Posted by kaiserthesage
Link building/earning is essential in online marketing, and not just because it improves your SEO. It also helps a website be discovered (click-through visitors), generate leads, connect with other publishers (relationships), and build a stronger online brand presence.
Although establishing yourself as an authority to eventually earn links throughout the process is what search engines naturally want websites/brands to do, you still can’t disregard artificial link building (link marketing).
Link marketing is an initiative that should also be strongly considered, as this practice makes a brand more well known in its online spaceâ€”and sets it up to genuinely earn links in the future.
The tactics listed in this post are from the 4-part newsletter series that I launched a couple of weeks ago. Below are the guidelines covered by the series, mostly about implementing some of the most scalable link-building tactics today. These can be used by agencies, SMBs and enterprise-level companies.
#1: Create your own database of premium images and cinemagraphs
This can be a good investment for agencies and/or companies who’re in for the long-haul (targeting specific niches).
Though this tactic may require a budget (as you’ll need to invest in hiring a professional photographer or graphic artist), this can certainly improve your link-building campaign through link attribution from bloggers who’ll use your premium images.
Once you have set up your own private gallery of rich images, you can then start making a list of bloggers that you can reach out to (in your specific niche). There are tons of bloggers who are in need of unique images that they can use, so having this as your value proposition (offering the images for free or giving them access to your private gallery) will increase your pitches’ conversion rate.
Another strategy that you can integrate to scale this type of link building approach is using reverse image searchâ€”in case other bloggers start using your images without permission/attribution. You can use tools such as Google’s image search and Tineye to track blogs/websites that have used your images.
Other helpful resources:
#2: Outdated content acquisition
There are millions of pieces of content on the web, and many of them aren’t timelessâ€”and many are also under-maintained.
This clearly brings a lot of opportunities for link building, wherein you can search through hundreds of outdated pieces of content in your industry that have managed to get natural links in the past (or successful link bait with time-sensitive information) and try acquiring the content.
You can use Greenlane SEO’s Outdated Content Finder tool to find under-maintained content that you can still repurpose or recreate.
Contact the blog owner(s) and see if you can purchase the old page, and have it redirected to your new version of the page hosted within your domain (with updated information about the topic).
Pro tip: Tell them that you’ll still give them credit as the original creator (w/ brand mention), to enhance your chances of acquiring the content.
In choosing outdated web documents that you can revive:
- Use tools like Ahrefs or Open Site Explorer to check for links pointing to the old content.
- Assess if it’s possible to add more valuable and up-to-date information to the topic covered by the content.
Another option that you can take, aside from buying the content, is helping the webmaster update the contentâ€”this can also lead to getting a link from that very same content.
Other helpful resources:
#3: Massive interviews
Doing interviews of popular personalities in a certain field has been one of the oldest tricks in link building, particularly for websites that are just starting up.
Doing it on a massive scale can drive a ton of natural links to a website, and can certainly get your name out in the open (like launching an interview series or designating a section for expert interviews).
Imagine the number of links you can naturally acquire if you’re consistently sharing valuable insights from influential people in your industryâ€”and imagine the relationships you can build with influencers by using this tactic.
#4: Reverse guest-blogging campaign
Guest blogging has been the go-to tactic for the past couple of years in the world of link building. But it seems that only a few have realized the value of being on the receiving end, acquiring content from other great authors.
There are a lot of advantages to inviting guest bloggers who really know their stuff to contribute to your site:
- Getting free expertly made content that can rank for keywords (long tails) that you are also targeting.
- Absorbing the guest author’s followers once they start sharing the content they’ve contributed to your site (more unique traffic and potential leads).
- Seasoned content publishers will almost always reference/link back to their previous works, and their contributions on other websites are not an exemption.
Find and reach out to bloggers who write exceptionally in their respective fields (and who can cover topics that are in your audience’s interests as well). You can use tools like Followerwonk to identify authors in your niche that have a strong social following.
