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How Relationships Drive Link Building26:37 with Jon Henshaw
Worried about unnatural links? Build them by creating relationships instead and get tips on nurturing these relationships long-term.
[Jon Henshaw] So when I was putting this presentation together, 0:00 I wanted to find the perfect sort of analogy 0:03 to what it's like to be a link builder 0:09 in a world where Google runs the show. 0:12 And so I found this video 0:16 And it's from "Search for the Holy Grail," Monty Python, 0:21 and this castle is like your site. 0:26 And these are all the links that you've been building and that you've been inviting into your website. 0:29 And then there's Google. 0:34 And Google's always out there. 0:37 But they're at a distance. 0:40 And you know that some of the things you're doing 0:42 aren't maybe the best way to build links to your site, 0:46 but what's the big deal, because they're just out there. 0:49 They're never getting any closer. 0:52 That's what it feels like. 1:04 Until one day... 1:06 Google comes in, kills all your links, kills your site, 1:11 and there goes everything you've been doing. 1:16 It's ridiculous. 1:25 So we start off with a fact. 1:27 That if you don't build links the right way, Google will destroy everything you love. 1:29 And that's just a fact. 1:34 So before I really get into the meat of this I have a couple of warnings about my presentation. 1:36 And one is that it uses post-meme images, 1:45 that's basically images from meme's without the actual meme. 1:50 And hopefully that will make sense to you in a little bit. 1:55 It also uses arbitrary bullet points 1:57 designed to piss of Rand and kill kittens. 2:01 Where's the sound? 2:03 [laughter] 2:08 I wanted to be sure that no kittens were killed, we just had to break it's arm to get that sound 2:11 of an actual distressed kitten. 2:15 I can't even believe I just did that. 2:21 So anybody who has any experience building links knows 2:23 that it's hard, whether you're new to it or you've been doing it a long time, 2:27 even like Patty, it's not an easy thing to do. 2:31 And relationships aren't easy either, 2:36 as we all know. 2:41 And so what we're going to do today is we're going to try to bring those two together 2:47 and see how we can make those work a lot better. 2:50 I love the silence on that one, I thought that was so funny when I did that. 2:53 So what makes me a so-called 'expert' in this area? 2:58 I actually have a graduate degree in counseling psychology, 3:04 and I even had my own private practice doing relationship counseling for a while. 3:08 So it's something that I know a little bit about. 3:12 I stopped doing it because I didn't like listening to people's problems everyday, 3:14 but that's a personal thing. 3:18 So what do most people want from a relationship? 3:20 And when I talk about relationships, I don't mean really a couple. 3:26 I really mean relationships that you're building with people 3:31 in order to network with them, in order to—in this case— 3:34 get them to mention you, get them to link to you, get them to talk about you socially. 3:38 And the things that people want—they want to be heard. 3:43 They want to be respected. 3:48 They want to be noticed. 3:50 They want attention. 3:52 Those are things that people want in a relationship. 3:54 And characteristics of a healthy relationship— 3:57 usually, usually really involve just kind of 1 basic rule. 4:01 And that is to be treated the way you would want to be treated. 4:12 And so as you enter into networking in a way that I"m going to be describing today, 4:15 the rules aren't that hard. 4:22 It's treat people they way you want to be treated. 4:27 People do not want— 4:29 They do not want to be sold something. 4:33 I'm sure everyone here who has been in a networking situation— 4:35 you are repulsed when somebody is trying to sell you something. 4:40 They don't want to feel like a pawn or an object. 4:45 And they certainly don't want to talk about links. 4:48 There was a kitten noise and everything, but the sound is down, oh well. 4:55 So that leaves us with a paradox, 4:59 which is how do you target somebody without actually targeting them? 5:02 And again the answer is fairly simple 5:06 unless you aren't a genuine person. 5:10 Being genuine is really what it takes. 5:13 And I can say from personal experience, 5:16 that I wouldn't be here today, I wouldn't be doing what I was doing, 5:21 unless I had done the things that I'm presenting to you today. 5:25 All right, that's enough, we'll keep moving. 5:29 And we'll get to more of the good stuff. 5:33 So the first thing is you find your websites. 