- A backlink is a link that directs visitors from another website to yours.
- Obtaining backlinks is fundamental to improving your sites search engine ranking, the best ranking sites have thousands of backlinks.
- While backlinks are important, they are not easy to get and the outreach process can be timely and expensive.
- There are a common set of guidelines to follow when looking to obtain backlinks. However, these guidelines are often breached, impacting a sites ability to get more backlinks.
Anyone who knows anything about boosting a website’s SEO and earning the praise of the Google Gods knows the importance of backlinks. Not only do backlinks send more traffic to your site, but they help you gain notoriety as an authority in your industry.
Some backlinks are gained organically, which means one website stumbles upon the amazing content on your web page and links to it without you asking. Others are gained by paying, providing content, or begging and pleading.
Backlinks are not an easy job
Let’s be honest, earning backlinks as a newbie or start-up isn’t easy. It sometimes takes years to gain the type of authority and notoriety that makes other websites willingly backlink to you as a resource. So, while you’re gaining traction, building SEO, and working your way to the top, you may need to take a different approach.
This is where soliciting other websites for backlinks comes into play. With millions of websites crowding the internet, there are plenty in desperate need of quality content. So, what does that mean for you?
You offer to write a quality, content-driven article (more on this later) free of charge for a website to use on their blog. You might be thinking, “What? Why would I write an article for free?” Well, when you slip a backlink to your website into the article, you’re increasing the chances that you’ll see a boost in traffic and SEO.
But, as the old saying goes, nothing worth having in life is truly free.
This is why, in addition to the time it takes you to write the article, you may need to pay a publishing fee. Websites know how valuable backlinks are and they’re not afraid to charge you for them.
Not sure that jumping through all of these hoops is worth it? Well, it is and we’re about to tell you why.
What are backlinks?
Simply put, a backlink is a link that directs visitors from another website to yours. Think of it as a reference. Backlinks are mostly found in informative blog posts. If you’ve ever clicked on blue, highlighted words in an article, and found yourself redirected to another website, you just clicked on a backlink. And chances are, that website owner paid for that link.
You can get backlinks in a few different ways. The easiest way is to pay the publishing site to place a backlink in an existing article. This method is generally cheaper and requires less work on your part. But, you have less control over the anchor text or the article’s content. If you don’t care, great! But if you want more control over your backlinks, you’ll need to provide the content yourself.
That means writing a blog post with a link to your website embedded naturally and contextually. Some websites post the content with your backlink on their page free of charge. These are usually websites with low domain authority in need of content to fill their pages.
While these backlinks aren’t as valuable to your site, a backlink is a backlink and even ones from low ranking sites can help boost your SEO.
If you’re shooting for more high-profile websites with high domain authority, you’ll need to provide both the content and pay a publishing fee.
The fees are usually outlined in the publishing site’s guest post criteria and can range anywhere from $30 to hundreds, so be prepared to shell out some cold hard cash.
Why are backlinks important?
So, why do website owners pay money (or provide free content) to receive a backlink? Backlinks are actually a much more cost-effective way to advertise your business or website. By making a single investment, you could gain thousands of visitors that convert to sales.
Increased traffic on your website also helps boost your SEO and your ranking on the SERPs (search engine results page). But that’s not all. Backlinks are like a glowing recommendation from a well-known professional in your field. When a high-ranking website backlinks to yours it gives you more credibility. In time, this will increase your domain authority.
The number of referring domains is one of the first things Google considers when ranking your site. The more you have, the higher your site will rank on the SERPs.
Proof that backlinks work
Still not convinced that backlinks are worth your time or investment?
Websites with more than 300 referring domains are much more likely to rank in the number one spot than, let’s say, a website with only 50 backlinks.
The quality of your backlinks is just as important as the quantity. The higher the domain authority of the referring website, the better it is for your SEO and ranking. For example, if you’re someone designing a new sports beverage, you’re much more likely to gain traction with an endorsement from a professional athlete like Shaq than you would be from a high school basketball coach.
Major mistakes to avoid when contacting websites for backlinks
Now that we’ve covered the basics of what backlinks are and why they’re so important, you’re probably ready to run out and start contacting publishing websites, right? Not so fast.
