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Link Reclamation for Brands & Enterprises

Blog, Link Building, SEO June 6th, 2019

Welcome to the next video in Inseev’s step-by-step, tactic focused video and article series. Today we are focusing on link reclamation!

Definition of Link Reclamation: The process of leveraging outreach to earn new links or fix old links from current web-based mentions of your brand.

Reclamation link building includes everything from broken link building to unlinked brand mentions. Get out there and convert them into SEO backlinks!

Check out the video and writeup below:

How to Build Links With Reclamation Tactics

Welcome to Reclamation Link Building for Brands & Enterprises Webinar from Inseev Interactive.

I’ll be your host today. My name is Sam Wheeler. We are going to walk through some pretty cool reclamation tactics and how you can set your campaign up. If you have any questions, feel free to email me. If you want a more specific strategy for your specific brand, we can put that together for you, no problem.

The goal here is just to show companies how they can set up a program as part of their other SEO efforts.

Reclamation Link Building Information Flow

The first thing we’re are going to talk about is why we even care about links? The second thing is the different tactics available to brands:

  • Unlinked brand mentions
  • Broken links
  • Link sculpting
  • Link jacking

Then we’re going to talk about pitches and follow up cadence.

Why Are Links Important?

A lot of people do not understand the power of good backlinks. More importantly, they don’t understand what makes a good link and what makes a bad link.

Search engines use links for two main purposes:

  • To find new web pages
  • To help determine how a page should rank

There’s a bunch of patents that Google has around this, like seed pages and how far away you are from a seed page. Those are all factors that go into what ranking you have. It’s just one of the several factors.

Graph of ranking factors, linking factors are the top factors
Moz’s Linking Factors

Some studies estimate that links make up 40% of a weighted metric. Back in the day, links were votes. Whoever had the most votes, won. But nowadays, it’s whoever has the best votes. Above you can see a graph with the domain level features and a link. The specific domain-level features are almost the highest metrics that make up the influence on the algorithm.

Not all links are created equal.

If you have really bad content and your website sucks, links are not going to help you as much. Once you finish all your on-page efforts and your page looks good, the only lever you can pull is internal links from your website and then also external links that pointing to your site. It’s usually the ongoing SEO growth strategy once your page is set up properly.

Types of Good Backlinks

slide that shows the different types of backlinks
Types of links

There are several link factors to consider when you’re trying to identify what a good link is.

First, you want to look at the referring domain level. Is the domain strong? Is it a respectable site? Is it old? Does it have good information? Does it have rankings? If you get a link from a site that has no rankings, it doesn’t help you.

Then, we want to look at how relevant the site is? If I have a website about farming then a video game website is not a good link to get. It’s pretty straightforward there.

Next look at the referring page—this is the page where the link actually lives on the domain. Here we want to look at a bunch of things. We want to look at relevancy and authority of that specific page and that specific article.

Link example of a bad link
Example scenario

For example, The New York Times is a news site, but it has pages on different things. A farming article on The New York Times, that links to my farming website, is going to be great. Does the above example make sense? Not really.

The next link aspect is the location on the page. You really want a link in the body of the piece. You don’t want any footer links or sidebar links or side rail links.

You want to make sure the link is in the body of the article and it’s adding value to the users. You also want to understand the number of outgoing links as well because if the page has five thousand links out of it, and you’re just one of five thousand, it’s not adding any value. There are big, giant links lists of hundreds and hundreds of links—don’t go for those. They are not really adding value. Google knows that that’s an old link building tactic as well.

Example of a backlink HTML

Finally, you want to look at the specific link itself. Look at the anchor text at the destination page. Obviously, the goal here is to build links to important in SEO pages. Just to give you an example of referring page relevancy. Cricket bat giving a link to a flower page doesn’t make any sense. Cricket bat page would probably give a link to another cricket-related items page. It is pretty straightforward here as well.

What is Link Reclamation?

Link reclamation is the process of building links by “reclaiming” mentions that are not linked or old links that are not adding value.

This is kind of a broad term for basically any tactic that has to do with your current website and your brand. That’s why I broke them up into different tactics. Technically what you need to do is you need to find assets and opportunities to reach out to people and ask for links. You’ll also need to pick target pages for your new links.

