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44 Creative and Innovative Link Building Experts and Their Strategies

Update: This post was originally published last Sept 3, 2011, which was entitled “26 creative and innovative link building experts and their strategies”. A lot of changes have happened in the link building scene these past several months, which made me decide to update this big list of resources. 

With the constant advancements that occur on various search engines’ algorithms, it is certain that the search and link game will be harder in the days/months/years to come compared to what it was like a decade ago.

Search users’ behaviors tend to grow and change as these developments arise and being employed by search engines, which makes the online marketing space more competitive, especially when it comes to link building.

Many say that link building is tough, well, yes, it is, seeing that the search industry is still in its youth stage and still has immense potentials of growing.

There are also a good percentage of companies all over the world that are still in the juncture of realizing the importance of building a strong web presence for their brands. If this other piece of the pie starts to get involved in the online marketing game, then that might just inundate the web with more sites hungry for links, which clearly means a birth for more spammy linking tactics or a new dawn for more innovative strategies.

Nowadays, in order to be efficient and to truly attain great results from your link building campaigns, you may have to fully require creativity in your strategies for reasons such as:

  • Search algorithms continuously change in order to keep up with their users’ needs.
  • Competition – on any industry – keeps on growing by the day.
  • Web users are getting smarter.

The rules in link building may frequently change, but its essence as an aspect of web marketing will always remain vital, whether it integrate itself to other new developments (like social signals), as it is the most uncomplicated way for search engines to determine websites’ authentic popularity and authority.

Having that said, I decided to list some of the most creative and innovative link builders in the industry that I know, including their works that somehow influenced my views as an SEO, and perhaps to serve as an inspiration in developing your own link building strategies.

Rand Fishkin1. Rand Fishkin, Founder and CEO of SEOmoz“white hat SEO evangelist and the face of modern Search”

5. Eric Ward, Link Evangelist at Adgooroo“link building wizard”
Wiep Knol6. Wiep Knol, Founder of Gila Media“creative link marketing expert from the Netherlands”

Tom Critchlow7. Tom Critchlow, Former VP of Operations at Distilled (now works for Google) – “the face of Search’s next generation”

Michael Gray
8. Michael Gray, President of Atlas Web Service and author of Wolf-howl“legendary link ninja”
Todd Malicoat9. Todd Malicoat, author of Stuntdubl“one of the pioneers of link baiting”
Garrett French10. Garrett French, Founder of Citations Lab“content-based link building expert”
Rae Hoffman-Dolan11. Rae Hoffman-Dolan, CEO and Managing Director of MFE Interactive“the link interrogator”
Ross Hudgens12. Ross Hudgens, author of Authentic Marketing“thought-leader on scalable link building”
Napoleon Suarez13. Napoleon Suarez, SEO Consultant at SEER Interactive“out-of-the-box link building specialist”
Ryan Clark14. Ryan Clark, CEO of Linkbuildr“ingenious link development strategies straight from Canada”

Melanie Nathan15. Melanie Nathan, President of CanadianSEO – “link building extraordinaire”

Hugo Guzman16. Hugo Guzman, VP at Zeta Interactive and author of Enterprise Interactive Marketing“corporate-level link building expert”
Justin Briggs17. Justin Briggs, SEO Consultant – “the link building scholar”
John Doherty18. John Doherty, Director of Distilled NY – “the fastest rising pundit on the Search sphere”
Debra Mastaler19. Debra Mastaler, author of Link Spiel“the link guru”
Dan Cristo20. Dan Cristo, Co-founder of Triberr“the serial web entrepreneur and developer”
Tad Chef21. Tadeusz Szewczyk, SEO blogger at SEOptimise and author of SEO 2.0 at Onreact“Global SEO player from Germany”
Kristi Hines22. Kristi Hines, author of Kikolani“leading media curator in the industry”
23. Jennifer Van Iderstyne, Online Marketing Director at Search Slingshot“the link building artist”
Wayne Barker24. Wayne Barker, Online Marketing Consultant at Boom Online – “the link specialist from Nottingham”
Julie Joyce25. Julie Joyce, owner of Link Fish Media“the link specialist”
26. Michael King, Director of Search at iAcquire – “advanced inbound marketing strategist”
richard baxter27. Richard Baxter, CEO at SEOGadget“the link gadget”
jon cooper28. Jon Cooper, Author of Point Blank SEO“the link building prodigy
paddy moogan29. Paddy Moogan, SEO Consultant at Distilled and Author of the Link Building Book“the link wizard”
d7ac2fd6d788d54f55f94f2650fd838d30. John-Henry Scherck, SEO Consultant at SEER Interactive – “the link mechanic”
d4f22u1a2235x2t0l73432. James Agate, Founder of Skyrocket SEO“the guest blogging genius”
de89d42d1f5abc2c1d4dd05c55a1128133. Kane Jamison, Founder of Content Harmony“the data-driven content strategist”
mypic34. Stephanie Chang, SEO Consultant at Distilled – “the link building teacher”
Back Camera35. Ed Fry, General Manager of Inbound.org“the link baiting prodigy”
cyrus shepard36. Cyrus Shepard, SEO and Content Marketing Consultant for SEOmoz – “the content astronaut”
1675b74ff21652c29edde2c7e82f0a3937. Peter Attia, SEO Consultant at Cucumber Nebula – “Any color of hat link building expert”
anthony pensabene38. Anthony Pensabene, Content and SEO Consultant at Skyrocket SEO – “one of the best writers in the industry” 
bill-slawski-1039. Bill Slawski, Author of SEO by the Sea“the link scientist”
michael martinez40. Michael Martinez, Author of SEO Theory“the link theorist”
chris dyson41. Chris Dyson, Author of Triple SEO – “the link MacGyver”
chris gilchrist42. Chris Gilchrist, MD and Founder of Hitreach“wordpress SEO expert from Dundee”
tim grice43. Tim Grice, Head of Search at Branded3“the link wizz”

Some of my Link Building Posts

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Image Credit: Justmathing
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How to Earn Links by Building Brand Mind Share

Mind share is an element that denotes how powerful a brand is to its market. It is commonly a result of highly effective promotions, which makes the brand really popular, making its target consumers very aware of the product/service/solution that the brand offers.

As an objective for marketing campaigns, having a strong mind share is definitely vital these days as it can stretch a brand’s reach in several ways, such as:

  • Becoming an industry leader, and often becomes a brand that’s on top of people’s minds when asked or when they think about a certain product type or category (which can result to virality and/or word of mouth).
  • Becoming a brand name that can as well serve as a generic industry term, due to its uniqueness or popularity (ex: bandaid, Xerox, Coke, etc…).

Catapulting a brand to this kind of state – whether on or offline – can extremely influence how its audience sees it, and on how it can continuously grow its popularity (and sales).

Best of all, in our case, placing a brand in that position can certainly lead to attracting ton of high-powered and hard-to-replicate links.

This topic was actually covered on my presentation last week at Mastering Online Ranking Conference, and I just thought of sharing this part for those who weren’t there to see my presentation.

So below are some of the methods that your online marketing campaign can execute to achieve better mind share for your brand, and attract/acquire natural links along the process.

Focus on Upselling the Brand’s Unique Selling Point

I really liked Jason Goldenberg’s first advice to entrepreneurs (which I believe also applies to marketers) – “to find your company/brand’s one thing”. That one thing that will set you apart from your competitors falls at the intersection of these three aspects (as explained by Jason):

  • The one problem your brand is most passionate to solve.
  • The one thing the brand has a realistic shot at being the best in the world at.
  • A huge untapped market opportunity.