Publishing sites are inundated every day with websites looking for backlinks. Not only does your article need to stand out from the crowd, but you need to follow some basic guidelines. Some guidelines are common sense etiquette and professionalism while others are specifically outlined by the publisher.
Do your research before pitching to a website. In addition, avoid these nine mistakes.
1. Don’t haggle over the price
There’s nothing more insulting to a blogger than having someone try to beat down their posting price. Some blogs advertise a specific price for getting a backlink on their website. Others welcome free content and give you a link as a “thank you”. For those that charge a flat fee, be careful how much haggling you do. If the price is $100 to post, don’t offer them $50. You won’t get very far and you may burn some bridges along the way.
That’s not to say that asking for a small discount is always out of line. If it feels appropriate, ask for 5 or 10% off the price – but don’t be surprised if they decline.
Remember, you aren’t the only person willing to pay for backlinks and you won’t be the last. You’re a dime a dozen. Don’t blow your chances for getting a backlink on a reputable site with a high-domain over a few dollars. If your link successfully posts, the investment will pay for itself ten-fold.
2. Don’t create over promotional content
There’s no denying that backlinks are a form of self-promotion, but when your content is over-promotional, both the blogger and the readers will pick up on it right away. No one likes to read an article riddled with countless links.
They’re an eyesore and take away from the content’s value. When creating a post to pitch to a publishing site, focus on the customer experience, not your own agenda.
What are the customer’s pain points and how does your content address them? Are you providing valuable, credible content that answers your reader’s burning questions? There are countless ways to include your backlink in the article without hitting the reader over the head with it. Publishers want content-driven submissions, not a sales pitch.
3. Don’t ignore the blogger’s criteria
Rules were made for a reason – and the guidelines bloggers have for guest post submissions have a purpose. If the website you’re pitching to has specific criteria for submitting, follow it.
Similar to a job application, provide all the required information and follow the structured guidelines. It’s hard enough for bloggers to weed through countless emails and pitches – if yours breaks even one rule, it’ll get tossed aside without a second thought.
The most common guidelines surround the length of the article, what to include in the initial email (bio, headshot, and other details), the format (Google Doc, PDF file), and the submission process.
Read all of these guidelines before submitting your work. Not doing so will be a waste of time for both you and the blogger you’re pitching to.
4. Adhere to the word count
Another important guideline that many publishing sites will give you is the word count of the articles. The average length of a blog post is about 2,000. This isn’t just a number that the bloggers pulled out of thin air.
Google prefers blog posts over 2,000 pages. New data suggests that 2,100 to 2,400 words is the ideal length for boosting SEO. They often provide the most value to readers. But that’s not to say that posts between 500 and 2,000 words have no place on the Internet. There are plenty of readers who prefer a short, concise, and to-the-point article that’s only 1,000 words or less.
Trust that the blogger you’re pitching to have done their research and selected a specific length of all submissions for a reason. Don’t disregard their request. Avoid submitting articles that are way over or way under the word count. Also, avoid adding useless information (fluff) just to reach the word count. Publishing websites will see right through this and likely reject your article, costing you a backlink and much-needed exposure.
5. Stuffing your content with backlinks
One per customer – that’s the theory behind including backlinks in an article. If you successfully pitch your idea or article to a publishing website, most allow one backlink to a page on your site. Not four, five, or ten. Don’t stuff your article with backlinks. Not only does it look sloppy and unprofessional, but it hurts your credibility and the legitimacy of the article.
Remember, you should be creating content-driven articles that include helpful information. Backlinks should be included in a discrete and meaningful way. When an article is riddled with links, readers are much less likely to read the entire thing and it’s even more unlikely that they’ll click on any of the links. A few links scattered throughout an article are much more attractive and won’t overwhelm the reader (or annoy the blogger you’re pitching to).
6. Pitching to irrelevant websites
Not staying in your lane is another major mistake to avoid when contacting bloggers for a backlink. When you approach a blogger in an industry that’s not relevant to yours, it shows carelessness. You clearly didn’t research the publishing site. It appears as if you’ve just mass-emailed a list of websites that accept guest posts. And you can guarantee that the publishing website will give you as much time and attention as you gave the research process. Zero.
