Build Links and Get More Traffic like Derek Halpern

derek-halpern

How’d you like to learn great ways to promote your content that get you high quality links and even more traffic?

You’ve heard of Derek Halpern, right?

Derek is the guy behind the popular marketing blog Social Triggers; he is known for writing up psychological research and business case studies to help bloggers and businesses make more money online.

I’ve been reading his blog on and off for about the past 18 months and I’ve found a wealth of great tips and ideas on his site that have given me more insight into the way people think and therefore the best ways I can persuade them to link to my projects.

In this post I’ve curated a list of some of my favourite posts that I think will be of interest to you whether you’re either creating content or contacting people to promote your content; which will hopefully give you an extra little edge over others.

 

Create an Information Gap

If you want to write an email or a piece of content that draws people in straight away then you need to make the most of curiosity.

The first line of this blog post is just another way for me to generate an information gap to draw you in and read more!

How’d you like to learn great ways to promote your content that get you more links and more traffic?

I just followed Derek’s formula:

[New, Cool, and/or Hopefully Remarkable Thing] [Desirable Outcome][Curious Reader / Viewer]

 

Quite simply, curiosity, as defined by Loewenstein, is an innate human behavior that’s triggered when people feel there is a gap between what they know and what they want to know. (source).

 

TL:DR  when you create a gap between what people know, and what people want to know, they feel compelled to fill that gap.

 

How to email Influencers

You don’t need me to tell you that the key to a great content promotion campaign is getting your content in front of influential people in your niche. Preferably these people will have the ability to spread the content for you online.

  1. Avoid long emails – people are too busy
  2. Create an Information Gap

If you visit this blog post there is some free template emails you can download which Derek personally uses when he is emailing people to share his content or if he wants them to feature on his podcast.

 

The Drafting Technique

This is the method that Derek Halpern recommends to get press in major newspapers and big blogs.

The name of the technique comes from the cycling term “drafting”, whereby the lead cyclist breaks the wind resistance and the riders following behind can travel at the same speed as the lead rider whilst expending less effort. Some people refer to it as slipstreaming.

There are three simple steps for using “The Drafting Technique.”

Step 1: What will you promote

Step 2: Who is interested in it

Step 3: Persuade them to feature you

TL;DR make the most of trends in your industry to help journalists and bloggers create unique content that features you or your client.

 

Thinking or Feeling?

In the video below Derek discusses which is more persuasive, I THINK or I FEEL?

You probably don’t THINK this is a big deal but once you watch the video below I THINK you will FEEL differently about the way in which you use these two words in your emails, blog posts or conversations with the people you work with.

 

The Power of Persuasion

A few days ago I finally got around to publishing my post on psychology and link building. While I was researching and writing that post Derek published a great article on the power of persuasion.

In the post he highlights a theory proposed by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner in Freakonomics.

In it, they say there are just three types of incentive:

  1. Economic incentives – financial gains
  2. Social incentives – looking good in the eyes of others
  3. Moral incentives – doing the greater good

Apparently, when you want to contact someone that you don’t know, with hopes of persuading them to link to you then you should appeal to one (or all) of the three incentives.

There are some great email templates in this post if you want to learn more.

TL;DR  the secret to getting people to do something for you is providing an incentive for them to do it.

 

How do you think you could implement these tips in your content promotion strategy? Leave a comment. And, if you are already using your own versions of these techniques then please share them too.

 

PS don’t forget if you’re new here, then sign up to my RSS feed to discover more ways to build links and improve your online presence.

Relationship Building ≠ Link Building

I’m going to let all you link builders in on a little secret… you don’t always need to be “building relationships” to be “building links”. Tweet this

Yes, a pre-existing relationship, even a passing acquaintance, is going to increase the likelihood that your outreach email will be acted upon. But let’s get serious for a moment most of the recent posts I have read on “relationship building” simply will not scale.

Despite the sinister undertones of forcefully trying to create some sort of relationship, the reason I am saying this is that the tactics people are employing involve putting a lot of focus on just a handful of prospects at a time.

They’ll attach themselves to a prospect and give a little, then wait, then give a little more, then wait…. rinse and repeat.

All you are actually doing is wasting time, not building links relationships Tweet This

Developing a mutually beneficial relationship can take a very long time and it is normal in the world of link building that no matter how great your pitch, your client or you are that these people you’ve spent time developing a relationship with will say NO.

That’s amazing to believe isn’t it, you’ve invested hours and hours building a “relationship” and when you finally got round to asking for the link they said, no!

What have you been doing on your client’s money for the past month.