These things can point your business to a direction where it can have greater mind share, with lesser efforts needed to be exerted.

Focusing your marketing efforts to heavily demonstrate its USP alone will help you achieve better results in a short period of time. Because this component of brand identity is easily retained by those who have utilized or experienced the brand’s expertise/offered solutions.

Building Mind Share through Inbound Marketing

Start promoting your brand as an expert in that specific niche of your industry (that you have high potentials of being a leader). Since there are so many inbound marketing channels that your campaign can utilize to get to your target audience’s radars.

The more people see how passionate the brand is in giving solutions to that one particular problem/niche in its industry, the more they’ll be able to tell how authoritative and useful it is. And that sends strong brand signals to your audience that allows your name to be retained by their memory.

Develop content assets that can solve most frequently asked questions in your niche

For instance, I’ve been an online marketer for over two years now. But half the time of working on and promoting my own brand was somehow focused on writing comprehensive posts about link building (which is only a small fraction of the whole profession).

Why? Because I believed that I had better chances of getting up the ranks in this area of online marketing.

So when people started finding, reading and sharing my stuff, most of them immediately perceived that my blog is a resourceful content hub that specializes on link building.

It’s important to make the most out of your content assets by:

Be everywhere through Brand/Content Seeding

Once your foundation is already solid and ready to exemplify its greatness to its audience, you can start disseminating your brand’s USP through getting content placements from the right places.

When your campaign’s goal is to build a strong mind share, prospecting sites where your brand can get more exposure is easier (though getting them would be more challenging).

Step 1: Find related domains that have high search share

Search share would be the most important metric for this type of campaign. Because pages from domains that have high search share can easily rank on search results (especially for keywords that you might also be targeting).

By getting content placements from these sites, your brand will have continual exposure, as the pages where you have seeded a branded content in can continuously get search-traffic.

You can use SEMRush to identify domains in your industry that have high search traffic.

Step 2: Seed branded content on their pages that have high potentials of ranking for competitive terms

Upsell your brand’s unique selling point through your content contributions to establish authority and your expertise in your field. Because the more people in your industry see you participate and provide valuable insights on these channels, the more you can attract them to knowing more about your brand.

Content may come in various forms (it’s not just about guest blogging). Like standing out on community discussions by sharing high-utility inputs on forum threads, Q&A sites and/or blog comment threads.

For example, that comment was placed on a post on SEOmoz that’s currently ranking for the keyword “link building strategies” (which is obviously very relevant to the audience I’m targeting).

And that comment is sending continual traffic to the blog post I’ve highlighted on the discussion.

That can simply mean that some of the people who saw my comment and clicked-through the link may think that I know a lot about link building.

What more if I’ve built dozens or hundreds of spot on comments on pages that are consistently generating easily-engaged traffic?

Another method is sharing your expertise through guest blogging/authorship on sites that have strong search share. This branding/link acquisition technique can double the impact and efficiency of your campaign.  Particularly if you’ll focus on sharing posts that blend with your brand’s USP.

Hosting content on strong domains can easily allow you to (technically) rank higher for some of the search terms that your brand is looking to rank for.

For instance, my guest post on SEOmoz is currently ranking #1 for the search term “linkable assets”:

Why? Strong search share.

Try to get content placements on other strong domains in your industry and focus on topics that can really build your brand as an authority.

This is pretty similar to what I’ve done with my own guest blogging activities. If you’ll notice, most of my recent guest posts cover topics related to link building:

Because by the time I absorb their readers, they’ll be already acquainted with what I’m really good at.

Bonus: Utilize popular web 2.0 and user-generated sites

You can also use popular websites (like Youtube, Slideshare, Scribd, etc…) in distributing content that targets your campaign’s competitive keyword(s). This can also help in spreading brand awareness and in reaching more targeted audience.

Getting the links you deserve

Continuously providing usable content concentrated on validating your brand’s USP – on or off your site – will eventually make your brand be associated with the niche you’re trying to dominate.

The things that you do excessively, but precisely (the content you provide), will make you be on top of mind, when people come across the term often used to describe your niche/category.

Adding up all the contributions you do to solve your market’s problem(s) will result to constant acquisition of natural brand mentions, particularly when being cited as a resource for others’ works or when curating the best resources in your field.

Pick/create your own niche, and then scale

A good approach to building mind share is creating or reinventing a niche in your industry, in which you can slowly build your brand as its thought-leader.

This is very doable, especially to companies/individuals who truly understand their market’s needs and can provide the best solution to those needs. Here are a few examples I can think off at the moment (mostly from our industry):

  • Inbound Marketing = Rand and Dharmesh
  • Scalable Link Building = Ross Hudgens
  • Agile Marketing = Jonathon Coleman

But choosing to focus on an already existing niche/category and proving that your brand’s value proposition is best and can’t be matched by its competitors is not impossible.

And once you’ve succeeded on putting your brand in a good position on your chosen niche, it’ll be then much easier to explore other aspects of your industry – and have a dominant presence on those areas as well.

For instance, I’ve been recently invited on a group interview about conversions (even though I’m more known in the link building scene).

Building your brand as an authority in a specific part of your industry will open more opportunities for growth. It’ll just be a matter of how you want your brand to be seen in the future.

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How to Automate Link Building

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Link building is an outcome, as Ian Lurie shared on his MozCon presentation this year. That’s true, and I couldn’t agree more. You can even automate your link development efforts with that perception alone.

To win in the link building game in the post-penguin era, you must know how to become a link magnet and should start mastering link baiting (no need for super viral content, just content that can potentially attract links). Since that’s where most natural links on the web come from.

Note: I’m not saying that manual link building is dead, because it’s not! Many of us are just using it in the wrong way. It’s a marketing tool, and being a tool for search engine optimization is just secondary. Use it to build awareness, not to improve search rankings. I have an upcoming post that’s related to that, so expect a link to that post from here.

If you’ve been reading some of my stuff on this blog, then I’m pretty sure that you’re already familiar with the tips I’ll be sharing in this post. This is simply just a recap of the things you can execute to automate the process of attracting and acquiring more natural links to your site.

Build insanely awesome products

Link building, and even marketing as a whole, is so much easier if you’re offering a product/service that no one else in your market can match. People will always share things that they find really useful or products that can really help solve their problems.

The best thing about making your products as the fuel of your marketing campaign is that it can help cultivate brand evangelists that will automate your marketing process along the way. You can almost certainly convert consumers to voluntarily share your product(s) to their peers/networks/followers when they find real value and awesomeness from using it.

Just look at Traffic Travis (even though I’ve worked for them in the past, I’ve become an advocate and an avid user of this tool), they have served thousands of Internet marketers all across the globe just by offering a free high-utility toolset.

Because they’re providing something of high value, they have managed to attract and acquire thousands of natural links/press mentions to their site over time (was even featured on Entrepreneur written by one of its brand evangelist from Single Grain).

This approach doesn’t just apply on actual products, as it can also work on other types of businesses or organizations (service-based, B2B, non-profit or membership-based models).

For instance in this blog, my ideas are my products. The more people like my ideas, the more I’ll get links, right?

Start aligning product development with marketing. Know how your clients’ products/services work and help identify areas it can still improve on and possible enhancements that will make it more awesome. Then don’t just promote, evangelize it.