If you’re a property management company, you shouldn’t be contacting bloggers in the fashion or beauty industry. Stick with real estate websites or even companies that offer financial or loan advice. Make sure that the relationship makes sense before contacting the websites.
7. Hounding the blogger
There’s something to be said about following up with a website after pitching your article idea. Follow-up emails show responsibility, eagerness, and a certain level of professionalism. Contacting the blogger more than two times or hounding them for a response, on the other hand, screams desperation.
Once you initially make contact with the website, wait a few days before sending a follow-up email. When you do, indicate that you just want to confirm that they received your submission or ask if there’s any additional information they’d like. If they don’t answer after this second attempt, give it up and move on. It either means your article idea wasn’t a good fit at this time, the content wasn’t up to snuff, or perhaps they’re not interested in backlinking to your website.
All of these reasons are legitimate. Don’t take it personally. Accept that it’s a dead-end and start pitching to other websites.
8. Rambling in the initial email
We get it. You’re excited for the opportunity to post on a blogger’s site. You want that backlink. But it’s important to remain calm, cool, and collected – and that means avoiding overly long emails that ramble on about how honored you’d be if they’d publish your article and backlink.
The blogger doesn’t need or want your life story. Keep it short, simple, and to the point.
Not only do overly long emails annoy bloggers but your intended message will get lost in the shuffle. Check the blogger’s criteria once again. What specific details do they ask for? Be sure to include all of these, without going overboard. Most bloggers want a short synopsis of what your business is about, who you are, and what you want (aka a backlink).
In some cases, you can briefly touch on your budget, but this isn’t always a good approach. If their criteria already outline a price, remember not to haggle too much. If they don’t mention a price, you don’t want to offer more than they normally charge and end up spending too much. When in doubt, avoid talking costs until you get a response.
9. Submitting unoriginal content
This is SEO no-no number one. Never, ever, ever submit duplicate content to a website for publication. Not only does this teeter on breaking copyright rules and possibly plagiarism, but it hurts the host site’s SEO.
The last thing you want to do is offend or negatively impact the business that you’re pitching to. Not only will it put a bad taste in their mouth about you and your website, but it’ll downright piss them off. It also shows that you know very little about how backlinking works.
The content you submit should be unique and written specifically for the publishing site’s target audience. Even if you have the perfect article already written for your niche, avoid pitching it to multiple websites at once. Then, you’ll find yourself in a pickle if more than one blogger accepts it. Instead, try pitching blog post ideas or outlines where you can create original, unique content for each website.
Backlinks are an important part of the SEO puzzle. As your website climbs the Google ranks to claim a spot at the top, you may need a little boost. Backlinks are one way to get this boost without spending a fortune.
You won’t get a response from every blogger you pitch to. In fact, you may only hear from a handful out of hundreds. And of that handful, you may only succeed in posting one or two backlinks. So, while you’ll win some and lose some, the most important thing to remember is to always play by the rules.
How Gael Breton Escaped Client SEO & Built a Full-Time Income Through Affiliate Marketing
Who Gael Breton and why should you listen to him? Well, first Gael is a tremendously talented affiliate marketer who specializes in building “authority” websites. Gael got his start in the SEO agency world and transitioned into owning his own properties. In this discussion, you’ll learn: How Gael started and grew his first SEO agency …
Defining value stream management for SEO agencies business owners
- Value stream management is the practice that helps businesses to determine the value of the software development process.
- By managing value streams, you can improve the flow of value to your SEO agency and monitor the software delivery lifecycle.
- Mapping value streams will help you improve visibility throughout the whole software development cycle.
- You can enable value stream management by defining real-time metrics, creating a value stream map, enabling cross-team collaboration, connecting different processes, and automating the workflows.
With the scope of the competition on the market, the delivery of SEO options is becoming harder than ever. To stay competitive, all processes within the software development cycle must be optimized to their best.
If you’re looking to improve the workflows in your SEO agency, consider implementing value stream management. To help you get started, we’ve created this ultimate guide to value stream management. After reading, you’ll get a better idea of what is a value stream and how you can start managing your value streams by creating maps.
