Link Building Tactics

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There are lots and lots of ways to get links. The right tactics for you depend on the resources you have at your disposal as well as the industry that you’re in. Industries that are more established and competitive often require you to be quite aggressive with link building, and you might find earning those links more difficult. Other industries, often the newer industries that are quickly growing, are full of opportunities to engage with bloggers and build a community. With that in mind, this section reveals a few link building tactics that can be applied to most all types of websites.

Content-based link building

Some of these you’ve already learned about in the chapter on building a link building campaign, so we’ll try not to repeat ourselves here. The basic premise is that you create an asset which you use to try and get links. This takes the form of a piece of content and can include something like:

  • An infographic
  • A data visualization
  • A white paper
  • A how-to guide
  • A video
  • An image gallery

You create these assets with a view to earning links to them from people who find them relevant, interesting, funny, informative, etc. You then reach out to these people in an attempt to actually build those links. Over time, you aim to reach a point at which you don’t need to ask for each and every link that you receive. Instead, you should be able to seed the content with a few key influencers in your community who can help spread the word on your behalf. This can take a long time to achieve and requires a lot of investment in exceptional content, but it is certainly possible.

Examples of content-based link building campaigns

In this section, we will look at some examples of successful link building campaigns along with some analysis of what made them successful. One thing to note here is that the primary goal of the following examples may not have been links, but they were very successful, nonetheless, so there is something we can learn.

http://www.swissotel.com/promo/etiquette-map/

This page currently has 68 linking root domains and a Page Authority of 63. What made it successful?

  • It works very well and is easy to use; you simply choose your country and the content changes instantly
  • The design is very clean which means you understand what it does straight away
  • It is relevant to the type of people who would visit a hotel booking website
  • The content is genuinely useful to people because not knowing a local culture or etiquette is a common problem

100 years of rock music visualised

This is another interactive piece of content which shows the different genres of rock music that have developed in the last 100 years.

http://www.concerthotels.com/100-years-of-rock

The page currently has 198 linking root domains and a Page Authority of 53. Let’s look at why it attracted links:

  • The interactivity really adds to the content; it engages the user straight away and keeps them on the page
  • You can interactive with the piece and listen to samples of music
  • It applies to a large number of people (rock music fans)
  • It is in line with people who would use a hotel booking site focused on music venues

You vs. John Paulson

This was a very smart idea by an SEO in the UK. It is an interactive piece of content that allows you to compare your annual salary with that of John Paulson who is a very successful forex trader.

https://mahifx.com/john-paulson/

It used to be hosted on the homepage and was used as a link building technique to get links to the homepage prior to the service being launched. Before it was moved, the content had over 200 linking domains. What made it successful?

  • It’s interactive but very simple to use; it only asks you for one piece of info (your salary)
  • It is very engaging; it keeps you scrolling down the page to find out more
  • The sheer scale of how much money John Paulson makes is hard for most of us to comprehend
  • It is very shareable as it is relevant to pretty much anyone, not just forex traders

18 startup founders share their lowest points

This is a bit different to the previous pieces of content and mainly consists of written, rather than visual, content. It is a series of stories from startup founders who share their lowest points before become big successes.

http://www.attendly.com/stories-of-failure-and-redemption-18-startup-founders-share-their-lowest-moments-before-coming-out-on-top/

This page currently has 21 linking root domains and a Page Authority of 36. Let’s take a look at what made this happen:

  • It is different; interviews are usually about high points and successes but this was the opposite, so it can provoke people’s attention
  • The interviewees and their companies are very well known within their fields, so they probably have large social followings
  • This content can appeal to a wide range of people who are active online, therefore increasing the chances of getting links and social shares

Guest blogging

Guest blogging is the process of approaching other websites to see if they will publish a piece of content that you write on their blog. While it is often an effective way to earn links using high quality content, Google has cracked down on marketers who abuse this tactic with low-quality content and over-optimized anchor text.

As guest blogging became an increasingly common tactic, it became increasingly automated and the quality of the posts declined considerably. Google noticed. Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s webspam team, wrote a post declaring that we could “Stick a fork in it: Guest blogging is done.” If you can produce high enough quality content, many reputable sites will still gladly accept guest posts (Moz is one of them). That said, it shouldn’t be used solely in order to build links, as Google has gotten very, very good at finding and devaluing links built in this way.

Ego bait

Ego bait is a piece of content that plays on the egos of the people who are featured within that content. The hope is that, by being included, these people feel better about and are more inclined to share the content with a link. You’ve probably seen examples of this before. Here are a few:

http://www.thelovelyplants.com/10-gardening-blogs-to-follow/Lists gardening blogs along with a short description of each one.

http://go.brandshank.com/top-10-electronic-music-blogs-2011/Lists the top 10 electronic music blogs based on a number of factors including Tweets, Facebook reach and MozRank.

http://www.webdesigndev.com/roundups/30-most-influential-people-in-web-designLists the most influential individuals in web design and includes pictures of them, as well as their websites and social channels.

