6 Clever Ways to Get Influencers to Link to You
One of the most important things I say you should do is create great content.
But then what?
If you don’t do anything with that content, no one will see it, which is a waste of your time, effort, and money.
Once you start using promotional techniques, you’ll start getting readers to your blog posts.
A few dozen at first, then a few hundred, maybe even a few thousand after a while.
But there’s one thing missing at this point. I’ll tell you what it is in a second.
From my experience, I can tell that organic search traffic is going to play a major role for almost all websites.
You can try to diversify, but the fact remains that any site with a ton of traffic gets a large chunk of it from search engines. After all, organic search traffic makes up over 60% of the traffic on the web.
And it’s not only the quantity, but the quality as well. For most niches, search traffic is the most engaged and highest converting.
In order to get large amounts of search traffic, you need backlinks.
Backlinks are arguably the most important ranking factor.
You might think that your readers will create links for you. Sometimes that does happen.
It’s true 99% of the time that someone needs to read your content before they link to it.
But here’s the thing: just because your readers love your content doesn’t mean they can link to it.
Most people do not have websites, let alone authoritative ones.
Getting backlinks from your readers doesn’t depend on how many of them you have—it depends on who they are.
The good news is that all influencers read a lot. You just need to get them to want to read your stuff.
I link to the marketers and business owners that I follow and like on a regular basis. They essentially get automatic, high-quality links just by producing great content on a consistent basis.
Here’s the formula for getting great backlinks:
Great content + Read by linkers = Great backlinks
It’s simple, but it works.
In this post, I’m going to show you six main ways that can help you get your content in front of the people who matter.
The 80/20 rule of link building
The Pareto Principle is the principle that states that 20% of the input will account for 80% of the result.
It’s a general rule, but it applies to almost everything.
There are some things that contribute to your results more than others in almost any activity.
In your case, 80% of links come from 20% of site owners in your niche.
Ideally, you want to focus your effort on connecting with the site owners who are in the 20%. Find sites or writers that regularly link to great content.
The 6 tactics I’m about to show you will work regardless of which site owners you target, but you’ll get 4-5 times the results by identifying the ones who like to link out.
It’s pretty simple to check.
Just go to a random blog post, and see how many external links the page has.
As long as you see a link every 300-500 words (at least), you know that the author doesn’t mind linking out.
Before you target a site owner, always check for this.
Tactic #1 – Create a raving case study
The basic idea behind all these tactics is to create something that your target simply has to read.
You don’t need to trick them into reading it. You just need to make it extremely interesting to that specific person.
This first tactic involves creating a positive case study. You’ll publicly show how your target blogger helped you accomplish something.
Here’s how to do it.
Step #1 – Pick a blogger to target: This technique is very personalized, so you need to know your target really well.
Pick a blogger whom you regularly follow—and with whom you would be happy to establish a relationship —even if it didn’t lead to links right away.
This strategy takes a lot of time and effort, but it can produce results much more valuable than just a few backlinks.
Step #2 – Pick one of their techniques or strategies: While you can certainly create a case study for a blogger’s paid products, you can stick to free blog content as well.
Find a technique that’s fairly recent (bloggers don’t care as much about old stuff) and that was created by the blogger.
If you are an SEO or marketing blogger, you might follow Brian Dean at Backlinko.
He has published many link building techniques, which makes it easy to find one.
For example, he has a technique called “Guestographics,” which is his own spin on infographics:
In this article, he lays out a detailed plan on how to get backlinks using infographics.
Step #3 – Practice it: Here’s where most people mess up. They use the tactic once, get mediocre results, and then create their case study.
And guess what happens when they let the influencer know? Nothing.
Why would the influencer get excited and want to share your case study when you didn’t make them look good?
Even if the technique you are trying out is good, you have to use it a few times before you fully understand how to apply it to maximum effect.
If I wanted to see what benefit I could get with the Guestographic link building tactic we’ve chosen in our example, I wouldn’t stop with the first infographic. I’d do that one, and then another, and then maybe even another.