If I’m Apple, I don’t need any links to my homepage. When I’m doing a reclamation campaign, I’m gonna look for links to my laptop’s page or my headphones’ pages, and try to find opportunities that I can build links to those specific pages. Because those are the ones that I’m probably wanting to grow in my SEO channel.

Check out the link reclamation process below!

reclamation link building process

Don’t forget about link patterns!

You also want to look for patterns in your prospects. Having one opportunity is great, but you wanna find an area where you can scale those efforts and build 20-30 links to a specific page so that the lever that you pull has impact in the long run.

Once you identify some opportunities, you wanna pull 30 or 40 prospects and test viability. You want to keep all your prospects on one sheet, which we’ll go over. Then you pitch and repeat. You pitch, you follow up and you repeat the process.

Let’s say I wanna build links to the headphones’ page and identify a bunch of opportunities, and those opportunities don’t work. Then, I’ve got to rethink my strategy because I don’t wanna spend 50 hours prospecting for something that just not gonna work. It’s a classic testing framework there.

Unlinked Brand Mentions

This is a really simple tactic. Somebody on the web is writing about your brand or mentioning it, but they are not linking to it. It gets a little bit more complicated than that because there are different types of unlinked brand mentions:

  • Mentions of your brand
    • Apple says this or Home Depot says this. These are very easy to find. Moz has a great tool and you can use Google’s Advanced Search Operators.
  • Images
    • Technically is its own style of image reclamation. But if it’s your brand and someone is using your image, that’s technically a brand mention.
  • Mentions of your team or employees
    • If you’ve got somebody who is on a lecture circuit and goes around and does conferences and stuff like that. That person, while not your brand, is working for your company and is technically a candidate for an unlinked brand mention.
  • Partnerships or other company brands
    • Men’s Wearhouse, for example, has a bunch of brands that they own. Anybody mentioning one of the other brands that Men’s Wearhouse owns, could also link to Men’s Wearhouse.
    • I know that a lot of golf companies that partner with country clubs and golf courses to do events. Even if they don’t specifically mention a brand on an event page, you know they are your partners so you can reach out to them and say, Hey, give us a link.

You wanna use tools and organize the type of mention in your prospect sheets. Moz and Google’s Advanced Search Operators are the best ones by far.

Flickr for Image Reclamation

Flickr is an amazing tool for images. There’s a ton of WordPress plugins that use Flickr to find images. Basically, you upload your images into Flickr and people start linking to those images over time. You just reach out to them and say, Hey, change it from Flickr to our website.

Here’s an example inurl:edu “Sur la Table”.

This is a pretty cool example. There are a lot of colleges talking about this company, people involved, their marketing campaigns. Search operators are really easy to find unlinked brand mentions.

Let’s do that same example here inurl:edu + “sur la table”. This isn’t one of our clients so I thought it would be of good use because there’s a ton of mentions there—91 thousand results.

If we look at this one here, Uconn today, it’s back from 2013.

It looks like this guy Joel was probably a chef or helped design the cookware for Sur la Table. We don’t see a link to the company but do see a Vimeo link. That’s an outgoing link, which is good because it indicates that the site will link out.

I love that we see here that he is a “high-end cookware retailer” for Sur la Table.

Does this company need more home page links? Maybe. But it’s a great opportunity for a cookware page. If we look for cookware, we see a bunch of competitors—William Sonoma, Macy’s. This is the type of page we want links on. What I can do then is I can look for any mention that has company name plus cookware. I can hit up these sites and be like, Hey, can you link to us?, and not even tell them why they are linking to us or not even tell them why we chose that page. This is a really great example.

Here’s one from the Smithsonian:

This page has equipment tools. I love that. I’m going to pitch them the cooking tools or cooking utensils page. Getting the link on the Smithsonian would be epic and a really cool opportunity for Sur La Table. This is like a mixture of partnerships too that they had with Smithsonian.

Don’t forget to lean on internal partnership teams!