What is value stream management (VSM)?
To define the concept of value stream management, it’s important to understand the fundamentals. Let’s cover the basics and define key terms before moving further to discuss value stream management for SEO businesses.
A value stream refers to every step of the software delivery lifecycle (SDLC), from the product idea to the production and tools required to deliver your software to the customers. To help you visualize the concept, here’s an example of a value stream for product (not software) development.
In other words, a value stream is a series of activities that build up the value of your SEO software. Value is defined by something a customer gets, like high-quality software, in a fair period of time for a fair price.
Source: Maaw info
Value stream management (VSM) refers to the process of optimizing processes from the very point when you conceptualize an idea to the time when this idea is in production and generating revenue. To put it simply, VSM allows you to manage your SEO software development process from idea to cash.
The benefits of value stream management for your SEO agency
Value stream management enables SEO software companies to deliver higher quality products faster and more efficiently than their competitors while significantly reducing risks. Besides, proper implementation of VSM enables the following benefits.
- VSM helps you find and address the limitations of your workflows. By mapping out all stages of the software development process, you can identify potential limitations and blunders.
- VSM enables you to deliver higher quality SEO solutions. By optimizing development processes, you can deliver better quality products.
- VSM allows the continuous development of your agency. By investing in optimization and VSM, you can guarantee the success of your business in the long run.
- VSM helps you to make the overall flow of information across the entire process visible to people who normally manage separate functions, processes, and departments.
How does value stream mapping work?
By now you should understand that value stream management allows optimization of all development processes, from the first time an idea of a product is conceptualized to the moment when the product is produced and launched in the marketplace.
Within value stream management, many capabilities feed that process. Value stream mapping one of these capabilities.
A value stream map refers to the visualization of all critical steps in the SEO software development process. Value stream maps include a description of each stage and information, like the time, the volume of work, and spendings dedicated to each of the stages.
By creating value stream maps, you can analyze the current state of your processes and improve your product based on the series of events that take your SEO solution from the initial concept to the finished product your customers receive. To put it simply, value stream mapping allows you to identify where you’re adding value and where you’re wasting it.
Besides, creating value streams allows you to categorize activities into high priority vs. low priority items. This way, you can prioritize and triage some processes in favor of others.
How can you enable VSM?
In order to optimize your SEO software development practices and tools, you need total visibility throughout the whole development cycle. Likely, you can achieve this by mapping value streams.
Not particularly sure where to start? Follow these five steps to enable value stream management for your SEO agency.
1. Defining real-time metrics and objectives
Defining real-time metrics is the first step toward enabling value stream management. Unfortunately, many businesses fail to define metrics which leads to misleading results and inability to assess the effectiveness of their VSM efforts.
Choosing the right objectives allows you to understand what’s happening in the development and identify where value is “leaking” in the process.
Here’s a list of metrics to help you get started:
- The development cycle time
- The overall volume of change (before and after VSM)
- Lead time (LT)
- Process time (PT)
- Percent complete & accurate (percept of time when the software is received by users in the correct and ready-to-use form)
Collecting these metrics is paramount for the successful evaluation of your VSM efforts.
2. Creating a value stream map
After you’ve defined the key metrics and objectives, you can start studying your workflows. Create a map (either physical or digital) that explains each step of the software development process, from conceptualizing an idea to delivering the final product to customers. This way, you can see the distribution of resources within your software development cycle.
Here’s a great example of a value stream map.
3. Enabling cross-team collaboration
Value stream management requires you to enable cross-team collaboration. Rather than testing business analysts separately from developers and other teams, you want to optimize the workflow across all of these teams.
4. Connecting multiple processes, teams, and tools
Now, as you’ve created opportunities for all teams to work together, you should find a way to answer the following question. How do you make sure that all of the work that your employees are doing, the value streams of their development, map to your priorities?
To answer this question, you have to evaluate the workflows and roles of each team regarding your objectives and priorities.
5. Coordinating and automating workflows
VSM tools allow you to embed governance into existing system development cycles. In other words, some platforms allow you to automate the value stream management processes.
Tom Hayes, a VSM advisor at the Guerrilla Agency shares his expertise,
“By coordinating and automating workflows, you can continually improve your SEO solution and ultimately achieve better results.”