5:35 I don't care how you find your websites, what technique you use. 5:40 You can use Google, you can use Ontella, you can use OSE. 5:42 However you find your sort of targets, the sites that you think are relevant to what you're doing. 5:46 Do that. 5:53 And then, who are the people behind those sites? 5:55 Who's the author, who is the editor of that site? 5:57 That type of thing, find out who they are. 6:03 And follow the trails. 6:04 The trails in this case are going to be Facebook. 6:08 They are going to be where they are basically on social networks. 6:11 Where they're blogging, going to LinkedIn, and finding out what they do. 6:15 Googling them is really easy to do. 6:20 I just used Jennifer Lopez as an example here. 6:24 But basically for a lot of people, especially people who are in a position to write, 6:27 and therefore, give you a mention on their site in some way, 6:32 are going to have a pretty good presence. 6:37 And you will usually be able to find them pretty quickly in Google. 6:39 And then, who are their followers? 6:43 So as you find out where they are, it's actually really easy 6:46 to kind of dive into what their life is like online. 6:50 And in the case of even Google+, 6:55 in the case of Twitter and so on, 6:57 all you have to do is look at who they're following and that gives you a whole lot of insight very quickly. 7:00 Full Contact is a service I really like and recommend. 7:05 You have to have a coder on board to use it, 7:11 because it's only via an API. 7:14 But once you have a piece of information about the person that you're looking to build a relationship with, 7:17 even just something like an e-mail address, 7:22 you can pass in on to Full Contact, 7:24 and they will bring back a ton of information. 7:26 Just a ton of information about where they are, as far as social networks and elsewhere. 7:29 So I really like Full Contact. 7:35 You can monitor them, you can pull in their RSS feed, 7:37 you can monitor a person or persons on a particular site 7:41 and kind of see what they're saying, where they're talking, and be alerted to that quickly. 7:47 Interacting with them, this is a really big one. 7:52 It's nothing new, but it's really important to stress this, 7:55 which is when you go to a person's blog and you comment on their blog, 7:59 —in a nice way, not as a troll— 8:04 and you are 'plus 1-ing' their content, and you're liking their content, 8:06 and sharing their content, 8:13 and you're retweeting their content, 8:15 people see that. 8:17 And so the point of developing this relationship with them 8:19 is to be visible, is to show that you're interested 8:22 in what they're doing and to even offer something to them. 8:26 So make sure you interact. 8:29 I find that I can't do this, I can't build a lot of relationships 8:31 particularly in a sort of networking-marketing way, 8:38 without actually having the right tools. 8:40 So what a lot of people will do is they'll use spreadsheets. 8:42 And they keep track of all the things they're doing. 8:46 And then you can also use a CRM. 8:48 What I do is we use our own software, 8:50 so I like to keep really good contact records, 8:56 where I am in that relationship. 8:58 I also like to keep really good link records, 9:01 which tie into those contact records, so I can keep track of that. 9:04 And one thing that I wanted to show off, becuase it's something special to me at least 9:07 is the idea of doing recurring tasks. 9:13 So one of the things that we'll do with our CRM, 9:17 is we will be able to set up a task, say that I want to interact with them on Twitter, 9:20 I want to do it at least every 3 days, 9:26 and then when I actually do that, as soon as I tweet them or mention them, 9:29 it actually automatically completes that task for me. 9:34 And then it resets it for 3 days. 9:38 The other thing that is really important, especially if you're working within a team environment, 9:40 a lot of link builders, 9:45 is to make sure you keep really good notes. 9:47 And so keep good notes about how you met them, 9:49 who actually is writing that note, who met them. 9:53 So you guys don't run over each other or it gets embarrassing when someone else reaches out to them. 9:58 Develop relationships naturally. 10:02 Youd on't go out and find the editor of some particular media site 10:07 and just find your chance where you can get in there and say, "Oh, hey, can we do something?" 10:15 If that person likes you, if that person is even remotely interested in what you might have to offer, 10:20 they'll let you know. 10:29 Everything that I'm suggesting here, 10:31 is more along the lines of what I call participation marketing or being present. 10:33 It's not about the hard sell. 10:38 It's about being there, being out there, participating. 10:40 And so this particular approach is a long-play approach. 