In February you were contacted by Clem who has recently bought a hotel in Coeur d’Alene, North Idaho. He wanted a new website and great SEO. Thanks to your advice, he has chosen a new name for the hotel. It is now “The Romantic B&B Hotel.” He fully expects to rank for searches on this new name, but he also expects you to rank his new site for competitive searches such as “Bed and breakfast Coeur d’Alene,” “Boutique Hotel Coeur d’Alene” and “Wedding venues Coeur d’Alene”.
Although these keywords can be added to the website, you feel that you will also need a lot of links to rank for these queries in Google. You are therefore planning a link building campaign for the launch of the new hotel’s website.
Why you need links?
In terms of SEO, your interest in earning links from other sites is to improve your Page Rank which is a factor in Google’s algorithm. Getting links from pages that have a good Page Rank is important, but it is also important that links come from pages that are relevant to your business. Sites about Hotels, Coeur d’Alene and Weddings would be good ideas for The Romantic B&B Hotel.
Because Google is not the only source of traffic for your website, it is also worth considering links as potential sources of traffic rather than sources of Page Rank. When considering contacting a site to ask for a link, ask yourself how many daily visitors that site has.
Starting a link building campaign
It is a good idea to think of your efforts to obtain links as distinct “campaigns”. The first campaign will be to create links to the hotel’s website as soon as it is launched. You should start preparing this campaign well before the expected launch date.
For any new site you should ask yourself “Who would want to link to this website?” In the case of a local business like a hotel, there are a lot of other websites who are interested in featuring a new business simply because their ambition is to provide an exhaustive list of hotels in Coeur d’Alene.
Clem wants to develop the hotel as a wedding venue as a way of getting large bookings and generating extra revenue beyond room rentals. There may be sites specialized in listing this type of business too.
However, to give you a competitive advantage over other hotels and wedding venues in Coeur d’Alene, you may also want to create content that will earn you links from relevant websites that other businesses may not get.
The best practice for a campaign is to search and list link candidates first. When the site is launched you can go through the sites you have listed and either create links yourself or contact website owners to ask them to add a backlink.
Tools exist for searching and listing link candidates, but we will assume that you are on a low budget and want to use a low-tech solution like Google Sheets to help organize your campaign.
You can start by creating a worksheet with the following columns:
- Date Contacted
- Link Confirmed
Searching for candidates
Let us start the list of link candidates very simply by searching Google for the keywords you will be targeting. Some of the top sites will be great candidates for link building.
For example, search “Bed and breakfast Coeur d’Alene” in Google. The first thing you will notice is the prominent place Google Hotel Search takes on the results. You can include Google Hotel Search as a link candidate as well as Google My Business. In the Type column, you can put “Directory” for these two sites.
Now look at the organic search results on the page one by one and visit each of the pages ranked for your query.
The first result is a page on Tripadvisor.com, add the page URL and the site’s home page to the spreadsheet and set the type to “Directory” for this site. In the contact column, we can either note the email of the site owner or, in the case of a directory the URL that allows you to add an address. After searching on the site, you will find this page: https://www.tripadvisor.com/GetListedAccommodation.
The second result is a page from coeurdalene.org, the official Convention and Visitor Bureau of Coeur d’Alene. You can set the type of site to “Organization” and note the contact details such as the email address but also the telephone number.
Next in the search results are pages from other bed and breakfast hotels therooseveltinn.com and blackwellboutiquehotel.com. You can add these sites as “Competitors” but there is no need to add contact details. A list of competitors will help you perform research into their backlinks.
You will find other directories, kayak.com, bnbfinder.com, travelocity.com and yelp.com. You can list these sites as candidates for links too. You may notice on these preliminary visits that some sites charge a fee to be listed or add a link. At some point you need to have a discussion with Clem about how much he is prepared to pay to be listed in directories.
There is also an organization called the Northern Indiana Bed & Breakfast Association https://www.nibba.com/ that looks like it may be interesting for Clem to join. Visiting this site, we also discover 2 other official websites https://visitnorthidaho.com/ and https://visitidaho.org/ that you can add to the list.
At this stage the spreadsheet is starting to fill up.
Continue your searches in Google to get more link candidate ideas with searches such as “Boutique Hotel Coeur d’Alene”, “Wedding venues Coeur d’Alene” and even just “Coeur d’Alene.”
To carry out link research on competitor sites, you can use dedicated tools such as the AHREF Backlink Checker, but you can also just search for the competitor’s domain name in Google.
After a few hours of searching, you should have over a hundred link ideas. It is well worth spending a whole day searching for links like this.
The different types of link candidates you may find are:
You can use filters in your spreadsheet to list sites by type.
Outreach and self-service links
Complete the list with your own ideas and ask Clem if he knows people he can ask for a link. For example, suppliers who are currently working on refurbishing the hotel.
You may not need to contact all the candidates on the list. Having the list will allow you to assess priorities by types of site.
Directory sites are a good example of self-service links where you are likely to be able to create a link just by filling out a form on the directory’s web site. In other cases, you will need to reach out to people by email or phone to ask for a link. This process is called outreach. See our full article on how to run link building campaigns for more details.
Different approaches will be appropriate for different types of website. It is worth involving Clem as the hotel owner in the process of contacting sites such as official organizations as he may already know people in these organizations.
For every site contacted, fill in the Date Contacted column of the spreadsheet.
Using SEOPress Insights to track backlinks
Before launching Clem’s site, do not forget to install SEOPress Insights. As well as tracking keywords, this tool will also find and report on any new backlinks that are found to your website. This will allow you to come back to the spreadsheet and fill in the “Link Confirmed” column.
Use the notes column to add any extra information about the site or the contacts you have with the site owners.
Maintaining the list over time
The list of candidates you produce will be a valuable asset for The Romantic B&B Hotel. First of all, for getting links when the site launches, but later if Clem wants to reach out to other sites to announce an event or new content on his website.
Imagine that the hotel is organizing a Wedding Dress Fashion Show for later in the year. This is a great link building opportunity and should lead to a link building campaign. You can duplicate the list of candidates you produced for the launch, keeping the types such as Blog, Organization, etc. and contact them with information about the show and a link to a dedicated page on the website.
It needs time to find links, but it should be time well spent when the Page Rank and traffic those links obtain help generate hundreds of reservations! Again, don’t underestimate the time that this takes and make sure that Clem is paying for your time and is available to participate in the campaigns.