Once your product is all set, start finding and building good relationships with your satisfied customers, particularly those who have written positive reviews or shared the experience about your product/service on social networks. These people will most likely be your brand loyalists in the future.

Aim to consistently satisfy their needs, or offer co-creation for your next product/versions (asking for feedbacks/suggestions). These simple actions will make them feel that they are a part of your product’s growth and will increase the chances of having them spread the word.

Look at Vans (I’m a huge fan of the brand), they allow people to create and customize their own design for shoes:

Become the “Go-to-Brand” in a specific niche of the industry

Build your brand as an authority in a single sector of your industry first. Share your expertise through the content you publish on your site as well as with the content you distribute on other industry sites/blogs. Then gradually scale to other areas of your industry.

For example, I have been known in the link building scene, because I’ve somehow focused on sharing ideas and strategies on link building for quite a while. Along the way of associating my personal brand to that niche led me to ton of linking opportunities:

  • Interviews
  • Group interviews
  • Roundups of best blogs discussing the niche
  • Editorial mentions
  • Invites to do guest blogs

Focusing on one specific niche of your industry is a good way to build a strong mindshare for your brand. Because once you’ve become known and be seen almost everywhere in that niche, you’ll be always on top of mind to people who might want to write something related to your niche.  And that’s certainly one of the best ways to automate and generate natural links/mentions to your site.

Screenshot was taken from Anthony Pensabene’s extremely useful guest post on SkyrocketSEO.

Moving on, seeing that I’ve somehow built a good reputation on that side of the industry, it’ll be much easier for me then to slowly build up my brand on other aspects of online marketing like content marketing, social media, etc…

Offer premium images and offer embed codes

Original high quality images are strong linkable assets that you can use to generate natural links. It’s a necessity when it comes to building great content, so bloggers basically need them.

There are so many ways that you can do to build links using images, but if you want to automate your link building efforts with this approach, it’s best to provide auto embed code scripts for all your sites high-quality images.

Continuously build and promote evergreen content to scale link acquisition

Like what I’ve shared on my previous post, one of the most fascinating attributes of evergreen content is its capability to continuously generate links to your site.

This type of content has high tendencies of getting links over time, as long as the content is providing valuable information that never goes out of date and as long as people will have ways to see/find the content.

The key to efficiently automate your natural link building process through providing ton of evergreen content is to build constant exposure to them or steady channels that will allow them to generate consistent traffic.

Getting constant traffic to these pages will increase the likelihood of getting more links to them (since some might use it as a reference).

Ways to send continuous traffic to your evergreen content:

  • Build contextual links to your evergreen content (both internal and incoming) that will be seen by your target audience. You can build links through related community discussions, your guest blogs and through requesting resource links from other pages related to your content.
  • Promote old evergreen content every so often on social networks, so new followers may be able to see them as well. You can use tools like Bufferapp to schedule your old posts to be shared on different social networks.
  • Make the content rank for its targeted keywords (both short and long-tails) to drive search engine traffic who’re specifically looking for the information it contains. You can also check out this content optimization techniques.

Own informational keywords on SERPs

People, specifically bloggers who do their research, tend to link to pages that rank highly on search results for informational keywords. Given that skilled bloggers will always reference others’ work to establish credibility and trust.

I’ve personally experienced this dozens of times, where I get referential links because I’m ranking at the top of Google search. For example, the link growth of my online marketing strategies resources page had tremendously increased since it reached the #1 spot for “SEO strategies”.

There are many possible reasons why people will link to your content when your content is ranking well on Google:

  • They linked to it and used it as a resource to lessen the need of further emphasizing the subject.
  • To establish trust with search engines (knowing that externally linking to trusted sources are also assessed by search engines).
  • They actually found your content useful and thought it’s worth sharing to their readers.
  • They want to connect and build a relationship with you.

So if it’s a good link bait tactic, how would you make your solid content rank highly on SERPs?

There are 4 ways that you can do to rank better on informational keywords:

  • Create the best content about the subject/keyword. Study your competitors’ similar content and outdo them in terms of information, presentation and delivery.
  • Build links to your informational page through guest blogs, community discussions, link outreach as well as building strong pages in your site that will internally link to them.
  • Improve your overall domain authority by building more authoritative links and pages to your site. This will allow your site’s newer posts/pages to have better chances of getting immediate rankings on SERPs.
  • Build and improve your author portfolio and implement authorship markup to increase your pages’ SERP click-through rate.

Build content targeted to advanced segments as well

Identify communities and content hubs in your industry that are getting the most link love and search share. Study how they generate, deliver and present their content and how they naturally attract links and social shares.

This data mining process will allow you to understand what types of content resonate well to your industry’s advanced segments or those who also write about your industry (bloggers, industry analysts, journalists, etc…).

Target these people through creating content that they’ll more likely read and learn from. You can have better response rates from your outreach if you can provide content that these influencers will be really interested in. With that, you can then easily build rapport with them and eventually get more exposure through their networks.

Leverage Unique Selling Point

Just like providing exceptional products, your brand’s USP is as important. Stress on your brand’s strong points in every online marketing effort you implement (content marketing, link building, guest blogging, display ads, etc…).

Because the more people know what really sets your brand apart from your competitors, the more you’ll get natural referrals from people who have personally experienced your product/service, such as getting mentioned on forum/community discussions and even on getting reviews.

A great example is Zappos’ exceptional customer service. Leveraging that resulted to hundreds, if not thousands, of recommendations from satisfied customers (both on and offline).

Build strong readership, audience funnels and alliances

One reason why content marketing is so efficient in getting more natural links to a site is that it amplifies the reach of your content.

Building solid readership, audience funnels and relationships are basic parts of content marketing that will not just boost your site’s social sharing activity, but also scales the opportunities of acquiring natural links.

Your online peers will always send new readers down your way, as they continuously share your content through social sharing or linking and as they grow their own following/readership. That’s why investing on these kinds of relationships will always be a win/win situation.

The more readers they send to your site will be the higher chances of getting new link sources for your content.

Few tips on building audience funnels and alliances:

  • Create content that are relevant to their interests on a weekly/monthly basis.
  • Encourage readers to share your content and follow you on social networks (make this as your content’s secondary call to action).
  • Interact with people who shared your content on social networks (like sharing their works as well).
  • Build a mailing list (newsletter) to get better insights/feedbacks from your readers too.
  • Cite their works as a resource to initiate reciprocity.

Get linkable people to write for you

Invite people who have large/substantial follower base in your industry to do guest blogs or be a contributor to your site. It will be easier to entice them if you’re already connected with them.

Another option, in case you feel that you’ll be struggling to invite influencers to do guest blogs, is to find and hire niche freelance writers (that already have strong following) in your industry.

You can use Followerwonk in finding freelance writers who can work and create good/linkable content for your site. Having them shared the content to their followers is definitely the plus in doing this method.

Organizing and hosting a blogging contest on your site, and inviting influencers to participate is also another great way to bait linkable authors to write for you. Look at what Unbounce did last year.

Final thought

I really liked what Ross Hudgens said about automating link building – it’s all about automating 90% of the process, and then leaving the 10% to humans who will create 99% of the value. Now stop using those automated link building software, they won’t help you one bit in this era.

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

Strategic Integration and the Search Engine Optimization Formula that Always Seems to Work

A solid strategy is always a brainchild of a strong, persistent and flexible mindset. A mindset that can both strictly implement needed actions and agile enough to adapt to sudden changes. Though more often than not, many of us, particularly thinkers, are in search of a single solution or a formula that can withstand different kinds of situations.