You can also do a simple Google Search to determine if they’ve been active in guest blogging (inpostauthor:”Author’s Name”).
A few tips on implementing this tactic:
- Start with those who you’ve seen to be active in their own guest-blogging campaign. Doing a Google search to find active guest bloggers in your industry (use queries like: “real estate guest post by”) can make it easier to find them.
- Make sure you have a value proposition once you start contacting your prospects. Let them know what’s in it for them (ex: mentioning that you have bunch of readers/subscribers/followers, promoting their content, or offering to pay them for the content).
- Build relationships. It’s easier to invite people to write for your site when you’re already friends with them.
- Read their content. Make sure that you like it.
Other helpful resources:
- The Easiest Way to Bait Linksâ€”Get Guest Authors
- How to Build your Presence with Reverse Guest Posting
#5: Online billboards through long-tail content distribution
Building more brand visibility is one of link building’s vital roles in online marketing. There are many ways to get this done, but there’s one tactic that will seem to continue to be effective despite the constantly changing/evolving search landscape.
The method: distributing content (targeting long-tail search terms) on user-generated content sites that have high search share.
Pages hosted on UGC sites like Youtube, Slideshare, Pinterest and Scribd (there are a lot more, actually) obviously have better search-ranking power, especially for long-tail keywords.
The probable reasons why these domains show more often on SERPs lie in the level of trust search engines see from these domains (domain authority) and the amount of traffic, as well as interactions that these pages are getting.
Implementing this strategy on a larger scale can help generate constant traffic and brand impressions for your site (which you can consider as robust links/assets).
Steps for implementing this tactic:
- Create content based on your campaign’s targeted long-tail keywords. Repurpose them into several content formats (videos, slide presentations, infographics, comics or whitepaper/PDF).
- Upload them where it’s appropriate (content platforms like Youtube, Slidshare, etcâ€¦).
- Promote these through social and/or build links to them (including them on your blog posts or linking to them through your other off-site marketing efforts).
#6: Getting more Google+ shares
As Cyrus Shepard mentioned on his recent (controversial) post here on Moz, Google+ posts pass link equity (because the links within Google+ posts are followed).
This means the more your Google+ posts are being shared within their social platform, the more high-value links you are able to get (if you’ve included a link to one of your site’s pages within the Google+ post).
For instance, a few months back, I did a weekly roundup of the blog posts I’ve read each week on Google+. My first one was shared 40 times within the network, which means 40 Google+ profiles have just linked to the URLs I’ve shared.
Google+ is a microblogging platform that can offer ton of opportunities for marketing a brand/website if maximized.
Tips on getting more Google+ Shares:
- Start building a strong follower base (to enhance the chances of getting your posts shared). You can start by integrating Google+ with your content marketing efforts (let people know that you’re active on Google+).
- It’s a microblogging platform, so start blogging on Google+! Lengthy posts (that are useful and valuable) have higher potential for getting shared.
- Add relevant links to external pages (your website) within your Google+ posts, so that you can build links when people start sharing your posts. Link to other people’s works as well, to build relationships (and to get them to share your post too).
Other helpful resources:
#7: Republishing viral posts from Tumblr and Facebook
Tumblr and Facebook are definitely two of the best places to get inspiration for content creation, and are sometimes the best channels from which to get linkable content assets.
This tactic has been running around my head for weeks now (and we’re already in the process of testing it on one of the test sites I’ve been managing).
Republishing/reposting has been a norm in the social spaceâ€”and is always ethical if you’re giving attribution to the original source of the content.
Basically, this tactic is about finding the most successful pieces of content posted on Facebook and Tumblr (based on the amount of likes and shares) that are related to your nicheâ€”and having them republished on your site’s blog (or if you have microsites, then that could work, too).
Given that these pieces of content have already proven themselves as interesting on social platforms, they’ll have better chances of getting natural links.