All of these will get the attention of the people or websites being featured. While this can be a good way of getting high-quality links and traffic to your website, it is unlikely to get you huge volumes of links, because the content is usually quite targeted toward a few high-profile people or websites.

The process for ego-bait link building looks something like this:

Concept and research targets> Write content> Outreach> Follow up

Step 1: Concept and research targets

First, you need to come up with the concept for your content, and it will need to be somewhat related to the theme of your own website. For example, if you run a website selling garden sheds, you might choose one of the following ideas:

  • Top 10 Gardening Blogs of 2014
  • 15 Inspiring Garden Designs
  • The Top Gardening Bloggers to Follow on Twitter

These are very simple ideas, but the point is to not overcomplicate things.

Once you’ve decided on your idea, you need to research whom you will feature in your content. There are a few things you should bear in mind when trying to find the right people:

  • Look for blogs that are active and have posted very recently.
  • Look for blogs that have good levels of social followings.
  • Make sure you can find contact details of bloggers.

Also—and this should go without saying—if you’re making something like a top-10 list, make sure that each person or site on that list is actually worthy of being on such a list. If your only motivation is finding people who might be willing to share, that could be obvious both to the people you’re attempting to bait and to the readers.

Step 2: Write content

This part is also simple, but you should try to include as much detail as possible about each person or website you feature. Remember that you’re trying to get the attention of bloggers, and you want them to share the post and link to it. So, include the following, if you can:

  • A picture of the blogger or a screenshot of the website
  • A link to their website and Twitter profile
  • Why they are included in the list; what makes the blog or person really exceptional

Step 3: Outreach

Once the post is published, your next step is to send an email to the bloggers or websites that you’ve featured to let them know. Here is an example of an email you could choose to send:

Hi John,

I just wanted to let you know that you’ve been featured in our list of the top 10 gardening bloggers of 2014 – LINK TO URL.

You were included because the quality of the posts you publish, as well as the advice you give to readers, is amazing, and you deserve recognition for it.

Feel free to take a look and make sure I’ve got all of your details correct. I’d really appreciate any feedback you have, as well. If you would also like to share it on Twitter or feature it on your blog somewhere, that would be amazing.

Thanks!

Paddy

Remember to keep it simple. You can always add more detail if you want, but chances are the people you’re contacting are busy, so you want to get your message across quickly.

Step 4: Follow up

We’ll mention this several times throughout this guide to highlight the importance of this step: Make sure you follow up with the people you feature in your content. It can help to use a tool likeBoomerang to remind yourself.

Broken link building

The Internet is filled with broken links. Often, these broken links exist on valuable, high-quality pages. Broken link building is a very popular practice that works on the premise of helping webmasters fix their broken links by providing a superior alternative for them to link to.

Although the specifics can vary, the basic process looks like this:

  1. Research broken links and find good targets
  2. Content creation
  3. Outreach

Here’s an example. You run a dairy testing company and want to build links to your scientific resource pages. A university in your area happens to have an older page on dairy resources, but many of the links are broken. You kindly reach out to the webmaster to point out the broken links, and helpfully suggest your newer and up-to-date resource as an alternative. The university webmaster then links to your dairy resource page.

This process can be repeated over and over again. Sometimes you use your existing content as a suggestion to replace broken links, other times you create new content specifically for this purpose.

Here are a few additional resources on how to perform broken link building:

Link reclamation

Slightly different than broken link building is the practice of link reclamation, where you fix or “reclaim” links that once pointed at your site, or point to your site but fail to provide any SEO value.

There are many different types of link reclamation strategies.

404s

These are links that point to pages on your website that no longer exist. Open Site Explorer is a good tool for finding these. (Perform a “Top Pages” search and sort for 404s). You can either redirect or fix these links on your end, or ask the webmaster to change the link.

Non-linking brand mentions

It’s sometimes common and easy to find others writing about your site without linking to it. Often a simple email to the author is enough to secure a link. Tools like mention.net, Google Alerts, andFresh Web Explorer are great at digging up mentions.

Non-linking images

It’s common to find websites that have posted your own images without attribution. Instead of filing a copyright or DMCA takedown notice, this presents a terrific opportunity to earn a link instead.

Use tools like TinEye and Google’s Image Search to find webmasters who publish your images, and politely ask for attribution. We’ll cover more of this in Chapter 7.

A world of link building tactics

This chapter only describes a few of the hundreds of different link building tactics you can use (or even invent!). The specific tactics you choose will depend on your resources, creativity, niche, audience, and available time.

For more inspiration, we recommend checking out Jon Cooper’sLink Building Tactics or the Moz Blog’s Link Building category.

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