How to Get Backlinks with Negotiation and Persuasion
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How to Get Backlinks with Negotiation and Persuasion


Link building is the process of getting other
websites to link to yours. It’s not an art. It’s not a science. It’s a game of negotiation and persuasion. Now, negotiation in link building isn’t used
in the same way you would bargain for a car. And persuasion for links is different from
convincing your parents to get you a dog. There’s no one-size-fits-all template, which
means you need to learn how to execute based on various scenarios. So today, I’m going to show you how I’ve used
these two techniques to get more backlinks from places like Entrepreneur, Inc, Popsugar,
and tons of other sites. Stay tuned. [music] What’s up SEOs? Sam Oh here with Ahrefs, the SEO tool that
helps you grow your search traffic, research your competitors and dominate your niche. Now, negotiation or persuasion isn’t about
tricking people. I look at these two things as tools to communicate
more effectively so you don’t come off too strong in your first email. And if you’ve received any of these kinds
of emails asking for links straight away, I’m sure you’ve ignored the majority,
if not all of them. Yes, I know… you can still get links just by asking, but this tutorial is about increasing your link conversion rates as well as going after bigger links that
simply won’t get done with a template. With that said, let’s get to it. Negotiation and persuasion are two completely
different things. According to Professor Bontempo from Columbia
Business School, negotiation is a mutual exchange of resources for a mutual benefit. Meaning, you’re coming to some form
of an agreement. Negotiation is generally explicit, it’s fast, and it’ll
usually come with concessions from both sides. As a result, it can also be quite costly. Persuasion on the other hand is more about
changing someone’s mind. It’s subtle, it follows a gradual process consisting
of small movements. And the idea is to make your end goal their idea. It generally takes a lot more time, but it’s free. Now, when you’re building links, some links
will come fast, others within a medium timeframe, and others can take months. So let’s talk about each of these categories
and see how these two techniques fit in. First are fast links, which usually come within 0-14 days. This is all about negotiation. And these would likely include common tactics
you probably know and use, like the Skyscraper technique, broken link building, and guest posting. For example, a typical outreach email for a broken
link building campaign might say something like: “Hi Sharon, My name is Sam (a fellow coffee enthusiast). I’m contacting you because I clicked on
one of your resources to so and so’s blog, but it looks like they deleted that post. Thought you might like a friendly heads-up
to remove this part. Here’s a screenshot of where I found it: If you’re open to suggestions for a replacement, I wrote a guide on [whatever the topic is
with my unique selling proposition]. [And then I’ll add my URL.] No pressure at all 🙂 Just thought you might
want to add a supporting resource rather than removing the sentence or paragraph. Cheers, Sam” Now, this email might be enough to get a few links, but it’s very much a “take it or leave it” approach. And let’s face it, most people will leave it. So even if we tweak the email with one simple line like “PS. If you ever need a hand with anything, i.e shares,
feedback, or whatever, I’m always happy to help,” then you’re signaling that you’re ready and
willing to negotiate. So let’s say they respond back with something like “Sure, I’d be happy to add your link, but would
you mind adding my link to your website?” This is where the negotiation process begins. Now, since I don’t personally participate in reciprocal
link building, this is where you can do a bit of research to get an understanding of what motivates them. And if you can satisfy their motive, then
your chances of getting the link increases. Here’s an example response I got when doing
outreach for my personal blog. He first says that the post I pitched is great
and that he shared it on social. Then he tells me, he would link to my post
if I was willing to link to his article. I openly share that I’m not going to do reciprocal links,
but I mentioned that I have a column on Entrepreneur and I’m planning on doing a bit of guest posting as well. And naturally, I link to pages that are linking
to my content where it makes sense. I told him if he decides to link to me to keep
me in the loop so I can add his page to my list. He likes the potential, so he links to me. And take note of the language he uses: “That sounds like a great deal to me.” Now, it’s important to note that his content
was actually good, so I would’ve linked to it had I known about it before. So I don’t recommend making these kinds of promises if you know you’ll never look at their article again. Or if you never intend on helping them out. From my experience, I’ll convert anywhere
between 7-15% on any of these kinds of emails. We have full tutorials on various link building
tactics, so I’ll link them up in the description. Next is the medium-speed category. And this is pretty situational so it can fall
into either negotiation or persuasion. Let’s run through an example of how and why
I switched gears from negotiation to persuasion. And this is how I got my column on Entrepreneur.com. Basically, a few years ago, I blindly reached
out to someone with a Skyscraper styled pitch using a combination of Twitter and email. The response I got was that she can’t add
links to her blog post because she was hired as a freelance writer for the site. But she wanted to jump on a call. Now, a lot of people would have just ignored this
request and thought of it as a failed link attempt. But this person was a freelance writer, which
means there was an opportunity to get multiple links for the unforeseeable future. I just needed to get an understanding of what
motivates her and then see if I could help. So I did a bit of research and learned that she
was a journalist who had written for places like The New York Times, NBC News, and more. So we got on a call and throughout our time together