Is that possible in this industry? The truth is I’m not really that sure, people will really try to tear me apart when I say that a one-size-fits-all strategy does exist. But, there is one formula that I believe has been working for so long, for so many websites, that I think many aren’t aware of or maybe know it but wouldn’t just bank on that idea.

SEO Formula that always seems to work

The process that I’m about to share is quite basic, and I’m kind of sure that most of you wouldn’t be that surprised. Although, the best thing about this process is that it can work on any type of website, whether it’s old or new, big or small, ecommerce, affiliate, blog or on just a simple business website.

So how does this formula work? It’s actually more on the principle behind your on-site and off-site optimization, wherein the 2 most important aspects of SEO will strongly put emphasis on:

  • An effective site structure and information architecture, which is the part that will focus on getting your site’s pages better search rankings.
  • Acquiring links mainly for visibility and indexation, not rankings. This means your link building efforts will not depend on anchor texts and link attributes, but rather be used as means to keep the site regularly crawled and indexed in order to support the on-site changes that will be constantly implemented.

Basically, you’ll put more effort in continuously tweaking, analyzing and improving the site itself, instead of forcing your way to the top rankings through link building, because it will only lead your campaign to spamming (or manipulating search engines).

With this approach, you’ll have the on-site optimization part slowly build your site’s search rankings on a domain-level (pulling all other deeper pages to rank as well), by simply gauging your top competitors’ ranking pages’ content against yours (then overcoming their content) as well as in building a light tunnel for search crawlers so they can easily access your pages to be indexed and be ranked.

Whereas the link building part will only serve as a support in allowing search engines to see frequent changes occurring in your site. Of course the passing of authority will also come in along the process, which I’ll be discussing more below.

On-site structuring and information architecture

There are actually ton of things that you can do to optimize your site’s blueprint for search. Though some might have minor effects and others may bring major impact to your site’s search rankings. But the main point is to focus on the accessibility of your site to both users and search engines.

Here are some of the important on-site optimizations that you will really need to weave on to your site:

Keyword Mapping

Designate keywords to pages where they are absolutely relevant. Then optimize each page for those keywords by using or mentioning them on the pages’ titles, URLs, headlines and most especially – within the content.

You can also target multiple keywords for a single content, wherein you can use and optimize the page for both head terms and some of its near long-tail keywords (this is also best to reduce the chances cannibalizing your keywords – or overusing the same keywords on separate webpages which might confuse search engines in understanding which page is more important).

Generate a list of your campaign’s targeted keywords (from head terms to long tails). You can use Google Keyword Tool in executing this task. Then segment your keywords based on categories, so you can easily see where your keywords will most-likely fit when implementing them to your site’s pages.

Block crawlers from accessing thin and possible duplicate pages of the site

It’s also important that you disallow search engines from indexing pages of your site that might not be relevant to users such as your site/blog’s tags and search result pages, as well as duplicate pages that might cause confusion to crawlers including URL versions (www and non-www) and paginations. These pages may affect your site’s overall ability to rank on search results, as they add little to no value to searchers.

You can easily block crawlers in accessing your site’s thin (poor content) pages by disallowing access to the URL of the page(s) or the folder where they are contained via Robots.txt. Adding the noindex tag to individual pages is also another option for this task.

Relevantly linking your pages internally/contextually

As always, internal linking is a big factor when it comes to helping your pages rank better on search results, given that these links make sure that every page of your site will be visited by search crawlers as they travel through the links within your site pointing to one to another.

Use them to your advantage by not just internally linking because a relevant page’s keyword was mentioned, but instead “talk about” the other page(s) of your site from your other pages. That element of context will add and pass more value, and it will also allow you to naturally come up with variations for your internal links’ anchor texts.

Setting the pages’ hierarchy and levels of priorities

Identify which pages you want to be more visible to search engines and to your site’s visitors. These pages could be your high-converting landing pages, prized content that allows you to generate subscribers/leads (content assets) or your categories that links down to your site’s deeper pages.

Include these pages to your site’s navigation (or secondary navigation menu) to make search engines know how important these pages are. You can also point more internal links to these pages to improve visibility and to pass more link value to them.

Optimizing site speed

Use Google Labs’ Page Speed Insights to track your site and its pages’ loading time, as this part of the optimization process will increase the crawlability of the site, which is definitely good for site indexation.

For more in-depth tips on sitewide optimization, you can check out Steve Webb‘s post on SEOmoz on technical SEO audit and Dave Sottimano’s post on finding a site’s biggest technical flaws.

Target low-hanging fruit in link building

At the initial stages of the campaign, you wouldn’t really need fancy links (though you’d definitely still have to aim for those), because you’ll just need links that will allow your site to be more visible to your target audience, and of course be followed by search crawlers so they can index your site and see the constant changes happening in it.

Start with the easy-to-get links first. Several methods that you can use in building branded links to your site:

Business and local directories

There are so many “quality” web directories out there where you can submit your site for placements, and even SEOmoz has listed 400+ of those directories. Use these directories to mainly send search engine bots to your site.

You can also use Google Search in finding good local/business web directories. Evaluate and sift through the directories that you’ll find through the search results by basing it on domain and content-level metrics such as their traffic stats, site’s design and domain authority (DA).

Brand profile pages

Brand pages from popular social networking sites are also a good way to build links that will get your site regularly indexed, since these sites are regularly crawled by search engines. Some of the sites that you can build a brand page/profile from:

Easy-to penetrate sites for Guest Blogging

Many sites on almost any industry that continuously look for guest authors to run their blogs efficiently in terms of generating content on a regular basis. Take advantage of these sites, as you’ll have better chances of landing live guest posts with links to your site’s important pages.

Several ways in finding guest blogging opportunities (where it’s easy to get your guest entry published):

Link reclamation

If you’re business is doing offline marketing, or you have events, products or services being offered offline, then this might come in handy when you start getting easy to acquire links for your site.

Find brand mentions (your brand, product, event or personal brand) that didn’t result to link(s) to your site, as you can easily translate these into hard-to-replicate links (that can extremely pass ranking as well as business value to your site).

Some of the methods that you can use in searching for non-link or un-optimized brand mentions are:

  • Using Google’s Blog Search – search for your brand and set the time to past month or you may also choose to use the “custom range” feature, so you can filter the results by recency.
  • Go through the results and see if every page that has mentioned your brand has properly linked to your site, because if you see some, you’ll have a good reason to contact them and easily grab a link from them.
  • Find links to your site that use the wrong URL version. Optimize these links by requesting for these links to be changed into your preferred URL version.
  • Use Google Images Search or Tineye to search for your sites that might have used your original images or business logo with no link attribution or credit to your site. Get them to link to you.
  • Setup a Google Alerts for your branded keywords, original content (infographics, videos, content assets, etc…) to monitor future brand mentions.

Social link building

Track people who have shared your content or have mentioned your brand on social networks, especially on Twitter. Make a list of them and see who manage blogs/websites, as you’ll have better response and approval rate when you start asking links (guest posting, resource links, etc…) from them, since they already know who you are.

In finding people who have mentioned your brand or products on Twitter, you can use Google search with this query:

You can also use Topsy to monitor brand mentions as well as the people who have socially shared any page of your website.

