarker in the Bookmarks toolbar:
This will bring you up with a pop-up that confirms adding the prospect, which is where you need to put in the hard yards and answer all of the questions that are important when qualifying a prospect.
What is the opportunity type?
The first thing you will need to establish is the opportunity type presented by the website. Here you can really make use of custom fields and tags.
Although you can select the type of website you’re adding from a drop down, these don’t represent the opportunity that is presented for how you will get a link.
For the sake of consistency, we have everyone who shares BuzzStream work off the same master sheet of tags, which are:
Blog Conversation / Comment, Social News Site Niche Directory General Directory Interview Paid Text Link Donation Featured Post Sponsorship Product Review Testimonials Vendor List Article Directory
These are subject to change and often, we’ll add custom tags to projects depending on the work we’re doing.
If you keep using this baseline though, it’ll make sorting through your black book so much easier in the future.
In this example, we see there is an opportunity to guest post on the blog. At the same time, there is a blog conversation opportunity and, depending on the SEO agencies linkable assets, scope for a product review.
What does the owner care about and how is this relevant to what I care about?
Answering this question is something you gradually become more adept in the more you qualify and outreach to people.
You learn to pick up on clues and allusions that are littered all over the original website and the prospects various social channels.
Built up a complete profile of the target. Look at their most recent and most popular blog posts, who they link to and who they follow on Twitter.
Look at their LinkedIn: where do they work, who do they know, what did they study at university?
Try to understand what makes them tick.
Understand what they care about and you can move this energy towards what you care about. This will help you create value for them in the link building process.
All this information needs to go in the notes section of the link prospect. Anyone on your team should be able to click on the target and find out why this prospect has been added to the system, and what you had in mind to get a link from them.
Keep careful notes and, in theory, anyone should be able to pick up a contact armed with enough information to move it forward.
How do I make contact?
When it comes to making contact, BuzzStream does most of the hard work for you – where possible it fills in the basic contact information and sucks in the prospect’s avatar.
Buzzstream’s e-mail template tool can really cut down on time when you’re contacting similar contacts en masse.
Paddy Moogan’s review of BuzzStream did a great job of outlining how best to use the e-mail template tool.
The only thing I’d add here is that there is a quite an effective formula for making that first contact with prospects.
Like most link building, this isn’t an exact science.
However, retweeting their post primes them for your contact, which tends to increase the chance of opening dialogue with them in a private e-mail thread.
If you’re looking for a guest post, a good line to take in the personal e-mail is to suggest a new angle on a recent post.
Using my blog again as the example:
‘Noticed your most recent post about link building and productivity. I think there’s another angle here that hasn’t been talked about enough.’
You may want to suggest you writing the guest post now or, you may want to have a bit of dialogue around the subject before suggesting you write it.
A little trick here is to use BuzzStream to streamline the ‘follow-retweet-contact’ strategy.
BuzzStream’s Twitter integration means that retweets are automatically added to the relevant contact.
Once a week, filter on “Dates\Last Modified = last 7 days”…
and then “Communication History=Tweet”…
You can also use the ‘save filter’ function here to cut down on having to go to through this process each time:
This gives you a list of contacts that you’ve tweeted in the last week and thus, gives you your list of contacts that you need to follow up with.
Leveraging contacts again, and again
People with agency experience will have found how often link prospects can be recycled as your client roster chops and changes.
Often you find yourself saying; ‘Hey, you know, I think I could do something that would make that old link prospect link to this new client.’
It also adds a new dimension to your link building. If you find yourself at a loose end, you can browse your database looking for targets that will become the inspiration for new link building campaigns.
BuzzStream makes this recycling process simple if you are consistent with how you tag your link prospects, as we outlined earlier.
Here’s how you can instantly bring up a list of guest post opportunities.
First, change the project name to ‘All Contacts’. This will bring every prospect you have ever added to BuzzStream.
Next, you need to filter them by the opportunity you need. This is where you’ll really see the benefit of using consistent tags.
Click the ‘Filters’ button and click ‘guest post’:
You’ve now got a list of warm guest post prospects that you can order by whatever metric you want.
Sort them by PageRank and you could have a few quick-wins to keep things ticking over during quiet periods, or to kick-start new campaigns.
Your job is to sift through them and see if there are new angles in which they can be worked and leveraged.
The people who respond best to BuzzStream are those who know what it’s like to toil in an Excel labyrinth.
Once they see what it does, they immediately understand why it’s important and what they need to do to make sure it’s running at full capacity.
Just like going to the gym, it’s easy to get sloppy with BuzzStream, to miss a few sessions, to tell yourself you’ll make up for it next week. Put in the hard yards and over time your link building will certainly see the benefit.
If you work hard at maintaining the database, then it becomes a powerful asset for any agency running multiple SEO campaigns; transforming how efficiently and effectively you build links.