Link Magnetism – How to Create an Authority Site that Attracts Authority Links

by Jason Acidre on August 20, 2011 · 54 comments · Content, Search, Social


Link MagnetismBuilding links to a website is easy, I’ve done it many times, and for sure, you have tried doing this many times as well. On the other hand, building authority links is a different story, since – more often than not – it requires time, effort, creativity, persistence in execution and plenty of luck to successfully obtain these types of high-caliber links.

To start off, this post will cover tips and situations that were all based on my experience, and is basically a story of how I got 2 authority links, without asking for it.

When you visualize link building in a plain view, you will somehow realize that there are always two plausible options to link acquisition:

  • You create the link from the target website.
  • You inject to them the idea of linking to your site.

And with these 2 options in mind, it naturally comes down to one simple line of attack – creating the opportunity. Through my experience, I realized that you’ll only need to continuously/insistently develop two facets of your campaign in order to attract and acquire authority links to your site (and this strategy will revolve around these 2 aspects):

  • Reputation = content
  • Link assets = relationships

And along the process of building those opportunities, your reputation and link assets, you’ll mostly not notice that you are already gradually becoming a link magnet.

Why? It’s because of the processes that we mostly implement when we’re trying to create those opportunities, wherein we keep on creating great content, nonstop, with the sole intent of acquiring valuable links/citations from highly trusted websites without realizing the small amount of impact each action is able to create, until it all piles up and boom, you’re already a link magnet.

To the both perspectives of human and search engines, a website’s reputation and the relationships that surround its brand speaks a whole lot for itself. With that said, getting high-value links from other authority websites is more viable if they’ll also see that your site is an authority and is worthy of being contextually cited on their site. To put it simpler: you need to become an authority to acquire authority links.

“Link magnetism = building a credible reputation (continuous creation of highly-exceptional content) + building strong link assets (relationships with industry influencers).”

Stage 1: Creating an Authority Website

To create an authority website, you’ll need tons of exceptional content hosted within your domain. That’s why planning your site’s content structure ahead is imperative, given that a well-staged content development strategy (compiling a good content inventory before even launching the site or its marketing campaign) can nurture the site’s brand identity along the process of marketing it.

If your site is continuously providing solid content that can be really useful to its target audience, then it can send massive and obvious signals to your visitors that they should keep on returning and sharing your content. This in turn builds the noise up that can help attract other authority websites to notice you and possibly link to it in the future.

In building your site’s content inventory, it’s important to cover as much topics as you can (which should all be thematically relevant), wherein you can scale the scope of your expertise through the content that you’ll create. Make each of your content serve as your site’s foundation by making them go viral and/or as comprehensive as you can, which you can deliver in content formats such as:

  • Evergreen
  • Extensive tutorials
  • Rich-media content

Having many strong, viral and high-quality contents hosted in your domain, with social proof, can extremely impact the way others see your site, as it can progressively improve your site’s domain authority, your brand’s social authority, and help build a robust following base for your site – which can certainly epitomize your website as an authority.

Viral Content Creation and Promotion

The easiest way to build your site’s reputation and identity within its field/industry is through the uniqueness of all the content that it’s able to offer. If you can consistently create loads of high quality contents, with high potentials of going viral, then the better chances of garnering authority links to your site, through citations or link opportunities that are a product of those combined efforts, given that all the (viral) content that you’ll be creating and promoting will all add up in building your overall reputation.

How to create a viral content:

