Unlinked Mentions – How to Get Backlinks You’ve ALREADY Earned

Link Reclamation - How to Get Backlinks You've ALREADY Earned

Welcome back to Smash Digital’s weekly content series, where we give you actionable SEO strategies and tips that you can implement today and start seeing results.

One of the main things that makes link building so difficult is the fact that we don’t have a reason to do things for strangers.

Yet that’s the approach that most link building strategies require…

Try walking up to a stranger, asking for $20 and saying “you’d really be helping me out”.

Just like with link building, you’ll have some success but it’s going to take a whole lot of time and you’ll see a bunch of rejection.

Today I’m going to show you how to score links from people that already know you.

Time to learn: 10 minutes

Impact (1-10): 7

Tools required: Ahrefs

Tools suggested: None

Now, let’s get to it…

Who’s Already Talking About You?

As an SEO geek I probably pay more attention to links on pages than the content itself.

But not everyone is like us.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

There’s a ton of website owners and content creators who will write articles about your company, mention you or your products, and never include a link back to your site.

What gives?!

We call these unlinked mentions. And because these companies trust/like you enough to mention your company, this is one of the highest converting link building strategies you can use.

All you’ve got to do is find the contact information of who wrote that article or someone who will be able to edit it, and politely ask them to include a link.

This strategy definitely isn’t for everyone – if you’re just starting out and haven’t done much marketing, there won’t be a ton of content out there about your company.

But for those who have been around for a while, this strategy is one of the most effective ones out there.

If your company is new(ish) – don’t panic!

I’m going to show you a different spin on this strategy that ANYONE can implement and I think you’re going to like it.

How to Find Unlinked Mentions

If you’ve ready any of our previous guides, it won’t surprise you that we’re going to need Ahrefs for this.

We’re going to start off by heading to the Content Explorer, searching for your brand in quotes, and excluding your own domain.

I’m going to use MailChimp as an example so I would type in: “MailChimp” -site:mailchimp.com

We’re also going to set a few filters to limit the amount of search results:

  • Only show sites in English
  • Live sites only
  • DR25+ (exclude spam sites)
  • Highlight unlinked domains for MailChimp.com

how to find unlinked mentions using ahrefs

Immediately, we’re presented with over 800 pages that mention MailChimp and the ones that haven’t linked to the site are conveniently highlighted for us.

While that’s plenty to keep you busy, help you score some Smashing links, and boost your rankings – you can take it up a notch.

People don’t exclusively talk about your company and refer to it by name.

You can repeat this search with :

  • Variations of your brand name – (Smash Digital, SmashDigital. SmashDigital.com)
  • Different products/features you have – (Macbook, /iPhone. iPod, Airpods)
  • Your various team members – (founder, CEO, marketing/PR people, engineers, etc)
  • Terms you’ve coined in the industry – (SmashLinks, skyscraper strategy, bucket brigades, etc)

I know you guys are creative as hell so if you have any other angles that come to mind, shoot me an email and share 🙂

If you don’t have Ahrefs, you can also use this strategy by using Google to search for:
intext:”Smash Digital” -site:smashdigital.com

The issue here is that you’re going to get an insane amount of results and have very little context on them in terms of SEO value and whether they already link to you or not.

What Should I Be Emailing to Them?

I know, I know. You want a template to copy and paste.

Well, I’m not going to give you one as that’s a fast-track for both of us to end up in the spam folders.

But luckily for you, this approach literally doesn’t have any kind of magic formula to it.

You can still follow the best practices from our outreach link building guide but…

In the vast majority of cases you’ll find that it actually would make sense to link to your site in these mentions, simply because it’d make the content more useful for the readers.

Keep it simple, be honest, and be friendly.

The only real tip I can give you beyond that is to try and add some value to the article or the site owner.

You could correct a fact that they got wrong about the article, provide some additional context or a quote, mention something else that may be incorrect or outdated on their page, etc.