Competitor link analysis

Get insights on how your competitors are getting their links and where. Then replicate those that you can easily acquire. There are lots of tools that you can use to accomplish this task like Ahrefs.com, Open Site Explorer and Majestic SEO. Export and create a list of your top competitors’ links and start hunting for the easy-to-get links that they all have been obtaining.

Continuously tweak and improve the content of the pages competing on SERPs

After having most of your site’s pages being indexed by search engines, some of them may start getting ranked on search results (could be within the top 100 or not). Once some of your major keywords are on this space, it would be best to fight your way up through content competitive analysis/intelligence or to simply optimize their content (continuously test what’s pushing them up), instead of fighting your way through the amount of links you and your competitors are getting.

Start by assessing your top competitors’ content, analyze each competitor’s strengths and weaknesses in a content-level (do they missed something or do they lack visuals?). Then try to outdo them by improving your pages’ content to deliver more information and usability than them.

Other aspects of the content that you can continuously improve other than the content itself is the amount of supporting internal pages linking to it. So you can choose to continuously add more valuable pages that will support your pages aiming to get better positions on search results.

What’s next? Strategic Integration

Once your site has already a strong footing with its SEO after a month or two, then it’s best to start working on/merging other marketing channels that fit your business needs, seeing that all these channels can help on another (offline, social, SEO, etc…). Possible routes for your online marketing campaign will most likely revolve around the following practices:

Building alliances and networking

Having peers in your industry’s online community is certainly an asset that you can benefit from for a very long time. May it be in terms of getting traffic or business referrals from them, absorbing their loyal followers, and getting high-end links from their site’s content.

Invest on content marketing and social media campaigns to gain more brand exposure and earn more hard-to-replicate links.

Along the way of optimizing your business over the web and search, discovering more keywords to target for your campaign will be inevitable. And as always, the best way to get new keywords for your site is through creating new content that will cover those particular interests/topics, which should be hosted within your domain.

Lead nurturing and email marketing

It’s vital to create funnels that will allow you to steadily grow your business’ customer/client base through targeted lead generation and sending out targeted messages to them.

UX and Conversion Rate Optimization

Given that you’ll be sending more traffic to your site through all the marketing efforts that you’ll be doing for your business, maximizing the existing traffic, retaining your visitors and aiming to have them take actions or increase the site’s conversions will be the prime objectives of the campaign. Because at the end of the day, it’s all going to be about making your business bigger and better.

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

Special shout out to Nick Eubanks for inspiring me to write this post (I actually remembered this when I saw that he mentioned an old post of mine on his recent post). 

Image Credit: Tea, two sugars

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How to Develop Conversion-Oriented Link Building Strategies using Google Analytics

Sherlock HolmesAnalysis is a thought-process that has been widely used in SEO. This aspect of the practice allows many of us to outsmart competitors as well as the ever evolving field itself, including the drastic game-changing events/updates that Google continuously employ to its search algorithm.

That’s one reason why Google Analytics has been tremendously useful to SEOs (and it’s great that the tool is free), as it supplies its users with their site’s usage data which can help them improve its performance.

One of the main goals of many web-based businesses is to generate more revenue, conversions and/or transactions to their sites, and many of them invest on link building to serve as a 2nd tier to attain this goal (to mainly support the SEO process to achieve better search rankings).

That mantra for link building could be dead any time soon, seriously, seeing that links that can drive you conversions are the ones that will most likely impact your search rankings.

So instead of pushing your way to obtain higher search rankings through link building, why not use your link building efforts to hit two birds with one stone – to improve both rankings and conversions – by building two strong channels where you can generate conversions (via search and referrals).

In this post, I’ll be sharing a few tips on how you can utilize Google Analytics to mine better insights to develop more targeted and conversion-oriented link building strategies.

Set up Goals in Analytics

To start off, you’ll first need to identify your overall campaign’s objectives and to set up your goals in Google Analytics, to be able to measure and determine the areas where your campaign can work on improving.

There are 4 types of goals that you can set on Analytics (URL destination, visit duration, page/visit and event), but in this case we’ll just focus on URL destination to measure site transactions (product sales, services, subscriptions, downloads, etc…).

The first step is to go to your Google Analytics’ admin panel:

And then go to “Goals”:

Start creating a new Goal by inputting necessary information and details. You’ll also need to set up a “thank you” page on your site, which will serve as the “Goal URL” for the campaign to ensure that the visitors you’ll be measuring have completed a transaction.

You can also choose to add a value for your Goals, like for instance, I added $500 as the value of my thank you page when visited through my SEO services page, since it’s the minimum rate of our team’s consultation services.

Once you’ve filled up the information needed for your goal, you can then choose to use funnels, which is usually needed to determine how many visitors are abandoning your preferred landing pages or to help you monitor and improve the steps taken before a visitor completes a transaction.

Setting up a funnel can also give you a better view of how visitors flow within your site (from other pages of your site) before actually getting to your Goal URL.

As soon as you’re done setting up your goals, it’ll be much easier to devise link building strategies that will complement your conversion optimization efforts.

Conversion Link Building by Demographics/Location

Identify which locations have brought highly converted traffic to your site, and improve on this area to maximize growth in terms of lead and revenue generation. It’s best to track your site’s visitor demographics from the past 2 – 3 months to generate more precise results.

You can first start by going to Audience > Demographics > Location: On the top left corner of the map overlay, choose Goal Set:

After choosing the Goal Set, the data available below the map overlay will display conversion related metrics, which will make it easier for you to distinguish locations where you have strong market.

Click on the transactional goal that you have set up, and see which locations have high converting traffic but you haven’t really optimized your site for.

If you have highly interested audiences/market/potential customers from places you never expected to generate leads/sales from, then trying to increase the traffic you’re getting from these locations might just mean improving your site’s ability to convert more visitors as well.

So how would you increase referred traffic from these areas?

Find prospects by Location

Search for link opportunities from locations where your potential customers are from and build links from them (like offering guest blogs). You can also try requesting links to direct to your site’s linkable content from your prospected sites, since people from their location do find your content useful and relevant (based on Analytics).

Offer your content to be translated

For non-English speaking countries that still find your website’s content/products/services useful, you can choose to find content partners (high-traffic blogs based or hosted on that certain location) and offer your high-quality content to be translated and published on their sites. But make sure that the links you’ve placed within the original content will be kept intact and that they’ll give credit to your site as the original source of the content.

Improving internal linking and anchor text targeting through Top Landing Pages

There are 2 ways to strengthen your link building campaign through Google Analytics’ Site Content feature:

  • Internal linking the pages that constantly bring highly-engaged traffic to the site to the site’s money pages for maximum conversions.
  • Identifying the secondary keywords that yield search traffic to these high performing pages, and using them as variations for anchor texts to continuously improve their traffic generation capability.

Let’s start with how to determine strong pages to use for internal linking.

Go to Content > Site Content > Landing Pages:

Distinguish the top landing pages (aside from your homepage) of your site that have constantly brought traffic to the site from the past month(s), particularly the old ones that are still getting huge traffic.

You can then assess and decide to internally/contextually link some of these pages to your transactional pages (you can also enhance their calls-to-action to convert more of its incoming new visitors).