Do what it takes to get an impressive result.
Step #4 – Execute and record all details: While you are putting the technique to the test, you need to document everything.
A case study isn’t impressive if you just say:
I did Brian’s method; here is a link to my infographic: (link). I was able to get 200 high quality backlinks.
Even though it’s a good result, on its own, it doesn’t do much for Brian. You need to create a detailed story that Brian would be happy to show his other readers.
You essentially want to be the favorite student of the teacher whom he uses as an example.
Step #5 – Let them know about it: Once you’ve gotten the technique to produce an impressive result, you’ve done the hard part.
Now, you just have to let the influencer know about it. If you did things right, they will be interested.
Send them a quick email that highlights the results. Here’s a sample:
Subject: Great results using (tactic name) – Thank You!
Hi (Blogger name),
I’m a long time reader of (blog name), and I finally took your advice (I should have sooner).
I used your (tactic name) technique and was able to (impressive result).
Obviously, I’m pretty happy with this!
I made a point to document everything during this trial so that I could put together a case study on my site – (site name).
Just wanted to say thanks!
If you say something short and simple like that, you will get a reply, often asking for more details.
Once you’ve opened a dialog, you could even ask if they’d be interested in publishing the case study on their site instead.
Or you can just publish it on your site and send them the link. They’ll usually be more than happy to share it on social media and comment on the page.
Our example for this tactic wasn’t hypothetical—it’s actually been done.
Brian previously published a full blog post highlighting two case studies of the Guestographic method implemented successfully:
And in the article, each of the subjects got a nice link back to their domain:
More importantly, Brian now knows who these people are and probably likes them as well. Now, if they asked him for a favor (a link, share, or review, etc.), he’d probably help them out.
In this case, Perrin’s site wasn’t exactly relevant to Backlinko, which limits how much that relationship could produce. That’s why I recommended at the start to target a relevant blogger.
Tactic #2 – Feature them in your article
Think back to your first school yearbook.
What did you look for first?
Pictures of yourself, of course.
People love to feel special, and it doesn’t change as you get older.
This tactic revolves around making your chosen influencer feel special by featuring them as an expert. Who wouldn’t want to read a flattering article about themselves?
Option #1 – Quote them: The simplest way to highlight someone is to quote them.
You can either email your influencer asking for a quote or take a quote from one of their previously published articles.
Including a link to their website or a social media account is a nice way to make them feel extra special.
In the past, one of the Kissmetrics‘ writers compiled a list of 50 inspiring quotes from social media influencers.
He took this tactic to extreme, and it paid off.
The article generated over 40 comments and over 1,500 Tweets on top of hundreds of shares on other networks.
When you include a quote from someone, they’ll usually share the article and often will leave a comment as well:
Option #2 – ask them to contribute to the article: If you really want someone to feel invested in the content you produce, you need to find a way to get them to contribute to the article.
I warn you: this isn’t always easy.
If you’re going after a fairly popular influencer, you have to have quite a bit of influence yourself; otherwise, there isn’t much of an incentive.
The more you ask them to do, the more invested they will be. On the other hand, the more you ask them to do, the more you need to offer.
The most common example of this option in action is the expert roundup.
You ask a bunch of experts to write short contributions to your article answering a simple question.
For example, Richard Marriott included 55 SEO experts in an expert roundup about link building tools:
He published each influencer’s content—whatever they sent him, which was typically a few hundred words:
The article generated hundreds of comments and social shares, many from the experts included in the article.
Someone who has taken the time to write content for you will be more likely to promote your post than someone you simply quoted.
Option #3 – use their work as an example: Finally, you can simply link to some of the influencer’s best content. This option works best once your brand is well-recognized.
I do it often in Quick Sprout posts:
I take special care to say something positive about the quality of the resources I link to. I do this for two reasons:
- It makes the content creator feel better – Being linked to is nice, but being linked to because your content is great is even better.