The bottom line
Value stream management is different from other approaches because it’s focused on the idea that everything that happens to your customers, from the idea to the delivery, is important and needs to be managed in a holistic manner.
By implementing VSM in your SEO agency, you can better understand your system development cycles and workflows.
Implementing value stream management is easier than it may seem. You can start by mapping value streams and defining your main objectives. Moreover, there are many platforms that will make the VSM process easy and personalized for your SEO agency.
How to Get 4,000 Watch Hours on YouTube (FAST!)
In this guide, I’m going to show you how to get 4,000 watch hours on YouTube.
Since I began my journey on YouTube in 2017, I’ve accumulated 59,000 watch hours:
And if I was able to do it with my cringe-worthy videos, then you can too.
So the first question is:
What Happens When You Get 4,000 Watch Hours on YouTube?
There is one simple reason why every YouTuber wants to reach 4,000 watch hours: to make money online.
Once you reach that threshold, you can apply for the YPP. Then you can start showing ads on your videos if you’re approved.
Now you’ll need lots of subscribers and views to make a full-time income from YouTube ad revenue. However, it’s an excellent supplementary source of revenue.
For example, I’ve made $5,596 from ads since getting monetized.
That equates to about $303 per month or $10 per day. The best part is that it’s a 100% passive form of revenue. You get paid every time someone watches one of your videos.
It’s not a massive amount of money.
It’s dead last as far as revenue sources in my company.
But it’s “passive,” which it’s pretty awesome.
Now the truth is: There is no such thing as passive income. You still need to produce quality videos consistently.
Otherwise, your audience will lose interest, your engagement will drop, your views will drop, and ultimately, your ad revenue will fall.
There’s nothing passive about the work you have to do to maintain and continue to grow on YouTube.
Now I want to let you in on a little secret:
The real reason why you should aim for 4,000 watch hours isn’t just for ad revenue. You should do it because you’re building an engaged audience.
As Grant Cardone often says, “money follows attention.”
So remember when I said YouTube ad revenue is a small part of my company’s revenue? That’s true.
However, YouTube traffic is now my third biggest source of revenue for my training course, Gotch SEO Academy.
So with that out of the way, here is a 7 step process to reach 4,000 watch hours on YouTube:
1. Find PROVEN topics
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Instead: you can find proven content ideas and then put your twist on it. Here’s how:
Go to YouTube and enter a keyword related to your industry. In this example, I’ll use “fashion.”
Take note of the topics that have produced lots of views. Now open a few of the channels.
If the channel has a lot of subscribers (> 30,000), then click on the “Videos” tab.
Then sort the videos by “Most Popular” to find topics that are proven to work:
Repeat this process for every channel in your industry until you’ve built a nice database of topics.
2. Qualify (and Prioritize) Your Topics
You need to be strategic with what types of videos you create if you have a new channel. If your channel is established, then you can target more competitive topics. There a few ways to qualify topics, but VidIQ will do most of the work:
Step #1: Download VidIQ
Step #2: Go to YouTube and search the topic you’re interested in.
VidIQ will show you a “Score” for the topic.
Ideally, you should only target topics with a high score. A high score is when the topic has substantial search volume but low competition.
I recommend adding the score next to each keyword in your database. Then you prioritize your topics by score.
3. Develop Your Strategy
At this point, you should have selected a keyword target. Now you need to develop a video strategy.
Here are a few questions to ask when developing your strategy:
How long should your video be?
Examine the top 10 videos for your topic and create an average. You should then aim to exceed the average length.
What are some commonalities and differences among the top videos?
I recommend watching the top 5-10 videos and taking notes.
- What do you like?
- What do you dislike?
- What are some unique things they’re doing in their videos that you can incorporate into your videos?
This is the most critical part. Dedicate time to studying their videos because that’s the first step to beating them.
What’s your title?
Did you know that 80% of Internet users don’t read past the headline? That principle applies to YouTube as well.
If your headline (title) doesn’t drive any curiosity, it won’t do well on YouTube.
You need users to click through on your video. And your title is a big piece to that puzzle (along with your thumbnail).