10:43 It's not something where you're aggressively trying to just, "as soon as I can get in," 10:48 "I'm going to try to close the deal." 10:53 Don't overwhelm them. 10:55 What that means is when that person finally replies to you on Twitter, 10:57 or they say something, you're like, "Oh, I have their attention." 11:03 Don't overwhelm them with 10 tweets back to them. 11:05 I've seen it, it's happened, it's happened to me. 11:10 That is about the worst thing you can do. 11:12 Stay on topic, not your topic. 11:15 Sometimes it can be really tempting to finally have that conversation 11:19 with that particular person, 11:25 and to try to slip in that thing that you really want from them. 11:27 That, again, is not going to work. 11:32 It's not going to feel genuine to that other person. 11:36 Create a positive experience. 11:39 If you do things for others, if you're there for them, 11:42 they will a lot of times, not always, reciprocate at some point. 11:46 That is a Hallmark of a good relationship. 11:52 Be patient, or else. 11:56 [laughter] It's a loop. 12:02 I don't know if I can even get through this slide. 12:15 I don't know if I can pause it. 12:17 You do not want to do something too early. 12:19 Be patient, it's a long-play. 12:25 And if you actually—I can't get through this slide, I'm going to just go through. 12:27 That's just a waste of a slide, but I'm glad you liked it. 12:33 So what's the outcome of this? 12:36 Being present, participating online and in person with those people, 12:41 building those relationships. 12:47 The outcome is real friends. 12:49 And it's also the ability to connect with your friends' friends. 12:52 So you are able to find connections, find new relationships, 12:58 that maybe you couldn't have before. 13:06 And sometimes maybe even though you might be, say, targeting somebody who you really want to get to know, 13:08 and nothing will come from that. 13:16 And that's fine, at least in this particular approach, that's okay. 13:18 Because what will happen is you will get to know their friends, 13:21 and you will become part of their network, 13:26 and something great will come from that, and that's okay. 13:28 So social exposure—you get that. 13:30 And, of course the best, which is natural links. 13:36 That's what we're going for is natural links. 13:39 This is supposed to be like, "Yeah, extravaganza, natural links." 13:41 So really quickly I'm going to go through just real-life recent, semi-recent, examples of 13:49 links that we've gotten just through relationships, real relationships that we've had. 13:55 Here's one in National Business Journal. 14:01 Unexpected, just somebody that we've been friends with, 14:03 gone out of our way to say, "Hi." 14:07 Same thing, Nicki Hicks, that I've known kind of off and on for a while, 14:09 just at conferences. 14:14 She uses our software, it stayed in her mind. 14:17 And when she wrote something, we got a link from that. 14:20 Making yourself a resource. 14:23 Just letting it be known that you'd love to be able to help 14:25 on anything they might need as a quote. 14:28 It's kind of a PR approach. 14:31 Going above and beyond. 14:33 So a lot of you represent services. 14:37 And although, a lot of your companies can't really control this 14:39 but going a bove and beyond in support or at least responding to somebody 14:44 can get you mentions and links. 14:48 There was a guy from Speedy SEO that included us in an article 14:51 in dotnet magazine over the UK. 14:57 And I'm still pretty much at a place where if anyone mentions us, 15:00 particularly in a magazine, it gets me really excited. 15:04 And so I sent this guy a gift basket. 15:06 Because I was just like, "Dude, thank you." 15:09 And then he went and did this. 15:11 I wasn't sending him a gift basket to get a link. 15:13 But I ended up getting one as a surprise, so there you go. 15:16 Being a good host. 15:21 Tood Mentz is somebody that I have gotten to know mainly online. 15:23 And then just a few weeks ago he came to visit Nashville. 15:27 And I was excited, I was like, "I really want to hang out with Todd and get to know him better." 15:32 And so I showed him all around, if you look at the very bottom it's like, "omfg brunch," 15:37 because I took him to the greatest southern breakfast brunch. 15:42 And I'll take you guys too if you come to Nashville. 15:46 And so that can be something that comes out of nowhere. 15:48 Dana Ligadu, who is here, 15:53 we donated money to a cause that she feels strongly about. 15:56 Wasn't expecting a link, 16:00 and Dana did this, so it's awesome. 16:02 I mean, thank you. 16:08 This is another example of a friend of mine who does PR in Nashville, 16:10 she was starting a new company and she was worried about her website. 