Link Reclamation – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by RossHudgens

The one thing any good marketer appreciates more than a mention of their brand is a link back to their own domains. For a variety of reasons, some authors—no matter how well meaning they are—don’t include that link with the mention. With the right tools and a little diplomacy, these are some of the easiest opportunities to earn valuable links back to our own properties, and in today’s Whiteboard Friday, Ross Hudgens gives us several great places to start.

For reference, here’s a still of this week’s whiteboard:

Video Transcription

Hey Moz fans, welcome to Whiteboard Friday. My name is Ross Hudgens, and I work for Siege Media, a content market agency/link building and link development agency. Today I’m going to talk a little bit about link reclamation, one of my favorite subjects.

Link reclamation, if you’re not familiar with it, is the task of finding opportunities on the web where you’ve been linked to or you’ve been mentioned, but haven’t been properly linked to for whatever reason. Maybe the webmaster messed something up, maybe they just didn’t find the right URL, maybe they misspelled your domain name, all kinds of reasons inform why someone might do that incorrectly.

For the purposes of hopefully getting more traffic and also getting those links that we like that potentially can add a lot of value to our domain and help us rank for keywords we want to, it makes sense to do link reclamation. And even more so, I really like it because the conversion is so high. Because someone has already mentioned you, you get a really high conversion on your request, because normally they already have a positive brand sentiment for you.

So one thing to think of in general for link reclamation, if you think about it as a main concept, is it most frequently occurs when your brand has an experience outside of the digital world or disconnected from your main domain. So it could still be digital, but disconnected. So for example, if you’re Target, you probably have a lot of experiences in store where people refer to that, and it doesn’t necessarily make sense to refer to your domain.

Similarly, if you have a YouTube video, it might not make as much sense. But there are still opportunities to ask for a citation back to your domain in those instances that you might not have totally realized before that. That is possible with these kinds of opportunities.

So there are a lot of ways to go about doing that. I’m going to dive into a few of them in this strategy section. A big one for big brands is brand misspellings. Frequently, people will have webmaster error. For whatever reason, they will misspell your domain name.

For example, if you’re a giant company, Pepsi or something like that, you could look for, and likely you’re going to find some instances where people have linked to that thinking it’s Pepsi. So you can go to them and say, “Hey, please fix your error on your site, how you’ve linked to us. It will help your users. It will help us. It will be a great thing all around.” They will generally do that.

So a good process for finding those and also seeing if there is actually link volume around different misspellings is detailed on this link by John Henry Scherck, who I might have mispronounced his name. But that URL, you can find that process, which I can’t really get into as much as I would like to here. But I definitely recommend you go to that post and check it out.

The most powerful ongoing process is simple brand monitoring. So Moz’s tool, Fresh Web Explorer is especially powerful for that. You can use advanced operators to see where your brand has been mentioned but you haven’t been linked to. I think it’s negative LD, or you can see in the advanced operators dropdown. But that’s extremely powerful to just monitor and see who’s mentioning you and all those things as an ongoing thing.

Similarly, Google by date, so Google has an advanced search setting where you can search by 24 hours, a week, a month, things like that, and it will give you the opportunity to see recent mentions that sometimes offer a nice supplement to the fresh web index. So it’s always good to get multiple looks at the web, Fresh Web Explorer I believe uses RSS feeds specifically. Google, by date has, of course, their own comprehensive index. So it’s nice to get a blend of both for finding mentions where people have talked about you, but not linked to you.

So another good one is allinURL/tag/brand. So insert brand. If you’re Pepsi, allin/tag/Pepsi. So these are instances where people think you’re significant enough to actually link to you, significant enough to actually mention you. But sometimes they haven’t linked to you. They’ve created a tag for you because they’ve talked about you in some way in a post. So there’s a lot of sometimes opportunity to get links on those kinds of pages.

So it’s kind of a cool way to easily use Google search engine to find pages that do those kinds of things. So you can just search by that, scrape the results, dump it into like a spreadsheet, and you can quickly find who hasn’t linked to you by doing that kind of process.

Short form text is a kind of a unique thing. It’s any kind of asset that is short, like a definition, a stat, anything like that, that might have been mentioned or stolen without attribution. So examples of that: One stat that is frequently referred to is every second of page load time is a seven percent dip in conversation rate.

So if you have that stat and you actually were the source of that stat, you could track it in Fresh Web Explorer and Google search, these same kind of things just like you do your brand, see who’s mentioned it, and say, “Please attribute us properly with that stat.”

Other examples I like pointing to frequently is Content Marketing Institute. They have a “what is the definition of content marketing,” and that has been stolen like 125,000 times. There is this huge opportunity where people are just taking that, not linking to it, not attributing it properly just because they are lazy or what have you. If you go out and reach out to those webmasters, you can easily get links back, because most of the people will panic in that moment and be like, “Oh, it was just a honest mistake,” and link to you as they should have.

So sometimes you might have that asset, sometimes you might not, but it’s also something to think about and have in the back of your mind when you do that kind of data analysis that might come with an interesting stat that people might want to take.

Reverse image search, so you have a logo or a set of logos, maybe you have interesting assets on your site. For example, if you’re National Geographic, you might have images that everyone takes. You can start monitoring those images, see who’s taken them without attribution, and get links back by doing requests of, “Please attribute properly.”

There are tools like Image Raider, which I know does that. I haven’t used it extensively, but it’s pretty good. Similarly you can use tools like TinEye and also just reverse image search on Google to find those mentions. Of course, an explicit and powerful one is your own logos. So you can see who has mentioned your logo, but not linked to you in the same kind of ways.