I’m sure they can’t wait for their next monthly report…

If you really, truly, want to develop relationships online in order to build links then you need to change your mindset and begin to think about it in a scalable way.

Find the right people to target

As a link builder it is important that you cast your net far and wide. Don’t just focus on the big fish in the pond. Build up a prospective list of people who are a little lower down the pecking order; find out who is in the extended network of the influencer – oftentimes there are people influencing the influencer who are a lot more accessible.

This can be done with a social media tool such as Mentionmapp which shows you visually see who is talking to who and will help you to identify sub-communities on Twitter; simples.

If you are struggling to find new link prospects for your campaign then consider chunking up, or chunking down.

In NLP ‘chunking up’ refers to moving to a more general or abstract piece of information, ‘chunking down’ means moving to a more specific (niche) or detailed information. They help you think laterally fast. 

Kieran Flanagan source

If you spend a little time and think creatively you will come up with a lot more prospects in similar niches that you can begin to “build those relationships with” and at the same time developing a serious database of link prospects at various stages of development.

Automation is not a dirty word

What!!! You’re talking about automated link building in these post-penguin deep dark times… yes but not in the way’s you’re thinking about. No I’m talking about automating some of the processes I have discussed earlier in this post.

What you want to do is find tools, build tools or outsource the parts of this job that are so mind numbingly boring and ultimately are so cost inefficient you’re not going to make anywhere near the kind of money you would like.

For example you can use Mechanical Turk to outsource some of these link prospecting tasks for you, below is a video from Ben Wills, Ontolo:

How to Leverage Amazon’s Mechanical Turk for Link Building from Ontolo on Vimeo

You can also use advanced search operators in tools such as Scrapebox to return lots opportunities in a specific niche, or even a Chrome plugin such as Scraper can help you with this. If you are not sure what to do then this post from Justin Briggs will help you out.

I did say that you don’t need relationships to build links, didn’t I.

Well we can do this by building rapport quickly and not having to spend hours stalking people on social media or including them on a link round up post every few weeks. This involves understanding what motivates your prospect, knowing how to talk to their language and having something valuable to offer them, whether that’s fixing a broken link, offering a guest post or whatever link building tactic floats your boat.

So I’ll leave it to you to decide but I know I’d rather spend my time scaling my link building efforts, developing content that will earn me links and not sitting on Social Media for hours on end +1ing and RTing everything a few people are doing.

Identify your Link Prospects Preferred Representational System

Following some feedback from my last post on NLP and link building, I’m going to follow up with some quick and easy ways that you can identify a link prospects preferred representational system to improve your chances of success with your outreach communications.

Every one of us has a mixture of all four representational but we have one that we prefer and operate in most of the time. When we take the time to learn to recognise other people’s preferred representational styles we can relate better to them by adapting our style to theirs. In other words, if you love facts and figures you need to realise that not everyone you have dealings with will appreciate your passion for in depth detail and therefore only want a “big picture” view.

The key influencers we want to target with our outreach efforts are likely to be keen social media users, bloggers or published authors. This makes it very easy for us to pick up on the words and language they use without having to meet them in real life and make these decisions on the spot.

We stalk can follow them on social media sites e.g. Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, subscribe to their blog’s RSS Feed or you could use Google and a few advanced search operators to find any comments they may have left on blogs, forums or Q&A sites.

As someone who likes to visualise things I will add a person’s Twitter profile, Google+ or RSS feed into this free HTML5 Word Cloud or Tagxedo to see which words they are commonly using and then analyse them to gauge their preferences.

Visual Style

People with a visual preference are often direct, business and career focused, driven, leaders and action takers. They dislike small talk, too much detail and time wasters.

Phrases they are more likely to use:

  • I see what you mean
  • I can see the big picture
  • It appears to me
  • Picture this
  • Mental Picture
  • 30,000ft view

If you are following them on Twitter or Google+ they are more likely to be sharing articles and talking about business, productivity or boasting about their latest achievements.

Kinaesthetic Style

People with a kinaesthetic preferential system are laid back, casual and are very people focused. They are risk averse, avoid confrontation and really don’t appreciate being pushed in to make quick decisions. It’s quite common to find these people in roles that involve a lot of physical activity.

Key phrases that they use:

  • That feels right to me.
  • Come to grips with
  • Let’s touch base.
  • Let’s connect.
  • Take care.
  • Get a handle on it.
  • I feel strongly about this.
  • Let’s do this together.

Auditory Style

This group are very talkative, animated, day dreamers, like the big picture, prefer to deal with people and want to have fun. They are easily distracted and can get bored quickly.