There’s also an advanced method to extract more accurate data from your top landing pages. On the top left part of the Landing Pages’ graph report, click on “Goal Set”:

Below the graph, the report will display a slightly different set of data, which are more on conversion-related metrics. Click on the transactional Goal conversion rate to show the results in order of pages that have generated higher conversions:

You can filter the results to exclude irrelevant pages by clicking on the advanced filters:

Choose “exclude” from the first drop-down option, and choose the “Goal Conversion Rate” you want to extract (services in my case). The second drop-down option will automatically show “Greater than”, you’ll have to enter the most realistic number that you’ve seen from your data (which in my case is below 12% is realistic). Lastly, click on “Apply”.

The presented data will show a more realistic standing of your top landing pages in terms of meeting your business’ objectives.

With these figures, you’ll have greater idea of what pages to enhance and build more links to (to increase the traffic they’re receiving as well as to improve their search rankings), since these pages are helping you drive more sales/conversions.

The next step would be is to identify the keywords that your top landing pages are ranking for and send highly-engaged visitors to them as well (based on % of new visits and % of bounce rates).

You can first start by choosing a landing page from the list of your top performing landing pages:

Add a secondary dimension, and choose Traffic Sources > Keyword

It will then show all the keywords sending search traffic to the landing page you chose.

You can filter this result further to remove the (not provided) and (not set) keywords, which you can also use when extracting keywords from multiple landing pages or all of your site’s top landing pages. Here’s how:

Click on the advanced filters, choose “Exclude” from the first drop-down option, and on the second drop-down option, choose “Begins with” and then key in “(“ – to exclude all the (not provided) and (not set) keywords from the list. Then click on “Apply”.

Now you’ll have a huge list of keywords that your landing page(s) are already ranking for, a list that you can use to vary the anchor texts of links that will direct to your strong pages.

Choose the keywords that sends high amount of new visits and have low bounce rates, because these visitors are finding your content relevant to the queries they’ve used to find your page.

Just imagine if you can rank higher for multiple keywords for a single landing page, that could easily translate to higher conversions. Plus it’s easier to achieve better rankings from these keywords, since they are already being served to search users.

Also, another way to see which keywords are converting well to your campaign’s goals is to use the “Goal Set” data (on the top left corner of the landing page graph):

Then the conversion-based data of keywords below the graph will be displayed, where you can see which keywords may drive more customers to your business.

How to build links using your newly found keyword variations for your top landing pages:

  • Build more internal links to your top landing pages using the keyword variations you’ve uncovered from your analytics data.
  • Use these keyword variations as anchor texts when building links to them through your external content distribution campaign such as guest blogging, columns, community-based discussions or press releases. You can also check out my guest post on Searchbrat on promoting and building links to great content.

Understanding and replicating high-powered links through Top Referring Websites/Sources

Understand the links that help you drive more leads/conversions by analyzing link placements/positions, context, source and type. Have a process or a formula that will enable you to replicate your site’s existing incoming links that have proven value in increasing your site’s conversion rate, as it will definitely influence your mindset on how to acquire highly-efficient links (not just for rankings and traffic, but for conversions as well).

There are 3 different ways that you can do within Google Analytics to assess high-performing links to your site.

1. Traffic Sources > Referrals

Go to Traffic Sources > Sources > Referrals:

On the top left part of the referred traffic graph, click on the “Goal Set” data:

 The data displayed below that graph will then show the referring domains that have sent converted visitors to your site (click on your transactional goal’s conversion rate to categorize sites by conversion rate percentage).

You can also check on the domains individually to see which linking pages are driving easily-converted traffic to your site or to the page where they are linking to (by simply clicking on any website listed to see the referral path).

2. Assisted Conversions

Go to Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels > Assisted Conversions

On the Basic Channel Grouping, choose “Referral”

Right from there, you’ll see the top referring domains that have driven possible leads/customers to your site:

3. Goal Flow

Go to Conversions > Goals > Goal Flow

From the Goal Flow map, click on the “Group Details”

A pop-up window will display, where you can choose “Top Segments” from the first dropdown option:

The window will display a list of referring domains that have eventually led a portion of the overall referred traffic to your transaction page (money page):

Once you have distinguished the sites and/or pages that are sending customers to your site, you can then start analyzing these links, particularly in understanding why/how they were able to directly help your site generate leads.

Here’s a quick sample:

97thfloor.com naturally linked to one of my recent posts last April (you can see the post here), and this link has sent 2 potential clients to me (4.44% conversion rate out of 45 visitors) these past 2 months.

By just observing this type of link, you can easily evaluate how the link was able to refer interested customers:

  • The link is very visible and was placed on the first sentence of the content
  • The content of the link’s destination page resonates with their audience
  • The context of the content that surrounds the link speaks positively about the destination page
  • It’s from an authority site that has its own readership/follower base

Once you fully understand how and why your existing links are sending you direct leads, you can easily build your own metrics to use in qualifying link prospects and methods (like the ones I’ve mentioned above).

Did that link influence the destination page’s search rankings? Yes. As far as I know, it’s the only authority link that’s linking to my “viral content ideas” post, and there are only few links pointing to it. Here’s a screenshot grabbed from a recent SEOmoz post about impact of authoritative links:

Methods that you can implement to amplify your link building based on your Top Referrers’ data:

2nd tier link building – help the pages linking to you that send high-value traffic to rank better on search engines, by building links to them and promoting them through social media. The more constant traffic these linking pages get, the more you can get good traffic and leads from them.

Find similar prospects – find sites that have the same audience as those that have linked to you (which send easily converted visitors). Try to acquire the same kind of link placements, exposure and visibility from them (whether through guest blogs, resource link requests, coverage, blogroll links, etc…). Here’s a good way to find related websites:

Pitch your site’s most linkable content (or accidental link baits) to related websites – since you know that your site’s linkable pieces have earned other reputable sites’ trust, you’ll have better chances of acquiring links from your other prospects.

Build more links from sites that are already sending you leads/customers– try to absorb more traffic from them by contributing more useful content on their sites (like guest blogs, regular column or helpful forum posts if you’re generating leads from forum websites). Replicate the position of links that have allowed you to increase your site’s conversions (highly visible links from high traffic pages).

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

Image Credit: Amanda Tolleson

Link Building in 2012 and Beyond: Scalable Link Building

There are tons of things happening and changing in the link building game since the start of the year, from the finer value being given to social signals, changes in the search results (primarily with Search plus your World and continuous roll out of different versions of Panda update), expected demise of link networks, to the improvements made by Google in interpreting the use of anchor texts to determine relevance.

Most of these changes clearly denote that we all have to adapt and evolve as well with how we market, brand and make our websites more visible through link building.

Ethical link acquisition has grown more significant, especially nowadays, wherein the practice’s results affect and encompass other areas of online marketing if done in large scale and targeted approach, such as:

  • Referring click-through visitors
  • Building brand signals
  • Keeping the site regularly crawled and indexed by search engines
  • Improving search rankings
  • Lead generation

But of course, we always have to remember that link development is only one part of the pie – and an important one that makes SEO as a whole – considering that to really be efficient in getting great results from link building requires a well-optimized site/landing page (for search, UX and conversions). Marrying a solid on-site and off-site campaign is the key to attaining ROI-driven results, as always.

So the big question, does link building for this year differ from what was mostly done last year? If I would have to answer this question based from what our team has been doing these past few months, I would say not that much, since:

  • We still use the same link valuation technique in identifying possible link prospects.
  • I still believe that content is the center of an effective link development campaign
  • It’s still bloody, as we still do things manually and mostly content and community-based links.