16:17 And so—I don't have time to look at people's websites, and evaluate them and stuff, 16:22 but she's a friend of mine so I looked at it. 16:27 And I was really happy I did, because she needed a lot of help with who she was using. 16:29 And, again a matter of like a week later, she was writing an article for somebody 16:34 and just randomly included us. 16:41 So, relationships. 16:43 Collaborating with others. 16:47 Being a leader in a certain area. 16:49 That will get you links. 16:52 Joe Hall is a friend of mine and we chat often. 16:54 I use the term "link pimp"—he is kind of a link pimp. 16:58 because when you build these relationships, then these friends—and it goes both ways— 17:02 I'll get a DM every now and then from him, 17:10 and it'll just be like, "Hey man, can you pimp my link?" 17:13 And I was like, "Sure," because we're friends 17:16 and I know that everything he writes is really good. 17:18 And so as you build the relationships, you then start building a network 17:20 of people who can share things. 17:24 And it's not just a netword of people who can share things. 17:26 It's a network of people who have authority. 17:28 And then another one that is a favorite of mine, 17:34 is that as you build these relationships, 17:38 and as you become closer to these people in these networks, 17:42 then what can happen is you get invited to groups that don't exist. 17:45 And those are groups of people of influence that can help each other out 17:51 both socially and otherwise. 17:58 Pay it forward. 18:00 Pay it forward is important, it's especially important to me, 18:03 because many years ago when I had a little company, when I lived in Denver, 18:07 a little hosting company-web development company, 18:12 I had a buddy come to me and say, "I don't have any money, I'm trying to do this thing. 18:14 "It would really, really help me out if you'd just give me free hosting, whatever." 18:20 And I didn't have to do that, but they guy—he needed it and he was my friend. 18:26 And so I did that, then a year later, 18:33 he got a job at one of the top marketing firms in Denver. 18:35 And I ended up, my little firm, getting cords, and iomega, and ecollege, and all these other clients, 18:41 because of that gesture that I did for him. 18:46 So pay it forward is important. 18:49 The biggest thing about this is that, unlike a lot of the other approaches that you've already heard about and will hear about, 18:51 is that this is a long-term approach. 19:01 This is not, "What's the next thing?" 19:05 Now I am going to do what Patty said about Amazon. 19:10 I'm going to go there and I'm going to do something about those profile sites 19:13 and check out what's going on there—it just fascinates me. 19:17 But this is a long-term play of creating real friendships, 19:19 not just networking for the sake of networking. 19:26 And I can tell you today that I've done all these things. 19:30 It's worked really well, and I was able to come to Seattle for my frist trip here 19:35 and I have real friends from this experience. 19:40 In fact, this entire presentation a lot of the things I talked about 19:45 have been things that Joanna Lord and I have talked about years ago, 19:48 as we were sort of moving up. 19:52 So it's long term, it's not short term, but it will really pay off. 19:55 And to me lont term is completely consistent with how you want to build authority in your site, 19:59 in regards to Google. 20:08 So that's it, thanks. 20:10 [applause] 20:14 [female narrator] So you went from building relationships in real-life to building relationships online? 20:20 Which seems perfect, the perfect thing for you. 20:24 Okay, let's do a Q&A, we're going to do 2 questions because we're running a little bit tight here. 20:28 So, make them good. 20:32 [laughter] No pressure. 20:34 Anyone have some questions? 20:36 Raise your hand. 20:38 There's so many of you out there. 20:40 [female participant] Hi, Jon, thanks so much. 20:52 The question that i have is this sounds like a time-intensive process, 20:56 and also you're making a lot of friends, because, ultimately, truly you want the business as well as the friendship. 21:01 How much time are you putting into this effort and what is your return on investment 21:08 over a certain span of time? 21:14 [Jon Henshaw] And I think the other thing you're sort of touching on with that question 21:18 is that there's something about this that isn't very practical for a lot of businesses. 21:22 And especially, when you say ROI, you're basically saying that I have to show return on all this time. 21:29 I have to show that this time has been spent well. 21:39 It's kind of almost like an evangelists role. 21:46 You know—for a product or a service. 