For instance, I saw the Facebook post I’ve shared above get republished on a small WordPress blog:
The republished post did well in terms of social shares, as it got 2,000+ retweets:
And the WordPress version of the FB post also got 288 links (from 81 linking domains)â€”knowing that a lot of people got to see the content:
How to find viral posts in your niche from Facebook and Tumblr:
You can use Google search to find successful posts on Facebook and Tumblr (by using the queries I’ve used below).
A few tips on republishing viral posts from Facebook/Tumblr:
- Always give attribution to the original creator of the content!
- Include your own insights or personal takeaways in your republished content.
#8: Reverse engineering
Knowing where your main competitors are getting their links from, as well as the entities they’ve built relationships with, has been one of the most important methodologies in search marketing.
Aside from helping smaller brands compete in search using this tactic, analyzing your competitors’ link sources also allows you to determine partnerships and understand methods that will most likely work for you.
Tools you can use to extract your top competitors’ link data:
List the top domains linking to your competitors in a spreadsheet and segment them by difficulty of acquisition (how hard or easy will it be for you to get a link from them).
Another thing that you also have to consider is identifying the sites/domains that your competitors are linking out to.
Once you’re done assessing and sorting the list of domains linking to your competitors, and the list of domains that your competitors are linking out to, you can then start listing each website’s contact details.
Though you must also remember that it’s not about the amount of data you have, it’s about how you can use your data to your advantage. Making use of your list of link prospects:
- Pitch them for guest-blogging opportunities.
- Do an interview of the influential ones on your list.
- Letting them know about your content(s) that their readers/followers are most likely interested in.
- Collaborate with them in content creation (getting insights from them and including them on your upcoming blog posts).
- Connecting and engaging them through interactions (through social or their already-existing communities).
Other helpful resources:
#9: Improving content discovery through targeted content promotion
If you’re already investing in developing content assets on your website, then up-sizing your efforts to make them more visible to your target audience is a surefire way to enhance the ability of your website/brand to continuously attract natural links.
Because the more people who are able to see your content assets, the higher your chances to force multiply the results (more traffic, more social shares, more links, better rankings, and more leads).
There are many ways to promote your site’s great content, and below are some of the most efficient ways to build traffic that will result to more traffic:
Start with those who’re really into the topic/subject that you’ve covered on your contentâ€”and have a history of sharing/linking to similar content.
The easiest way to find them is by mining your competitors’ similar content. Tools that you can use to find linkers in your industry:
- Ahrefs or Open Site Explorerâ€”to find blogs/websites that have linked to your competitors’ content
- Topsyâ€”to identify Twitter users who have shared your competitors’ content
- Google Searchâ€”to find people who have shared your competitors’ content on Facebook, Google+ and other social networks (using search operators)
Pro tip: You can also mine your competitors’ most-linked content assets (pages with high # of LRDs) using Open Site Explorer, as this will reveal the linkers in your industry.
It’ll be easier to reach out to them, seeing that they’re genuinely interested in the topic of your content.
Pro tip: Don’t ask them to share your content, since they are linkers, and they already know what to do next after seeing your content.
Paid social ads
Another great way to put more eyeballs on your content is through paid Social Adsâ€”from Facebook’s sponsored stories or Stumbleupon’s paid discovery.
The best thing about these services is that you can configure your ads to only be displayed to specifically targeted users (those that are highly interested in what your content is providing).
Simon Penson wrote a great case study on how to make Facebook your primary traffic source that you might also want to read.
This is probably the easiest way to promote and build links to your site’s content assets. Participate in already existing discussions that are thematically related to your content (forum threads, Q&As, other blogs, and online communities like Facebook groups, etc.).
Using your content as a reference to your contributions on these discussions will make it more enticing for other people to click on your link.
Linking through your content distribution efforts
Use your other content marketing effortsâ€”like your guest blogs, columns, slideshows on Slideshare, or videos uploaded on Youtubeâ€”to promote your site’s linkable assets.
I’ve always been a firm believer that internal links are the most valuable ones to have in a link building campaign, because you have full control of them.
Create more content that can stand to support your site’s content assets. This way you’ll be able to distribute Page Authority to your site’s key pages and you’ll be also able to build continuous traffic to them.
