Recently their has been some negative sentiment in the market for link building. Many people claim link building is dead, many claim it has no value. Well any one who is generating results on a weekly basis knows that link building is still key. I decided to reach out to a few respected names in the link building, affiliate marketing and SEO community to see what their top actionable link building tips were in around 200-300 words, the result is a fantastic resource of link building information.
Put in the time to find a ‘content hole;’ an opportunity to create a piece of foundation content that can be used as a reference point from which to build other arguments. Try to find something sustainable that will not become dated for at least 12 to 18 months.
Aggregate the other pieces of content that already exist that surround the content hole, and reach out to people who have shared and commented on that content. Ask them what it was about it they liked, what they didn’t, and where it could be better. If the conversation is going well, I would also ask them what kinds of content they are currently looking for that would help them with their own efforts, wither informational or content-based.
Put in the work, Do the research, Create graphics, and produce a piece of content that you yourself would be proud to link to even if it wasn’t your own.
Follow up with your contacts from step 2 and let them know where your content is and ask for feedback. Once you have the feedback, implement it. So many people get real peer feedback and never do anything with it, making it relatively useless.
If you create content that others can use as a citation to strengthen their argument for a process, a strategy, or an idea, you will get links. I promise.
A tip that has always worked well for me is to not necessarily just focus around ‘building links’. Most of the best links that I’ve built for clients have come as a result of other online/offline marketing activities. Of course, you will always have your bread and butter link building activities that drive back links to your website, for example, guest blogging, broken link building, partner websites, etc, but here is one strategy that I have used to great effect in the past:
I recently worked with a growing UK restaurant chain that wanted to build their social media following and dramatically increase engagement with their brand. With this in mind, we put together some exciting campaigns that ran on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. One in particular was a competition that enabled a family of four to eat for free at the restaurant for a whole year. I set up the competition on the brand’s website with a Punch Tab widget, which meant that a user could gain multiple entries into the competition if they ‘liked’ the FB page, tweeted a custom message that we set up and also visited the page on the website.
Once the page was setup, I got in touch with a number of different voucher websites and local food blogs to let them know about the giveaway. I then offered to throw in extra smaller voucher prizes for runners up on their sites. This resulted in a multitude of links coming back to the page on the website, all of which were from niche-relevant UK sites. On top of this we had 10,160 entries over 3 weeks, an extra 3,000 Facebook followers, over 1,000 tweets and a huge spike in traffic to the site – great result!
This is quite a niche-specific strategy but if you have a client that operates within a consumer services industry then it is likely that this can be shaped to their business. Try it out and see what result you get.”
My top link building tip would be to focus on creating evergreen content assets that are useful, actionable, comprehensive, and can basically solve frequently asked questions in your space, as this is the most realistic approach to scale link building.
Aside from this content type’s nature to attract voluntary links and social shares over time (especially when they’re already getting constant traffic through search and other referring sources), the period of time for you to promote and build links to them is limitless (as long as the information and the ideas they provide remain relevant and useful).
Find communities on the web that have a lot of link juice, and target them with some of your content. I’ll give you an example. There’s a large community of environmental/green sites & webpages on the Web. If you were one of many of those mobile phone comparison affiliate sites, then you could easily whip up a creative piece on mobile phone recycling. It’s both highly relevant, and it’ll net you some very authoritative links.
But think outside of that community. There’s a ton of political blogs, so figure out how you could give a political twist on your products or services. There’s also a lot of frugal blogs, education communities, support groups, etc.
Yes, this is more so a linkbait type tip, but it can work like a charm when done right.
Take time to research your topic and branch out into semantically relevant sub-topics. I often use Google Suggest (instant) as a device for topical exploration. Identify the top hubs and observe the type of content they chose to link to. Create the content of the same style and quality and then tell them about it. It helps if you include opinions and interviews from significant people in the industry as they can potentially share the content they’ve contributed to to their own (likely large) social network.
Think of ways that you can do broken link building for links that aren’t actually broken. For example, a certain large SEO site just changed their site’s name….which means the old URLs were still being used by thousands of sites. I contacted all of the sites still linking to the old URLs and gave them the new ones. Got a nice .edu backlink from that campaign.
Don’t sleep on your content’s design. Remember: when you do email outreach, you’re usually emailing busy people. And they will judge your content based on the design MORE than the content itself. Don’t be afraid to drop some cash to get a pro designer to make your pillar content look nice and professional. For example, I recently spent $300 on design for a curated link building guide. The page got A LOT of buzz and was actually featured on the Moz Top 10 –which brought in over 3k unique visitors. I don’t think I could have gotten something about link building featured on the Moz Top 10 unless the design was stellar. And outreach is a breeze with that guide because when people see it they INSTANTLY think: “this is cool”.
Use Google+ for guest post link prospecting. Find a few of your competitors that are active in Google plus and take a look at the “Contributor to” area of their Google+ profile. I recently found a G+ profile in the internet marketing niche that linked to FIFTY sites. I’d say 60% of them wouldn’t have shown up during the typical “keyword” + “write for us” type of search.
1) Improve old Links: Perform a Backlink Audit on your clients website. Isolate low PA10-19 & PA20-29 page links and build links to those pages to increase their pages value. This will increase the value of the existing link to your page.
2) Widgets: To get links from your affiliates utilize widgets that incorporated a carousel of content that is pushed via xml feed. Make sure that the link is out of the iframe. If you need help in creating and promoting your widgets give WidgetBox.com a try.
3) Asking a celebrity look-a-like to endorse your product or doing a product review while you perform prank on him. Video should be hosted on your blog and should include all out-takes of the things that went wrong.