21:48 It's where the company itself has to understand and realize the value of it, 21:50 because it's going to be really hard to prove in a quantitative way. 21:57 But to know that if you have somebody who's out there, 22:01 who is present, who is representing that brand, representing that product 22:05 that is—because part of this, at least if I make it more personal, 22:11 part of this was trying to speak at different conferences. 22:17 And trying to get in front of different people. 22:21 I guess what I'm saying is if you wanted to quantify it— 22:25 if I really wanted to bring it back down to a person or a team doing this, 22:29 you would have to tie together the things you're doing online. 22:34 And so the sharing you're doing, the finding out who you're targeting, 22:39 and then seeing if they're actually sharing. 22:44 And if they are sharing, and you are getting referrals from their sites, their accounts, 22:46 are they converting? 22:52 So that's pretty complicated, but that's the way I would actually approach it 22:54 if I was going to try to quantify it. 22:57 I would focus on the things that I can measure. 22:59 And I things I can measure are, like I said, from a CRM component— 23:01 Who am I targeting? 23:06 Did I ever get that link, was that link ever built from them, from that site? 23:08 And then, are they talking about me? 23:12 Are those people talking about me? 23:15 If a company knows that you're the only person who's doing that, 23:17 and once you started doing that they started to see a rise in people talking about you online, 23:22 you started to see a rise in site traffic, 23:28 you started to see a rise in conversions, 23:30 then that might be a way that you could show your impact. 23:32 [male participant] You know we're big fans of Raven, obviously, 23:42 I'm super curious, this is personal but also—I hope—valuable for the audience here. 23:48 Can you tell us anything that you guys put in your toolset? 23:53 Because I don't constantly pay as much attention as I should to the specific elements. 23:57 I'm really curious, like, what in the last 12 months have you guys put into the toolset 24:03 and seen very positive response, like people are very excited about this, 24:06 they're very passionate about it, you didn't expect it maybe. 24:11 We get this occasionally, and I'm just curious what other companies put in their software 24:13 that gets people excited. 24:18 [Jon Henshaw] We're always constantly trying to improve everything. 24:20 I would say the big thing for us, which is why I wanted to sort of highlight it in here, 24:24 because I thought it was related was the CRM. 24:28 I mean, it is the CRM. 24:32 So for us it used to be that it was all about hardcore , as quickly as you can get the links, type of link building. 24:34 And so just having a way to keep track of that 24:45 and having a way to monitor that 24:48 was kind of all you needed. 24:50 And so where we see everything going—less and less of that is as effective. 24:52 And it's really going towards having the right relationships with people, and sites, and so on online. 25:00 That's why for us we started going down that road. 25:08 Because it was like, "This is really going to be all about who you know 25:12 "or who you're trying to get to know." 25:16 And then what we've done, the thing that people get excited about, 25:19 which was all intentional, 25:22 are data relationships. 25:24 So for example, the CRM was designed for the person who is very PR oriented 25:26 to stay in the CRM, but they could still do link building. 25:31 They could still do social things, for example, I can go into, like Lisa Myers is the example I gave up there. 25:35 She has Twitter tab on there. 25:40 If I click on the Twitter tab, then I don't have to leave the contact record. 25:42 I'm in Lisa Myers contact record, I click on Twitter, and I can see everything. 25:46 I can see her whole timeline and I have full Twitter functionality inside that contact record. 25:50 To me, that's pretty exciting and powerful. 25:54 But other people are not oriented that way. 25:56 Instead, they're very link oriented. 26:01 So what we've done over with the link manager is we have a contact tab. 26:03 Well that contact tab pulls in any contact you want to add or associate from the CRM. 26:07 So everything's talking to each other. 26:13 So that's the biggest thing we've done in the last 12 months— 26:15 is introduce the CRM and make everything talk to each other, 26:18 so that people get to work in the space they feel most comfortable in, 26:21 but they kind of do the same thing. 26:26 Thanks for giving me the opportunity to say that. 26:28 Thank you. 26:31
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