There might be somebody else who already owns this relationship and you don’t have to hit them up from a cold outreach standpoint. That’s basically it. Pretty easy. We can start building a prospect list form this so we can start here with Uconn Today.

when prospecting, get all the information at once. You’ve got your URL, domain, DA usually, or whatever you’re looking for. We have Uconn Today. I’m guessing this DA is high. I don’t have my Moz bar logged in right now. I’m gonna do that really quickly.

I need to look for somebody to email.

The person you email is very important because especially at big organizations, I’m not gonna email the Dean of students. He or she doesn’t care.

You have to find somebody who’s high enough on the totem pole to make decisions for you, and low enough on the totem pole that cares. The Dean of students doesn’t care about updating some article from 2013 on their student newspaper, but somebody might—somebody in the newspaper office. I need email and the name of the person we’re gonna hit up. I’m also gonna need the new URL, notes, and date emailed. Turn that into a table. I’m gonna label this ULBM because it’s unlinked brand mentions. There might be something down here. Contact, there we go.

This is the head of Uconn Today, Elizabeth Omara-Otunnu. Honestly, I don’t know. I guess maybe—if there’s nobody else here—what I’m probably gonna do is email a webmaster. Multimedia services maybe. Guess we’ll put this person in for now, but this person may not care. Drop the email in. Her name is Elizabeth. The new URL we’re gonna use was the cookware page, I believe.

Look for patterns!

I’m probably going to change my search from inurl:edu “sur la table” + “cookware”.

This is just giving me edu results. Here’s the Smithsonian, which is interesting. What you can do here, once you’ve built the relationship, now you can do a search of the site and be like, Oh, by the way, I also noticed an opportunity here. This is an old one from 2004. I’m still gonna hit them up. We’ve got to move along here, but that is unlinked brand mentions.

Broken Link Building

Broken Link Building Definition: Updating links pointing to pages that do not exist!

For broken links, I like using Ahrefs. It’s a really great tool. Shout out to ahrefs. The goal here is to find people that are already linking to your website that are broken.

Majestic has a tool I beleive as well. Search console will tell you when your site does have broken links. It will say if pages are broken, you can use that to search Ahrefs to see if any of those actually have links. Ahrefs and Majestic are the best, I think.

There’s a bunch of other free tools out there that you could use. You wanna look for just straight up broken links. Those are easy. It’s really clear from the tool which link is active and which link is broken.

Example of Ahref’s Broken link tool

What I wanna talk about more, which people often forget, is soft 404s. This gets into a little bit of link sculpting. There are pages that either, are out of stock or as a 301 that don’t make sense.

Google has said that if the 301 doesn’t make sense or the canonical tag doesn’t make sense, they’re not going to count the link.

You wanna look for patterns there. Some websites will return the status 200 on 404 pages, and Ahrefs robot won’t get it as a broken link. If your 404 page is canonicalized to something else, then it’s not gonna show up in Ahrefs either.

Don’t forget about broken links to your competition.

You’ve got your own broken links but your competitors might have broken links as well. If I was Lowes, I would go to a Home Depot and go see all their broken links and try to steal every single one of them.

Also, don’t forget about misspelled domain names.

One thing that I know for sure is Walmart with two L’s doesn’t redirect to the homepage. Anybody linking to w-a-l-l-m-a-r-t.com—probably a lot of them—Walmart needs to get those fixed.

We’re gonna go to broken and we’re gonna see 12 thousand broken links. Don’t worry about old pages, even from 2010, we’re still gonna hit Huff Post and we’re gonna say, Hey, look. This page is old, probably not getting traffic. Here’s an updated URL. This is the right page.

Links to Soft 404s do not add SEO value!

The next thing we want to look for are the soft 404s. I don’t really know off top of my head what Home Depot’s products look like when they go out of stock. That’s not gonna help us there, but if you are a brand you know what it looks like.

What you would do is, you would go back to your backlinks and you would search for a specific URL string that happens when it is out of stock or a product that you know is going out of stock. The trick here is we don’t want to build more product links because products don’t generate a lot of organic search.

What we want to say to them is Here’s a link to the page where this product lives when it’s in stock, and give them the category page.

