How is your current link building strategy working for you?
I bet it’s not performing that well, is it?
In fact, I haven’t seen a business owner or a blogger who isn’t desperate to find a better, more effective link acquisition method.
It is that hard.
Here’s a strategy which would help you to up your link building game (Spoiler: It’s not a shortcut. There’s no easy way to build links!):
Why Do We Need Links?
First things first: Why should every digital marketing strategy include link building.
- Links are still the most powerful organic search signal. If you don't believe me, try to find a top ranking page which wouldn’t have any backlinks.
- Links bring traffic, and traffic brings sales.
In fact, link building is important for any website, regardless of the size or niche:
(Image credit: Anthony Palomarez)
In other words, if you want your site to rank in Google or generate sales, you need links.
So we need links - we all agree on that much.
But how to get them without getting into trouble with Google?
Over the past decade Google has eliminated all the controllable link building strategies:
- Paid links are too easily detected by Google and too dangerous as they may result in manual penalties
- Article and directory links are largely de-indexed or not taken into account (although there are a few solid sites that are still useful)
- Press release links are mostly nofollowed (although we are no longer sure how Google treats nofollow)
So what to do? We cannot scale link building (even those methods that seem OK at this point) but we cannot do without links either.
Links are still key for rankings.
How to acquire links that won’t get us into trouble with Google’s algorithm?
Step 1: Identify who you want to get links from
Did you notice how I put who here?
Knowing sites you want to get links from is not effective. You want to know actual people who can link to your content.
There are several tools that can be of use here. Buzzsumo is probably the most useful tool for these purposes. Using Buzzsumo, you can:
- Identify the most prominent (and active) content creators in your niche (bloggers, authors, journalists)
- Find who links to your competitors
Create a spreadsheet with authors and writers who link to your competitors and fill it up with some contact info (email, social media accounts, personal blog, etc.) as well as some topics they seem to be interested in.
Step 2: Create content including some of those influencers
In other words, create your content with those identified authors in mind.
The logic here is simple: If you include some of those niche writers in your content creation process, you’ll be more likely to get links from them (as well from people who are influenced by them).
There are various ways to involve niche influence's in your content creation. The easiest one is to reach out and invite them to share their opinion on a specific topic. This is also a good way to start your relationship with them and test your contact info (Do they reply?)
By associating your brand with a notable industry expert, you are able to:
- Create a better researched guide (by featuring niche experts’ insights)
- Refer to a well-known expert in your email outreach (and thus increase its trust-ability). So instead of simply emailing everyone "Here's our educational resource you may like", you’d be able to reach out to bloggers and educators in your niche saying "Here's our educational resource we've been working with this professor to create..."
- Get links from your experts / contributors (As well as those who they directly influence)
Step 3: Reach out (and Build Relationships!)
The key here is to combine great content with smart social media promotion and even smarter email outreach.
And by smart I don't mean getting as many social media shares as you can (this doesn't help links). By smart I mean:
- Targeting the front page of Reddit (For that you need to know who to reach out to discover your content on Reddit)
- Reaching out to social media influencers on Twitter in a meaningful way (e.g. quoting them in the infographic, or giving the most recent statistics for the topic of their expertise, etc.)
- Sending a highly personalized email highlighting why a particular content asset would be useful to them.
- Using Facebook ads to target journalists and bloggers in your niche to drive them to your article (and hopefully get links).
Don’t just focus on a single link. Value your relationships with each of those influencers. Even if they don’t link to you this time, they may be willing to do that in the future (if you continue interacting with them).
Besides by actively monitoring your identified influences, you’ll get a deeper understanding of your niche (as well as content that tends to get more links). Tweetdeck is an easy way to keep a close eye on your Twitter lists or just about anything on Twitter:
Add niche influence's to a separate Twitter list to be able to daily monitor what they say (and hence to monitor them on a daily basis). This will take you about 10-15 minutes a day. Yet, this low-effort tactic comes with multiple benefits including:
- Better relationships with niche experts (And hence higher odds to get linked by them)
- A better understanding of your niche (What is being discussed more actively? Which topics tend to trigger more social media comments, and possibly links? Which questions are more popular in your niche? These can be your linkable content ideas!)
Link building is hard and mostly unpredictable. Some of your content will get links, other assets will turn out less effective. It is alright. Uncontrollable link building tactics are the most natural link building tactics, and hence the safest. The better you can control your incoming links, the more suspicions it will look to Google.
Create linkable content, rely on your new and existing niche relationships to get it linked, rinse and repeat. Good luck!