- It’s better for my readers – I try to only link to high quality content because that’s best for my readers who end up clicking through to that content. Letting them know what to expect beforehand is a good idea.
And when you mention people, they’ll get excited.
I often get comments and social shares from people I mention:
In addition, they often find places to link back to my content in their future content; so it’s a win-win situation.
After featuring someone, you don’t need to send a giant email. Just send something quick like this:
Subject: Featured you in an article
Just thought I’d give you a quick heads-up: I linked to you (and said a few nice things) in my latest post. If you’d like to see it, here’s the link:
(your post URL)
Keep cranking out the great content!
Almost everyone will check out the article, and most will share or comment as well.
But if your post was really great, they’ll check out some of your other articles as well. Assuming that they’re also top-notch, you might have just gained a long-term reader who will link to you time and time again.
Tactic #3 – Find out where they hang out
You don’t necessarily need to email linkers directly to get their attention.
In addition to having their own blogs, they are usually members of communities in your niche.
If you create content that gets popular in those communities, of course they’re going to have to check it out. And if they like it, chances are they will link to it if they get an opportunity in the future.
Place #1 – Niche specific aggregators: Many community sites exist for the sole purpose of discussing content in a niche.
For example, Inbound.org is an aggregator for inbound marketing content:
Users vote up the content they like the most.
If you had a site that focused on marketing and could create a piece of content that was upvoted to the top, many linkers would see it. This is one of the best ways to target multiple linkers at once.
If you don’t know of any aggregator sites in your niche, start with Reddit.
Reddit is composed of “subreddits,” which are essentially their own niche-specific aggregators. There’s one for just about everything.
Start by reading my guide to marketing on Reddit, and figure out which subreddits to target. There are linkers that read almost all of them.
With these communities, you can’t submit just any post. That’s because if it doesn’t get a ton of upvotes, it won’t be seen by many people.
What this means is that you need to craft specific content for that community.
Look at the top posts of all time, and make posts about similar topics, but of better quality.
For example, I might be interested in the marketing subreddit.
When I click on “top” and sort it for links from “all time,” I can see the most upvoted posts of all time.
The thrid one is particularly interesting to me. I know that if I created a better plan, it would probably get upvoted even more.
The two obvious options would be to create content along the lines of:
- An Instagram strategy that will get you over 2,000 followers per month
- My complete social media strategy: How I get over 1,000 followers on all major social networks
Either of those would likely be seen by several linkers and lead to backlinks down the line.
Place #2 – Facebook groups: It can be tough to find a good Facebook group, but trust me, they are out there.
Search keywords from your niche in the main Facebook search bar:
Then, filter down the results to “groups” by clicking the option at the top of the results.
Next, you’ll need to go through groups individually to see if they are active. Aim for groups with at least a few hundred engaged members.
If you see posts with comments and shares from influencers, it’s a good group.
By liking, sharing, and commenting on their posts in the group, you can start building relationships.
Influencers will likely return the favor when you make a post to the group later on, which is your chance to get your content in front of those linkers.
Place #3 – LinkedIn groups: LinkedIn groups are similar to Facebook groups, but it’s much easier to find specific influencers in LinkedIn groups.
When you log in to LinkedIn, you can search for any individual influencer you’re trying to get your content in front of.
Scroll down past all the job information and endorsements until you get to the section titled “Groups.”
You’ll be able to see all of the groups that this person is a member of:
Now, you need to check out each group individually.
Just because your influencer is a member in a group doesn’t mean they are active in it.
However, linkers typically spend time together online, so if you can find an active group, it likely has other linkers worth your time.
Look at the first few posts in each group:
Do they have comments? Likes? Shares?
If all you see is a ton of posts with zero engagement, it’s probably not a good group.
But if you do find a good group, engage with the other posts, and share your own content at some point.
Tactic #4 – It’s only fair to return a favor
The principle of reciprocity is one of the main principles of influence.