Key words they use:

  • Hear
  • Ask
  • Talk
  • Tell
  • Fun
  • Sound

Auditory Digital

People with an auditory digital preference will often be in careers that involve data, analysis and considered planning. They love details, facts, order and being prepared, they therefore do not appreciate people who are late, don’t deliver on time or are unprepared.

Key words that they use:

  • Process
  • Think
  • Know
  • Details
  • Research

Below is a word cloud from some interviews people have conducted with Wil Reynolds over the past couple of years.

So, how would you approach creating an outreach campaign to persuade Wil to link to you?

 

Avoid these Outreach Myths

 

Many people are fearful of outreach link building work and having the door slammed hard in their face, but we all know a well executed outreach campaign can have a great return on investment. There is a lot of misinformation in the blogosphere and hopefully in this short post I can dispel some of the myths I often read online.

  1. You must have a Pre-exisiting Relationship – a lot of link building posts advise that you must do some form of networking with your link prospect first. And the “cold-pitch” is the worst thing you can ever do in your career.  I am a firm believer that relationships certainly increase the likelihood of your link being placed but a great pitch will always beat some tepid relationship. Personalisation is the key to a good pitch so take some time to find out some basic information.
  2.  

  3. You have to pay to play – you don’t always have to pay or offer payment in kind for your site or product to be featured. Beyond the fact Google don’t like paid links, the FTC requires bloggers and celebrities to disclose of payments received for endorsing a product online. It’s very important as a link builder to understand the difference between editorial content & advertorials. My belief is that outreach is more about PR than paid media.
  4.  

  5. Content is King – don’t get me wrong I am bit by the content bug & understand the power of of a well executed piece of content in marketing your business online; but let’s be honest content is only another piece of currency for your outreach campaign, whether that’s a video, infographic or guest post. To take your outreach to the next level make the blogger you are pitching to the king. Think about what they want to get out of the partnership; not just the content you’re hoping to put in their way. I have found exclusive interviews & give-aways are popular with bloggers
  6.  

  7. All Hail the Mommy Blogger – so many link builders and outreach professionals praise at the foot of the “mommy blogger” temple, but the thing is the “mommy blogger” is actually a mythical creature much like a Unicorn. Lots of people see “mommy bloggers” as a “link cash cow” as their lifestyle blogs often cover a wide variety of topics and categories from iPad apps to food to home furnishings and clothes. It’s quite common for “mommy bloggers” to want some form of payment for their work and I have found more success with bloggers who have a long tail lower ranked niche blog and have never been kissed by an agency.

 

There you go I promised it would be a short post, but I hope it has gone some way to putting to bed a few of the outreach myths that we see so often on other SEO blogs. I would love to hear your feedback in the comments.

Getting More Traffic and Links with Pinterest

Pinterest is a fast growing platform and one where I have been carrying out a lot more work for clients in the past few weeks. I have had some successes with getting more Pinterest traffic and even some great links from bloggers by using Pinterest as an outreach tool. So in this blog I’ll share some tips and tricks I have picked up.

How to Drive More Traffic from Pinterest

The first thing to do is make sure your content on Pinterest can be found easily.  A lot of Pinners don’t add a description to the images they are pinning and therefore it is hard to find them when you conduct a search in Pinterest.

You want to treat your description as if you were writing an excerpt for a blog post, so make sure you advise of the benefits of the visitor clicking through to your site. You have a maximum of 500 characters but I have found keeping descriptions around 50-150 characters, you can also add a web address and hashtags in your description.

Next you want to add a Pin it Social button to your website so your visitors can pin any images they like on your site. Navigate to the Goodies area and scroll down to the Pin it Button for Websites area.

Fill in the relevant fields and then an embed code will appear which you can add to your site.

If you have a WordPress site then there are a number of Free Plugins you can install on your site.

Now you have optimised your blog or website for Pinterest you want to visit your evergreen content that still receives traffic from search engines or referrals. If your site doesn’t have too many images then you want to add some nice looking photos and pinnable images, such as memes or inspirational quotes.

For one of my clients who were a food blog I created some funny quotes based on the recipes on the site; if you aren’t au fait with Photoshop or other image editing software then hop on over to Fiverr there are lots of designers who will be more than happy to provide you with some cost effective images based upon your requirements. With in just a few days of adding these images to the site referral traffic from Pinterest was up by 65% & the average Pinterest visitor stayed on the site for about 6-7 minutes and there was a reasonable bounce rate of 42%.

If you are looking for more ideas to developing content for Pinterest then I recommend this post on SEOmoz by Coby Almond.

Is it time to invest our budgets in Pinterest content?

