Writing testimonials for a product or service you find useful can sometimes be a unique way to get some high quality, one-way backlinks to your site. Getting automatic backlinks from the tools in IMAutomator are great, but that should not be your only source of backlinks. To have a well-rounded and effective link profile you need to build a wide range of backlinks from as many different sources as possible, and sometimes you have to think a little outside the box.
5 steps to getting one-way backlinks from testimonials
Writing a proper testimonial takes time so before you begin, you want to pick and choose your targets carefully and ensure you find ones that are worth your time. For any product / service you wish to target (I’ll cover brainstorming them later) you first need to evaluate the page on which the testimonials are likely to be placed.
1) Locate the page containing the testimonials.
first look for a dedicated testimonials page which you find for many companies. This is in fact the method that IMAutomator uses to display our testimonials. If there doesn’t appear to be a dedicated page, look on the main sales page and you’ll often find them sprinkled throughout. Lastly try the home page. If you don’t find anywhere that lists a testimonial then move on as you’d have to specifically contact the site owner and ask him to create a space for it which extra effort both for you and for the site owner and is much less likely to result in a link.
2) Check the Page Rank of the target page
Now that you have found the page, check it’s pagerank. I use browser plugins for both Chrome and Firefox that automatically show the PR (and some other data) for every page I visit as I browse – extremely useful. If you look at the IMAutomator testimonial page you’ll notice that it has a PR3! You can choose what your criteria is obviously. In some cases you may find that a site has testimonials on several pages – on a dedicated page, on a sales page and maybe a few select ones on the home page too. Check them all and see which has the highest PR.
3) Check for backlinks associated with testimonials
Next you want to look through the existing testimonials and see whether or not they have a link. Of course not all testimonials have links as many people write them and never even think to include their link but if there are no links at all then it might be that this particular site simply doesn’t want to include them. Personally I think that is an error as a testimonial with an accompanying link shows the reader that it has come from a live site, a real person which makes it instantly more trust worthy.
4) Check for nofollow links
Next, check to see if the outgoing links are followed or not. Again, I use plugins for both Chrome and Firefox to automatically highlight nofollow links as I browse the web so that this doesn’t take any time. You can then see at a glance which links are followed or not. If the links are no-follow then a backlink from your testimonial is not going to provide you with any link juice so you should move on unless you think the site is so popular that a good testimonial could actually provide you with some direct traffic.
5) Count the outbound links
Lastly, take a quick look at how many outgoing links there are on the page. Pagerank is divided up among the outgoing links on a page so if it already has 100+ links on it then you can still get some link juice but its going to be a lot less than a page that only has a handful of links. Our own page is PR3, do-follow and currently has 34 outgoing links which I check regularly. I remove any testimonials from sites that are no longer live.
Crafting a worthwhile testimonial that gets the link
As somebody who both receives testimonials and has written them for other products I have a fairly good idea about what makes a GOOD one. Here are the key points:
- Make it positive, but realistic. You want to praise the product of course or your testimonial won’t be featured but don’t go overboard as that can sound fake, and don’t be afraid to mention a shortcoming or something that can be improved. That looks like a genuine comment from somebody who has actually used the product, which is exactly what you want!
- Address the testimonial to others, not to the author / site owner. Many people write to me personally singing the praises of IMAutomator which is lovely, but I can’t really print that on the testimonials page as it doesn’t read well to other people. Write it as if you are telling a group of random people about your experience.
- Don’t mention pricing / versions or anything else that could go out of date and render your testimonial irrelevant. When we moved from our Light / Pro versions to the new tiered membership I went through all of the existing testimonials and deleted any of them that referred to the Light or Pro versions as they were no longer available. I also removed any that mentioned a specific price point as the pricing had changed across the board. You want your link to stick long-term, so make it timeless.
- Include your full name, your company or website name and of course your backlink. Sometimes I get a great testimonial from someone who simply addresses himself as ‘Rick’ or something similar. It simply does not look genuine. I do actually include a few of them on our page but not very often. The more information you can provide about yourself to verify that you are a real person, the better.
- Construct your backlink to be in line with others on the page – if the only backlinks from other testimonials are links to the home pages of sites and only have company / website names as the anchor text then don’t try and submit a keyword-rich backlink to some deep page on your site as it simply won’t get accepted. On the other hand, if other people have used keywords as anchor text then go ahead!
- Create the full HTML code for the link in most cases. There are exceptions to this. If the site uses a special format for their testimonials then they are going to format yours in the same way so it might be easier to just include the URL. However if they appear to be just pasted in from email then including the full HTML makes it a no-brainer for the site owner to include yours.
- Make a good first impression. This may sound like strange advice considering that you are providing the favour to the company who’s product / service you are reviewing but remember that your goal here is to get a backlink and you want the highest placement you can get. If there are several testimonials on the page as there undoubtedly will be, you want yours to be as close to the top of the page as possible. Links higher up the page carry more link juice and there is more chance of somebody actually clicking your link. So, write a good testimonial!
Brainstorming targets to write testimonials for
Okay you have the strategy but now you need to find companies that will actually accept your testimonial. So lets look at a few ideas:
- Online tools & software – we use software all the time, whether its a piece of software you downloaded or an online tool. Look through the software on your computer and look through your browser bookmarks. Make a list of all the software you use – I bet there’s more than you realise!
- Sites & blogs – Your testimonial doesn’t necessarily have to be for an actual product or service. You can also give somebody a testimonial for their content alone and this is especially relevant for blogs. However be careful here as not many blogs actually feature testimonials. If you read a particularly high PR one though this could be the exception to the rule I mentioned in step 1 where I said to filter out any site that does not currently have testimonials.
- Offline services – Got a gardener? Does he have a website? Many local services in particular really value testimonials as they are very important to their trade. It might not be as easy to get a link from your dishwasher manufacturer but you can always try!
A closing note on relevancy
One last point to consider when using this strategy – many of the companies that you approach to place your testimonial will not be in the same industry as your own website so the relevancy will be lowered. Google prefers high relevancy so if you have a website about dogs then try to think of all the dog related products & services you have used first before moving onto other things.