  • Content strategy development – do an extensive research about the topic and complete all the necessary details/information that your projected content will need in order for it to be comprehensive and competitive. Try to offer the best content about the subject for it to have higher chances of ranking highly on search results. List all the collected information and make an outline of your content (ex. possible title, format, design and information architecture). It’s also important to know your content’s target audience beforehand, as the approach of the content will highly depend on its aimed results (was the content created to generate links, leads, social shares or just for branding purposes?).
  • Keyword research – your content must be keyword-focused, wherein you can use your target keyword(s) on the content’s page title, post title/headline, URL and the content’s body. A content that has immense potentials of going viral and socially popular can certainly rank for its targeted keywords effortlessly. Use Google Keyword Tool to identify good keywords to target for your content.
  • Competitive analysis – observe and examine your competitors’ similar content. You do this by searching your content’s target title on Google, and see the top ranking pages. Extract all the important details of each ranking page, and make sure that you’ll be including those information to yours (this ensures that you’ll be providing the most extensive content related to the subject). You can also identify the weaknesses of each competing page and use them to your own advantage, as this tactic can help you outrank them on search results.
  • Build a contact list – know the people, blogs and/or organizations that might be interested to share your content before actually creating it, as this will make it easier to promote the content once you have launched it. There are several ways in building a list of link prospects for your content, like gathering contact details from sites that already have history of linking to the same type of content that you’ll provide (most probably sites that have linked to your competitors’ similar content and you can use tools like Yahoo Site Explorer to track these links from your competitors), active Twitter users and other known linkers (bloggers) in your industry. You can list all these prospects in an Excel spreadsheet.
  • Execution – create the content in accordance to the strategy you have devised.
  • Content value assessment – gauge the importance, value and marketability of the finish product and if the content will be able to draw actions from its target audience (was it specifically made for beginners, linkers, customers or industry influencers?). The easiest way to measure the value of your content is by determining the rarity of the information it contains, given that a content that offers valuable and hard-to-find information is very linkable, and this can increase the value of your proposition as well as the success rate of your link requests.
  • Editorial analysis – it’s always important to proofread and edit your work before or after publishing it. Update your content each time you find new information that fits your content’s theme and always test the strength of your content’s call to action to make the most out of the traffic it will constantly receive.

How to promote your viral content:            

  • Get social shares from your personal network.
  • Request links from your list of link prospects (from sites that might be interested to share and link to your content).
  • Reverse engineer links from your competitors’ similar content.
  • Promote the content through your externally distributed content such as whitepapers, press releases, guest blogs and interviews.
  • Participate on relevant discussions and link back to the content to serve as the comprehensive resource of your answers (on forum threads, Q&A sites and blog discussions).
  • Use Stumbleupon ads, as they can probably have thousands of cerebral users who are really into your industry.    
  • Buy sponsored tweets from influential people in your industry – you can check out Buysellads.com for this form service.
  • Offer incentives, like contest prizes, embeddable widgets, free sample products or paid review.   
  • Link out to authoritative brands in your industry to leverage the content’s social visibility, since they are more likely to share your content if it mentions their brands. Target brands that have strong following on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, and try to be in contact before launching the content.
  • Create a newsworthy angle for your viral content and pitch your story (using your viral content as its resource) to news websites or online publications. You can also join Helpareporter.com to pitch your story.
  • Maximize your content’s call to action by making it easy for future visitors to link to it or to share the content on various social networks.
  • Continuously promote your content by internally and contextually linking to it from your new blog posts or web pages.
  • Highlight the content on your site’s major traffic entries or landing pages (pages that have high search engine traffic).

For a more in-depth guide on how to promote a viral content, you can check out my old post about getting natural editorial links.

If you can rinse and repeat these content marketing strategies in your site’s future content, like repeating the process 10 or 20 more times, then building a strong reputable site (driven by content) will be very achievable in a matter of months. And that reputation alone can get you more subscribers, followers and natural links (can make you a link magnet), without the need of requesting for them take actions, in which you will be able to semi-automate the process of link acquisition and social sharing every time you publish new content.

Stage 2: Influence Marketing

Influence marketing is a marketing tactic/perspective that necessitates actions and processes that aim to compel a specific set of entities in a certain industry, instead of targeting its real market. These entities are most likely the ones that already have a strong following base or are seen to be somehow influential in the field based on their content and social reputation.

