How to Get Natural In-Content and Editorial Links

by Jason Acidre on April 10, 2011 · 85 comments · Content, Search, Social


An editorial link is a one-way link placed within the body of a content that is given naturally by other websites to specify a resource. Basically, it’s a form of citation on the web, which generally indicates that the destination of the link is the original source of the procured data, idea, concept or statement.getting editorial links

In link building, I personally believe that these types of links – editorial or one-way in-content links – are the most powerful and the ones that really carry weight in signaling search engines that a certain content is offering so much value and they should return this piece on their results for people to see.

Whether the citation is a positive or negative evaluation of the source, it still offers a huge amount of weight in terms of linking, given that the anchor text of the editorial link depends on the discretion of the linker.

The real nature of web popularity was initially based on this linking system, and it still does. Perhaps that’s why search engines keep on devaluing other artificial link acquisition methods (such as article submissions, forums, low quality directories, paid links, web 2.0 properties, reciprocal linking and soon paid press releases) for sites, webmasters and search marketers to genuinely obtain links that they truly deserve – voluntary given in-content links!

I have been always stressing this to most who have sought for my advice that the most efficient way to get your site known over the web is through trust. And getting natural editorial links can simply emphasize trust between the relationship of the linker and the destination page of the link. An upright looking link profile that is focused on garnering special mentions from other trusted sites can certainly denote a strong brand and can easily achieve higher search rankings, that is for sure.

Two Types of Editorial In-content Links

  • Link was voluntary given by the linker as he/she found the content link-worthy.
  • Link was requested by the content producer through manipulative interaction or via email.

Both types are attainable in which you’ll just need two things – a compelling content and a solid SEO strategy to making it visible to appropriate targets.

Attraction V.S. Proposition

The only difference between the two is the approach, wherein the first one attracts people to link to it, while the second one requires you to present a good proposition, which is the value of the content, in order to obtain the link.

Eventually, you’ll be needing both, since when people are naturally linking to your content without the need of asking them to will make it much easier for you to request for links, as you have slightly proven that your content is worth linking to.

On the other hand, sending requests to people to link to your content and getting them approved will increase the chances of getting your content out in the open and be publicly noticed through your linkers’ networks and in due course may mean more natural incoming links as it goes viral.

4 Reasons Why Would People Link To Your Content

  • They found it very useful or extremely interesting that they want to be the first one on their circle to spread and share the content.
  • They were mentioned on the content and are proud to boast it over the World Wide Web.
  • They are professionally or personally attached with the content’s creator or the creator had personally requested for them to link or share the content.
  • The linker will benefit from linking to the content (incentives such as payments, perhaps an ego boost if it offers a badge or an embeddable tool like Vimeo).

Editorial links

Ingredients to a Successful In-content Editorial Link Acquisition Campaign

That heading was too long, it should have been just “elements of a powerful link bait” or something. Anyway, great content seems to be not enough these days to define it as a linkable one. There are a lot of aspects that touch the finish product in making it a linkable material (link bait), but the value proposition when requesting for a link or in psychologically manipulating your audience is one of the smartest way to deliberately diminish all the monotonous work.

So what is the value you are offering to your market besides the remarkableness of the content itself? Think about it, and then use it to your advantage. Below are some of the elements that make a successful linkable content:

  • Well-researched and eloquently written content (coherence, grammar, personality, etc…)
  • Clean and clever design (webpage design, images or infographs)
  • Socially enticing (user activity such as enabled user comments or reviews, visible social media share buttons, etc…)
  • Contact list (for link request outreach)
  • Strong headline for the content
  • Usefulness of the content (informational, constructive or nifty tools)
  • Uniqueness of the content (that’s where research will come in)
  • Unexpected hook (an element of surprise within the content such as top secret tricks or statistics)
  • Branding and Marketing (which I will explain further below)

Content that Attract Natural Links

  • Educational
  • First of its kind
  • Entertaining
  • Controversial
  • Extremely useful
  • Non-paid/free
  • Influential people or industry leaders are linking to it or have shared it socially
  • Emotionally captivating
  • Comprehensive or sticky content

12 Ways to Increase the Chances of Getting Editorial Links

1. Extract and reverse engineer links from your competitors’ similar content.

Knowing linking opportunities from your content’s SERP competitors is perhaps the best first move in building your list of link prospects before launching your link bait. Lurking through your competitions’ page and link profile is very advantageous, given that it will give your bait the edge in overcoming the competition in terms of the content’s comprehensiveness and timeliness, which can make your link request outreach almost effortless.