Example of a redirect report in Ahrefs

First, I’ll look for a redirect chain. If you’re new to the brand, if there’s a bunch of 301s put in place, or old articles, or category pages that have been moved around, you can see how these links have gotten moved around according to how the Ahrefs bot found it.

This is Wistia. I’m using Lume right now and I think Wistia is a competitor of this. Shout out to Lume. It looks they went to Home Depot and they’ve got extension cords—which is out of stock it looks like—or they’re not selling anymore. That’s great. I’m going to hit them up, and I’m gonna give them the extension cord category page.

If I was Lowes, I’d hit them up and be like, Look. This is broken. You can get extension cords that are in stock at my shop. Pretty cool opportunity there, technically a soft 404. Makes sense. We’re gonna talk a little bit more about this in the link sculpting, but you need to know how the site’s laid out for this one to really be helpful.

Link Sculpting

Link Sculpting Definition: Moving links from pages that do not add SEO value to ones that do!

This is very similar to broken link building, but there’s a few additional ways we can look at it.

Look for the links that are pointed to areas of the website that are either blocked by the robots or not adding value to the organic profile.

If I’ve got a bunch of product links on a product page that doesn’t get any rankings, I wanna get those switched because that link is not really helping me. Product pages links may be good for a domain authority play, but not for my individual page authority.

Let’s use Home Depot. What can I find? Let’s find funny mailboxes. What I’m looking at here is their search bar has Slash S as their search functionality, and whatever your search is.

If I do a “Ctr U” and I look for the robots directive, this content has a no index and no follow tag. That means that Google does not follow the links. If somebody’s linking to this, it just turns around. If it doesn’t add the index, it doesn’t follow what’s on the page. Anybody linking to any type of search functionality, it’s not adding value. It’s not a 404, but it’s just not adding link value for organic search.

Google has that this is the case also. This is a huge opportunity because I bet there’s a ton of people—even the companies that sell in Home Depot—are like, I need to find my product and I need to put it on my website. They just do the search functionality.

What we’re gonna do is we’re gonna use Ahrefs and we’re gonna search just for this search string. We obviously need to get rid of redirect chain. Slash S. It looks like slash P is for product. Slash S is for search. I bet slash C is for category or brand or something, but let’s see what this returns for us.

Again, you wanna look for soft 404s and you also wanna look for sucky 301s or canonicals. Technically, the search links are not soft 404s, but they’re just a link that’s not adding value.

Expertise.com. Love this one. This is probably a sweet article. Workshop Hero. Love that. This is exactly what I was talking about. This looks like a company. They probably sell in Home Depot. They just search for their own brand name and made a logo there, where you can find our stuff. That’s got to be what happened there. This link—not adding value at all.

Te person at Expertise.com was writing this article and was like, I need to find an example of dog steps. Right? Buy or Build Some Dog Steps—brutal for home dept because the anchor text is so good. This is a sweet in-content link on a really authoritative site. These are expertise articles about how to do something for your dog. Home Safety Guide for Pet Owners was made for SEO and they probably know what’s up.

Here we need to be careful about how we pitch them. I’m going to do Dog Steps and see if Home Depot even has a page for it that’s ranking. I’m not sure if they do.

Perfect. They do actually. Love that. This is ranking low on page one with 18 thousand a month searches. Here’s an easy opportunity for them to build really good links here.

301s that don’t make sense are not helping pass link juice!

We can also look for 301s that don’t make sense, that’s like a product 301ing to the home page. That’s not really helping. There’s a ton of these for Home Depot—

You can also check the robots file too and see what they’re disallowing because that’s not gonna add value either.

Look for people linking to the shopping, or order process, or checkout pages. People are like, Hey, this is what I’ve got, and they link to their checkout page. Easy opportunity to build links there.

example robots file
Example robots file

Let’s keep moving on here. Most e-commerce have some way to filter out the search and they do that because they don’t wanna lose the search page ranking, but they lose links on that.

Link Jacking

This is one of my favorite tactics, really easy here. Facebook, Twitter, and other articles about your website or your brand probably have rankings and links. Home Depot’s Wikipedia page, has 956 referring domains. Anybody that’s linking to it, I’m gonna hit them up and be like, Hey. Can you link to our home page instead? You can find more info here,

Don’t forget to use Ahrefs content explorer.