Communities, Blogs & Forums
Monitoring keywords and brand names on blogs, forums and in social media will create opportunities to engage in the conversation. Leave links which add value to the conversation and are prudent. There’s a fine line between adding value and spamming. If the line is crossed or traversed, members of the community will communicate their displeasure.
Many charities and non-profits will include a link to a donor’s website. Depending on the page rank of the charity’s website the link can be a really good added bonus in addition to feeling good about contributing to a positive cause.
Buying an Existing Website
If a company or organization is just getting started with a new website project they should consider buying an existing website that relates to the products or services being offered and already has thousands of backlinks.
Broken Link Building
Once a competitor’s inbound links are inventoried find out which links point to broken pages (404 page errors), contact the webmaster of the website and offer up an equivalent page to link to. This is a win/win for both parties. A popular tool for broken link building is Screaming Frog.
(Example: If a website links to a widget manufacturer, the link is broke and you manufacture widgets too, then let the website know they can link to your website instead)
Producing content that is quality to the industry you are in. People always mention “quality” but never describe what that means. It’s a subjective term relative to the industry. For example, produce content with helpful data, tips, and graphs and include humour (if appropriate) or another form of emotion as emotions usually provoke actions such as re-tweeting, liking, linking, pinning etc.
After you have produced your content, find relevant websites which are talking about something similar, touch base with the owner and show how his/her page would benefit linking to yours. Example – “tips on how to save $$$ on your gas bill?” – find relevant blogs, comment on the article and mention your new content there also and how it will help them by providing more information for their users…
Find suppliers, partners that you could link too. A client of mine has over 1000 suppliers all with relevant websites which I am trying to target at least 10% of them for links.
If your client is e-commerce, build an affiliate network by creating the aff URL’s something which would help your link profile. An example I personally would avoid is – “aff.mysite.com.au?linkout=www.affiliatesite.com”
Creating a good backlink profile is no a rocket science but yes, it needs time. I prefer two things for link building 1. Helping others, 2. Sharing knowledge.
I’d like to discuss some basic tips for link building in the modern SEO world:
Slide Share: Create one slide weekly, but make sure you have done all market research and analysis on the topic you have chosen. Now spread it on Facebook and LinkedIn.
PRO tip: Research educational topics in your niche that are not only beneficial for businesses, but can also prove as a resource for students and teachers. E-mail faculty of different universities and spread the word. Getting backlinks from .edu domains will increase your website’s credibility and earn you ample link juice.
Infographics: It’s easier than ever before to create infographics with infogram, pickchart or visual.ly. Weekly, create one infographic and reach out to influencers who can write a blog post on that infographic. 95% of them will share a backlink to your website as a credit. This means extra visits to your website!
Language Translations: This one requires a lot of effort but works wonders. Reach out to different institutes or universities (phone calls or emails – take your pick) and offer to translate their whole website into a different language. This tactic will give you highly authentic links.
Pro Tip: All you need is a little script which will change the whole website language in a jiffy so no need to get scared about how this would work out.
Local Business Profiles: Curate local business profiles with your company’s address. This will also help you manage brand reputation and of course, earn you more SEO juice. SEO Consultant at setalks, Moosa Hemani wrote a detailed post on this here: http://bit.ly/12FzPB8
Guest Posting: This is a more commonly understood concept. A lot of people have been writing about guest posts and. I would like to add though that when you’re writing for other blogs, look for relevant sites only that attract traffic similar to your target audience. Also, check the authority of the website so you know you’re reaching out to quality readers.
Ego-bait: Best of Lists & Interviews
I’ve had great results getting links and social shares with lists and interviews – people love to share content they’ve been featured in!
(The irony of this post being ego-bait is not lost on me, and yes, I will link to it!)
Here’s an example;
A hobby site of mine, a blog in a commercial art niche with lots of products and many artists, all hungry for attention and sales. Each month I create a ‘best of’ list that features the 20 best new designs of the month. I then contact the featured artists and give them the heads-up. Approximately 70% of the time the artist will share the post on social media, and it’s not uncommon to also get a link back from their websites.
Many of these artists have large social media followings, so the site gets a nice bump in traffic, some new followers, as well as the benefit of getting those sweet, sweet links.
This also works with Interviews, with the added bonus that the interviewee is generating great content for you via their answers. You may not get as many people promoting the post compared to a list, but if the interviewee has a decent social following and an authority website, it’s still definitely worth your effort.
From a link building point of view some of the best wins have been when we have created a content piece which is unrivaled by the competition. When I use to lead Virgin Mobiles SEO efforts we built a drunk dialing app and website aimed at stopping people messaging when they were drinking, this viral content piece generated 100’s of root domain links. I have also had success in interviewing some one different which no one else has really interviewed in the past when I interviewed the ex member of Matt Cutt’s search team, these are two examples of unrivaled content pieces. This generated 100’s of links.
If you do not have time to do something like this one of the oldest tricks in the link building book is competitive research to locate links. A tip for finding qualified guest post opportunities is to look at say 6 competitors from your niche, download all their link profiles from majestic SEO and make one CSV file, with this CSV file then filter out keywords such as “guest-post”, “/blog/” ect, and you will easily be able to pick up guest posts links which are actually working. You can do the same with Infographic seeding, if you find an infographic in your niche which has done really well from social shares, work out who is linking to it, work out who is sharing it and then you launch your infographic contact the same people who linked to the old inforgraphic and who shared it.
Overall these are some fantastic examples of actionable link building. I thank every one who contributed to the post above. If you have any additional tips please be sure to share them in the comments below, further to this please be sure to up vote this article on inbound.org and also be sure share it below.