Also, just as a tangent from this, Screaming Frog is a really powerful tool. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a good way to dump a lot of links in there, because sometimes you might see this as a negative process if you go to a lot of these links and you’ve already been linked to. So you can use Screaming Frog as a custom filter and find exactly who hasn’t linked to you by setting an exclude to your domain name. So it can make this process more efficient for you and less frustrating depending on the domain.

YouTube videos, so a lot of people make video assets that are hosted on YouTube or some other platforms, but they don’t necessarily get linked to for whatever reason. Again, it’s something separate from your main domain. So because of that disconnect, they don’t probably link to it a lot of time. Or they’re going to link to the YouTube video, but it doesn’t mean that they’re not willing to link to you as a business if you request it.

So a good way to find that is either dump the YouTube URL in Open Site Explorer or whatever your link management tool is and see what the data is behind that. Or just look at the dashboard. YouTube specifically has an embed dashboard, so you can see where people have embedded that video and not linked back to you, or hopefully they have already linked to you, of course. But you can capture that gap where they haven’t linked to you and they should have because it has a slight disconnect from your main domain as a YouTube video.

Links and tweets and +1s. This is more of an advanced thing. If you have a pretty powerful Twitter account or a Google+ account, you can actually take your archive from Twitter and create a spreadsheet essentially, dump all of your tweets in there. Use a tool like Screaming Frog or use the Moz API for example. Look at the data and see if any of those have been linked to and then see if there is an opportunity to actually reach out and say, “Hey, this tweet, you looked to my Twitter account. I’d really appreciate it if you link to my domain instead.”

A similar thing can be done for Google+. You have to do a site search for your Google+ URL, and they won’t get all of your URLs. But if you scrape that and do the same kind of process, you might find places where people have linked to maybe an interesting tweet by you or some interesting quote you gave or something like that, where you might have not been linked to that you might have wanted to and do a request like that.

So finally, moving links to primary domain. So what that means is, if you’re a big brand, sometimes you have multiple owned properties across the web, but not all of them are you primary KPI for SEO purposes. So I’ve worked with companies who have two main domains, because they can’t make up their mind really, and one is very clearly their SEO domain where they want to rank for stuff. It’s not totally clear which one in the mind of consumers is the primary one.

So something that you can do and that I did in that instance is you go to the one that they don’t really have reason to rank for anything and ask them to link to the other one because maybe you’re changing focus or that’s how you would evangelize it to them. Most of the time they’ll do it because they like you and they’re already linking to you and things like that. You’ll get the more direct link power from those kinds of links.

So, when you’re doing this process, it’s not as simple as asking every single person to link to you. There’s risk involved if you do this incorrectly. So it’s definitely be delicate and don’t step on the wrong toes, because when you do this, there’ll be sites if you’re a big brand that people cover you all the time. Occasionally people will write about you, but maybe in that single post they don’t link to you, but in the previous ten they linked to you.

So in those kinds of instances, just let it go. You don’t need a link in every single post that you get. Potentially it can be kind of put offish to that person that covers you all the time, and you don’t want to lose that good press by burning bridges by being over aggressive as a SEO. So in those kinds of instances, verify that you have links already, that they cover you all the time and just let it go if that’s the kind of instance where they just mistakenly didn’t link to you that one time.

Similarly, don’t step on PR. It’s kind of a similar idea. When you’re doing this process, reaching out to big people that are covering you, it’s frequently newspapers don’t link cite properly so you have to do that kind of outreach. This is where it’s a high value kind of campaign when you hit those big newspapers. But it’s also at risk with PR if you step on them and they don’t like what you’re doing. They hate that you are talking to their contacts directly. So verify that this is an okay thing before you start doing this outreach with your PR team

Ask for links where you should be linked. What I mean by that is sometimes you’ll get mentions in articles in jest. Maybe they’ll be talking about general soda trends, and they’ll randomly jitter off five brands that are sodas, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Sprite, something like that, all in a sentence. So you could go and say, “Hey link to Pepsi,” but there are four other companies there that they would also have to link to.

You’re just kind of a one off thing in the article. You don’t totally make sense to be linked to in those kinds of situations. So it’s an example of a non-harmonious kind of event where you shouldn’t ask for a link because it doesn’t make sense necessarily. So in those kinds of situations, skip it. You want places where it gets a positive brand sentiment. You should have been linked to in the article, but they didn’t

So if you can really say in your mind it adds value to the article being linked here, then that’s when you should do outreach for this kind of link reclamation. If not, you potentially could burn bridges, step on people’s toes, and put yourself at risk for future coverage that might have been more powerful had you not actually ruined your relationship with that press person.

And finally, if you’re doing this at scale and you have a lot of people mentioning you, you’re a huge brand, you want to use tools that make this more efficient. So one of the problems is sometimes you’ll have no idea if someone has linked to you before, unless you have a process put in place.

So there are a lot of link management tools where you can dump all of your links into it, and it will automatically have a popup in the corner saying that you have a link from this domain. So if you have a lot of people doing outreach and doing link reclamation, you can see, “Hey, I’ve already gotten a link from this domain or multiple links from this domain. I don’t need to do this outreach again.”

Otherwise it’s kind of time intensive, trying to remember who’s linked to you, who hasn’t link to you, whether or not you should do that outreach, and all of those things. So doing that on top of all of these things I think is really powerful.

That’s pretty much it, but I hope you guys see this as a valuable thing that I do. It’s really powerful, especially the bigger your brand, the more powerful it’s going to be. But I think any business on the web today who’s hopefully building a brand, because that’s what it takes to rank in Google and today’s search results, is going to get occasional mentions in any of these instances that you can potentially capitalize on that were missed where people don’t link to you.

So I hope this was valuable and have a good one.

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October 25, 2013  Tags: , , ,   Posted in: SEO / Traffic / Marketing

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