It’s imperative to determine the weaknesses of your competitions’ pages and to use them to your content’s advantage by simply offering what is not present on their content. With that being said, you will have higher response rate when requesting for in-content mentions on pages/sites that have a history of linking to a similar subject of content.

How to find the best pages linking to your competition:

  • Search for your content’s headline or the major keywords that your content is targeting through Google search.
  • List the top 20 pages that Google will return as results for each keyword that you have queried on an excel sheet (ex. “how to create a link bait”, “how to link bait”, “what is link baiting”, etc…). It’s best to mark the competing pages that have high amount of incoming links as high priority.
  • Use Yahoo Site Explorer to track pages externally linking to your competitors. List them all on a separate tab of your spreadsheet and include details such as:

o   Pagerank of the linking page
o   Date it was published
o   If the competitor’s link was placed on the body of the content (if it’s editorial)
o   If the page’s content is editable when requested
o   Contact details (specifically the email address) of the webmaster.

  • Organize your list of link prospects by segregating the pages that should be prioritized when you start with the contacting process. These pages could be the ones that are editable, have high Pagerank, and have a section that’s absolutely relevant to your upcoming content.

In sending the requests:

  • Create an email template that can be easily personalized, as you have to include the name of the webmaster that you are contacting and a bit of information on why you are specifically aiming to acquire a link from their site.
  • State why your new content is worth the link (maybe because it’s more comprehensive than what they have previously mentioned or recommended – which is your competitor – or because it contains more up-to-date information compared to your competitors’ content), but do not compare your content to theirs directly.
  • Try to ask if they can add a link directing to your content – not replace the already existing link for your competitor – if it’s possible. But if you feel that it’s not, just ask if they’ll be interested to see your material and maybe they can refer to it for future reference.
  • Give them the option to choose or suggest, especially when it comes to the anchor text that will be used for linking.

2. Externally hosted support content

Promoting your content by referring back to it as a resource on your externally hosted content such as guest blog posts, free report or PDFs can also improve the visibility of your link bait. Setting up this plot on a strict schedule can extremely amplify its chances of going viral, and that’s where content strategy comes into play.

Say before launching your link bait (could be anything – an independent landing page, a blog post or your site’s homepage), you can as well prepare 3-5 or more support pages (I recommend high quality guest blog posts) that will include an in-content link to your link bait as its prime resource and to be submitted to other authority websites/blogs in your niche. These external contents are capable of capturing attention as the message flows on each host’s network and in due course, hopefully, generate more natural links  to your mother content.

3. Engage with relevant bloggers who curate posts (round up posts).

Curation or rounding up blog posts across a certain industry has clearly redefined the reading experience of bloggers and information seekers around the web. This web marketing approach is able to generate not just interest to readers but also helps in building site-to-site relationships, which often increases the subscriptions on the recommended sites.

Communicating with bloggers who routinely do curated posts is a great way to increase exposure to your content, especially if you can manage to have them link to your content. Getting a link from them benefits your site in many ways, given that most of these blogs have their own community of followers, wherein you can possibly expand the reach of your content for more natural linking opportunities.

Simple ways on how to build relationships with curators:

  • Follow their blog consistently
  • Let them know that you are learning from what they are sharing from their round up posts
  • Leave sensible comments on their posts
  • Interact through social networking sites
  • Send personal emails on how much you have enjoyed their work

How to find curators in your niche:

You can use several refined search queries via Google search when seeking for blogs that do blog post round ups such as:

  • “your keywords round up”
  • “your keywords round up post”
  • “your keywords weekly round up”
  • “your keywords mash up post”

If you are in a very remote industry that has no courageous bloggers who’re brave enough to link out to quality content on their niche, then perhaps you can use curation to your advantage by being the first one to do it in your sphere.

