3 Link Building Best Practices for Awareness in Times of Crisis
Here we are in March 2021, about a year since the COVID-19 pandemic really took hold in the United States.
With the health crisis still raging, many SEO professionals have questions and concerns about performing link distribution during a pandemic.
Over the past year, my team has had to find ways to continue to provide the same level of quality and relevant links that our customers have come to expect.
Through this process, we learned some useful insights on how to adjust the reach of links during a pandemic.
Lessons learned from these difficult times can be applied to your outreach to better succeed in securing backlinks in all circumstances, but especially in times of crisis.
Link awareness personalization is king
In the age of COVID-19, personalization is king, especially when it comes to email delivery.
Times are tough and people are struggling, and you have to be sensitive to that.
Now more than ever, you need to be able to put yourself in the shoes of the person you’re contacting and consider how things may have changed within their industry due to lockdowns, restrictions, mandates, etc.
You really need to understand what is important to them in the context of the pandemic and how your asset fits into it.
For example, if you’re promoting an asset on mental health and wellness, your primary targets might be .edu websites that are still struggling to reopen and welcome their students.
Most of these sites would accept content that supports the mental well-being of students and staff.
If you can clearly articulate how your asset would help its audience in the context of “pandemic life,” you are much more likely to succeed.
The stresses and challenges of our current pandemic world also mean people have less time, shorter attention spans, and even less patience for lazy, pattern emails.
Personally, if I receive an email with a generic greeting (“Hello”, “Hi team”, “Hello sir”, etc.), I delete it immediately without reading it.
If the person emailing me can’t make the effort to understand my name, why should I spend time reading their email?
Take that extra bit of time to find the name of the person you’re contacting and take it a step further by asking how they’re holding up or mentioning something that helped you through those tough times.
It humanizes your awareness and demonstrates that you’ve taken the time to think about the position they find themselves in. These types of outreach emails are read.
Tracking outreach emails is even more critical
Obviously, a lot has changed in our lives since the start of the pandemic. Even now, I continue to adapt in my daily life to manage new challenges (like my boys’ daycare being closed for two weeks due to a COVID alert) that arise due to COVID, and that’s the case for everyone.
With this constant chaos in our lives, it’s easy to see why tracking is even more critical in link reach.
Remember that people are even busier than usual and may not have time to respond to your request.
In fact, it’s entirely possible that their website just isn’t a priority right now, and you should come back later when things have calmed down.
Many people have had to take on additional responsibilities during the pandemic.
Answering external emails may not be their main job – be patient with these people and send a simple follow-up message to let them know you’re still trying to reach them.
While consistent follow-up is essential during these times, you should also be respectful in your follow-up emails.
A common practice I’ve seen is to send an email with a humorous or more aggressive approach after sending several unanswered emails.
For example, something like:
“Hellooooo? Is there anyone there? Am I screaming into the void?!”
While this approach can be effective under the right circumstances, I strongly advise against it in times of crisis.
You have no idea what the person on the other side of your email might be going through, whether it’s losing a loved one, having to lay off staff, doing it themselves bankruptcy or any other potential tragedy caused by this health crisis.
Now more than ever, you need to be sensitive and polite in your follow-up.
Now is not the time to be pushy or try to shed some light on the situation.
Don’t limit your reach to emails
While email outreach is still the most common and effective way to promote your web pages for links, you shouldn’t limit your outreach efforts to email alone.
The pandemic has forced us to make many behavioral changes, but not all of them are negative.
I think the shift to almost exclusively online communication has opened new doors in terms of link distribution.
As a society, we have become more comfortable with video conferencing as more and more workers find themselves working from home.
This presents a link-building opportunity, as you may find that contacts are willing to engage in a quick video chat to discuss the asset you are promoting.
This can simplify the whole outreach process, as you can avoid a long email thread by taking a call and succinctly explaining why you think they should add your link.
Plus, with screen sharing, you can show them exactly where you think it would fit on their site and why, and you can show them your asset and highlight the most relevant parts for their audience.
If nothing else, it could save time on a 10+ year-old email exchange that ends in rejection.
You also need to leverage social media within your reach.
Not only does social media provide another way to reach your target contact, but it can also provide the context so essential to creating a personalized outreach message.
Social media can provide the most up-to-date information on how that person’s business or website is performing and adjusting during the pandemic, allowing you to build reach that stands out from other link requests.
During this pandemic and other times of widespread crisis, it’s even more important to spend a little extra time spreading your links.
You need to identify the right person to contact, then really put yourself in their shoes to understand what they might be going through so you can write a sensitive and humanizing message.
In addition to learning more about their personal situation, this extra investment in research can also help you better frame your asset in a context that interests them.
Obviously, this health crisis has created unique challenges for all of us, but if you approach your link reach carefully, you can still be successful in earning relevant backlinks.