However, there are some things that have changed along the way such as:

  • Focusing more on partial match anchor texts, with longer strings (as they have higher CTR, particularly when placed within the body of the content).
  • Aiming to get more content published on sites that have strong social following (to maximize the value of the link(s) that will be acquired through social and branding signals).
  • Getting more value from the links acquired, like acquiring links that will translate to rankings, branding, lead generation/customer acquisition, and a constant source of traffic (as the linking page continuously gets pageviews through search and other channels), which means each link should have a long-term purpose/benefit for the business.

And as I have mentioned above, we’re still using the same methodologies in assessing our link targets, and in building strategies to acquire links from them by evaluating link opportunities through:

  • Domain level metrics such as PageRank (homepage) and Domain Authority
  • Relevance of the site’s theme and audience
  • The target site’s volume of traffic
  • Quality and usefulness of their content
  • Visually attractive web design
  • Level of difficulty of obtaining links from them
  • If they are ranking on Google (can be easily seen if you’re using SEOQuake’s SEMrush data).

Basically, the link development strategies that you’ll want to implement to your site’s marketing efforts has to have the potential and ability to be naturally scaled and grow on its own to benefit both of the campaign’s short as well as long-term goals. That’s the kind of link building principle that any serious business should have.

Here are some of the mantras and methods that you can use to scale your link building efforts this year.

Find, build and leverage Linkable Assets 

Any part of a website or organization that is capable of continuously attracting traffic and natural links to it is linkable asset. It is definitely easier to build and request for links to these types of properties/materials as people will have viable reasons for linking to it, mainly the value being offered by the content or a particular element of the site.

Some of the most common types of linkable assets that a site can have are as follows:

  • People/Experts – people who offer valuable content and have managed to build strong personal brands get cited most of the time on other blogs/sites and can also be interviewed, which can generate strong links to the site.
  • Events (Awards, Conferences, Seminars, etc…) – can naturally acquire in-content links and press mentions when heavily promoted through social media and can also be a strong front when reaching out for content-based link acquisitions.
  • Site’s Key Features (News Voting, Forums, Q&A, Free Tools, products and downloadable apps) – there are so many ways to build and attract links to these pages, such as getting links from bloggers through experiential reviews, guest blogging, requesting for resources links, sourcing for industry news and through community discussions.
  • Free Extensive Resources or Lessons – which can easily attract linkers (especially when they have to bookmark the page) when it’s receiving a lot of traffic. It’s also easier to request other relevant websites (even .edu sites) to link to this type of content, as it contains high-value information. Broken link building and linker outreach will work well when building links to your comprehensive free lessons.
  • Data Visualization (Infographics, Linked Data and Kinetic Typography) – which can certainly bait links if promoted well via social media. Providing embed codes can also increase the chances of getting more natural links, so that the page’s visitors can easily grab and embed the material to their own blogs. News sites also have a weakness for data-driven content, so pitching it to news writers in your industry might also help in getting press mentions and more editorial links.
  • Coin an industry term and build a definition page for it – use it frequently when distributing content externally, as when other people in your industry start using the technical terminology that you have invented, you can easily attract link attributions for the term. You can use Google Alerts to keep track of the sites using your industry term and you can also build a Wikipedia page for it which can link back to your term’s definition page (hosted within your site).
  • Job Boards – can help increase response and approval rate when requesting links from .edu sites, given that most of them have pages that list possible jobs where their students can send their applications to.

It’s sure enough that there are other types of content that could serve as a linkable asset for your site (like an evergreen and well-research blog post). So finding already existing strong pages lying beneath your site that could possibly be an asset for your link building campaign is also crucial. In finding possible linkable assets, you can start by identifying them through digging deeper into your site’s pages and identifying the ones that are:

  • Already attracting natural links (which can be tracked via Google’s Webmaster Tools)
  • Generating constant traffic and have high user-activity (ranking on search results, have high percentage of new visits and have low bounce rates).

Understand why people are linking and staying longer on these pages of your website, and enhance them to be able to attract more natural links with minimal effort.

You can check out my post on SEOmoz about building links to linkable assets, which elaborately discusses almost everything you need to know on how to make the most of your site’s socially engaging and link-worthy content.

Reverse Engineer your Competitors’ Links

Knowing where your competitors are getting their links from is still very much important this year (and definitely will be as long as SEO/link development is alive). Competitor analysis, particularly with links, is not just about identifying the sites linking to your competitors, since you’ll also have to understand the relationships between these linking sites to be able to replicate and overcome your competitors’ strategies in terms of link acquisition.

It’s always important to know who are linking to them (especially the authoritative ones), how they got the link and why they are linking to them, before approaching these link targets. Once you have the answers to these questions, then it will be easier to build strategies on acquiring the same type of link.

You can use tools like Open Site Explorer to find your competitors top pages (and most linked to) as well as Ahrefs to track sites linking to their strong pages. Make a list of those sites and segment them by level of difficulty and importance so you can easily set priorities and goals in acquiring links from them.

Study the average volume of links being acquired by your competitors on a monthly basis and also the types of links they are mostly getting to get a clearer picture of how you can outrank them by pinpointing the things that are obviously working for them.

Content Marketing

Many people in the industry are already seeing content marketing as the new face of link building. And that’s quite true, given that the more you push great, useful and share-worthy content to your audience, the more it can attract possible links to your site and its content, which is the real essence of whitehat link building (linkbaiting).

Content marketing is a practice that simply allows a site to build enormous amount of middle of the funnel offerings to their target consumers that could be in the form of:

  • Expert content or useful blog posts.
  • Free whitepapers and/or ebooks.
  • Newsletters.
  • Social media content (content shared on social networks, which can also be from other sources or websites).
  • Infographics.
  • Videos.
  • Crowdsourcing
  • Curated content

These types of web content are able to help in increasing the site’s conversions, especially when they are heavily promoted through social media and manual link acquisitions to make them more visible to its target audience, since the campaign gives the site’s visitors more reasons to return and consume more of the information that website is offering, which can lead to brand loyalty and transactions.

Apparently, the more these web-based materials are able to push your brand as an authority in your industry, the better chances of getting more natural referring links (as well as deep links) from other websites/blogs in your industry. This also helps in continuously growing a strong following base on social networks that can certainly make a closed-loop funnel for both link development and social media marketing purposes.

Few important factors and actions in content marketing:

  • Develop a content strategy including content inventory and a strict schedule for publishing
  • Identify different classes of personas of your business’ possible audience, so you can easily build content with targeted messages and calls-to-action.
  • Use keywords that will most likely be used by your market when searching for the information your content will contain.
  • Heavily promote your content through social and email outreach (target influencers and people who will really find your content useful that also have a substantial following). Assess your content if it is really worth promoting before actually reaching out to industry linkers.
  • Make social buttons very visible to force multiply the content’s social sharing process.
  • All of your content for this part of the campaign should internally link to your most prized pages (important landing page(s) of your site), to convert visitors and to help those pages rank better on search results, since these contents will be carrying high amounts of link juice as they naturally acquire links and social signals.

Basically, content marketing is a link attraction technique, and being consistent with it is definitely a scalable link building strategy.

Partial-match Anchor Text Strategy

Since Google has now have implemented some changes on how they use anchor texts as a ranking signal, employing a partial-match anchor text strategy for your link building is just as vital as how exact-match anchor texts were before.

Have different sets of variations for your targeted keywords to use when building links from other websites. You can use the technique that was shared by Ross Hudgens on generating anchor text variations through excel.

