This week Distilled released the Ultimate Guide to Linkbait , by none other than 17-year-old Ed Fry. As incredible as this guide is (and you should read it. Twice.), today I'd like to go into a few more ways to scale linkbuilding , using only Google Docs. While I highly recommend link CRM tools like Buzzstream and other tools like WordStream, I also recognize that not everyone can afford such tools. So let's explore some ways to bootstrap your way to scaling linkbuilding.
Are you working on a team to build links for a specific client? First off, I highly recommend this, yet it brings its own challenges. Most of us in SEO are lone rangers, as in we like to work on our own and get things done. If you are working on a team, however, Google Docs is amazing for shared documents.
Here are a few ways to scale link prospecting and outreach email writing in Google Docs:
1) Create a template to organize your efforts
When prospecting and finding many more prospects than you know will link to you (typical response in my experience has been around 10%), you must organize these prospects. Using the Google Doc template linked to below, you can put in the site metrics and create a long list. Off of this, assign link prospects and get to work. When a prospect responds, put a "Y" into the "Responded?" column so that they are tranferred to another worksheet for future contacting.
Here's the Google doc (it is read-only, so make a copy and customize as needed).
2) Write email templates together
Coworkers and I used to get into a Google Doc together and go to town on some outreach email templates for linkbuilding campaigns we were running. Within 20 minutes, we could have some awesome email templates created and edited. You can leave comments on the document for others to read and resolve later by going to Comments -> Show Comment Stream.
I wish I had a video to show you the beauty of watching the different colored cursors running around the screen, slicing and dicing, editing and sculpting beautiful emails to be sent. I don't.
I do, however, have a list of a few more features of Google Docs that will make your collaborative Google Docs life easier:
- Group chat. When your document collaborators are also viewing the document, you will see the number of other viewers in the upper right corner of the document. When you click this text, the chat box drops down on the right side. It's instant communication magic.
- Grant bosses read-only (or full) access. Some bosses will want to be able to view the documents before they are live. This is a great way to allow them to do so.
3) Use the ImportXML functionality
Have you found content creators in your niche who have curated large lists of sites on their blogs? Why not take these sites, which are hopefully related to your own niche, and create relationships with and content for them? By using ImportXML, you can quickly scale the number of prospects you are finding, without needing to click through long blogroll lists or dig through piles of backlinks unnecessarily (though the data geeks like me will want to do this anyways!)
Better yet, teach your team to use ImportXML  and see if they would be willing to partake in an incentivized competition to see who can find and qualify the most link prospects in a certain amount of time. Provide parameters for type of link (blogroll, social mention, etc), text of link (exact anchor or branded), and domain authority range. Set up each employee with their own Google Doc and let them go.
Have you found other uses for Google Docs for scaling linkbuilding? We would love to hear your ideas!
About the author: John Doherty is an SEO Consultant at Distilled NYC, where they are running an advanced search marketing conference at the end of October. He loves the technical side of SEO and would live in rel canonicals, meta noindex tags, and Google Analytics all day if possible. In his limited spare time he skis way too fast, climbs cliffs that are too tall, and travels to foreign lands while shooting photography.