I recommend writing out at least ten different headlines. Then, run each headline through the AMInstitute headline tool.
There are many frameworks for producing curiosity-driven headlines. However, the ones that tend to do the best include numbers.
What will you need to produce the video?
Not all videos are created equal. Some require big budgets, while others will only need your phone.
The truth is, it doesn’t matter what you use to produce your videos. What matters is the quality of the content you’re providing in your video.
Ensure the audio and video are at least at the level of your competitors, and you’ll do just fine.
What’s your deadline?
Deadlines make projects real. Set a deadline and stick to it.
4. Create the Video
I have a simple process for creating videos that you can steal:
Script out the entire video
I know. Some people hate this idea because they’re afraid of being robotic.
However, most people go off the rails if they don’t follow a script.
Scripts keep your videos efficient and easy to consume. The goal isn’t to waste the viewer’s time.
You want to give them the information they need in the fastest time possible. A script is that solution.
I recommend including some of these key elements into your script:
- Mention your target keyword in the first line and last line of the video.
- Use open loops at the beginning of the video. An example of an “open-loop” is when I say, “Make sure you read this entire guide because tip #6 is fundamental to your success on YouTube.”
- Insert pattern interrupts (like I did above).
Did you know that video editing experts recommend changing shots every 3-10 seconds?
Watch any TV commercial. Notice how frequently the shots change. You should do the same.
It’s super hard to keep people’s attention, so you need to use every tool at your disposal.
Watch this video under tip #6 to see pattern interrupts in action.
Record your video
If you’re doing a talking-head video, you’ll need a teleprompter. Now just turn the camera on and record.
If it’s your first time, it’s going to feel like hell. That’s okay. It gets easier.
Just remember that no one is watching you.
That camera is no different than speaking to a wall. It has no emotions and no judgment.
So that means you have permission to be yourself without any consequences. The cool part is that YouTube users like people who are themselves.
So, hit record, be yourself, and add value.
Edit your video
You can do it for free with iMovie or a paid editing software like Premiere Pro. You can also hire a video editor on UpWork.
5. Optimize Your Video
Before you upload your video, you need to optimize it. I recommend including your target keyword in the filename. Now upload your video, and it’s time to optimize it for YouTube’s organic search.
Here are a few quick tips:
- Include the keyword in the title and first sentence of your description.
- Write an in-depth description. Aim for > 100 words for your description. Make sure to include variations of your primary keyword as well.
- Include your keyword in your tags. VidIQ will give you tag recommendations based on the topic.
I also recommend looking through the top videos for your keywords. Copy the tags they’re using.
Add an end screen. You should always try to get users to watch more of your videos.
This will quickly grow your watch time.
6. Promote Your Video
What I just showed you is about 50% of the process. The other 50% of the process is to promote your video.
Here are a few quick tips:
Leverage your email list.
Your email list is the most valuable asset for growing ANY channel—especially YouTube. If you don’t have an email list, I HIGHLY recommend you start building one. It is the most crucial marketing channel online (in my opinion).
Leave thoughtful comments on other channels in your industry.
Take note of when popular channels publish in your industry. Then, be there to drop an intelligent comment on every new video.
This will help you build a relationship with the creator. And it will also help drive users to your channel.
I showed you a simple process for creating an awesome YouTube video.
But here’s the deal: creating one video isn’t enough.
There’s a high probability that your first video won’t do well. That’s why you need to stay the course and keep publishing.
You will get to 4,000 watch hours as long as you keep producing.
The key to reaching 4,000 watch hours on YouTube is to GET STARTED. Then, it’s to keep producing valuable content.
There are no secrets.
Well, maybe some.
That’s why I created a brand new training program called YouTube SEO Academy. I’ll be opening enrollment soon.
In the meantime, download our free YouTube video promotion checklist.
- How Gael Breton Escaped Client SEO & Built a Full-Time Income Through Affiliate Marketing
- 6 Simple Videos Anyone Can Make for Social Media
- Defining value stream management for SEO agencies business owners
- 9 Tactical Video SEO Tips to Improve Your Content Performance
- How to Get 4,000 Watch Hours on YouTube (FAST!)
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