The main key to an effective partial-match anchor text link building is to just secure the targeted keyword(s) within the link’s text, while making the link more descriptive than usual (ex: “Affilorama’s free affiliate marketing training lessons” instead of  the plain “affiliate marketing training”).

With this, you are also able to target and optimize your pages for the keywords’ other possible long-tail queries. Another advantage of placing longer strings of texts for the links you are building to other websites is that it gets higher chances of being clicked, since it’s more perceptible to readers, plus the fact that the link’s visible text is very descriptive.

Guest Blogging

Guest blogging has been one of the most effective ways to build links these past few years, and seems to be the top method of most agencies and practitioners for link acquisition, knowing that the value of the links acquired through this technique appears to have great impact when it comes to pushing keyword search rankings, along with its other advantages like the capability of the method to refer traffic, followers, leads and disseminate online brand presence.

An efficient guest blogging campaign focuses on getting content placements on sites/blogs that are known to be an authority in your field (or closely related to your industry that caters to a fraction of your market), have high traffic and will pass link value that can influence search rankings.

Finding blogs where you can submit guest blogs to is easy. You can use this link prospecting method to make a big list of highly relevant blogs where you can acquire links from by pitching to write a guest entry for them.

Other factors that you should also consider when doing guest blogs:

  • Prioritize content submissions to blogs/sites that have robust social community, to build content/links from them that will generate social signals. This will also allow you to absorb some of their followers when they start sharing your content.
  • Focus on getting live guest posts on blogs that have trusted author agents (blogs that already have their authorship markups displaying on search results, or blog owners that have strong following on Google+).
  • Implement authorship markup (rel=”author”) on all of your guest posts if possible.

Bonus tip:

This originally appeared on my last month’s newsletter:

Are you struggling with volume link building? Well, we all do, sometimes, especially if you’re in the whitehat arena (whether you’re working for an SEO agency that have monthly KPIs or working on a very competitive vertical that necessitates content-based links), as penetrating content-based links from highly relevant sites takes time more often than not.

Anyway, I’ll just share something that our team has been implementing that allowed us to meet the volume needed for some of our clients’ link building campaigns – covering industry-related news and pitching it as a guest blog/column.

Basically, you’ll just need to be updated with the news in your industry and recreate/rewrite it (and you could also include your own views about it) and then offer it as a guest blog to relevant blogs, since most bloggers are busy researching, writing or with their day jobs, and most of them have no time to cover these topics.

The great thing about using news stories as your topic for guest blogs is that blog owners will most likely publish your guest blog right away, since it’s news (and their readers wouldn’t want to wait for weeks to have that story published on their blog). So you’re doing them a favor.

And that kind of content relationship can grow eventually, and perhaps you can be a regular contributor/columnist to their blog who’ll specialize on news-related posts (which means more high-CTR link opportunities for your site).

How to do this:

  • Hangout on news sites that provide articles about your industry (for instance, if you’rein the tech/business industry, you can find content ideas from Technorati, Gizmodo, Mashable, Techcrunch, Yahoo! News, etc…).
  • Become the second wave coverage, by writing (rewriting) about the news articles you find from your news sources.
  •  Find blogs that have readers who’ll find your “rewritten news article” useful. You can easily do this through Google Search (example query:  tech news “write for us”).
  • Contact the blog owner, and ask if you can submit a “news article” to their blog that’s related to what most of their topics is about, and mention that “their readers may find your contribution useful”.

To give you more idea on how this one works, here’s a live sample:

There are also other avenues for external content distribution that you can choose to employ to scale your guest blogging campaign:

  • Become a columnist or regular contributor to industry-specific blogs and/or news sites. This will have more impact in terms of branding and SEO, as you’ll get more exposed to your target market by regularly publishing content on different web channels of your industry, which is certainly a great trust signal to both your audience and search engines.
  • Use and incorporate rich-media content when pitching for guest blogs (like infographics or high-quality videos), as this enhances your success and approval rate for guest publishing. And you can also use these rich-media materials as many times as you want in order to build more links from different domains in your industry.
  • Hire authority freelance writers/bloggers/journalists that specialize in your industry, particularly those who are already published in authority content sites (ex: Technorati, Examiner.com, Smashing Magazine, Business Insider, Freelance Switch, etc…).

Editorial Link Building

Like what I’ve said before, I believe that this is the most powerful type of link there is. Simply because it’s voluntarily given, which what Google wants, and are more often than not clicked by people who gets to see the link, seeing that this type of link is placed within the body of the content.

Getting editorial links from content creators requires a content-centric campaign that will naturally attract people in referencing you as the originator (which is why content marketing plays a big role in today’s age of link development), wherein you’ll really have to earn the link/citation.

As always, there are many ways to build editorial links to your site or its contents, such as:

  • Creating a newsworthy content that have viral-marketing potentials, then pitching it to known curators, columnists, bloggers and/or news editors in your industry to get press coverage/mentions.
  • Launching a social media marketing campaign for your compelling content, through both manual social outreach and paid services. You can check out this post on viral marketing strategies for more tips on getting your content in front of possible linkers.
  • Sharing your site to Google News, since most of their channels are sometimes being used by journalists/bloggers as a source for their next stories, and this can lead to editorial link acquisitions and traffic generation to the original source of the story.
  • Tracking the links from your competitors’ similar content, and reach out to those sites and ask if they’ll be interested to link or share your content.
  • Mentioning your content through your externally distributed content such as guest blogs, free ebooks, slide presentations and press releases to increase discovery rate.
  • Reaching out to sites that have already linked to you in the past, as you’ll have better chances of acquiring links/social shares from them.

Authority, Brand and Relationship Building through Communities

Slowly develop your brand as an authority through genuinely contributing your expertise, sharing your ideas and helping out others to solve their problems to online communities and discussions (blogs, forums, news sites, social networks and Q&A sites).

Be consistent with your identity (profile avatar, username, description and approach) and try to assimilate your business’ unique value proposition with your persona as a contributor.

Becoming very noticeable by being everywhere, making yourself (or your representative) stand out in your industry’s online community, and by getting mentioned by people who you have built connections/relationships with will make you a linkable asset, and that what makes this strategy very scalable.

This will then make it easier for you to find better link opportunities in getting:

  • Blogroll links
  • Guest blogs/columns
  • Editorial links
  • Resources/list pages links

BizDev Link Building

Build links that will focus on driving more business to your site. Below are some link building techniques which are more aimed to driving targeted customers, but can also help in improving the site’s branding and search engine optimization campaign:

Blog Incubation – invest on building support blogs that will provide interesting and socially-engaging content for each different sector of your business’ target market (ex: say you have an ecommerce site for furniture and home decors, you can run several external blogs that will strictly focus on a single topic area, such as a home improvement blog, interior design blog, lifestyle blog, architecture blog, room design blog, office design blog, etc…). Once these blogs are already generating a good amount of highly engaged traffic, you can then start adding your main site as an additional navigational link on these blogs (using head terms as anchor texts) to refer the blogs’ interested visitors.

2nd tier link building – build links to pages that have remarkably mentioned your site/brand to boost their search rankings, particularly pages or articles that are from authority websites and are targeting keywords that have substantial search volume and could be found through queries that have intent to purchase (ex: “best link building tools”). Ross recently wrote a brilliant article on this technique being used to increase conversions by continuously referring more possible customers through the page where the site has been mentioned.

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Image Credit: Sirgerg