Luckily, there are many bloggers in our industry – online media – who religiously offer this kind of content to their followers. Here are some of those that I’ve personally found great when it comes to curating posts:

4. StumbleUpon Ads

StumbleUpon has 8 million active users, and counting, and probably hundreds of thousands that are genuinely into your niche. Having your content in front of their highly intellectual and tech savvy users can definitely intensify the chances of getting editorial links, given that users from this channel are out for entertainment and education.

It is easier to garner in-content mentions if your content is matching their users’ needs, so why not try using StumbleUpon’s ads to leverage linking opportunities for your content.

5. Participate and leave compelling comments on highly anticipated blog posts.

If you are in a social media-rich industry, then this method does apply. There are always highly anticipated blog posts being born every week. And exposing yourself by genuinely participating on comment threads can positively help your site as well as your link bait to be noticed by big players in your industry.

The main objective of leaving insightful comments on these types of blog posts is to mainly generate interest through intellectual interaction and intelligent contributions in order to manipulate other readers into checking out your own site (they’ll typically click on the name of the commentator that usually links to the commentator’s site).

6. Content marketing through CommentLuv

CommentLuv has been a very useful plugin to web marketers, bloggers, link builders and readers, since it supports the community by enabling web content creators to easily promote their recent blog entries on other blogs that use this tool. However, there’s more to this WordPress plugin that many are unaware of.

It has a paid version that allows users to promote any page on their site (even if it’s not a blog) with their preferred anchor text by setting that page/post as a default link. Paid users can choose on any of the default link they desire to display when commenting on CommentLuv enabled blogs just by clicking the “arrow down” button placed on the rightmost part of the “recent blog entry link”.

Having a strong headline for your linkable content can certainly grab a hold of readers or other commentators’ attention, which of course, may lead to a click, and sequentially or possibly, more natural links.

7. Social sharing and voting through personal network

This can be the easiest one on this list of tactics, but the most delicate I presume. Requesting for links or for your content to be shared on various social media sites from those that you already have a relationship with, professionally or personally (colleague, relatives, friends, business networks, etc…) is definite to have high success rate and it’s very self-explanatory why.

But sure enough, abusing them for your own benefit is bad for business and personal life. Keep it in the low key and only resort to this method when it’s really necessary.

It’s also best to build relationships on social voting sites by authentically participating and socializing (that’s why it’s called “social”) or encourage your personal network to join the social voting sites that you are active in (like Digg, Reddit, SERPd, etc…), to augment votes to your entries when you are in dire need of it. And of course, this system has to work on a two-way process, in which you also have to voluntarily vote for your networks’ submitted entries.

Having your content very visible to social voting sites can extremely boost its linkability, as it is capable of reaching thousands of people who are interested with your site’s subject matter, and that is why investing your time to build a solid reputation on these sites is undoubtedly worthy it.

8. Promote through related forum threads and questions posted on Q&A sites

A content that gives solutions to frequently asked questions can fortify its relevance and linkability, especially if your content is providing more than just the practical solution and contains extensive guides on how to actually solve the problem.

Links built through these processes are capable of acquiring natural links, seeing as the contribution you have given, which links back to your content as its more detailed resource, are most likely be sought out by future searchers. Those who would benefit from the information you’ve given have high chances of sharing your content, bookmarking it or linking back to it.

In finding forum threads, it’s best to seek through high traffic forums within your niche or by specifically searching them via Google search (ex. “link bait reply to thread”, “inurl: forum link bait”).  Whereas to questions posted on Q&A sites such as Quora and Yahoo Answers, you can just do a manual search on those sites, as those questions are able to be categorized through their search features.

You can also setup Google Alerts when seeking for relevant pages where you can offer your content as a resource, as this free service from Google can also notify you with everything on the web that’s related to your targeted search phrases, which can include questions posted on Q&A sites and forum threads.

9. Offer incentives

There are many forms of incentives when it comes to developing a natural looking link building strategy to your site such as:

  • Sending requests for paid reviews.
  • Providing free samples of your products, free access to tools or free consultations for reviews.
  • Offering an embeddable badge for prestigious titles (top ranking blogs, influential bloggers, professional certification, etc…) – or what Ross calls “ego baiting” on his previous post about link building model.
  • Linking out on different occasions to those who’ll participate on your experiments, case studies or for simply linking to your site (which I personally do).
  • Prizes and freebies when launching contests.
  • Offer content or submit a guest blog entry. Yes, it’s a form of incentive, since they’ll be benefiting from it in some ways.