You can also utilize your site’s high-traffic pages (based on your analytics) to make your other low-performing content assets be more visible (and more inclined to receive inbound links).
Other helpful resources:
- How to build your content promotion and link building opportunity list
- How to promote and build links to your great content
- Linker Outreachâ€”a method for social and editorial link building
- 7 online viral marketing strategies
#10: Find specific questions and answer them (long-tail link building)
People will never run out of questions to ask, especially now that the information age makes it easier for people to solve their problems almost instantly with the help of the web.
Find online discussions that pertain to the product(s) you or your client provides (from forums, Q&A sites like Quora, and blog comments). It’s best to genuinely add value to the discussion, by contributing only relevant information (and not make it too promotional).
The best thing about how the link-building space is evolving is that it’s also giving marketers new ways to build signals that search crawlers can use.
In using this tactic, you won’t necessarily need to use hyperlinks to promote or build signals to your website. Given that search engines are also using phrase-based indexing, even an unlinked brand mention will now count as a vote that’s as good as a link (based on the concepts of co-occurrence and sentiment analysis).
With this approach (building unlinked brand mentions on related discussions), you lessen the chances of getting flagged as a spammer by forum/community moderators. But always remember that you have to ensure that people will get value from what you’re contributing (think marketing!).
Another advantage of using this tactic is that you’re also building brand awareness, which can eventually cultivate branded searches (seeing that you didn’t provide a link).
#11: Link reclamation
This method is probably the oldest trick in the book of white-hat link building. Despite that fact, as well as all the changes that have been made in the search game, link reclamation is still considered one of the most effective tactics to use out there.
Reclaiming linksâ€”from links to your site that are broken, linking to the wrong version of the URL, or from unlinked brand mentionsâ€”are very much applicable to brands/websites that are active in online branding, content marketing, and offline marketing (print ads, events, etcâ€¦).
The best thing about this method is that it has a very high conversion rate for link acquisition. The main reason is that you’ve already earned the mention/citation, which makes it much easier for you to request to have the mention optimized (like your preferred anchor texts and/or the link’s destination).
Common practices that you should integrate with your link-building campaign to find better link opportunities:
- Set up Google Alerts for your brand name (and resident authors)â€”to track blogs/websites mentioning your brand or your site’s content.
- Use Topsy to track people mentioning your brand (or your site’s homepage) on Twitter. It’s easier to request links from them, since they’re already vouching for you.
- Make it a habit to search for mentions about your brand, author(s), product(s) or events through Google’s blog search (consider it a monthly task).
- Look for sites linking back to you that use the wrong version of the URL.
- Check incoming links pointing to your site’s broken pages (404s) using Google Webmaster Tools. They are the easiest ones to reclaim.
#12: Static marketing
Consistency is a common factor that you’ll mostly notice from successful brands on the web.
And this is something that even smaller brands can apply, especially in performing off-site marketing activities.
As perfectly described by Ross Hudgens, static marketing acts a force multiplier of future active marketing efforts through a series of branding initiatives (from naming conventions, persona, aesthetic impression, and overall brand identity).
Interactions with other people in your industry, particularly with content publishers, have been vital in today’s age of link building.
And as most of us know, to be really able to compete in online marketing these days, we need to be almost everywhere. Static marketing makes that approach much easier, as you tend to be more consistent, which enables you to become more recognizable to people active in your industry’s online space.
When your targets recognize you, you become linkable.
A few tips on how to be remarkable in your target communities:
- Use a username that’s easy to recall.
- Stick to your personal brand’s unique selling point and identity (establish expertise in a single niche first, before expanding on the others).
- Be consistent with the avatars you use in different social platforms or online communities you’re actively participating in.
How about guest blogging?
Many link builders are abusing the tactic. Google is already on to it.
The method is very effective, when done right. But here’s my personal take on it:
I don’t do guest blogging that much anymore. But when I do, I do it on Moz.