In simple terms: if you do something for someone, they are likely to return the favor.
So, if you provide value to a linker, they are likely to return the favor later on, possibly through a link.
This isn’t a new concept, but I’ll give you a few non-standard ways to deliver value to linkers.
Other articles will suggest doing things such as blog commenting, which is okay but not really equivalent to a link (in terms of value). I’d suggest that you take it up a notch.
Option #1 – create a video review: Getting great reviews will almost always improve conversion rate. This makes reviews valuable.
Many linkers are the top influencers in their fields. And many of them want to become “authors.”
Whether they publish a book or a course on their own site or another site, you can create a positive review for them.
Remember that you really want to go above and beyond so that the principle of reciprocity becomes more effective.
Instead of just writing a short review, create a video review.
A video stands out.
Prospective buyers love them because they’re much harder to fake than written reviews, which means that video reviews are highly valuable.
And yet, it only takes a few minutes to record one using your computer’s webcam.
If you’re not sure where to find linkers that need reviews, start with Amazon’s Kindle books.
Use the menu in the left sidebar to narrow down Kindle books to your niche.
I chose “marketing” for this example. The very first book is by Dan Norris, a well-known marketer.
It has 39 reviews right now.
You don’t want to pick a book with hundreds of reviews, or yours won’t get much attention. Aim for books with 50 or fewer reviews (fewer is better).
Once you click on the book title, it will take you to the book’s sales page.
Scroll down to “customer reviews,” and click on “write a customer review”:
That will take you to an express review form, but you’ll want to click the link in the bottom right that has video review options:
Input your rating (hopefully 5 stars) as well as a descriptive title in the next section.
Finally, choose the “video review” tab, and use the “choose file” button to find the video review you’ve recorded.
Once you’re done, send the author a quick email telling them about your review, but also find a way to let them know that you have a site/blog.
Subject: Just posted a review of (book title)
I picked up a copy of (book title) a few days ago and couldn’t put it down!
I left a very positive video review on your Amazon sales page to hopefully help convince others to pick up the book as well.
I’ve already put some of your advice to practice and detailed the process and the outcome in my latest blog post: (post URL).
When I read the part about (some technique or advice), I had to give it a try, so I (what you described in your post).
If you get a chance, I’d love it if you could give the post a quick read.
Thanks for the great read,
Option #2 – Get them traffic: Most influencers either don’t know about or don’t have the time to use sites such as Reddit. But you do.
If you can figure out which of their posts would be well received, you can submit it to a particular subreddit.
Once it starts getting some upvotes and a few comments, send the influencer a quick email like this:
Just thought I’d let you know that I submitted my favorite (site name) post to the (niche) subreddit: (URL to the submission).
It’s currently getting quite a bit of attention. If you get a chance, I’m sure everyone would love it if you could stop by and respond to a few comments.
Option #3 – Create a high quality bonus for them: A final option is to create a content upgrade for one of their posts.
Many bloggers would love to offer their readers bonuses but just don’t have the time or resources to do it.
If you can make a bonus for them, most will appreciate it.
Say I wanted to target Luke Jordan of Intergeek, an SEO and marketing blog, for a link. I would start by reading through one of his latest posts:
At the end of the article, ask yourself: “What else would the reader want at this point?”
In this case, I think a checklist or a reminder list would be useful and pretty easy to make.
Either make a checklist using a free online checklist tool, or make one in Google Docs or Word.
Add a few colors to it, maybe an outline, and save it as a PDF.
Then send it over to the blogger, and let them know that they’re free to add it to their post.
Ask for a favor: With these different options, it’s clear that you’re giving value to a linker.
However, while they might be open to doing a favor for you, you need to ask for it.
A few days to a few weeks after you do your favor for the linker, you need to email them again with something like this:
Remember me? The guy who (what you did).
I have a small favor to ask.
I just spent X hours creating an epic post on (topic). Now, I’m trying to get the word out about it.
