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How to Acquire Links by Leveraging Web Mentions

Making the most of the tools available for link building can sometimes seem like a long and thankless task, but when you put just a few fundamental skills to work for you, you’re likely to find that it’s not quite as difficult as you might think; in fact, there are quite a few opportunities for easy link building at your disposal, if you know where to look and you’ve got the tools to make the most of them.

One of the first things you’ll want to look into is seeking out existing mentions of your brand, website, or product lineup. They’re out there right now, waiting for you to take advantage of them. Remember: every mention you don’t jump on is a wasted opportunity.

So How Do You Find the Mentions in the First Place?

The first step toward ethical link building practices is to find the instances where a website has mentioned you or your product. So how do do that? You can’t really expect to run into them by accident, which means you’re probably going to need to make use of some tools that are available. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

Google Alerts

Like most of Google’s services, Google Alerts is free. Because of this, it’s a great first step toward unearthing all of your mentions out there. Like Google’s regular search engine, it’s an aggregator of websites that narrows its focus according to your search criteria. You can punch in a bunch of helpful terms to narrow your search, but it’s probably worth getting the hang of using different keywords in different configurations or combinations.

Your search query, obviously, is going to be your brand, product, or website. From there, you can narrow your search to news, blog posts, videos, discussions, books, or just cast as wide a net as possible and search for “everything.”

From there, you can personalize your Google Alert to send you an email at an interval of your choosing. You can get notifications of mentions as they’re posted, or get a daily or weekly digest of every instance where you’ve received a shout-out.

Talkwalker Alerts

If you don’t really want to plug yourself in to the whole Google thing and you’re looking for another free tool for finding web mentions, you might want to give Talkwalker Alerts a try. They boast of being the “best free alternative” to Google Alerts, and so far the evidence seems to support that claim… depending on how you’re measuring the results. Their website is full of glowing testimonials from users across the Internet, as well as the logos of highly prominent companies who have used Talkwalker’s services.

In a recent study performed by Moz, Talkwalker was compared empirically to industry leaders and Google Alerts. In the first contest, the number of alerts delivered by each service was evaluated, with Talkwalker coming out on top by a pretty significant margin.

That said, the quality of the results painted a different picture. Google Alerts was found to have provided more alerts from high quality sites. As a result, if you’re looking to be absolutely thorough, and you want to uncover a vast number of mentions, Talkwalker is for you. If you’re more concerned about handpicking only the best links, stick with Google Alerts.

Other Options

Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Moz’s own suite of analytic tools. Their Fresh Web Explorer lets users research, and then compare, links and mentions. As the word “fresh” would seem to indicate, the focus here is on finding the absolute newest mentions of your site or brand, using the Freshscape index as a guide. The Index contains some 73 million distinct URLs and over 3 million RSS feeds. As with the other services on offer, Moz Analytics offers advanced search tools that allow for exact-match phrases, multiple keywords, and keyword exclusions.

We’ll stop here at the risk of this sounding like an infomercial. Suffice it to say that there are a number of excellent tools out there to begin your search for web mentions. It would seem to be a buyer’s market.

Turning Mentions into Links

Here’s the real trick. Once you’ve found all of the mentions out there, what’s the next step? The phrases “shooting fish in a barrel” and “low hanging fruit” come to mind, but you need to know what to do with the fish after you’ve, well, shot it. So what’s the next step?

Quite simply, you need to ask for a link. Here’s the underlying theory behind this process: if there’s a website out there that’s already gone out of its way to mention your company or your product, you’re not really taking that big a risk by asking them for a link.

The best technique for leveraging a mention is to write to the webmaster with a short, simple email. Try to address them by name if you can; personalizing the message will go a long way toward building a rapport with them.

From there, be sure to thank them for the mention. Mention the company or brand again and simply ask them to link back. Put the focus on the website readers if you can: mention that you’d like for their readers or audience to have a better understanding of what it is they’re talking about.

Then you’re done. It’s short, sweet, and to the point. Again, they’ve already taken the step of mentioning your brand, so don’t feel too much like you’re making a huge imposition on their time.

Parting Thoughts

This all might seem a bit overwhelming, but as you might have been able to tell, seeking out mentions can easily become a regular part of your routine. From there, following up with a cordial email is a simple enough task.

How often you search for mentions is up to you, but most people tend to find that the “once a day” approach is the best fit. It lets you stay up-to-date with the most recent mentions, while not flooding your inbox with up-to-the-minute updates. Try different settings to see what works best for you.

One last thing to remember: these techniques aren’t particularly helpful for a brand new business; you’ll need to be established enough to already have been mentioned. However, for the existing company that’s only now embarking on the great link building adventure, these techniques should prove to be indispensable.

Adrienne Erin is a social media marketing writer who loves to see businesses like Foley Inc. Generators succeed.

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