September 24, 2013

The Link Builder’s Work Week

This post is a follow-up to my last one, 50 ways to build links to an ecommerce store. A giant list of 50 ways to build links is awesome, but at the same time, incredibly overwhelming.

Heck, I was overwhelmed as I wrote it, so I can only imagine how overwhelming it would be to actually put each and every one into action. If you try to do all of that at once, YOU WILL GET BURNED OUT.

And getting burned out is bad. Very, very, bad. As an eCommerce bootstrapper, you must, must be prepared for the long haul. And the key to sticking it out is to split everything up into bite-size pieces. Little by little, you can build your empire without getting stressed.

As a kid, I used to love playing the Legoland game on my computer. The theme song was really catchy – it went something on the lines of “you can move a mountain, if you do it brick by brick!”

Shall we build our link building mountain, brick by brick?

Divide Tasks Into Days

When building links and doing SEO in general, there will be many types of tasks. Some tasks, like guest post and linking outreach will take place over the course of a few days. Some, on the other hand, will require just a few minutes of work.

So before diving in, it’s good to have some things set and ready, like email templates. Neil Patel has put together some really nice email templates for link outreach. Modify them as you see fit, according to your target and your own style.

Also, get Yesware. Yesware is a Chrome extension that you can use with your Gmail to track email opens and responses. It’s a tool you can’t live without.

Day 1: Monday

Since this is just the beginning of the week, and most people(including you and me!) are going through Monday blues, keep Monday purely for research.

On Monday, you want to scout out a) guest posting opportunities, b) relevant directories, and c) relevant link pages. There’s a lot of ways you can go about finding these sites. One is by googling certain phrases, but after a few rounds of doing this, the results will start to run dry. Some more ways to find nice relevant sites are:

  • Check out the blogrolls that people curate. Some blogs have huge blogrolls in their sidebars where they link out to tons of blogs. These all may not be the best, but it’s somewhere to start.
  • Blog directories are also very powerful. You can start with big ones like Technorati and Alltop, but you can even niche down to find more specific ones, like Outdoor Blog Network.
  • Browsing Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook and seeing who is active in your niche can lend you a giant list of sites, too.

Once you have a list of sites, start feeding them into a spreadsheet. Keep it on Google docs, so you can access it from anywhere. You may end up with a giant list – that’s ok, the more the merrier!

You can also split these pages into the three categories I talked about above. Often, in niches, one site might be a combination of a place you can submit an article, a relevant directory, or have a link page, too. Depending on the site, you can either pitch a link, or pitch an either/or with a link OR a guest post.

Once you are done with your list for the week, it’s time to jump into social media. I’d recommend using a service like Buffer or Hootsuite to help you streamline your posts. Aim for tweeting/sharing one good piece of content relevant to your niche for the day. You can get this content off of the established sites in your niche(they can even come from something you saw during your research for the day).

That’s a lot of work for a Monday! It’s time to relax and enjoy yourself now.

Day 2: Tuesday

Come back to the giant list you made of sites to connect with. You should have six columns in your spreadsheet:

  1. Site Name
  2. Site Address
  3. Outreach type
  4. Emailed?
  5. Replied?
  6. Link live?

The first three(or at least two) should have already been filled out. Now, it’s time to go through each site, putting a check or “Y” in the fourth column. You don’t need to draft new emails every time. Just use your templates that you have saved, and change one or two sentences around if necessary.

Try to sound like a real person in your email – if this is your first Tuesday, it may take a while to get your templates right. Don’t worry, though – it will be worth the investment. For some good and bad examples of outreach emails, check out Dana Forman’s excellent post.

Depending on how friendly your niche is, and how good your emails are, you can expect 1-5% of people you email to reply to you. Maybe even more, if you are really lucky. Don’t get disheartened if your reply rate is low. This is a numbers game. Revisit your templates, and jump back on the horse.

After finishing outreach for the day, do a little bit of social media work like you did on Monday. This shouldn’t take you more than 5-10 minutes.

For Tuesday, there is a special treat. Your niche probably has forums that enthusiasts visit. The more forums, the better. Choose one forum for Tuesday. Go through the forum, and drop one or two valuable posts. Don’t, don’t drop links to products unless it is a direct answer to the poster’s problem. Once you are a little active, you can add your site to your signature. It will be a nofollowed link, but will drive traffic nonetheless.

Forums will also be an excellent way to learn things about your niche that you never knew! They will be sources for ideas for articles, too.

Day 3: Wednesday

Wednesday is content writing day! This content can either be for your own site, your web 2.0 properties or for potential guest posts. A good idea is to write a little something consistently. The biggest advantage that this will give you is that even if you don’t find an immediate use for this content, you have something to get inspiration from and to fall back on for future posts.

For getting ideas for what to write, keep an eye out on social media trends and buzz, and use Google’s keyword planner and Promediacorp’s suggester with your niche’s keywords to see what long tail phrases people are searching about.

Sometimes it’s even useful to just go on a rant and madly type stuff out without any clear direction. You can come up with real gems with this method, too. Remember – you don’t need to use it all at once. You can mix and match, cut and paste – think of it as a collage.

Try to write at least one unique article of 600+ words. It’s tough, but once you let your creative juices flow, and with a little bit of practice, churning out 600 words of quality content won’t be too hard.

Writing should have taken you maybe an hour or even two hours. Take it easy today! Just do a social media update, and wrap it up for Wednesday.

Day 4: Thursday

Since we’ve worked so hard on Wednesday, we’ll keep Thursday a little easy. Today, we will first want to follow up on any replies that we received from outreach emails. Whether it was a link request, a guest post request, or both, today we reply back. If it’s a guest post, we already have an article ready from yesterday’s hard work. Just a little bit of touching up and we send it out.

Next up is easy-peasy backlinks. Submission links! These are plain awesome. But to really be worth something, they have to BE awesome, too. Easy submission links are rare blogs that have followed comment links, and the directories that we dug up on Monday.

Another neat submission backlink is a shared Google+ post. The link in your profile is nofollowed, but the link in the post you share is followed. So as long as it’s something good, and people pass it along, it should get you some nice link juice.

Finally, you will want to follow up on the forums you posted in. Most forums let you subscribe to threads, so it’s easy to keep track of what’s going on. If there is something you can still add to the conversation, go for it. Otherwise, unsubscribe from the old posts and dive into a new one.

The trick with forums is that the more you post, the more you are generally respected. Try for 2-3 posts every time you go forumming. In just three months, you will have done 300 posts, which is a decent number, and your ratings in the forum will go up too.

Who knows, maybe that forum will reward you with a nice followed link!

Day 5: Friday

It’s way too close to the weekend by now, so for Friday, tie up any loose ends left from outreach and any of the week’s activities. Next, do your social media routine, and you are good. Enjoy the weekend, because on Monday, the whole cycle is going to start again!


So this whole post is basically a guideline. The key takeaway here is that this will help you develop consistency in your online marketing and SEO efforts. Regular social media posting, link building, and guest posting will add up over time. Early on, things like churning out 500-600 words a week and finding good social media posts will be tough. But in time, as you get to know your business and your customers more and more, they will get easier and easier.

SEO and marketing your ecommerce store is a long term game, so be the tortoise, and not the hare!

How would you schedule your week? Do you have any tips or tricks? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Thanks to Joe Lanman for the photo!

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