I’d really appreciate it if you could take a look at the post. If you think your readers would love it, would you mind sharing it?
Here’s the URL: (URL)
Thanks so much,
Tactic #5 – Find authors that are eagerly looking for content to link to
It’s really tough to get someone to link to you when they don’t like to link out.
Conversely, it’s really easy to get someone to link to you if they are actively looking for sites to link to.
Link roundups are a popular type of content in just about every niche. The author of a link roundup collects the best posts in the niche for the week or month and publishes links to all of them together.
The best part is that most authors typically create these on a regular basis. It’s relatively easy to get included in these as long as your content is solid.
Step #1 – Make a list of roundups: Although you could try a few different search strings, almost all roundups are called “roundups,” which makes them easy to find.
intitle:roundup + (your keyword)
Don’t stop with just the first page. Keep going through the pages until you stop finding new link roundups.
In most niches, you can easily find over 20 regular roundups, which gives you quite a few targets. Add them to a list somewhere.
Step #2 – Establish contact: To maximize your chances of getting your link included in their next roundup, it’s a good idea to get to know them a bit. Comment on a few of their articles, and share their content on social media.
Once you’ve done that, you can send over your request to be included in the future roundup. Here’s a sample template:
Subject: Weekly roundup on (site)
I stumbled across your weekly roundups a short while ago, and I love how much effort you put into including only the best posts of the week. I know that must take a ton of time.
I hope it’s not too forward, but I just published an epic post that I think would be great for a future roundup. It’s a (length) word guide on (topic) that is incredibly detailed and actionable.
Can I send you a link to the post?
Hopefully they’ll respond favorably, and you’ll be able to just send over the link.
Step #4 – Help them help you: This step can be the difference between getting one link and getting several, so don’t skip it.
When you are included in link roundups, remember what the author is looking for: shares, comments, and traffic.
If you can help the author get those things, they will love you and want to include your new posts in future roundups.
At the very minimum, leave a comment on the post once it goes live, and share it a few times on social media. If you want to do more, e.g., send the post to your email list, that’s even better.
Tactic #6 – Offer your content to them
This tactic is guest posting with a slight twist.
I’ve written about how to guest post successfully in the past:
- Guest-Posting on Steroids: A 4-Step Blueprint That the Top Guest Posters Use
- 7 Lessons Learned from Publishing 300 Guest Posts
- Advanced Guest Posting
Done reading those? Let’s continue.
The difference here is that when you make your pitch, you are going to include your best content as samples.
Since those samples reflect your writing quality, the blog owner is forced to give them at least a quick read.
Assuming those posts really rock, you get two things:
- An opportunity to guest post (at least one link plus traffic)
- The blogger is now familiar with your work, which should lead to more links in the future
But you only get #2 if you really blow them away with your samples. So wait until you have some really epic content before you use this tactic.
Here’s what a pitch might look like:
Subject: Guest post pitch for (site)
I saw that you often accept guest posts on (site) and immediately went to work coming up with post ideas that your audience will LOVE.
But first, I know that you only publish top-notch content on (site), which is why it’s such a great site.
Here are a few of my best posts that I’ve written in the past and that I think are up to your standards:
- (URL #1)
- (URL #2)
Did you love those? I hoped you would :).
Now let’s get back to you. After careful consideration, I’ve narrowed down my initial list of ideas down to two that I think your readers would love.
Idea #1: (Headline 1)
Description – (Brief description)
Idea #2: (Headline 2)
Description – (Brief description)
Let me know what you think.
Getting your content in front of linkers isn’t easy.
However, if you really have great content, they will be happy to link to it once they see it.
All of these six tactics take a lot of effort, but they work. And the links they eventually attract are worth their weight in gold.
You can use as many or as few of these tactics as you’d like—it’s up to you. The more effort you put in, the better the results you will get.
Are you going to put any of these tactics to the test? Let me know which one you are considering trying in a comment below.
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