I learned she was looking for a more stable gig since journalism is tough to climb the ladder. I also shared my desire to write for some
larger publications, so I asked for her advice. As the conversation went on, I offered to reach out
to some of my contacts to see if they were hiring, and naturally she wanted to extend her help. So she offered to reach out to her contacts at
publications like The Huffington Post and Entrepreneur. By the end, I had contact details for the
right editor and some helpful tips. Best of all, I had the opportunity to name-drop in
my pitch, which I believe helped me get my column. The entire process took around 2 months, but
the accomplishment back then felt pretty good. Now, take note that once you’re able to publish
on these larger publications, getting other guest posting opportunities at other big names
gets much easier. Now, on to the longer plays, which tend to
be slow, but super-rewarding. These will usually be your “best” links and
persuasion will be your best friend and your worst enemy. Reason being, persuasion is really hard. And it’s not something you can usually do
easily on first, second, or even third contact. In fact, publishing an article on Inc took me
around five months of on and off conversation with another contributor. And I wish I could give you a step by step
tutorial on this, but persuasion is so situational that it’ll largely depend on the context of
the conversation. So here’s what my approach look like. The first thing I had to do was find an author
on Inc that writes about similar topics as me. I don’t remember exactly how I found this
person, but you can basically just go to Google and search for something like site:inc.com/author and then look for topics
separated by the OR search operator. Now, the other footprint will vary depending
on the site you want to get a link from, but you can usually find that out by going to
an article on the publication you want to write for, clicking on an author’s name, and then taking
note of their URL structure. Now, visit some of the author pages and see if
they would cover similar topics you write about and that they’ve published an article recently. After you find the person you want to contact,
you need to get an understanding of what would motivate them to help you accomplish your goal. For my particular contact, he was building
his personal brand, so things like exposure, particularly like mentions of his name seemed
like something that would be worth giving. But rather than just giving randomly,
there was a series of steps I took. First, I tweeted out some stuff that he had published. This was simply to be somewhat of a recognizable
name and face when I would eventually email him. He made it pretty easy for me because he followed
me on Twitter, so now I just needed to find a good reason to contact him. Thankfully, that was pretty easy too. I went to his site and it wasn’t working. So I sent him an email basically explaining
the issue on his site. He responded thanking me and that was
the end of the conversation. So at this point, it might feel like you’re
at square one, but you’re not. They know your name, you’ve helped them in
a small way, and most importantly you have your foot in the door. This is where you can offer up something that
will help set the tone for them to reciprocate. And this is all based around what you believe
will motivate them. Now, rather than asking for something, I want
him to come up with the idea alone that we should help each other get more exposure. So I sent him an email asking if he wanted a link. I said to just send me a few post ideas and
if it made sense, I’d add it to a guest post on a decent site I was already approved for. After a few back-and-forth emails, he sent
me a couple potential articles to include in my post, and said: “By the way, if you have any good ideas for an Inc article
and want to work on one together, let me know.” I had it published and was extended the offer
to publish anytime with him. Now, not everything goes as smoothly as this one went. In fact, I’ve tried to collaborate on a piece with
someone from Mashable and The New York Times, where neither converted. And I made the same mistake both times. I got impatient and went in for a hard ask way too soon. With Mashable, the person was motivated by
growing their personal Facebook fan page. We jumped on a Skype call, and I stupidly
asked to collaborate out of context. With The New York Times writer, I found the
perfect reason to contact her. And this was around the time of the election between
Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump. And she had written an article on The New
York Times talking about retargeting ads, but she had missed out on a lot of things
only people doing retargeting ads would know. So I gave her some good insider information, and
she responded with gratitude for the new outlook. In fact, she wanted to know more. So I nailed that email and boom. Nothing. I went in for the ask way too soon instead of
her coming up with the idea to collaborate or reference me as a source. But hey, I learned from my mistakes, and went
on to get a tiny niche blog some authority links from places like Forbes, Livestrong and WikiHow
to name a few. Now, you can definitely get links going shotgun style
and sending anyone and everyone templated emails. But conversion rates are going to be lower,
since almost everyone’s inboxes get flooded with the same outreach emails. Now, the advantage you can gain from understanding
someone’s motives and leading a conversation that fulfills that desire can ultimately lead
to big links and higher conversion rates. Now, I’m curious about your approach to link building. Do you find that sending tons of emails shotgun style
is most effective, or do you prefer the sniper approach, where you’re building relationships along the way? Let me know in the comments and if you enjoyed
this video, make sure to like, share, and subscribe for more actionable SEO and marketing tutorials. So keep grinding away and I’ll see you
in the next tutorial.

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