You can also steal the links from your competitors. That’s more broken link building/link jacking. If I am Lowes, I’m gonna try and steal all 13K broken links because it’s “not adding value to the site’s user”.

We’ll get to more about that when we get to the pitch. It’s a really good opportunity especially if it’s an article about your company, like on Forbes. You can just hit those people up there linking to that article and be like, Hey. I saw that you’re linking to this Forbes article. Thanks so much. I want to give you this piece of information so you can have more value to your users. Can you link to us—in addition? Or ask them to remove the link and ad yours instead.

Usually, what works best is asking them to include it as another resource for their users.

Reclamation Link Building Pitches and Follow Ups

Check out the broken link pitch below:

broken link building pitch

This is just one pitch but this is what you need for all of your pages. These are the following sections for every pitch:

  • The Intro
    • Explain quickly who you are and why you qualified to email.
  • The Ask
    • You need to clearly explain where you need the change to be made and you need to give them a new URL and suggested an anchor text.
    • This is really important because if you just say, Hey. Can you add a link to us?, and you don’t tell them where or what you want the link to be, it’s more work for them. You need to give them all of the information so that they don’t have to think at all. They can just go in and literally copy and paste. I would stay away from saying, You have to use this anchor text. Usually, I say something like, I think it could look something like this, and give them an example. Sometimes, I would just copy and paste it.
  • The Value Added
    • People aren’t going help you if they think it’s just helping you. You need to explain why it’s gonna add value to their users. It’s always about their users—Hey, this page is broken. People can get more information like, Thanks for writing about us. People can get more information about us if you enter this link.

Don’t forget to You test subject lines.

There’s’ a bunch of different ways you can get people to open your email up obviously. From the actual conversion standpoint, these are the three main sections that you need.

The Bonus Section, I call it, is like a bonus value. If you’re working with your social media team or something like that, you can be like, Hey. If you write about us, we’ll be happy to shout you out on social—anything that you can do that’s not like a link exchange, that you can help them out. People love being chatted up by brands on social media. That works really well to help boost conversions there.

Reclamation Link Building Follow Ups

You should have varying styles of emails. Follow up one should be like, Hey. I just wanted to follow up. Follow up two should be like a mini ask, where it’s like, Hey I wanted to follow up on my suggestion on updating your page on this section. It should be like a shorter pitch. Three, four, five, you can kind of test it out and maybe start a new thread.

Another really good tactic is asking who they should contact and being like, Hey. I’m not sure if you’re right person to email but if you could put me in the right direction that would be great. People love that because they’re like, Oh. You just email Judy over there in marketing. They love to pass the buck. I wouldn’t do it right away. I’d do it after a few follow ups. People are usually like, Stop emailing me. Here’s the right person to contact.

During my pitch process, I would say stick with “a community outreach person” or “community engagement specialist”. If they hear things like marketing or advertising, people usually wanna ask for money in exchange for a link. Obviously, that’s against Google’s guidelines.

Why are you reaching out?

A good thing to say, for most of these reclamation opportunities, is like, I’m compiling a list of our brand mentions. I came across your page—the exact page where you wanna link. Thanks for including your mention of us. I’ve noticed however that the clink of the URL— in whatever section of the article is—is no longer working. If it’s not too much trouble, I was hoping you could update. This way your users won’t run into any issues.

The more personalized you can make the email the better!

Sometimes, I’ll add a P.S., which says something like, P.S. Love your recent post on blah, blah, blah. Really interesting thought there. Make it more personable. People like to see hand-written emails. If they think you’re a robot spamming them, they’re not going to respond. That’s why the follow-ups work really well because if you change your follow-ups a little bit and show that you are a human

People will tend to respond to follow-ups more. We have years of data that support this thesis.

That’s it. That is Reclamation Tactics for Brands and Enterprises. You can set this campaign up pretty easily and tell us if you have any questions. And if you want a prospecting template or one of these pitch templates, just shoot me an email and I will send it over.

Thanks so much for getting to the bottom of this page. I hope you have a wonderful day.

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