Piggybacking Off Your Competitors

Stealing competitors backlinks should already be a part of your link building strategy but you can take advantage of the strategy above as well.

Do a search for unlinked mentions of all of your competitors, their products, team members, and coined terms.

I’m confident that you’ve got a better product than many of your competitors so if they are getting mentioned, why wouldn’t the author also add a superior product to the page when asked? 🙂

Because these people probably won’t be familiar with you, you’ll want to refer back to our outreach link building guide when it comes to crafting your pitch.

What makes this strategy slightly more effective than just stealing your competitors backlinks is that there is less competition.

If you’re in a competitive market, your competitors are also trying to steal each-others links, which means the editors have already seen at least a few of these pitches.

Unlinked mentions tend to fly under the radar and get a little bit less spam 🙂

Start Tracking Mentions Real-Time

I’m sure you’ve already got your hands full with all of the opportunities you’ve found from the methods outlined above…

To avoid these massive campaigns in the future and increase your chances even further, you want to start tracking mentions of your company, products, and competitors ongoingly.

This means that any time someone mentions you or your competitors on the web, you’ll hear about it.

Why does this make things more efficient? Two reasons.

Firstly, I’m going to care a whole lot more about an article I published last week than something that I wrote years ago. I’m more likely to know exactly what you’re talking about, I know I’m going to keep promoting that article as it’s still in early stages, and thus I’m more likely to make your edit.

Secondly, if you hear about my article right after I publish it, I’m going to assume you’re a regular reader or subscriber and give you a little bit more credit.

So how do you do this?

We use a combination of two tools to get the best overview of what’s going on.

Ahrefs Alerts is by far the most effective tool for this task and they handle it from two angles.

You’ll want to set up “Mention” tracking for all of your brand variations, product names, and team. Then you can configure them to send you an email with the overview either daily or weekly.

setting up mention tracking in ahresf - google alerts alternative

Secondly, you can set up alerts on all of the new backlinks your own site as well as your competitors have gained.

This is an amazing way to keep track of various marketing and SEO campaigns that have been a success for you, while also gathering intel on what your competitors are doing.

Google Alerts used to be the go-to for this, many many years ago, but they’ve slipped hard. It’s similar to using Google to find unlinked mentions in the first place… It works but you’ll have a lot of crap to filter through.

I like to set them up anyway as sometimes we find things Ahrefs doesn’t catch and it doesn’t take all that much time to go through the garbage.

Bonus Tip: Reverse Image Search

While unlinked mentions in content are quite common for a number of reasons, image plagiarism is even more rampant.

As an SEO you’ve probably created a ton of amazing content for your brand and hopefully created custom illustrations and images to go along with that.

Using Google’s image search or even better, the TinEye Reverse Image Search tool, you can find every single instance of an image on the web.

In the click of a button, you get a full list of everyone who’s ever used any of your images – whether your logo, a photo, illustration, or infographic.

Copyright laws are strict and getting an email from someone saying you’ve used their intellectual property tends to give people a scare.

In spite of that, I’d encourage you to keep your emails friendly and simple when getting these links.

“Hey Mike,

I stumbled on your post about on-page SEO and am honored that you’ve decided to include our infographic in there.

I wanted to reach out and see if you could please add a link to our original post with the infographic as credit?

Thanks ahead!

Best regards,
Travis”

Simple, yet highly effective.

Wrapping Up

This is probably one of the most casual link building strategies out there. It’s nice not to have to hard-sell anything or beg for attention.

Beyond the links attained, it’s also a great way to deepen some industry relationships.

Give it a try and I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results.

That’s all from me. I’ll see you next week with yet another actionable SEO tip.

Let’s Smash it!

Advanced Link Building - Link Reclamation & 3 Other Tips
How to Score Backlinks from the Media (The Easy Way)

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Karl Kangur

Karl Kangur

When being a chess prodigy turned out to be too demanding, Karl converted to being a marketing nerd. He loves to theorycraft and when he starts talking about SEO, he can't stop.
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