A lot of businesses are starting to invest their marketing budgets in creating boards, contests and Pinterest targeted content and with the news that Pinterest is now driving more traffic than Bing, Twitter or Stumbleupon you can start to understand why. Shareaholic is one of the main providers of social sharing buttons and collates their data across 200,000 websites. They have a reach of approximately 300 million so are a fairly reliable data source. From the below figures you can clearly see that in June Pinterest over took Twitter in driving traffic to websites but when you actually look closer at the numbers you see an interesting set of results.

Source: Shareaholic All Traffic Sources Report

It is clear to see from the table above that the total traffic driven to websites via Social Media is approximately 10-11%, with Direct traffic driving almost twice that amount and Google search bringing in 45% of all traffic. So I wouldn’t be making a significant reduction in my search budget to start to focus on expensive Pinterest friendly content just yet. But that’s not to say you can’t create something small scale and affordable to increase the likelihood your content is shared.

Source: Repinly

However if you are running a business within a niche that is popular with the stereotypical Pinterest user e.g. Food and Drink, Women’s clothing or home decor then it is more important that you begin to define a clear strategy than if you are a car mechanic or health care provider.

Who is Pinning my Content?


Once you have devised your Pinterest content strategy you want to begin to understand who is pinning your images to their boards. You can do this yourself by going to Pinterest.com and adding your domain name after source.

There are also two tools that I have used recently when carrying out this type of analysis. The first is by Gaz Copeland which is a simple bookmarklet that allows you to see which images have been pinned and by who when you are browsing a website.

 

Gaz’s Pinterest Tool

 

The other bookmarklet is by Aaron Friedman and Josh Nankin which does a very similar job to Gaz’s bookmarklet but instead of taking you to Pinterest to view this data it creates a CSV file you can download and manipulate in Excel.

 

Pinterest CSV Tool

 

To add these bookmarklets to your browser just drag and drop them to your bookmarks bar.

Once you know who is pinning your content (or your competitors content) you can begin to devise an outreach strategy to obtain more Pins or links.

Using Pinterest as an Outreach Tool

The great thing about Pinterest is how personal it is. It really is an insight into the lifestyle a person either lives or aspires to live. You can find out what food’s they like, what cars they want to drive, the holidays they enjoyed and the books or movies they love. This information is absolutely gold to an outreach specialist or link builder.

For example if I was carrying out an outreach campaign for a “link building infographic” I can run a simple Pinterest search for my keywords. For this example I will use the keyword phrase “Link Building Infographic”.

From this search I can find out the pins that have received the most re-pins, likes and comments. I can also click on a pin and see what the source URL is; so I can begin to create a list of blogs I might want to target with my blogger outreach campaign too.

Another useful insight I like is the fact you can find the most common people who your target re-pins. Which gives you more influential people to add to your target list.  Once I have created a list of pinners I then try to segment them even further to find the really heavy hitters. I do this by asking myself the following 4 questions.

 

  1. How popular is my target on Pinterest?
  2. Are they regular contributors?
  3. How active are they on other social media networks?
  4. How good is their personal website?

Now, I have segmented my targets I can now begin to start my outreach.

Source: Repinly

I have found the best way to begin a conversation with a Pinner is by commenting on their pins. Most popular bloggers will receive hundreds of emails and blog comments every week. But the great thing about Pinterest is that not many people are commenting on the site (just 0.5% of Pinterest users spend time commenting), so by doing so you really will stand out. Once you have let them know who you are, you can take the conversation to email or another social media platform.

To obtain the best results from your outreach you want to consider following my A, B, C’s of blogger outreach:

  1. Association –How can I develop a long term relationship? Could I offer a series of guest posts? Could I run a contest?
  2. Be Specific – Bloggers are pressed for time so what do you want them to do? Pin your content? Publish a guest post? Do an Interview?
  3. Content – Is my content unique or adding value? Is my content informative or entertaining? Is it relevant to their community?

Here is an example of an email I used for a recent infographic campaign once I had started to develop some basic relationships with my target bloggers:

Hi <redacted>,

I came across your site via Pinterest and wanted to share this new <redacted> infographic.

I was wondering if you’d be willing to share the infographic with the readers on your blog? I think <redacted>

Anyway I have published it here: <link>

If you do want to share it, here is an easy to copy embed code:

<embed code>

If you have any trouble with the embed code or have any further questions please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Thanks for your time,

Chris

As you can see I was brief and gave them clear instructions as to what I needed them to do.

I hope this blog post has gone some way to helping you use Pinterest better as part of your social media strategy. If you have any questions or great Pinterest case studies please drop them in the comments below.