10. Interview or be interviewed

Interviewing experts or influential people in your industry seems to have its own natural charm in enchanting people to link to it, since more often than not, contents per se are consisted of highly trusted and very credible statements. Plus, notifying the expert(s) you have interviewed that the content is already live will, most of the time, link to it and share it through their own network, which signifies more exposure for your website.

Getting yourself, your client or an expert in your company interviewed also gives the same amount of leverage for linking opportunities, given that it’s an indication of authority, where in succession attracts links, traffic, leads, revenue, and who knows what’s next – but for sure it opens a huge door for opportunities.

The best part of being interviewed online is that it allows you to indirectly boost your site’s brand and of course, you have a slight control of the links that will be used in the content. Finding an opportunity to be interviewed is not that easy, but not that hard as well. You just have to find bloggers that will be interested to make one for you and/or to let them know that you or your clients are open to this idea.

2 ways to get an opportunity to be interviewed

  • Search for bloggers that have history of making interviews within your site’s niche or search for your competitors’ that have been interviewed in the past through Google search. Engage with the blogger and try to ask if they’ll be interested to do an interview with you or your client.
  • Designate a page in your website for this, wherein you can implicitly invite people to do or schedule an interview with you, they usually call this the “Press Room” or “Media Center” page.

11. Contact editors or writers from known online and local publications

News and feature writers love to include sources on their works, as it strengthens the credibility of their stories. Finding where to get those linking opportunities is actually easy if you have the right value in play.

Although this method requires a lot of research and precision, its returns are sure to be scalable, given that a successful approach can lead to a good viral effect for the content as well as a strong indication of content viability in requesting for links to your other prospects.

In finding and choosing news sites or online magazines, it’s important that you assure that they are providing content that’s related to your site’s industry and to gather all necessary information before the approach. The usual information that you’ll need:

  • Name and contact details of writers who specialize on writing about your field (tech, automotive, banking, etc…). You can keep these information stored in an excel sheet.
  • Contact information of the site’s editor, which is commonly visible on posted articles.
  • If your target subject/scoop had already been published on the site.

Finding online publications and writers:

  • Through Google search, input: “your keywords news”, “your keywords news site”, “your keywords + your city news site”, “your keywords web magazine” and the list of search queries goes on.
  • Make a list of all the sites that will show up on the top 20 of search results.
  • Scan the sites you have found and list all the writers that write about your field in particular. Include their contact details (twitter accounts, email address, mailing address, phone numbers and personal blogs if they have) on your list. These information are usually accessible on the site’s about or contact page and they, most of the time, allow user feedbacks, suggestions or comments via email.

The approach:

  • It’s best to prepare the abovementioned information before publishing your content.
  • Contact writers or editors from your list of online publications and pitch them your story or you can simply ask if they’ll be interested to write about your scoop. Personalized messages have higher success rates, doing your research beforehand is critical.
  • Offer credible sources, which of course will include yours, and indirectly state why the story is worth exploring.
  • Present yourself, your client or any expert in your company to be interviewed if more data, facts or statistics are needed.
  • Lastly is to let them know how they can contact you.

12. Link out from the bait itself

Cite sources or link out to blogs that are generous with outbound linking. That’s a direct assault in capturing the attention of well-known people in your industry, and you have higher chances of getting a link from them or getting your content shared on social networking sites.

Rules of Engagement

  • The content has to offer something of high value in order to make it worth linking to.
  • Implementing some the aforementioned methods will increase your linkable content or link bait’s exposure as it gets more visible through social media noise and trusted websites vouching for the content, which can eventually lead to more incoming natural links.
  • Generally, there are two shortcuts to implementing this campaign smoothly – be an authority in your field or be creative enough to innovate and be link worthy.

So why spend so much for links when all it takes is a value proposition that’s focused on producing and offering highly linkable content to serve as your campaign’s foundation and a solid plan for those materials to naturally acquire editorial links – get links that attract more links.

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Image Credit: Thalassa-mabyn

Jason Acidre

Jason Acidre is Co-Founder and CEO of Xight Interactive, marketing consultant for Affilorama and Traffic Travis, and also the sole author of this SEO blog. You can follow him on Twitter @jasonacidre and on Google+.

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