In my case, I’ve created most of my content with the slight intent and objective of exemplifying my expertise to industry influencers, treating them as my primary audience. Then I tried to build connections with them through:

  • Knowing the type of content that they are more likely to read and share to their audience.
  • Interacting with them through social networks and by following their blogs and starting conversations through remarkable comments.
  • Bringing the discussions back to my site and letting them see the relevance and uncommonness of the content I provide.
  • Linking out to them from a highly-linkable content that I have created, as this will increase the chances of them sharing or linking back to the content.

If your content is capable of captivating experts or influencers in your industry, then it can most probably set bigger impact and influence to your real target audience, given that a site that is being constantly vouched by reputable individuals or organizations can easily create more linking opportunities, as people are more to trust the information that the site is sharing.

“Influence marketing, in its simplest form, is creating highly exceptional content and letting other experts know about it and to be influenced by it.” For more in-depth guide, you can check out my old post about 1-2 Punch Marketing.

Stage 3: Branding

In my opinion, creating a strong brand presence to a website is the most vital process of online marketing. A site’s brand name should be the most important keyword of the campaign, as this is the area that gives the distinct identity to a business that’s certainly capable of separating it from its competitors.

It takes time, effort and consistency to efficiently develop a site’s brand, seeing as it will require processes that will need strategic planning:

  • Investing on a visually attracting web design, as it’s one of the strongest indications of longevity and is also the area that’s capable of sending massive brand signals to site visitors.
  • Building noise to your site externally using inbound marketing techniques (like guest blogging, viral content marketing, etc…) to let the big players in your field notice your brand.
  • Disseminating your brand’s identity through efficient and ethical link building, wherein you can focus on using your brand name as anchor texts when building highly-visible links (through content and community discussions).
  • Improving brand mentions by making your brand highly perceptible within your territory, such as inclusion of your brand name on each of your site’s page titles (so whenever people socially share or link back to your content externally, it will include the site’s name), as well as on your externally distributed content such as free whitepapers, infographics, guest blogs, press releases and externally hosted videos.

Brand data – such as branded search and amount of external brand mentions – are now heavily used by search engines to determine the authoritativeness of a website, as they can base sitelinks and trusted pages to be displayed on their search results through these metrics. Having a strong brand can improve your inner pages’ search rankings, as search engines are more likely to trust and return web pages as results when they are hosted by a recognized authority site.

Stage 4: Becoming a Link Magnet

Having the first 3 phases laid out – an authority website that hosts exceptional contents, influential people in the field supporting your cause and a strong brand that’s recognized by search engines – shapes a link magnet.

In this section, I will only discuss how I managed to attract and acquire authority links through some examples. But first, here are some of the ways how I identify a potential source of an authority link:

  • Have fast crawl rates, which can usually be measured through the site’s homepage PageRank.
  • Have a strong brand and following base, which can produce massive social signals.

Example 1: Creating authority and high PR links through reputation

Technorati Post

A few months ago, I was invited by Technorati to be a regular contributor on their business channel. I personally think that the opportunity was molded through the reputation that I have built for myself in the past several months of creating highly-engaging content on this blog. Basically, I was able to attract them through the way I produce content and eventually created that opportunity of obtaining a strong link from them.

Example 2: Attracting authority and high PR links through relationships

KissMetrics Blog

I have been connecting with Kristi Hines of Kikolani for almost over a year now, as I have been following her blog since I started blogging. Being connected with her eventually created a path for my blog to obtain an authority link, seeing that she saw the way how I delivered my content, and perhaps that reason somehow developed how others see my reputation as an SEO and a blogger.

Example 3: Acquiring links from educational sites (.edu)

Edu link

This link is not actually directing to this domain, though I think it’s worthy of being included here, since that cycle of linking is the best way to describe link magnetism and because that .edu page is directing to the article I’ve written for Technorati. The possible reasons why the article got that .edu link could be because of the trustworthiness of Technorati’s reputation and brand as a resource, which actually made it a magnet.

When you achieve those kinds of links, it’s important that you promote those pages as well (by linking to it whenever it’s possible), since it can help build its strength in due course as a link to your site – a link that will be certainly hard for your competitors to replicate.

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to my feed and you can also follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre.

Image Credit: BlackHoleInAJar

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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