As I mentioned in the April 2016 ASS site progress report, I was going to focus on backlink building for several months. The article production for the ASS site was paused in the meantime so we can truly see the effects of backlink building.
If you have thought of doing backlink building, you probably have come across to techniques such as Skyscraper and broken link building techniques. In fact, there are just so many link building techniques out there that if you are doing link building for the first time, learning all these techniques can make your head spin.
The two backlink building strategies I chose
So, to keep my life simple and keep me sane, I decided to focus on only two simple strategies to start with.
- Strategy 1) Collect sites from blog directories
- Strategy 2) Find sites that have a resource page
The reason I chose these two strategies was because I already had the tools to scale it up. My thought was to collect as many relevant sites to my niche and just send out mass emails.
How wrong was my thinking.
Soon I would find out sending mass emails was actually not a good idea.
Having said that though, these strategies will still work even if you don’t send out mass emails.
Strategy 1) Collect sites from blog directories
The idea is pretty simple. Do a Google search and find blog directories that are relevant to my site’s niche.
Use a crawler (such as Screaming Frog) to collect external links from these blog directories.
Then look for sites that are returning server status code 200 (which means the site is live).
Send an email out to these sites and ask for a link – I wanted to keep everything simple so I just used the same email template for targeting websites that have a resource page.
Strategy 2) Find sites with a resource page
After browsing and doing quick Google search led me to a conclusion that there are many websites that have a resource page packed with outgoing links.
Some of these “resource page” were created with affiliate marketing in mind (the outgoing links are actually affiliate links) but many other sites seem to genuinely want their users to benefit from these resources.
I actually got a link back right after I sent out my first batch of outreach emails. The value of the link was not great since there were many other links on the page (in case you are not familiar with SEO, the more outgoing links a page has, the link value for each outgoing link gets more diluted), but the niche is relevant and it was an easy link.
Video: Blog Directories and Resource Pages backlink building
Email outreach software I used – BuzzStream & Ninja Outreach
Initially, I wanted to keep the cost as low as I could so I tried to repurpose LinkAssistant that I bought long time ago. Here is a YouTube video showing how this can be done in case you are interested.
While following the YouTube video instruction, I faced difficulty in connecting email accounts with the software.
I had experienced this problem before and managed to solve the issues after spending hours troubleshooting it but I did not want to go through that process again.
So after some extensive research looking for an alternative solution, I decided to give BuzzStream and Ninja Outreach a try.
Overall, it’s a well designed outreach platform. It’s designed for a more hands on outreach strategy that requires more time investment.
My idea of outreach was to just have one email template and send mass emails so I was not very keen at using Buzzstream.
However, after learning that if the emails you send out keep bouncing, Google would stop your Gmail account from sending emails. This made me I realize that I need to spend some time cleaning the prospect list, which BuzzStream does a very good job helping that process.
BuzzStream really makes it easy for you to clean the prospect list and customize each message. It might not have a mass emailing capability (for now), or auto follow up (for now), but for a small scale email outreach, it’s a good service to give it a try.
What I like
- It’s ability to pull email and social profile data
- It’s easy to personalize each message
- Well designed browser plugin
- I can customize messages while browsing the site in one single window
What I don’t like
It doesn’t have mass email function
A well priced service with auto-mass email outreach feature. It’s really hard to beat the $49 price tag with 5000 contacts.
One thing I did not like is that I could only connect one Gmail account. There is a work around by connecting multiple Gmail accounts into one account though.
If I want to use my own domain email (firstname.lastname@example.org), I would need to connect it to an Gmail account. Ninja Outreach does not let me connect other types of email accounts.
I thought this was not a big issue because I could just switch Gmail accounts around depending on which site I am working on at the time. I could also connect multiple Gmail account to one and just use that one as well.
But it’s not that simple. after sending out few thousand emails, I soon learned that if the emails you send keep bouncing, Google would not let your Gmail account to send emails any more.
Also, you can only send out up to 500 emails a day per Gmail account. So even if you connect multiple Gmail accounts to one, that one account is only able to send 500 emails in any case.
All those technical issues aside, I really like the auto-schedule and auto-follow up features that Ninja Outreach has.
What I like
- It’s ability to send mass emails
- Has a lot of email templates. Took me less time to set up than BuzzStream
What I don’t like
- Can only connect to one email address
- Can only connect to Google email
- Has some bugs (many features seem to be still in beta)
- Can’t gather as many email addressed and social profile information for prospects compare to Buzzstream
What did I do (or decided) to do?
After testing both services, I decided to use Buzzstream for now.
As much as I don’t want to take sometime to filter through the prospect list and manually send out emails, that seems to be the best method.
Considering most of the mass emails I sent out got bounced in any case, even if I stick with Ninja Outreach, I would still need to have a good system to filter the prospect list so my Gmail account wouldn’t get suspended from sending emails (the Gmail account still works. You can login to check and receive emails but you just can’t send emails).
Since I will not be sending out so many emails, paying half the price for Buzzstream seems to make more sense.